Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Meters That Use Light Versus Meters That Use Electrodes

I'm just beginning to understand the differences between meters that measure pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and other components of water. The traditional meter measures light or color. For instance in the Secchi scale, one drops a disk in the water until it just fades from view. What is measured is the length of line played out. The Secchi disk is easy to use by volunteers to monitor inland lakes  (e.g., Indiana Clean Lakes Program, and Citizen Lake Monitoring Program in Minnesota). A modification of that principle is used in the World Water Monitoring Challenge Test Kit in which the distance is controlled by the depth of the container and the clarity of the water is compared to a standard chart. Charts are also used in the Kit for color comparisons when color-activating chemicals are added.
Modified Secchi Scale controls the depth and compares the clarity of the disc on the right to a standard shown on the card to the left. 

Color spectrometry is used to calculate the pH value. The chart on the left is compared to the chemical-filled water sample on the right. 
Although the naked eye can do a good job of comparing standards to samples, there is error introduced from the light source and the human eye. Spectrometers are more accurate. Chemicals are available to colorize for many molecules contained in water (or soil). For instance, Phosphate and Nitrate amounts can be detected using appropriate chemicals and a spectrometer. An example of a spectrometer used to measure swimming pool water is the eXact iDip.

An alternative to measuring color through spectrometry is to measure electrical conductivity with a galvanometer and electrodes. Doing so requires specific electrodes and calculations, but not added chemicals. A simple device is the total dissolved solids meter (e.g., Dr. Meter TDS conductivity meter). To learn more, read about ion selective electrodes on Wikipedia. One advantage of using electrodes is the elimination of chemicals and color analysis. Another advantage is automation. For instance, an electrode-based probe can be connected to a smartphone to read, geolocate, calculated, store, and transmit automatically. For instance, Sensorex makes a general smartphone interface for its probes and pH interface for iPhone (approximately $300). YSI has an interesting multi-electrode product that is portable [Meter ($1500), assembly ($1700), and sensors ($450-$1000].
Sensorex iPhone adaptor and probe.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Lake Michigan Cruiser Takes to the Land

Beth and I have been cruising on Lake Michigan for 8 seasons and have put about 8,000 miles on Speakeasy, mostly going from Chicago to Beaver Island, Michigan. In October, we got the chance to try a small motorhome for a weekend and since then have been to Bay Field on Lake Superior, Lake Winnebago, both in Wisconsin, Traverse Bay in Michigan, and Lake Eloise, where Cypress Gardens used to be in Florida. In a few months, we've traveled 4,000 miles. Our next land-cruising trip will be to Los Angeles via the great Southwest United States—another 4,000 miles. We'll have put as many miles on VERA in 6 months as we have on Speakeasy in 8 years.
Beth, Mark, and Java before VERA in Winter Haven, FL

We're so lucky that I have a generous brother who is willing to travel vicariously while he waits for more time off. It's his family's motorhome. The van is a Dodge Sprinter conversion by Winnebago. At 24-feet long, it is a perfect size for a couple with a dog. Like Speakeasy, it has a large berth for sleeping, comfortable salon seats, a salon table, galley, head, and fresh water. In addition, VERA has both heating and air conditioning. We're still learning about the land cruising world, but will share more along the way. 

Lakewood RV Resort in Hendersonville, NC is near Flat Rock where Carl Sandburg lived the last 2 decades of his life. 

Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island, FL is a wonderful beach park. 

At the old train station with old friend on Amelia Island, FL

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cruising Down the River

Each fall our crew takes Speakeasy from its mooring in Monroe Harbor, through the Chicago Lock, and down the Chicago River to Canal Street Marina. This fall we had a beautiful day—sunny and warm. I was greeted by a sunrise while on the tender to pick up Speakeasy at her mooring in Monroe Harbor. Tender Captain Mayre bid me a safe trip and pleasant off season as I stepped onto Speakeasy's deck. 

Twenty minutes later, I had the mooring bridal and ball (can) cover aboard the swim platform and was headed to the pier at Columbia Yacht Club. After a quick wash of the cover, I began taking down the foresail when my crew arrived to assist. It was 8 am and we were scheduled to cross beneath the Lake Shore Drive lift bridge at 9, but first, we had to enter the Chicago Lock. The Lock divides the Lake Michigan-Huron basin from the Chicago River and, ultimately, the Mississippi River. 

Sunrise on the increasingly empty Monroe Harbor.

The river has amazing views of Chicago architecture including Jeanne Gang's Aqua building [http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_(skyscraper)]—the first skyscraper to have balconies that are safe for residents from wind gusts. 

Skyscrapers along the Chicago River including one designed by Jeanne Gang in the background. 

A new feature of the river cruise this season was a barge that partially sank in the middle of the South Branch. During our trip, salvage barges were on either side of the troubled barge. Boat traffic had to line up single file to pass near the east bank. 

Barges on the South Branch, one of them sunken.  
Helper barge on South Branch. 

Broken and sunken barge on South Branch. 

The last sloop around the barges on the South Branch.

Speakeasy was first in line at Canal Street Marina to be hauled out. Straps were place beneath her to hoist her up out of the river and over to land. Once overs land, Speakwasy was power washed and set on a trailer. 

Speakeasy getting a wash down at the Canal Street Marina. 

The trailer was pushed into place near other boats for the winter. Shortly thereafter, I prepared her for a cold winter by changing oil, conditioning fuel, and winterizing the engine and water systems. 

Speakeasy's winter resting place at Canal Street Marina. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

World Water Monitoring Challenge in Northern Lakes

Boat launch at High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin. 
I have had the World Water Monitoring Kit for a few weeks now and have collected water samples from my local harbor in Chicago and three lakes in Wisconsin including a very small (Clear) and very large lake (Superior). The activity is fun and gives me the opportunity to talk about the local water and how temperature, turbidity, pH, and dissolved oxygen affect water quality. I keep my data in the kit's notebook and transfer it to the World Water Monitoring Challenge database and a spreadsheet that I keep. In general, the northern lakes are a little more acidic and less turbid than our local harbor on Lake Michigan in Chicago (see Chart).

Chart 1: World Water Monitoring Challenge Data Collection

The Lakes

Clear Lake in Hayward Wisconsin

Clear Lake near Hayward, Wisconsin. 
Clear Lake is part of the Spider Lake chain of lakes near Hayward in northern Wisconsin. In the late 19th century, Hayward was a lumber area where camps of lumberjacks lived and worked at cutting and removing trees from the forest. Once the best trees were cut, which took only about a decade, the land was sold to immigrants as farmland, abandoned (some of which was transformed into the Chequamegon National Forest), or transformed into vacation resorts and homes for urban dwellers. Today, Clear Lake has a couple dozen personal dwellings, a golf course, and a boys camp on its shore. 
A cut area where previously a forest stood. Photo at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, Wisconsin. 

Clear Lake is a small shallow lake near Hayward Wisconsin. A water sample was taken close to shore near the deepest part of the lake—about 6 meters. 

Lake Superior at Bayfield, WI

Sunrise over Madeline Island from the Dalrymple Campground in
Bayfield, Wisconsin. 
Dalrymple Park Campground is operated by the city of Bayfield, Winsconsin and located just north of the city. Campsites are available for rustic packing in or plugging in recreational vehicles. All sites are near Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.
Dalrymple Campground, Bayfield Wisconsin is on Lake Superior with a view of Madeline Island.
A water sample was taken from the shore of the campground.

Lake Winnebago at High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin

The cliff above Lake Winnebago shows a crevice
a few meters from its face. 
High Cliff State Park was created from an abandoned lime kiln that had been in operation from the 19th century to its closing in 1956. High Cliff (a.k.a., Clifton) was named after the limestone cliff, a prominent feature in the northwest corner of Lake Winnebago. The park features camping, hiking, swimming and other water sports including a marina. 

The marina at High Cliff State Park is on Lake Winnebago, which is part of the Fox River watershed and home to ancient sturgeon. A water sample was taken from the end of the boat launch ramp. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sailing the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia

The guys were talking enthusiastically about the 53-foot-long sloop that Peter had chartered. It had everything—four rooms each with its own head, duel helms, and electric winches. "It even has bow thrusters," Peter shouted over the traffic noise. "Bowel thrusters! What's that?" asked Jill from the furthest seat back. Immediately, everyone broke into wild laughter and did again several times per day for the next week as we imagined what "bowel thrusters" might be.

Thus began our magical week sailing along the coast and islands of the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia.

Vis Luka (harbor). Views like this one was why we came to the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. 
In early September, 2014, a group of three couples sailed a Jeanneau 53 named Trinity to the islands of the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. We flew to Split and sailed out of Marina Kremic. One of the crew, Peter, had sailed the Dalmatian Coast previously and chartered our sloop for us, which made the trip very easy. Beth and I flew from Chicago to Geneva through Zurich to meet the rest of the crew before we flew to Split. Our sailing itinerary took us from Kremik to Primosten, Maslinica, Vis City, Budakovac (also off of Vis), Palmizana, and Necujem. We also toured via taxi the UNESCO Hertitage Sites of Trogir and Diacletian's Palace in Split.

Captain's Log from September 6 to September 12, 2014


Saturday: Our group flew from Geneva to Split on EasyJet and took a taxi to Marina Kremik where we met our Jeanneau 53 sloop, which we sailed a short distance to Primosten to spend the night swinging on a mooring ball and enjoying the ancient city.

Trinty had plenty of room, two wheels, electric winches, thrusters, solar panels, four state rooms, and four heads. 

The peninsula of Primosten was a beautiful introduction to Dalmatia. We dine on fresh fish and walked to the church at the top of the hill.

Sunday: From Primosten, we had a leisurely day in light wind to the beautiful harbor of Maslinica on the island of Solta. We arrived at rush hour in the late afternoon. Boats were lined up for 3 hours backing into the quay. Only one of our crew had every moored in this manner before and it showed. Other crew made it look so easy.

The view from Tinity's cockpit while moored in Maslinica. 

Nearly all of these boats and many others arrived in the late afternoon at Maslinica, our introduction to Med Mooring. 

Each harbor had fresh food and lovely surroundings and views. This restaurant in Maslinica was named after bats: Sakajet. 

Monday: From Maslinica, we sailed to the large and ancient port of Vis where we picked up a mooring ball near a popular restaurant. We didn't realize the wonderful antiquities we would see in Vis Grad.

The 16th Century Church of St. Jerome was built from the remains of a Roman theater on a small peninsula in Vis harbor. 

Beth takes pictures of the beautiful harbor in Vis. 

Beth met a biking nun at the door of the 16th Century Palace Gariboldi in Vis. 

16th Century Church of Our Lady of Spilice in Vis. 
Tuesday: From Vis harbor, we sailed around the island to the Blue Caves and then further around to Budakovac where we picked up another mooring ball. We took the dinghy into the cave to see the amazing blue light reflecting up from beneath the surface. Budakovac was both beautiful and rustic and became a favorite spot.

Sunset at Budakovac, one of our favorite spots. 

Beth relaxes in Trinity's cockpit at Budakovac. 

Wednesday: We sailed north to the island of St. Klement off the big island of Hvar to Palmazana harbor. St. Klement has many small inlets surrounding the island where boats may anchor alone, but the larger Palmazana harbor features restaurants and resorts, which we didn't want to miss.

Signs for three restaurants near Palmazana. 
Beth at the helm leaving Palmazana. 

Thursday: We left Palmazana in unstable weather and had to duck into the large anchorage of Necujem at the end of the day. We waited out a squall and scouted good anchor ground before putting down our anchor in a picturesque spot. The weather cleared just before sunset. Two of us rowed the dinghy to a taverna for their special risotto and brought it back to the hungry crew. We never tasted such good risotto. In the morning, we saw a Dalmatian riding in the bow of a dinghy. A good omen, we thought.

Everyone read.
We had plenty of time to read. 

A Dalmatian rides the bow of a dinghy past Trinity and our cameras. A good omen, we thought as we prepared to leave Necujem for our home port, Kremic. 

Friday: From Necujem, we motor-sailed to our home port of Kremik where we got fuel and prepared to check in the next morning. In the late afternoon, we took a taxi to Trogir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Marina Kremik, the line for the fuel dock was an hour. We were glad to have thrusters against the growing breeze. 

A short taxi ride took us to the walls of Trogir and another fine dinner, this time in the pouring rain. 
One of the hotels along the quay in Trogir. 

Saturday: We checked Trinity into the charter company and took a taxi to Split to see Diocletian's Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later that afternoon, we left Split for Geneva

Beth hams it up with the Roman actors in Diocletian's Palace, Split.  

Church at Diocletian's Palace, Split. 

Hotel on the quay in Split. 

Beth tries out her Croatian on the clerk at the fruit stand in Split. 
The islands near Split on the Dalmatian Coast, Croatia.