2015-02-18

Yachtspotting under adverse conditions

Thanks to National Yacht Club member Bill Roulston, who took this icy shot very recently whilst flying over our boat club.
Where's Waldo, minus that eejit Waldo.
Note the hardness of the lake. It's reported that the Lake Ontario ice cover has jumped from "enough to chill the rum" in 2013 to "walk to Youngstown" this year. Weather forecasters, having predicted a typical winter in the late fall, have revised their outlooks to "cold spring". Providentially for those finding it difficult to work aboard this winter, the boat club's spring launch is an uncharacteristically late May 2nd weekend. Perhaps for the best?
The small yellow arrow points at the eight pixels or so that comprise Alchemy, which looks positively and uncharacteristically svelte next to a rather large tarped cabin cruiser and a Whitby 45. Click to expand, if desired. Maybe you'll spot the frozen-open main gate.
I like the dichotomy of using aerial photos or graphical resources such as Google Earth to see my boats. The paradox of pixels making objects I can touch (or indeed, can board and disappear inside of) seem more real to me is amusing. This Franklin Expedition-style icebound vista, however, is less so.

2015-02-17

Cold shots

Not quite the North West Passage, but our club's basin would be completely frozen over were it not for the "bubbler"-type activities of clustered ducks.
Nature is no respecter of my refit schedule, it appears. It's been an appallingly cold winter (yes, even by Canadian standards), and opportunities to continue with boat fixing have been distressingly few. I went down to Alchemy yesterday by bicycle (the roads being dry and me having longjohns) to get a couple of hours of battery charging in. I was concerned that at several weeks between charges (the only draw is the LED of the pump switch, in case...ha!...I had a lot of wind-driven rainwater come in), the single Group 24 start battery I have aboard might undergo a phase transition to fully solid. This has been the case with some bottles of pop on my enclosed porch: even the leaky Victorian brickwork has been insufficient to keep outside temperatures of -25C at bay.

A quick inspection showed the battery unburst and, of more import, no signs of the antifreeze with which I winterize the engine bursting out from, say, the seams of the diesel. The lowest temperature having been -25C, and most of the "pink stuff" RV-type plumbing grade antifreeze being rated for -50F/-46C, why should I have worried about that?
More than I need for even two boats, but if it's on sale, I have been known to buy two years' supply. The difference is applied to the rum budget in order to avoid budget rum.
Well, it happens that I have heard a rumour that the -50F pink plumbing antifreeze sold by the local-to-me West Marine (before it went, as predicted last November, belly-up in January) was, in fact, freezing at -20C. A diesel mechanic reported this to my usually reliable source. Now, I may have used this stuff on either, or both boats: I tend to have half-bottles here and there left over. I don't dilute the stuff: the engine cooling circuits on Valiente (raw-water or "open") and Alchemy (closed with heat exchanger) get full strength, and the "block" cooling circuit in Alchemy is full of undiluted Prestone DEX (good to -84F, which is a brisk day on Mars). So I'm not super worried, but it is indicative of a bad quality control issue if it's true that could, potentially, seriously damage a lot of boats. Most owners do not regularly visit their boats in the dead of winter; I was certainly alone in the boat yard yesterday, and burst blocks or split hoses are not what one would wish to learn about when, on a fresh day in April, it's time to pull the plastic off. In addition, some older and/or wealthier and/or mechanically disinclined boat owners have the process of "winterization" contracted out to services or diesel mechanics, which is not only too rich for my blood, but is not the sort of job I would tend to farm out, having heard of horror stories and half-assery in the past.
Guess what can break a push-broom? This snow can break a push-broom.
I have yet to haul my Honda genset down to Valiente. We'll see if there's an issue when I do. It's important to make time and do correct prep in the boating game.

2015-01-29

Transports of de light

I'm looking rough at the periphery these days, but at least I've still got nice legs.

I have made somewhat of a point, perhaps at times a point both prideful and smug, of mentioning that we aren't rich, that we do not own a car and that this Not Ownership has played a favourable role in being able to afford the protracted and expensive process of refitting a boat for world travel.

If I haven't, let me know and I'll scribble some hot air.
These have diesels in them slightly less powerful than my Atomic 4 direct-drive. They must burn two cups a week.

The fact is, of course, is that having a car, or rather, some sort of utility van of the Ford Transit or any number of unimported Japanese diesel van models (or even the very modest and unavailable in Canada Piaggio "Ape" above), well, it would be handy. My recent trip to Whitby to see the man who might blast my bottom (why does everything in sailing sound sexual?) was at the favour of the kind Captain Matt, and he's not the only fellow sailor who is generous when my cargo needs exceed that of my many bike trailers.
The new ride: a Brodie Argus with a cut-down Chariot, now more cargo, less child.
Speaking of which, much like a car owner, I have to occasionally buy a new bike, usually when the cost and incidence of repairs exceeds the remaining value of the bike. Such was the case recently, and I bought the above model, my first "road bike" in a long time, at a decent January discount. Unsolicited pro-tip: If you buy the previous year's model from a bike shop in January or February, it's possible to save hundreds of bucks as the stores must make room for the inevitable newer and shinier mount.. Pushing through the tumbleweeds at the bike shop was worth it and I received a lot of good advice from cyclists more up-to-date on makes and gear than myself.

The bike plus cart combo is similar to a tender to a boat as it's a means to transport more provisions at one go than would a simple backpack or shoulder bag.
So the land-dinghy involved some fabric amputation, the removal of the kid seats, the replacement of the near-done tires and tubes, some lubrication and a quick torquing of bolts. As can be seen, the old standard 26-inch wheel size of mountain bikes and the even older 27-inch class of older road bikes has been superseded in many cases by 700c wheels (definitions and debates of merits found here), which are big enough to have given me a turn when I first threw my relatively stumpy leg over what seemed to be a very large bicycle. But it isn't, and while a 57-cm frame is as big as I would like, I ended up raising the post a bit for a more effective stroke. Above, it can be seen that the trailer just misses the fender...I don't have to kludge together an extender.
It's crowded back here.
On the other hand, I must use up every millimeter on the chainstay to get this to work, and that fabric "safety strap" is too short to reach. So I may take a spare clevis pin from my sail repair box and pin that latch shut. With the mechanical disc brakes and spokes so close, it would be like ninjas with Cuisinarts if anything came apart.
If you see me (and with the flags and lights I carry, you bloody well should!), please don't honk. I might honk back.
The cart adds both rolling resistance and windage (although less that when this was a child-sheltering wedge shape) when compared with the one-wheel, low cart I usually use. But besides been old and unable to be retrofitted to the new, slightly larger bike, my one-wheel cart is corroded after nearly 20 years of service 12 months of the year (it's the grocery getter), and it carries a recommended 70 pounds, although I have had heavier loads that made it emit alarming complaints. The two-wheeled cart, by contrast, can carry at least 100 pounds, meaning (and here's where boat stuff comes in for those readers who have yet to enter the coma state), I can bring batteries, pails of paint, engine parts, small tankage like the water heater and yes, sail bags to and from the home base to the boat(s). With a web of shock cords, I can haul voluminous if relatively light loads without resorting to taxis or accommodating, if pitying, friends.
The white bin under the blue was seven bucks. I'm going to see if the UV or the friction kills it in months; if not, I can fit several of them on Alchemy.
The bike-orientated plans play further into the world of boats as our ideas evolve around how to get around the various countries to which we hope to sail. The current consensus is that bikes can be found nearly everywhere; that most (but not all) of them rust to bits on deck, and that folding bikes, while compact enough to seal in a bag, are expensive if at all good and are just not great for distances or much in the way of cargo. So the idea was, and remains, that we would bring the cargo "system" of a bike rack or two, and a couple of panniers both sufficient enough in capacity to transport laundry or provisions (assuming we didn't need to actually dock and shop for several months) by hand or bike and waterproof enough to stand drizzly trips in a tender between boat and shore.
Thanks to kitty, more money's in the kitty. Photo copyright © 2006-2015 byBrian Huntley
Now, while there are perfectly economical, not to mention easily built, ways to carry stuff on bikes, the customary method is to use panniers, which range from more or less soft cloth bags to hard plastic shells similar to those found over the back wheels of motorcycles.
Ortliebs: pricy but cyclists seem to love them with Apple-like devotion.
So far, I am looking at Ortliebs, which have very few critics among cyclists, who like to argue about gear almost as much as the posters at Sailing Anarchy like to mock production boats and yacht clubs they don't like. Also under consideration are updated versions of Seattle Sport Company's "Fast Packs", allegedly fine in a monsoon, and the somewhat similar XLC Globetrotter bags, which seem obscure but the right sort for us, in that they are more or less duffle bags with straps and handles that can mount quickly on a bike and take a bit of sloshing.

These would be easy to stash when not in use.
I may be swayed a bit by the International Orange Colour of Nautical Safety.
So we'll see what the future holds for the role of bikes plus cargo plus boat. Sailing is evidently not just your old man's ditty bag anymore. Although I will have a number of those, as well...they stuff into corners nicely.
If you have two of these, they're called ditto bags.



2015-01-22

Short cuts and long views


Illustration by Gary Clement, @garyjoelclement, via http://www.greaterfool.ca/2015/01/21/the-second-coming/

We live in low-interesting times. Saving is barely worth it, and overextension of one's finances in order to buy, say, property at the top of the market has never been so attractive. At the same time, the irrational commodities markets have been seizing over the drop in the price of oil, which has (once again) revealed Canada's lack of economic diversity in our horrible, dopey reliance on resource extraction (which seems to have surprised only the economists), and which is partly subsidized by incentives and (frankly) graft, and partly paid for via damaged or destroyed ecosystems. Not that this seems to make much of an impression on the average North American; as soon as gasoline prices began to drop, environmental concerns were trumped by penis compensation.
Guess what? It's hardly worth it at the moment to destroy the environment.
Of course, just like the last time, which was a mere seven years ago, a lot of people will be caught owning newish Canyoneros and F-250s they can't afford to run, or, thanks to easy loans, to pay for. For someone like myself, who is tiring of waiting for the basic diesel-electric box on four wheels I could run short distances, it may make sense to wait for the coming flood of SUVs purchased with low-interest credit to hit the market as "gently used" when interest rates inevitably rise.
Too easy by half.

Whither cruising in all this? Well, the rates I charge my clients and the modest take-home my wife brings in have been static for some time, even as our taxes and fees and utilities, such as gas, electricity and water/waste, have risen, in some cases at rates multiple that of the rather abstract "inflation". I can't charge my tenants more than a figure (1.6% in 2015), even if they leave all the lights on and the water (which has gone up 8% per year for many years now, ostensibly to pay for replacing Victoria-era piping) running 24/7. So there are "bottom line" impacts in that it is difficult to both save for cruising, to refit the boat properly, and to have a life less austere. One somewhat counterintuitive course is to get the boat livable enough to move aboard, and to rent out the part in which we currently live. But this would mean more commuting (my son walks to school and will walk to high school next year) and the logistical craziness of camping out in a boat that is still a worksite. I'm not sure that the extra $1,200-$1,500/month, minus the cost of overwintering in the only marina in the same general area as to my kid's school, minus the insanity of living in a plastic-battened boat with roaring power tools, jerry-rigged heaters and rotating bunkage, even makes sense...although some have done it quite successfully
This is the deal living aboard in a Canadian winter. I see someone bought this boat. I considered doing so way back in 2004.

But that's the micro-picture. The macro picture involves energy, food, water, and therefore you and me and everyone we know. Amid all the current babble about freedoms and liberty, I'm not convinced that our vaunted democracy is the answer to solving situations demanding a planetary response. Democracy is great on the level of the local and the immediate, just like capitalism is fabulous if you've got capital.

Not seen: Hubris.
Both doctrines, however, have got a dubious track record when the timeline involves decades and requires individuals used to individual freedoms (like buying SUVs because gas gets cheap for six months or houses because money is close to free to borrow) to expect those freedoms to be modified or curtailed for a greater good, a greater good that may be both nebulous and unavailable to those making the "sacrifice" of reducing personal choices. The climate change debate is fairly obviously framed in these terms, and, historically at least, the history of altruistic self-denial is not great, and in fact, such sentiments have frequently been considered weaknesses or politically idiotic. Hence, if gas is cheap, burn it. If it isn't, burn less. That's a dichotomy only if you fail to rule out burning gas.

On the other hand, the British wartime economy became a Soviet-style command economy with restricted civil liberties (like driving what you wished when you wished) in order to preserve a parliamentary democracy from Axis fascisms. Food itself was strictly rationed. When the British public had little or no access to crappy or excessive food, health improved dramatically.
Blunt, but effective: No rationing equals class warfare.

Would Americans and Canadians, who, historically at this point, experienced far less rationing inside America, accept a "war footing" economy in order to transform their countries into ones that greatly reduced personal car use, energy consumption and sold only healthy, local foods in local shops, instead of cheap sacks of corn chips in WalMarts out by the highway?

Hell, no. That's why we fought the war!
This, however, would have to wait several decades.

Strangely, the very restrictions for which most people would be unwilling to submit on land are seen as rational at sea on a small boat (unless you "sail" a dock queen). It's clear that if you make every amp aboard through diesel, sun or wind, you can't leave lights, even LED ones, on, can't leave the stereo blasting and can't, mostly, have hot or pressurized fresh water in practically unlimited, municipal quantities. Everything must be planned and measured...even if you have money...if shortfalls that haven't been customary since the mid-19th century on land are to be avoided.
Five cabins and three toilets? That's a small motel.

Boat living is therefore intrinsically "greener" if only in the sense that the skipper and the crew are directly involved in the means of energy production and its storage and rationing. Be oblivious to these aspects of life aboard, and you are soon reading by oil lamps, assuming you remembered to bring lamp oil, and you are also trying to spin your diesel's flywheel with the crash-gybe method, assuming you have compression levers. Of course, simplicity while sailing can be considered virturous, certainly in the sense that there is less to buy, and therefore less to break. Some rather famous sailors have made a living at living a cruising life of near-Luddite parameters.


No mention of rum, I note.

In this sense of being aware of the non-infinite nature of the resources on and within it, Earth can be considered to be a very large passagemaker. We jumped-up apes may disagree on how best to address the excess and bulky crew who are forgetting to turn off the lights, but can we agree that the lights need more turning off? One can only hope so, before that decision is removed from the realm of choice.
Perhaps too cost-conscious?

Fascism can come in any colour, in my experience. The paradox is that a more ecologically oriented democracy would, as happened in some senses during the Second World War, in terms of curtailed domestic fuel usage and food wastage, have to restrict freedom of choice in the marketplace in order to preserve freedom of quality of life on the planet.

High-fructose cornucopia.

It's a tough order. People have difficulty working credit cards 30 days into the future (which is in fact the whole basis of the credit card industry), so saying "we need to do X.Y and Z for the next two centuries in order to make a better, more sustainable world, and it will involve not having everything you want at a cheap, Chinese factory serf-price shipped overnight to your front door, which won't be made of tropical hardwoods" is, frankly, going to be a hard sell, and not just in Western, land-based culture. If one isn't actually being kept down by the excesses of capitalism, it's easier to pretend there's no problems and to enjoy the discounts. Ultimately, most of us are only grabby monkeys with a slightly better puzzle-solving talent.


But with less stuff, we may have more contentment. "Less stuff" is the mantra of the active cruiser, who can see with the disappearing waterline stripe the consequences of unthinking acquisition. In this sense, the cruising life is good preparation for a future in which there is very likely going to be more diners splitting up a pie that, at best, gets no bigger.

2015-01-16

Comes a time



Photo (C) 2006 Matt Phillips.
It's been a good run, but it's time to simplify our situation regarding the "one boat surplus".
The jetski guy is nice and is rarely around.

1973 VIKING 33 Hull #32 FOR SALE

 1973 Viking 33 in middle blue. I have owned her since 1999.
Atomic 4 engine rebuilt in 2006. Some 150 hours run time since then.
Stock 35 amp alternator. Coil replaced in 2012. A4 crank included.
Fuel system replaced in 2006. Water-fuel separator and raw basket filter.
Vetus waterlock with 2007 exhaust hose.
10 U.S. gallon Tempo fuel tank with 5/8” vent line, new in 2007.
Whale Gusher manual bilge pump with handle.
Whale Sub 650 electric bilge pump…needs servicing.
Guest 10 amp battery charger; 30 amp shore power circuit.
Traditional stuffing box, repacked 2013.
All original gate valve seacocks replaced with ballcock valves.
30 gallon holding tank.
 
And excellent light-air performance.
Custom-built anchor roller adds about 15 inches to LOA.

A very useful addition.
Slip at Marina Quay West, Toronto is potentially available with the boat. 
2015 cost: About $3,100 for the season.
Gori two-bladed folding prop 11.5 x 8.
I gained about a 1/2 knot when I installed this.
ICOM M-45 VHF radio.
Seafarer III depthfinder (from the '70s, but quite functional!)
Most deck gear backed with custom-installed, quarter-inch aluminum plates.
Custom teak-mounted amidship cleats.
New wiring to batteries, new main battery switch and terminal blocks (2013).
2011 Garhauer triple-block mainsheet, newish 7/16th inch jib sheets and traveller control lines.
Full set of dock lines, plus “away” dock lines.
Danforth 22 lb. anchor and chain and rope rode (approx. 13 feet of chain and 150 feet of line). Hawsepipe opening with SS hinged lid. Barlow 26 primaries and Barlow 20 secondaries, well maintained.
 
Elbow grease brings back the gelcoat in spring.
I like labels.
New folding boarding ladder 2013.
Run for the boarder.
Electro Systems propane/gas sniffer.
Legal complement of flares and extinguishers.
Two lifesaving rings.
Heaving rope, elderly LifeSling.

Standing rigging replaced in 2013 via Genco Marine, Toronto.
Yes, she's fast.
Extensive sailing and engine spares inventory.
Many spares available. Thorough maintenance logs available.
Force 10 rail barbeque.
Custom light blue fitted cockpit cushions.
Six-pad Marine Cradle Shop cradle. Custom-made Quinte Canvas tarp frame...needs replacement tarp.
Rudder repair, 2012:
 
 
This needed a touch of fairing forward of the strut. There was no structural issue or misalignment.
There is a saloon table aboard and a new table support base, but as we don’t use the table, I haven't installed it.
Sails: the main is relatively new Dacron and there are a wide variety of "less old" sails that will come with it. Quite frankly, I've got a lot of sails "in reserve" hanging in my garage. I have things like lightly used Mylar No. 1 and 2s in the garage off a C&C 34 (Aristo out of NYC) that can be converted to hank-on for about $150/sail. I've done this with the Kevlar/Mylar No. 1 and a previous main, but the current composite No. 1 is getting a bit tatty. We carry a No. 1, 2 and 3.
 
And we like serious gear.
Keel fairing repair, 2010:
Items not included in the sale: Triton asymmetrical chute, foredeck whisker pole, Fortress FX-23 anchor and rode, 10 foot Portabote, and the sailing repair box, the “crash box”, the camp stove and all tools.
I would also throw in a lot of Atomic 4 spares as I wouldn't be needing them anymore, including extensive documentation, some gaskets, various pumps and belts, the stock alternator and so on.
If the interested party is in Toronto, it may be possible to "inherit" my 30-foot slip at Marina Quay West, which I would think is a big incentive, unless they really want to be in a yacht club.

Asking $15,000 Canadian.


The main downsides are the original upholstery, which looks worn and is plaid, and the fact that Valiente needs a redo of the ITT Brydon head, because we essentially just day sail her. So while there's not a lot in the way of amenities...she just sails really well.
She would need a rather good scrub before I could show her, because Pier 35 is a dirty place and it has been a hard winter.

Frankly, if I could bag this boat and retrieve it when we return, I would, because I believe it's a really good, fast, strong and capable boat for sailing around the Great Lakes.

Interested parties are welcome to search my blog www.alchemy2009.blogspot.com for posts on "Valiente"; there are records of the many fixes I've made in the last few years, because I've done them on Valiente first before doing them on Alchemy. Nothing's blown up yet!https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif