Saturday, 30 May 2009


We've been signing with the Buddy since he was four months old. I'd nearly given up.

Around his birthday, he started signing "more," but not very consistently. Then when he went to daycare, I figured that was it, we were done.

Then the other day at dinner, he suddenly started asking for "more." And when we had all the kids over the other night, LR poked her head out of the door while I was BBQing to say "mama, Buddy just signed 'more.' Does that mean I should feed him?" Apparently, he was hungry, and so he let us know.

So we gave him dinner (He was having spaghetti, the girls had hot dogs). Later when Daddy got home and took him upstairs, so that he wasn't in the kids way, Daddy had popcorn... apparently, the Buddy really likes popcorn. Before he had even swallowed, he was up on his knees asking for 'more'.  Popcorn was just too exciting to ask for sitting down. He had to stand up (which he can't do independently yet), and was falling down as he was signing!!

(Daddy was taking off the kernel, so no worries about a choking hazard)

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Snug as a Bug

This weekend the kids and I will be sleeping on Iris. We needed cushions to do that. Possibly we will need a few other things as well, like dishes. Last night I realized it was my last chance to run up to the boat without the kids before the weekend, so I loaded up the van with all the cushions, the race sails, and few odds and sods.

I had to sprint through the rain to bring everything aboard, and I was pretty wet by the time everything was in place, but now the boat looks like a place you might be able to sleep. In fact, with the lantern providing some warm light, and the rain pattering on the roof I had a hard time leaving to go home.

Feeling sleepy...

Post Campfire

Apparently, I can fit 17 children, three adults, and one baby in my livingroom at a time.

I put a large tarp on the floor, layed down a roll of craft paper, and put out a bunch of crayons and stuff, and we were good to go.

Hot dogs were done on the bbq, s'mores in the oven.

17 happy little campers.

Did I mention that next weekend is camp??  Where I am responsible for nineteen 9 - 12 year olds??

BB was incredibly confused... he'd crawl up to one of the girls and hug her, then when she looked at him, he'd flip out "hey! that's not my sister!" you could just see him thinking.  Then he'd try another.  And another.  I don't know, maybe he was doing it on purpose to get lots of hugs.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Performance Sails comes Through

At the Toronto Boat show I was talking to the folks at Performance Sails about our very best sail, a Tapedrive 155% genoa which was starting to show its age. The original manufacturer had been to our marina to discuss options to bring life back into the sail last summer, but for reasons only they know, none of my calls had been returned since.

I explained to the folks at Performance that our sail was a little on the old side, a lot on the abused side, and was starting to give us trouble. The sail had a number of small holes in it where the Mylar had come away from the weave, and was delaminating in a number of places, especially along the foot of the sail. I also said that I didn't want to spend money on a sail that was not going to come back.

It was agreed that we would leave the sail with them over the winter, and between other jobs they would fit it in for a little work here and there. As long as I didn't need them to commit to a date for completion, they would charge me a minimal $100 to refurbish the sail as much as possible. To make things even better for me, their rep would stop by my house to pick up the sail the next time he was in the area.

The rep picked up the sail back in January, and made a number of suggestions for ways to improve it. We told them to just do whatever would give us the most bang for our buck.

A couple weeks back we got a call from Performance that the sail was ready to be picked up. My schedule didn't allow me to make it down to the loft until last night. When I arrived, I was greeted by the owner, and taken for a tour. Eventually we pulled out my sail, and they showed me what had been done.

I paid them for their work, and was handed a large portion of Mylar film with which to continue to maintain the sail as it degrades. These sails are expected to last between 5-6 years, and this one is already 5 years old, so I should expect to get about 2 more seasons out of it. Replacing it will run around $2500. Maybe I should start saving up. Performance did work me out a quote with some other high-tech materials...


For the Girl Guides end of year party, we are having a campfire.  In my backyard.  Tonight.  While it is Pi**ing rain.

Wish me luck.  I hope that with all the furniture shoved into other rooms, I can fit all 25 girls plus 4 - 5 adults and one baby in the living room.

Send wine.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Officially Official

There are a handful of safety improvements we made to Iris since we bought her, but the biggest has to be learning. I am of the opinion that no preparation is more important than mental preparation when it comes to emergencies, and knowing how to respond, keep your cool, and handle a situation is critical whenever things go wrong.

To that end, SWMBO and I both took CYA Sailing courses before we got a boat. We both have some degree of First Aid Training (SWMBO beats me in that department), I got marine band (VHF) radio training and passed along the essentials. We have both been to navigation workshops and learned what dead reckoning and triangulation are. We at least have the theory to set out on some pretty cool adventures if we decide to.

If and when we do set out, we will dead reckon, triangulate, and carry paper charts, but we will also carry a GPS to get our position instantly. The beauty of a GPS is that at the push of a button you can get a pile of work done without pulling out a pencil (which may take an hour to find in the first place). What is even better is that if you build a patch cord between the GPS and a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) enabled radio, you can share your position with anyone you want.

As a safety measure, one of the first things I bought for Iris was a DSC radio. Sadly, our batteries kept draining themselves and I never got it hooked up. This spring we got the GPS hooked up to the radio, but without registering our radio as being aboard the boat, the best the radio could do was to tell the world that some boat was at our position, and if needed sound an alarm.

A couple weeks ago I decided it was time to get the system fully functional aboard Iris. The process to register a radio as the equipment aboard a given boat is pretty simple. You can download a form for registering the radio in Canada from page 5 and 6 of this PDF: Filling out the form didn't take long, and we sent a PDF of it with our handwritten notes off to the folks at Spectrum Information, Canada.

Once a Mobile Maritime Service Identity (MMSI) has been assigned to your boat, you can program the radio with the number, and a few really cool things will be activated. First, you can report your position to other vessels. Lets say you are travelling with friends in a fleet, and one boat gets separated. If he has DSC and has registered an MMSI, you can plug his MMSI number into your radio and get his position, and vice versa.

Another cool feature is that if you receive a call from a DSC enabled radio, your radio can identify who the caller is if it is one of your friends, before you even hear their voice. You can also use the radio to "secretly" tell another radio to go to a given channel to avoid eavesdroppers from following your conversation.

A more important feature though is the Distress calling feature. A DSC enabled radio can, at the push of a button radio the coastguard, give your position and send out a mayday. A second set of keystrokes can send the nature of the emergency. The radio will then automatically go to channel 16 to process the emergency. All other boats in the vicinity with a DSC radio will be given the location of the emergency, and on some GPS units, the location will appear as an icon. This greatly helps others assist in the situation.

Yesterday I got an email back from Spectrum Information saying our radio is now registered to our boat. Maybe I'll sneak down to the marina later this week and program the MMSI into it, and then we'll be officially official yet another way!

Monday, 25 May 2009

A Work Day Turns Exciting

I wasn’t sure if I would get to go out sailing on the weekend. With our plans being pretty full, I thought I might be able to sneak away for an afternoon or evening escape, but it looked doubtful.
I did manage to wedge in a few free hours though after the church rummage sale. By shirking the lawn cutting and putting off splitting wood for the Girl-Guides Campfire SWMBO is hosting on Wednesday night, I was able to escape with SWMBO and Buddy for Saturday afternoon.

It was an escape, but by the time we got to the harbour, the days races were done, and the winds were light and fluky. No matter, I needed to power wash the deck, and get some maintenance done. Out came the scrub-brushes, power washer, and cleaners.

SWMBO made herself at home in the cockpit of “Tabasco,” a neighbouring boat, while Buddy charmed Tabasco’s first mate. By the time I shut down the power washer, I was pretty happy with how the boat was looking. I set about scrubbing the non-skid, and it came up a bunch, but not quite to where I wanted it. By now I was tired of scrubbing, so I started packing up my supplies.

While I was scrubbing, I had noticed a pretty little blue boat come into one of our visitor’s docks, and her captain and crew went into town. This is usually a non-event as people come and go through the harbour all the time. Now as I packed up my gear I saw her pull away and clear the break wall. “Lisa Lee” was heading home.

Just as Lisa Lee cleared the break wall, a woman came running down the dock calling after the boat. Apparently the skipper had left her behind, and she was in trouble. How would she get home!?! I told the lady to jump aboard Iris, and called to the crew of Tabasco to radio Lisa Lee to wait for us.

Every now and again it happens that when a boat pulls away from the harbour, the skipper fails to realize that one of his crew has stopped at the washroom, or is still on the dock talking to someone or holding a line. When that happens if you radio to the boat, and take the lost crew to them, you can save them having to re-enter the harbour and tie off. We thought we were doing Lisa Lee a big favour by running her missing crew out to her.

Iris’ outboard started on the first pull, and we were away. The first mate off Tabasco and I were taking our passenger out to Lisa Lee, and we could hear Tabasco’s skipper calling over the radio:

Lisa Lee, Lisa Lee, Lisa Lee, this is Tabasco, Tabasco, Tabasco, do you read me, Over.

Our outboard droned along as we cleared the break wall, and headed out on the trail of the small boat up ahead.

Lisa Lee, Lisa Lee, Lisa Lee, this is Tabasco, Tabasco, Tabasco, do you read me, Over.

We weren’t gaining on the boat ahead. It was a 24 foot, and Iris is a 25, so we were only marginally faster than her. No worry; as soon as Tabasco reached her, she’d turn and we’d make our delivery. By now the skipper should be realizing his mistake.

Lisa Lee, Lisa Lee, Lisa Lee, this is Tabasco, Tabasco, Tabasco, do you read me, Over.

As we followed Lisa Lee across the lake, our passenger broke into tears, and shared the rest of the story with us. She had been engaged to the skipper of the Lisa Lee for the past 7 months. Tonight they were going for a sail and a romantic dinner at the Arms. While at dinner, she confronted him about a website she had found him on, and he had left the restaurant, and her.

She wasn’t forgotten at all.

The first mate from Tabasco is good with these sorts of things. She has a couple daughters in their 20’s and works in the school system. She talked down our passenger, and I got to listen in on some “girl talk.” As the counselling continued I spoke with the Skipper of Tabasco over the radio.

Since this girl was going to be stuck at our Harbour, I proposed that we take her to “the Narrows” but that was a 3-4 hour sail away. SWMBO didn’t think that was a good idea since I had all the baby supplies aboard, and she had the baby. We mulled over other plans. Maybe we could contact the police marine unit and have them transport the grief-stricken girl. That was taken off the list when we realized that she was drunk, Tabasco’s first mate had had more than a couple drinks, and really no one had done anything that was an offence, yet.

Through the counseling it came out that before he ran off, Lisa Lee’s skipper had given our passenger $100 to find her way home. Once we realized that, I idled down the outboard, pushed the helm hard over, and radioed Tabasco.

Tabasco, Tabasco, Tabasco, this is Iris, Iris, Iris, we are returning to the harbour, please arrange alternate transportation to the Narrows. Over.

On the way back to the harbour, our passenger turned her focus from her own misery to outright anger and started counting off the things that she was going to do to Lisa Lee’s skipper. It wasn’t a list I care to repeat here, but I’m glad I’m not that guy.

As we approached the harbour the Police Marine unit came thundering up, and crossed our bow, idling down just ahead of us, obviously making it clear to us that they were available to lend assistance if needed. I’m glad to know that they are eavesdropping on the conversations out on the lake.

When we reached our slip, we were met by the harbour staff who lent a hand in tying off Iris, then escorted the girl to their office to wait for her taxi. While she waited she poured out her soul to the staff. Apparently she was quite intent on coming good on the things she had said she would do the guy, and she didn’t care about the outcome, “I’ve been in prison before,” she said, “Its not that bad.”

Apparently our passenger had priors on assault, and had left Toronto to move up north when her trail as a crack dealer got too hot. Too bad she hadn’t started a new life for herself. Good thing she was off my boat.

The harbour staff loaded her into a cab and sent our guest on her way. SWMBO and I talked on the way home. Who was in the wrong here, and who was in the right? We can never know the whole story of the relationship between Lisa Lee’s skipper and the girl. It was probably better that he gave her money and told her to find her own way home than risk an altercation out on the water. With both of them drunk, things could have escalated from abandonment to murder pretty quick if a shove had sent someone overboard, and they couldn’t be recovered by the drunk left on board.

Having at least one of us sober enough to run the boat was also important. If this had turned out to be a more serious matter, and had required someone to be away, the not-sober person could relax on another boat while letting the other one take care of things. And finally, both of us should have a set of car keys, and some supplies for the baby should be left in the car, just in case.

Life is never boring in our family.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Weekend Plans

The Sailing club is having the first 2 "Beercan" races of the season this weekend. These are pretty informal events. Of course I still have chores to do on the boat before she is right and proper, and Chuck is away this weekend.

Its tough to say whether or not we'll get in some sailing time. I'm supposed to be lending a hand with our Church yard sale on Saturday. My role to assist the youth in running a car wash. I know that there is only one youth who can make it to the sale. I hope there are as many cars to be washed.

I think that what is most likely is that I'll go to the sale, have the one youth there, and I'll spend the day washing cars while she sprays me with the hose. I might be able to convince SWMBO to come out for a sunset sail if she isn't exhausted after the church thing. We'll have to see what happens.

Maybe, late at night while everyone is asleep, I can sneak up to the marina and go out for a moonlight sail. The stars look AMAZING from the middle of the lake at night!

BTW - Jamie if you read this send a comment with your email in it, I need to get info to/from you about LSIS #1 in Lagoon City. I will try to reply on Monday.

I cannot wait for school to be done

Isn't it supposed to be the opposite?? You know, where the Moms dread summer vacation? LR & I are very involved in Girl Guides. This year, I'm a Guider, and she's in my unit. But then, she decided to help out in a unit of much younger girls. Seeing as it's building leadership skills and all that, I'm all for it. So on Wednesdays, we had one meeting, and then on Thursdays, she had another. Fine. I can handle two nights a week. Then, BB was enrolled in swimming lessons, which are on Friday evenings. Ok. We still have two nights free. Then, because LR moves up a level in Guiding next year, she was invited to join the older girls for the rest of the year. Ok, so now she's up to Girl Guides on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Thursdays, the meeting start at 6:30, and I get home at 6:00. So that was a bit of a rush. Thankfully, that was the group that ended first, a week ago.

LR comes home a few days later and says "my friend wants to know if I can go to Powerplay with her on Thursday nights, since Sparks is done."

And then, I think that a small part of my brain snapped.

She was told no, as she hasn't been going all year anyway.

This week marked the end of Pathfinders (Tuesdays), and next week... next week marks the end of Guides. We are having a bonfire. In my backyard. With 13 Guides, 12 Brownies, and four leaders. I have a headache just thinking about it.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

By Land and By Sea

With Iris sitting nicely on her trailer, she was ready for transport to the commercial marina where we traditionally launch her. If I made it to the launch crane I would consider my little boat loading project a success. There were considerations though that related to our choice of tow vehicle, the capabilities of the trailer, the grades on the route, and a million other things. As I rounded up gear and loaded the van on Tuesday night, our neighbour came over and admired my work. "Its amazing" he said, followed by "Poor little van."

With Iris loaded and the plan for launch day revised and revisited a dozen times, I was finally ale to get to bed. It was a little after midnight, and I was planning on a very early morning.

The alarm sounded at 4:00AM. I wanted to be on the road by 4:30. It isn't a long trek from our house to the marina (about 11km) but I wanted to go when there was the very least traffic on the road both for my own safety and for the safety of others. I was concerned with how things would go.

Right when I started pulling, it was obvious that the van was being pushed too hard. It didn't want to move and when it did, it felt like it was dragging a cruise ship, not a little sailboat. An Astro van is definitely NOT up to the task of pulling a boat this size.

Here are the reasons:
  1. Braking - the braking power on the van was inadequate. I would roll to a stop, but sudden braking was definitely a non-option.
  2. Windage aloft - I'm not sure of the towing term for this, so the nautical one will have to do. Things mostly were OK with the wind, but when a tractor-trailer passed, it was a bad scene. You could feel things moving in every direction.
  3. Hobby-Horsing - The boat may have been too far forward on the trailer, or the trailer suspension not up to the task, but whenever we went over a good bump, we'd kick and buck pretty violently.
  4. Horsepower - The route was along a number of 80 km/h roads, but the best the van could manage was around 55 km/h. going up one hill we dropped to 20 km/h and I was afraid we wouldn't reach the crest.
  5. Tow rating - The van is rated to 5500 lbs, and I had been told that this was an understatement, that these vans could pull much more. Brochure weight for our boat is 4500 lbs. add the trailer and gear, and 7,000 lbs becomes a much more reasonable number. I'm glad the police weren't watching my route. If these van's can pull a great deal more than their tow rating, I must be doing something wrong because I am very uncomfortable with the idea of using the van to tow the boat again.

We did make it to the marina without incident, and then I sat in the parking lot waiting for the gates to open. While I waited I went over my to-do list for getting the boat to our club and considered what I could do while sitting there. Not much came to mind so I went to have breakfast at a diner across the road.

Around 7:00 the maintenance folks came around and let me into the marina, then at 7:30 SWMBO arrived with a mittful of parts I had asked her to bring over. She gave me a ride back to the house and I got the Volvo for any running around that had to be done.

When I got back to the marina, I started a conversation with the crane operator. He had 2 big powerboats lined up ahead of me for launch. I should expect to get splashed around 11:00. Ok I said, and went to unhook the tow straps that were holding Iris to the trailer.

"How long will you need to have her ready to splash?" the crane operator asked? "I mean she's such a small thing, I might could get her in right now if you can move your van and stuff out of here."

"I'm ready as soon as these straps are off."

Iris was in the water by 9:00. I went and parked the van and negotiated myself a 4 hour borrow of a slip in the "Executive Pool." Just as I motored over to the slip, FIL appeared to lend a hand with the rigging. Everything was going on schedule.

I quickly fitted the masthead instruments, and then started working on the standing rigging. Then challenges came up. The cotter pins that hold the spreaders in place were nowhere to be found. I was short a few split rings. The details were nibbling away at the goal.

FIL and I shuttled the van back to the house, and after some rummaging, I found a bag of spare parts. We took them to the marina and found that though we now had the right cotter pins, they were mangled so that they wouldn't fit the holes they needed to go in. While I continued to wrestle with the bent pins, FIL went to Home Hardware and got new pins. These are mild steel and will have to be replaced with stainless, but at least we were able to complete the rigging.

With all the split rings and cotter pins in place, we raised the mast. Once again it was a brute force effort, and FIL pointed out that I won't be able to do that once I'm 70. He's probably right. There are 2 solutions I can see to that. Buy a bigger boat with a crane-raised, keel stepped mast, or built a proper A-frame to raise the mast with. Now that the mast was up, and the stays properly tensioned it was time to go for a car ride.

Our second car shuttle took the Volvo to SGA - our home sailing club, and got provisions for the journey by sea. Then we drove back to Iris, attached a boom to the mast, bent on the sails, and headed out to sea.

According to the marine forecast, we had wind in the 10-15 kts range. I think they were about right. It was a perfect sail. The wind was on our aft quarter most of the way across the lake, the sun kept shining all day, and one frosty beverage was about right for the trip. Just as we arrived at SGA, the winds picked up a little stronger and 2 other sailboats came out of the marina, as though to welcome us home.

We had to take 2 passes at it to get into our slip since a strong crosswind blew us off course the first time, but once we were in, we packed up our toys, put a cover on the sail, and headed back home.

Looks like the sailing season has finally found us!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Short Work of a Long Weekend

On Friday I spent a lot of time thinking of ways to save on the B.O.A.T. unit that it was going to cost to get Iris in the water. The most obvious savings would be to find a way to avoid paying a hauler to get iris from the house to the marina. If I could find an inexpensive way to move her myself, I could pocket $300. Plans were drawn in CAD, napkin calculations were done for loading. Engineers were consulted at work, construction guys were asked for input, farmers were asked how they would move the boat. Everyone looked at me with some apprehension before offering a little advice, and then saying, but really, I don't think I'd try it.

In the end, Don (of soldering fame) came up with a great suggestion that completely bypassed my initial idea, and gave me the confidence that I could tackle the job. I walked out of the office on Friday completely pumped up. I was excited to give this a go.

Guest's Poem kept running through my head:

It Couldn't be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

My idea had been to lift Iris on beams clear of the trailer, then back the trailer under her, and lower her down. The lifting and lowering would be accomplished via a beam running athwart ships under her cradle. The beam would need to be around 12 feet long to clear the sides of the trailer, and Iris would need to be lifted about 3 feet in or so to get above the fenders.
Don's suggestion greatly simplified my plan, however, it still meant raising the boat.

When I got home on Friday night I set straight to work at procrastinating so I could digest the plan a little more. I made good use of the procrastination time by staining the last of the teak to go in the companionway.

On Saturday morning, I extended the procrastination time by cutting the lawn, then installing the teak. After that, I "helped" SWMBO apply the name decals to Iris' transom. My help consisted of working the camera, and spraying the Easy-off oven cleaner to get the wax off.

Easy-off on...
Easy Off off... Name and hailing port on...

Happy SWMBO, Happy Iris!!

I was starting to run out of ways to procrastinate so I backed the trailer up to the boat and eyeballed what I was up against. The cradle was sitting 7" up off the ground on cinder blocks. I put a few more blocks in place for safety before any moving would take place. The deck of the trailer was 14" off the ground. I wanted an extra couple inched of "what if space. I would have to lift the boat 9" to get the trailer under her. Incorporating Don's plan meant I didn't need beams, which saved considerable expense and lift demand.

I went into the basement to get the jacks and while there I saw a couple cans of VC-17M bottom paint left from last year. I wasn't planning on painting the bottom this year, but since I had the paint, and it was getting old, I figured what the heck. When a good way to procrastinate falls in your lap, you take it. Here is the boat taped off for bottom pain with the trailer behind it...

I spent most of the afternoon painting the bottom, and then SWMBO suggested we go out for dinner. Perfect! Just when you think you've run out of ways to put things off a little longer, opportunity presents itself.

SWMBO is both clever and wily. At dinner (at a great restaurant overlooking the lake where the waitress was very friendly and accommodating), she plied me with wine until I had all the courage I needed to start the work. We drove past the marina on the way home and counted the boats already in their slips. Nearly 20. A passing comment pointed out we have already missed 2 weeks of the season. I got home and set to work.

The plan was to raise the front of the cradle, then put blocks in at the centre of gravity, and tip the boat forward raising the back. Since the centre of gravity of the boat is further back in the cradle, there would be a longer moment arm toward the front, making the lifting easier if I could teeter-totter the boat.

A jack was put in place and the bow lifted just enough to sneak in a 4X4 on each side...

With nothing under the bow, I was able to tip the boat forward, raising the stern...

Since I now had 2 blocks in, the back of the boat was up 14" from the ground. Now I needed to raise the front of the boat. Back up front with the jacks, and in short order I had the whole boat sitting up 14" off the ground.

With Iris sitting up that high, I removed the blocks that I was sure were forward of the centre of gravity, and gingerly backed the trailer in under Iris. When I reached the forward-most blocks, I set the parking brake, and then saw what happened if I jacked the boat up behind the first set of remaining blocks. If the boat tipped forward onto the trailer, I wouldn't be able to remove any more blocks, but if she went up, I could remove one more row.

Lucky for me she went up instead of forward. I was as close to the centre of gravity as I felt safe going. Time to snug the trailer in and switch the process to phase 2.

Phase 2 consisted of removing the front blocks (the ones in front of the jack in the last picture), and switch from working on the vertical plane to the horizontal. In order to move the boat forward, I would need to overcome the friction between 5,000 pounds of boat on the concrete blocks. Steel on Concrete has a respectable coefficient of friction, but steel on greasy wood doesn't.

Boards were smeared with axle grease, and set in between the cradle and the cinder blocks.

I had made sure all the way through that the farthest the boat could fall was about 2", and so far everything had gone smoothly, but pulling meant a greater chance of error, so I tried to go as carefully as I could. The trailer was far enough under Iris that if she fell off the blocks, she would come down onto the trailer just behind the rear axle. Her weight would push the trailer into the ground, but since the deck on the trailer is very low, the farthest down it would go would be about 3". Things looked pretty dang good.

The pulling tools on hand included a couple of heavy-duty ratchet straps, a 2-ton "Come-Along" and power by Armstrong. I hooked everything up...
At first when I started pulling on the Come-Along nothing happened. Then I heard a "crick" that sounded like something tearing, and it was coming from behind me, a quick look showed that the edge of the trailer deck was chafing the ratchet strap. I put a short section of 4" diameter pipe in to stop chafe, and started again.
The straps all tensioned, then stretched. It was getting very hard to pull the handle on the come-along forward, and the straps were tensioned so that they felt like steel bars. I was afraid that if I put any more tension on them, they'd break and I would catch a 2 pound steel ratchet in the forehead. Then I heard a noise, the trailer shook, and the cradle lurched forward about 2 inches.
This was going to work! I slid Iris forward off the first block...

Ratcheting Iris onto the trailer with the Come-Along was slow work. Much slower than the lifting had been. It was a game of inches and sweat. Out in the night I got into a routine of "Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, Click, SCRAPE" It soon developed a rhythm. Then the winder on the Come-Along would jam, or the strap reel would fill, and I would have to undo the whole rig, unwind the ratchet strap in the Come-Along, and start over.

Releasing the ratchet with the weight of Iris tensioning the Come-Along was difficult to do, and a little dangerous. I inserted a long steel bar into the teeth of the ratchet mechanism on the Come-Along, and a light tap on the release mechanism would result in an explosion of ratchet straps. Every foot or so I would have to go through this process again. Before I did it each time I would look up at the bedroom window to see if SWMBO was still awake. The lights of the TV flickering gave me some reassurance.

Eventually I had ratcheted iris up past the Axles and was almost home-free!!

In my excitement with loading Iris, I hadn't noticed that the block closest to the trailer was slowly rotating, and losing stability. I am not sure whether what was coming up was what the engineering world would call "Degradation Failure," or "Catastrophic Failure", but it was definately one of them.

Degradation Failure (′deg·rə′dā·shən ′fāl·yər)
(engineering) Failure of a device because of a shift in a parameter or characteristic which exceeds some previously specified limit.

Catastrophic Failure (′kad·ə′sträf·ik ′fāl·yər)(engineering) A sudden failure without warning, as opposed to degradation failure. A failure whose occurrence can prevent the satisfactory performance of an entire assembly or system.

As I pulled Iris for that last wee bit, the front block totally rotated out of position, and the cradle shifted down and to the side. Since the boat's centre of gravity was well over the trailer, there was little danger of losing the whole rig, but recovery would be a challenge. Getting the cradle back on the centre-line of the trailer would be near impossible.

About the only thing to do was to use the Come-Along to pull her forward as far as I could, and then put it on the side of the trailer to pull the cradle back on centre. Everything looked mighty ugly as I attached the Come-Along to the cradle.

With the Come-Along I managed to pull the cradle up another 6" or so, then a second disaster struck. The tension release on the come-along broke. The tool was seized up under load with no way to release it. I was dismayed. Looking around, I saw that the only way to release the tension would be to pop the ratchet strap that was across the front of the cradle open. Since it was under the same tension as the Come-Along, but was aimed to pop toward me, I was a lot more nervous about releasing it.
Very gingerly I opened the handle, and left it just shy of the release position, then with a steel bar I reached over and tapped it. All the fury of the built up tension released and the bar and strap flew halfway up the trailer. I was fine, the boat was on the trailer, albeit somewhat precariously, and I wasn't sure what my next step should be.
I looked at my watch. It was 1:30 in the morning, I had been working at this since around 7:00 PM. I was tired. I knew I wasn't thinking straight anymore and things were breaking.
They say the Darkest hour comes right before the dawn, (Thanks JC!) so I decided to sleep through that hour rather than see what could go wrong next. I went in and called it a night.
The next morning I came out to survey the damage. It was bad, but not awful. Nothing was broken and I could still get the boat on the trailer. In the night I had come up with a new way to get the boat straight and up into position. I would put a 4X4 behind the trailer, wedged into the frame of the cradle. By reversing the van, the end of the post that was in the ground would stay put, and push the cradle up higher onto the trailer. It was a great theory, but the bar just slid out of position when I reversed the van, plus the trailer was so low, it just dug into the driveway. I needed another plan.
The way I saw things only 3 possibilities would work to get the boat in position:
Lift and place
I had no way to push the cradle into place since my 4X4 idea hadn't worked. The cradle was in a position where the jacks were useless to me, so lifting was out. That's too bad since they were so great the night before. Pulling was impossible since I had broken the Come-Along. I rubbed my chin and looked around.
SWMBO's van was in the driveway... I wonder if it could pull. Certainly it wouldn't pull straight ahead since I couldn't unhook the trailer, but I needed to pull to the side anyway to straighten out the cradle.
Making sure that SWMBO was no place nearby, I checked out the underside of her van. No tow hooks and 100% sheet metal. Not really trustworthy for the task at hand. Damn. Next to the van was the Volvo.
The Volvo was bought as my "fun car" and when it runs its great, sadly it spends more time in the shop than on the road, but it was running well right now. Hmmm. Heavy steel frame, a tow hook underneath... enough horsepower to get the job done... maybe. I grabbed my keys and drove it down beside the boat.
The nice thing about using the Volvo was that I could put the top down and get great visibility for the task at hand. After a quick session with vector addition to figure out how the forces would spin the cradle, and I hooked one end of the towrope to the car and the other to the cradle at just the right spot, and eased on the throttle...
The strap tensioned, then Iris jumped forward, right into position. She was loaded up and ready to go. we brought the tire pressure on the trailer up from the 30 pounds that was in them to the 50 Pound maximum printed on the sidewalls, and the trailer levelled out. Looks like we're ready for the road.

To complete the words of Guest:

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

Playing on my slide

I know that that is where my bum goes.... now how do I get it there?

oops!! That didn't work!

Ok, take two... I know I can do this somehow.... hmmm....

Yay! Mama put me at the top!

The Buddy is incredibly frustrated with trying to get himself onto the slide. He loves going down it on his own, and wants desperately to figure out how to get back onto the seat. He'll stand at it, patting the spot where his bum goes, trying to figure out how to get it there.

I've tried showing him the ladder, and trying to get him to walk up that way, but it's a no-go... and even if he did figure out how to get up, he wouldn't be able to figure out how to turn himself around. Although after he went down head first once or twice, he's probably get the hang of it!!

The funny thing is, he climbs up and down the stairs very well on his own now. Up three stairs, then scooch down three stairs... up three stairs, scooch down three stairs. Repeat.

He is climbing off of our bed, trying to figure out how to climb onto our bed, and is going over his toys, instead of around them. So he is definitely working on his gross motor skillz!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Playing with my "little" cousin

Ah!! Girl cooties

Mom, I think she's falling down Mom... Mom, she wants me to pick her back up!

Hey... how come we're in here... is anyone gonna come to get us?

Guys??? Still in the playpen!!

Hey, what are you doing down there?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

This is what happens....

To my living room when I have a sick baby home all day, who isn't really sick, but can't go back to daycare until he's been on his antibiotics for two days!!

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Carlton is my little Buddy's favorite bedtime pal. Everynight when I tuck him in, I'll say to him "you tell Carlton all about your day now. Tell him everything you did." and he usually snuggles right in an falls asleep.

So the other day I brough Carlton downstairs during playtime, and put him on the floor. Then said "where's Carlton? Can you find him?" And as you can see, he did. As soon as I said that, he knew who he was looking for!

Carlton was a Chrsitmas gift from his uncles, and from what I understand, had an exciting trip getting from the leafs game home. Apparently, Carlton was left in the bar after the game, and spent the night there. The boys had to go back the next day to find him!

Friday, 15 May 2009


I feel like an ATM. The ones at a Jay's game that doesn't take deposits, just withdrawals. The coming week will accentuate this. I guess this is the time of year when owning a boat means spending money, and I'm doing my best.

In the next week, we will have to transport the boat to the marina for launch. Its about $300 each way, but we've been flying low for the past little while. The hauler we use has us in his database at a reduced rate from what we should be. I hope he doesn't notice. If he does our rate will go up to $500. Thats a tough pill to swallow.

At the launch, they will spend less than half an hour to raise Iris off her cradle, drive 100 feet with her in the slings of a travel lift, and put her down in the water. For that service we will pay $280.

The outboard will be ready early in the week next week (yeah, right!) thats another $300 and change.

$300 to move the boat
$300 to launch her
$300 for the engine
$100 (plus) in taxes
$1000 total to get in the water.

You know what B.O.A.T. stands for right... Break Out Another Thousand.

More Water?

I'm sure you all remember this year's spring flood and last year's spring flood. Well, we now also have the holy crap that's a ton of water flood. This one wasn't even during spring thaw, which made it all the more interesting.

I'll start by saying that we did not get water in the basement again, which was good. The sump pump was full, to the point that, you know when you fill a glass to the top with water, and it kind of has that concave look on top, like there's more water there than volume of the glass?? That's where the hole for the sump was at by the time I remembered that I should turn it on.

Funny thing was, it rained all night, and all morning, and we had barely a trickle of water coming out of the culvert. No water in the backyard, and the ditches and creek weren't any fuller than normal. at 11:30, I went out, and got back at 1:30. By the time I got home, the sun was shining, the main road was under a half foot of water at one point, and the water... my goodness, the water. In disbelief, I got out of the car with the buddy and looked at all.that.water. And then walked around the 1 1/4 acres to closely look at all that water. And then put the buddy in the playpen, and walked around the yard taking pictures of all that water. And then thought hmmm... I wonder if I need to turn on the sump? Priorities, y'know.

So here is what was pouring out of the culvert by the time that I got home:

And here is a close up of the other side of the culvert. Hubby fixed this side a few weeks ago so that there was a channel for the water to flow. Previously, water has sat in this area, and has not always made it to the culvert. There was a kind of dam all the way around the culvert before.

The current int he water coming out of the culvert. Thank goodness for wellies, and the water was almost going right over the top of them!

The water making a channel through the backyard. We hope to actually dig a channel for the future, so that the water might go where we want it to, rather than where it wants to go.

Standing beside the fire pit. No danger of fires spreading right now!

Right where the whitewater is in this picture is where the bridge is normally. The day before I was able to cross here, with the baby in my arms.

The creek, which is normally dry or close to dry:

The ditch along the roadway. It is about twice as wide as normal, and definitely deeper. Normally, LR jumps the ditch to get to the road.

Standing on the neighbours driveway:

Thursday, 14 May 2009


I was still lazing in bed while SWMBO was making coffee this morning. Suddenly she burst into the bedroom and shook me from my groggy haze to sobriety. Get up NOW! The mast is falling off the boat!

Last night the winds were quite furious, and I remember waking in the night and thinking it sounded awful out there. On nights like that I am so thankful I have a good house and all the trimmings, and truly feel sorry for those who don't. Hail, rain, thunder. The full fury of nature had descended on us in the night, and now here was SWMBO looking urgent, desperate.

I shook my head to clear the fog. "The mast fell off?? It can't fall off. I've lashed it to the deck." Since Iris is still in winter trim in the driveway, the mast is down, lying fore and aft, lashed to the bow pulpit and a frame on the transom. Tied down like that, it has nowhere to go.

I got up, and looked out the window. Sure enough the mast was dangling from the front of the boat, held in place by only the frame on the transom and one of the lifelines. NOW I was awake.

When I put the wood back on the boat with PU1 on Sunday, I had taken the green tarp that was keeping things dry, and folded it in half, wrapped around the mast, and bungeed it to the side of the boat. I had also untied the mast where it sat on the bow pulpit. In our hurry to get to dinner, I hadn't re-tied the mast to the pulpit.

The wind direction last night had used the tarp as a sail, and the power of the wind against the 100 square feet of well secured tarpaulin was enough to pull the mast off the bow pulpit. Now things were looking quite precarious out there, and the wind was still pulling at the mast trying to wrestle it from the boat.

I ran outside and got the tarp free of the mast, then quickly ascended the ladder, and went up and secured the mast to the bow pulpit. While I was up there I noticed that I have a combination steaming/deck light, something a bunch of guys on the Catalina forum have been discussing as a great upgrade. I never realized that I had one before. I guess now I need to look into why it isn't lighting up. Another project...


So yesterday morning, my little Buddy decided that five o'clock was a great wake up time.  I'm up guys!!  Hey, who's gonna come play with me!!  Daddy went to get him, and tried to snuggle him in with us, which normally works to put him back to sleep, and gives us until 7 or so.  nope.  no way, he wanted to watch the sun rise!

Then into the bathroom and while Mommy showered, he played the drums on the toilet seat, the side of the tub... anything that made a cool echoing noise really.

And then, after Mommy left for work, after eating his breakfast and drinking his milk.....Daddy put him in his room to play and went to have a shower.  And when he came back to dress the boy... The boy was sound asleep on the floor.

Crazy Baby

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Even 'Ruder'

I just got a call from the marina. It looks like they recalculated their price to do the engine work. $350 to install a $1 washer. Wow. Makes me wanna cry.

In any case, they quoted the price and told me they'd get to it soon. I'm not sure if that means "when we get around to it" or "Quick before you come to your senses and realize we are charging you $350 to install a $1 washer." Either way, I don't have much choice here. What does B.O.A.T. stand for again?

Last night I was lazy and didn't get the bow numbers on. My own fault and all that. I'm not too worried about it though. Tonight I MUST epoxy the last board in preparation for Cetol so it can be installed on the weekend. That may lead to more sanding of various boards in the cockpit if I'm not careful.

I got an email from one of our slip-neighbours asking how much racing/cruising/lounging we had planned for the summer. When I said how much work I have lined up to do on the boat I was told that there was no way I'd get it all done. I aim to prove them wrong!

Edit to add... I just got a USB to 9-pin RS-232 converter dongle that i ordered from Hongkong. If I'm lucky, this will give me the ability to download my GPS tracklogs to our laptop after each race/cruise through the summer. I think this will be super-cool for post race analysis, and to use for cruising notes. I'll have to see if I can get the GPS and computer to talk to each other now.

Baby's First Haircut

Mom, what are you doing back there?? How come you're standing behind me??

Dad, what's she doing??

Hey... what's this toy... this looks like a cool toy... you say it si called a comb?

Dad, look what I got!! A comb! Maybe she'll let me play witht he scissors next... hmmm...

Why d'I have to stay still Mom? What are you doing?

Do I look like a handsome dude or what?

Hey, look at me!! My hair isn't over my ears anymore!

Pose for the camera

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Take 2 on the Engine Thing... Success on the Registration #'s

So this morning I trucked the engine to another Evinrude dealer. I am cautiously optimistic. Cautiously optimistic enough that I am going to go ahead and apply the bow numbers, paint the bottom, and finish the woodwork this week. Then hopefully I will get the engine installed early next week and have a launch sometime around the 20th. Remember, I'm being optimistic.

On Mom's day, my PU's arrived and PU1 lent a hand with installing the last of the teak grab-rails. Now all the cabin-top teak is either installed or temporarily installed. Vast quantities of 4200 sealant have goobered out of one of the cabin-top sliders, but its only a temporary installation anyhow. The grabrail installed by PU1 and I actually went quite well.

The past couple nights have been spend wet sanding the old registration off the bow. I was tipped off to using either ammonia or oven cleaner to get the wax off. Last fall when I sanded the old name off the hull It took forever to get through the wax (Poliglow, which is actually an acrylic polymer, or something like that and not a wax at all) but the gel coat sanded quite nicely. This time around, the ammonia/oven cleaner would cut the work in half.

Its dusk, the birds are quietly settling into their roosts, and I ascend the ladder to the fore peak in order to reach the old registration numbers to sand off. I have oven cleaner, ammonia, a sanding block, some rags, and 600 grit wet sand paper. Its a great night. I take a drink of Stella and reach for the ammonia.

The Ammonia has the same effect on the Poliglow as licking the hull would. It didn't do much of anything. Time to reach for the good stuff. It'll just take a couple passes of Easy-Off to get the hull cleaned, then wait 5 minutes (drink beer) and wipe the oven cleaner away.

I line up the bottle on the numbers, take a deep breath, and spray. The wind carries the Easy-Off in a slow-motion arc from the aerosol can, toward the hull, and then straight back into my face.

It is a difficult thing to describe the stinging sensation that comes from a face full of oven cleaner. It makes your lips tingle and eyes sting. A quick escape is difficult from 12 feet up in the air, so I had to gingerly come down the ladder to wipe my face clean and get some water to rinse away the chemicals.

Luckily I had acne as a teen, so the pitting shouldn't be too noticeable.

Back up the ladder and scrub away the old numbers. In the past 2 nights I have pretty much removed the numbers to the point that i am convinced Poseidon will have forgotten the boat's old identity, and I can gleefully go forward free of curses from the god of the deep. Tonight I hope to apply the new Ontario Registration Numbers, you'll know if I do, 'cause it will be one less thing on the to-do list tomorrow!

If I do really well, I may even jump ahead of myself and slap on some bottom paint. Oh the excitement!

Uh oh...

Remember a couple of days ago when I said that the boy hadn't figured out how to escape the wagon yet?

Let me revise that to say, that he has figured out that if he leans sloooowly over the side until the top of his head touches the grass, that he can then flip his legs over, and do a somersault out of the wagon...... uh oh.  I think we may have to drag the playpen outside now!

Monday, 11 May 2009

We put the "Rude" in Evinrude...

So it was weeks ago now that I took the lower unit from the outboard to the dealer to get a new shift shaft seal put in. Its a $1 part, but the consequences of it failing (its already leaking) are huge.

The seal is housed behind a bushing which is recessed deep down a little channel in the engine. After removing the lower unit from the outboard, it quickly became obvious that I was only replacing this thing with the special tool from Evinrude. I didn't have the tool.

I put a call in to an outboard shop close to work. Sure he says, we can do that and have the engine to you by the weekend. I was thrilled.

I trucked the lower unit to the shop, where big promises were made, and headed to work.

Friday, I hadn't heard from the shop yet, so I gave them a call. Apparently they didn't have the requisite tool either. They would order it for me though. I would have to pay for the tool, and the repair, but at least it would get done.

Fast forward to last Friday. Still no word from the shop. I gave them another call. Apparently the tool is obsolete and you can't buy it anywhere. They are watching for one to magically appear, and they don't know what to do. They offered to take the entree lower unit apart for 3 hours of labour, then force the bushing out. No guarantees if this will work.

I tell them to keep watching for the tool while I think about this offer.

A call to another store on the other side of town, and I find out they have the tool and will do the job for an hour's labour. While they are in there do I want anything else looked at - they have to take apart the whole lower end to replace the shaft seal.

me - "In an Hour??"
them - "Yeah, its only an outboard, its not rocket science"
me - "I thought that took more than an hour to do"
them - "How long do you want us to charge you for then?"

Point taken... an hour's labour it is.

They tell me the engine will be ready by the weekend. Lets see how well it goes.


So I visited the giant school yard sale the other day, and for $40, I got about $400 - $500 worth of Thomas the tank engine "bits"
The box came with 11(!) Trains, lots of track, the bridge, the lift bridge ($50 on it's own) and many other special bits & pieces.
Each train retails for $20 - $35, so to get eleven trains for the $40 was a good deal alone. Not only that, but there are two 'Thomas' trains, two 'Lady' trains, two 'Petersam' trains, the hand car, and two different freights cars. There is one steel car that doesn't fit the set, but I can handle that, and the last car... I forget who it is. But I could probably sell the doubles on E-bay and make back my $40 if I wanted to!

The funny thing is, I bought them for the Buddy.... but the one who enjoys them the most right now is a tie, between Daddy & LR!! So fun for the whole family I guess!!
The best part... the cheaper wooden track from Ikea fits into it... so if I want more track, forget the expensive Thomas track... Ikea, here I come!