Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The July Dock Digest- Lots of Really Good Nothing

     "I'm gonna tell 'em that I've got no one to blame..."
                                                   -Sheryl Crow



*
I recommend grabbing a beverage- I've got a lot of ground to cover here.*


  So, where to begin?

  At the lack of beginning, I suppose.

  As I am sure you have figured out, Faithful Reader, I have been procrastinating.

  And a near bloody thing it was.

   See here's the thing about procrastination, it's a delay of stages.
  
   It starts with, "I'm (tired, busy, working, sailing, eating, drinking, pick one), I'll do it tomorrow."

   Then "I'll do it tomorrow" becomes "I'll do it this week," then this week becomes next week, next week ends up in the dust and becomes last week, then last week becomes two weeks past, then becomes last month, then  Procrastination Induced Panic (henceforth known as PIP- if it's not a documented disorder, it should be)  starts to nibble the already frayed edge of my writer's psyche, and I begin to wonder if procrastination has mestastasized into writers block or worse...

.... have I run out of things to write?

  Or am I just fuckin' lazy?

   Neither diagnosis is an attractive one, and in either case , the only solution is to sit my fat ass down in front of a keyboard and pound away until I produce something fit for consumption by the voracious hungering masses handful of loyal readers who have, thankfully, stuck it out and stuck by me.

    If I can't come up with something fit for consumption, we still have this.

     So, as Inigo Montoya uttered, "Lemme sum up"

    July was a great, busy month.  But I realized I should backtrack:  Let's review who is on the Dock roster this year, who is on the disabled list and who is missing in action:

     Phil and Whiskeyjack are back, Gordon and QuidiVidi are back, the Irelands are back, Rick is back with 20th hole, (still for sale), Hillary is back, Jordan is back, with a new-to-him ex-Jack Bluenose, Buttons,


  Eric is back with After School, his DS20, a boat muskrats seem to admire:


 Jamie and Tran have upped the Soundbox fleet game with a pontoon boat.  Yes, it may arguably be the coolest boat on the Dock.







    Nancy and Drew are back with their Precision 23, resplendent with refinished brightwork and renamed in Nancy's honour...



Frank and Lorraine are back in the slip beside us with their new-to-them O'day, Keara and Bruce is back with Prolific, two slips down...



   ...and of course Jack is back, splashing a Bluenose...




 ...and with Jim's Carpe Diem returning, that's  4 on the Dock this season- that may be a record fleet west of Mahone Bay... I even got him to take the helm on Karma:


  Speaking of helming Karma,  SWMBO has demonstrated a degree of badassery at the helm.



     The rental SeaDoos are corraled at the foot of the Dock again. 'nuff said.



   John is back to work, cancer-free, and busy, so his Sirius 22 is absent from the Dock this season, although he still wanders down from time to time.


The water level is WAY up.  Two winters with almost complete great Lakes ice-over really helps.  This season, the water level is at least 3 feet over 2013, month for month.  It is a little weird to have to walk UP from land to get onto the water.



The water level is high enough that Hillary was able to safely make a run into Hoover's Marina in Nanticoke, normally a dicey proposition for a boat with a 5' draft.



We paraded in the Canada Day boat parade on July 1....


...finishing 3rd, behind Keara....



which got us $25 and a nice plaque, now hanging in Karma's saloon.




Speaking of Karma's saloon, a number of low-buck projects found their way onboard-  the tv wall was covered in the aft cabin...


and I built a new cabinet to make better use of the storage space in the saloon:


and the cockpit table is finished and installed in the, er, cockpit.



More on that later.

Pottahawk was relatively trouble-free and drama-free this year-  nobody sank in the fairway, for instance.  The return parade was relatively subdued, evidence that all had a good time.






  The weather has been damn near ideal for sailing this summer, so we sailed.  We sailed Ereni, we sailed Karma,



 We discovered what a sweet sailing boat a Bluenose is.



And I am again racing on Cyclone...


....where out crew continues to surprise with their skills including spinn pole surfing:











  And there's lots more going on- stay tuned.




  All told, life on the Dock doesn't suck.




Thanks for taking the time to read the D6C.  If you liked what you read, please Talk the Dock! Spread the word.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

SWMBO's New Ride

   


      "Gonna ride like the wind, before I get old..."
                                            -Christopher Cross


       
      Lemme tell you a  little backstory, to explain how we got from where we was to where we is:

      Faithful Readers may know that SWMBO is not a lifelong sailor.  In fact, she had never set foot on a sailboat until February 2008, when she sailed for the first time, aboard a 16 footish dinghy, in San Diego's Mission Bay, as part of a work-related team building exercise.

      She was hooked.

      Bad.

      Her enthusiasm got me back into the sailing game, after a 2 decade detour into the masochistic world of wooden powerboats.  By the time her return flight hit the tarmac at YYZ, I had lined up a half dozen boats for us to look at. 6 weeks after SWMBO's homecoming we signed a contract on the perfect boat for us, the Georgian 23 named Whiskeyjack.

      What was perfect for us was not necessarily, nor entirely, perfect for SWMBO.

      See, Whiskeyjack and her successor, Karma, are big little boats- lots of accommodation in a smallish LOA.

     What they aren't, is that 16 footish dinghy that hooked SWMBO.

     They also aren't a Bluenose.

      Enter Jack.

      SWMBO had admired Jack's ever-changing collection of daysailers since we first set foot on the Dock: Tempests and Nordica 16s and Hughes 24s and Minuets, oh, my!

      But Bluenoses were Jack's favourites. At any given time, he owned a handful of the sleek full- keeled belles of Mahone Bay.




      SWMBOs fate was sealed when she first laid eyes on Carpe Diem, the other Bluenose on the Dock, owned by Carpe Diem Jim


      A half decade ago, SWMBO declared, "I want one."

      Alas, although her fate was sealed , the fates conspired against us...

      ..... until last winter.

      December rolls around and I get an email from Jack. He has decided he needs to thin his fleet, so enquires if SWMBO might be interested in a Bluenose.

    I ask.

    "Uh, yeah!  Duh." was her response.

    I email a reply to Jack's email, he replies back, SWMBO and I count our shekels, and the deal is done.

     SWMBO now owns a Bluenose.

     So does Jordan.

     Jack released two Bluenoses from his fleet, one going to Jordan, one to SWMBO.
 
     Last weekend, SWMBOs Bluenose hit the water.

      Sunday,  we got a call from jack that he could drop SWMBOs new old boat into the water that afternoon... if that was okay with us.

      I asked.

     "Uh, yeah!  Duh." was her response.

      An hour later, loyal Docksters Lorraine and Frank and John had gathered at the ramp to help Jack launch ....



   


Then Thelma, er, Lorraine and Louise set off with Jack for the short motor transit from the ramp to the Dock.
      



 ....arriving uneventfully at her new slip:

  By sunset, with the help of fellow Docksters and my last-minute-visiting 'rents, we had the mast up and the deck and topsides kinda gleaming:


This season, the Bluenose fleet on the Dock has doubled in size.

Oh, and that "thinning the fleet" idea of Jack's?   Not so much.  The day he dropped off SWMBOs boat, he headed to London to pick up two more.

  SWMBO is still grinning

    It's gonna be a great summer.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Help Us Help Someone Else.



     "We know that there's always tomorrow..."
                                  -Bill Withers


  But this time, tomorrow is too late.  The contest closes at 5 pm tonight.

 Here's the deal: Below, you see a link to a "win a concert" contest, being offered by a great performer, David Cavan Fraser . What started off as a "hey, this would be fun to win" lark got a little bigger when somebody came up with the idea of doing some good with this prize... if we won.
(Notice that at this point it went from "I" to "we"?)

My friend and colleague Aaron Gautreau is a cancer survivor who won the battle, but lost his leg in the process. He needs a new artificial leg, and he needs to find $80K+ to make it happen.

So, with your help, we win a concert that we can use to raise money for a new leg for a good guy... win/win/win!

But, there's only one hurdle-

We have to win.

To win, we need to get as many people to enter the contest as possible. For every entry, our team gets points.

It's kinda paradoxical- the winner is the person who has brought the most competitors into the contest.


 I know some of my friends have entered already, and I thank you for that- Now I put the call out to everyone to please step up and sign up to help someone get a leg up.

Please click on the link and enter.  You won't get spammed and no personal info is required.

And share it with your friends.

Let's DO this.

 click here: https://goo.gl/s1KLfB

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

New Gear Reviewsday Tuesday: Low-buck, Big Sound - Eton Rukus XL



     "It gives it's heat to everyone...."
                                  -The Police




   Our purchase of Karma  was a transaction of compromises:

   More room, but less gear.
   Bigger hull, but less power.
   Longer waterline, but more tender.
   Sink in the head, but no stereo.

   That was a problem.

    For SWMBO and I, tunes are an important part of our life aboard.
 
    An important part of our life, period.

   But, until we lived with our new summer home a while, I didn't want to start running cables and cutting holes for speakers, and bolting up a head unit.

    Last season, we made do with playing our ASUS Transformer netbook-housed music library linked all Bluetoothy with a Sony SRS-BTM8 speaker.

   It was ...okay.

   Mostly.

   The upside was the portability- do you want sound in the cockpit or on the fordeck, or on the back porch?  No problem.  Pick up the speaker and move it wherever the tunes need to be.

   The connectivity was great.  The netbook could stay warm and dry below, and the signal would reach the speaker anywhere on deck.

   The sound quality was okay.  Not a ton of bass, but no distortion at full volume.

   Speaking of volume, while it had okay sound quality, the sound QUANTITY was sub-par. Down below, the speaker  filled the saloon with sound.  On deck...

...not so much.

   The battery life was meh.  it seemed like we were loading AAAs in every day or so.

So, as winter rolled reluctantly toward spring and the dawn of boating season, I was looking for alternatives.

  Alternative 1: I was toying with a Poly-Planar MRD system driving hardwired speakers in the cockpit and below.

  Alternative 2:  Sticking with a netbook driven mp3 library and player coupled to more robust wireless speakers.

   Alternative 3:.... uhm, I didn't get that far.

  Then I got a flyer from Radioworld.

  Browsing through the clearance section, I spy a Bluetooth speaker of some substance...  that is solar powered.
  It is SO solar powered, it can not only charge itself, but can also charge other USB devices.... while in use.

  So, I pointed, I clicked, I ordered, and 3 days later a box showed up on the doorstep of SJM.


  Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Eton Rukus XL:

                                                                   -all images in this post courtesy of etoncorp.com

It.  Is.  Awesome.

Mostly.

I'll get to that in a minute.

  First, I can hear your question, Faithful Reader: "Who the hell is Eton?"

 Well, Eton is an anomaly:   A distributor who essentially outlived and outthrived the manufacturer for whom they distributed.  Eton is an American company that started manufacturing shortwave radios back in 1986, but were primarily a distributor for famous German shortwave radio manufacturer Grundig. At the dawn of the 21st century, with Grundig sales flagging,  Eton began focusing on alternative energy products- in 2002 they introduced their first crank operated radio. By 2004, Grundig was bankrupt in Germany, but the name lived on in North America- Eton continued to manufacture Grundig branded products for the North American market.

  So, these guys kinda know their stuff.

Initial impressions of the Rukus XL

It is BIG.

At almost 15 inches wide and a little more than 8" tall, it dwarfs the Sony speaker.  Unfold the solar panel that folds down against the back of the speaker, and the height almost doubles.


It is HEAVY.

This unit weighs in at a hefty 7 lbs

To provide some scale, the Rukus XL is essentially the same size as a 5 pound bag of potatoes,  but almost 50% heavier.

It is, indeed, seriously XL.

It is also serious about sound.

There are 2 tweeters, 2 woofers, and 4 passive radiators, punching out 22 watts of sound.  this thing is just covered with cones:



In the center of the front face is a flip down panel, revealing a docking bay for most smart phones:


  Alas, our Samsung Galaxy Mega phablets are too  huge to fit this hideyhole.

   All switchgear is rubberized, the charging port /aux in port bay has a rubber flap cover, so there is some level of moderate weather resistance.  I wouldn't leave it out in a driving rainstorm, but


In the box is a 110 v wall wart (for charging on cloudly days or indoors) and a manual.

Operation is ridiculously simple.  Outdoors in sunlight, flip up the solar panel, turn  it on, pair with your Bluetooth enabled device, and play.  Indoors, plug in the AC adapter and play.

 The fully charged lithium battery will blast tunes for 8 hours or more.  That's not just over-optimistic marketing department bullshit- we have consistently run this speaker for 8 hours plus before recharging.

 The solar panel can fully charge the speaker in 5 hours or so of sunlight.  AC charging results in 100% battery in 2.5 hours.

The sound is FANTASTIC.  Great tone throughout the entire range.  My go-to soundcheck on new audio  is Stevie Ray Vaughan's rendition of "Little Wing."  so, I cued it up and worked the volume controls- no mud in the bottom, no buzz at the top, just crisp, clean, clear, solid sound.  If you need some extra bump in the bottom, there is a bass boost button.

The Bluetooth range is excellent- we have had the Rukus up to 50 feet from the sound source, with no connection drop.

The manufacturer's warranty is pretty typical- 1 year, parts and labour.

So, what about that "mostly" part?

Only one minor gripe- the ergonomics of the handle, and the proximity of the switchgear. Pick up the speaker to move it and, more often than not, your hand will brush the power button, shutting it down.


Retail on the rukus XL is $199.99,  just under the low-buck cap.  At full retail, considering the performance, it is a good deal.  Keep an eye open for specials, though- we got ours for $79.99 CDN. At that price, it is a SCREAMING good deal.

This is an ideal wireless sound solution.

Overall, 4.5 out of 5 stars.




Wednesday, 13 May 2015

It's THAT day!!!



     "Oh, I've been missing you, and the way you make me feel inside...."
                                                                 -Gregory Abbott


    Finally, SWMBO and I can stop looking homeless.

    Winter here in Southern Ontario is a time of slumber for our vessels, stored on the hard, and, for sailors, a season of  dirt-stranded planning , forethought, and inevitable procrastination...

....  which means all the jobs that SHOULD have gotten done during the depths of winter get compressed into a frenzied fortnight of forced labour leading up to splash day....

... which means every spare minute is spent in the Bridge Yachts boatyard, punching through all the planned punchlist projects that were  pushed off by the punishing winter...

.... which means that one is always travelling with a vehicle packed full of tools, work clothes, paint, epoxy, generator, ladders, wood...

... leading uninitiated onlookers to wonder if we are indeed living in our Ford.

  As usual, we fell prey to mission creep.



We knew we wanted to remove the carbuncle, a dead depth through-hull transducer installed ahead of the keel:



   Which we did.  Beveled, backed, filled, and faired...





  While slathering on eleventy-seven coats of Interprotect 2000, we realized that this would be a good time to repaint the blue boot stripe, which clashed with the bottom paint, and if we're going to do that, we might as well removed the worn cove stripe...

... which we did, and then realized that, without a cove stripe, NextBoat's already generous freeboard looks beyond generous- it looked like Liberal spending in the 905 prior to an election.

...So clearly a new cove stripe was in order in addition to the boot stripe:





Since we're changing colours, red bottom paint is out, black bottom paint is in...



  with the stripes and the bottom looking good, it behooves us to clean and wax and buff the hull and make it all shiny.  Which we did.  Leaving us to finish installing the head, hoses, pumps, tank, new hose clamps on cooling hoses, and a list of more unsexy nobody-will-ever-see it stuff the night before we splash.


   We got it done, and NextBoat is now hullwet.




   NextBoat is also no longer NextBoat.

   Before:





  Now.  Please meet Karma:


The weather was nothing but cooperative in the weeks leading up to launch.  The last two weeks have been dry, sunny  and warm, culminating with HOT weather during the last few days before Karma  was launched...


....which ended the moment she began her transit from the yard to the Dock.




   
     (Frank and Lorraine were on hand to watch and take pictures)

By the time Karma  and I passed under the lift bridge, the clouds had rolled in, and long sleeves had been donned.  We figured we'd get the boom hung and sails bent on at the Dock, rather than waiting another half hour for the next bridge opening.
 
   
   (Okay, she ain't pretty, but she's purposeful)
  It was a prudent move.
 
    By the time we had cleared the river mouth and made the turn to port to the marina cut, the temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up.


     After tying her up safe in our slip, we realized rigging could wait.




  Within minutes the winds picked up, the temp plummeted and we were deluged.

   It hasn't warmed up since.

   No matter. We're back in the water, where we belong.

   We're home.






Thanks for taking the time to read the D6C.  If you liked what you read, please Talk the Dock! Spread the word.