Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Storms

Well it looks like summer has finally faded into the distant past. The sun is lower on the horizon during the day and the days are drawing in. By all accounts it has been an exceptional summer in Washington state and British Columbia, with over 85 days without rain in the past few months. Until this week that is. The temperature gauge is in single digits overnight and barely makes double digits during the daytime. We have had the first series of autumn storms passing through, one of which gave us 47 knot gusts in the marina (glad we were in the marina). The rain is now back and the forecast for the foreseeable future has no sunshine included and has either rain or showers every day. This cold and wet weather brings a new set of challenges for us liveaboards: Staying dry, warm, how to dry wet clothes and dealing with condensation in the boat, which gets worse with a greater temperature differential between the inside of the boat and the outside. So keep the inside cooler and have less condensation or keep the boat warm and have lots of condensation. Naturally the problem gets worse at night when the temperature outside drops and the differential is greatest. Jude is putting on extra layers each day. I don’t think she has got to putting on two pairs of socks yet but I can see it coming. Katya is coping with it well and does not seem to feel the cold as much as we do. I have been prone to that rather annoying habit parents seem to acquire and that is to regale stories of hardship “when we were young” Katya sighs, rolls her eyes and mutters expletives as I tell the story of how “when we were young” Sara and I used to share a bedroom in our house in Wales, that during the winter used to have ice on the inside of the windows and have mushrooms growing on the walls. The house was only heated by wood burning stoves so to get warm involved going outside, sometimes into the snow to get logs.  Bla bla bla. You get the drift. It also reminds me of the famous Monty Python sketch four Yorkshiremen. “ Oh you were lucky” To top all this off the rain has shown up a small leak in the forward cabin where the windlass (a device that brings up the anchor chain) comes through the deck. For those who own boats will know, leaks on boats are part of the everyday struggle. They appear, you spend an inordinate amount of time tracking them down, they are always in the most inaccessible place and when you fix one another one appears. This very small leak, a mere drip, requires taking the windlass off the deck resealing it and replacing it. It is probably a days work and may involve another problem showing up. Needless to say we are now looking forward to arriving in Sydney, seeing Mike, Irit, Gabe and Daniel and going for a swim in Mahon (rock) pool.

One of the jobs on our amaranthine list is to get the life raft serviced. The life raft is a six man inflatable raft that weighs about 40kgs. It sits on deck and in the event of impending doom you are supposed to throw this overboard, watch it self-inflate and calmly step “down” into the raft. i.e. you are only supposed to get into it when the boat is about to go under. These life rafts are supposed to be serviced every 3 years and ours is overdue for a service. Given that we are planning to go to Alaska next spring we thought it would be prudent to make sure it works. We therefore booked the raft in for a service and ourselves in for a 3 hour course on “life raft Deployment – The doos and don’t’s of abandoning ship” So we all trooped off to Tacoma, south of Seattle for our course. We were given a fine demonstration of the art of life raft deployment and were pleased that indeed that there was a liferaft in the sealed container and not a bag or rocks, and that it was in good condition. Phew. A new one costs around $6,000.  We were shown how to deploy the raft. How to get into the liferaft from the sea. How to make sure that we cut the line that attaches it to the boat if the boat is sinking. Always a good thing to know, and many other facts that we were blissfully unaware of but are actually quite important.   

We are all managing to quench our thirst for internet related activities despite having no fixed line, unlimited plan, blazing fast internet. We have a 5GB 3G data plan with ATT which provides access through the tethering facility on the iphone. It is not the fastest I admit but I bet it is faster than dial up. It won’t allow us to stream any movies and we have to watch the excess use charges, but it is sufficient. One thing that is frustrating is that we cannot leave it on all the time as our computers seem to be browsing on their own and use data when we are not using them. We did turn off Windows updates after we found that one update was over 500mb. I replaced the ancient Windows XP PC that was on the boat when I bought it with the one that we had at home. This has now had all our navigation software installed, runs our radar and is connected to the flat screen so we can watch rented movies. We unsubscribed from cable TV in Denver two years ago and went to Netflix only TV. No commercials and a good selection. Katya does miss Netflix but is reading a lot instead. Although she has read many books she finished her first “major” book yesterday and is moving on to the next. I have been reading books to Katya and Jude in the evenings. When the temperature drops, we climb into bed and I read a book to Katya and Jude. At the moment I am reading “The Light on the Island” an account of a 20th Century families’ adventures and strife living on an island in the San Juan islands. The book was kindly lent to us by Ken, a friend of Steve and Sandy who lives on Lopez island.         

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