Saturday, 30 April 2011

You Light Up My Life...

I have been putting off the combined task of repairing the masthead light (the anchor light) and rewiring the mast ever since the last attempt at a repair resulted in a swim in Doral Harbour following our anchor-light-removal-using-a-low-bridge-as-a-hammer on the Georgian bay trip.

A couple years ago I bought a new anchor light from Bebi Electronics of Fiji. It was a great buy on a pretty cool looking light from a grassroots business. I loved the idea of supporting small business, and the notion of an anchor light that would turn itself on at dusk and off at dawn.

The light arrived just before our Georgian Bay trip, but then I didn't have time to mount it. We nudged the bridge in the Trent Canal with just enough force to bend our masthead anemometer back, remove the windex, and break our old anchor light, providing the perfect opportunity to replace the old light with the new one from Bebe.

At the end of the canal we docked at Doral Marine to raise the mast and do repairs. Repairs included replacing the anchor light. Hanging off the transom of the boat, sometimes hanging from the mast itself, I tried to fit the light to the masthead. It slipped from my hands, and sunk to the bottom of the marina. Looking down, all I saw was mud and seaweed. I dove anyway.

I think it was on the third or fourth dive that I found the light, nudged it with my fingers and felt it sink further into the maze of seaweed and mud. I surfaced for air, caught my breath, and ducked straight down to get the light. Success.

Sadly the rest of the repair in harbour went as well. The anchor light never worked on that cruise and we used a light hoisted on a halyard for an anchor light. The only mast light that has worked with any success since then has been the steaming light - a good thing since we often head out at night, but rarely anchor on our own lake.

Last week I dragged Chuck out to the boat in the driveway and we began messing with the wires on the mast. A battery was liberated from the salon and put on the foredeck. Each wire was tested in turn. The connector to the mast was only a 3-wire connector. The mast has 3 lights and a ground. Either one of the lights wasn't working, or two were wired to come on together.

I connected a jumper wire between the negative battery terminal and the largest prong in the connector. A test light was used to jump between the positive terminal on the battery and the other prongs on the deck connector. As expected the only wire that showed continuity was the steaming light. Damn.

I looked up the inside of the mast to see if there were any hints of impropriety and discovered a fourth wire coiled inside the mast. Jumping between it and the positive terminal resulted in the deck light flashing on, then blowing a bulb. Bingo! I now had a steaming light and a deck light.

I wondered if its long swim in the marina had killed the Bebe Anchor light. Had I wired it backwards so the LEDs wouldn't light up? Were the wires broken when we hit the bridge? With only one light out instead of 3, I started working through the reasons the light wouldn't come on. Chuck and I worked through the gathering dusk trying to troubleshoot the light. Then a change...

You may remember that one of my earliest projects on Iris was the installation of a solar powered vent a couple years ago - well apparently I learn from my mistakes. Eventually. After about a half hour of fiddling, I had Chuck hold the leads on the battery while I went and put my finger over the photo eye on the anchor light. Bingo! Dazzling white light. All the circuits in the mast work just fine, but the connector between the mast wiring and the boat wiring is deficient. I seemed to remember having come across a connector in my rummaging through the boat stuff left by the PO. Hmmmm. I wonder...

Buddy's Third Birthday....

we had Buddy's third Birthday Part a few weekends ago....

including "racing car" cupakes:

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Three Houdini's

So we have these three chicks, they are seven weeks old.

And we needed our brooder, so they got to move outside to the Taj-Ma-Chicken this week.

Now the chickens in the Taj have been free ranging a lot during the day lately, but when we added these three, we started leaving the door closed.  Because we didn't want them getting out, thinking that we would never catch them again.

Well, these little buggers quickly found ways to escape.  No sooner would we nail shut one escape route, they would find another.

It got to the point where I would stop going and rounding them up, and just let them free range all day.  They never went far.  I found it ironic that the three little buggers were out free ranging, when the rest of the chickens were locked in the pen, so that these three wouldn't escape!!

I think that we have finally closed up the last of their escapes.  Now though, when they see me coming to the pen, they line up to execute their plan.... "you go left, I'll go right..... she'll never be able to catch us both!!  Then, while she's trying to catch you, I'll get out... and when she opens the door again to put us back in, it's your turn to run between her legs!!"

These guys are smart little buggers.  Th three Houdini's..... every now & then I look out the window and "damn.... the Houdini's are out again!!"

Spring Maintenance

Its that time of year again. The weather is warm and strong breezes are blowing. Iris is sitting waiting for launch in mid May once the marina is opened again.

We have received our slip assignment for 2011 - we will be on the big-boat dock this year which means we will have hydro at our slip. I don't know who our neighbours will be. Things look good. I like being the little boat on the big boat dock. It means we get all the amenities without the hassles. Much better than being the biggest boat on the little boat dock where we stick out and look awkward - like a teen who doesn't fit their outfit quite right.

Since the weather has improved, I have started down this year's list of projects. The top of the list right now include refinishing the interior teak and making the 12 volt electric system run a little closer to what Catalina intended when Iris was built.

The 12 volt system is mostly running now, but I will defer comment until I get the last of the bugs ironed out. The teak is ongoing.

For the interior teak I have elected to go the spar varnish route. In the past, Iris' teak was maintained through an annual (bi-annual?) treatment of teak oil. I found a recipe online to lift the oil using TSP, vinegar, and warm water in a vigorous wipe down. This seems to work. my rags are stained with oil and dirt built up over the years, and after being wiped down the teak looks dry.

After the oil is lifted, each piece is left to dry for a day or two, then sanded with 120 grit sandpaper and wiped again to remove the dust. A base coat of spar varnish is applied, slightly thinned with varsol, and again the piece is left to dry overnight.

Sanding and varnishing is repeated until a high gloss is reached - usually 3 to 5 coats of varnish, then the woodwork is replaced and another piece or two comes in the house so the process can be repeated. Large areas will get a satin finish as opposed to the gloss finish I am going for on the trim pieces.

Those pieces I have completed so far look really good, and the return on investment is great. for 30 minutes of effort each night, this is well worth it. I begin to wonder why I didn't do this earlier.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Mast Transport System

It is spring again. Every few days we see another sailboat head down our road, pulled behind a behemoth of a pickup truck and headed for spring launch. If only we were so lucky. It will be weeks before Iris is ready for launch. In the meantime we work to prepare her, and try to squeeze in all our other obligations.

Many of the other folks who are trying to get boats to marinas have asked how we manage our mast during transport. Some folks lash their mast right on the deck, some have special fixtures on their trailers for the mast, and some take the mast in a separate load. On Iris we developed our mast stowage system as one of our first projects, and it has been of lasting value ever since.

The system we use was developed so that it could be part of our winter tarp structure. It sits high enough that the pop-top can be opened without affecting the mast while the mast is laid down. It sits 6" shy of being an over sized load on the trailer so it works fine for the trip to and from the launch crane. It is also secure enough that we used it during our transit of the Trent Canal without having any worries despite rocking and rolling from the wake of passing powerboats. It has been very good.

So what is the system? Well, it comes in 2 parts. First the mast-step support.

The mast step support is simply a stump that the mast rests on at the mast step. We made it by nailing a pair of 2X4s together, but were I to make another, I would simply use a 4X4. At the top of the 2X4s we formed a goalpost by putting 2 more short pieces of 2X4 outboard of the stump.

The second component is the transom support. This support is at the back of the boat and sits in the channel at the back of the cockpit footwell. it is formed with 2 2X4 uprights and a pair of crossbars. the upright supports are just clear of the cockpit drains, and go from there up on an angle to the pushpit rail. The top crossbar is set to hold the mast above the raised pop-top. A pair of tabs are set to hold the mast from sliding left-to right while underway.

Made entirely with scrap lumber in less than an hour, the system has served us well. When I went to take these photos, I realized that one of the cross-pieces on the transom support was badly split and needed replacing, so I put on the triangle of 3/4" plywood you see in the photo below. I guess even a system as good as this needs some maintenance.

So far our only problem with this setup has been marinas mistaking it for scrap lumber and trying to dispose of it for us.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The three houdinis

Is naming the 3 juvenile chickens "Houdini".... after they escaped the pen, I stuck them in a dog crate in the pen.... well, they escaped the crate, & the pen a second time!!

"Baby Dicken Come out of De Egg"

At Sunday School yesterday, the discussion was about new life, and what the "Easter Eggs" symbolize.

So the teacher asks the children (14 of them, Bud was the youngest, his third birthday was two weeks ago, oldest was 12, most were between 6 - 8) What the eggs symbolize, & why, and what is in them.

Buddy gets out of his chair, walks purposfully up to the teacher, who was sitting, puts his hands one on each of his knees, looks him straight in the eye, and nodding his head earnestly tells him "Baby Dicken come out of de egg." 

The attitude totally said "like, OBVIOUSLY!!"

Thursday, 21 April 2011

on adjoining doors

The problem with the boys having rooms with adjoining doors is that one boy can open the doors. and then, he likes to play with his brother, and wakes him up..... (on the other hand, I did find him reading the baby a story the other day too....)

Thursday, 14 April 2011


The boy tells me that when he swims, his haircut dosen't get wet.... only his hair!!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A is for Apple

C is for Cookie

G is for Grandma

H is for Hippo

ok, now Bud wants to write a story:


'Small backyard Flock'

So I just took a head count, and we have 35 chickens total. What happened to "small backyard flock of ten or so?????"

(And, once this hatch is done, I have another 15 eggs to go into the 'bator)

The Mighty Mighty Chicken Ranch

I think we need to change our name.....

1 Bantam RIR roo
1 SPW Roo
1 Araucana Roo
1 Araucana Hen
1 Americauna Hen (Dolly)(I swear I didn't mean to name her... it happened by accident!!)
1 RIR Hen
1 Black sex-link Hen
6 juvenile Araucana's

1 SPW Roo
2 SPW Hens
3 Chanty Hens
1 ISA Brown Hen

2 SPW Hens
3 SPW Chicks (three weeks)

3 day-old SPW chicks
10 day old Cuckoo Maran chicks
1 Cuckoo Maran still trying to hatch

Another 15 eggs to go in the 'bator once it's been cleaned