Thursday, September 23

Lessons Learned

I'm sure we'll be adding to this repeatedly, but here's a little list of what we've learned so far, in no particular order:

-Don’t do 5 loads of wash Sunday evening, or you won’t have any water left in the tanks for a shower Monday morning. Not a good way to start the week.

-Desiccant, desiccant, desiccant.

-If you hire someone to paint a stripe on your boat, make them physically show you exactly where they are going to paint it.

-When people say wooden boats are a lot of work, they mean it. No, really. More than you could ever comprehend.

-Dust the blinds weekly.

-There’s a big difference between operating a 20’ work skiff, and operating a 48’ twin diesel motor yacht that happens to be carrying all your worldly possessions.

-Making a “few small changes” to the interior is never quite as cheap and easy as you think it’ll be.

-Don't panic. Take a deep breath and figure out how to do what you want to do. Just don't freak out about every little thing.

-Leave a nice note on the boat you just hit.

-When people say a boat is just a hole in the water that you pour money into, they mean it. No, really. More than you could ever comprehend.

-Jessi and Tom

Wednesday, September 22

Getting comfortable

Field season is over and I’ve officially moved onto the boat, which is pretty great. Great because I get to see Tom every day instead of only on weekends, great because I don’t have to commute to San Juan Island every week (5 hour trip including the ferry line), great because my suitcase might just stay unpacked for more than a month… and great because I’m living on a boat! What a cool experience, especially in an area like Puget Sound!

I’m not the only one who’s getting comfortable on the boat. Duncan is also turning into a salty old sea dog.

Posted by Hello

Of course, we wouldn’t be good parents if we didn’t ruin his cool by making him wear a lifejacket when the boat is underway. Judging by the way he splays his legs out and hugs the ground whenever he gets near the edge of the boat, I think he’s secretly glad we make him wear it. Anyway, here’s Duncan’s latest outfit:

Doesn't the yellow look lovely? Posted by Hello

Obviously, wearing the life jacket totally freaks him out and he just can’t relax when it’s on:

It's a rough life being a boat dog. Posted by Hello


Monday, September 20


Finally the boat is done being painted. It was a lot of work (for Manuel) a lot of sweat (for Manuel) a lot of rushing to beat the weather (for Manuel.) But it’s done. Although I’m really glad I didn’t have to put any elbow grease into this part of the boat, I must say it was one of the most frustrating parts of the process (how many times have I said that?). First I thought it would take a week, then 10 days, then two weeks… And since the boat is my house, I’m crashing at buddies’ houses and living out of my car and suitcases (Yes, sweetie, I know you did this for six months… but this is my posting, so I’M complaining here). Meanwhile every time the boat is supposed to be done the answer from Manuel is, “I didn’t get a chance to so and so.” Or “Yeah, it was raining so I couldn’t so and so.” Most of the time it was said with this sort of aloof “I don’t really care when I finish” kind of attitude. RRRR. I had already cancelled one appointment to put the boat back in the water… Don’t make me cancel another. Get it done. That’s my house, I’d like to actually live there!! But the hardest part is balancing the “I’m pissed off” with the “Please don’t get defensive and do a shitty job to spite me.”

After all of this back and forth, Manuel finally tells me he’s done! I show up at the boat yard 30 minutes early and the yardbirds are already slinging the boat to put it back in the water. So we go from delayed to ahead of schedule in a blink? RRRR. Of course, I didn’t have my camera ready, so I couldn’t take any pictures.

The worst part of it is that after two weeks of delays, Manuel painted the black stripe in the wrong friggin’ place. RRRR. Manuel tells me he can come down to our moorage and paint over the wrong stripe, but he can’t put the stripe where we actually wanted it (the shape of the hull makes it impossible). RRRR. Don’t get me wrong, the boat looks great - even without the black stripe - but man it took a long time, cost a lot of money and ate away a little more of my stomach lining. I’m just glad it’s done.

As I mentioned, the boat was put back in the water before I could take any “After” pictures, but here are some “Before” pics:

Posted by Hello Taking the boat out of the water.

Posted by Hello Up on blocks.

This one's kind of a "During" pic...

Bare wood Posted by Hello

And, although we don’t have any “After” pictures, here’s a picture of Sea Change in her new moorage, which is a “Way-After” pic... Sea Change has her lights on, third from the left.

Home sweet home.Posted by Hello

- Tom

Friday, September 17


No matter what is happening at the time, panic doesn't help. Ever. Well, maybe once... maybe once in caveman days when caveman first met a sabertooth tiger, he panicked and ran like hell. But since then, calm and rational thought is the best plan. And here's some related advice - always know the answer to the questions "Where is your manual bilge pump?" And, "What is that beeping noise?"

Before I launch into my story I must say (and I never thought I'd say it) I'm glad I was Navy trained and I was glad I was surrounded by six friends who were also Navy trained. I'll explain later.

So it was a beautiful Seattle Wednesday afternoon. Sea Change was going to be finished with her final dramtic change. (I know you were promised before and after pics, but I haven't had a chance to download some of those, so you'll have to wait for the painting saga post). I had arranged for the boat to be put back in the water and wrangled up my friends to help me drive the boat to Seattle. Destination: our new moorage at the AGC Marina on Lake Union in Seattle - our new home. Downtown living... on a boat. It doesn't get better.

About 20 minutes after we left the boat yard in Edmonds I noticed this beeping that was randomly going on and off. "What is that beeping noise?" After checking all of my electronics I realized it was a high bilge level alarm! Holy crap. So I asked my buddy Jeff to take the helm and went down to the engine room to look in the bilge. Holy shit! There were 6-8 inches of water in the bilge running the length of the boat - by comparison there is normally maybe an inch of water just in part of the bilge. So, I'm immediately thinking "Are my bilge pumps working?" Turns out one of the two pumps was not. More advice: test your bilge pumps and fix them sooner rather than later. I was also thinking, "Where the hell is this water coming from?" I was so busy thinking of which valves might be leaking that I failed to notice the water pouring in through the hull next to me. Holy shit again!

So here's where I'm glad I had 7 Navy trained guys aboard. Without wasting a second, everyone started solving problems. I knew I had an installed manual bilge pump behind the couch (if you don't know where yours is, find it now) and I thought I had another portable pump, but I don't (I'm gonna get one). One of the guys manned the manual pump and started pumping. Joe had the brilliant idea to use the ShopVac to suck the water out of the bilge 5 gallons at a time instead of the cup to bucket idea we were going to use. Joe jumped in and started sucking.

Joe at work Posted by Hello

And everyone else made a bucket brigade to get the water overboard.

Steve at the ready. Posted by Hello

The pour. Posted by Hello

Go Marty go! Posted by Hello

By one of my buddy's calculations we were removing 10 gallons of water a minute from the bilge, and level was only going down a little. So, Steve decides to seal the hull with Duck Tape to slow the inrush of water. While everyone else is working on this problem, Jeff is trying to drive steady. This is difficult on a beautiful Seattle day because of the 4 foot swells, wind and rain. Of course, problem #2 strikes and the port windshield wiper pops off! Jeff sends Nate out on deck to get it and fix it.

A beautiful Seattle day Posted by Hello

Notice the shirt blowing over his head and the wiper in his mouth!

The boat is rocking and rolling, Nate is out on the deck, Steve is in the engine room with a roll of tape, everyone else is running around with 5 gallon buckets of water. But no one has a hint of panic. Everyone is just working as hard as they can. It was very calm; in fact most of us were joking about it.

We got everything under control thanks to everyone's work and continued through the Ballard Locks onto Lake Union. I placed a phone call to Manuel (the painter guy) to ask if all the water was normal. "Oh yeah, the wood is all dry and needs to get wet and swell up. You'll probably have water coming into the boat for about a day." Good to know. After tying up and settling in in Seattle I ran into a new neighbor who re-affirmed Manuel's assurance, and told me he has a big ole gas-fired spare pump on the ready every time he puts his boat back in the water.

So there you have it. What I didn't know before, you now know. I did it wrong so you don't have to. My biggest piece of advice is - meet a bunch of Navy guys and keep them on your boat at all times (sounds like a plan to me! - Jessi).


Friday, September 10

If you want the job done right...

...hire someone else to do it.

After weeks of painting the boat ourselves, we finally decided it was time to hand the job over to someone else. We’d painted the pilothouse and the salon, and although the title of this entry implies otherwise, we’d actually done a pretty good job.

But bottom paint is another story. It’s thick, goopy stuff, and oftentimes the prep work involves not just sanding, but stripping off all of the old paint. Sounds like a perfect job for someone else. Of course, once we admitted to ourselves it was OK to hire help, it was awfully tempting to get the rest of the hull painted too. So we splurged, and asked Manuel Rojas at the Port of Edmonds to finish the paint job for us.

I’m sure you’re eager (or at least mildly curious) to see what the boat looks like pulled out of the water, but I’m saving all the before and after pictures for the entry we write when the boat is completely painted.

In the meantime, Tom and I suddenly had a lot of time on our hands. If you’re in Seattle and it’s a beautiful, sunny, late summer day, there is no better mission than a hike to see the mountain. The mountain, for those living outside of Emerald City, is Mt Rainier. So we jumped in my truck and headed for Glacier View Wilderness. If you've ever seen Rainier up close, you know how stunning it is. You can’t help but make it the focus of your shot again:

Posted by Hello

And again:

Posted by Hello

And again:

Posted by Hello

Anyway, sorry for yet another non-boat related entry. We can’t help it, we needed a break! However, by this Monday the boat will be painted and in her permanent moorage in Seattle, at which point we’ll inundate you with boat pics and info.


Thursday, September 2

Work hard, play hard

This entry doesn't really have anything to do with the boat. But maybe our readers are as sick of hearing about blinds and portholes as we are of dealing with them (the blinds and portholes, that is). Anyway, with all the work we've been doing, we decided it was high time for a little vacation. Several months ago we bought a trip to Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho, at the Passages Northwest benefit auction. Last week seemed like a good time to go, so off we went.

Schweitzer Mountain. No, that's not snow on the mountain. Not yet. But soon... soon! Posted by Hello

The first day was a bit rainy and cold, but we managed to have fun anyway. We armed ourselves with a couple of Kokanees to keep us warm, and started a round of disc golf. Of course, just as we finished the first hole, the fog cleared briefly and we couldn't help but get distracted by the mountain views. We rode the chairlift to the top and ran around taking pictures before the clouds returned:

Views from the chairlift. Posted by Hello

Kokanee - better than a blanket! Posted by Hello

Who cares about fog? We're on vacation! Posted by Hello

The second day had the sunshine we were hoping for, so we went horseback riding in the morning, which was great. Normally when I think of trail rides, I imagine a long line of horses with screaming 10 yr olds perched atop every poor animal. Maybe that's because I used to be one of those 10 yr olds. Anyway, we lucked out, and that morning it was just the two of us and the trail guide - so basically we got a private trip for the price of a group trail ride. Very nice.

Tom and Pokey. I mean, Smokey. Posted by Hello

Me and Jig. Posted by Hello

Smokey and Jig took us to Picnic Point. Posted by Hello

In the afternoon we rented mountain bikes, and Tom zipped down the mountain while Colonel Cautious (that'd be me) tested the brakes all the way down the fire road. At least I tried! :) No pictures of us mountain biking, and I can't say I'm sorry about that...

Overall, it was a fun and relaxing mini-vacation. Next blog entry is in Tom's hands, but I can tell you one thing: it won't be about US painting ANYTHING! Yeah!!