Showing posts from 2017

Book Review(s): "Chichakoes" and "This Raw Land" by Wayne Short.

Two years ago I was in Baranof Hot Springs, my favorite place on the entire Alaskan journey.  The hot springs are perfect, and there are even baths in a bathhouse just up from the dock.  I visited the place three times, with a different crew member each time.  Leaving southward after the third visit, Sam and I transited Chatham Strait and spent the remainder of the day in Frederick Sound before anchoring in Goose Cove, an indentation of Kuiu Island. At no time that day were we out of sight of whale spouts or tails, and late in the day we observed what I can only imagine was mating in the sheltered waters just northwest of Keku Strait.  The whale's vocalization at the end was like an alpenhorn close up.

Recently a friend lent me two paperback books, their deteriorating bindings and yellow paper signaling decades of use and slow oxidation characteristic of acid paper.  They are memoirs of Wayne Short, who moved to the area just after World War II, and later finds his wife in San Fr…

The best possible news...

When I started to tear down my ailing engine and think about causes, the very best possible outcome seemed to be a broken ring.  Given that all the components in the head measured within spec, and the cylinder wall seems unblemished, I was beginning to wonder if i would take the piston out and find it undamaged.  That would have left only the cooling system and the dreaded governor as possible culprits.

The thermostat came out of the head with some difficulty, and it was sufficiently encrusted to make me suspicious that a clogged thermostat and clogged hoses were part of my problem (the hoses were pretty crusty when I got them off).  Surprisingly, it still worked when put in a pan of water, but that doesn't mean it was entirely functional in the running engine.  Inspection of the cooling ports in both the block and the head suggests that the rest of the system is unoccluded, but a blockage at the thermostat could certainly result in an overheated engine. The instrument panel for …

The State of Head

If you're going to rebuild an engine, it is pretty convenient that you can hold the head in your hand. Put aside the sludge factor and it would almost be cute.  Nothing this oily fits in that category, though, and when you get over that, the next emotion is awe.  This 9 horsepower engine turned turned over 110,000,000 times just on my Alaska trip.  Another 350,000 times last year... never mind all the other shorter seasons it has seen.  Half the horsepower of a John Deere lawn tractor, it has pushed a 6,000 lb boat 5,000 miles in the last couple years. Try riding your lawn tractor to New York and halfway back. Diesel engines rock, and this 20+ year old Yanmar has put in some time.

So why quit now? The hour meter has clocked a mere 2500 hours since the last rebuild (I'm assuming it has been rebuilt, but I don't even know that for sure).... That is very low for a diesel, and unless I can find the answer, I wonder if I can ever be confidant in it again?

I have the head off, a…

What could go wrong?

The business end of my Yanmar 1GM10 block
A week ago I set off with a friend and colleague on the beginning of a 6 week circumnavigation around Vancouver Island.  It ended the first day, with an engine failure of significant proportion, which definitively called us home.  A winter's preparation, an overhaul of paint and varnish, many fiddly projects on my part took up weeks of effort. My crew spent treasure or family time or both to arrange their lives and schedules around three two-week legs.

There was no ambiguity about the sentence. Limping into Kingston for a night, then a tow back to Seattle by my sympathetic brother made the situation crystal clear.

My initial efforts to find a mechanic to take on the job have not been fruitful, and the prospect of re-powering, enormously seductive as it is, is an order of magnitude more costly.  Why not try doing the job myself?  As Calder says..."this procedure is well within the capability of an amateur mechanic and should give no c…

Book Review: Hand, Reef, and Steer

When I found s/v Ripple at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle I wasn't looking for a classic wooden boat, I was looking for a marine Winnebago to putter about Puget Sound with friends and family. I knew what a gaff rig was, but I'd never sailed one. I'm not sure if I knew what a cutter was. None of that mattered: I was in love. Only after having inked the check did I learn the mantra of gaffers: "she's slow and points like a blind hound dog, but the rig is squat and safe and will take care of you." In the intervening years I've cruised through British Columbia and as far north as Inian Island in Icy Strait, Alaska.  I had fingers enough to count the hours of sailing without power on that 88 day trip.  Its the Inside Passage, and sailing days can be scarce.  Did I mention I'm oldish, often single-handing, and lazy?

Recently a sailing friend gifted me a copy of Tom Cunliffe's Hand, Reef and Steer, and the veil has fallen from mine eyes.  This b…

Gold Leaf Name Boards

Ripple came to me with her name on her transom, but refinishing the transom on an earlier haul-out left her nameless, and my best intentions to renew the proclamation of her identity were defeated by the press of... well... sloth.  In defense of my failure, I did not want to have to re-apply the name to the transom each time I varnished, especially as the overhanging transom made it difficult to read the name in any case.

Name boards are the answer. Mine have been waiting patiently in the queue of winter projects.  The recent loss of my workshop space near the marina finally triggered the project.  Moving my shop to a spare room in our condo meant that any spare moment was a putterable moment. I lost my table saw in the bargain (neighbors being what they are),  but what I gained was immeasurable: a clean, warm shop-space three steps from the kitchen.  Now, instead of a cold, drafty, impossible-to-clean work space, I have a small, compact shop with my workbench, all my tool-boards, an…