Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting into the Short Stokes

Thursday.  We have the slip paid through the end of May, and that is Monday.  Life here has been a bit frantic this last couple of weeks based on moving Stuff, finishing a few projects, and lots of family / friends visits.

Some accomplishments over the past couple of weeks:
  • Stow spare hull planks
  • Install Washer/dryer
  • Install friends Inverter (long overdue promise)
  • Empty overhead storage locker
  • Mast dropped and upgrades started:  new anchor light, install radar reflector (blipper), Upgrade WiFi to Bullet, run new TV antenna wires, refastened mast stay collar
  • Sold old 5hp outboard

Kristi and I also took a big chunk of stuff out of the garage in preparation for being able to park the car in there.

What do we have left to do?
  • Remount the side rail
  • Finish mast:
    • Upgrade block and tackle
    • Install AIS antenna and GPS receiver
    • Run wire for Wind speed sender
    • Raise mast and restow dinghy
  • Service new 3.3hp outboard

Maybe?  Install freezer slides, Tile backsplash behind diesel stove?

And of course deal with the vehicles.  Pickup is being given to my Daughter, and will be handed off this weekend.  Car needs to be shrunk some, or a bit more needs to be cleaned out of the garage.  Then we be off!

And no, other than Blues Fest we do not have any firm plans where to go, or what to do once we leave the docks.  Just as it should be J

Monday, May 24, 2010


Al loves lists!  Shopping lists, to-do lists, events coming up.  Most days start with my question 'What is the plan for today?'  And I get a nice list in answer.  Sometimes we check off many items, some times not.

But on a boat, the word 'list' has another meaning entirely.  We are noticeably LISTING, in several ways.  Load management is becoming an issue.  The nose is down, due to the hefty anchor platform and 85-pound anchor hanging off the bow.  And several things, including the recently installed washer/dryer have put us off-kilter to starboard.

When I noticed the imbalance, I at first just attributed it to Al sitting in his favorite location on the couch, until I realized--he wasn't even on the boat!  

We will be attempting to shift the load as much as possible, for the summer, but it will be a big winter project to restore balance.  The biggest fix will be in relocating the battery bank.  (Are you ready for THAT, Dan......Dave?)

And by the way, I ran the first test load through the laundry machine yesterday, with success.  


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


What more can be said.   Washer/dryer on board!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

'Where did YOU come from?"

The following is an article we have submitted to our local USPS newletter, so please forgive the rather odd tone. . .

This was a question Kristi and I received (more than once!) after having been tied up at the Bernert Landing docks for a few hours.  This was a genuine question, as Viking Star was clearly and vastly the largest boat in sight.  Located above the Oregon City Falls on the Willamette River, Bernert Landing is part of the Willamette Park in West Linn.  It is very popular with ski boats, kayakers, a few wave runners, and today even a few model boats skimming across the water.  This lady’s question was genuine in that she could not imagine how we got such a large boat on this part of the river.  Given that the Locks at the Oregon City Falls had been open only a  week and closed for a couple of years prior – it is easy to understand her concern.
This is our 3rd time to Bernert Landing  public dock, and it is one of our favorite trips.  It has a nice new dock backed by a wonderful park which is well supported  by the local community.  A short, though rather strenuous, walk uphill reveals several coffee shops, an old fashion general store (yes, groceries and hardware complete with wood plank floors!), and several restaurants ranging from Italian, to Thai, to a few Pubs.   Bellagio’s Pizza will even deliver to the dock (and their pizza is very good).   Finally, every evening, very friendly folks are walking the dock – making good conversation. 

We really  like this destination .  Even though Highway 99e is just across the river, the traffic is somewhat light and slower at this stretch (compared to say Downtown).  It is easy to hear the honking of geese  and the jumping of fish over any auto traffic.  Even the trains are few and not too intrusive.  But best of all, to get here one ‘has’ to pass through the Willamette Falls Locks! 

  Based on a sizable investment as part of last year’s Stimulus bill – the locks are fully refurnished and operational this summer.  They are open Thursday through Monday, just right for a long weekend.  Whether you have never been through a lock, or are a veteran of the larger locks on the Columbia, the Willamette Falls Locks are a treat.  137 years old, it is one of the oldest operational multi-stage locks in existence in the USA.  The lock masters are friendly (they consider it a privilege to operate these locks) and very helpful.  Hail ‘Willamette Falls Lockmaster’ on VHF 14 to make contact and they will cheerfully guide you through.   This lock has ropes already attached for you to use, just rig fenders.  You also might want to wear gloves, or have a rag available to wipe your hands as the ropes can be a little dirty.  Be prepared to spend about one and a half hours to lock up, a little under an hour to get back down.

Good dock, Good view, Good environment.  Nearby shops, eateries, Pizza to the dock, friendly folks, and a piece of history to transit – isn’t this what Cruising is all about? 
If you would like to take your turn at Bernert Landing, better plan on it this summer.  The locks are funded through the Fall, but beyond that there is no guarantee.  Though a core group of folks at the Willamette Falls Heritage Foundation  ( are working to secure continued operation and funding, there are no guarantees.  Who knows?  This wonderful destination could be lost after this summer – make sure you don’t end up missing your chance!  (Or perhaps plan on bringing a smaller boat--there is a boat launch right here as well .) J

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Here are some photos of the nature we got close  to today:  The goose 'train' that came through the marina.  Check out that caboose!

A Busy Bee

Future Blackberries!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stand up and be counted!

Something new, look at the top of the column to the right.  See that small blue box and white number - that is a new counter of the number of times this Blog has been viewed.  Guess we will see if anyone out there is REALLY looking at this, or we are just posting bits into the Dirty Bit Bucket.

Over Capacity and other adjustments…

Yesterday morning I went to fix Kristi and I breakfast and discovered the Refrigerator was working well – very well in fact.  From the back to about the middle of the refrigerator everything was frozen.  Bacon frozen on the left, not so on the right.  Dozen eggs – 4 frozen solid.  Ketchup!  Well, it did not freeze much.   Refrigerator was turned to 7.  So, turned it back some.

This got me to thinking a bit about the changes we are having to adjust to.  Overall have tried to fit Viking Star with the amenities one comes to expect:  Sleeping areas, heater,  toilet, shower, hot and cold running water, refrigerators, stoves, etc.  All the trappings good Americans come to expect.

However we do have to make some adjustments.  When is the last time  you remember your household refrigerator half freezing everything? On the boat, there is just not the room for a large sophisticated refrigerator.  (small insight, many of the larger home refrigerators have fans and some even heaters inside to make sure the overall temp is nice and consistent!)  Even though the refrigerator has the capacity to freeze, it does not have the refinement to not.  So we need to adjust – ala thaw the eggs and turn the knob down to 5.

This got me to thinking about other areas of adjustment.  Stuff (another entry), Energy (also another entry).    Elsewhere: we have a small water tank – 225 gallons, which lasts us about 2 weeks.  The hot water tank is 5 gal, and Kristi and I need to take turns taking showers – about 20 minutes apart. 

Heating is not consistent.  Though we keep nice and warm through the cold winters, it is the main cabin that is very warm.  The lower sleeping areas are quite a bit cooler.

Toilet is a bit different as well, with its pump handle and knobs and ‘procedure’ one needs to use.  No just Push the Button here!  And the tank needs to be emptied about every 4 weeks.  Refrigerator is small, we need to purchase small things – no more Costco bottles of ketchup!  In fact, condiments in general have to be trimmed, lest they grow to consume the vast majority of space.

Watching TV involves a process of setting up the receiver, plugging in the speakers,  and then the Move the Antenna dance to try and get some level of reception.

Yes, adjustments.  And I am sure there will be many more to come.  However it is not a bad tradeoff.  Nature and sleep as mentioned below in Life on a Boat I guess are worth giving up small heaters inside the refrigerator.  Even if it means the bacon at times gets half frozen.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Life on a Boat

Well, here we go again.  We have moved onto the boat, again, but this time we have no plans to return to land life.  AND we are attempting to move, or get rid of, ALL our stuff.  Where as before we had a large storage unit, and then a move into an apartment and garage, we now only have the contents of the garage left to go!

Our aim is to STUFF our stuff into every available space on the boat, or get rid of it.  We have been purging, purging, purging for the last nearly 18 months, but we STILL have STUFF to get rid of!  We have made two trips to the Goodwill trailer in the past two weeks.  And we have begun to identify MORE things that we can pass on to the kids.

So, I guess the first lesson of life on a boat, is:  there is LIMITED space!  And things can be difficult to reach again once they have been STUFFED.  This means things take a lot longer to do on a boat.  Making coffee was pretty simple to do when both the grinder and the drip maker were on the counter.  But now, I must pull out the grinder from the bottom shelf, grind the coffee, and then put the grinder away.  And actually the drip maker is out, on top of the fridge, but in future has a space to be stowed while underway.   Usually the thing you want (say, the jar of mayonnaise) is behind or under several other things.  The fridge must be unpacked and repacked several times at each meal.

And while there is an adequate space to store clothing (after a purging involving laying out our entire wardrobe on the bed for evaluation), there is NOT a lot of room for DIRTY clothing.  This means that we tend to wear the same items over and over a lot.

Actually, a change in the weather could change the items we are choosing to wear!  Please, warmer weather would be welcome!

Another aspect of life on a boat:  we are closer to nature!  The bird life is abundant.  We see swallows, ducks, geese, herons, eagles, finches, sparrows, blackbirds, starlings, hawks, osprey.  We have seen both gosslings and ducklings this Spring.  Though we have yet to see fish onboard Viking Star, Al saw a seal or sea lion IN THE FAIRWAY of our marina, eating a salmon.

Closer to nature also means closer to the weather.  And that has been COLD lately.  We have been running a small electric heater in the main cabin when we are 'at home'.  And we have been using the many throw blankets draped through out the cabin.  And we snuggle up in the smallest bed we have shared since we got married.

Another aspect of boat life that I have been enjoying is an improved quality and quantity of sleep.  The rocking motion and fresh air really helps!  The jet planes do not!  I am looking forward to moving away from the end of the runway.  But you never know--we may be trading airplane noise for train whistles, traffic, bridge horns, etc.

Well, I am sure I will be adding  as more lessons are learned or aspects discovered.  For now, here is the duck family that swam by this week: