Thursday, June 25, 2015

I've got two bars: Putting the solar panel above the bimini

George and Sterling add hardware to the bimini in preparation for two new stainless bars.
I liked having the solar panel on the stern pulpit because it was out of the way, but it interfered with using the swim platform and made the crew less safe. I had my sailmaker add reinforced holes in the bimini cloth and hardware to the structure so that two 6-foot stainless bars could be stretched across the frame. I placed the panel atop these bars using the same quick-release plastic clamps that I have been using.

Solar is so inexpensive and easy to add that all boaters should consider adding a panel to their vessel. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Waiting It Out

Much of a charter captain's life is spent waiting for weather to come and go. Weather is not usually a surprise because we have great systems to predict the weather and watch it move on our computers and mobile devices. Currently, I'm waiting for a fast-moving storm to pass through. After it passes, I expect nice weather in which to sail. 

I hope the weather is nice because I'm taking a father and daughter sailing. I know the father wants this to go well for her. So do I. I imagine that he has dreamed of the comradary he will develop with his family through sailing. Of course, he probably hasn't imagined heavy rain, wind, hail, and lightening. 

I hope the weather is nice. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hull Bottom Sins

We've been bad to Speakeasy over the years. We being my yard and me. Also our Chicago weather. First, Speakeasy's cradle is made to Catalina Yachts specifications and she's been resting on this cradle each off-season since 1999. It turns out that we've added stress to the hull by positioning the cradle so that the carpet-covered pad was not directly beneath a bulkhead on the aft port quarter. Very cold weather and age made the gelcoat brittle so that it cracked. Poor cradle support added to the problem. 
Cracks in the gelcoat above and below the waterline on Speakeasy. 
The repair required the gelcoat, coremat sublayer, and some fiberglass to be cut away and built back up. In the photo below, material has already be applied to the hollowed-out section and fairing compound applied.
Speakeasy bottom near the port quarter after grinding and fairing. 
The next image shows the completed project. The white and blue (for the water stripe) gelcoat was applied to bring the repaired section to the same thickness as the original. Then, it was polished with cleaning compound. Once the bottom paint is applied, it will be better than new.
The finished repair before the addition of bottom paint. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Clean and Green Boating

Mark Gillingham (Columbia Yacht Club Cruisers Fleet member, SPLASH Great Lakes) and Kim Kreiling (Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

On Saturday, April 25, 2015 the Columbia Yacht Club Cruising Fleet sponsored a seminar on keeping our marinas and surrounding water clean (slides from the seminar). We had a special guest from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Kim Kreiling, who is the director of the Clean Marinas program in Illinois. The Clean Marinas program exists throughout the Great Lakes Region 5 (see the map of Great Lakes Clean Marinas).

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Each pin represents a certified clean marina. Colors distinguish states. All of Chicago marinas are certified or are in the process of being certified including the Columbia Yacht Club. 

Bottom washing, especially using a power sprayer releases heavy metals, which do not degrade quickly or easily and can accumulate in the food chain. Some states require marinas to have a special permit to wash boat bottoms, but Illinois is not one of them. See these slides from the Wisconsin Sea Grant for more details. 

A clean and shiny boat is easier to keep clean. Wash with nontoxic cleaners and use as little as possible throughout the boating season. A pail of water and a soft brush can remove most particles. Use a hand spray bottle filled with a mild soap solution for tougher dirt and stains. Deeper stains can be removed from fiberglass with a paste of baking soda and water. This fiberglass stain remover has other uses too. I used this stain remover on a faux stone countertop with great results. When a disinfectant is needed (e.g., the head), use a solution of borax and water (1/4c borax in a gallon of water). For nasty mildew, make a paste of lemon juice (or white vinegar) and salt. Rub the paste on the stain and flush with water.
Common household products can become your standard go-to boat cleaning and polishing agents. Recipes for brass, fiberglass, aluminum, and other surfaces are available from the Clean Marinas site (see text).
Nontoxic cleaning products are available from the Columbia Yacht Club store. 
Polishes are also be made from common products. Olive or almond oil can be used to keep interior wood polished bright. Chrome can be cleaned with apple cider vinegar and polished with baby or mineral oil.
A DIY brass cleaner consisting of salt, vinegar, water and 5-minutes of brushing with a soft toothbrush made a huge difference in the shine of the 60-year-old gimbaled candlestick on the right.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

It Is Really Grand: The Grand Canyon

When we reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the fog was so thick we couldn't see the path. We walked along the path gingerly so we wouldn't take a wrong turn and hoped that the fog would lift in a few minutes. After an hour, we decided to get a camp site and try our luck in the morning. Once we registered our site, we went back to the rim where the fog had lifted enough so that we could see the bottom of the canyon. The fog looked like icing on a very large layer cake. 

Beth has a big smile when the fog lifts and the canyon comes into view. 

Shadows and fog over the Grand Canyon. 

Java meets new friends at the South Rim. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Oracle, Arizona

Sunrise in Oracle AZ
I'm sitting on the south-facing veranda of our friends' casita in Oracle, Arizona watching the sun rise over the small orchard in the yard. The sky is a bright orange after a star-lit night. And such stars as I've never seen. The air is clear and clean and we are far from the city lights of Phoenix and Tucson. In fact Oracle is designated as a dark sky site by Dark Sky International.

On the veranda the sun is up and burning away the chill of the night. Java is basking in the sun on stones that are beating quickly. Soon, Beth and I have moved our chairs to the sun and are also basking. Java oscillated from warm stones in the sun to cool ones further away and back again. She knows how to live. I'm starting to get the hang of it. 

The casita was once a chicken coop that the gardener converted to a grand bedroom. That shed was extended to create a companion room for sitting and dining. It's a lovely space created with many local and homey touches fitting for the area. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Santa Barbara in January

Santa Barbara has blooming flowers in January! It's hard for me to get my head around that fact. I'm used to frozen ground covered with snow. The only gardening is some pruning once a short thaw has reduced the snow cover a bit. 

Beth and Java got to play at the beach near UCSB. 

During a wine tour near Stearns Pier in Santa Barbara, we saw an Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile—an unlikely sight, I would have thought. I lived for a time in the 80s near an Oscar Meyer facility at which an older Weiner Mobile was parked. Back then, I saw it regularly. 

The mission in Solvang, which got its mission bell in a second wave of missions. The Mexican government secularized it and eventually the ranch it was on was sold to Danes. The Danes created a folk school. Now it is a tourist village with a Danish-wine motif. 

We did sample some of the Santa Barbara County wine. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The RV Life

We are sitting at the Mission Bay RV Resort in San Diego cleaning the mini-motor home that my generous brother loaned us to try out the RV life. We pushed from Chicago across the southern plains to get to better weather—we have it now. The temperature is mid to upper 60s with a few lazy clouds. The routine includes walking Java along the Bay, making coffee, and preparing for the day. We don't have far to go today, just to the other side of town where we are meeting our cross-street neighbors from Chicago who have taken an apartment in San Diego. Tomorrow we get to sail with them.

I met a women in the laundry room who said they had been here a week and are moving on to Riverside where there is a nice park. She's a full-timer and only stays a few days at any spot. Next for her is Lake Perris State Recreaction Area near Riverside, CA. We have not not found our perfect campsite or RV park yet. Campsites usually offer scenic beauty and natural recreation like hiking. RV parks are similar to motels near cities or attractions. In the oil-producing states, RV parks are filled with working men. In LA, filled with movie-industry workers. We've come to rely on AAA and Google reviews of sites to judge appearance and cleanliness. It's an art to read a review and get the correct image of a place.