Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Solar Eclipse

Maya tries out the solar eclipse glasses
Not much new to report.  I'm working charters on the east side of Vancouver Island while Tara's in Portland finishing the brightwork project.  She's got a couple coats of Natural Teak on the port side and making progress.  I really miss her and the girls but we do get to Skype almost daily.  Sometimes internet on the yacht is less than reliable depending on where we are.

Last week we had a solar eclipse with something like 99% of the sun blocked out.  The path of totality, where it became completely dark, passed through Oregon creating quite a bit of tourist activity being one of only two states where you could experience it on the beach.  The other was South Carolina.  Pretty cool, I was underway down the Columbia and it got dark enough to cause all the aids to navigation lights to come on.

I'll be doing the yacht thing for a couple more weeks returning to the family September 8th.  Really looking forward to getting home but it has been a fun job so far.  Yesterday a 200 foot yacht pulled into the marina were we're preparing for the next charter.  The boat I'm on is 108 feet according to the Coast Guard, 121 feet overall, but that thing made ours feel small!

With most everything ready to go for the next trip I'm taking a day off.  About to catch the next Coho ferry run across the straight to Victoria where I'll wander around and people watch.  We're currently docked in Port Angeles which is a relatively small town with a few touristy things but not a whole lot to do, and the 90 minute ferry ride is actually kind of cool and relaxing.

That's all for now.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Race Management, Re-bedding, Brightwork Progress

Race Committee Aboard Junovia
The first Monday of every month, after my day-job, I head to the Delta Park Elmer's where we hold board meetings for the Small Yacht Sailing Club of Oregon.  SYSCO is the organization that runs nearly all sailboat racing on the Columbia River in Portland.  Our primary events bring out over 100 boats and each boat carries an average of around six people, so it's a pretty happening deal.  In 2015 I became Vice-Commodore and Race Captain for the club which wound up taking way more time than I had expected.  But it has been an excellent learning experience and often loads of fun.  The normal routine is for VC's to move into the Commodore role for a year, assuming you didn't completely screw up and the membership votes you in.  By default the Commodore then serves as Rear Commodore for the next year to help smooth the transition for incoming officers, all of which I've done and now approaching the end of my tenure as an officer.

Pancho, the SYSCO Mark Boat
During this time I've been very active in managing both race organization and the actual races on the water.  It takes several people, known as the Race Committee, to run things on the water but there's always ultimately one person responsible and in charge known as the Principal Race Officer, or PRO.  Over the past few years I've served as PRO in dozens of regattas, as I've become more comfortable with calling the shots it's started to become really fun.  I'm now nearly done completing the process to become a certified club-level PRO with US Sailing.  I think this credential might come in handy to get involved in sailboat racing communities while we cruise around the world.

In other news I've been re-bedding our deck hardware replacing silicone and other old sealant materials with butyl tape.  Surprisingly, many of the bolt holes in the gelcoat that I assume were drilled by the manufacturer did not have countersinks and in some places spider cracks were forming below the hardware.  As I re-bed each part I'm adding countersinks that will both relieve the local stresses that cause spider cracks as well as provide a cavity in which I pack bits of butyl for waterproofing.

Replacing Screw Plugs And Repairing Cracks In The Brightwork
We're making good progress on the brightwork, although it was slowed a bit by a couple days of wet weather.  Tara just finished the first coat of Clear Gloss on the bowsprit and starboard rails Monday.  She has also stripped nearly all the old Cetol off the stern and port rails.  It looks like the project may slip past August but we're looking good to have everything complete before the Portland rainy season returns towards mid-September.

Next week I'm heading north aboard a yacht to work charters in the San Juan's and inside of Vancouver Island.  An eclipse of the sun is taking place Monday with the path of totality just south of us crossing through Central Oregon.  It should be interesting to be underway while that takes place.

Double Duty Aboard The Charter Yacht
The Cal 20 Fleet Approaches A Start

Monday, August 7, 2017

Refinishing Exterior Brightwork

Tara applies a coat of Natural Teak Cetol on the bowsprit
When we bought Junovia a few years ago the Cetol on her brightwork had already been neglected and was starting to peel off.  We were planning to completely strip and refinish it so just basically let it go while we took care of more pressing projects.  In some spots the teak became completely exposed and even turned gray.

On June 26th we began stripping the exterior wood starting with cabin-top handrails and eyebrow which are now finished.  The stairs were removed and also refinished during this time.  Stripping was done mostly with Tara using a heat gun and sharpened putty knife.  This is being followed by sanding the rest off with 60-80 grit sandpaper and then a finish sanding with 150 and then 220 grit.  A good wipe-down is then done with acetone before we tape and apply the first coat.  Saturday, August 5th, we finally finished prepping the starboard cap-rail, rub-rail & bowsprit and got the first coat on.  After much research and debate we decided to stay with Cetol putting down 3 coats of Natural Teak before 3 coats of Clear Gloss.  It's looking good!
Old Cetol Peeling Off

Going forward we're planning to do a light sanding and put down a layer of the Clear Gloss once or twice a year.  Completely stripping and re-finishing everything ourselves will hopefully help us stick to that plan.  I'm certainly hopeful this is the last time we'll do this to Junovia.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Busy, busy

Obviously the blog has been severely neglected while tons has been going on.  I want to set a goal to post weekly, even if the content is simply a picture-free list of what we did.

I can't recall everything that's happened for the past 1.5 years since the previous post.  It has been productive for sure and we're still pretty much on track to depart Portland next spring for some long-term cruising.  Starting to look like we might head up to Alaska for a season.

A few of the big happenings I can recall off the top of my head:

  • Had another baby in March, Morgan Ann Powning
  • Installed composting toilet in forward head
  • Replaced the cockpit enclosure
  • Installed refrigeration including a real freezer!
  • Started installation of hydronic heating system (about 2/3 complete)
  • Replaced water heater which had started leaking
  • Lots and lots of smaller maintenance and modification jobs
I'm still working full time doing software development, teaching occasional keelboat sailing classes and did a few yacht deliveries up and down the coast stretching from Cambell River on Vancouver Island to San Diego, CA.  Even got to compete in the Oregon Offshore race which was something that's been on my to-do list every since I learned of it 4 or 5 years ago.

Anywho, all is well.  Hopefully I'll manage to get an update for this week posted tonight.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Making Friends with US Customs & Border Protection

Tara gets fingerprinted
As you would expect, anyone coming into the United States aboard a private boat is under the same immigration and customs laws as coming through an airport, or driving across in a car.  Just like there are fast-track programs in these modes of transit there's one for little boats called the Small Vessel Reporting System, or SVRS, to make things easier.

Any US flagged vessel 30 feet or more in length entering the US is required to either hold a Customs Decal or pay a one-time fee for re-entry.  If you hold a Customs Decal you can also register your boat and crew with the SVRS potentially making re-entry to the US as simple as a phone call without physically seeing anyone or even entering a port.  I understand they may require you to land for inspection but it's very rare, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

Our experience getting registered:
  • Online, head on over to the creatively named DTOPS, or Decal/Transponder Online Procurement System, and shell out $27.50 get a decal for your boat
  • After a few weeks receive your decal and decal number which you can use to submit an application for the captain and vessel with the SVRS, again online
  • Submit additional applications for each crew, this can be done before the vessel is registered but the captain should wait until the decal is available to apply
  • An email will be sent to each crew with a link to schedule an interview with a Customs Officer, setup a series of appointments using the online system - one for each crew
  • Arrive at the specified address and time with your vessel documentation and passports for each crew
  • Answer a few questions such as what credentials we hold and what experience we have at sea and abroad
  • Have your fingerprints & photo taken and listen to an explanation around the limitations of SVRS, in particular that it doesn't necessarily exempt you from reporting to an office on entry
I found the process a bit tedious but relatively easy.  They basically made sure we weren't complete idiots, and took our fingerprints & pictures.  He confirmed that the infant we brought is Maya but they didn't take her fingerprints or picture.  It all took less than 15 minutes for Tara and I.  By the time we got home there were emails sent with our BR numbers that can be rattled off when re-entering the US by phone.  We have to go through an expedited form of the process again when each of our passports expire but otherwise the registration lasts forever.

It was cool meeting the guys that go out to check in the crew on huge commercial ships.  The building is at Terminal 6 and on one of the desks was a pile of inflatable PFD's.

No sign outside so we used one of their cars

US Customs office at Portland Terminal 6
Customs Decal

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fresh Water Pump Failure

With Maya's arrival along with all our existing obligations we've been busy and I haven't made much progress on projects recently, in particular is our new refrigeration which is moving forward but not quite complete yet.  Some unexpected projects do come up that jump to the top of the priority list and, in some cases, basically need to be done immediately.  One such project this month was the replacement of our fresh water pump.

The water that feeds our sinks and shower comes from a 130 gallon tank with what's known as an automatic fresh water pump.  Some boats also have a shore water port that connects to a hose pressurized by the city or marina feed which replaces the need for a pump when at the dock but Junovia doesn't (although may at some point in the future).  We use our fresh water pump a lot, especially because we shower aboard and now have an infant that requires lots of bottle/diaper liner/etc. washing.  So, when our pump started acting up early in September it was certainly a concern.  I should have just replaced it at the first sign weeks ago but instead waited until it stopped providing any water pressure during a weekend race to St. Helens and back.

We managed to get through the day using water from a cooler and filling a kettle whenever the pump would provide a little stream but it pretty quickly became a major issue that couldn't wait.  So, Sunday morning before departing St. Helens I pulled the failed pump and installed a smaller non-automatic pump we had in the spares inventory to get us by.  This actually worked surprisingly well and we even limped by on it for a few more days including for showers.  The only real downside was that you had to turn it off at the breaker panel between uses.  A device called an "accumulator" stores some pressure and allowed the sinks to work for short bursts without the pump so we really only had to run it every few uses at the sink.  A big pain, however, was when taking a shower someone else would have to turn off the switch or you'd have to jump out before getting dry to flip it yourself.  So, this needed a permanent fix asap.

Long story short I purchased a Shurflo Aqua King II 4.0 GPM for about $150 which came with hose barbs and the same plastic strainer we already had.  Installation was easy using the existing barbs and strainer, it provided an opportunity to replace the poor electrical crimp connectors with better replacements that include heat-shrink crimped on with a proper tool.

The new pump isn't much quieter and basically works identical to the 4048 before it started failing.  If I have to mess with it again I'll likely install a larger accumulator and look at mounting the pump to a different surface to further reduce noise.

Original Installation
Original Pump - Shurflo 4048-153-E75
New Pump - Shurflo Aqua King II 4GPM
Proper Crimp Connectors

New Installation

Proper Crimp Tool on Left

Monday, August 10, 2015

Baby on Board

Our new crew member, Maya Jo Powning, was born via Cesarean Section 15:03 August 3rd, 2015 at Legacy Emanual Medical Center in Portland, OR.  With how quickly she was growing and the risk of loosing her if the Vasa Previa vessels broke Tara's doctors recommended we pull her out at 35 weeks.

Everything went surprisingly well considering she was 5 weeks premature.  The procedure was normal without complications and Maya came out screaming and kicking at 5 pounds, 6 ounces and 18 inches tall.  We were prepared for her to have to go into neonatal intensive care for a couple weeks but because she was able to breathe on her own with good oxygen levels in her blood and started eating, pooing and peeing within hours of her birth she stayed with us from day one.  The hospital kept a monitor on her to watch her blood oxygen and heart-rate but after 24 hours everything looked good so that was removed and she's been detached from any machines since.

Four more days were spent in the hospital for Tara's initial recovery and to make sure Maya stopped loosing weight.  Today is number four with her aboard Junovia and everything is great so far.  We're feeding her every three hours which is a bit exhausting but have gotten used to it.

Getting started feeding a baby born by c-section is complicated in itself, on top of that we have the added factor of her being five weeks premature.  A really great thing about this hospital is they gave us the option to use donated breast milk (instead of factory formula) until Tara's milk came in which took a few days.  So every few hours a nurse would bring us a container of human milk.  After an initial "training session" on Tara I would feed her using my pinkie and a syringe while Tara hooked up a breast pump to get her body going.  Initially we fed her 20 milliliters per session and increased to 35 before getting discharged.  On the third day Tara's production jumped up enough that we were able to ween her off the donor milk and use our own.

At this point she weighed 2.235kg, a little under 5 pounds, so had lost some weight but was leveling out and on the up-swing.  I don't recall the exact weight but Sunday we had our first follow-up and she had gained a bit which means things are going good.  We're currently supplementing 50ml using a bottle after she gets some directly from Tara and she's been able to get enough directly from Tara on a couple of feedings.  Sucking all her food directly from Tara at this premature age wears Maya out so we'll be giving her the bottle as well for a while even when Tara is around.

Tara continues to experience a fair amount of pain despite heavy pain killers and is taking it easy.  They cut through a number of layers during the C-section and it's a bit of a shock to her system to have the baby and placenta suddenly removed.  It takes weeks for the uterus to contract back to a normal size.  Hopefully she'll be mostly back to normal towards the end of August.

So, yay!  We are very fortunate and stoked new parents of the cutest baby ever.  Now to find the perfect sailing dinghy for her...  Anyone have a nice El Toro for sale?