Friday, March 30, 2012

There are no atheists at sea.

Posted by Jeffery

30 March, 2012  2300 On board Kwaietek

It has been a long day here.  We are sitting in the salon, thankful of the time we've had together.  We miss, value and love those of our family that we are not with right now.

Looking out the port windows, there are two pilings still aflame from this morning's fire.  We never met Jim and Stirling, we only knew of them through mutual friends.  They seem to have lived a life we admire and respect.  Their passing has made us reflect on what is important in our lives. For Chris and I especially, those qualities that we so value in each other.

I cannot help but believe that those two pilings are the last flames of two lives that were well lived.  I did not know I could so appreciate two people I've never met.

Lastly, we just shared a bottle of Port in their names with the other live-aboards on the dock.  A life half lived is of little value in the end.  Those two flames will continue to remind us of that.  Thank you Jim and Stirling.

Fire in the Squalicum Marina

Re-thinking our Safety Drills on Kwaietek

[posted by Jeff]

There I was , lying in bed around 0600, sort of asleep and sort of awake.  Then I hear a loud bang, followed by another.  In my sleep state, it registered as a hold cover being dropped on the deck of one of the seiners nearby and I grumbled about someone making all that noise.

At 0730 my phone rang.  I was on my way to make coffee and detoured to the salon to find it.  As I came up the ladder I noticed the smoke from the G-East boathouses, which were gone.  Turns out that the bang was a propane or fuel tank exploding as the boathouses burned.  The entire row collapsed and as of right now, there is no accurate count of how many boats were destroyed.  Hopefully, there was no one aboard any of the vessels and there was no loss of life.

As we were watching all this develop, a mere 400 yards away, I remembered that I have our two fuel tanks empty as I am cleaning the sediment from the bottom and replacing the original shutoff valves.  I have no way to move the boat right now...  (guess which job just got bumped to the top of the work list)?  I also ran a mental checklist of safety equipment.

Fortunately, we have safety officer Juliet aboard and she takes her job very seriously.  We have three smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors.  They are tested monthly and the batteries replaced regularly.  We have plenty of fire extinguishers but I am planning on adding more as I go through and finish staterooms.  The propane tanks are awaiting their locker on the boat deck but for now live on the stern, where a leak would just flow overboard.

Safety systems, they are important when one lives in a house, and arguably more so when one lives aboard.  For now, we'll keep hoping that no one was injured on G-East.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting Ready for Sailing Season

photographs courtesy of  Marty Bach -

It's been a long couple of weeks in Seattle for some of us on the Zodiac: drydock, up-rigging, cleaning and baby-sitting a big ass boat on an unsecured dock in the middle of downtown Seattle.  Nevertheless, some unexpected sun breaks and several reunions with old friends have made the process a bit more enjoyable. 

Scenes like the photograph above were common place this weekend as Juliet and her friend Talya, made rope swings out of the topping lifts. Zodiac has sort of been Juliet's playground since she was eight yrs old.

Dinners, brunches and over-nighters with our Seattle friends has been a lot of fun... but since everyone wants to bring out the booze when we show up, it has been a little exhausting on our constitution.  
Champagne brunch with Sarah for her birthday... two days of fun and McMenamin's beers with my kids and their room-mates...waaay too many beers at Elysian with Mitch and dinner and scotch/ red wine with Chris and Laurie...then more wine, dark rums and pool with Dave, John and Diana... and last but not least, a photo shoot onboard with a growler of IPA and 1 1/2 bottles of red wines with Mona---Give us a rest, dear friends!!!!  We must away to Bellingham in order to build back our reserves.

In a few more days the Zodiac will be in tip top shape, with full contingent of sails and newly painted hull... we leave satisfied that the ship and our family have been rejuvenated just a little bit--ready for six months away from our on-shore connections.

Thanks Seattle.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The "Other" Jeff and Christine...

View link_Motor Vessel David B - ship's blog

Our pals over on the David B are named Jeffrey and Christine (yep I know, it's weird). Christine has recently written a book about restoring their 70 year old vessel called, "More Faster Backwards". As a matter of fact, she is presenting photos and speaking about the experience at Village Books in Fairhaven on Saturday, March 24th @ 2PM.
If you've enjoyed the stories and descriptions from our life on the water in an old wooden boat, odds are pretty good you'll like theirs as well... and you won't even have to learn any new names!

Check out their stories and photos of David B and cruising in Alaska. new-book More Faster Backwards

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The tactile, patchwork patterns of our home

Our little house on the water reflects our eclectic styles. It isn't anything close to traditional, but it is very homey and very "us". We like the juxtaposition of old wooden boat and funky, textured designs.
Best of all, it feels just like home!

 Jeff's tile work in the shower compliments the fir and mahogany ceilings 

The  galley bell with our orca tiles

Juliet's hand-made pot holders add color to the galley
and our beer coasters trim out the entire space 

Pint glasses from our favorite pubs divide the kitchen-galley from the mess-galley 

 hand-made photo frame in the mess

 Spice drawers and our sitting cat on the mess shelf

galley table 

coasters and Juliet's painted soup bowls

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Ballard Locks- Here We Come!

We are getting ready to transit down to Seattle for Zodiac's annual dry-dock this weekend.

There is a certain amount of logistical preparations... and well, shoring up the mental fortitude that comes with transiting through the Ballard Locks chambers. (See my excerpt from Prepare to Come About on facebook for details).

The process of locking through requires a cool head and ability to react rapidly when asked to do so--but also, not to react unless given the order. It needs one to possess a thick skin and good sense of humor.  Because between a tense captain and surly line handlers... oh well, you get the picture. The experience is not for the timid or overly sensitive soul.

On the other hand, the opportunity to ride onboard a 160', 147-ton, 90 yr old wooden schooner, (largest of her class on the west coast) through a marvel of engineering such as the Hiram Chittenden locks is a special and  pretty rare experience for most people.

Those massive gates close behind you and you watch as tons of water is pumped in through the chamber... you ride atop this bed of water until the ship is almost even with the passers-by and line handlers on the wall.  You brace for the gates to open and a wave of lake water to sweep into the chamber--holding fast on lines and heaving against pike poles to fend off from the moss covered concrete walls. Finally, getting the go ahead from the line handlers... you are free to motor through the huge chamber and into the canal that connects Seattle's Lake Union and Lake Washington to Puget Sound.


So, I'll brush up on my sheet bend and zeppelin knots and thicken up the old psyche for what might lay ahead-- but what a trip it always is!

                          Schooner Zodiac sidles up to the large chamber wall in preparation to lock through.