Sunday, January 29, 2012

Calculating the Breaking Strength of Line...

2.5 X 1.572 X 900 = 5, 546 pounds of breaking strength

"Knots and splices will reduce the breaking strength of a line by as much as 50 to 60 percent. The weakest point in the line is the knot or slice, but a splice is stronger than a knot."

      Walk down the docks at any given time and take a gander at how the various boats are secured... 

     Now you have your yachties- the weekend (if that), warriors whose fiberglass boats are docked 90% of the year. The main issue with these vessels are that they have all sorts of expensive braided synthetic lines to moor the craft with, but usually are all run from the same hawse hole to the same cleat. (Same spots orignating and terminating)...So, if there is going to be a failure, what makes them think that doubling up is going to work? (and that is really not "doubling up")

     Now, the fishing fleet, (big sturdy lines made fast in varying terminating points) -  the common problem is thus: [see photo to left].  Most fishermen are reluctant to drop any money on their boats or gear until they absolutely positively have to do so....resulting in frayed dock lines and bulwarks that are rusting or rotting away.  This puts the tension on the weakest link in the chain, so to speak.

[the best part of this photo is that the line that looks as if it is two lines doubled, is actually the same line wrapped twice... So when it frays through, the entire moorage point is a lost cause!]

     The boat next to us has three of the five dock lines abraded away to almost nothing.  I wish I had a formula for what the breaking strength of a synthetic line is when it gets to THAT point... not good I wager.

Having seen a 3/4" line snap under strain (and been fortunate enough to not witness the cleat come flying overhead-- I put great stock in correctly and safely tying vessels correctly to the dock.

On the other hand, there haven't been any runaways in the marina this year....yet.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What?!...I can't Hear you!

      It is a sunny January day in the marina.  I love crisp, bright winter days after a long spell of wind and rain. However, the down side to calm seas and sunny skies is the increased noise level around the docks. (I remember from my land-lubber days, the equivalent lawn-mower and leaf-blower noises did the same thing to my senses).

      I sit at my desk and work on my Zodiac paperwork, occasionally jotting down a few pages on my manuscript, and suddenly the boat begins to vibrate. Strong wind? Nope... My neighbor's generator? Nope. Typhoon? way.

      It is Guns and Roses blaring at 11 notches on the amplifier--straight off good ol' Debra D over on the saw-tooth dock.  Ah, the fishermen. God love 'em. What would we do without them... Debra D's old glory flag is fluttering proudly from her mast forward of the deck house... Jeff calls it the "America--eff-yeah!" flag. Their sodium lights glare 24/7 in the marina and I am still trying to figure out if they think it is a security issue or they just want to keep ol' glory lit up just because they can, dammit.

      Anyway, if it weren't heavy metal, then I'd be treated to Howard Stern on their Sirius radio at top volume. I reckon that when you're out crabbing in the middle of Rosario Strait, nobody really cares if you play things at MAXVOL. (maximum volume for all you non-hipsters).

      Once, I took it upon myself to go bring this issue up with them--up close and personal.  (I mean, we couldn't hear the dialogue between Mary and Mr. Crowley on Downton Abbey over their Aerosmith marathon).

      This tete a tete involved me walking all the way down C dock, turning the corner and walking three quarters of the way down D dock and rapping on the side of their hull.  I quickly assumed my most authoritative and yet open-for-negotiation look before they came up on deck... As one of the deckhands approached, I could see over his shoulder that three or four of them were sitting around a bonfire drinking Heineken beers. Fishermen! Only they would light a bonfire in a pot on a wooden deck... I thought to myself.

     "Hey Guys.  Nice sound system you got there. Dya' think you could turn it the fuck down though?"  (I figured complementing initially, would disarm them and then throwing in a 'fuck' or two would let them know I spoke their language.)

     "Oh, yeah. No problem."  he said amiably and shuffled off.

     "Thanks--appreciate it!"  I called after him.  Walking back to my boat, I felt I'd accomplished a lot... diplomacy amongst the fleet, et cetera... Once I punched the numbers into our dock gate and began to make my way down to Kwaietek, I realized that turning the volume from 11 to, maybe a 9 hadn't really made a bit of difference.

      Damn I muttered.

      Passing by the Beth of Bellingham, I spotted her live-aboard, Josh eating lunch in the cockpit.  "Afternoon." I said in passing.

     "Hey there--did the angry middle aged yachtie act work for ya' over there?"  he inquired jokingly.

     "Well in theory, yes it did.  In reality, not at all."  I replied.

      I climbed in the deckhouse and interrupted Juliet before she could get her complaint out, "Turn up the TV and we'll just deal with it."

      Ever since my failed attempt at diplomatic negotiations, I just grimace and bear it...Jeffery laughs it off and thinks it all kind of humorous. "They're just thoroughly convinced they're the biggest Deadliest Catch fish boat out there", he says."You gotta give 'em a break, they are only crabbing for dungeness out here in the San Juans with itty bitty little pots. Let em' have their dream--and that includes their rock and roll.  Ya' see, right now to them, it's blowin' 70 knots and there's 35 foot seas bearing down on 'em!"

      Well, Bering Sea bad asses aside, these guys and their throbbing sound system can't leave soon enough.

      So, here's to an early season... whatever they're fishin' for.

      ...and peace and quiet in the marina so Juliet and I can watch our Downton Abbey uninterrupted.

Sign me, Deaf and Dumb at Squalicum.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

the equestrian 72 colregs.....(Juliet style)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ball Diamond Ball

I am sitting in the Zenith Maritime Master's class, (I am assistant teacher), listening to the instructor and students discuss the 72 COLREGS.  These are the seventy two US Coast Guard Collision Regulations.

They are covering the lights, day shapes and sounds that cover various vessels.  For instance, a vessel, due to the nature of it's occupation, is restricted in its ability to maneuver. The day shape for this sort of vessel is vertical ball, diamond, ball.

(The photo to the right is from our marina--taken from my boat.  The barge is trying to squeeze between docks and transport a dredge and crane into the west part of the marina.)

The instructor gave the class an easy saying to remember this for the test: "You'd be restricted in your ability to maneuver if you had a diamond between your balls."

My 13 year old daughter who is auditing the course is still blushing!

-Chris W.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Frozen B'ham.

Squalicum Marina Ices Over This Week.
The weather got a wee bit frosty in Bellingham this week with temperatures dropping into the teens.  Which, considering what we are used to mid-upper '30s being a cold front, is quite something.

Wind forcasts were to be in the 50 knot NE range, so Jeff and Tim hopped on the Zodiac and took her out to Chuckanut Bay (Teddy Bear Cove), and rode the storm in protected shelter.

Juliet and I remained on Kwaietek and tried to keep the heat contained--first we had to generate the heat; our woodstove couldn't keep up with the temperature drop and it took a lot of wood to finally thaw the ice off of our main salon windows. Once warmed up however, we spent a cozy afternoon writing and reading (and watching Deadliest Catch). 

Living on land one doesn't have to fret too much about sub-freezing temps, as long as the water pipes are protected and tree limbs are cut away from roof tops.  However, on a boat there is  constant diligence required to avoid engine blocks from cracking or pumps from freezing.  Nothing like a bilge pump going tango-uniform in a freeze to ruin your day!

We awoke to find the marina covered in a sheet of ice yesterday.  The fresh water layer that flows down from Whatcom Creek iced over and left us looking like the Arctic.  The photo is from this morning, things are slowly thawing... it seemed funny to me to watch "Debra D" an Alaska crab boat, hit the sawtooth dock to prepare to head out to sea.  All the whining and drama about how cold it is here, and to these Alaska fishermen, its a balmy calm walk in the park!

Nevertheless, I will be a happy camper when the docks are not as icy and I can quit wearing gloves to type.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

What the Kids are Doing

The kids gets schooled (or schools) on the deck of Zodiac.

Juliet is currently auditing the Zenith Maritime 100 ton Masters course.  Her stated goal is to get a perfect score on the exam.  What I enjoy seeing is her interactions with the rest of the class members.  She can be such a child yet so mature as well.  It's also forcing her to slow and down and do her navigation plotting accurately.  There will be no living with her if she scores well!

Megan sailed down the coast to California on the Hawaiian Chieftan this fall as cook, bosun, crew, asst. engineer, and mascot for all I know.  She had a good time, worked very hard and managed to get herself in every newspaper article photos that was printed.  She's now in Olympia having just been hired as a cook in a small restaurant. 

Justine is also in Olympia, getting ready to take her exams after having put herself through cosmetology school while completing high school.  She's been working very hard to do this and we're looking forward to her acheiving this!

Oh yeah, the boys...

Dane just had a baby and is adjusting to life as a dad and Trent is expecting another baby in the fall and living the dream in Corvallis.

A good bunch if you ask me.  I think I'll keep 'em.


Friday, January 13, 2012

the bucket list

This is an open letter to anyone interested in old wooden boats and small ship cruising.