Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Fall Brings the Wind! And the Cold.


90 degree heat and single-digit speeds suck.  A nice 15-knot breeze and speeds over 10 knots  make with worth the extra layers and a little nip on the nose. At least you can add more layers.

What I does it take to keep warm? 

  • Soccer training pants.
  • Either water repellent wind pants or Gore-Tex, depending on how much spray.
  • Base lay fleece top.
  • Turtle neck.
  • Fleece pullover
  • Wind breaker or light Gore-Tex pullover.
  • Very thin balaclava. Keeps the neck warm, but more importantly, it locks the hat on.
  • Ball cap with bump cap insert or fleece hat.
  • Sunglasses (with bifocal).
  • Musto winter sailing gloves
  • Deck shoes.
  • Waterproof socks.


  • Add long underwear.
  • Add second fleece jacket.
  • Possibly heavier wind breaker. Possibly drysuit if really nasty.
  • Heavier balaclava.
  • Ski googles. Keeps you face a lot warmer, even if there is no spray. 
  • Disposable heaters for gloves. They really help, and they keep you in thinner gloves. But I also carry ski gloves (warm but not agile) and insulated waterproof coated gloves (Hydroflector--totally waterproof, excellent grip, and reasonably agile if fitted properly).
  • Thicker waterproof socks, or just a pair of fleece socks under the standard waterproof socks (not if wearing drysuit--waterproof feet are integral.
  • Sometimes Gore-Tex shoes instead of deck shoes. But less agile.

So what am I testing for this season? 

  • Waterproof socks. I used them decades ago for hiking and was unimpressed, but I got several new pairs for this sailing season, and so far, they are a big winner. Comfortable, and they allow me to stay in deck shoes. Gill (top quality) and Randy Sun (great price) are contenders.
  • Seat cushions for a few more sitting locations. A foam pad adds comfort and warmth.
  • Fleece closures for companionway. In two separate layers, they will attach with Velcro, much like my mosquito screens. I don't do much cool/cold weather cruising any more, but they're nice even for a lunch stop. They go well with vented stove-top cabin heater.

Featured in Good Old Boat Magazine, it is nothing more than an old stainless pot inverted over the burner, a flexible 1-inch flue, and a place to place a cooking pot on top of it. Great for warming the cabin and heating up left-overs, all while venting the combustion gasses and CO2 out of the cabin. Very efficient too; the flue is barely warm where it exits the cabin.





Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Close Race?

In fact a good many have been one by a single electoral college vote.

history of close races 

The voter turnout is the striking thing. Over the past few decades, 60-65% of registered voters was typical, with very little fluctuation. This time the total looks to be closer to 80%. Of course, only about 2/3 of qualified voters registered, lowering that figure to about 50% participation. I guess 1/2 the people figure one vote does not matter and it's not worth their time.

From a point of view, I guess it's surprising that even 1/2 the people can do anything together.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Hiding e15 in the E10 Pump

I missed this one. We all heard when Trump ruled that e15 could be sold. What we missed, probably because it was only publicized in Iowa (tight election!), is that e15 can be put in an e10 pump without labeling it as such, subject only to state approval.

 reuters--e15 allowed in e10 pumps

 I'm not sure it's much of a news item. It may very well be reversed, and probably will never move far out of the heartland.  

 But the thing to remember is that marine engines, including outboards, do NOT have computers and CANNOT adjust to the leaner conditions this creates.

 boating industry mag. e15 in e10 pumps

 Be careful what gas you buy. E10 is sort of OK. e15 is probably OK in your car. But not in your outboard.


Interestingly, this was announced mostly in Iowa 52 days before the election. Kinna obvious. If I lived in Iowa I'd ask "Why not three years ago? And will you change it back in a few months to court big oil... again?"


Actually, it seems there is no such executive order. He just tweated that there would be. So he lied to Iowa?

federal register--list of EOs

 If I'm wrong, post the link. I'd really like to see the text.

 Election Day 2020: Where to get the best food freebies

I was at the poll at 6:30 AM. An old habit, from when I had to vote before going to work. Afternoon lines suck.

I don't get the concern that votes be tabulated by the end of the day, or even within a week. We're just impatient.  A number of laws define timelines for certain actions; overall, months are provided.

We'll just have to wait.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

An Origami Kayak--The Oru Beach LT

 The idea of a folding boat prompts images in my head of cardboard boat races and sinking within 50 feet. However, the Oru is a whole lot better engineered than that, and I've been asked to test one.

                                                        Lifts right out of the box, ready to go.

 Yes, you need to read the instructions the first time, but by the second time it only took 9 minutes to assemble, in the wind, on the deck of an anchored boat. 

There's a lot to like. Very fast for the type, dry in light clop, good tracking, very light, and reasonably stable.  I'm going to have to live with in for a while to form a final opinion, but it's clearly a lot more boat than you might expect from folded paper.

[It is made from a very, very heavy duty corrugated polypropylene, rated for something like 25,000 fold cycles]

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Clearing the Deck

 A standard racing dinghy and beach cat trick is take up slack with bungees and to route lines under the deck when possible. This reduces clutter and speeds work. we don't see it often enough on cruising and day sailing boats.

 In this case, instead of leaving the tail of the shroud adjuster floating on the tramp, from where it is often washed off by waves, I routed the tail under the the ramp via a low friction ring turning block. From there, a bungee stretched to near the bow takes up the slack. Out of sight, out from under foot, and quickly adjusted from the cockpit. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Common Clay

Though I've been primarily working from home and observing, my work requires me to travel through rural areas and stop in travel plazas. The last I visited, just north of Haggerstown, MD, featured only 20% of the people wearing face coverings, and most of those had their noses sticking out. Honestly, wouldn't you feel pretty stupid with you nose sticking out, as though THAT part of you is clean in flu season?

The Pennsylvania turnpike was better. Parts of Ohio were pretty shaky, more so in rural areas. My experiences in North Carolina were unimpressive, with the entire Subway restaurant staff going mask-free. I even declined my food in one McDonalds (Wooster OH) because the food prep staff and manager were mask free. I think it's clear the next Covid boom will be slower (because they are spread out) and across rural areas, because they just don't listen. 

In my home neighborhood it's not like this. Mask wear is very high and climbing. I think I'll stay here. 

This isn't about politics. This isn't about personal freedom. How child like. This is about nature and what it takes to staunch a plague. This is why they teach history and biology in school. It's not like work-changing pandemics are something new.

 From Blazing Saddles 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Name This Anchor


This is a vintage SMC snow fluke, circa 1980, last used somewhere in the Tetons. In a way, it functions like a boat anchor, except they are driven into firm snow and the Spectra bridle replaces the shank. Notice the slight dihedral angle, in part for stability, but in fact primarily to place a larger cone of snow in compression than a flat plate would.

The point is that a slight angle does not make a plow. It is well know that soil anchors can be made stronger through the use of a blunt V-angle. This is part of what separates the Excel from the Delta--small differences in how the angles fit together.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Excel Anchor--Love It!

It may look a lot like the Lewmar Delta, but the performance is on a whole nuther' level, perhaps the best of the new generation anchors. I've just started testing, but my first impression is that this is probably the best anchor, at any price, for the Chesapeake Bay:
  • Sets and resets seamlessly
  • Holds well in mud. Not as good as Fortress, but better than anything else.
  • It does NOT clog with sticks and sticky mud like roll bar anchors. This is a big win in the Chesapeake.
  • Does well in hard sand.
  • Aluminum. 8 pounds is all I need! But steel would be even better in some ways, so get steel unless ounces matter to you.
  • Comes up clean, like a Delta. But it sets 4x faster and holds 2x better.
 I have not tested rock and weeds yet.

Before testing, I had not yet fitted a rode.

I like it!

Update, 7-11-2020

Rocks seem to be the Achilles heel of well, every anchor.  I spent a number of days last week fishing some areas over jointed rock slabs with small pockets. The best anchors are those that present a sharp point straight down. Northill is quite good. Steel pivoting fluke anchors are surprisingly good. Everything else is terribly hit-or-miss and insecure with even the slightest shift. Very long scope is the rull, since ANY uplift will cause intimidate dragging.

Thus, my standard anchors will now be the Northill and the Excel. Both hold well in sand and mud, and the Northill will fill my fishing needs.

So where did the Northill design come from? They  were used to anchor flying boats in WWII. Not this specific model. There was a light weight stainless version. But the same angles.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Ulitimate Laundry Tub Drain Strainer

I don't know why it took me so long to reproduce for home use, a design I have used in industry for decades.

  • Never used wire mesh (bad) or expanded metal (worse). The corners of each opening form a wedge to trap fibers.
  • The strainer material should be about as thick as the hole diameter. This also reduces debris hang-up. It makes it more dificult to hang through and staple. It also makes for less friction when cleaning wrapped (stapled) fibers, since it is like a larger diameter pulley.
  • Flow outside-in if feasible. It is easier to clean the outside by just it wiping off. No digging.

This laundry tub strainer was made from a 1.25-inch PVC stub glued inside a 1.5-inch riser, that was then drilled with 1/8-inch holes. The top is open. After drilling the holes, sand or scrape to get rid of all of the burs, but do NOT chamfer the holes; that will actually make it harder to clean.

I could have drilled the holes more closely, but this was a trial version. The hole size I am happy with. Not matter how jammed, I can wipe it off with once swipe of my hand.  The open top means that if it clogs the tub will not overflow.

I made another for a bathtub. Works great. One swipe to clean.


Wire mesh and expanded metal are just cost-cutting measures. Perforated metal or plastic is always better. Boat applications? Cockpit drains come to mind. 

Yup, any strainer that is hard to clean. There are companies that make custom strainers for big money, or you can make your own from PVC. Vary the hole size according to the application (but there is seldom good reason to go smaller than 3/32-inch--9/64-inch is industry standard for most plumbing), drill them closer, and a drill press is darn handy, because there are a lot of holes. Yes, you can buy perforated materials, but fabrication is another thing.