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

Saturday, August 24, 2013

12-volt Accesory Plug Installed

One of the great design achievements on our 32' Bayliner is the amazing use of the space available. Below the salon in the main cabin is the master stateroom containing not only locker space and a sink but also a king-sized bed. At the head end of the bed is room enough to sit up and read, even kneel with plenty of head room. The space tapers from there until at the foot end the space is only a little more than 24 inches--plenty of space to turn from side to side. The 
Interior cutaway drawing of the Key of Sea.
Note the 'step down' to the lower master stateroom & its bed.
bottom line is that the space is roomy and cozy for us.

But the room has a problem we have been unable to solve up until now. I use a c-pap machine to aid in my sleep apnea. It uses only 12 volts to run but, like most 12-volt devices (you own more of them than you might think), it is sold with a standard adaptor that uses the 110-volt power found in the home and changes it to 12-volts. But what if, as is the case on my boat, your power system is already 12-volts?

I could just plug into the 110-volt power source next to the bed and when we are on shore power that works fine. But when we are not on shore power we must rely on the house batteries, the four deep cycle batteries in the bowels of the boat, to run our electrical devices. The batteries are good for about 3 days before they must be recharged by running the engines or the generator I recently installed on the fly bridge.

If I chose to use the 110-volt plug while on battery power it would require the use of the on-board inverter which changes 12 volts to 110. The inverter is located in the service tunnel a few feet from the foot of our bed. When running it makes a steady noise that would keep us awake. So that wouldn't solve the problem. 

I've been looking at this problem and trying to enlist the help of my c-pap supplier in this effort. Unfortunately my local supplier had only one unacceptable solution. So I searched the internet and a few weeks ago I found a nifty attachment available from the manufacturer that plugs directly from the c-pap device into a 12-volt source. Hmmmm . . .

The new plug in the master stateroom ready for use.
The end plugging into the power source is one of those cigarette lighter type plugs you see so often in automobiles to power the hand-held gaming, music and video devices which have proliferated in the past few years.

At a visit to my favorite marine store I discovered a wall plug part that the new adaptor could plug into. A few connectors and some 14-gauge wire and I was out the door.

I noticed a long time ago that there were two-pronged, odd-ball plugs built into the wall in both the master and the v-berth staterooms. I have no idea what they powered at one time. I didn't even know if they were hot. My multi-meter quickly answered that question. Yes, hot and 12-volt hot. YES! This could be my power source as long as the circuit could handle the amperage of the c-pap machine. The power need listed 5 amps on the bottom of the machine. Seemed like a big draw for such a little device. A call to the manufacturer and I discovered that was the amperage draw for both halves of the device. Away from home I generally don't use the humidifier half of the machine. There's plenty of humidity at sea already! So the circuit should handle the c-pap no problem.
My c-pap machine plugged into the new
power source and working fine!
I removed the old useless plug from the wall and discovered the hole that had been drilled was not a large enough diameter for the new plug. This added a new mystery to the project. How to enlarge the existing 3/4-inch hole to the 1 and 3/16 inches needed without defacing the beautiful cabinet it was built into?

My local Harbor Freight dealer had an interesting drill bit that I thought might do the job. It is conical shaped but with levels indicting the diameter of the hole at each step. I asked an employee, explaining my situation and he assured me it would work. 

Finally, having accumulated what I needed to do the job and a bit of knowledge regarding how to go about it, I was ready to get after it.

After weeks of thinking about it, gathering the tools and parts needed to do the job, the job itself was a snap. It only took about a 1/2 hour and it worked the first time! I was really kind of shocked. Usually I wind up calling someone to come fix the mess I made. Not this time.

The new plug works great and now I can sleep in my nice comfortable bed whether we are on shore power or the house batteries.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Key of Sea Projects 2013

I've spent most of this summer here at home in Bellingham, my home by the sea and my second home, the Key of Sea, actually on the sea.

This proximity to home has allowed me to spend more time on the boat, if not actually out exploring the islands of the San Juans. I discovered upon inspection and a strategic comment made by my wife, that our boat was looking worse than when we bought it, that the Key of Sea was indeed suffering from a lack of basic cosmetic maintenance. I don't mean the electrical or mechanical systems aboard. We've maintained those carefully. I'm talking about the wood work, known as the bright work on a boat, and other places where paint was peeling a bit here and there. 

So I embarked on a series of little projects, some of which I have already talked about in this blog over the last few months. Taken together the projects have turned into one very fun summer of projects. The most recent of these projects is nearing completion, that of refinishing or finishing (I'm not sure it ever was finished) the windlass out on the bow of the boat.

I have noticed for a long time that the wooden base the windlass is bolted down to was weather-beaten beyond belief. I wasn't even sure the wood was worth bothering with. Boy was I wrong.

After taping off the areas I wanted to avoid sanding or varnishing, I started sanding off first the layer that was mostly covered in mold and finally uncovered what appeared to be a nice grain. After carefully sanding using progressively lighter grits of sandpaper, I was ready to apply the 8 coats of varnish. Each coat was followed by a light sanding using 320 grit, then another coat of varnish. Well, the look turned out beautifully.

While this was going on I had also contacted Squalicum Marine Canvas here in the Squalicum harbor
A view of the new command bridge canvas cover.
The bimini roof canvas was already part
of the boat canvas.
area and had them come to the boat to give me a bid on some new canvas. The windshield canvas we had blew away in a wind storm during the first winter we owned the boat. Our command bridge canvas was shot. No longer water-proof, patched in several places and burned in a couple after I had inadvertently covered the spotlight with the cover and then left the light on, not once but twice. And the windlass cover never fit the current set up. Add to this the fact that these old pieces of canvas are all a light blue when all the newer canvas was dark blue and well, it was time. Fortunately, I had additional money from subbing during the school year, all money earmarked for the boat anyway. So, after some negotiating an agreement was reached and the three new custom pieces were created.

New windshield cover

A new 80% mesh windshield cover is installed. It allows us to see out but makes it difficult for folks to see in. 80% of sun light is reflected away keeping the interior cooler. 

The new command bridge cover fits tightly over all the vinyl seats and the helm controls. It is even lined in places with an ultra soft material that avoids chafing where the canvas touches the vinyl seats. Two poles keep the canvas in a position to slough-off rain water and snow.

Windlass canvas
Finally, the new windlass cover is a perfect fit that will protect the newly varnished and repainted windlass parts. It even has leather reinforced holes that allow the anchor chain to pass through.    

The refinished windlass.
I became side-tracked from the next refinishing project, that of the rail caps in the aft cockpit, when I noticed the condition of the windlass motor. Horribly painted originally, now with the refinished wood base and new canvas, I couldn't ignore the motor. So, the electric motor housing (that roundish part on the left in the photo) came off, was wire brushed and sanded. A coat of primer went on before the white Rustoleum-style engine paint was applied. Parts of the windlass (the wheel on the right and the gypsy, as it is known in the UK or wildcat in the US which is the part with teeth that catches the anchor chain) are actually copper. Why those beautifully verdigris parts were painted at all is beyond me. I cleaned those off and let that blue-green patina shine through. This is so much fun!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Our Cruise to Echo Bay on Sucia Island

July 8-14, 2013 Cruise to Sucia and Blaine

Day 1: Bellingham to Echo Bay on Sucia Island

We left Bellingham's Squalicum Harbor at about 1230 on Monday, July 8, 2013. The bimini was up and the command bridge our chosen spot for the cruise out to Sucia Island.

The first leg of our journey was a heading southwest across Bellingham Bay, around Carter Point on the south end of Portage Island followed by a turn northwest up Hale Passage between Portage and Lummi Islands. As we headed through the pass we spotted the little Whatcom Chief ferry heading back and forth between the mainland and Lummi Island with its dozen or so cars and the foot passengers that make up the remainder of its load. We keep an eye on the ferry as we near the route it takes so as to avoid any possibility of tangling with her. We manage fine and soon head out the north end of Hale and into the Strait of Georgia, the vast area of water that leads far to the north and the long reach west to Vancouver Island. The Strait can be a nasty experience for any boater, windy and choppy or, on some days, calm and flat as a mirror.

Today we were in luck. Though not flat calm, it was a comfortable ride west towards Sucia.  We passed the northern tip of Lummi Island, rounded the Point Migley buoy and the outer islands including Matia, Sucia and distant Patos all came into view though somewhat shrouded in the marine mist.

After some 3 1/2 hours of cruising we entered Echo harbor and slowed as we headed toward the linear mooring lines. The harbor was dotted with a dozen or more boats, mostly anchored scattered across the bay. Others arrived as the afternoon went along.

We pulled up parallel to the long linear lines and tied up, fore and aft, to the rings attached to the lines. Engines shut down, we shut down all unnecessary electrical devices to save battery power. With hours of sunlight left only the fridge really needed to be running.

Since out last season of cruising we had acquired a new Honda 1200 watt generator. Safely tied down up on the aft cockpit roof which acts as storage for our crab pots and extra pfd's (personal flotation devices). Our shore power cord will plug into the generator which will help keep our  batteries charged while we are at anchor more than a couple of days. I am looking forward to seeing how well it works.

Meanwhile, we keep a wary eye on our ties to the linear lines. A 9 foot tide difference will come in this evening and we are concerned about whether there is enough play in our lines to compensate for the height of the tide as it rises and falls. 

I head down below for a nap and Leslie to the command bridge to read. Later on we'll dinghy ashore for the first time to register ourselves, take a walk and do a bit of beach combing. There is a charge for anchoring in the Washington state marine parks of which Sucia is one of many. We buy a pass each year, a sticker attached to our windshield, which pays for all our visits to the parks for a year. But we still must fill out a small registration form and turn it in to a drop box ashore. 

The only sound we hear is the water lapping against the boat. Otherwise, the harbor, though a couple dozen boats are at anchor, is absolutely silent. 


Friday, July 5, 2013

Cruising the San Juans

My next few blog entries will more than likely be related to cruises Leslie and I have taken this summer around our "backyard." We live in an amazing place! Literally, we are a 10 minute drive to the local marina where our boat, the Key of Sea, is berthed and from there, only 5 minutes to the breakwater that lets us enter the wonders of the Salish Sea. Hundreds of islands, most of which are
The San Juan Islands with Mt. Baker in the background.
We live here!
only accessible to those with a boat (only a very few have Washington state ferry service to them).

Small bays and coves are tucked into out of the way places where it is possible to drop your anchor and be the solitary occupants of a view of old growth forests, tidal pools teeming with critters, seals, otters, perhaps a small isolated beach all to yourself where you can collect shells or agates.  It isn't at all uncommon to find yourself suddenly amongst a pod of Orcas or the audience for the antics of Humpback or Grey whales.

I will also spend time talking about the summer projects to either improve or maintain the Key of Sea. The bright work is my big project this summer. I have already spent some time talking about what I intend to do. I am now
A view of the hatch cover below the Command Bridge after
the 2nd coat of varnish. Only 4 more to go!
actually doing it! My flag staff is re-finished, reunited with the stern of the boat and proudly displaying my new flag (photos coming).

In my garage right now I am refinishing the trim around the access hatch normally found under the command bridge (fly bridge) helm. It is a bit more complicated than the flag staff but it is coming along nicely. As the trim isn't removable, I have had to carefully sand so as not to scuff up the non-wood portion of the hatch. That completed, I have puttied up holes, lightly sanded those and the second coat of varnish has now been applied. Only 3-4 more and the hatch will be ready to re-install.

As to our most recent cruise, we were invited to some friend's family cabin on Lopez Island. We've been before but took the state ferry last time. This time they invited us to tie to a mooring ball in the little cove near their cabin. It belongs to a neighbor but they'd got permission for us to borrow it for a night.

This cabin is situated on Flat Point on the northwest tip of Lopez Island. Back in the 50's a family member was offered a parcel of land and though the price at the time seems cheap by today's standards, it was a lot to bite off on a teacher's salary then. They took on a second job to pay it off and eventually built a modest cabin on the land. It is worth, well, a lot today! With a 270 degree view onto the water, state ferries run past all day long as well as dozens of pleasure craft. It is a stunning place.
Mooring balls come in all shapes and sizes, basically they are
just a floating ball, anchored to the bottom with a ring on top.

We headed out on the 3 1/2 hour cruise with no problems along the way except that we had some odd currents pushing against us making the cruise 4 hours instead.

As we approached their cabin we called them on the cell phone and they came out to point to the mooring ball we were to attach to. We scooted up to it carefully. We've only used mooring balls a couple of times and struggled with getting attached both times. We just didn't have the maneuver worked out right. So, you might imagine our nervousness. We approached the ball down our port side. I was able to pretty quickly pull up to within inches of the ring on the top and Leslie ran a line through it. She tied off both ends of the line and called out to me. I walked back to check on things and was happily surprised to see she had us tied off.  I untied the
line and walked both ends out to the bow where we tied it off to cleats on either side of the bow. This creates a bridle that allows and easy retrieval.  Simply let go one end of the line and slip it back through the ring and on to the boat. The line doesn't even get wet. 

With our bridle in place we shut down all unnecessary electrical and mechanical systems aboard and began readying the dinghy for the trip to shore. Our dinghy is an 11' inflatable with a 2 hp Honda outboard. We lowered the dinghy away and I mounted the outboard to it. After stepping into the dinghy, Leslie got in and we released from the davits severing our connection to the mother ship.

We dinghied in to shore where our hosts greeted us. It was necessary to drag the dinghy up on the beach so it didn't drift away when the tide came back in. 

We had a great day catching up with them, meeting their new born daughter, BBQing and just relaxing with that amazing view.

About sunset (10:00ish this time of year in this latitude) we said our goodbyes and headed back out to the Key of Sea, which sat quietly in the harbor. After putting away the dinghy for the night, we headed off to bed exhausted from our day.

The 5:00 am ferry heading for Victoria, BC awakened us. Then things settled down for another hour before the second ferry of the day came by. We were able to sleep a little longer despite the heavy wake action from the ferries, but by 7 the bright sunshine and the sound of recreational boaters going by made for a pleasant alarm clock.  A cup of coffee and breakfast up on the fly bridge was a great start to the day, but it was time to make preparations to head home.

The bridle worked exactly as we'd hoped and we were free to head out of the cove toward home.  We got about 20 minutes from our anchorage before we rounded Upright Head and came face to face with not one but two state ferries. I guessed correctly that the larger and closer of the two was headed for the Lopez Island ferry landing which we were just then cruising past. We came a little closer to the ferry's bow than I would have liked but it all worked out fine. The other ferry stood off waiting its turn to go to the landing so it was no threat. We scooted on across the channel at about 9 knots (not fast enough for me under the circumstances) and into Peavine Pass, a narrow passage that at flood or ebb tides can be a bit bumpy. We had entered it at slack tide and so the water was flat calm.

On we went. We'd thought about tucking into Vendovi Island for a visit on the way home so we turned a bit south east and headed for the breakwater. We pulled in just as the caretakers of the island arrived.

Vendovi is a special place. Privately owned up until just a few years ago, no one other than the owners and their guests were allowed ashore. Recently though, a local conservation group was able to purchase it saving it from probable subdivision into lots for wealthy folks to build their dream island getaway. Instead, it is now a
sanctuary open 10-6 during part of the year and accessible only by those with a boat or kayak. No anchoring is allowed and no overnighting. Other than the very nice young caretaker couple, we had the entire island to ourselves for the duration of our 90 minute visit. We will be back though as it is a wonderful picnic spot and it has lots of hiking opportunities.

Next we headed north into Bellingham Bay and the hour long cruise across the bay to our home slip.  We arrived pretty exhausted but managed to wash down the boat, empty and clean the holding tank and top off the fresh water supply--ready for our next cruise in a week's time!

This was a great practice run for the upcoming cruise to the out islands of Sucia, Matia and Patos, all north of Orcas Island before then heading northeast to Blaine harbor for the annual SeaSkills North event sponsored by our sail and power squadron group.

More later!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Best Laid Plans!

My Cruise Planning class instructor's complimentary comments regarding my upcoming cruise through the San Juans made me proud.  And I really did intend to make that trip. I may yet.

But when we cast off the lines, gently back out of our slip this morning and head off into the morning mist, it won't be the beginning of the cruise I had originally planned. Life gets in the way sometimes, as they say, but in the Pacific Northwest the weather can, too.

Our week-long cruise was to start with a visit to Vendovi Island, only about 8 nautical miles from home. Vendovi only recently opened to the public and is only accessible during the daylight hours. No anchoring either due to the preservation efforts for the eel grass beds.

Then we intended to head over to Eagle Harbor on the northeast corner of Cypress Island for the night. The following night we'd spend at Spencer Spit on Lopez Island, then on to Anacortes on Fidalgo Island, a transit through the Swinomish Channel, stopping in La Connor for the night along the way, followed by a transit through Deception Pass, back north to Chuckanut Bay and home. All of this taking a week.

Then the weather got in the way. Wind and rain! Each day I glared up at the sky, bags of food, clothing and navigation charts and tools sitting at the door with no where to go. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Each day our plans had to be whittled down.

The weather prognosticators promised Thursday would bring a break in the weather. Yes!

Then we got an e-mail from our daughter announcing that our son-in-law's organ concert which had been postponed due to the death of his grandmother, had been rescheduled for Sunday afternoon. Hmmmm.... Now, I'm not complaining here. I love my son-in-law and his organ playing is amazing! There is no way we'd miss this concert. After all, family comes first. But, you can appreciate that, for a moment there, the situation did give me pause.

So, as we depart the dock this morning (It's Thursday) and head off south toward the mist shrouded islands of the San Juan archipelago, we will be heading straight for three days in the Cap Santé marina in Anacortes. On Saturday morning we turn north and head home. Those ports of call will be out there the next time there is a break in the northwest weather. My bags are packed and the waypoints are in the chartplotter.     

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cruise Planning for the Washington state San Juans

The other women in my life!
We are readying the Key of Sea for her first real cruise of the season. While thee is still much to do, some of the projects I have in store for her this season will just have to be done later since the weather is just not cooperating yet.
I have refinished the flag staff and I have waxed about half of the boat. I am waiting for the weather to improve and then I will finish the waxing.
Collinite No. 870
Harbor Freight Variable-Speed Polisher
Collinite No. 870 Liquid Fleetwax Cleaner-Wax is my current choice for getting the best shine I can out of my 1986 Bayliner 3218. She has been through a lot and doesn't shine up the way I am sure she looked in the showroom 27 years ago. But this stuff does put quite a protective shine and the protection the gel coat needs out in the harsh northwest elements. It goes on easily with the help of my variable speed polisher. Then sits on the surface until a haze begins to form. A wipe down with a soft cloth and your done. Repeat this over every fiberglass surface of the boat and your done for the season. It takes a weekend to do but the effort is well worth it.

Parallel Rulers

This is a really cool navigation tool I recently discovered. The Weems & Platt Nautical Slide Rule #105. Oh, sure, you can use the electronics aboard to do all of this and way more, but what do you do when the power goes out? And besides, it can actually be fun to know how to get from point A to point B the old-fashioned way. At least I think so. A good chart,
parallel rulers, dividers, a Hand Bearing Compass and this little baby and you are set. 
It consists of two circular dials mounted on a plastic base. Always set the distance first when it is one of the known factors. Due to the fact that the speed scale is read through both dials, this setting should always be made last when speed is one of the known factors.

The time scale gives hours in green figures and minutes and seconds in black figures.
Seconds are listed only to 120 and cannot be used as minutes and seconds, but only as total seconds for timed runs of less than two minutes. Likewise, the separate hour scale and minute scale are not combined as hours and minutes but used only as hours and fractions of an hour, or as total minutes. To illustrate, set the time line on 1.5 minutes and note that it is also on 90 seconds. Either unit may be used. Now set the time line on 150 minutes and note that it also reads 2.5 hours.

The speed scale reads from 1 to 100 knots or mph. The distance scales are giv en in nautical miles (green figures) or yards (black figures). For example, set 3 nautical miles on the distance line and note that this can also be called 6,000 yards depending on which
unit you are using for distance.

The green distance figures may also be used as statute miles, but in this case your speed will be in statute miles per hour instead of knots. WHEN USING STATUTE MILES THE YARD SCALES MUST NOT BE USED.

Example #1 To find speed when time and distance are known. Assume that you have run a distance of 12 miles as measured on your chart between buoys and that it took 80 minutes to cover this distance. First, turn the dial until 12 miles is on the DISTANCE line, then turn the inner dial until 80 minutes is under the TIME line. Now read your speed as 9 knots.

Example #2 In this type of problem you know that for a given run your yacht will make a good speed of 15 knots and you desire to know how far you have traveled in 2 1/2 hours (150 minutes). Turn the inner dial until the time is over 2.5 hours. Then turn the two dials together until 15 is opposite the speed marker. Now read your distance of 37 1/2 miles at the distance line.

Our Float Plan is prepared. The fuel tanks, propane and water tanks are filled. We have our Marine State Park moorage permit. The provisioning is complete. All that remains is an offering or two to Poseidon and we're on our way.

Our ports of call include a stop on Cypress Island's Eagle Harbor, Lopez Island's Spencer Spit, a couple of days in the Cap Sante marina in Anacortes, a possible trip down the Swinomish Channel to La Connor, then a day or two at anchor in Chuckanut Bay before returning home.

My next blog will include the cruise journal and photos!



Saturday, June 1, 2013

Boating Season...Finally!

It would seem that winter has taken her sweet time coming to an end and indeed she continues to rear her now unwelcome head even as spring makes its appearance in fits and starts. 

Still, I can't resist forays into my favorite local marine supply shops, Redden, LFS and West Marine, looking for the parts and materials I need to gather before starting those projects I can do without the help of professionals. I dare not, for example, attempt anything in the engine room with the exception of checking the oil and water levels, the battery water level or cleaning out the raw water cooling filters, all of which must be done in duplicate on the Key of Sea since she has twin diesel engines below. Beyond that, she is best left to the able hands of my marine mechanic and electrician. 

But there are places aboard where I do feel a certain amount of comfort where maintenance is concerned. 

For an example, I recently began what will no doubt be a summer long project. The refinishing of the brightwork. For the non-boater, the brightwork generally refers to the shiny metal and wood parts of the boat requiring regular maintenance. On recreational yachts it refers more specifically to the woodwork aboard. Most new boats today are built sans woodwork or with only accent pieces at most. But for those with a love for the look of wood on a boat, and who don't care if they have to maintain it, a boat just doesn't look complete without that trim. Some go to the extreme of the hull even being wood. Every bit of wood on a boat means that much more time and expense to maintain it properly.

1987 32' Grand Banks
When we were looking for our boat, I really had my heart set on a Grand Banks. We found one. It was in our price range and very tempting. A wee bit more research though and I found one very good reason NOT to buy her. Her hull was made of wood. The cost and time involved in maintaining that hull would have had me selling it in no time. Not that it wasn't a great boat and in good shape and in the right hands she would make someone very happy but, that's where I drew the line.

So what did I come up with as an alternative? Well, she's no Grand Banks, but she is yar! We fell in love immediately. "She" is a 1986 Bayliner 3218. All fiberglass hull and far less wood to maintain. Still, that wooden look I would expect on my boat is quite present and after 5 years of ownership, her brightwork is
1986 32' Bayliner 3218
beginning to fade in places. Add to that the fact that the previous owners insisted on varnishing her with Sikkins Cetol and the overall look just isn't pleasing to me anyway. Cetol, especially the stuff the previous owners would have had to choose from, left the wood a glossy orange color. It gave amazing, long life protection to the wood, but the color was really off putting.

Fast forward to today, 2013. Sikkens makes Cetol in a variety of colors now including a couple that really come much closer to bringing out the real color of the teak without losing the longevity Cetol is famous for. Rather than having to re-varnish your brightwork every year or two, Cetol allows you to get away with 4-5.

And so the project begins. I purchased a can of the Sikkens Cetol Natural hoping it will come out without the current fluorescent orange color. I started with the flagstaff on the stern of the boat. I bought it 2 seasons ago and proudly attached it off the deck above the cockpit. You can just see the flag hanging from it in the photo above. Sadly, I had finished it using what I had left of an old can of Sikkens Cetol that matched what was on the boat already. Mistake number one. I only applied a couple of coats. Mistake number two. 
The mysterious formula 216!

The flagstaff, after two seasons, looked tired and weather beaten. The varnish was coming off in strips and the knob on top was a dull gray.  I took some very fine grit sandpaper to it with my small orbital sander and the original beautiful wood began to emerge pretty quickly. The knob on top took a little more work but
soon came around as well.

Hope this is the right color!
Next, I wiped it down with Interlux Solvent 216 which is supposed to clean the wood thoroughly getting rid of any residual dust and treats the wood to better accept the new varnish.

I painted one coat of Cetol on the flagstaff at a time, letting it thoroughly dry for 24 hours before the next coat. The can recommends 3 coats. I have heard folks apply as many as ten coats. I was told by the "paint guy" at LFS to apply 5. Hmmmm...

I suppose I will split the difference and go with 7-8. It only takes a couple of minutes to apply a coat to the flagstaff. Then wait 24 hours and apply the next and so on. If all goes well. The flagstaff will be ready for reattachment to the stern and to hang my brand new Old Glory in about a week. 

Follow my blog throughout the summer for entries about my "projects" and our cruises around Washington state's San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Split and Diocletian's Palace

Next morning we had another great hotel breakfast and boarded the bus for the journey to Split.  It was a quick hour and a half drive, much faster than we expected. We were too early to check into our hotel so we headed directly to the old city where we got a walking tour through the old town and the streets of the ancient Roman  Diocletian's palace.

A group of us settled into a small restaurant within the palace walls that we had read was the best in the old city. It had only 4-5 tables and our group took up all of them. 
My grilled sardine lunch.

We all ordered different items but shared freely across the tables. I ordered a plate of grilled sardines. My first experience with fresh sardines was in Grenada, Spain last year and I was determined to have more while here in Croatia. They were delicious. The flesh was easy to separate from the bones and the meat was sweet and slightly, pleasantly oily. Others ordered octopus salad, a specialty of this part of the world, soups, warm, crusty bread and wine flowed all afternoon. Leo, the waiter and the chef behind the counter were warm, generous hosts and all of us left very happy. The best food we'd had so far on the trip.

The two directors exchange gifts after the concert.
The bus whisked us back to the hotel to freshen up and change into concert outfits, then took us over to the University of Split campus for our evening concert. We found ourselves on the 5th floor of the library building, a five year old contemporary structure with little character or personality. However, a very enthusiastic Music Academy choir met us and after each choir finished singing, the two groups had an hour or so of time to meet and chat with each other. Students exchanged e-mail addresses and chatted each other up until our guide finally insisted we needed to get back to the hotel.  

Leslie walked across the street to the Tommy grocery shop and bought a few things for an in room picnic. She introduced some of her students to buying meats and cheeses using the metric system and insisted they buy local cheeses rather than Swiss or cheddar cheese.

We slept well through the night after a great first day in Split.

Our second day started off with the instant coffee that seems so popular here. Blech! Otherwise, a fine breakfast. Then out the door for what became a two and a half hour walking tour of the old city including a detailed tour through the Palace of Diocletian.

This entire old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and deservedly so. It is a stunning city center, our favorite so far on this trip.

In this area of Split is located the fish market, another market place where everything
imaginable is sold, wide walking boulevards and narrow alley ways so easy to get lost in. This town has been here for over 2,000 years, occupied variously by so many countries including Greeks, Turks and Romans.

The core of the city is the ancient Diocletian's palace, built around 305 A.D. by the Roman emperor upon his retirement, a notable moment since most Roman emperors didn't live long enough to retire. It is the most complete Roman palace in the world.

Within the walls are a complete temple of Jupiter, vaulted ceilinged, massive rooms, as well as two even older Greek water wells. The current Cathedral of Saint Domnius was originally the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian. Their are several well preserved gates into the palace, temples, restaurants and shops. It is just amazing and stunning to behold.

The choir was able to sing inside of the vaulted ceilinged rooms and at one point thought they might get to sing inside Saint Domnius. However, due to some rule about choirs singing in churches during holy week (Easter is in 2 day's time) they were not allowed to. Interestingly, while our group was in the square outside Saint Domnius, the friars who were using the church came out as the choir was singing for the crowd in the square. Among the group was the Archbishop of Split, who paused long enough to be introduced to Leslie and listen to the choir sing for him. He said a few words about his travels in America and then stood smiling as the choir offered a Croatian arranged song from a mass. He was delighted.

We also visited the Jewish Synagogue and the oldest book shop in Split. Then, finally, we were all set free. Everyone had ideas about where they wanted go and what they wanted to do. Vanessa, Leslie and I stuck together and headed over to the church in which she'd originally hoped to sing--Saint Francis, operated by the Franciscan order. Like really every church we've been in here in Croatia, the interior was very modestly decorated. Little glitz or guild, it had a simple alter piece and very little ornamentation.

A few steps away and we re-entered the large, open and sunny piazza where our walking tour ended the day before. We'd decided to lunch at the well regarded restaurant there. They had a large al fresco dining area. We chose a spot on the edge of the sitting area, up wind so as to avoid the smokers.

Smoking is a big pastime here. I would estimate that a good 70-80 % of adults are smokers. Smoking is allowed in the bars and coffee bars and even goes on in many restaurants, though it is officially banned. It is just about unavoidable and no one seems to be in the least concerned about smoking around anyone, anytime. Leslie went out with a number of the choir members in Zadar the other night and they all lit up and smoked the evening away oblivious to the non-smokers they were hosting. This country just hasn't got the memo yet regarding the negatives of the habit.  Ah well, when in Rome!  No, don't do as the Romans in this case, but if one is going to travel, one is bound to run into situations different from home. Get over it or stay home.

Meanwhile, our lunch was wonderful. We each ordered items and shared freely. We ordered a cheese and fruit plate as an appetizer.  We ordered a couple of different local wines and I ordered a poached sea bass on a bed of polenta. Leslie and Vanessa ordered a beef risotto and, of course, an octopus salad. It was all terrific and to sit in the sunny piazza with a soft cooling Mediterranean breeze just made the moment perfect.

After lunch I decided to walk back to the room to write while Leslie and Vanessa power walked up the hill and through Park suma Marjan, a massive park and green space covering a mountain on the peninsula at the end of the city. Then they headed over to the museum of Croatia's most famous sculpture, Ivana Mestrovica, and finally through the market place.

Later in the evening we picnicked in our room again. This time Vanessa joined us in a combined feast of sliced sausage, cheese, olives, beets and slaw, a dessert of dark chocolate all washed down with a pretty good cuvee Benkovac, a combination of cabernet, merlot and syrah grapes.  We shared photos and talked about all kinds of things until about 11:00.

It was a great finish to our time in Split. Tomorrow we head to our final destination, Dubrovnik. On our way we will stop for lunch while driving through part of our third new country, Bosnia Herzegovina. Only two days left before we head home.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Getting Warmer! Zadar, Croatia

The Church of Saint Donat
A warm, sunny day welcomed us on our second day in Zadar. After a very nice hotel breakfast the bus took us to the old city center about 10 minutes away. A city guide walked us around the important historical points, Roman, medieval and various changes due to this conqueror or that. Many old structures had to be partially reconstructed as a result of the Allied bombing in WW II and the more recent Homeland War, as it is called.

Modern, odd, unfortunate architectural choices stood next to Roman ruins or 9th century churches. Despite this strange hodge podge, the old city is beautiful. Delightful restaurants, coffee bars and gelato shops share the space with the archeology museum, a must see museum of reliquaries run by an order of nuns, the remnants of the Roman Forum, pillars and
The choir singing in Saint Donat
foundation stones outlining ancient temples.

We were allowed into the 9th century Romanesque Church of Saint Donat to look around and to sing. It is a round building as was the style at the time. No longer a church, the acoustics were nevertheless, amazing. The choir stood in a circle in the center of the room and sang two medieval pieces perfect for the room. It was a stunning sound.

The reliquary museum was lovely.
Later we enjoyed a tour through a convent's museum of reliquaries and icons. Stunning! I left before about half the choir entertained the sisters with an impromptu concert in their chapel. These nuns are not able to leave their convent and so were unable to attend the concert scheduled for later in the day. So, the choir sang for them in their chapel much to the nun's delight. Leslie said she considered it the high point of the tour for her.

We walked from one end of the old city to the other seeing the sights including The Five Wells, The Land Gate, St. Anastasia Cathedral and The Loggia,, where the choir would sing their concert that evening.

Along the beautiful sea wall we sat for over an hour listening to the haunting sound of the sea organ. This work of art/natural musical instrument was fascinating. The ocean's ebb and flow fill pipes under water which curve up to the surface along the sea wall walkway. I am sure it is more complicated than that but the sound it creates is eerily beautiful. When a large boat comes by the volume increases and the chordal structure of the sound gets wilder and wilder.

Our polar bear club.
While we were enjoying the sea organ's concert, a half dozen students from the choir decided to jump into the Adriatic. They'd gone back to the hotel and changed. They all jumped in together and it didn't take long for most to come right back out. It was cold but a few made repeated leaps and even swam about before dragging themselves out, drying off and dressing warmly.

Our favorite gelato place in Zadar.
We sampled a couple of different gelatos in town. Our favorite was in a little shop along the central walk way near the cathedral. I loved the ice cold tartness of the lemon gelato.

About 2:00 I decided I'd had enough and walked back to the hotel where I took a lovely nap. Leslie stayed wandering the streets more, eventually heading back herself stopping at a coffee bar along the sea wall for a cuppa and the view.

One of the real five wells.
At 6:00 the choir boarded the bus to go into the city again for their concert at The Loggia. This old building was built by the Venicians who once occupied much of Croatia centuries ago. This building, like the famous Loggia in Venice, was the place where judges worked.

Today the Loggia building has been remodeled inside with a contemporary look. The main room is not more than 30 feet square, with a vaulted ceiling, hardly big enough to hold the choirs and the crowd. With the hall empty, the acoustics were nice. With the 60 or 70 that were in the room for the concert, it was nearly dead acoustically.

A Klappa group suddenly broke into song.
It was another great concert by the WWU choir, receiving that traditional rhythmic applause Europeans give a performer they really appreciate. An encore was demanded and when the choir broke into a familiar Croatian folksong, the audience went wild. The local choir oddly chose to sing all American pop music. Gifts were exchanged as is the tradition, lots of double cheek kisses and then folks started heading for the door. But in a back corner of the room a group of seven Croatian men began singing what we had hoped we would here before we left Croatia. Full-throated, lusty Klappa singing!

My dinner at The Five Wells
This was one of those moments I have written about in my blog over the years. A serendipitous moment when you are present and part of something very special and, as usual, I teared up. The choir stood with their mouths hanging open, amazed at what they heard. I walked passed several students who were obviously overcome by what they were seeing and hearing and said, "This is why we travel!"  They slowly nodded, still slack jawed. As if they suddenly and profoundly understood and they would be forever changed.

Leslie and I went out to dinner at the Five Wells Restaurant she had eaten in the night before. I had an octopus and chickpea salad and lamb goulash that was drop dead delicious. Octopus is a specialty here and I had it several times in a variety of preparations.
Moonlight over Croatia.

We walked the 15 minutes home, stopping along the way to take some night photos and enjoy the full moon. We slept so soundly!



Friday, April 12, 2013

On To Croatia!

The next morning our intent was to head to Pula, Croatia, a long bus journey of about 6 hours. After the conflicts in this region, the old Yugoslavia was finally chopped up into smaller counties. But each demanded, and needed, coastal access. So Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia each made concessions and, though Croatia wound up with the lion's share of the coastline, a journey down the Dalmatian coast does require a traveler to briefly leave, enter another country and then, a few kilometers on, re-enter Croatia. On our way today we were to pass briefly through Slovenia. A new country! But before that we had to get drive through an hour and a half across Italy and cross the border into Croatia.
This is a photo taken the next day actually. Note the snow
at the side of the road.

We got within 15 km of the border with Croatia when traffic came to a complete halt. Slowly inching forward for the next 3 hours we seldom went more than 5-10 mph. It took us two hours to go 3 km. Our schedule was shot to hell and we were not allowed to use the bathroom on the bus. Some explanation was given that, though this bus was built in Germany, here in Croatia, the bathroom can not be used. What? Oh, well. So our fearless leader, told the tour guide that this decision would have to mean more stops along the way so folks could use a public bathroom. We crept on through snow, sleet, rain and an
One of several tunnels we passed through. This one was
four km long. Note the icy road surface
ice storm. The freeway was closed at times and be had to drive across country, sometimes along hair raising cliffs on an icy road. Finally, we got back on the freeway only to drive passed miles of semi trucks all stopped in the slow lane. We kept going somehow. Our guise was a nervous wreck. Or driver looked as cool as a cucumber!

We finally pulled over in some small town after Leslie insisted it was time for a bathroom stop. The guide was far less accommodating than the Venice guide but she relented.

The snow kept falling. More slow highway speeds. We continued to creep along sliding occasionally but making slow, steady progress. The guide called ahead. The city tour had to be canceled due to our lateness of arrival. Then we started figuring out whether or not we'd have to drive right to the concert!

By around 1:30 the bus finally edged across the border into Slovenia. A new country! At the border we had to stop for a few minutes while a border guard came aboard and stamped all our passports which excited all of us since that doesn't often happen in Europe anymore except at arrival and departure in an airport.  Right across the border our driver pulled over in front of a roadside restaurant. It looked questionable but turned out to be the best food we'd had up until then.  Skafye was its name. I had an insalada di pulpo, octopus salad. Perfectly cooked octopus on a bed of greens and I dressed it with the traditional olive oil, red wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper. Others at my table had pastas with various sauces--bolognese, and a delicious truffle sauce that was the winner.

Having had a meal in Slovenia, we could officially claim that we had been to that new country.

Late in the afternoon, the weather began to clear and moderate. We finally arrived in Pula and our hotel. The hotel was supposed to be a resort. If it is it is more like what I would imagine an East German or Russian resort from the communist era would look like. Spartan furnishings, hard beds, the heat was turned off at a certain hour. At one point we turned the water on in the bathroom sink and out ran brown water! I was glad we didn't get up to get a drink in the middle of the night!
The Franciscan Church in Pula. So cold!
Dressed in their formal wear the choir re-boarded the bus for the drive to the church for the first exchange concert, this one with a choir from the University of Pula. It had gotten dark and we had to walk a quarter mile or so up hill to the the performance site--the Franciscan Church of Pula. It looked very old, was all stone with a wooden beamed ceiling and very little ornamentation. It had heat but you'd never know it. It was VERY cold! Our guide told us she didn't think many people would show up since it was so cold. She was so wrong, the church was 3/4 filled with a very enthusiastic crowd.

The Pula choir was made up of about 20 singers only 5 of whom were men. They sang Croatian music which was fun to hear. They only sang for 10 minutes.

The WWU choir took the stage and wowed the crowd with 45 minutes of outstanding music from a wide variety of periods. Of course, the audience was especially appreciative of the American selections. They ended their performance with Hall Johnson's arrangement of, Ain't Got Time to Die. The audience applauded wildly.

Following an informal meeting between the two choirs we walked the short distance to our bus (this time down hill) and were whisked back to the hotel for a late supper. It was welcome but reaffirmed my feeling that we were staying in an old communist era hotel. The food had been sitting on the steam tables all evening and was dried out, pretty basic fare, too. When something ran out it was not replaced. We had to argue with the staff before finally getting a carafe of tap water.

Many students stayed up late in the bar area having fun with other hotel residence, many of whom seemed to be their age. We headed off to bed. Whether an accident or planned, we wound up in a two bedroom apartment. All I can say, beyond what I said earlier about the decor, was that it was big.

After a rather fitful night's sleep on the hard bed, the alarm awoke us for second day in Croatia. We'd packed the night before so we could sleep in a bit more. Breakfast was in the same hotel cafeteria in which we'd had the previous evening's supper. The breakfast didn't change my opinion of the place.  

We drove into Pula for a short morning of sightseeing before heading to our next destination. We had a walking tour through the old town ending with the not-to-be-missed Roman amphitheater. That is what they insisted upon calling it and it is how it is used today, but its history is most definitely that of an coliseum complete with animals and gladiators. Built in 1 A.D., it is either well preserved or well restored, depending on the explanation you listen too. Today it is used only for summer concerts. We took a group photo in the center of the old coliseum, and then went down the ancient steps leading under the arena floor where the animals were kept and the gladiators prepared. Today it is a museum explaining the architecture and housing relics from the period including lots of ancient amphora. Not having been to Rome yet, this was a real thrill for me to see. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

Back on the bus we braced ourselves for the 6 hour journey ahead to the region of the Dalmatian coast where we would spend a couple of days in the city of Zadar.  We made stops every couple of hours for toilet breaks or to have lunch. Our drive took us through the mountains which were covered with the fresh new snow we'd experienced in the ice storm the previous day.  Today it was cold, crisp but sunny and beautiful.

Our travel day finally came to an end when we arrived in front of our hotel in Zadar. It was a beautiful resort hotel sitting right across the street from the Adriatic Sea. Our room had a view of the beach and out onto the sea. Even the room was lovely. Nothing like the communist era accommodations of our previous night. This room reflected the place. It had a nautical look with lots of warm wood accents and was very nicely appointed.

Amphora in the "basement" of the coliseum in Pula.
The choir was surprised by being greeted in the hotel lobby by several members of the choir they will share a performance with tomorrow night. What a kind thing to do. They were warm and happy to see us.  They insisted on taking us on a walk around the old town center, a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Leslie and a former WWU grad student, along on this trip as a member of the tour choir, accepted their invitation and headed off within minutes of our arrival. I chose to stay in for the evening to catch up on my journaling and process the photos I'd taken so far.
I  was fine with it. I find I get to a point where I just need a break from people from time to time and relish the peace and quiet, the calm, the by-myself-time. Leslie is very supportive of my odd
The view out our hotel window in Pula. 
little quirk, though I am sure she wishes I would tag along on her high-speed jaunts. She gets a lot more sightseeing done as a result of being able to go at her own pace.

She rolled in  a few hours later having had a wonderful time and chattering away about what she'd seen. We slept very well that night and awakened this next morning to a mild, sunny day which would be filled with a walking tour of old Pula and what would turn out to be a special experience at that evening's concert.