Tuesday 27 March 2012

Out with the Old, In With the New, Part 1.

     "Show me where to look;  tell me, what will I find?"
                                            -Collective Soul

    Sunday afternoon, SWMBO and I and the mutts went over the river and through the woods to Jim and Mariann's home/boatyard.  After taking a dip in the sailing pond last season with their immaculate Siren Cranky, Jim and Mariann decided to make a bigger splash this season, stepping up to the Siren's bigger sister in the McGruer fleet, the Sirius 22.

     After seeing the beautiful result he achieved with Cranky, I knew this new boat was going to be a beauty. I wasn't disappointed.  While the mutts explored the woods with Jim and Mariann's golden retriever, I explored the new boat.

    But before we get any deeper into the tour of the Sirius, you have to understand where Jim is coming from.  To say that Jim is neat and pays attention to detail doesn't quite capture it.  Martha Stewart is neat.  NASA pays attention to detail.  Jim's beyond both, coming damn close to the edge of nuts.

Great googley-moogley, the man has aluminum siding INSIDE his garage, ferpetesake!

  Jordan's boat was in the shop over the winter for to have the benches rebuilt and a new stem fitting.  Jim built the benches from wood he had on hand...
  All oak and maple.  No soft wood here.  Jim jokes that he has lots of hardwood on hand but no softwood.

     Check out the beautiful rolling cradle...
   And the gantry overhead.  With the gantry and his tractor, Jim can transfer a boat from trailer to cradle, singlehanded.
   He built a new crutch to support the mast on the Sirius while trailering.

   And a new pad for the outboard mount.  Oak.  Solid oak.  Not plywood.

   More oak was used to craft the companionway dropboards.

   The wood trim was sanded and refinished, and Jim fabricated polyethylene plastic beds for the hatch slides, making operation effortless.   Mariann notes, "You have to be careful sliding the hatch now, or you'll launch the damn thing right off the bow!"

  Compact but clean and fumctional, the cabin is perfect for day sailing or weekending.  The cabin is a "pop-top"  allowing full headroom at the Dock or at anchor.

   A new CDI furler has been installed and a recut 150% genoa is ready to be bent on. Jim just has to lay on some bottom paint and she is ready to go in the water.

   And Cranky?

 Cranky  has been sold, but will be staying on the Bay, sailing out of Fisher's Glen.  We got the story sitting on Jim and Mariann's back deck enjoying a drink .  Not quite the Dock, but close. Thanks for the tour and the company and the hospitality, folks!

And thanks to you, 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 26 March 2012

Season Warm-Up and Impromptu Dock Reunion

     "Everyone's tryin' to get it right, get it right..."

     The Great White North hasn't been too white lately.  In fact, the weather this month has been downright balmy- sunny, warm, and dry- highly unusual but definitely not unwelcome.  It feels more like May than March.
     Days like this are bonus days, and as with every bonus in my life,  I was doing my best to squander it.  I figured that the more dirt-work I did now around Stately Jones Manor, the less work I have to do in the fall.  I sure as hell am NOT doing it during boating season.

   Which may be why I am still checking off items on the 2008 home maintenance punch-list.

    Anyrake, on Sunday  I decided to take a break from raking leaves (yeah, I know it's spring,  Shaddap.)  and head to Dover with Hilary to check out the  Bridge Yachts open house.

    Once a year the Laevens clan pulls out all the stops for a weekend-long event.  Seminars, vendor displays, discounts, samples, demonstratiuons, and free coffee and donuts. It's like a very compact boat show, with reps on hand from vendors big and small, and practical presentations on electronics, fiberglass repair, anchoring and more.

   Ed greeted everyone who walked through the door, registering all visitors for the door prize draw.  Note the salty looking  draw drum  on the counter.  Ed built it the week before the open house.

  While Ed covered the meet-and greet at the front of the store,  Steve was quietly handling the meat and potatoes at the parts and service counter at the back.

 Meanwhile Debbie and June were...  drinking coffee.

    (This may be the first (and last) documented instance of the Laevens men being busier than the Laevens women.)
   (Yes, I know I am in trouble.)

    After clearing in with Ed, I bump into Jim and Marianne, literally!  We quickly caught up and I promised that SWMBO and I would  come see the new boat.  More on that in the next post.

   The service bays had been cleaned out and cleaned up and turned over to vendors.  Representatives from Harken, Standard Horizon, Kiwi Grip, and a host of others large and small were on hand to answer questions a demonstrate their products...

    ...And to hand out swag.  I had the chance to talk to the Kanberra Gel  rep about their teatree oil- based  air cleaner, and received a small tester to try.    It will be put to use in a 30 day trial aboard Whiskeyjack and I'll let you know how it performs.

   Sudbury Boat Care  was handing out samples of their Boat Zoap, another product which will get tested on Whiskeyjack.

   While I was scrounging freebies, Hilary was fitting out his new-to-him C&C 25, which will be arriving from Sarnia on Thursday.  He introduced me to Peter Bristow, the Ontario Sales Manager for Bug-tek, manufacturer of a biodegradable non-toxic insecticide and spider repellent.  I am not sure how you can make a non-toxic bug repellent, but I am going to see how it works.

  As we worked our way around the "clearance table"  finding some great discontinued and scratch-and dent deals (I bought two cans of Interlux varnish for $20, Hilary picked up a gear hammock for $3), we met Andy and Jordan, from Tempus Fugit and Saphira.  Andy's wife (and Jordan's mom) Yvonne is a real canvaswork talent.  She will be repairing Whiskeyjack's  main sail cover and adding another pair of hand loops to the dodger shortly, so it was handy to be able to touch base.

    After seeing all there was to see (me) and spending all he had to spend (Hilary)  we crossed the bridge to the boatyard to check on Whiskeyjack and Legacy, and retrieve Whiskeyjack's  cabin table to bring back to the skunkworks for reworking.  The view from the cockpit shows the chock-a-block transom to bowsprit and rubrail to rubrail packing of boats in the yard.

   The Dock opens April 15th.  21 more sleeps!


    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 19 March 2012

Entirely Un-Boat Related Scribble

       "Don't ya take no chances....."
                           -Billy Squier

       In the course of my real job, I was talking to an SEO guy the other day about websites and blogs and internet audience growth  in general, (hey, a few months ago I didn't know that SEO meant Search Engine Optimization either,)  then got talking about this little slice of cyber-heaven specifically, and  he mentioned that niche blogs only grow until the niche is filled.  He said, "If you want to really grow your audience, you need to write about  current events, or politics, or family issues, topics and themes that crossover.  Controversy catches eyeballs.  breaking taboos catches eyeballs. Shameless, prideless, first-person exposition really catches eyeballs"

    "How about recipes?" I ask.

    "Not so much."

   "Even vegetarian recipes?"  I persist.

   "With tofu"?  SEO guy asks.

   "Er, no."

  "Even less.  Tofu is hot right now. "

   Right.  Okay, now that the Dock Six Chronicles has passed the First Anniversary and 150th Post milestones, next goal is to hit 50,0000 page views.  Right now we are at about 46,000.  I'd like to see if we can generate that 50K by the end of March.

  To do that I am gonna need to break out.  I decided to rummage through the vault of scribbles to see if there was anything worthwhile.I need edgy, current, political, shameless, personal...

Aha!  Birth control!

MEN'S Birth Control.

The permanent type.

Read the latest (okay, I blew the dust off this account I wrote a few years back, but it's new here) scribble:  Snip!.


Reader discretion is advised.

  As usual, I am glad you all stopped by.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell you friends.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Two-Burner Tastiness- Vegetarian Edition

        "Come on and stir it up..."
            -Bob Marley & The Wailers

        It has been brought to my attention that in my Dock-related gastronomical reportage I was ignoring an important demographic.  Dozens two constant occasional readers had mentioned that there were no vegetarian recipes.
      In fact, the argument had been made that I was prejudiced against pescatarians, hated herbivores and was vehemently anti- vegan.

     To which, I respond,  "Well, duh."

     SWMBO and I are not vegetarians, so our menus tend to include ingredients that at one time had a pulse.

     Besides, tofu really, really sucks.

     But, upon reflection, I realized that there is some really yummy stuff out there that we eat and serve regularly, that could be filed under "Vegetarian."

   With our vegetarian son and pescatarian daughter visiting for the March break, we had the perfect opportunity to field-test some twists on old favourites and try some new ideas.

     Give 'em a try and let me know what you think.

      Dock 6 Dirty Rice

4 cloves garlic, minced
1  chopped onion
1 chopped green or red bell pepper
1 stalk celery
1 shallot
1 tbsp or thereabouts Old Bay Seasoning, or a blend of chili powder, seasoned salt, black pepper.
1 tsp.  Five Spice powder
1 1/3 cups uncooked white rice
2 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 diced  tomato
1 can black beans
 fresh lime juice
 chopped fresh cilantro to taste

Bring the water to a boil, then everybody in the pool!  Except the lime juice.  Whne rice is cooked to desired firmness, remove from heat, squirt on lime juice (or garnish with lime wedges) and dress with sriracha sauce.

     Quinoa Salad
     This recipe was inspired by a dish on the menu at my brother-in-law's restaurant,  Rosie .

     1 cup quinoa rinsed and drained
     2.5 cups of water  or vegetable broth
     1 diced tomato
     1 diced red pepper
     1/2 english cucumber sliced and diced.
     Handful chopped cilantro
    3 tbsp olive oil
    2 tbsp. cider or rice wine vinegar
    2 cloves garlic
    salt and pepper

   Boil water or broth,  add quinoa, coook for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Add veggies. Combine dressing ingredients  and rapidly whisk to fully blend.  Pour over quinoa and stir.  Serve at room temp or chilled.


     Hummus and Pita Wedges

     1 can chick peas, rinsed
     2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
     1 lemon or juice equivalent
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     2 cloves mashed garlic (optional)
     3 tablespoons olive oil
     4 pitas
     1 green onion
     Dash of Old Bay seasoning

    Mash chick peas.  Blend in tahini and garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt.  Blend.  Blend some more. Taste. Add lemon juice to taste.  Taste again.  When yummy, serve in bowl garnished with tablespoon of olive oil, Old Bay and sliced green onions.

    Drizzle olive oil on warm grill or skillet, then warm pitas on both sides until golden brown, then slice into eighths.

     Easy-Peasey Guacamole

     3 avocados - peeled, pitted.
    1 lime, juiced
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup diced onion
    Big handful of chopped fresh cilantro
    2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
    4 cloves minced garlic
    A dash or two of cayenne or Old Bay Seasoning
    1 bag tortilla chips

    In a bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Stir in onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic and seasoning  Taste.  Adjust as necessary. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately with tortilla chips
   Note: Keep one avocado pit in the bowl to prevent discolouration


     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 11 March 2012

Field Trip!

        "I don't know when the road turned into the road I'm on...."
                                                         -Jackson Browne

     Ahhh, winter, when a cold sailor's  thoughts turn to boats.  Refitting, rebuilding and repairing are top of mind,  but what if is too cold for epoxy to kick and paint to dry?  Then a sailor dreams, and some are seduced by the siren's song of a new (to them, at least) boat.

     Hilary heard the call.

     After a gut-check regarding the condition of his O'Day Tempest, the antipathy of his better half toward his Tempest, and his own boatsmithing skillset, Hilary asked himself three questions:
   1. Would I rather fix, or sail?
   2. Would I like to sail with my wife more often?
   3. Can I find a better boat that I can afford?

    Thus Hilary dove into the world of internet classified ad boat porn.

    Just as with all other forms of pornography, boat porn is always titillating, occasionally seamy, and rarely as attractive in reality as in the pictures.

     And plentiful.

     Really plentiful.

     There are a lot of boats for sale, and a lot of places to find them, and with lots of variety comes lots of analysis, and eventually Hilary's brain just plain locked up.

    He contracted a case of analysis paralysis.

    In an effort to effect a cure, Hilary fired me an email, asking for help choosing his next boat.

   I was happy to assist.

   I am really good at spending my own boat budget.

   I am really, REALLY good at spending other people's boat budget.

   As Hilary had discovered, there is a lot of misplaced optimism in the old boat marketplace.  Phrases like "sails new in 1998," sounds MUCH better than "15 year old sails due for replacement,"  and pictures in ads are accurate when they were taken...in 2004.  In the mid four-figure bottom-feeder end of the marketplace, there is a LOT MORE misplaced optimism, bordering on desperation... and in some cases crossing the border into the land of Outright Lying.  So, we narrowed down the options, and I tossed some new ideas Hilary's way.  Eventually, after a couple of  false starts and a few close calls and boats that didn't make the cut, Hilary thought he had found "The One",  so we saddled up and hit the road, heading NW to Sarnia.

    Saturday dawned cold and sunny as we departed Stately Jones Manor.  The day remained sunny as we got to Sarnia, but the wind whipping off of the St. Clair River was COLD.  Before going to look at the BIQ (boat in question) we decided to grab some lunch and work up some last-minute boat shopping strategy.

    More on that "strategy" part later.

   Fed and watered, we continued on our quest.  Within minutes our prize hove into sight:

   A 1978 C&C 24.

   She looks pretty from 10 feet...

    And still looks decent up close.

   More headroom than the Tempest, and the interior is dry, clean, spacious and unsmelly.

    Cared for by only her second owner, the boat has a dry bilge, replaced compression post step, rebedded hardware and ports, a decent suit of sails, all documentation including owner's manuals for the boat and all components, and a Suzuki outboard which stated first pull and idled and everything.
   Downsides?  Original plaid upholstery, original gate valves on through-hulls, but both the valves and upholstery are in good shape.  Simple rig, no traveller, no furler. Knotmeter is not functioning. The keel joint needs to be faired.  Wiring is in need of some sorting.  But that's pretty much the only real deficiencies, par for the course in this price range.
     After a thorough tire-kicking, Hilary and I huddled for a confab.  I tell him what I think it is worth.  He tells me what he thinks it is worth. We discuss the art of negotiating.   Hillary set's an absolute, walk-away, not a penny more top end price that he is comfortable investing.  I agree that the figure he has in mind makes sense. Reassured, Hilary breaks the huddle and trots out to scrimmage with the seller...

    And buys the boat.

   For a few hundred more than his top end.

   Huh?  What about all that hardball strategizing and negotiating tactics and stuff?

   "We got along. He's happy, I'm happy."

   Hey, if everybody is happy with a deal, it's probably a good deal.

   The next step is to beg, borrow or rent a truck capable of hauling the boat and included trailer home, and Hilary is good to go this season.

   If anybody wants a low-budget O'day Tempest project boat, I know this guy...

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.