This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

So, project wrap up! It has been a long summer of pricey projects, some of which were unexpected. What did we get accomplished? Here is the list— 1. New Achilles dinghy with Honda 20 hp power start and tilt outboard, two person seat and St. Criox Euro helm. 2. SeaWise davit system installed 3. SCAD waste/fresh water tank monitor installed. 4. Victron Bluetooth battery monitor installed. 5. New house and start batteries installed. 6. New Maxwell HRC 10-8 windlass installed. 7. New below deck anchor locker created. 8. New anchor rode of 150’ of 5/16 chain and 100’ of 5/8 8 plait line installed in the anchor locker. 9. New raw water wash down system installed. Included pressure sensitive pump and 10’ of water hose and sprayer in old anchor locker. 10. We will shortly purchase a trailer for the dinghy to haul it to and from the marina. It will winter over at home. This will offer security and keep it out of the salt air. Not a bad list! Much more than we ever intended but nothing we shouldn’t have expected considering it is a boat! Next year the big expense (hopefully) will be to repaint the bottom and reseat any through hulls that need attention.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Windlass Issues

 It seems like one thing or another has kept us near our home port this summer. Our big expense, aside from the usual annual maintenance--fluid and filter changes, etc. was to be our new dinghy which I have already written about in an earlier post. And it has turned out to be a nice purchase.

Then, we noticed the batteries were starting to not a hold a charge so those had to be replaced. At about $80-90 a piece (times 5) that too was a financial hit. I saved some money by purchasing them myself, hauling them to the boat and hauling the old ones in for the core rebate. Hauling those suckers about killed me but it saved us a couple hundred dollars. 

Then, on the shakedown cruise to see how the new batteries were doing (they are great), the windlass went belly up. I wound up pulling 200' of line and 36' of chain and anchor up by hand. Yikes! That too about killed me. 

So, instead of heading off to another spot to anchor for a few more days, we headed back to port and I started looking at new windlasses. I contacted Pacific Marine Yacht Services, my go to electricians, and got in line to have them do the work. A couple of weeks later they called to say they weren't willing to do the job. Back to square one. I got in line for the guy that does most of the work on our boat and he was willing to take it on. So, I started looking for a windlass that would work on our boat. That turned out to be a bigger job that I thought as there were no windlasses out there that would work the way the old one had. 

I spoke with a boat buddy who owns an identical boat and asked him to walk me through what he'd done when he replaced his windlass. I recalled he had modified a bow locker into an anchor locker by himself so he knew what he was talking about. After chatting with Steve I was pretty sure of the windlass I wanted.

It is a Maxwell HRC 10-8. Its a beauty! After my windlass arrived from Fisheries Supply in Seattle, my go to chandlery, my technician arrived and we began the project. 

First the old windlass and the pedestal it was mounted to were removed. Then a new Starboard pedestal was built up and the new windlass mounted to it. A hole had to be drilled through the deck so the howse pipe the anchor rode went through could be fitted.  With that complete we went below deck to prepare the new space for the rode.

At the very bow of our boat is a little teak door about a foot tall and nearly the same in width. Opening that door you gain access to an unused empty space. This was to be the new anchor locker, replacing the one on deck adjacent to the windlass. 

New heavier duty wiring was run to the locker as well as the wiring for the new foot switches (up and down). With the wiring in place and windlass powered up we next needed to seal up the locker and ensure it was waterproof. My buddy had inserted a 1/4" panel of plexiglass which he both bolted and sealed in place with silicone. My guy opted for 5200 instead. 

Lastly he cut a hole in the plexiglass and fitted a 5" deck plate giving access to the locker if needed. He attached the bitter end of the anchor rode to the backside of the tow eye by bolting a metal strip to the backside of the tow eye and cinching it down. 

Finally we were ready to start feeding the rode into the locker. Sadly, the windlass didn't want to easily take in the rode. The 2-strand 1/2" line kept jamming and had to be forced down the pipe. By the time we got to the 36' of chain there wasn't enough space left in the locker for it to fit and it too fought back. 

Something had to give which became obvious when we took the Key of Sea out for a shakedown. The windlass didn't like paying out or retreiving the rode so, once again, I was forced to pull it up by hand. 

I just piled it all into the old anchor locker and we headed home. Much more research needed doing.

I contacted my buddy Steve who came over to our boat and looked over what we had done so far. His conclusions were:

1) We should have put in a 4" deck plate as he suggested originally instead of in the face of the plexiglass. The one in the plexiglass won't hurt but it really needed to be cut into the deck. This would allow the person on deck to reach down and move the rode to one side or the other so more can fit in.

2) We need to get new rode. He recommended 150' of 5/16' G4 chain and 100' of 5/8" 8 plait anchor line. 8 plait because it lays down more like chain rather than spreading out all over the locker as the current line was doing. The two elements of the rode will be spliced together with an appropriate anchor splice.

After calling the Maxwell dealer rep in Seattle, exchanging several emails and phone calls, he agreed with my buddy Steve's thoughts.

So, new rode was ordered today from Fisheries Supply. 

The old anchor rode will go into the old locker as a back up and or secondary anchor if needed. Along with that a new raw water wash down system is being installed there to hose the mud and debris off as the rode is brought aboard. And the 4' deck plate will be installed at the same time. 

I am beginning to see light at the end of this very long tunnel. It has been both a fascinating and frustrating experience. Hopefully it will be the final project for the season. We'll see.

Old Atlas Windlass

Inside the new anchor locker loooking up to the pipe

Attachment point of the rode bitter end.

Old rode line piled into new locker seen through the plexiglass.

Foot switches--I picked black

New Maxwell HRC 10-8 windlass. Beauitful and very capable.


Life Issues

Its been a while since my last post but everything has been going along smoothly snf it just didn't seem all that important. Then a couple of major life issues came alog,he igst, of course, being the Corona Virus COVID pandemic which is still marching through the world. Currently some 900 Americans a day are dying from this scourge. In my humble and non-scientific opinion it has much to do with the poor way our country prepared itself for it and has since handled it. olitics and the I believe we have been hit hard because we didn't handle it properly from the start and because politics and the economy have driven the decisions to reopen the country and our schools rather than our helth experts. Believe me, I get it. Businesses were hurting and parents , stuck at home, can't take care of their kids and go to work, if they even have a job. So what to do? Open our schools so parents have a babysitter. Open our businesses so they don't go under and so folks have a job to go to. The result? The rate of COVID infections and the death rate have increased or remained the same. Add to that the folks in our land who believe they are somehow immune to the virus , don't believe it is as bad as they've been told by health experts, or who just don't think anyone has the right to tell them what to do, and you have a perfect storm for this virus to continue to sicken and kill people. Especially the old, infirm, those with less than perfect immune systems, the first responders, the teachers, the children going back into classrooms unprepared for protecting them from the virus. You get the picture. 

So, I am staying pretty much at home. Have been since March of this year with only rare exceptions and only then when I am well protected--wearing a mask, staying well away from others who I am unsure about how they have protected themselves, and going to stores or the barbershop only at times when places are least crowded and have taken the best possible measures to protect their customers and washing my hands until they are raw.

Locally, I have always shopped at Fred Meyer for much of my grocery shopping. But of the local grocery stores they have by far done the worst job to protect customers. So we pay a bit more and go to the Haggen store nearer us that has done an outstanding job of setting up protections. 

My barber has let me come in by myself for an early morning appointment (only been twice) when no one else is in the shop. She takes extra precautions to keep her shop sanitized, wears a mask, insists I do too the entire time she is cutting my hair and we each sanitize our hands before and after the haircut.

I don't know when or if this is ever going to come to an end. Perhaps only when a medication is developed that can end it or at least bring it under control. But I do hope it is soon as I am sure everyone else does. I don't like the way it has isolated people. I am saddened by so many folks that rather than keeping in better touch through email or Facetime or ZOOM, instead seem to have circled their wagons and isolated themselves. When this virus first started up we made an effort to contact people by the methods above. We must have contacted 25-30 people we know including some we hadn't been in touch with for many years except by Christmas card.  To date we have been contacted back by only a couple of people. What we call reciprocals. Many people we have thought were close friends we simply haven't heard from at all in less we have made the effort to recontact them. Now I understand, folks are quite possibly feeling depressed or isolated or just frozen, not knowing what to do or willing to do anything to reach out to others. But, am I wrong? Isn't this the best of times to do just that? 

Our summertime activities usually center around boating and usually with boating friends. But what with social distancing requirements and staying out of other marinas where social distancing is difficult at best, much of those activities have been taken away from us. It hasn't helped that we have had boat problems (see next post) that have even kept us from anchoring out somewhere. And with Canada closed to American boaters this summer (the place love most to go), the most popular local boating anchorages are much more crowded than usual.

No, I know my problems don't amount to a hill of beans compared to folks who have lost their jobs, are worried they could lose their homes, that have jobs that expose them daily to stress and to this deadly virus. I get it! Buck up, Michael! Quit your whining and get on with it! And I will. I'm made of pretty tough stuff. Just thought I'd vent a little.   

What is the answer? I just don't know but it is very depressing to see that people you thought you could depend on, at the very least keep in touch, seem to have forgotten to do just that. Ah, well, this too as they say, shall pass.


Friday, April 24, 2020

Introducing Key of Sea #

Let this be the birth announcment of our new little one who arrived on Monday, April 20, 2020 at 12:30 PM. She is a cute little thing, as they say in the boat world...yar!

 Our Achilles HB-315 DX dinghy came with a brand new Weaver helm and a 20 hp Honda outboard. She sits up on her side on our swimstep held in place and raised a d lowered by our new SeaWise davit lift system.

It took a while from conception to birth for her to arrive to our mother boat but it was well worth the wait. I've been working with Steve Guyer, owner of Guyer Boatworks for the past few months to find the right boat. 

I took her out on a seatrial Monday after her arrival. We slowly drove her across the marina to the breakwater where I put the pedal to the metal and gave her a bit of a test run almost but not quite getting her up oon plane, then back to the slip where we connected to the davits and raised her up into place.

I can't wait to take her out again and really give her the gas. I'll need to take down some fuel to tank her up before heading out too far. She has a 3 gallon fuel tank which should give her a range of a couple of hours at top speed so an extra fuel can aboard would be useful.

We added a bilge pump to the package at the last minute--just in case. I also purchased a boat cover for her for the off season. My intent is to also purchase a trailer for her so we can pull her out of the water in the off season and bring her home to sit in the back yard. I'll look into that next fall.
SeaWise Davit Lift System
In the meantime, enjoy some photos of this project!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Heater Project Finished! Fresh Water Issue Fixed? I Hope!

I had a new to me technician aboard for the better part of three days last week installing a diesel forced air heater on the Key of Sea. The heater kit has been sitting on my bench in the garage for nearly a year while I figured out how to get it installed.

Originally it was to be installed with the heavy help of a buddy from the Power Squadron. But then he got very ill and was unable to help. It would have been done free! So, after months of waiting, hoping he would get healthy enough to help me, it became obvious his days of helping others was probably over. I started looking around for someone else to do the job but it was tough because all the reputable places in town wouldn't touch the project because they were all representatives of Espar or Wabasto or one of the other few well known outfits, all of which cost an arm and two legs!

My Planar unit is Russian made and costs far less than those other company's products which cost in the thousands of dollars. My Planar kit was a little over a grand and with the extrta parts I had to buy to make it right for our particular boat, it was still less than $1,500.

I finally found a young fellow through a boat buddy who works very inexpensively and had experience intalling heaters. So we got started on the project and into the first day we discovered I didn't have all the parts I needed. So, I made a quick drive up to the Planar showroom in Surrey, B.C. only about a 40 minute drive from our house. I picked up the parts and drove right back to the boat where my guy was still doing what he could do without those parts.

Day 2--He was cutting holes here and there including enlarging the old 3 inch ducting holes to fit the 4 inch ducts we wanted. Plus there was the new exhaust through hull which meaant a new hole through the hull. Anytime holes get cut in my boat I get a little nervous because well, just because. If you own a boat you know what I mean.

Day 3--Finishing the ducting, attaching the exhaust hose to the through hull and powering up the unit. It all went together very easily except for the customization that was often necessary due to the characteristics of our boat.In the end though, all went well and the unit running very well. It is so efficient and quiet and heats up the boat quickly.

Meanwhile, my tech also installed the correct water hose to the fresh water pump, removing the old garden hose which should never have been used. He also made sure each connection was tight and no air was leaking into the system. It seems that we now have a solid working water system. However, he advised me that our hot water heater does have a small drip that will eventually become worse and we'll have to replace the unit. We'll cross our fingers that it keeps working for another year or two as we have exhausted a couple of year's worth of our budget.

4" ducting connected to the heater output end.

Fuel filter about to be installed. One of the parts we needed to get in Canada

The heater unit in its cabinet.

The muffler ducted into the space to the right where the exhaust thru hull is located.

Digital display

Thru hull exhaust.

Forward duct in the stairwell leading to the galley

New thru hull hole.

My tech installing new water hoses replacing the old garden hose. Poor choice by previous owner. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fresh Water Pump Follow Up

A couple of entries ago I mentioned that our fresh water pump had died while we were in Canada.  I replaced it on returning home and thought all was well again. Unfortunately our troubles continued when we attempted to run water for washing dishes one night.

We had turned on the AC water heater circuit breaker to heat up some water. When it came time to use the system it ran fine for a few minutes but then suddenly the water from the tap stopped coming out. Odd!

I returned to the boat a day or so later and checked the water again and it ran and ran just fine. What I didn't do was try and use the hot water system again. So I figured problem solved.

We left on a week-long cruise to La Conner and a squadron rendezvous. But the first time we attempted to use the hot water heater, a horredous clank emminated from the utility tunnel, then a series of smaller clank, clank, clanks. Then....nothing. We immediately turned off the hot water heater.

We had fresh cold water after that but didn't attempt to make or run hot water. One day I decided to try and heat some water in the tank again just to see if it might work. After a while I went into the shower to bathe only to find---no water!

I suggested Leslie turn off the hot water breaker. She did. Still no water. She then turned off the fresh water pump breaker, then flipped it back on. Water came out of the shower just fine including hot water.

So, apparently we have to recycle the fresh water switch to make water come out. But why is this happening?

Next week we have a technician coming out to try and answer that question.

He will also be installing our new diesel heater that has been sitting in its box in the garage for nearly a year.   

Family History

     I have long had an interest in my family’s history, our genealogy.  I’ve done a far amount of research and documentation of family members and found quite a bit over the years. My interest stemmed from my association with the LDS, Mormon church while growing up. The religion emphasizes the importance of genealogy for reasons I won’t bother with here. For me, those reasons are of no importance. My interest lies simply in my love of history and interest in the stories that I believe everyone has given the opportunity to tell it.

     So, here I just want to deposit the facts of my family; their birth, death and any other facts and recollections I have about them.

Arthur L. and Madeline Cone
 My paternal grandfather was Arthur Lee Cone. He was
 born September 21, 1898 and died November 12, 1977, in Taft, CA. He was married twice. His first wife was Madeline Elizabeth Cone (Cottey). She was born July 1, 1903 to parents John Malcolm Marion Cottey and Agnes Irene (Gaupp) Cottey  She died January 10, 1957 in Taft, CA. Sadly, she passed away of cancer when I was only four so I have no real memory of her. She was the mother of two children, Arthur Jr. who passed away early in his life as a result of appendicitis, and my father,Alfred Russel Cone, born 28 March 1925 in Fresno, California, though I was always told he was born in Coalinga, California. He died 16 January 1975 in Merced, California. 

     Grandpa remarried the widow of a good family friend whose husband had passed away around the same time as grandpa's wife. Her name was Zola Myrtle Johnson (Nee Cone, Nee Johnson, Nee ???). She was born October 25, 1903, and passed away November 2, 1983 in Bakersfield, CA. She was the grandmother I remember. Grandpa and Grandma lived in a very modest home at 915 Wood Street in Taft, California, a small oil town in the desert south west of Bakersfield. The home was Zolas and grandpa moved into her home after they married. He sold off his home which was a few blocks away on Eastern Avenue. Hers was by far the nicer of the two homes. I've looked at the home using Google Maps recently and it is only a shadow of its former self.  Though it was a very modest home it was well kept. Today it is a ramshakle dump of a place as is the entire neighborhood. It is in a part of town now where it isn't advisable to venture.
     Grandpa worked as a machinist for the Shaffer Tool Works in Taft. I visited him many times in the hot and dirty building where he turned out tools and parts for the oil field operations. I remember him
Grandpa Cone in the middle
washing his hands in the sink against the back wall with Borax Soap, a gritty, white substance that rubbed into his forearms and hands would, after much scrubbing, render his hands clean enough for him to head home for lunch or at day's end. Lunch was signaled by a siren which sounded every weekday at noon. 

He regularly came home for lunch which grandma always had waiting on the table when he walked in. It was, at least whenever our family was visiting, always a plate stacked with bread, another with sliced tomato and lettuce. A bowl of potato chips. A jar of pickles and always, ALWAYS, grandpa's favorite German-style mustard. 
If it was a weekend or possibly a weekday early evening (if there was enough light) we enevitably
Taft gun range
visited the Taft Gun Club site out on the edge of town. The range was a very rough set of benches and metal roofed spots where you could set up your guns out of the sun. Aside from that, it wasn't much.  But we would almost always head there at least once whenever we were in town visiting.   

Grandpa would load up in his tan VW beetle, whatever weaponry he had in mind for us to shoot that day and off we drove. Grandpa was a life member of the NRA and an excellent marksman, having won scores of competitions. However, he never shoot at anything other than the paper targets he lined his garage workshop with. His trophies and medals lined the walls and shelves in his bedroom.  When grandpa died, all his guns, and there were many, were my inheritance. I took them home with me and promptly gave them to my brother. I wanted nothing to do with guns in my home.  
Cookie Jar. I own one too.
Grandpa was one of the smartest people I've ever known, despite his only made it to 6th grade. He was largely self taught. He loved to read, especially about the wide world. He had stacks of National Geographic magazines around his bedroom as well as Time Magazine which he read from cover to cover. He was alo a music lover, especially Opera and brass band music. He loved Souza marches and also enjoyed Russian Army Chorus recordings. He listened to the Texaco Metropolitan Opera performances on the radio. He was a fascinating man who did not suffer fools. He swore like a trooper sometimes, god damning this or that whenever the spirit moved him. But I loved him. 
Grandma Zola worked for the Taft Driller, the local newspaper, in their bindery. She also smoked like a train which didn't thrill me but it was the way things were in those days.
I loved visiting their house. There were always cookies in the cookie jar, a rotund ceramic jar with various cookies displayed on the outside and a lid with a walnut for a handle. It sat on a counter just to the left as you entered the kitchen. Also, always of interest to me was what grandpa kept on the shelf in the cabinet right above the cookie jar. A box of boxes of Clorets gum sat ready for grandpa to grab whenever the box in his breast pocket became empty. Each box was opened on one corner with an opening large enough to allow only one of the small green rectangular pieces of gum to fall out in your hand at a time.
Grandpa would always make sure my pocket had a box in it when I came to visit.
I worshiped my grandpa. I learned a lot from him. A few things my mother wished I hadn't. One family story has it that one evening at the dinner table, a bowl of spinach was being passed. When it arrived under my nose, I made it clear I didn't want any. My mother kept insisting that I had to have some. Finally, exasperated, I declared I didn't want any god damn spinach! My mother blanched and began to cry. Grandpa nearly turned himself inside out trying to keep from laughing. Mother jumped up and ran off to her room my father right behind. The point here is that I learned my inappropriate language skills from my grandpa who quite regularly sprinkled his language with such words. If it was good enough for him, surely it was for me. I soon found out otherwise.
Grandpa and Grandma Zola had seperate bedrooms with grandpa's room in the back of the house. They shared the ony bathroom in the house which was a walk-through type with doors into each of their bedrooms. Grandpa's bedroom held a writing desk, bookshelves, his double bed, a chest of drawers and an armoire which stood in one corner. Covering the entire wall facing the foot of his bed was his collection of rifles, some dating back to his own grandfather who was a gunsmith. There were muzzle loaders, flintlocks and caplocks, all kept in firing order by grandpa's meticulous care. In one drawer of the chest of drawers were the hand guns he owned. Ammunition was all stored out in the garage/workshop. It had long ago stopped being a garage. It was where grandma did her laundry and where grandpa had his shop that included a metal lathe, equipment for making his own ammunition, a well-lit bench just inside the door and up on the top shelf, was an old cathedral style table top radio. When he turned on the lights in the shop, the radio always came on. I was always fascinated by that radio. After grandpa passed away, grandma, who knew how i felt about the radio, made sure I received it. It sits on a shelf in our family room and still works.

When visiting grandma and grandpa, us kids were often sent outside whenever it wasn't too hot. We wandered around observing the strange pepper trees and oleander shrubs.  We were warned not to mess with the sap from the oleander as it was poisonous.  

Probably the strangest thing we spent time gazing at were the little cone-shaped pits in the sand. Ants would occasionally tumble into one of these and try as they might, the slippery slopes would only cause them to slide to the bottom of the pit where Ant Lions lurked under the pit. When an ant came close, the ant lion would stick it's madibles out and grabbing the ant, drag it under and devour it. Eek! We would watch these creatures for what seemed like forever waiting for the next macabre event. We never dared stick our fingers into the pit for fear of what might happen to us.

Another activity we enjoyed was going to the public pool at the high school and to the youth center downtown. The youth center was really cool. It had a bowling alley, ping pong, roller skating, even an ice cream shop complete with early rock and roll blasting from the juke box and black and white photos of the hearththrobs of the era.