Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday appetizer from the galley

I understand the the dilemma many boaters face during the holiday season. You've been invited to that dockside potluck, and you don't know what to bring. Staring at the rusty one burner alcohol stove, and the three cubic foot icebox you clench up. No Beef Wellington is going to come out of this galley, and you're out of liver pate anyway. Looking in the pantry at the can of Spam, and the box of KD, you decide your famous fried Spam casserole isn't going to cut it with your erudite boating friends palates. There is an answer however, the quick and easy festive holiday season..... Baloney Cake.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Say Ahhhhh

It wasn't that the fix was hard, but that the process was so maddening. The existing shower drain hole was just the wrong size for everything period. It's a shower drain circa the late seventies that had a home style fixture originally installed. It long ago disintegrated into crumbling green shards during its final decent into darkness. The associated pump had long since passed away, and the hoses were desiccated and in a state of rigor mortis. These were the easy things to replace. The drain fitting, not so much.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


The first day going cold turkey was easy, and the only issue was what to do with all of the extra time on my hands. On the second day as usual I got up early, made a cup and plunked down in front of the computer. I opened my home page, and there was zip, nada, squat.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The new Garmin products lollapalooza

I have to admit it's one of the most impressive product roll outs I have seen in some time. Garmin is introducing nearly 50 new products including their new SideVü and DownVü CHIRP sonars. 

Add to this list the new 800, and 1000 series combo chartplotters with built in sounders, the new and free Garmin Helm iPad app, and lots of new software updates.

There is also the new Nexus wireless twin vane wind instrument, and it's one very sexy looking device. Built in solar panels keep it charged up. I'm playing with one as part of a larger project.
The list keeps on going. The Meteor sound system, LakeVü cartography (the umlauts are killing me kids), advanced high def radar and more. You know I don't do electronics product reviews here, but I can tell you nobody does it better than Ben Ellison at

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Technical writing

I have written technical materials most of my life. The past few years are the first time I have written just for the pleasure of it. In previous years as the head sales guru for custom built robotic and factory automation companies, I was always in charge of the proposal generation. There's an old rule of thumb in the aerospace business that the weight of a proposal should be one pound per million dollars bid. There was a lot of truth to this.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


This scenario eerily  reminds me of another. A owner had purchased a new boat, and had a long laundry list of things that he could not live without. A kick butt stereo, loads of electronics, and inexplicably, although this boat was just short of forty feet, there was no anchor winch and he wanted one. I go forward and stare at the bow. There is no anchor pulpit, and to install one the bow light and a cleat will have to be removed. Okay that can be done.  The story got worse when I actually looked inside the anchor locker and discovered it was barely large enough to hold a hundred feet of rode.

I called the manufacturer, and asked why the locker anchor was so small, there was no anchor pulpit, and it will take some heroics to install an anchor winch. There's a pause, and then the response. "Where we live if you go off shore in twenty minutes you're in a thousand feet of water, and you can't anchor anyway. Most of the people here use a anchor lifting ball to pull up the anchor."

"Okay" I said. "But where this boat lives you have to go an hour in a really fast boat to get into a hundred feet of water. Are you telling me that after spending nearly $300,000 on a boat almost forty feet long that you expect the owner to attach the ball, haul up the anchor, drag a couple hundred feet of wet rode, chain, anchor, and a two foot ball into the boat, sort it all out and stow it in a locker half the size of a real one single handed? Your kidding me right?" After a very long pause the customer support guy said, "Well he bought the boat didn't he?" I adjusted the boat to the way it should have been built, but not without some tribulations and real expense.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chart rune ruminations

It started when I saw the odd rune looking symbol on a chart. As a matter of fact when I first saw them, this entire island was surrounded by these mysterious runes. An odd sort of curvaceous "E" with a tale hanging off it, with jagged lines adjacent. The pattern I circled was everywhere around the island.

Might they be there to scare boaters away? They certainly would discourage me. A special symbol for old naval mines? Maybe they mark active volcanic vents. Could this be? And why is there an airfield on this tiny little island so near the very end of the Aleutian Islands chain?