He Didn’t Get The Memo

April 27, 2014


The Lonely Ranger

There’s a dam in Washington State with a 65-foot crack in it.  That’s bad.  They’re estimating it will cost $60 million to repair, which means it will really cost $900 million and take five years or more.  In the meantime, engineers have drawn the Columbia River down about 30 feet to take pressure off the crack.  I took this pic in Vantage, WA, where I-90 crosses the Columbia.  The little marina on the West side of the river was empty, except for this boat.  She’s a Ranger 26, and in pretty decent shape.  I walked out on the riverbed to take a closer look.  It looks like someone has been aboard, which probably wasn’t a good idea considering that it’s pretty precariously perched, but nothing appears to be damaged or stolen.  It actually looks like a pretty sturdy boat; I’m sure when they raise the water level it will float off the mud with no trouble.  I want to know why this is the only boat that didn’t get moved before they drained the basin.  I hope it gets some love before it goes to seed.


Fire Safety!

April 18, 2014

The rewiring project used a lot of heat shrink tubing.  Whenever I try to shrink it with a lighter I seem to burn it, so I bought a mini torch.   I’m sure this is a good product, but mine exploded on me, burning the shit out of my hand and damaging our kitchen floor.


The Inflamous Mini Torch

The torch ships without fuel, which is a good idea, so I took it to the kitchen to fill it with butane.  It’s pretty simple.  You press the butane nozzle onto the filler stem until it’s full, just like a lighter.  There were some drips, so I wiped them off with a towel, waited a minute or two, and fired it up.

Maybe “exploded” is the wrong word.  A flame the size of a yoga ball shot out the ass end of this thing, igniting the towel I had used to wipe away the drips, and my left hand with it.  Holy Crap!  No matter how cool you think you’d be in a situation like this, your first reaction will probably be to wave your hand around like a crazy person.  That’s what I did, and of course this does no good at all.


I don’t know what failed here, but it failed big.

The flaming towel dropped to the floor.  Now the flames were licking all the way up the cabinet fronts, and my hand still looked like the Olympic torch.  I yelled for help.  Julie came running around the corner from the bathroom, losing a shoe as she hopped over the dog gate.  All of a sudden I remembered the “Stop, Drop & Roll” thing from grade school.  Within the space of a second or so I realized that stop, drop and roll wouldn’t really work in my situation, and I stuck my left hand  in my right armpit.  The flame went out, and Julie and I stamped out the burning towel.


I have the best wife in the world, and I probably owe her a new kitchen floor. Just outside the frame are black footprints where we stamped out the fire. I guess the floor melted, and all the jumping around pressed the pattern of our soles into the material.

I applied the appropriate first aid, and my hand is mostly healed, but I learned a few important lessons.  First, this whole episode probably took fifteen seconds or so.  You cannot believe how fast fire spreads!  Second, if fire doesn’t freak you out, it’s probably because we usually start it and control it ourselves.  An unexpected, uncontrolled fire will most likely challenge your illusions about how you would react to one.  Third, we have a good fire extinguisher in our house, but it’s in the basement.  By the time I’d gone down to get it, the whole kitchen might have been on fire.  Time to get some more fire extinguishers for the house.


This is three days after the fire. All the blisters had started to break. Yuck. Very painful.

All this got me thinking about fire on the boat.  I have two current fire extinguishers.  One is mounted on the compression post.  The other is mounted on a bulkhead next to my battery charger.  It occurred to me that if there’s an electrical fire back there, there’s no way I’m crawling into it to get that one.  I’m going to move it out of there.  The risk of fire on my boat is pretty low, but still.

Here’s a pic of my starboard bulkhead.  I put the charger on the cabin side because I usually keep spare gas for the outboard on the cockpit locker side.  It seemed like a good idea to separate the two.  I had put the extinguisher there because I have two, and this is the extra one.  All my wiring is fused, and I can’t imagine having an electrical fire on board, but you never know.  I’m going to figure out a place to put it where it’s more easily accessible.


The silver vented box above the baby wipes is the charger. The fire extinguisher is next to it. The two solar panel controllers are there now, too. Ignore the mess, please!

Grandkids Rock!

April 16, 2014

I know this has nothing to do with sailing, but it’s my blog so indulge me for a minute.

One of my sons has a canvas shop in the boatyard in Port Townsend.  Sometimes he brings his daughter to work with him.  One morning they stopped by with breakfast, and we all took a break.  I was bouncing her on my knee and forgot how little head room I have.  Whack!  I tossed her right into the ceiling.  She looked at me like she wondered whether she should cry.  I guess not.  She shook it off and kept climbing on everything.

Grandkids rock.

Breakfast on the boat

Rowan Jones, 16 months.


August 28, 2013

I don’t use the trip computer page or functions on my Garmin, but it apparently keeps track anyway.  1200 miles in a couple of seasons is a lot of sea time at an average 4.4 knots.  I don’t always have GPS on, either.

The max speed of 13.1 had to occur downwind with help from a current, and surfing a swell or something.  I’ve had some wild reaches, but I sure don’t remember seeing that kind of boatspeed on the knot meter.  I’m by myself most of the time, though, so when the wind pipes up I’m usually dealing with the spinnaker, not staring at the displays.


Have been landlocked for a bit, which means that I’ve been thinking about what I need to do to get to the starting line in 2012, and that I’ve had time here and there to collect the ideas on this site. It feels just on the edge of overwhelming.  Also, the WordPress learning curve feels pretty steep to a guy who’s generally not web-savvy, but I’m beginning to catch on. I’ve been reluctant to publish this before now because it feels so much like a work-in-progress, but I guess that’s what a blog is.

I received valuable feedback from people who checked out my initial attempts here, and will incorporate much of it as I evolve and update the site, so expect things here to change as I figure out more about how this all works.

More later . . .


November 10, 2010

I really want to get back to the boat. I’ve been busy in Spokane, but have managed to get together a list of projects for the next trip. So much to do, so little time . . .

First Post!

July 29, 2010

BackBeat, my Capri 25, at Point Hudson, Port Townsend, WA

This blog is a record of my preparation for the 2012 Singlehanded Transpac.  It also seems like a good place to keep track of my sailing adventures, so here we go . . .