Tuesday 31 May 2011

Bittersweet Hope

     "Gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight."
                                                        -Bruce Cockburn

     I'm overweight, short, balding and going grey simultaneously, damn near blind as a bat and not as limber as I was when I was 20...
    And I am so very, very lucky.

    I have gotten a lot of good sailing and boat advice on the forums at www.sailnet.com over the years, and occasionally some much needed perspective.

   A frequent provider of good advice is a catamaran cruiser named John, with the handle "Imagine2Frolic."  He and his wife Melanie set sail last year from Florida through the Panama canal and beyond.  Then life decided to kick John's ass.

     As he tells it...

     "...My friends would ask if I am afraid at times, and I would answer, yes. What scares me most would be to miss out on what cruising has to offer. When you are with people who share the same dream you will find tons of help, and friendliness.

Last year we had to leave Imagine in Panama. I was physically fit, and looking so forward to the sail to Hawaii. The day we left I started to get a pain behind my ear. Like any pain I have always pushed through it, and eventually the body would take care of itself. This was different for 3 days without sleep it grew worse, and began to wrap around my brain. On the fourth day I could not stay awake, and I confessed to Melanie my situation. We turned back for Panama, and flew to the states.

I have never been shy about who I am, where I am, and what I am doing. This has been a difficult decision to make, but I have made it for multiple reasons. I have made some promises to myself, and to others. Also I want to pound into those on the fence to get it together, and go. Enjoy life while you have your health. That doesn't mean to just up, and leave. Get your sailing skills together, your finances , boat, and do as Zee types in her signature. Life is an adventure meant to be lived! You don't need the biggest boat out there just the heart to go!

I was told 6 weeks of treatment, and a month of healing, and I could return to Imagine. It did not turn out that way. After nearly 8 months of treatment being probed, cooked alive, poisoned, and losing nearly 60lbs of mostly muscle. I refused anymore treatment until it was modified. Eventually the last treatment I took I was told if I did not respond then I need to think about where I want to take my last breath. I didn't respond, and I was not going to be a science project. I made the decision I would live my life, and not let science wither me away until my last breath.

So, Melanie, my little brown love, and I have returned to Imagine. I refuse to let her sit here, and rot while I myself rot in S.F. Ca. We will sail to Hawaii where I can place my father's ashes as I promised to him. Then we will sail home to the S.F. Bay Area where we will eventually sell Imagine. She is our home, and when we sell her will depend on the timing of my life. I promised her family to return her to her country, and to care for her. The sale of Imagine will insure our return to the Phils, and to be finacially ok. The economy was not good to us. That's not a complaint, but a fact.

Imagine has had some issues from sitting in the tropics, but we are sorting those out. We had Spot tracker when we left Florida last year for S.F., and we will continue to have it. It is mostly by Mel, and her thoughts about our past life with Imagine, and our current situation. I have also added a blog titled SAILING with CANCER, ONE MAN's race against TIME! I am not a writer, but I will drift around describiing our past, our current, and our future adventures with Imagine. There will be some beautiful pics, and a few grizzly photos of my health early this year in both sites.

I know this is kind of depressing, but there is some good news. Since I have quit treatment I have put on about 20lbs. I could not hold a pencil in Feb, and now I am carrying water jugs, batteries, and what ever is needed to make Imagine fit. I don't have a lot of stamina, and all my strength. What I do have is a wonderful friend, mentor to sailing, who is flying in for the sail to Hawaii.

There will be updates while we prepare Imagine with photos of our progress. Hopefully we will get our hands on a sat phone of somekind to have updates across the Pacific. Hopefully you will find my writing entertaining, and you will follow us on our race against time......."

I found John's words to be humbling, moving and inspiring.  I wish him and Melanie all the best on their journey, and will be following along here:

Monday 30 May 2011

"In" Season Continues...

          So many people come walking by, looking so happy..."
                                                                      -Ivan Neville

      Hot, hazy, humid...  THIS is the promise that we hold onto all damn winter.  The hope that the lake will thaw,the rain and snow will stop,  the sun will return, the fish will bite, and the wind will blow.

      It seems that the promise has been kept..

      Lots of traffic on the Dock and in the marina today, and every face I saw had an ear-to-ear grin.

      Spring is the season of rebirth, and rebirth was a familiar theme among Docksters.  Jim and Marianne debuted their new fishing boat...

   slipped beside their painted and polished Siren, Cranky.

   Ooooohhhh, pretty!

    I'm gonna start a pool on when the first scratch is inflicted on the perfect finish in the cockpit- I'm calling June 2.

     Speaking of Jims, Carpe Diem splashed today.

     Jim was hard at work this winter renewing the brightwork, installing a new motor, adding some teak, and making an already pretty boat even prettier.  I caught him just as he was finishing painting the cuddy.
    You ever notice that nobody ever looks this happy while painting their house?

    When we pulled into our slip on Friday, we were surprised to see Drifter in the water.  SWMBO muttered, "It's kinda pitiful when a guy who doesn't even live in the country anymore has his boat in the water before us.:"
    We managed to catch up with Steve on Sunday, and were pleased to hear that he will be back fairly frequently throughout the season.

     Whiskeyjack  has a new neighbour, a C&C 24:

     The fish are back.  I think this one was grinning::

    And, of course, again this season, Dock Six gets the hoopty dock carts.  We're okay with that, though- it means that other docks rarely borrow our dock carts.


Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Squared Away

     "Baby, everything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight..."
                                                                   -Stevie Wonder

     Confession time:

     I am a slob...

    ...On the hard.

     In our dirt-home, my desk is a mess, I have a stack of books teetering on my bedside table, and the floor of my car is carpeted with receipts, napkins and bagel wrappers...  straight-up Oscar Madison.

   ... All of which I cannot stand onboard.  When I step onto the Dock, I turn into a compulsive neatnik. Everything on our boats has a place, and if it doesn't have a place then a) it leaves the boat in shame or b) I build a place for it, and then that thing had better be in it's damn place, dammit!  I become Felix Unger in Topsiders.

   (Hey, I think I may have discovered a new psychological ailment-  Nautical Unger-Madison Disorder.  I wonder if I can get a grant to do a long-term study?)

    Therefore, it is not enough to simply have a boat in the water and sails on the spars.  Nay, nay, we are not ready to sail until everything that came off the boat in the fall is loaded back onto the boat, back into it's designated spot, or the new spot created for it, or off-loaded when it is realized that it is redundant.  Said redundant item will then be reloaded again as a "spare"  to be off-loaded again later in the season when it is realized that is is, indeed, well and truly redundant...
    ... Which is usually three days before  I will suddenly find a use for it.  Right now.  In the middle of the lake.

     Maybe my nautical neatness fetish developed from a subconcious belief that lives may depend on it, but I don't think it is really that deep.  Instead I think the fastidious fixation is directly related to the diminutive quarters aboard our boats.  I can be a slob on the dirt, where there is the room to step around things, and I can close the door on clutter when guests arrive at stately Jones manor.  Those luxuries do not exist on the Dock.  The main cabin of Whiskeyjack, for example,  is all of 6' wide by 6' in length. In that 36 square feet is packed a galley, a berth and a dinette that seats 3-4, the space functioning as kitchen, bar, navigation station, dining room, living room, game room, closet and kennel, often simultaneously.  If one is constantly having to move items to get to other items, or if items move of their own volition when the boat leaves level, one's enjoyment of one's nautical home diminishes rapidly.
    In other words, if you are going to be a slob, size matters.

     Sunday dawned grey and damp, but by noon the sun had broken through and the humidity had started to climb. The grass needed mowing (again),  the gardens needed weeding (again), the house could use a vaccuuming (again),   but the boat needed to be rigged and loaded.  I discussed it with SWMBO, and the decision was made to flip a coin.  Heads we do house crap, tails we head to the Dock.

     We were already gathering sailbags and cushions before the coin hit the floor.

SWMBO and I filled Lady Liberty from windshield to hatch, floor to ceiling  with boatstuffs and headed to the Dock.   A few hours later, with storm clouds threatening and thunder rolling in the distance, we relaxed in our squared away surroundings.

   During the last couple of rainy days, SWMBO had been toiling over a set of fitted sheets for the v-berth, and was now able to nap-test her efforts:

    (btw, SWMBO has dubbed the v-berth, with her ever-apt logic, the "nap station."  After all, if a boat has a nav station which is used for navigation, then shouldn't the place where one snoozes also have a moniker?)

   I survey the salon and call it good.

    The low-buck spice rack has been repurposed as a low-buck binoc rack, and needs to be installed, but as the cabin stands now, nothing is going to crash from gunwale to gunwale on a 20 degree heel.

  The cheap magnetic spice rack, seen above, fit the space better.

     It's a fine line indeed  between "cramped" and "cozy,"  but I think we're staying on the right side of it.

    Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or simply tell your friends.

Saturday 28 May 2011

In With The In Crowd!

     "Come on with me and leave your troubles behind..."
                                                                   -Dobie Gray

     We.  Are. In.

     Well, half in.  Whiskeyjack is hull-wet and in her slip.   Legacy?  Well, ahem, she will go in on the day she goes in, and not a moment before.  This spring has not been conducive to varnishing large uncovered objects.

     I am sore.  It has been an intense four days getting Whiskeyjack in the water.

     Below is the intrepid delivery crew:

   Gavin, Louise, and Finn the compact sportsdog.
   Not necessarily in that order.
More to follow later.

     Today we finish rigging and fit-out, if the weather cooperates.

   Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Splash Progress

       "...and it's coming closer..."
                        -Kings of Leon

     True WW II story:
     Hiroo Onoda was a lieutenant in the Japanese Army who was stationed on the Phillipine island of Lubang in the final days of the war.  Hostilities ended on  August 15th, 1945, but not for Lt. Onoda.  The lieutenant became the poster boy for not getting the memo.  When Japan surrendered, Onoda was in the hills running a guerrilla campaign without the benefit of communications; he didn't know the war was over.  He refused to believe that Japan surrendered...
 ... For 29 more years.
     Lieutenant Onoda finally came out of the jungle in 1974.  He had been declared dead in 1959, because numerous searches had failed to find him.

     He would have been right at home in our backyard this spring.

     All the rain has meant that:
a) the boats are still on the hard,
b) the grounds of stately Jones manor are officially out of control and off the chain,
c) when the rain does stop, we have to prioritize what gets done and try to fit it all in around our real jobs, and
d) the neighbours (non-boating gardeners) have been giving us the "your-overgrown-eyesore-is-lowering-property-values" look.

   When the sun finally broke through on Friday, I had to mow the lawn, since the lawn was now taller than the mower. Which led to fixing the lawnmower. And the trimmer.  Which led to three trips to the hardware store, one trip to the gas station, a stop at the beer store and a run to the pharmacy for more allergy meds.
While wasting four hours mindlessly mowing, and the mower choking on grass and stalling, and restarting the mower, and stalling again,  I had time to think.  I wonder how much it would cost to pave our 1/4 acre lot?
Maybe just gravel?  No, that would still need to be weeded and raked.  Sand?  NO!  The neighbourhood cats would be overjoyed.  SWMBO would not.
  Whne the deed was done, we celebrated by heading down to the Dock to let the dogs have a run and see what was new.
     The water level is WAY up:

  The Dock is definitely showing signs of life:

  Eric's DS20 is in, and looks right at home:

  James has apparently decided to sacrifice power and speed for fuel economy:

     Yesterday was unprecedented- a SECOND dry day in a row!  Woohoo!  NOW we can get some boat work done.  We loaded up Lady  Liberty and headed to the yard.  Time to do some installing.  My fingers are crossed at this point.  All of the furniture I built this winter was done off-site, with no measurement checks along the way.  I (kinda sorta) THINK (read: hope) my measurements were accurate (enough), but I have as much confidence in my accuracy as Lindsay Lohan's lawyers do in her sobriety.

Companionway door....fits!


    Now it just needs to be trimmed to fit the curve of the hatch.

Galley extension... fits and works!


Two for two!

  In the background, on the bulkhead above the stove, you can see the new kniferack, which fits.
Three for three!

Logbook/magazine rack... fits!  Sorta.

I have to relocate/replace a light, but replacing those ugly things was on our list anyway.

V-berth Bookshelves... fit!

Mission accomplished!

We pulled out all the cushions to bring them home for a good cleaning, and the door is marked for trimming, and I have the final measurements I needed to finish off our low-buck removable helm seat.  Progress feels good.  SWMBO and I came home, unloaded the Jeep and shared a celebratory beer and congratulations.  Tomorrow, we tell each other, we'll get the bottom painted, and the rest we can finish on the water...

   And now it is tomorrow, and it is raining.  Again.

   Thanks for checking us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Saturday 21 May 2011

The Good Grub List

     "You can almost taste the hot dogs and french fries they sell..."
                                                                                  -The Drifters

     Docksters, I need your help!

     One of the benefits of sailing out of a port with a healthy tourism industry is that there are lots of eateries, some good, some bad, some indifferent and some better than good.   I am compiling a Good Grub List, a compendium of worthwhile places to eat in Port Dover and area.   The list will have a permanent home in the upper left hand of the blog, and will be updated as needed.   SWMBO and I have not eaten everywhere in town, although my expanding waistline might lead one to think otherwise, (explain to me again how quitting smoking and becoming a fat bastard is healthier, because I am not buying it at this point).   I need your input to make this work.  Fire me a comment, or an email about where you like to eat and why, and I'll add it to the list.    To kick it off, here's some of our faves:

Breakfast Grub:

Dover Dairy Bar-
Main Street, right beside the Norfolk Tavern
519 583 1312
Worn but comfortable decor, earnest waitstaff, and solid food for little cash.  The walls are covered with interesting photos of historic (and almost unrecognizable) Port Dover.  Which is good, because it gives you something to look at while you wait for your bacon and eggs, delivery of which can be a little slow when it is busy, and the Dairy Bar is usually busy.  When you can get a decent serving of bacon and eggs, toast, home fries and coffee for under $5, it's easy to understand why.

Murphy's Diner
410 Main Street
519 583 3463
Slightly higher price point than the Dairy Bar, and slightly more sophisticated- Murphy's has booths and powdered sugar on the french toast.

Pizza and Wings Grub:

Harbour Pizza
1 Main Street
519 583 3000

Great crust, tasty sauce, generous toppings, meaty wings. A slice and a pop,  under $4.  A large three- topping pie will set you back less than $15.  Dine in, pick-up, AND they deliver to the Dock!  The best pizza in the County.

Pub Grub:

348 Main Street
519 583 0416

It's a dive.
That's a compliment.

Waitresses who ask "What can I get yuz?"  and call everybody "honey." Live music on weekends, beer on tap, and  you can play coin-op shuffleboard while you wait for your order. Daily specials and lots of deep-fried options, served the way they should be- in wax-paper lined plastic baskets.  Need a beer and a bite after a long hot day of sanding and bottom painting, but you're covered in paint spatters and dust and you smell bad?  Nobody will blink an eye at Angelo's.  Make sure you come back later for the band.

Chinese Grub:

305 Main Street
519 583 1810

Forty years ago, small-town Chinese restaurants had tile floors, a counter with stools, and no buffets.
Ming's is still like that.  Great sweet and sour wontons, decent fried rice, and really good sliced barbecued pork.

Grub with a View:

Callahan's Beach House
On the beach
519 583 0880

Location, location, location.  It's hard to get a bad seat at Callahan's- every table overlooks the beach.  Modern cuisine of the sweet-potato fries -and -chipotle school,  it's a great place to watch the sun go down... if you don't have a boat.

168 New Lakeshore Road
519 583 0706

Off the beaten path, David's wins the "Restaurant with the Best View" award...
Because it overlooks Dock Six.
Executive chef John Crowley puts together a palate-pleasing menu that changes with the seasons, and makes great use of local produce.  David's is not a bargain, but for a special occasion it is an impressive choice.

Legacy Grub:

The Cove Room at the Erie Beach Hotel
19 Walker Street
519 583 1391

   Your parents likely ate here.  Your grandparents likely ate here.  Today they'd still recognize the room and the menu.  An anachronism and proud of it, the Cove Room  continues to boast a salad bar AND a dessert cart.  Trends come and go, but year after year the Erie Beach continues to serve perch and celery bread by the metric tonne.  Hey, if it ain't broke...

The Arbor
101 Main Street
519 583 0611

     Another Port Dover tradition, the Arbor has been serving up hot dogs, french fries and Glow drinks for 85 years.  You haven't visited Dover until you have had a dog and a Golden Glow at the Arbor.  Add tasty homemade condiments you won't find anywhere else (zucchini relish is much better than it sounds), and their  fresh cut fries and you have a meal  that becomes a memory.

Okay Docksters, now it's YOUR turn- get your grub on and add to the list.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Low-Buck Tools: Sandpaper Cutter

     "I got eight little fingers and only two thumbs..."
                                                               -Chris Rea

     One thing that goes hand in hand with boat ownership is sanding.  In the spring you have to sand the hull before you slap on bottom paint, the brightwork always needs sanding,  the rough edges of the hole you just cut in your instrument panel that is a) too small and b) 3/4" too far to starboard, and the list goes on.  Sandpaper is tough on scissors, and , if you're like me, no matter how hard you try, it seems like the pieces you cut are never square and never fit the sanding block or the sander properly.
    In Rebecca Wittman's book "The Brightwork Companion"
The Brightwork Companion : Tried-and-True Methods and Strongly Held Opinions in Thirteen and One-Half Chapters

She describes building a sandpaper cutter.  I added a couple of improvements to her original idea, and have found this to be a big timesaver.
Here's what you need:
Scrap of plywood or particle board, at least 11" x 15"
Scrap of 1x2" or lath, or doorstop, or whatever thin narrow scrap you have lying around
A 12" hacksaw blade
#6 screws and washers- 4 of each.
A Sharpie -type pen
A full piece of sandpaper (for measuring.  you can use it to sand the wood too, if you want to get fancy.)

   Screw the hacksaw blade, TOOTH EDGE OUT, along the right side of your scrap ply, about an inch in from the edge, with a washer between the blade and the wood, and another between the head of the screw and the blade-  in other words, the blade is the meat in a washer sandwich, okay?    Cut down your scrap lath, and screw to the plywood as a bottom "bumper" for your sandpaper.  End result should look like this:

   Your sandpaper should be 9" wide x 11" long.  1/2 of 9" is 4 1/2", right?  So, mark a line down the middle of the ply, measuring from the TOOTH edge of the hacksaw blade. Mark 1/3 sheet measurement as well if you want.  This is where the edge of your sandpaper should line up to be trimmed to size.  If you want ot get fancy, use your piece of sandpaper to sand off all of the old pencil marks, paint, and smudges on your scraps.
As you can see, I didn't get fancy.

       To cut your sandpaper, simply slide the sheet grit side down under the blade, and with  a couple of fingers of your left hand apply pressure to the blade while pulling the paper up with your right hand. Turn your paper 90 degrees to cut your 1/2 sheet down to 1/4 sheets.

      This sandpaper cutter takes about 10 minutes to build.  Optionally, you can drill a hole to hang the cutter from your low-buck sanding station, along with your low-buck fairing boards.

(Sorry about the blurry pics-  minor camera malfunction.)

As always, thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

The State of the Blog Address

      "Let the bells ring out!"
            -Robbie Robertson

     The Dock Six Chronicles passed a milestone this week.  Less than three months since I started tapping away at this ongoing, impending, car- wreck of a blog, the Chronicles has now passed 10,000 page views!

     I didn't think the wheels would stay on nearly this long.

     Thanks to all of you who have discovered us here on the Dock and decided we're worth spending some time with.  Thanks to all of you on the Dock, for your feedback, post suggestions, comments and spreading the word.
I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it.

    There have been some changes to the blog over the past few weeks as I try out adding some features, and attempt to come up with some sort of cohesive format.  Here's what's happening- as always your thoughts are greatly appreciated:

     1.  The projects page will be updated monthly and I want more input from all of you- if you've got a low-buck projj-ect fire me the details, I'll post it as a regular blog post, then at the end of each month I'll add that month's new projects to the "Low Buck Projects" page.

     2.  We have been chosen as an Amazon Affiliate-  you can shop at Amazon directly from the Dock Six Chronicles, and Amazon will run ads along the margin that relates to the blog posts on the page.  This is going to become very convenient because...

     3.  A book review post, or series of posts, is in the works.  I NEED your input.  What boat-books have you read that you find are invaluable, interesting or just entertaining?   Fire me an email or a comment with the title, author, and why it's a good book.  If the feedback is positive, I can see making this a regular feature.  Read about a book you haven't read and want to try?  Boom!  Go straight to Amazon.  Easy-peasy.

     (*Full shameless disclosure-  I apparently get some sort of small commission for every click-through to Amazon from the Dock Six Chronicles. If it covers my rum budget, I would be surprised. But, if the idea of yours truly profiting from this enterprise appalls you, then feel free to resist the impulse to click on the ads.  I won't be mad at you.)

     4.  More on- the -water posts. Today it is raining.  Again.  Like yesterday.  And the day before.  And the day before that.  Remember back when I asked you all to pray for rain?

 STOP IT!!!!!

     Sooner or later the weather has to get better, more boats have to get in the water, and we can finally depart from stately Jones manor for the season, more or less.

     5.  Last, I want to get some guest input from my fellow Docksters.  James, are you listening?  I need a docking tutorial.  Jim and Maryann, how about a quick overview of Long Point Bay fishing?  Jack, I need info on  McVay boats.  Jordan!  More info on the dinghy build!

     6.  The Long Point Lap has really stirred some interest, and I have tentatively scheduled the Lap for the weekend of July 15-17, with an alternate of July 22-24  looks like we might be seeing a fair number of boats from all over Southern Ontario.

  So, that's where we are, where we've been, and where we're going.  Thanks to everyone who has been following along and contributing.  Keep Talking the Dock!

Sunday 15 May 2011

The Old Man Lends a Hand

     "That's when I need my father's eyes..."
                                            -Eric Clapton

     "You're just like your dad!"

     Ten years ago, that comment would have triggered an instant knee-jerk denial.  Nope, uh-uh, no way.  Me and him?  Worlds apart!  He is a methodical, fastidious, golf-playing, wine -drinking, analytical, engineering type, and I am, er,  not.  HE. PLAYS. GOLF. Hell, comparing a sailor and a golfer is simply a coded insult.
To both of us.
     Today, with the benefit of the hard-earned, dues-paid-in-full wisdom that passing the 40th birthday exit on life's highway has earned, I consider a comparison to my father to be a compliment.

     Somehow, somewhere, between adolescence and apparent adulthood, I stopped rolling my eyes at my father's advice, and began to seek it.  I didn't just hear him, I listened to what my dad had to say.  Occasionally, he even listened to me, because we had begun to speak a common language.
    As I muddled through my latest low-buck project, I realized my dad and I had to talk the talk. Material for this project was tight, and I needed to make the most of it.  There was no fudge factor. I knew what I didn't know, and I didn't know enough to know how not to screw up this project, therefore I figured I'd avail myself of the man who likely knew what I didn't know, y'know?  Yeah, I could have bought some more wood and measure- twice-cut three-times through more stock than necessary until I figured it out, but that goes against the low-buck ethos of making do with whatcha got.
     So, I loaded my companionway- door project, all the raw stock I thought I would need, a smattering of tools and SWMBO into Leonard the Smart car and we headed off to the Jones ancestral estate to celebrate Mother's Day.
Halfway there, SWMBO and I both realized that we had left the Mother's Day card on the dining room table.  Etiquette-wise, this was just a whole mess of wrong.   No card, and a plan to bogart my father for an afternoon of making sawdust.  I am sure Emily Post has a chapter on this.
    "Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  Sorry, I forgot your card, but I brought a whole crapload of wood! Dad, can I use your workshop?"

    Something tells me this is gonna turn around and bite me in the ass at some point in the future.

    I skedaddle to my father's basement workshop with him in tow, and explain what I am building, how I think I should proceed,  and what the end result should look like, sketch out a couple of quick drawings and some dimensions.  Dad thought about it for a handful of moments, and then told us what we were really going to do.
He set to setting up his table saw and ripping stock, I set to watching.
    This is how it usually goes when I get my dad involved in a project.  There is only room in his metaphorical kitchen for one chef....
     And it ain't me.
     For over 30 years, my job has been to pull out the plug, sweep up the sawdust, nod and reply "Yep."  to any question asked.  I used to resent it.  Now, I get it.
Besides, I've learned a lot over the years, watching and sweeping.
    In short order the doors were laid out, cut, jigged, screwed and routed.  In the process I discovered another tool I just had to have, and made the rare discovery that I owned a tool that my father didn't possess- ha!  for the first time in years I can give him a Father's Day  gift that isn't in gift -card form!
    And we talked.
    Jones men are not the most communicative.  In fact, phone conversations between myself and my dad or my brother and I usually consist of:
"How are you?"
"Good.  you."
"Talk to you soon."
   But, when we have a paintbrush in our hands or a saw in front of us, my dad  and I become veritable chatterboxes.  We tend to talk to the work, not each other,  because we are there to work not socialize, but those occupational conversations are when I have learned the most about, and from, my father.  This project was no exception as I discovered the value of a pocket screw jig.
     I also rediscovered the value of an organized workspace.  It takes a lot less time to build something when you're not a) looking for tools, b) looking for stock, c) cleaning a space to work.  I used to lean on the -my-shop-is-too-small-to-be-organized excuse, but after spending an afternoon in my father's shop I realized that his workspace is not much bigger than mine, it just feels that way.
Here's mine:

  Here's my dad's:

He's got a rolling clamp rack, for pete's sake!

My tools are all over the bench, his are on a wall.

     And here's the doors we built together:
 After getting them back to stately Jones manor, I trimmed them out...

  ... and sealed them with two coats of epoxy:

Thanks, Dad!
And thanks, Mom, for allowing me to borrow him on Mother's Day.  Louise and I love you both.

Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just pass the word!

Friday 13 May 2011

IT's Friday! THE Friday!!!!!!!

       "...on a steel horse I ride..."
                                  -Bon Jovi

       Friday the Thirteenth.  Traditionally a day of dread, a day cursed, a day when Murphy's is the only law....

     ....Unless you are a merchant or waitstaffer in Port Dover.  Y'see Friday the 13th, for the uninitiated out there, is a day when motorcyclists from everydamnwhere descend on our little burg for a one day gathering of the faithful.  Back in 1981 it started with  a handful of friends who shared an interest in motorcycles and has since gone thermonuclear.
     How big is this shindig?
     Population of Port Dover, on May 12, 2011:  roundabout 5000.
     Number of Warm Bodies walking around town today:  Nearest guess is 90 000.
     Ninety. Freakin'. Thousand.
     Over 10 000 motorcycles.
     A whole lot of vendors.
     Hundreds of cases and kegs of beer.
     Tomorrow, the vast majority will be gone.

     This event has, for 50 consecutive Friday 13s,  been organized by volunteers.  This year is the first year it has been run by the Norfolk County government. Little seems to have changed, except the signage looks more professional. As in previous years, parking lots are set up outside of town, shuttle buses are running, and you aren't getting into town unless you are on two wheels or are a resident  with a pass.  Marina slipholders are quasi-residents, so we get passes.
  We may not be in the water yet, but Dock Six still has it's privileges!

   However, it takes a looooooong time to get into town, pass or no pass.  There are just too many damn people and bikes.  The main street is closed, and becomes a big parking lot for motorcycles.

  Motorcycles have been rumbling past stately Jones manor since dawn, and will continue well past moonrise.

Economically, this is a big event for town merchants.  Somebody estimated that the average visitor will leave town $25 lighter today - that's a nice $2.25 million dollar boost to the local economy.  It's a great way to start the summer season.

There is always the temptation to make it bigger, longer, with big events and concerts and just plaqin more, and every year, saner heads prevail.  This is a homegrown event that has gotten bigger, but tenaciously hangs onto it's low-profile comfortable roots.
If you get a chance, check it out.

As always, thank for taking the time to check us out.  Feel free to "Talk the Dock"!  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Yes, I AM an idiot.

       "I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed..."
                                          - Smash Mouth

       Among the thousands handful of regular readers of the Chronicles, there must  might be some out there wondering, "Hey, this blog is called the Dock Six Chronicles, and the Dock has been open for three weeks already, so how come gung-ho blogger guy hasn't posted about splashing his own boats yet?"

      The answer, quite simply, is that I am an idiot.

     Okay, the weather played a role in this drama- April was largely too miserable and, when not miserable, too unpredictable to get any hull work done.  So, we got no brightwork, no bottom painting, no keel fairing done and without the needed work done below the waterline, the boats stay on the hard.

     But that is not the reason I am an idiot.

     A careful and argumentative reader will object, "Fine, that explains April.  However, this is the second week of May, so what is you excuse now, huh, blogger guy?"

     SWMBO and I both work full time, and work has been busy for both of us as of late (what, you thought I simply lounged in a smoking jacket tapping out witty and erudite blog posts all day?)... and the weather was still crappy.  Too cold and wet for painting or epoxying or varnishing.

     But that is not the reason I am an idiot.

    Aforementioned argumentative reader will further point out, "Hey, it was a beautiful weekend, perfect for all that scrapey-sandy-painty-epoxy stuff.  NOW what is your excuse?"

    First of all, heartless bas argumentative reader, Sunday was Mother's Day.  Believe it or not, I have a mother, and she is willing to claim me as her spawn.

   So there.

    Argumentative reader now crosses arms and smirks.  "What about Satur..."


     Let me tell you about last week, and my idiocy will become apparent.

     Monday- too rainy, too cold, too crappy to do any hullwork.  I started building companionway doors instead.

     Tuesday- weather report is a copy of Monday. After driving around all day on business, I come home, grab a bite to eat before heading out again to see a client. As I am munching a handful of Doritos, my office calls- my evening appointment has cancelled. Great!I can at least get down to the boats and get some projects installed, an maybe take the generator down because the weather is supposed to get better and... Rubbing my hands with glee,  I toss the boat keys into the glovebox and load stuff into the back of the Jeep and ...
     The Jeep decides not to start.
    SWMBO comes home, I take the Smart car to buy a battery for the jeep.  I install the battery.  Jeep still does not start.
    I open a beer.
    On the bright side, tomorrow, Wednesday, we get a new TV and phone and internet provider with all sorts of added-connectivity goodness and superfastivity, or something.  Yay, us.

   Wednesday- weather is slightly better.  I have Jeep towed to garage.  I get the verdict- a broken plastic pin on the backside of  the ignition switch.  In Chrysler's infinite parts wisdom, one cannot purchase the part to replace the broken part.  Nay, nay, one must purchase an "assembly," which means a whole new steering column.
     Not covered under warranty.
     Cost?  The equivalent of two 85 watt solar panels -  $690.
     Plus tax.
     Plus labour.
     The good news is that the shop can source a used column for $265.  Might have it by tomorrow.  Might be Friday. Great!
     Well, not great, but at least not so un-great.

    Meanwhile, back at stately Jones manor, the fantastic new cable and internet and telephone magic is decidedly, in a word, pooched.   The tech has the wrong widgets and gizmos in his ju-ju bag, apparently, so he needs to return later with different chicken bones and entrails, or something.  In the meantime, our existing provider, who will take months before applying a newer cheaper "bundle" or reversing erroneous roaming charges has,  either through pique at our audacious decision to leave their former monopoly, or simple accidental efficiently, cut our cords.
   We now have no phone.
    No internet.
    No television.
    On top of No Jeep.
     Stately Jones manor is now freakin' Gilligan's Island.

     I open a beer.

     Thursday- Beautiful day! SWMBO and I are both working.  She takes the car, I am left to find a way to work from home without connectivity.  I walk down to the local coffee shop, get caught up on bidness, get an update on the Jeep (not today, probably Friday) and the TV/telephone/internet trinity (not today, probably Friday), and I return home to continue making companionway doors.  I figure, when SWMBO gets home, we can load our galley projects in the Smart car and at least get those installed on the boat.
   Wait.  Remember where the boat keys are?
    Yeah, I didn't either.
   In the glovebox.  In the jeep.  At the garage.
   I am an idiot.
   SWMBO gets home at 5:40.  The garage closes at 5:00. The  Jeep is locked up.  In the garage. Crap.
   I open a beer.

     Friday-  I have a day-long meeting out of town, so we leave early, before the garage opens.  I drop SWMBO off at work and continue on to London.  I pick SWMBO up on my way home, get home at 5:40.  Because we are not home, still no comms.
     Still no Jeep.
     Still no boat keys.
     No problem.  I can at least pick up the keys tomorrow when the garage opens.
     I open a beer.

     Saturday-  According to the sign on their door, which I had not thought to read before, the garage is not open on Saturday.
     I am an idiot.
     I open a beer.

     Yesterday, we finally get the Jeep back, the boat keys back, our shiny new modem and cable and telephone, so I get on my now-functioning phone and call the yard to book in our splash... and there are no openings until next week, because this week is a short work week, booked solid.
     Short work week?
    Oh yeah-  Friday the 13th.
    I am an idiot.
   The whole town basically shuts down.  When a town of 5000 gets invaded by 20 000+ motorcycles and tens of thousands of rubberneckers, it's apparently a little tough to get anything done, except...
     open a beer.
     So I did.
   Next week.
  We'll be in the water next week.
   I promise.


Monday 2 May 2011

Election Day- Cast Your Ballot!

     "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right..."
                                                     -Gerry Rafferty

      It is Election Day in Canada.  Again.

     Yeah, I know they are all bums, but they are  OUR bums, because WE decide which bums we get to complain about.

      Unless we decide not to vote.  In which case the terrorists win.  or the NDP.  Or the Conservatives.  Or somebody.

     Anyvote, I figure unless you cast a ballot you don't really have any right to complain about the bums in power, because you decided to opt out.  So go vote.  It takes less time than it takes to read this post about going to vote.

  But keep reading my posts too.  Please?

  Now go!  Make your mark and make a choice.

Low-buck Sunday

     "... 'cause that's my fun day..."
                               -The Bangles

     Yesterday, it rained.


     (Insert exasperated, I-am-so-damn-DONE-with-spring sigh here.)

     Okay, can't bottom paint the boats.  No paint, no splash.  No splash, no fun.


      Alright, I might as well spend the day cleaning up the workshop.  Okay, maybe "cleaning up" might be a generous description of sweeping up sawdust and putting tools more or less where they belong in the dungeon of clutter in which I putter, but it makes the space almost usable,  it occupies a rainy Sunday and keeps me, more or less,  out of SWMBO's hair.

     After enjoying a wonderful breakfast of hot, tasty, SWMBO-made-from-scratch biscuits,  coffee and scrambled eggs, I descended to my lair.

   (Speaking of lairs, at this time we pause for a gratuitous, completely off-topic Mutt Moment:
     Every Thursday, I walk down to our local farmer's market and, in addition to yummy victuals for the humans in the house, pick up soup bones for Inky and Finnegan, thereby creating very happy dawgs.  The two dogs have different approaches to bone enjoyment-  Inky will devour the meaty goodness on the exterior leaving a polished piece of bovine anatomy, while Finn can occupy himself for hours on end gnawing out the marrow and just generally reducing a bone to  pieces of slobbery calcium.  Thus, when Inky has done her thing Finn takes the hand-off, and, because he is a paranoid greedy little mutt, scurries off with his booty to gnaw in privacy.  He has a "cave" in the footwell of SWMBO's desk, and it is there that Finn's Gollum-like bone-hoarding habit is evident:
He's cute, but he can be a little creepy.
    The "expired" bones got cleaned up before I started on the workshop.
 Now, back to your regularly scheduled drivel.)

   So I get to sweeping, and putting-awaying and I start sorting through my vast selection of off-cuts.  As I mentioned in an earlier post  I am not a great woodworker, and therefore end up with large amounts of wood that are the wrong length, width, thickness because no matter how many times I measure and cut, they still ended up too short, narrow or thin.  I have waaaaayyyyyy too much of this stuff for the size of the space.  So,  I think to myself, some of it has to go.  But, I further think to myself, there is some nice wood here.  Maybe I can do something with it.  Okay, my first self argues with my second self, what are you going to do with scraps of 1/4" mahogany ply, 16" of leftover pinrail, a bunch of bruised and battered 1x6 pine, 7 feet of assorted mahogany moulding and 4 feet of cedar battens in varying thicknesses?

     Four hours later, with design and labour assistance from SWMBO, we had:
2 V-berth bookshelves,
1 Galley knife rack
1 Spice rack
1 Magazine rack
and the folding flappy galley extension also got a last coat of shiny stuff.

Total new material cost: $0

BTW, any industrial designers out there viewing this, here's a free million dollar idea.  Start selling chest freezers with durable workbench tops.  I think the venerable Firestone freezer that came with our purchase of stately Jones manor  is used more as a workbench than the workbenches in the shop.

Next up:  installing all of the stuff we built, building a removable helm seat for Whiskeyjack, and getting the boats splashed.  Hopefully the weather will improve this week, and we can get in the water before next Friday... the 13th.

     Thanks for taking the time to follow our adventures.  Feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.