Saturday, March 28, 2015

Grief Therapy

Mom taught me many crafts as a child.  The earliest was embroidery.  I can remember sitting next to the diesel furnace at 'the Dempsey Place', working on a sampler.  We moved in April of First Grade, when I was seven years old.

I know she taught me to knit, but I don't remember finishing ANY knit project.  It seemed to go SO SLOOOOOOOOWLY.  I much preferred crochet.  I remember Mom taught me the basics, and Grandma Freda also gave me some tutoring.  I loved to make afghans, and in 1979 my 4-H crochet project won a trip to the Minnesota State Fair, where it won Grand Champion and a purple ribbon!

In the last year of her life, Mom still had a craft basket sitting next to her chair.  There were several pattern books, a case of crochet hooks, 5 or more balls of yarn, and several knitting needles.  Al and I called the yarn balls her 'ammunition'.  Mom took great delight in disturbing Dad's naps with a toss of a ball.  And she would roll them to the cat, who had perfected ignoring them, unless a ball came unraveled.  Then Kit would chase the end of the yarn as the ball was wound up again, a process I came to call 'kitty fishing'.

Mom's yarn stash covered the floors of two closets, plus a few project bags under beds. More than four large garbage bags full were dispersed to myself and my daughters and stepdaughter.  I didn't take a large quantity, but I did take the largest amount of a single color, hoping to make a sweater or afghan -- something special to remember Mom by.

When Al and I returned to Friday Harbor, I went to Island Wools to ask about knitting lessons.  I told Libby that Mom had taught me to knit as a child, but I didn't remember a whole lot about it.  She asked if I held my yarn in the right or left hand.  All I could remember was crocheting with the yarn in my left hand.  So she said I was a 'picker' and told me of a beginning class offered early in February.

I attended the class with one other student, so there was a lot of individual attention.  I had a bit of difficulty -- everything just felt so awkward, it just didn't feel 'right'.  But I kept on, and I followed her advice to knit EVERY DAY, even if it was just a little bit.

I was anxious for my daughter Lindsay to visit with her kids over their school break, so we could compare notes.  Both my daughter's are knitters, taught by Mom.  Turns out, Mom and my daughters are all 'throwers'.  What I learned WASN'T 'right'.  Well, it wasn't wrong either.  Just different from what little I did remember of what Mom taught me.  And the dye was cast.  I didn't want to un-do what I had learned, so I just kept on.

A dishcloth for Viking Star

A dishcloth for Richelle

A scarf for myself

I have two more projects I am working on.  And the more I knitted, the more I realized how much it was helping my grief process.  While my hands are busy in the creative process, my mind is full of memories of Mom, and Dad.

As we prepared to leave Friday Harbor March 1, I wanted to be sure I had plenty of projects lined up for the summer, and asked the owner of Island Wools, Julie, if she knew of any yarn shops in downtown Olympia -- we will be spending the summer in the southern part of Puget Sound.  And she said ' I know there is one in Port Orchard.  Do you know who Debbie Macomber is?'

I couldn't believe my ears!  Debbie Macomber is -- hands down -- Mom's favorite author!  I knew immediately that I would be visiting THAT shop.  Especially since Port Orchard is just around the corner from Bremerton, where we were headed to visit my son Micah.  (See the last post for our personal tour of an aircraft carrier)

After we arrived at Bremerton I contacted the shop, A Good Yarn, by email and told a little about Mom, hoping I would be able to meet Debbie.  I got replies from two or more of the staff, who told me that Debbie writes from an office upstairs from the shop and pops in frequently when she is in town.  Unfortunately for me, she winters in Florida and hasn't returned yet this spring, but I was invited to the shop, and today was the day we visited.

We could see an 'office' on the second level; it appeared there was a computer in the window.

Debbie's daughter runs the Tea Room across the parking lot from the yarn shop.  Good food at reasonable prices.  There is a nice gift shop also.

My yarn shop purchases.  It is my plan to knit a tribute -- light blue was both Mom and Dad's favorite color -- to leave at the gravesite when next I visit.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Personal Tour

Our tour guide, son Micah, and his ship

A hanger bay

Conversation on the fantail

A pretty starfish.  Micah says they call the flight deck 'The Steel Beach', but this is in the hanger bay.

  Actually it's called an eyelet, and this and the following picture show it at work.

Wouldn't want a weight like this to be rolling around in heavy weather!

Mooring lines off the fantail

Still talking ...

Above them, the flag.

The Nimitz


We join the flag on the flight deck

The bright sun thwarts the selfie attempts

But I like this.  I'm literally in my son's shadow.  And you can tell Al is smiling too.

The Ship's Bell

The Seal, uncovered just for us.  It's all hand-painted.

Add Micah for size comparison.  We are told each link weighs 365 pounds!  THAT'S an anchor chain!

The 'pointy end of the boat'

It was an honor to spend the afternoon with Micah, seeing the place he has been working for the past year and a half.  The ship will soon become his home, as time for deployment nears.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Hello March, Record Rainfall, and lighting the Dickinson!

Trying to work our lives around the Weather Guess from NOAA is always interesting.  For example getting 'out guessed' Sunday and finding a strong Northerly wind had developed while we were hiding out at Coupeville.  Gusts peaking to 35kts had Viking Star chomping at the bit to get away from the dock  (seriously, she was jumping and bouncing around as we came back from a book review at the Coupeville library) we were happy to receive a future credit for our pre-paid night of moorage and got underway.  Viking Star took things like the Champ she is, though I suspect some of the crew is still working to shake off the Land Legs a bit :-)

Once in the shelter of Whidbey Island things calmed down and we made our way for an overnight in Everett.  Yesterday we continued our travels towards what we call the 'Mid Sound' and again were greeted with winds - but a more moderate 15-20kts; sufficient to bring out Small Craft warnings for the area as well as knock a few things around in the cabin for us (Live Aboard often equates to rather un-seaman like accumulation of Stuff).  But of more news was the rain, or more like, RAIN.    Typical NW winter day:  mid to lower 40's, and rain.  2-3" of it we were heading towards.   Keep in mind that much of the area we spend our Winter in benefits from a rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains - not so down towards the 'convergence zone' in the Seattle area.

Side note:  We do not worry too much in these 'protected' waters with winds up to 20-25kts sustained.  2-3' wind waves are no real issues, as long as we don't have to take them on the beam.  When the sustained winds get into the 35+kts we however wish to be out of them, lest we rack up one more day like our passing from Vancouver to Silva Bay back in 2013 (Another story, one I see we never did blog about. . . .)

Every cloud has a silver lining, or so the saying goes.  And in this case that Silver Lining was justifying the lighting of our Beloved (and at times hated) Dickinson stove.   Ah, the Warm, the Dry, the Warm/Dry.  Oh, and the quiet.  This morning I awoke to 82f in the cabin, so I adjusted the thermostat (aka, opened a door a crack) and am just basking in the nice dry heat.  Sadly, these cold / wet days are appearing to be coming to an end - with the latest Weather Guess calling for temps well into the upper 50's.  As such, the days of the Dickinson may be coming to an end.  Sigh...

And yes, it is that nice, this good old diesel pot-type stove.  So nice that we in many ways feel a warm glow and long for cold rainy days.  Days that justify the 'Lighting of the Stove'.  That justify the 1.5+ gals of fuel a day on it slowest setting, a bit of sooting at times, and its temperamental nature of if we are not careful with how the windows / doors are opened, we create a back draft.  All those downsides with the upside of a nice cheery dry inside - plus our favorite hot-cocoa recipe:

     Hot Cocoa            -  Double
1/4 cup - Water                 1/2 cup
2 TBL Sugar                     1/4 cup
2 TBL - Cocoa                 1/4 cup  (I like to use a mix of plain cocoa and dark)
1-1/2 cup Milk                    3 cup
1/4 tsp-Vanilla                   1/2 tsp

Directions:  Mix Water, Sugar, Cocoa into Syrup.  Heat over MED heat until boiling.  Boil for 2 minutes..
Add Milk - heat until hot.
Remove from stove, add Vanilla

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Yes, the Can Can. (or, how I made a 'frugal' PCV system for our DC generator)

I have mentioned a few times that I consider myself rather, ahem, Frugal.  And I do know this can be a fine line to walk along, being careful not to cross over into the downright Cheap side of things.  With this in mind I have a tale to share with you which happened while we were overnighting in Anacortes last week.  A tale,  I have to admit, where I found myself  feeling a bit sheepish as I  walked down the street peering into trash cans, pulling off the covers, looking into dumpsters.  All but crawling into them, or rooting around while in search of my prey.  An Aluminum Can – beer or soda pop, I was flexible.

Oh sure, I could have stopped by Safeway and purchased a beverage to get to the same goal – but given Kristi and I do not really drink soda pop,  and given I gave up CANNED beer a long time ago, the thought of  purchasing a product to pour it out – or force consumption – just did not seem, well, very Frugal.

 I finally acquired one by asking a random person standing around (ok, he was part of a yacht club that was in the marine for the weekend) if by chance there might be an empty can I could have (come on, yacht club, rented the floating barge – you know there were TONS of empty cans around by that point).  And sure enough, an empty Canada Dry ginger ale can was produced.  In nice shape too!

Now, this post is not really about our approach to the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle if you will   (Never could figure out what Math had to do with the letter R, nor what picking up a tipped over lamp had to do with school…)  This is more about  what I wanted the can for, which was  this:

What you see here is a poor man’s PCV system.  The larger white tube is the crankcase vent tube on our little Kubota EA300 diesel engine, used for our DC generator.  When running, this tube vents a small amount of gas that come largely from blow-by around the piston.  All engines do this, though some with more passion than others.   The issue was that even with only a slight waft of blow-by, the gases from the crankcase vent tube smelled.  And given Viking Star's age, the ‘bulkhead’ between the lazarette and the aft cabin is not as air-tight as it once was (even if it ever was) the result when running our DC generator was a stinky aft stateroom. 

Stinky staterooms get the crinkled nose from Kristi.  Crinkled nose is an indication of something not desirable, which ultimately has Al rooting around in city trash cans looking for recyclable aluminum cans.  And ultimately,  back to that 1st picture with some additional explanation.

See the bigger white tube is the crankcase vent tube but the key is the smaller sorta clear one.  It is routed over to the old ‘Jet Boost’ fitting on the intake manifold of the Kubota as shown here:

The Big Picture

Closeup of The Valve
(Make sure to open it up when all done with this mod)

Originally that fitting was used to introduce a slight amount of extra fuel for assisting in very  cold weather starting.  But when I pulled off all the fuel piping to simplify things, this connection was leftover.   And it works great as a way to provide a place to send those stinky crankcase gases.  In operation the crankcase gases are deposited into the can where they cool and some amount of ‘crud’ falls out to the bottom of the can.  Then the gases are sent to the intake via the smaller tube through a combination of positive pressure from the crankcase pressure and a small amount of vacuum created in the intake via the air filter restrictions.  Finishing off the can is some plumbers putty to semi-seal things. 

And it works well.   With this in place we are able to run our generator nicely without any aft stateroom smell, and without any crinkled noses.

But I will say, even though this Can can solve the smell problem, I will admit I felt a bit less than Frugal while in my search for it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cost to CRUISE Jan/Feb 2015

Though I blew by January, am back to tracking and reporting our costs aboard Viking Star while cruising.  And with this post we kick back into a true Cost to Cruise.

Notice Jan and Feb are back in the Blue  (get it, Blue - water, vs. Green = land).  Note also the rolling average will cover only blue months - up till we can again start a 12mo rolling look-back.

During these past two months we were busy getting Viking Star back into shape, entertained a band of kids, and still had access to a car.   This is reflected in the Transportation and perhaps somewhat the Dining Out.  Am a bit surprised how the Grocery costs raised so much, esp considering there was very very little 'adult beverages' purchased.  perhaps it reflects the cost of Island Living.  And am also noting the dramatic reduction in Personal costs.  I myself attribute this to Kristi being: A) Rather Busy with Grand Kids, B) Rather Busy whipping Viking Star into Shape, C) Rather Busy attending the Oh So many Coffee shops, and D) Rather Discouraged as she looked for places to stuff the accumulated purchases over the past year.  (Boredom + VISA + UPS = Danger)

Misc largely contains park pass fee's as well as Washington State Boat Tax's.

Going forward we can expect picking up fuel costs (tanks are down to perhaps 100Gal), and I am looking to haul-out this summer.  Plus we might have a few 'trips' to account for in some way:  a planned BVI charter and maybe a trip back to the farm during harvest season.  But that is oh so far off, will see..

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A GORGEOUS Day for a Boat Ride!

Don't let the sunshine fool you -- it is COLD today.  But the low humidity really makes the mountain pop.

The ferry Sealth heading east on Harney Channel

Moonrise over 'My Cabin' (on my wish list if we ever win the lottery).  The home fires are burning!  (Actually just the reflection of the sunset on the windows)

And our sunset view.  Aren't we lucky?!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Departing Friday Harbor

It was a beautiful sunny day, but the breeze was up.  Small Craft Warnings were posted, which normally doesn't concern us too much, but we haven't handled the boat, especially in close quarters, for over a year.  We were just waiting on the wind to calm, and when it did, we went.

Goodbye Shipyard Cove.  Goodbye Debbie Sue, AKA 'The Big Blue Boat'

Hello Mt. Baker

Hello Turtleback Mountain

Old Glory is waving happily

Another 'star boat', Morning Star, on the Harney Channel between Orcas and Shaw Islands

There are LOTS of crab pots dotting Blind Bay, but we find a space at the back near local boats.  We open a bottle of wine -- those who know us a little better know that this is now an occasion -- and brought a book for Al and knitting for me to enjoy on the back deck.  

And even in the quiet, there was so much noise!  Cows mooing, dogs barking, gulls and raven calling, and a tight group of little birds who would murmur amongst themselves before diving and popping up to murmur again about their findings.  They had me running for my binoculars -- Christmas gift of 2013 -- and my Sibley bird guide.  Long-tailed Ducks, a new species sighting for us.

We're off to a good start.