Tuesday, 9 June 2015

SWMBO's New Ride


      "Gonna ride like the wind, before I get old..."
                                            -Christopher Cross

      Lemme tell you a  little backstory, to explain how we got from where we was to where we is:

      Faithful Readers may know that SWMBO is not a lifelong sailor.  In fact, she had never set foot on a sailboat until February 2008, when she sailed for the first time, aboard a 16 footish dinghy, in San Diego's Mission Bay, as part of a work-related team building exercise.

      She was hooked.


      Her enthusiasm got me back into the sailing game, after a 2 decade detour into the masochistic world of wooden powerboats.  By the time her return flight hit the tarmac at YYZ, I had lined up a half dozen boats for us to look at. 6 weeks after SWMBO's homecoming we signed a contract on the perfect boat for us, the Georgian 23 named Whiskeyjack.

      What was perfect for us was not necessarily, nor entirely, perfect for SWMBO.

      See, Whiskeyjack and her successor, Karma, are big little boats- lots of accommodation in a smallish LOA.

     What they aren't, is that 16 footish dinghy that hooked SWMBO.

     They also aren't a Bluenose.

      Enter Jack.

      SWMBO had admired Jack's ever-changing collection of daysailers since we first set foot on the Dock: Tempests and Nordica 16s and Hughes 24s and Minuets, oh, my!

      But Bluenoses were Jack's favourites. At any given time, he owned a handful of the sleek full- keeled belles of Mahone Bay.

      SWMBOs fate was sealed when she first laid eyes on Carpe Diem, the other Bluenose on the Dock, owned by Carpe Diem Jim

      A half decade ago, SWMBO declared, "I want one."

      Alas, although her fate was sealed , the fates conspired against us...

      ..... until last winter.

      December rolls around and I get an email from Jack. He has decided he needs to thin his fleet, so enquires if SWMBO might be interested in a Bluenose.

    I ask.

    "Uh, yeah!  Duh." was her response.

    I email a reply to Jack's email, he replies back, SWMBO and I count our shekels, and the deal is done.

     SWMBO now owns a Bluenose.

     So does Jordan.

     Jack released two Bluenoses from his fleet, one going to Jordan, one to SWMBO.
     Last weekend, SWMBOs Bluenose hit the water.

      Sunday,  we got a call from jack that he could drop SWMBOs new old boat into the water that afternoon... if that was okay with us.

      I asked.

     "Uh, yeah!  Duh." was her response.

      An hour later, loyal Docksters Lorraine and Frank and John had gathered at the ramp to help Jack launch ....


Then Thelma, er, Lorraine and Louise set off with Jack for the short motor transit from the ramp to the Dock.

 ....arriving uneventfully at her new slip:

  By sunset, with the help of fellow Docksters and my last-minute-visiting 'rents, we had the mast up and the deck and topsides kinda gleaming:

This season, the Bluenose fleet on the Dock has doubled in size.

Oh, and that "thinning the fleet" idea of Jack's?   Not so much.  The day he dropped off SWMBOs boat, he headed to London to pick up two more.

  SWMBO is still grinning

    It's gonna be a great summer.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Help Us Help Someone Else.

     "We know that there's always tomorrow..."
                                  -Bill Withers

  But this time, tomorrow is too late.  The contest closes at 5 pm tonight.

 Here's the deal: Below, you see a link to a "win a concert" contest, being offered by a great performer, David Cavan Fraser . What started off as a "hey, this would be fun to win" lark got a little bigger when somebody came up with the idea of doing some good with this prize... if we won.
(Notice that at this point it went from "I" to "we"?)

My friend and colleague Aaron Gautreau is a cancer survivor who won the battle, but lost his leg in the process. He needs a new artificial leg, and he needs to find $80K+ to make it happen.

So, with your help, we win a concert that we can use to raise money for a new leg for a good guy... win/win/win!

But, there's only one hurdle-

We have to win.

To win, we need to get as many people to enter the contest as possible. For every entry, our team gets points.

It's kinda paradoxical- the winner is the person who has brought the most competitors into the contest.

 I know some of my friends have entered already, and I thank you for that- Now I put the call out to everyone to please step up and sign up to help someone get a leg up.

Please click on the link and enter.  You won't get spammed and no personal info is required.

And share it with your friends.

Let's DO this.

 click here: https://goo.gl/s1KLfB

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

New Gear Reviewsday Tuesday: Low-buck, Big Sound - Eton Rukus XL

     "It gives it's heat to everyone...."
                                  -The Police

   Our purchase of Karma  was a transaction of compromises:

   More room, but less gear.
   Bigger hull, but less power.
   Longer waterline, but more tender.
   Sink in the head, but no stereo.

   That was a problem.

    For SWMBO and I, tunes are an important part of our life aboard.
    An important part of our life, period.

   But, until we lived with our new summer home a while, I didn't want to start running cables and cutting holes for speakers, and bolting up a head unit.

    Last season, we made do with playing our ASUS Transformer netbook-housed music library linked all Bluetoothy with a Sony SRS-BTM8 speaker.

   It was ...okay.


   The upside was the portability- do you want sound in the cockpit or on the fordeck, or on the back porch?  No problem.  Pick up the speaker and move it wherever the tunes need to be.

   The connectivity was great.  The netbook could stay warm and dry below, and the signal would reach the speaker anywhere on deck.

   The sound quality was okay.  Not a ton of bass, but no distortion at full volume.

   Speaking of volume, while it had okay sound quality, the sound QUANTITY was sub-par. Down below, the speaker  filled the saloon with sound.  On deck...

...not so much.

   The battery life was meh.  it seemed like we were loading AAAs in every day or so.

So, as winter rolled reluctantly toward spring and the dawn of boating season, I was looking for alternatives.

  Alternative 1: I was toying with a Poly-Planar MRD system driving hardwired speakers in the cockpit and below.

  Alternative 2:  Sticking with a netbook driven mp3 library and player coupled to more robust wireless speakers.

   Alternative 3:.... uhm, I didn't get that far.

  Then I got a flyer from Radioworld.

  Browsing through the clearance section, I spy a Bluetooth speaker of some substance...  that is solar powered.
  It is SO solar powered, it can not only charge itself, but can also charge other USB devices.... while in use.

  So, I pointed, I clicked, I ordered, and 3 days later a box showed up on the doorstep of SJM.

  Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Eton Rukus XL:

                                                                   -all images in this post courtesy of etoncorp.com

It.  Is.  Awesome.


I'll get to that in a minute.

  First, I can hear your question, Faithful Reader: "Who the hell is Eton?"

 Well, Eton is an anomaly:   A distributor who essentially outlived and outthrived the manufacturer for whom they distributed.  Eton is an American company that started manufacturing shortwave radios back in 1986, but were primarily a distributor for famous German shortwave radio manufacturer Grundig. At the dawn of the 21st century, with Grundig sales flagging,  Eton began focusing on alternative energy products- in 2002 they introduced their first crank operated radio. By 2004, Grundig was bankrupt in Germany, but the name lived on in North America- Eton continued to manufacture Grundig branded products for the North American market.

  So, these guys kinda know their stuff.

Initial impressions of the Rukus XL

It is BIG.

At almost 15 inches wide and a little more than 8" tall, it dwarfs the Sony speaker.  Unfold the solar panel that folds down against the back of the speaker, and the height almost doubles.

It is HEAVY.

This unit weighs in at a hefty 7 lbs

To provide some scale, the Rukus XL is essentially the same size as a 5 pound bag of potatoes,  but almost 50% heavier.

It is, indeed, seriously XL.

It is also serious about sound.

There are 2 tweeters, 2 woofers, and 4 passive radiators, punching out 22 watts of sound.  this thing is just covered with cones:

In the center of the front face is a flip down panel, revealing a docking bay for most smart phones:

  Alas, our Samsung Galaxy Mega phablets are too  huge to fit this hideyhole.

   All switchgear is rubberized, the charging port /aux in port bay has a rubber flap cover, so there is some level of moderate weather resistance.  I wouldn't leave it out in a driving rainstorm, but

In the box is a 110 v wall wart (for charging on cloudly days or indoors) and a manual.

Operation is ridiculously simple.  Outdoors in sunlight, flip up the solar panel, turn  it on, pair with your Bluetooth enabled device, and play.  Indoors, plug in the AC adapter and play.

 The fully charged lithium battery will blast tunes for 8 hours or more.  That's not just over-optimistic marketing department bullshit- we have consistently run this speaker for 8 hours plus before recharging.

 The solar panel can fully charge the speaker in 5 hours or so of sunlight.  AC charging results in 100% battery in 2.5 hours.

The sound is FANTASTIC.  Great tone throughout the entire range.  My go-to soundcheck on new audio  is Stevie Ray Vaughan's rendition of "Little Wing."  so, I cued it up and worked the volume controls- no mud in the bottom, no buzz at the top, just crisp, clean, clear, solid sound.  If you need some extra bump in the bottom, there is a bass boost button.

The Bluetooth range is excellent- we have had the Rukus up to 50 feet from the sound source, with no connection drop.

The manufacturer's warranty is pretty typical- 1 year, parts and labour.

So, what about that "mostly" part?

Only one minor gripe- the ergonomics of the handle, and the proximity of the switchgear. Pick up the speaker to move it and, more often than not, your hand will brush the power button, shutting it down.

Retail on the rukus XL is $199.99,  just under the low-buck cap.  At full retail, considering the performance, it is a good deal.  Keep an eye open for specials, though- we got ours for $79.99 CDN. At that price, it is a SCREAMING good deal.

This is an ideal wireless sound solution.

Overall, 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

It's THAT day!!!

     "Oh, I've been missing you, and the way you make me feel inside...."
                                                                 -Gregory Abbott

    Finally, SWMBO and I can stop looking homeless.

    Winter here in Southern Ontario is a time of slumber for our vessels, stored on the hard, and, for sailors, a season of  dirt-stranded planning , forethought, and inevitable procrastination...

....  which means all the jobs that SHOULD have gotten done during the depths of winter get compressed into a frenzied fortnight of forced labour leading up to splash day....

... which means every spare minute is spent in the Bridge Yachts boatyard, punching through all the planned punchlist projects that were  pushed off by the punishing winter...

.... which means that one is always travelling with a vehicle packed full of tools, work clothes, paint, epoxy, generator, ladders, wood...

... leading uninitiated onlookers to wonder if we are indeed living in our Ford.

  As usual, we fell prey to mission creep.

We knew we wanted to remove the carbuncle, a dead depth through-hull transducer installed ahead of the keel:

   Which we did.  Beveled, backed, filled, and faired...

  While slathering on eleventy-seven coats of Interprotect 2000, we realized that this would be a good time to repaint the blue boot stripe, which clashed with the bottom paint, and if we're going to do that, we might as well removed the worn cove stripe...

... which we did, and then realized that, without a cove stripe, NextBoat's already generous freeboard looks beyond generous- it looked like Liberal spending in the 905 prior to an election.

...So clearly a new cove stripe was in order in addition to the boot stripe:

Since we're changing colours, red bottom paint is out, black bottom paint is in...

  with the stripes and the bottom looking good, it behooves us to clean and wax and buff the hull and make it all shiny.  Which we did.  Leaving us to finish installing the head, hoses, pumps, tank, new hose clamps on cooling hoses, and a list of more unsexy nobody-will-ever-see it stuff the night before we splash.

   We got it done, and NextBoat is now hullwet.

   NextBoat is also no longer NextBoat.


  Now.  Please meet Karma:

The weather was nothing but cooperative in the weeks leading up to launch.  The last two weeks have been dry, sunny  and warm, culminating with HOT weather during the last few days before Karma  was launched...

....which ended the moment she began her transit from the yard to the Dock.

     (Frank and Lorraine were on hand to watch and take pictures)

By the time Karma  and I passed under the lift bridge, the clouds had rolled in, and long sleeves had been donned.  We figured we'd get the boom hung and sails bent on at the Dock, rather than waiting another half hour for the next bridge opening.
   (Okay, she ain't pretty, but she's purposeful)
  It was a prudent move.
    By the time we had cleared the river mouth and made the turn to port to the marina cut, the temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up.

     After tying her up safe in our slip, we realized rigging could wait.

  Within minutes the winds picked up, the temp plummeted and we were deluged.

   It hasn't warmed up since.

   No matter. We're back in the water, where we belong.

   We're home.

Thanks for taking the time to read the D6C.  If you liked what you read, please Talk the Dock! Spread the word.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Head Games

     " 'til I can't take it anymore, no more...."

   *This post contains harsh realities of  boat life.  Reader discretion is advised.*

    Have I mentioned how much winter sucks?

    If so, too bad.  I'm gonna reiterate:

    Winter sucks.

   This winter was like a bad party guest- it came late, stuck around, and wasn't much fun.

   How hard was this winter?

  Lemme tell you a story:

  Back in November of 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald sank during a storm on Lake Superior.  The  last ship to have visual and radio contact with the freighter was another freighter, the Arthur M. Anderson, which survived the same storm unscathed.  

  That's one tough boat.

   February 2015, the Arthur M. Anderson, the Chuck Norris of lakeboats, is stuck, trapped by Lake Erie ice just off Conneaut, Ohio.

                                                                                                     -image courtesy of techtimes.com

  The ice of February did what the gales of November couldn't:  Forced the Arthur M. Anderson to accept Coast Guard assistance.

                                                                                                            - image courtesy of fox8.com

  Yeah, THAT hard.

   The only, very limited, upside to this winter was the extended period of solidly sub-freezing temperature.

   Emphasis on the word "solid'.

   Perfect for one particular boat job.

   One Sunday afternoon, Elly the Crazy Boatdawg™  and I dealt with our cabin fever by making a run to the boatyard, and while one of us ran around the boatyard...

The other one of us able to climb a ladder did so, and then dug a path through the cockpit and uncovered the companionway...

  To clamber below and begin to deal with one part of the boat that SWMBO and I both agreed needed improvement with a quickness...

...The head.


     The head was NextBoat's one minor, mild disappointment. The height was uncomfortable and  it was poorly located in the space leaving a user feeling, er...


     That was fixable, but the bigger practical issues weren't- the integrated holding tank didn't hold much, and, not to put too fine a point on it, when aforementioned holding tank was close to full, (often, because of it's limited size), the holding tank tended to be less-than-diligent about the "holding" part when the boat heeled past 15 degrees.

     Yeah, the head leaked when the boat heeled.  


    So, with everydamnthing between here and the state of Georgia frozen solid, the time was right to remove the offending fixture, and plot and plan its replacement.  Yeah, in theory,  the head should be empty, but Murphy's Law of Marine Plumbing Disruption states that no head is completely empty.  the only safe head is a frozen solid head, I figure.  


10 minutes of quick hose hacking and yanking, and a heave over the side....

   During, removed from, and stowed beneath, NextBoat.... 

      I acquired a larger holding tank from Jack's Used Boat Part Emporium and cleaned up the head reclaimed from DonorBoat, and a few days ago  SWMBO and I loaded in the new/old head, and eyeballed the layout:


  Yeah, we think this will work.

  The old vinyl flooring and carpet has to come out, a new floor has to go in, a seacock needs to be installed, the holding tank needs to be fitted...

   But the worst is done.

- Thanks for stopping by, and please remember to "Talk the Dock!"

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Low-Buck Arts & Crafts at Stately Jones Manor

      "In the meadow, we can build a snowman..."
                                              -Felix Bernard

    ......  or not.

      As I write this, the temperature outside has nosedived to around -23 celsius.

      I am not nearly masochistic enough to calculate the windchill.

      If one is a skier, skater, ice fisherman, snowmobiler, snowboarder or snowshoer, one might enjoy freely frolicking in this frozen frontier.
      I, however, am none of the above.

      I am a sailor.

     And I am NOT going outside into this fucking frozen freakshow unless I absolutely have to.

      Luckily, I have a punchlist of off-season boat work to keep me occupied  until the lake ceases to be a solid mass entirely, and utterly, incapable of floating a boat.

     Doing something with our wobbly and plain saloon table was near the top of the "Boat projects that can be accomplished from the comfort of SJM" list.

     I've got some ideas for this project, boldly going where I had never gone before, but first: a warm-up project, an  aft cabin amuse-bouche if you will:

     Fixing the TV wall.

      The previous owners installed a small flat screen TV- its removal prior to sale has left an ugly blight in an otherwise very pleasant  aft cabin.

     SWMBO and I ruminated over this disfigurement throughout the season, and finally came up with an idea:

     A piece of scrap luan, some wood glue, and a cheap spreader to quickly, evenly and economically spread the adhesive....

      Then, trim a chart to size...

      Apply the chart to the very sticky board....

   Slather more glue on top, recalling skills vaguely remembered from elementary school art class decoupage projects.  While waiting for all that glue to dry, construct a frame from scrap mahogany trim...

Assemble  and varnish......

 ...and install (right side up) when the weather warms up.

  Right, so, feeling cocky, I got back to that saloon table....

     My initial thought was that we needed a larger table that would tie into the stripper pole, er, compression post. Upon further measuring and headscratching I realized that bigger is not better in this case.  Enlarging the table would make our current expansive and inviting recroom feel like  a cramped and cluttered cell, with a table that would be difficult to move around  and would prevent the locker door under the stove from opening fully.

So, the table can get no bigger.
It does, however need to be more stable, so I lengthened the collar underneath, that fits over the post.  Now, no wobble.

But, there is a crapload of winter left, and it is a rather plain table, so I might as well try to figure out marquetry.

     Marquetry, as defined by the OED: "Inlaid work made from small pieces of coloured wood or other materials, used for the decoration of furniture."

     So, a supply run to Lee Valley Tools  was in order.  I needed glue, veneer.... that was pretty much it.

     I still managed to spend damn near $200.

     It's that kind of store.

     I bought a "box of veneer" which was exactly as described- a pizza box full of very thin sheets of a variety of different woods:

Like, 80-100 square feet of the stuff.

The table in question is about 3 square feet.

I quickly cobbled together a low-buck veneer cutting jig- a piece of scrap ply for a bed, some aluminum angle and scraps of luan trimmed to create 90 degree, 45 degree and 22.5 degree guides to simplify the math...


 ... and discovered the tricks to cutting very thin, very brittle pieces of wood...  after destroying a bunch of very thin, very brittle pieces of wood.

Luckily, I had a lot of it.

After marking the center on the table, and the half way polints on all four sides, I laid out a simple geometric design, and proceeded to cut and tape and glue and clamp and swear my way to an end result;


       It still needs some sanding and a few more coats of varnish, but I'm not completely embarassed by the end result.

    And I still have a crapload of veneer left over.

   And a crapload of winter.

   I rummaged through the scrap pile and did some sketching and came up with a plan for a simple cockpit table.  A little ply, some reclaimed teak trim from DonorBoat, and the basics are done:



   the rough work is done, now it's just a matter of mortising and installing the hinges, final sanding, and finishing.  I'm saving that until next weekend.

   It looks like there's still lots of winter left.

Thanks for checking in, and don't forget to "Talk the Dock!"