Monday, June 21

Fog Blog

Slack tide was at 6 a.m. this morning, which meant the alarm went off at 4:30 and I met Tim (my field tech) on the dock at 5 a.m. It seemed like a promising day - although there was a bit of fog to the south, when we started out we could see clear across the channel. The water was calm and I was hopeful.

When will I ever learn? The second I'm sure we're about to have a good sampling session is the second that the wind picks up to 30 knots, the rain starts to hammer on my head, or, in the case of this morning, the fog drops down like a dark wet blanket. We tried to get some surveys done but didn't have any luck, and as we headed back from the field, we couldn't see more than 10 feet in front of us. I stood on the bow, constantly scanning the fog and yelling things like "Moored sailboat 10 feet to your left" or "Brown Island, straight ahead! Turn now! Turn now!" We made it safely back to Friday Harbor, but we only knew we were in the harbor because of on-board GPS.

Just as we were about to cut across the harbor and head for the dock, we heard what no small craft without radar wants to hear in dense fog - the long low blast of a ferry fog horn. Very close by. As you may know, sound is skittish in fog. We could tell the ferry was nearby, but we had no idea exactly where it was, or which way it was moving. We weren't even sure exactly where WE were, although we had a hunch we were smack in the middle of the harbor, right in the ferry lane.

Ferry in the Fog Posted by Hello

Tim swung the boat around in a direction we hoped was away from the ferry. Fog horns sound roughly every two minutes, and those were two of the longest minutes I've ever experienced. We puttered along nervously, both of us peering into the fog, sure that at any second we'd see the looming bow of a ferry bearing down on us. It's funny how the mind hallucinates when you have nothing to stare at but glowing grey. And then, finally, we heard the horn again, farther away and behind us. We were clear, so to speak.
It was a sketchy morning, and one more lesson in how quickly conditions can change. Something to rememember on our way up to AK.

As for the title of this entry, sorry about that. It was just too easy to pass up.


Friday, June 18

There's just something about the water

I'm not sure what it is. The waves, the sounds, the smells, the deadly sea monsters...

So yesterday my office took a "professional development day" where we got together and did some "team building exercises" as an office. I don't know how many of you are familiar with this process, but in layman's terms - We left work at 10 am piled into Chris' Suburban and went to Kitsap Lake to go water skiing and tubing. It was gorgeous: mountains rising all about, blue sky, a gentle breeze, good friends. I remarked to my buddy Steve, "There's just something about the water. I don't think I could just sit on my front lawn for an hour or two, but here..." Or, for example, I can't really imagine going out and sitting in my car, watching people walk by... but sitting in a boat on the water just makes me relaxed. The watersports were a ton of fun, but I was fairly content to just sit for a while and watch the world go by. I don't know how many times "Man, this is the life" was said on the lake, but I know it was at least once. If I have 6 days like yesterday on my boat, than all the paint and suffering will have been worth it. (Of course, I'm saying this at a point in time when I haven't yet started the paint and suffering... but I'm not gonna let that get in the way of my dream.) So, I guess the summary here is that I like water, and I like boats. Which is good. Cause I'm spending a fair piece of (someone else's (I wish)) money to get one.

As Jessi said (or typed, I spose) I went and leased my slip. This is where I will call home for the months of July and August. Unfortunately you have more of a chance of getting into Heaven (you dirty sinner), than getting peremanent moorage in the Seattle area. So, I have to sub-lease. This is actually easy to do up here because this is such a "cruise heavy" area. In the winter, a group of people untie and head south, so you can stay in their slips... and in the summer, people go to Alaska, so you can stay in their slips. The slip I found is in Kingston, WA; A small waterfront (obviously) town across Puget Sound from Edmonds, which is north of Seattle, but south of Everett. For those of you who don't know where Puget Sound, Edmonds, Everett or even Seattle are located, just click here. It is a 50' covered slip in the Port of Kingston, which is a public dock. It's got gated entry and a whole mess of facilities... like showers, laundry, wireless internet access, even a dog poop area, which will be very nice, what with having a dog and all. If you look at this picture, my slip is just about where the capital P is in "Pump Station." This is fantastic, because it gives me PLENTY of room to not be good at mooring my boat. Also on the picture, from where it says "Marina Park" there is a spectacular view of Mt. Ranier, on a clear day. The marina is about 12 miles from where I work, and about 16 nautical miles to downtown Seattle. So I can leave work, go home, throw my lines and be moored downtown in about 1.5 to 2 hours. Best piece of waterfront property in the Seattle area, a floating piece.

Port of Kingston Posted by Hello

I'm so excited and, quite frankly, amazed that all of this seems to be actually coming together. I'm nervous though, cause I don't feel like I'll actually be free and clear of the whole thing falling apart until I have the boat in my hand. Kind of. Or I guess in my slip. I will be holding my breath until the first week of July.

Wish me luck.


Thursday, June 17

Blog Hog in Paradise

Tom and I seem to switch off... for a little while, he's all about the blogging, and then I step up and hog the blog for a few days...

As I've said before, I'm on San Juan Island rather than down in Seattle, so I'm not participating too much in the boat stuff right now, which is disappointing. Tom's been to see the moorage (which he'll write about later) and continues to work on closing the deal, while I toil away in the San Juans.

Except it's not really toiling, especially on days like today. I guess this entry is meant to temper my previous one about itchy feet. Because today, there was no where else I'd rather be than here. It was perfect weather: sunny and in the 80's. I went diving in the morning, and then went out on the boat to do habitat surveys in the afternoon and evening. The evening survey was incredible, and not just because all of my equipment was actually working. As we headed back at 8 pm the sun was just beginning to set, the water was glass and the trees were glowing. My favorite time of day in the Northwest - the golden hour.

For all the frustrations and difficulties of grad school, it still means I get paid (yes, next to nothing, but still...) to have days like today.


Wednesday, June 16

Itchy Feet

I just got an email from a friend of mine I met when I was traveling in Central America over a year ago. He's still there, backpacking through Central America, except he now has a job with an organization called GAP (no, not that one) leading tours all over the area. I couldn't help but envy him...

I know, I'm doing some fun stuff up here in the San Juans, and for many people these islands are an adventure in themselves. But I am feeling the need for a real trip, to somewhere I have never been. Tom and I are going to Idaho in August, and that will be cool - I've never been to the state at all. But I'm itching for something bigger and better and wilder. Something international and exotic. I won't be able to take any real time off for a couple years (by "real" I mean longer than a couple weeks) which is a bummer, because I think you need to spend at LEAST a month in a place to really explore.

This is, of course, the trade-off I agreed to when I enrolled in grad school. And even as I write, my wander lust is waning a bit. It's nice to be settled in for awhile. Living out of a backpack gets old, and if I was going to stay anywhere for any length of time, Washington is the place. This state is incredible, and there is still plenty around here that I have yet to explore. Plus, the AK trip will be a great adventure! But that's still a ways down the road...

I guess sometimes I miss carrying everything that's important on my back. I miss struggling through a sentence in Spanish and feeling delighted when someone actually understands what I was trying to say. I miss days where my biggest choice is which beach to visit. I miss seeing new places and new faces every day. Southeast Asia still holds so much appeal. Or the Greek Islands. Or Fiji. Or India. Or Nepal. Or Kenya. Or Egypt. Or anywhere new and unfamiliar! So much world, so little time.


Monday, June 14

I love money

Especially other people's money.

So I called the banks. I have verbal confirmation that the deal will happen! I can't believe it. I'm looking at a two week time frame here. In two weeks it'll be mine. I start living the dream in two weeks. (I start repainting the dream in two weeks?)
It's funny, 80% of the loan took 2 days to process. The other 20% took 20 days to process... What the hell? One bank was willing to just basically say, "Ah, whaddya say we give you a bunch of money, here ya go!" The other had to study my personal life, verify every account I have, and then take my left foot (they wanted my hand, but I thought I'd need it more for the projects on the boat.) I don't get it... But the 20 days has almost passed and the money will be available the first week of July. Also, because of the few items found on the survey, I got the seller to drop another thousand bucks off the price of the boat!! Thanks to my Pops for training me with negotiating skills! Now I just have to learn to use those skills on him... to convince him I know what I'm doing while running the boat.

Now it's all about setting up appointments to sign a billion more pieces of paperwork.

Let the games begin.


Wednesday, June 9

Stevie Wonder says it's not the way...

But we are gonna need all the help we can get.

So, I've intrigued myself.

I talked in my last post about superstitions, and since work is boring today, I've decided to do some research. I figure, with this upcoming "adventure" (idiocy) of living on a boat, we need the help. My first thought was to gather up all the fishermen I know, and ask them all what they've done to make boating life better. Turns out I don't know any fishermen. So, while I guess the internet isn't quite old enough to be considered an "old salt," and quite frankly I don't know how much sea time my computer has, it turns out it can be a good source of information these days... (didja know they have the internet on computers now?*) So I looked around and found some more sailor's superstitions:

- Don't wear a black coat on the pier, and don't use black traveling bags.
- Don't have a boat whose name ends in "A" (Lusitania, HMS Victoria, and Titanic for example)
- If you give another person a match on a Monday, break off a piece of it before handing it over.
- Don't leave home port on the 13th (especially not Friday the 13th).
- If you want to successfully cross a sea-monster breeding ground (apparently these are marked on charts, but I've never seen one in my Navy career) throw the youngest crew member overboard as a sacrifice (Thank God I'm older than Jessi).
- To appease the Old Man of the Sea and ensure a good voyage, take a shot of rum, and then pour a shot of rum overboard.
- Like posted before: no women, unless they are naked OR pregnant. (I'm gonna have to vote for naked on this one!)
- Never store Garlic near the ship's compass (or GPS maybe?).
- When removing your shoes, if they land upside down, your boat will soon turn upside down.
- Never speak the words "pig", "egg", "rabbit", or "13" (I know that last one is more a number than a word, but it is kinda both too... Philosophical discussion anyone?) Any mention will bring a storm.
- Dolphins are lucky, and always welcome to help guide you.
- Mark Twain said you should never have a preacher and a white horse on the same boat (This shouldn't be tough).
- When stepping aboard, use your right foot first or disaster will surely strike. (I'll cut your left leg off if need be to guarantee this one)
- Handing a flag thru the rungs of a ladder is bad luck.

OK well that's enough for now. There are so many of these friggin things it's a wonder anyone is not attacked by sea-monsters during a huge storm at night breaking their vessel apart after turning it upside down, the crew never to be seen again. I think we're in a tough spot here!

Anyone know of any other biggies I'm forgetting? Please, help!!


*I learned this from Homer

What do a crayon, a strip club manager, and Tom and Jessi have in common?

That's right, we're all bloggers.

Last night, I stumbled upon (OK, it was recommended on the Blogger home page) a great blog called Life at TJs Place. It's about the life of a strip-club manager, and the writing is incredible. To be honest, I don't really have an interest in what it's like to manage a strip club - or atleast, I didn't until I read Kevin's site and somehow found it compelling. A sign of good writing. Go check it out for yourself.

Anyway, back to the riddle of the day. While at TJ's place, I posted a comment that included a link back to the Big Bad Boat Blog. And whadya know, another TJs place fan came to check out our blog. Abysmal Crayon is the first random person to comment on our site. When I say random person, I mean that in a good way. Because it means that you're not friends or family, yet you're still actually interested in our big plan! How exciting!

So Crayon wanted more details about whether we'll be working or living or traveling on the boat, and where exactly we'll be going. That's the perfect excuse for me to ramble on a bit...

Initially, we'll just be living on the boat. That will probably be an adventure in itself, because we're a relatively new couple (5 months), and we're still tossing around/getting used to the whole "living together" thing. But damn it'd be fun - both to live together, and to live on a boat. Although I realize a boat can be cramped, the boat we're after right now is quite spacious. More spacious than Tom's current apartment, which is where I basically live when I'm in Seattle anyway.
So, we'll moor the boat in Seattle and live on it for awhile, while continuing to work our current jobs as submarine officer and graduate student.

Before your eyes glaze over, I promise many mini-adventures while moored in Seattle. First, getting the boat in ship shape will be amusing. I'll admit right up front that I have very little patience with "projects." Actually, it's more that I have very little patience with projects that go wrong. Yes, I know, not a good quality for a field biologist or co-skipper. So if anything, check our blog daily to see if I've ripped out all my hair yet.

Along with making the boat purty, there will definitely be some excursions out of Seattle. I'm the antsy type and always need to have some kind of trip on the horizon. There's no way we're gonna put this much time and energy and money into a boat and then let it sit there. There will be lots of cruising up to the San Juan Islands, and maybe over to Vancouver Island, and all around Puget Sound.

And then, when I finish grad school and Tom gets liberated from the Navy, it's off to Alaska! We plan on cruising the Inside Passage from Seattle, WA to Juneau, AK.

This little entry is getting a little too long, and I'm sure that as the AK trip gets closer, we'll bore you to death with details about the Inside Passage, including maps. I love maps, who's with me?

Adios for now.

Tuesday, June 8

Survey Says!

So I've learned something already... therefore, here comes my first tip. When buying a boat, never wear your good jeans. Even if you think you are going to (for example) just watch the survey take place, you won't. You'll crawl around in the engine room, and lie down in the lazarrette, and have your hands up in some oil gauge. Never did I think I'd say this, but I wish I had worn my Poopie Suit. (That's my old working uniform, not a potty built into my pants)

So, the boat is good. No... it's very good. The surveyor (who called me Scott the whole time) was an old salt. He was exactly the guy you want surveying your boat. He knows everything about boats because he's done it all sometime in the last 60 years or so. He's got this handy little toolkit with a tiny ballpeen hammer and an awl. He tapped every damn square inch of wood on that boat, and anything that sounded fishy he jabbed with his awl to see if it had any rot. He kept saying "I usually find soft wood up here", or "Usually water pools up here and causes soft wood." But no. There was only one spot of soft wood, a rotted piece of plywood on the aft bulkhead. It needs to be cut out and replaced, but it was remarkable that that is all he found. Not too big of a deal, the boat will, in fact, continue to float (the other thing I've learned is that floating is important to a boat).

Then he turned on all the systems, looked at the engines and generator, looked at all the safety equipment and so on. He left no stone un-turned. Lifted floorboards and carpeting, climbed into panels and opened hatches. I was afraid for a bit, what with him being an older gentleman, that he might not be able to get out of some of the places he'd gotten into. But sure enough, I'd blink a few times, clear my eyes and he'd worm his way out. The only issues he found (other than the rot) were that an oil pressure gauge needs replacement, and some hydraulic fittings need to be replaced (read: drain the whole hydraulic system, replace fittings, refill and vent). The hot water heater/tank may need to be replaced soon. It looks kinda rusted on the bottom. Also the whole damn thing needs to be repainted. No problem, we're gonna re-name the boat, and it's bad luck to re-name a boat and not re-paint it, so there you go (also apparently no women on board unless they are naked).

So, sweetie, you wanted a list...
Clean superstructure from bow to stern. Scrub and rinse, some places with a toothbrush.
Chip paint and then sand. Fill in any cracks and make sure all windows, joints, etc are sealed.
Repeat for hull.
Somewhere in the process, remove a window and move big things on board.
Vacuum, clean, clear cobwebs and scrub the interior.
Paint the interior (if we want... not at all needed)
Replace hydraulic fittings.
Replace rotted wood.
Fix one light in forward stateroom. (minor)
Fix one bilge pump. (minor)
Add sound insulation to the engine room (IT'S LOUD RIGHT NOW!). Probably start with some sound blankets and evertually get foam filler for the bulkheads and overhead.
All of this while trying to move on board, and live there.

How's that sound?


Monday, June 7

Maiden Voyage of the Blog

This first one you can blame on me. Tom likes the idea of a blog but doesn't know I've gone ahead and created one. He will soon! Anyway, this is the tale of a guy who's decided to buy a boat to live-aboard, and his girlfriend who watches, waits, stresses and supports him along the way. But don't you worry, I'm no sidekick! And I'm sure Tom will remind me of this once the sale goes through, and the boat work begins.

A quick bit of info on us: I'm a UW grad student studying marine ecology. I spend my winters in Seattle and my summers doing field work at Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island. Tom lives in Seattle, but works on the Kitsap Peninsula. Between commuting to work and visiting each other on the weekends, we support the entire Washington State Ferries system.

Back to the interesting stuff: The boat we're currently pining after is a 48' McQueen . Nothing's final yet, but we've agreed on a price with the current owners, and done sea trials. The sea trials were good - the boat isn't perfect, but perfection is out of our price range, and the work that needs to be done seems to be within our ability. The survey will be the final word on that.

Speaking of survey, tomorrow it gets hauled out for the survey. I can't make it down to Seattle for this, which I'm actually quite bummed about. Oh well. Tom will fill us all in on the details.

And that seems to be a good end to the maiden voyage of our Big Bad Boat Blog. Next leg of the journey is up to Tom. I don't know about you, but I'm hoping for a list of things that need to be done to the boat, particularly after the survey is completed. The scary thing is, I'm being serious...


Tuesday, June 1

Sea Change's Complete Profile

Sea Change (in a past life as Lady Lanor) with previous owners.

Sea Change as the Big Bad Boat with current owners Tom and Jessi!


We are just starting this... so give it a chance!

All's quiet on the western front
A night at the theater
An evening wit Rod Serling

Better than ADT
Blog Hog in Paradise

Boats Afloat


Down in front!

Ensure you can Insure
Entry of Shameless Solicitation

Farewell and Abyssinia!
Fog Blog

Getting Comfortable
Got Gas?

Happy (Belated) New Year
Hot and Cold

I love Money
If you want the job done right...
I'm Moved
I'm Thinking of Changing the Name of the Boat
Itchy Feet
It's a jungle out there
It's all relative
It's Final!
It's not a bird or a monkey


Lessons Learned
Lessons Learned part 2

Maiden Voyage
My Dog Ate My Homework

No Excuses
Now What?

Oh Shit
Only in Seattle
Opening Day


Radar (that's radar spelled backwards)
Real Men Varnish

Sea Change
Sleep with one eye open
Stevie Wonder says it's not the way...
Survey Says!

That kind of girl
The heat is on (soon!)
There goes the neighborhood!
There's just something about the water
These are the days
The small things


We're Still Alive
What do a crayon, a strip club manager, and Tom and Jessi Have in Common?
When the lights go out in the city
Work hard, play hard