Monday 28 November 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends, Volume 7: Bill's Back.

      "Your dreams were your ticket out..."
                      -John Sebastian

    Bill and wind seem to go together.
    Last time we saw Bill was also the first time we saw Bill, right here:

   He was on the scene when we had our big blow in April, and he brought wind with him when he returned in September to pick up Suntack's cradle.

   Last time I saw Bill he was leaving the marina, headed for home.  I got a chance to crack a beer or two with him when he returned, and he gave me the trip report.

   April is a tough month to transit the Great Lakes.  It's usually ex-wife weather-  cold, bitter and unpredictably nasty.  This year was no exception.  It was raining when Bill left, and it didn't stop raining until he was within sight of home...
Nine days later.
    The only chart Bill had when he departed the marina was the Welland Canal chart I loaned him.  He figured he'd pick up a Lake Ontario chart along the way.
    Apparently Lake Ontario chandleries don't stock charts this early in the season, because Bill couldn't find one for sale when he exited the canal.  As Bill tells it, he navigated by using the only navigational aid he could find:
    A road map.

     I shit you not.

    He lived to tell the tale, and spent the season refitting and sailing and refitting and painting and refitting  and high-diving from the top of the mast when his bosun's chair overstressed a rotten halyard and ...

    This man may have a bigger cup of luck than most.

    This was a quick touch-and-go run for Bill- drive down to the marina on Wednesday, pick up the cradle, drive back on Thursday.  Thursday morning however dawned with a fresh breeze and sun, and it didn't take much arm-twisting to convince Bill to go for a sail.  I was on the clock, but I figured I could play hooky for a couple of hours, and I had my phone with me, in case the office needed to get in touch with me.    By the time we got the main sail uncovered and the docklines untied, the weather was getting ... interesting.

    The wind was out of the Northeast, pushing the clouds away, but also creating some weird sea conditions on the lake.  There was little wave action but the wind was 20 knots with gusts to 30.  We cruised along the beach under power, grinning and reading the wind and just as we were about to raise the main...
... my phone rings.

     Great.  C'mon, really? 

    Turn around and head back to the Dock, as the wind is freshening.  Bill's got the helm.  With each gust, Whiskeyjack laid over and hardened up at about 20 degrees.
    With no sails.  Bare poles.
   Just for giggles we shut down the Yanmar and kept an eye on the chart plotter.  We were still sailing along at 2 knots, just on the dodger and bimini!

      We didn't get any canvas up but we still came home with another story to tell.  Thanks for bringing the wind, Bill!

     Next time, I leave my phone at home.

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.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Commenting Fixed!!!

   "The word 'excuse' has many names..."

   After months of perplexity, apathy and just general fear and loathing of anything cybertechy related, I decided to tackle the Comment issue.  Faithful readers have been telling me that they were no longer able to post a comment, and I assumed it was a Blogger problem, so I completely sort of ignored the issue.  This morning I decided I would face my fear head-on, and try to fix it.  Loyal readers, I do this for you.  I am nothing, if not customer service oriented.
   Heart pounding, I popped the hood on the blog to see what I could see.

   Yes, I AM STILL an idiot.

   I clicked an unclicked preference, and BAM!  Commenting enabled for everyone!


Wheels for Keels- A Bittersweet Swap


    "I don't write songs about girls anymore, I have to write songs about women."
                                                                   -The Pursuit of Happiness

     In February of 2002, I acquired an old VW Thing, the 47th VW I had owned.  It was a project, in need of an engine, some bodywork (a tree had fallen on it), paint and reassembly.  My plan at the time was to do a quick and dirty rebuild and get it on the road by the summer.  Shouldn't take more than 6 months, tops, I figured.

     Last week it finally left the garage.  On the back of somebody else's trailer.


       It wasn't as hard to see the car go as I thought it would be.  In fact, as I watched the trailer and it's cargo head out of the driveway, the hardest part was coming to grips with the fact that I was now, officially an old fart.

   I could ignore the receding hairline.
   I could ignore the greying beard.
   I could ignore the expanding waistline.
   I could ignore the fact that I listen to talk radio.

   I could no longer ignore the fact that I preferred standing and sitting while working with wood and fiberglass in a warm house to lying on my back on a cold floor in a cold garage clutching cold tools, under two tons of old rust trying to remove a cold , seized, 40 year old bolt, nut or screw that is going to snap right...about...*   I prefer the scent of fresh cut cedar and mahogany to the stink of  PB Blaster and overheated gear oil.  I prefer the growl of a table saw cutting ply to the sound of a cut off wheel shrieking through sheetmetal.  I prefer to shake sawdust out of my hair to trying to excavate rust and filings out of my ears.

  Hey!  You kids!  Get off my damn lawn!

   While I was disappointed in myself for not finishing what I had started with this project, I was eager to move on.  It was time.

   Cleaning out the garage was the last hurdle to clear before I could start the catamaran build.  Now, with the garage empty, I could begin to refill it.

   Monday, the donor boat was delivered to Stately Jones Manor.  Time to strip it down, and get to getting.

    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.

Monday 21 November 2011

Low-Buck Tools: Outboard Motor Work Stand

         "Season is calling..."

        When it's too cold to float a boat, it's the right time to get your boat ready to float.  The only upside to a long cold winter is that the more work you do when the snow flies, the less work you have to do when the sun shines.  One of my projects this winter is to revive an old outboard, so I need a work stand.   I thought about buying a rolling O/B carrier, but rejected the option for a couple of reasons-
     1.  Lack of stability.  it's a whole lot less frustrating to reef on a seized bolt when you don't have to worry about your work rolling out from under you.
     2.  Lack of work surface.  An O/B cart has no place to lay tools, parts, rags, your beer, etc.
     3.  Lack of spare funds.  The more money I spend on stuff that is not going on a boat, the less money I have to spend on stuff that goes on a boat.  And Christmas is coming.

      So, as usual, I gotta build what I need.  I'm cool with that because it means I have to repurpose a bunch of scrap lumber, so I sort of get to clean up part of my cluttered workshop.


      Because thousands dozens three chronic Chronicles readers have asked me to post step- by- step instructions of the "low-buck" projects, I will do that very thing with this episode, for those who want to play along at home.

     Step 1:   Plan your work, so you can work your plan.  Draw up the dimensions of what you need to accomplish, maybe sketch out a vague idea of what it should look like. Note the high quality drawing utensils


     Step 2:  Get wood. If you're a woodworker/boatbuilder/home handyman type, chances are you have a whole mess of offcuts, or as, they are known at Stately Jones Manor, mistakes.  Gather up a bunch of likely suspects.  Because I was going to be building a stand to hold a 50 lb motor, I wanted something fairly beefy, so I dug up an old pressure treated 4 x4 left over from a fence project, a couple of gnarly 2x4s last used during a painting project, a 2 x6 of unknown origin, a length of 1 x 2, and some leftover melamine shelf board

     Step 3:  Measure twice, cut once.  Swear, remeasure, cut again.  Using your drawing as a guide, cut your wood to measure.


Step 4: Drink a beer.  Now that the power tools stage of the program is over, you realize that this is dusty work, and a cold beer would come in handy.  This also give you a chance to contemplate how you are going to put this all together.

Step 5: Nail 'er, screw 'er, give it to 'er!  Fasten your uprights to the horizontal lowers, fasten feet blocks to the lowers, install some spreaders, and gussets, add on a work top.

Step 6:  Try it out.  Seems to work.

   Total build time:  2 hours.
   Total cost:  $0
     It ain't pretty, it ain't elegant, but it does what it is supposed to do. I suppose a coat of paint would not go amiss, but while it might make it look more polished, it isn't going to make it work any better.  I didn't trim the angle on the melamine gussets because I figured I might add a shelf there later, if it appears it may come in handy.  
     Or a beer holder.

  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 13 November 2011

Tying Up Loose Ends, Volume Six: The Afterword on the Aftermath

                 "Never let nothin' stand in my way..."
                                                  -Billy Ocean

  Remember the big wind back in April?

   Some boats came back, and some boats didn't.

   Toboggan, seen above, was back in the water this season  with a new mast.


  ...was in the water this season, and is now resting on a beefed up trailer.

Isyhia wasn't so lucky-  she was a write-off:

  She's like a desperate cougar in a bar at last call- at first glance she looks okay...

   At a  casual second glance  she looks like she just needs some cosmetics to return her to her former glory

But close up, in the cruel light of day, one realizes that she could wreck a marriage and a credit rating with no reward.

   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.

How cool is this?

     "Lido missed the boat that day he left the shack..."
                                                        -Boz Scaggs

     A generation (or so)  ago, naval architecure was alive with great designs and great designers-  Bill Crealock, Bill Garden,  Olin Stephens, Cuthbertson & Cassian, Ted Brewer, Ted Hood, and  at the unconventional end of the scale Phil Bolger and Artthur Piver, producing designs to be emulated, imitated, improved upon and admired for decades to come.
     All were legends in their own time, and, occasionally, in their own mind.  There are far fewer designers today,  even fewer who evince the same  reaction, and fewest leave the same solid body of work behind.
    An exception that proves the rule is Pacific Northwest -based naval architect Robert Perry.  For over 40 years Perry has turned out some of the best-regarded fast sailing cruiser designs available,  boats that have stood the test of time:

  • CT54, CT56 CT48 and CT65

  • Tayana 37, 48 and 52

  • Valiant 32, 40, 42, 47, 50

  • ESPIRIT 37

  • Nordic 44, 46RS. 40, 34

  • Norseman 447

  • Lafitte 44 and 66

  • Cheoy Lee 35, 44, 48, 42LRMS

  • Islander 26, 28, 34, 32

  • Freeport 36

  • Baba 30, 35 and 40

  • Tashiba 31, 36 and 40

  • Passport 37, 40, 41, 44, 47, 50

  • Tatoosh 42, 51

  • Saga 48, 43, 35

  • Mirage 27, 30, 32, 35 

  •   and my favourite, the Far Harbour 39, a ship designed to be shipped:

      I'm not gonna waste any more of your time blowing smoke up Bob's ass- for those who are interested , you can find out more info here:

    Bottom line is, this dude is one of the last of the real deals when it comes to designing floaty stuff.

      I have been lucky enough to come across Bob's radar screen, thanks to the interweb. Before I get to the meat of  this post, a little background is probably  in order:

     As I make my bones, in my own ham-handed way, designing, building, and refitting boats, I am reminded of the "Four Stages of Learning Any New Skill<" as it was described to me a few years ago:
    1. Unconscious Incompetence-  Don't know what to do. Don't know how to do it.
    2. Conscious Incompetence- Know what to do.  Don't know how to do it.
    3. Conscious Competence- Know what to do.  Know how to do it.  Have to focus and concentrate to do  it.
    4. Unconscious Competence- Know what to do.  Do it automatically.

      I hover between stages 1 and 3 with occasional delusional flashes of stage 4, with a confidence level anywhere between 27 and 128%, which means that sometimes a second, or third or fourth,  opinion is wise.

      This is where the WLYDO comes in.

    WLYDO (pronounced "Lee-do."  The W is silent.  I don't care what anybody else says.) is the "World's Largest Yacht Design Office", a loose group of naval architects, wannabe architects, boatbuilders, sailors and critics who meet on-line  in the Cruising Anarchy forum to present designs for criticism and/or improvement,and/or to criticize/improve proffered designs.  As I refine my catamaran design, the input of the WYLDO has been invaluable. The support and advice has kept the wheels from coming off this wreck so far, and has been much appreciated.
    Apparently, I'm not the only one who has benefited from the power of the WYLDO.  Last week , Mr. Perry blogged about the efforts of  this rogues gallery:

    Halfway down the page, check out the picture of the skunkworks deep below Stately Jones Manor.  How cool is that?

    bljones office.jpg

    Thanks, Bob.

    And thanks to all of you for checking us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us or just tell your friends.

    Sunday 6 November 2011

    Tying Up Loose Ends, Volume Five: Freedom's Flight

         "You're right where I wanna be..."
                            -Michael McDonald

      Way back, I introduced you to Ed and Chris, about to embark on the cruising life aboard their Endeavour, Freedom.

          I was expecting to see them stop by at some point this season on their way south, but Mother Nature had other plans.

         Remember Hurricane Irene?  Y'know, the storm that was sorta anti-climactic for the NY/NJ coast?  Turns out, it wasn't so benign upstate.
        From a geographical, if not meteorological standpoint, the outcome was triple weird, folks.  Check this out:

        Irene generated  a stalled front over upstate New York and Vermont, causing bucketloads of rain to fall for hours, leading to widespread catastrophic flooding, so while NYC was largely spared, the  landlocked state of Vermont declared a state of emergency, and upstate New York, specifically the Erie Canal, got seriously whacked with the catastrophe stick.

                                                                   Image  thanks to

                                                                                                             Image thanks to

       Game over for the Erie Canal this season, and unless some fundage becomes available to repair the damaged locks, next season looks in doubt also.
      "Yeah, so?"  some of you snort, "How does a closed canal in New York affect us up here?"

       Like this- the Erie Canal is the nautical pleasurecraft superhighway to the ICW.  The Great Lakes connect to the Canal, the Canal connects to the Hudson, the Hudson connects to Long Island Sound, Long Island Sound  is like a cloverleaf- turn left, you head to New England and points north, turn right and you're travelling south with the snowbirds on the IntraCoastal Waterway, all the way to Miami.

        No canal, no Miami.  or Bahamas.  Or whatever.
         Some cruisers decided to truck their boats south,  some decided to hope for the best, (rumour has it the canal will open on a limited basis on American Thanksgiving, but that is getting really late in the season for the month+ trip south to the Bahamas), and others, including Ed and Chris, decided to go west to go south.

         Freedom simply headed north, up the St. Clair River  through Lake Huron, down Lake Michigan to Chicago where her mast was pulled and dropped on a truck, then Freedom became a powerboat, cruising down the canals, eventually to the Mississippi.

    Okay, maybe "simply" is slightly inaccurate.

       Anyadjective, the crew of Freedom has been blogging their adventures, and it has been a great read.  I encourage you to check it out.  I get the feeling it is going to be a great lifeline during the long cold winter ahead.

        (Hey, if I keep kissing ass like this, you think they'll invite me aboard when they hit the Bahamas?)

         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.

    No-Burner Tastiness: Best. Donut. Ever.

         "Oh, my God!"
                -Amanda Marshall

          Arguably, the one unifying force in this country is not political, but gastronomic, a power that has repelled and conquered  foreign interlopers, an entity known and loved nationwide that has created a culture and added to the national lexicon, a benevolent behemoth so ubiquitous that everyone know's it best by it's nickname:

          Tim Horton's Donuts is one of the great Canadian success stories,  with thousands of stores across the country and around the world, serving up the lion's share of take-out coffee and pastry in this country.   Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and dozens of regional chains and thousands of independent coffee and donut joints fight tooth and nail for the scraps left over.  According to Wikipedia, Tim Horton's commands a whopping 76% of the pastry sales in Canada, and 62% of the coffee sales.
    Starbuck's is number 2... at 7%.

         Timmy's ain't real worried.

         One of the secrets to Tim Horton's success is the chain's consistency- Uniforms, coffee blend, store design, menus and recipes are all proprietary and sourced from a small handful of suppliers.   You can expect an "everything" bagel or "chocolate dip" donut to taste the same in Victoria, BC and Sydney, NS.

         Or  Afghanistan.  Tim's went to war alongside our troops, opening an outlet at the coalition base at Kandahar, staffed by Tim's employees, not contractors or military staff.  These folks don't play when it comes to maintaining quality and consistency.

         But, there is some leeway, and Tim's has a history of listening to, and responding to, the wishes of the franchisees.

        Which brings us to the Dock's local Timmy's in Port Dover.

         It's different.

        It starts outside.  Traditionally, Tim Horton's stores are of the "Brown Brick Box" school of retail architecture.  When the Port Dover Timmy's moved to a new location a little more than a decade ago, the franchise owners decided to do something different:

      This is the prototype "Downeast" design Timmy's store, a design that has since been repeated in the maritime provinces, and throughout New England.  A nautical theme is carried throughout the interior decor, with rope edged counter tops and a pedestal complete with ship's wheel and compass binnacle in the center of the store.

         The menu  is a little different as well.  Here, you can get the world's best donut, if you know how to order:

    (At this time,  drumroll would be appropriate.  Feel free to generate your own facsimile.)


          A Bacon-topped Maple Donut.

         Unadorned,  a Tim's Maple Dip donut is damn near donut perfection.  A soft, airy, yeasty donut dressed with perfect maple frosting.  Donut frosting sounds simple, but so many donut joints and bakeries can't seem to get it right.  Timing is everything.  If the donut is too cool when frosted, the frosting is simply cold-welded to the donut chassis.  It looks fine, but one bite causes the frosting to flake, fragment and freefall to the floor.  Too warm and the frosting is a fizzled drizzle, dripping, drooling and generally doing it's damnedest to depart the donut.

         On the frosting tip, Timmy's rolls straight up Goldilocks-style;  not too hot, not too cold, just right.

        Add a handful of strips of bacon and the simple pleasure becomes sublime.  I gotta see it again:


        If there is any justice in the world, this would be a regular menu item.  Call it a "Dock Six."

       ( Hell, if a donut called a "Dutchie"  can catch on, then this is a no-brainer.)

        Try one today!

        Better yet, spread the word.  It's not like the world can't use another great donut.

         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.

    Tying Up Loose Ends, Volume Four: Another Guy Fly-By

         "Hark, now hear the sailors' cry..."
                            -Van Morrison

        Sunday, October 30, 2011.
        Air Temperature:  7C
        Water Temperature: 12C
        Waves: 1-2 metres.
        Strong Wind Warning Issued.

        Hit it.
         The Dock closes for the season tomorrow, but it's looking damned close to empty today.  

     We've got to get Whiskeyjack off the dock and up the river to the yard, then prepped for haul out. Then we have to load Quack on the top of Lady Liberty for the trip home.  Then we have to strip all of the fenders off the dock

       But, there's still time for one last sail.

       There's always time to sail!

       Bookending the season, eager greenhorn Guy was back to build seatime.  The silly bas  fine gentleman sent us an email a couple of weeks back offering to help with haul-out!  After a split-second of thoughtful consideration, I took him up on his ill-considered offer.
       (What, did any of you really  think  I was gonna say "no, that's okay, thanks."?  An extra warm body to help strike canvas, fold sails and hump gear to the car is not to be refused.  Especially when said warm body brings wine.)

         As usual, Guy brought great sailing weather along with him.  Once clear of the marina, we motored west along the shoreline to give our cold diesel a chance to warm up, then we rolled out half our genny and were off with the wind.  We're beautfully balanced, with the wheel needing little in the way of inputs, pretty much sailing herself.


         We're crashing, we're splashing, Guy and I are grinning, and SWMBO and Finn decide to head below for a nap!
        A nap!??!
        Turns out a couple of somebodies were a little chilly.

        On a day like today, foulies make the difference between a great sail and a miserable sail.  After warming up in the v-berth, SWMBO returned to the cockpit in her bibs with another sweater and scarf under her jacket.
         Finn, however was still unhappy.

         SWMBO rummaged below and found a solution.  She returned to the cockpit with a polar fleece sweatshirt.  A couple of turns on the sleeves, and voila, a warmer dog.

        Who is still not happy.

         "You're kidding, right?  I have to wear this?!?  Couldn't you at least find a shirt in any other colour?"


         "I look ridiculous!"


       "Okay, it's warm, and cozy and ... zzzzzzzzzzz."

         As the distance between shore and Whiskeyjack widened, the swells lengthened and shortened, and the ride smoothed out, while the sun played hide and seek amongst the clouds.

       As we were heading out toward the end of the Point, the fish tugs were coming in returning to port, replete with a cloud of moochers circling overhead.

         As the afternoon peaked, we reluctantly did the math, calculating the necessary intersection of estimated return speed, approximate sunset time,amount of time necessary to strip the boat for haulout, to the nearest half hour to correspond with the lift bridge opening schedule.
        In other words, we guessed  when we should head back.

        Hey, I'm a lover, not a mathematician.

       The sun was just over our shoulder as we approached the river mouth, still under sail.  It was also 4:53.  We had 7 minutes to travel 3/4ths of a mile.  Whiskeyjack is a cruiser, not a racer, with a top speed under power of about 6 miles per hour, or one mile ever 10 minutes.  The math was not in our favour. To further complicate the equation, remember the swells we had left behind?  We were back in them, and the entry into the river was going to be, er, interesting.

        Photos below were taken the previous weekend, which was a hell of a lot less hectic.

    We could have held off and waited for the next opening, but it would mean entering the river at dusk, (it gets darker earlier on the Bay, thanks to the bluffs to the west blocking the setting sun), then docking and off-loading in the dark.

            What the hell, let's push it.

             The crack crew flew into action.  SWMBO got on the radio to let the bridgekeeper know we were coming, while I cranked up the engine and Guy prepped halyards and sheets to furl the genoa.  We throttled up and made the run into the  river.

            Here's the score:
           1/2 mile from the bridge,
           Bridgekeeper firm on opening on time at 5:00.

           Then we caught a break:  At full throttle, we surfed into the river on the back of a swell, which pushed our speed over ground north of 7 knots.  Wheeeee!!!!!!!!  I was grinning, Guy was grinning, onlookers on the pier were pointing, Finn was unimpressed.  As we pass the commercial harbour, we can hear the bridge warning bell ringing.  At straight up 5:00, the bridge began to rise.
          At 5:02, we passed under the flapping wings of the bridge.

          Minutes later we were tied up to the boatyard dock, shutting down, packing up, and cracking beer and Merlot to toast an excellent close to an excellent season.

         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.



    Wednesday 2 November 2011

    Locked Dock and Farewell.

         "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here..."


        This concludes the 2011 Dock Six boating season.

        This begins the 2011-2012 Dock Six boatbuilding and refitting season.

         Stay tuned.  We still have loose ends to tie up, projects to build, recipes to try, rum to test, tools to review, and more additions to the Good Grub List.

        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.