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WEEK 37 2005

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Saturday 17 September 2005

Saturday - on the road, up in Martinez. [Something has changed in my server, so this will be posted when I get back to Lancaster.]

Got the boat back from the yard, and into her slip at Marina Bay. Haven't received the official report from the surveyor though.

One interesting point: they replaced both the thru-hulls. I tried to get them to do this back in 2003 at RBW and they didn't, and they still just wanted to 'service' them at KKMI. I think they were trying to save us money, but still... As it turns out, both fell apart as the yard dogs worked on them. I saw the pieces - one was plastic and had just shattered. The other was bronze, but the zinc had been completely leached out and it had shattered as well. The pieces were pink in color, rather than bronze or brass colored.

I actually feel a lot safer now - I would worry about those valves every time I sailed, to tell the truth.

I do think that they were feeling rather defensive about the bill, but it was about what I expected. Almost half the price of the boat. Heh. I think they expected complaints, but I just wrote out a check and just made a little joke about hoping to get a KKMI ball cap. So, instead, they handed us two bottles of KKMI labeled Cabernet Sauvignon.


Friday 16 September 2005

Friday - on the road, up in Martinez. [Something has changed in my server, so this will be posted when I get back to Lancaster.]

Logging onto the server via XP's built in FTP client it seems that my server has been rearranged. Rather than index.html and the week_**_****.html files being in the root directory they have been moved to a subdirectory called /httpdocs. As far as I know no-one asked me about this beforehand, or told me about it afterwards. I think I'll wait until I get back to L to post anything.

I don't really mind, it's probably a better system than the blog files laying about in the root folder, to tell the truth, but it's a little startling.

Thursday 15 September  2005

Thursday - on the road, up in Martinez. [Something has changed in my server, so this will be posted when I get back to Lancaster.]

The weather continues fine. (A little joke for you Flashman aficionado's)

Book #31 is A Time to Die: The Untold Story of the Kursk Tragedy, by Robert Moore. It's a fairly well written book, though not particularly technical, that goes into the story of the sinking of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, during practice maneuvers. It gives a probable cause: leakage of Hydrogen Peroxide torpedo fuel from a practice torpedo onto a brass torpedo tube - first setting off a fuel fire and explosion, and the the conventional explosive torpedo warheads 'cooking off' in the fire. This destroyed the bow compartments and flooded the forward part of the sub, which sank to the sea floor, 300 feet down. Men survived in the aft section, behind the rugged reactor compartment. There in a cold, powerless, dark and slowly flooding set of compartments they waited for days, for help that did not come in time...

It sheds some interesting light on the rescue efforts by the civilian divers. Apparently there is quite a fraternity of deep divers, working around the world for oil exploration and recovery. They work many hundreds of feet down, for weeks at a time, usually for very good money. They don't use submersibles, but rather the diving bell, and high pressure helium and oxygen environments. Their procedure's sound like those of astronauts on a space walk - think about each move, before you get in the water. Plan out your operations, never be surprised, take no chances. But they were ready, even before being asked, to help the Russians.

The Russian's, sadly, waited too long. Out of nationalistic pride, military ineptitude and political infighting, they were reluctant to ask for help, slow to approve it, slower yet to let the foreign help on site - civilian and military - do the job they couldn't.

Wednesday 14 September 2005

Wednesday - on the road, up in Martinez. [Something has changed in my server, so this will be posted when I get back to Lancaster.]

Nice weather. Perfect, in fact.

Book #30 is Portuguese Irregular Verbs. Amusing, but not spectacular, misadventures of a self-important German professor and his friends, told in a series of short stories.

Tuesday 13 September 2005

Tuesday - on the road, up in Martinez. [Something has changed in my server, so this will be posted when I get back to Lancaster.]

Well, we got the boat hauled out, and heard what the surveyor had to say. The news wasn't too bad, it seems. The starboard rear shroud needs replacing, as does the inner forestay. The chain plates are rusting out, again (the surveyor mentioned a surplus plate where we could get stainless instead of mild steel). There were some minor deck delaminations, the largest the size of a saucer. The battery was dead, again, so the VHF radio and lights could not be checked. The safety flares were five years out of date - which is insane, because I bought new ones last year. The surveyor and yard people chuckled at my perplexity and  naiveté - you have to carefully check expiration dates when you buy, it seems.

Selling outdated safety gear - there's something that never would have crossed my mind.

The through hulls needed servicing, and there was some crazing on the forward starboard hull  - it might be old stuff but it needs to be watched

All in all, not bad. I was dreading something terrible, but that's all fixable stuff. We told the yard to replace one through hull, service the other, paint the bottom, and left la boat in their capable hands.

Monday 12 September 2005

Monday - on the road, up in Martinez. [Something has changed in my server, so this will be posted when I get back to Lancaster.]

We (my brother and I) took the boat over to the KKMI in Richmond. They want a lot to pull it out, but it is the closest yard to our slip - Richmond Boat Works having now be swallowed by the evil empire of KKMI.  Actually they seemed to be pleasant and business like, if expensive, and we are having them haul the boat out to repaint the bottom with anti-fouling paint and to allow a surveyor to do his work.

We need a surveyor to get an insurance quote. We need an insurance quote to keep it in a marina. California being the natural habitat of the trial attorney I suppose I can't complain about the marina's attitude. If I owned a marina I'd do the same. But hauling the boat costs hundreds of dollars, and getting a survey more hundreds. Then we get to fix whatever is wrong, and then pay for insurance.

A boat, a wag once opined, "is a hole (hull) in the water into which one pours money".

I read somewhere else that it's best to think of these expenses in terms of  boat dollars. One boat dollar is three hundred of the usual bits of legal currency.

You may then say, with a straight face, things like:

"I had the boat hauled and painted for less than three dollars", or "the surveyor only charged a dollar and a half!"

Davison and the Felicity Ann of My Ship is so Small have a rough start. After a few days the wind kicks up, and Felicity Ann starts taking on water. With the aid of some kindly, but rather bemused, french fisherman she makes it to France with a tow, where she stays for some weeks. She then ventures down the coast to northern Spain, then to Gibraltar, to Africa, and then finally out to the Canaries, and eventually across the Atlantic. Without any form of self steering, and alone, she takes in all sail at night, and she is then often slow in passages - because she is only sailing part of the time, and because of the abundant growth on her hull due to the extended passages.

Like Chichester, and the rest of the british voyagers, she drinks like a fish...

And, as is the case with most of these single-handers, she becomes a more adept sailor, a better navigator, and comes to rely on her inner strengths as the voyage continues.

Sunday 11 September 2005

Sunday - on the road, up in Martinez. [Something has changed in my server, so this will be posted when I get back to Lancaster.]

Book #29 is "My Ship is so Small", by Ann Davison (no Amazon link, the book is too old I suppose), about the first east-to-west single handing across the Atlantic by a woman, in 1952. This is almost ten years prior to Chichester's race that I wrote about earlier, and Davison has no self-steering gear at all aboard the Felicity Ann. Despite having been a aircraft pilot she is not a navigator, and has never sailed alone before the trip, let alone across an ocean. (I don't think I approve of this, actually, cautious over preparing engineer that I am, but she survived.)

She writes well. From early in the book, just after setting out:

   At half past three that afternoon, Eddystone lay abeam, close to starboard. The wind had died away and the lighthouse, like a huge admonitory finger pointed to heaven from a glass calm sea. Eddystone was my departure point and I looked at it with a lingering fascination as it slowly fell astern, the last signpost on the long, long road to Madeira.

   The sky was clear overhead but there was a thickish haze which gave a curious mirage quality to the sea that exactly matched my mood. The dark blue sails hung limp as the little ship motored through the limpid mirror of the sea and time crept forward as the sun swung slowly across the sky to melt red in the mist on the western horizon. All color faded as the day died, then night, darkly enveloping, spread a mantle of solitude over the sea -- an immeasurable solitude that reached up from the bottom of the ocean and stretched out beyond the stars, that penetrated every particle of water and permeated the very structure of the ship, that muffled the sound of the engine, that was life and death and everywhere and nothing.

   With night came the wind. It whispered first, then sang in the rigging, and kicked up little waves that grew larger and rougher as the wind gained confidence. And it blew from the sou'west, which was awkward, as that was the way I wanted to go.

Picture of the Week
The boat in the travelift

Photo Notes: This is the boat in the 'Travelift', which rolls over a haulout slip. lowers the big fabric cords under the boat, lifts the boat out of the water, then trundles off, under it's own power, to deposit the boat where desired. It can do much bigger boats than ours, and was amazing to watch!

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