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

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Key of Sea Projects--Summer 2015

Another year, another set of the ongoing projects which always need doing on our Key of Sea. I'm only limited by the money available to do the projects. That is the money available over and above the day to day costs of moorage, repair and maintenance.

Over the past month or so I have been busy as usual for the time of year. Readying the Key of Sea for the summer cruising season and we have some exciting on-the-water adventures planned.

The upper deck wrapped dark blue canvas was the original location
to stow our new kayaks.
The biggest adventure is a 3-week cruise to the Canadian Gulf Islands. Unlike our 5-week cruise last summer, this one will keep us in the Gulf Islands, far south of where we ventured last summer. Never the less, we will be exploring a lot of interesting bays and coves. We'll have the benefit of our new toys to help us peek into some of the less accessible nooks and crannies that our boat or dinghy can't get us into or that we'd like to explore quietly and closer to water level. I am referring to our new kayaks which I have written about in the previous blog entry.

Project #1 was to attempt to build racks for the kayaks to hang from while we are under way. This turned out not to work as our boat isn't long enough for them to hang where we wanted them to--off
The railing  along one side of the boat turned out to be the best
solution given the size and space on our boat. We'll bungee
them to the railing.
the upper deck. Oh well. Turns out it will work to just lay them along the inside of the railing along the port side of the boat. Just a couple of bungees wrapped around each end of the kayaks should hold them in place. It will be much easier to bring them aboard and launch them from this location. So, project #1? Complete and total cost only around $20.


Finished cap rail. Wow!
Project #2: Refinishing the cap rail around the cockpit in the aft of the boat. The cap rail is the teak one by 6 cap that surrounds the cockpit on three sides. It was looking particularly worn, even showing bare wood in a couple of spots. I decided to strip the old varnish and re-varnish the entire thing. I chose Cetol natural teak and Cetol clear gloss as my products of choice. Three coats of each. But before I could refinish I had to strip the old varnish using a heat gun and scrapper. This turned out to be a pretty easy job. A little back breaking only because of the position you have to stand in to do

the work. But it went quickly. I sanded off the few blemishes followed by progressively finer grit paper and I was about ready to begin the varnishing.

The weather has been extraordinarily sunny and warm which made the completion of the project go much smoother and faster. Each coat was followed by at least 24 hours of curing. Weather here in B'ham can change so quickly so keeping an eye on the weather forecast is essential. Rain falling on freshly varnished wood work means you have to sand that coat down and start again. Something to be carefully avoided. The weather completely cooperated and the project turned out beautifully! So, project #2? Complete. Cost of this project? Something less than $75 due to the fact that I have tools that can be reused on future projects and enough of the Cetol products to do several more projects.

Soldered connector to plug into the VHS radio
Project #3: Installation of the new VHF antenna. This turned out to be the biggest pain of all the projects due to my own stupidity. I bought a very nice, higher end VHF antenna back around Christmas from West Marine. In the Spring I gathered the other connectors and tools to do this project and, on a nice day, went to the boat to do the install. Because there was already a coaxial wire running from the VHF radio to the old antenna, I figured I would cut off most of the coaxial cable that came with the antenna, add a connector and plug in the two ends of the cable to each other. I measured and calculated that I could cut off 18 of the 20 feet of cable leaving me a two foot pigtail to add my connector. BIG MISTAKE!

New VHS Antenna ready to be installed 
DO NOT EVER cut any wire off when it has been given to you. Coil it and tuck it behind a bulkhead in some other out of the way spot BUT--DO NOT CUT THE WIRE THAT COMES WITH THE DEVICE!!!!!

This made my job so much more difficult. What I SHOULD have done was run the new cable to the radio unit and pull the old cable out. Why not? A new radio. A new antenna. Why use old wiring? Ya, dumb idea. Now I know.

Long story short, I bought new wire (Uh Huh, I'd thrown out the 18 feet of wire that I cut off.) and ran it to the radio and antenna after soldering the new connectors to the cable. Voila!The radio actually works better than it did. So, project #3? Done. Cost? Aside from the antenna which was about $150, the connectors and wiring was about another $100. It should have only been about $10. Live and learn.

So, there you are, a few projects that took some time but being able to do more and more myself is saving me hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars avoiding having to call in a specialist.

Sometime I'll tell you the story of replacing my oil this year. Sounds exciting, huh? Well, anytime you can have fun AND save a several hundred bucks, well, THAT IS an interesting story.

Let The Winterizing Begin!

No photos for this entry. Too depressing....

I spent the day down at the boat yesterday. The Key of Sea sat forlornly, gently bobbing in her slip as if to say, "Come on, dad, let's go for a ride!"

Not today...

Instead, I carefully removed items from the boat and did some chores that only lead to one conclusion. Cold weather-proofing time has arrived again.

I removed the generator from its place right behind the fly bridge, lowered it to the cock pit deck below, removed the fuel can, wrapped the captain's chair in its new cover to keep the weather out, closed up the bimini.

I've noticed the hatch cover has leaked down into the cock pit over last winter and so I added some weather stripping and chalking to that in hopes of eliminating that problem.

On the plus side, I had a member of the Power Squadron down to do vessel safety checks on our new kayaks. I should have been done last spring but just got it done.

After they were inspected, I deflated them and packed them away in inside the salon out of the weather, I'll probably bring them home eventually since they take up too much room inside the boat making it uninviting should be decide to spend a winter weekend on the boat.

I hooked up the electric heater so it is ready should we go down for the weekend and to keep things from freezing during extreme weather.

Oh, I just got a new label maker and so I was finally able to put labels on a couple of unlabeled or incorrectly labeled circuit breakers.

Finally, sadly, I removed the standard from the stern of the boat and the burgee from the bow, wrapped them up and stowed them in the v-berth,

Still a couple of chores to do before draining the water and waste tanks one last time (we might go out for an overnight yet). I need to attach a cabinet door that broke in the master stateroom. I have the new hinges on so it is almost done.

The big job left is to remove the starboard alternator, have it bench tested and possibly replaced. About a $150 job if I do it. Chump change...


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Our New Advanced Elements Kayaks

Advanced Elements Advanced Frame 1012
 Meet our most recent purchases and additions to our cruising the Pacific Northwest. Last summer during our 5-week cruise into Canadian waters, our cruise buddies, Mike and Sarah McEvoy had two of the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame model 1012  (that's the orange one). Leslie went out several times with Sarah in the rather calm waters in coves, bays and inlets we'd anchored in for a day or two. She fell in love with it. I chose not to try it out since the kayak looked to be a bit small for my size. 

We came back from the trip and started researching the Advanced Elements line of inflatable kayaks. These seemed like a good idea but I was weary of how well they might hold up over time. They are inflatable. I also wondered whether I could find a model that would handle my height and girth. 

After looking on-line reviews of inflatables in general, the Advanced Elements line kept coming to the top, consistently getting the highest ratings from everyone I found, even making certain to mention their quality despite there being an inflatable. They didn't see that as a particular disadvantage. 
4-part travel paddle breaks down and stores in the travel bag.

Next to figure out, where is the best deal available. I tried the usual--Amazon, REI, West Marine. No matter where I looked on-line, no one under cut a local dealer in Anacortes, Marine ServiceCenter, the dealer Mike and Sarah had bought their kayaks last year. 

They had purchased theirs at the Seattle Boat Show where they got a free paddle and the upgraded inflatable lumbar seat that offers much better support--a great deal.

We decided we'd wait until this year's boat show to make our move and so for the past several months we've been waiting for the show. When it finally arrived I called the store to find out if I could get the same deal as Mike and Sarah had, the answer was no. That was an introductory offer with a new line of products. This year the offer is just a free paddle. 

The model 1009 Y
It still seemed like a good deal and so, just the other day, we headed down to Anacortes to make the purchase. when we got there I had my first opportunity to actually sit in one of them--that orange model our friends had. Too small! My legs were too long and it would have been quite a feat to extricate myself from it when the time came.
The salesperson suggested I would do better to try on the Advanced Frame Expedition model 1009Y (that's the yellow one). It fit considerably better. Its length is 13" compared with the 10 1/2 feet length of the 1012. The 1009 has the same 32" beam and only weighs 6 pounds more than the 1012. Yet the maximum weight capacity on the yellow 1009 is 150 pounds greater than the 1012. Just about right for me.

The yellow 1009 does cost quite a bit more than the 1012, the the 1009 come with the inflatable lumbar seat standard--a nice plus. But true to her persuasive ability, Leslie managed to talk the salesperson into throwing in the inflatable lumbar seat on her kayak as well.
The inflatable lumbar seat option

So in the end we managed to walk out with exactly what we hoped for. 

Next summer we will mount the kayaks to either the bow stanchions or to the stanchions on the upper deck depending on where they best fit to stay out of the way when underway and anchoring procedures. Either way these kayaks are going to open up some fun and interesting opportunities to more intimately explore our anchorages. We also hope to drop them in Lake Whatcom or other area waterways.

Because they easily deflate and fold down to store in a handy carrying case, they can also be carried on airlines and taken to some of the places we travel. I can see them being handy when we visit our friends in Florida or on road trips.

Now to start getting myself in better shape so I have an easier time getting in and out of my kayak.    Here is a link to a video about the model 1009:

Been a While

It has been quite a while, I know. I didn't mean for it to have taken so long since my last entry. Lost interest, time, life. I guess those will have to be my excuses. A lot has happened since then.

The biggest event has been the discovery that at any minute rhe phone will ring and we will hear the voice of our daughter or our son in law announcing they have become parents. Today is the due date--February 10, 2015. When that call comes it will mean of course, that we will have become grandparents. We are a good deal more excited than this narrative might indicate but it has been many months since we were initially told and the baby has so far been mostly just a growing bump, a trip to Target to purchase a crib and a baby shower hosted by long-time friends of our daughter and her husband. The reality for me will really kick in when we get that call to come to Seattle to meet the newest member of the family--our grandbaby.

It has mostly been a concept so far. Far distant when compared to our own experience becoming parents some 30+ years ago. That was real. We lived everyday of it. The doctor visits, the living with the experience everyday. It was close up and intimate on a level that can only be that for the couple going through it. It seems so long ago. Almost another life.

I've thought back a lot to our own experience with those precious moments. Like a slide show, for those who remember the Kodak carousel projectors. Each succeeding clunk of the projector flashes another frame of life up on the wall of our memory. Clunk. The moment in the Good Earth restaurant in Santa Clara, California, a few blocks from where I worked at the time, where we met my wife's parents and announced that they were going to be grandparents. Clunk. Spooning in bed late at night and feeling the first movements our daughter made in mama's tummy. Clunk. The photo of a very healthy and pregnant wife sitting in the sunshine at an outdoor concert a few weeks before the birth. Then there was the realization that this was all about to get really serious when we headed for the hospital. Those two people looked so young, were young, too young to become parents. So long ago.

So, we wait because there is nothing else to do for us but wait. Anticipation. A sort of nervous excitement is what I feel when I think about this new phase of life.  Is it a boy? Is it a girl? What name will we use when we greet this little one into the world? What name will we hear when this little one calls out to us? What experiences are ahead for us together. More photos flash in my mind. Clunk. Raking leaves in grandma's front yard. Clunk. A cozy bedroom filled with silly doo-dads. Clunk. Christmas mornings to remember. Clunk. Playing school. Reading bedtime stories on the white polka dotted sky blue couch with the smell of her clean wet  hair and that flannel night gown, those tiny toes sticking out the bottom. Trips to Disneyland. Tide pool adventures at Asilomar. What  memories will our grand baby look back on, will we look back on? I'll get back to you on that when we've made a few memories of our own.