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

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.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Fresh Water Pump Issues

So, my 5 year old fresh water pump went out during our recent cruise in Canada. 5 years old! The one
Old 12 volt pump
before that lasted over 20 years! No fresh water out of the taps or shower for the last two days of the trip. As we were in marinas that didn’t cause much hardship. I figured I’d install the replacement pump I had aboard when we got home.
24 volt pump I can't use
Today I am down at the boat doing just that. I get the old one out of the tight spot it lives in down in the utility tunnel squeezed between the waste tank, hot water heater and isolation transformer. I’m balancing on my head with my glasses slipping up so I can’t focus on the job. I finally get the new pump ready to go in, wire it up, flip on the switch to make sure it worked before connecting the water supply and....nothing. I rewired it to make sure I connected it correctly and...nothing. Upon closer inspection I spotted the problem. The new unit operates on 24 volts, not 12 which is what I need. A quick call to Fisheries Supply and the correct model is on its way and I am on my way to the post office to mail the other one back to them.
So, for a few days, there will be a hole in the floor of the salon waiting for the new pump. Geeez!
The pump's location
Now you would think when you call and order a new water pump for a boat that the sales rep, who works for a boating store, would have the sense to ask if you need a pump for a 12 or 24 volt system. In fact, the pump I removed was labeled that it worked on a 12-24 volt system. Of course, the person doing the ordering, me, might also have the good sense to ask that they send me a 12 volt version. Ah, well, live and learn.
Hatch to get at the pump
Follow up to my earlier posting regarding the fresh water pump. I’m driving to Seattle tomorrow to pick up the new one and drop off the other one.
Hopefully, by Saturday the new pump will be up and running! Then, on to the
next project.

The photo to the left shows a close up of the utility tunnel below the main helm. The black spots are roughly where the old pump lived. The photo to the right shows the hatch below the main helm that I had to reach down into to get at the pump and wire up and plumb the new one.

I called Fisheries Supply this afternoon and asked for the new pump to be set aside at Will Call. I will make a quick trip down to their store tomorrow, drop off the 24 volt model I can't use and pick up the 12 volt model I will install on Saturday. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Dining Out in the Ham!

Bellingham has always, in my humble opinion, struggled with great places to eat. Admittedly, it is no Seattle or Portland, but you'd think something of really high quality could make a go of it here in the City of Subdued Excitement! And there have been some notable and gallant tries in the past. What seems to generally happen though is that someone opens a place, there is lots of enthusiastic support for it and then, suddenly, something happens and they are closed.

Sometimes, I think it is just poor management. Running a successful restaurant is a labor of love requiring many hours of work outside operating hours and just as hard work during operating hours. Along with that must be a chef who doesn't scrimp on quality or standards and brings innovative ideas to the dining room. Too, often I have seen restaurants go down as a result of the original chef being let go after a few months or a couple of years and a cook allowed to take over, running the place into the ground because they didn't know what the hell they're doing and or don't care.

There are some amazing venues in town that are currently empty but would make great restaurant locations if someone with a dream and some funding could get it off the ground.

Take the top of the Bellingham Tower, the tallest building in town, where at least a couple of restauants have opened in the past but closed after only a couple of years. They were very nice places and hugely popular but for what ever reason folded.

Another spot that has never been a restaurant but is a perfect spot for a diner is the old stationary store on the corner of Champion and Unity Streets behind the Mount Baker Theater.  Its the right shape, has windows across the front, is long and narrow just as a traditional diner should be.

So, where does one go for an outstanding dinner experience in B'ham? Well, sorry to say I can't really recommend a place right now. Oh, there are good pizza places galore. Lots of very good breweries. Sandwich shops and we do have some outstanding breakfast places. But an outstanding white table cloth dinner place. Can't think of one.

We have an Anthony's, a surf and turf chain based here in the northwest. Nope. Sadly, with all the waterfront space we have, and with the amount of fresh seafood, salmon, halibut, prawns and crab coming into our harbor, there just isn't a top flight seafood restaurant.

So here are my top choices right now in no particular order and what they do best.

1. Home Skillet--the best breakfast place in town, period. Amazing food. Their only downside is their size and because of it the management have elected to be kind of pushy when it comes to lingering over your meal. That is off putting to us. BUT, the food! OMG! Try the Tater Tot Hash or the Big Green Mess and well, anything on the menu. You can't go wromg.

2. Fat Pie Pizza--in Fairhaven (south side of town) has amazing views up on the top floor on a nice day and their pizza is pretty darn good.

3. Our Diner--Another great breakfast joint out north of town on the Guide Meridian road. Try the Hashbrown sandwich. Amazing and you probably only need the half order.

4. Nikki's Bella Marina--Okay, so alot of folks don't care for this place. It has nice views down onto Squalicum Marina, but I truly believe they make THEE best fish and chips in town. You get two huge fish portions and all the steak fries you can eat and the fish is battered and fried perfectly.

5. Bellingham Cider Company--This hard to find place may, just may be my current favorite place for dinner. Very good food including the vegan selections and the cider is getting better all the time.

6. Camber--This coffe shop in the heart of downtown B'ham, was recently named to have the best coffee in Washington. That is saying something around this part of the country. But they also serve up some nice food as well.

7. Twin Sisters Brewing Company--They've only been open about a year but this is alreay a hot spot for beer lovers and they make some good offerings for lunch and dinner as well. It's just a fun place to go and hangout.

8. La Gloria Mexican Food--It isn't the best Mexican food I have ever had, hey, I'm from California, I know from Mexican food. BUT, it comes the closest to my California roots as anyplace in town. It even has a decent market attached to it where you can get fresh tortillas and some anazing carnitas (also available in the restaurant).

Well, that about does it for now. I'll do some more thinking and will certainly continue looking for and trying new places as they open or I discover them.


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Windy Days Road Trip

Our cruise into the San Juans set for earlier this week had to be cancelled due to windy conditions on the water. 10-20 knot winds make leaving our slip or entering another problematic. Rather than risk it, we decided to cancel the trip and stay on dry land, not an easy or attractive alternative considering the work involved in planning the cruise.

Nevertheless, yesterday we got out of the house early and headed south down Chuckanut Drive, a scenic two-lane drive tucked into the cliffs overlooking our coastline. This drive includes narrow turns, deep second growth forests and stunning overlooks out onto the bays and coves below.

Eventually, the twists and turns popped us out onto the Skagit Flats and we pulled over at the little crossroads seetlement at Chuckanut Drive and Bow Hill Road. This is the turn off to head into the tiny settlement of Edison, Washington, but before making the turn there was a lot to check out at the crossroads.

Also near this corner of deliciousness is the Samish Bay Cheese Company, well known at locaal farmer's markets. They make a variety of fresh and aged cheeses and many other products. Its worth a stop in to taste a few of their offerings. Buy a chunk of cheese and hold onto it for when you get to our next stop.

Heading down the road into the little settlement of Edison is quite an odd experince. How did its contents wind up here? An art gallery and several great places to eat! The town has been here since the Civil War, sitting on the edge of the sloughs leading out into Padilla Bay. 
We had breakfast at the old Edison Cafe  where we enjoyed an omelet, crispy browns and rye bread and a bowl of vanilla yogurt and house made granola. Two cups of Fidalgo Bay coffee served up by a very friendly staff made the experience very pleasant.

A bit further into the town we stoped in to the don't miss Breadfarm bakery for some of their delicious baked goods. Their bread and sweet and savory items are well known at farmers markets all over the sound. We picked out a loaf of their multi-grain and a cinnamon snails.

Sadly, two of our favorite spots wer closed and didn't open until later in the morning. We had hoped to breakfast at Tweets and stop in to Slough Foods and pick up some of the famous Salumi sausage made by Mario Batali's father in Seattle. Slough Foods is one of the few places where you can buy Salumi other than at the restaurant in Seattle. It is pricey stuff but worth the treat and isn't so bad when sliced very thin and squeezed between slices of fresh Breadfarm bread. Alas, Slough Foods was not open and so we had to move on to our next stop for the day--La Conner.

This quaint community sits along the Swinomish Channel, a salt water channel cut near Anacrotes at the north end and leading out into Skagit Bay and either towards the stunning Deception Pass or south down the inside of of Whidbey Island.

La Conner is a sweet town of onnly a few hundred residents but contains plenty to do and see. Museums, a brewery, plenty of shops, galleries and great restaurants.

Our favorite place on our most recent trips has been the discovery of Anelia's Kitchen and Stage. The name hides that fact that it is actually an amazing Polish restaurant. Run by a young couple the options are just head on the table delicious. On our recent visit we shared the Polish Platter, an assortment of the fabulous options on the menu.

Take a walk down the main street of La Conner andtry to pick the place you want to dine. Several places are righ along the waterfront and offer al fresco dining. Stroll along the waterfront walk for stunning views of the channel, boats tied up along the docks and plenty of wild life watching.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Generator Working, BIG Engine Project Almost Done

It has been an unexpectedly expensive off season so far. The Honda generator went into the shop and came out ready to go for another season. Both engines are receiving expensive makeovers with some of their cooling parts.

Project #1--The Honda generator went into the shop as described in the previous entry. Hardware Sales turned it around quickly and it is home in the garage ready to go. I purchased a gallon of that expensive synthetic fuel to run through it in the off season.

What was the generator's problem? The same one that seems to afflict all small engines. The tiny injector that sends fuel to the cylinder (as I understand it) gets gummed up with impurities in the fuel and makes it difficult or impossible to start. My Honda 2 hp outboard has this same issue from time to time. I switched to better fuel but the problem remains. So, Hardware Sales says to drain the gas out of the device and run some of the synthetic fuel through the lines. It is a more stable fuel during long down times. So, hopefully, problem solved.

Project #2--As described previously, my twin Hino diesels turned out to be in need of some repairs and replacement parts.

My mechanic asked me if my manicoolers and exhaust risers had ever been inspected? I had to admit that as far as I knew, they never had. He suggested he open them up and take a look. I readily agreed. When he opened up the risers he discovered they were so corroded that the intakes were in seriously bad shape. He declared them DOA so we began looking into where and how to go about replacing them.

New ones were just not to be had which meant having new ones fabricated. Yikes! That's gonna cost ya'! We found a firm down in Texas, formerly from Tacoma, that knew exactly what we needed and they agreed to make them. I'd heard ceramic coating them would also add to their lifetime so I had that done, too. Once the finished new stainless steel risers were built, they were shipped to a firm in Auburn, Washington to receive their coating of ceramic. They arrived  on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago ready to install.

However, my mechanic also found the manicoolers to be in questionable condition and recommended they be boiled out and pressure tested. That was done by Whatcom Radiator. The test came back that they had some leakage that needed to be repaired. They explained that if they were not repaired the engines would probably suffer a catastrophic failure within the coming year. Double Yikes! Yes, please fix it!

Those repairs were made and a couple of days ago, they called to say they were ready. About $400 was much better news than the tens of thousands I would have paid had I ignored my mechanic's advice.

So, this weekend, my mechanic will dive into the engine room and put things back together. Approximately $4, 000 later my cooling system will be like new. I am told I should see increased speed as a result and engines running at cooler temps. This I look forward to.

In the meantime, several other, more cosmetic projects will haveto be postponed until next season since so much had to unexpectedly be spent on the engine project. So, no new furniture for the flybridge this summer. My water and waste system monitors will have to wait too. Oh, well!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Took my Honda generator down to Hardware Sales small engine repair shop yesterday. They advertised a tune-up special and since I have not been able to get the generator to start I thought maybe they could clean up the carb and do any other maintenance it might need. It has VERY low hours on it so I really wantto keep it ingood shape. I use it aboard the boat as a way to top off the batterieswhen we are not on shore power for more than a few days. Itis a marine model meaning it hasa shore power cable plug built into it. So I simply plug in the sore power cable into the generator and the other endinto the side of the boat and crank up the generator. I keep the generator up on the cockpit roof so it is out in the open. No exhaust issues that way. The Honda is often described as the option most boaters go towhen they have no genset, don't want to spend the thousands ir would take to install one and and want the capablity of a generator. Many complain that a portabe generator is a CO hazard but claim the Honda, when properly vented, is less of a hazard. I don't know. I just know our Honda has been great without any sign of a hazardous situation. We do have CO detectors aboard. The Honda is also much quieter than most portable generators on the market so it is less likely to set off complaint from neighbor boaters.

Back to my story. Hardwares Sales saidthey would also fill the generator with synthetic fuel because it was more stable when the generator was not used for long periods of time like over the winter. The issue is that regular gas sittingin the unit tends to gum up those tiny injectors that inject the fuel into the cylinder making it difficult or impossible to start the engine when you need it. That forces you to take apart the carberator and clean it before the unit can be used again.The cost is usually arounf $80-100 for this service. I have been having to do this with my Honda dinghy outboard nearly every year and now my generator. Hardware Sales solution is to use synthetic fuel except whenever you are actually going to use the units. Then run regular fuel sans ethanol. Then as the use comes to an end each season, dump the fuel and run synthetic fuel through the system ridding it of regular fuel and leaving synthetic fuel in the lines. That way the engine is ready for non-use during the winter months. I don't know if this is a good idea but I am willling to give it a shot. The downside? A galllon of the sunthetic fuel runs $20 and I haven't found a less expensive source. So it is pricey but, as the Hardware Sales guy put it, you can pay $20 for the fuel or pay him $80-100 every year to fix the resulting problem. Well, when you put it that way....