Marine Ways Part II

Ways and Means Saga, Part ll:

Like Yogi said, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”  And we ain’t done yet.  But we are 90% there.

The lower legs are in place in this picture.  And the tide will rise another three feet easily enough (you can see the upper tideline marked in a dark line long the rock in the background).  They are at the right elevation.  It seems like a go.

In this picture, we have applied the HDPE plastic to the top of the 6×6 rails, the kind of plastic used in ice rinks at the join where the side walls meet the ice.  It is slippery stuff and should make the ‘dragging-up’ easier.  It looks good.

As it turns out, my seat of the pants design was NOT quite right.  We hauled the boat yesterday and it revealed a design error.  I have the deck 1/2 inch too close.  Stupid me measured the boat’s beam from gunnel to gunnel but, actually, the boat ‘flares’ a couple of inches wider below the gunnel!  Especially at the windshield beam.  It is maybe 3″ wider. Consequently, the deck began to push at the side of the boat as the boat came up.  NOT GOOD.  Kinda defeats the purpose of fixing the boat if I break or stress it as it gets into the ‘fix’ position. Temporary remedy was to take off  few deck planks (see ’em?).  Long term remedy is simple enough, too.  I simply ‘raise’ the level of one side (deck-side) by a few inches and that will do it because the hull quickly narrows. So, I will fix it that way after I do the engine work I have planned for now. It will be fine after that.

But, I am NOT 100% happy with the rest of it.  I think I am gonna add some additional support legs to the bottom half.  What we have now have proved sufficient but, well, it creaked a bit going up and so I may as well add some reinforcement.  An ounce of prevention…..(and a couple days more work!).

Changed the engine oil, flushed out the engine with varsol/diesel/oil (to ensure all moisture from the sinking last month has been removed).  New oil filter.  Sal changed the zincs.  I also changed the spark plugs (thus ensuring it never runs again) and we are ready to slip ‘er back into the sea at high tide tonight.

“ALL that work just to change plugs?!”  No.  As I said before, we have to rebuild another boat.  New floor.  Transom work. Engine swap. Windshield raising. This and that.  All that work is still to come.  These pictures are using the current working-but-leaking boat to ‘test’ out the means.  This ‘Ways’ project was undertaken for the ‘next boat’.

The good news is the winch was great.  Slow.  But great.  And the boat was – basically – at the right level for working on relative to the deck and was elevated just enough so as NOT to touch rocks and steps under as it came up.  I think we can give ourselves a C+ on this project.  That’s high praise indeed given that we have failing grades most of the time.

“OH, DAVE!  Don’t be so humble.”  I am not humble.  Not in the least.  Anyone who knows me, knows that.  In fact, it is impossible for me to be as humble as I should be so I opted for the inflated ego path a long time ago.  I have even been called bombastic just because of this blog!  Even ‘obnoxious’ behind my back (but loud enough that I could hear).

But real work on real rocks and real barnacles using salvaged parts on old equipment with inadequate skills when you are old and stupid is the ultimate definer of one’s limitations. What might sound humble is truly fact.  That, of course, and the non-existent financial resources to ‘hire out’ the work is simply the truth of it… we are lucky to be as successful and functional as we are.  Hell, it is amazing we even did it!

I think much of the credit goes to Sal.  I make her do most of the hard stuff.

Others think so, too.    


Marine Ways








I’ve been talking about the new marine ways and, because of the reader’s preference for less talking and more pictures (heathens!), I have done a similar format on it as I employed for the greenhouse.  The two pictures of parallel beams illustrate the 6×6 ‘rails’ on which the boat will be dragged from high water (tide) to dry land (where the water does not rise to).  In the final iteration, there are four beams.  Sal and I still have to put the lower two on.  This is how a boat ‘gets on the hard’.

But first you have to imagine the setting. We have a tidal lagoon on the other side of the peninsula we live on (visible in the picture above).  The lagoon is pretty weather protected.  And the upland side of the lagoon is very weather protected.  It is on the upland, forested side of the lagoon that the new marine ways is located.  The area that has been committed to this project is about 20 feet by 40 feet but, of course, there is nothing but trees and rocks around that area and so we could spread out if there was reason to.

And there is reason to.  Kinda.  One of our land-partners occasionally ‘camps’ in that area and being able to use our work-deck* for that purpose would be of benefit to them, too. REAL benefit would be achieved if I made that deck bigger but we’ll let them decide if they want that.

I put an asterisk beside the ‘our’ work-deck reference because it is NOT our deck any longer. Once we step outside our admittedly flexible designated home-site area, the amenity one might build becomes a communal one. I may use it more in the near future than anyone else (because I currently have plans to do so) but anyone in our land group can use it whenever they want to and they do NOT need my permission.  The marine ways is ‘ours’ in the group sense.

We have a few other ‘communal’ amenities here including an old cabin, the water system and we all use each other’s docks as if they were communal as well.  Life kinda requires that sharing system if we are to function out here and get along as neighbours.

But back to the half-finished ways . . . in the picture to the left, you will notice what looks like a single green post with some threaded rod sticking out.  That post is 2.5″ steel pipe centred on a taller 3/4″ threaded rod with the space between the two filled with concrete.  A couple of pieces of short re-bar at the bottom helped keep the base in place while the concrete set.  The re-bar and threaded rod were drilled and epoxied into the granite first, of course.  It’s pretty stable. There are a half a dozen of those legs on the actual marine ways and another half dozen forming the base for the deck.

The overly bright green frame for the winch is fixed to the rock underneath in much the same way, with threaded rod epoxied into the rock and the frame bolted to the rods.  The winch itself, is then bolted to the green frame. Yes, that colour green was chosen simply because we had that colour of Rustoleum paint on hand. And the unique look was achieved by cutting up an old, salvaged steel battery shelf and re-fabricating it.

The winch and frame are ‘aimed at’ or oriented to face the rock wall twenty feet back of the ways.  Into that wall is yet another heavy bolt epoxied in with a heavy block attached. The idea is that the person winching will be pulling a line that is centred on the ways (so the boat comes up straight) but that person can stand in the off-centre spot down closer to the beach where there is better footing.

The winch is an old Marpole five-ton and is simple 19th century technology.  A legacy from ‘my kingdom-for-a-winch’ phase (that netted me six or more such devices, half of which are now deployed).  The winch will sport 93 feet of 5/16 aircraft cable and that cable will allow me to hook onto the boat and pull it up the ways.  “Why 93 feet?” Well, I ordered 100 feet from Western Equipment but when I got there, they had fitted up only 93.  I guessed that they had simply run out of that cable on the one roll and hoped that 93 was close enough. That is what happened and they were right.  It’s fine.

You will also note a couple of grates mounted on the beach between the ways. Those grates were left over off-cuts from old fish farm walkways and are now re-deployed as a standing base for working on the transom of the boat that gets pulled up.  Transom work is in my future.  I needed a place to stand.

I can be seen in the flattering picture above working with the hammer drill that was used to do the aforementioned rock drilling. I have another drill down there as well that was used to drill through the steel.  And a third drill that was used to screw down the deck.  This little job required three different drills.

Note also the genset in the background.  That genset will stay down there.  That’s a bit more-than-usual commitment of resources but, if you are going to have a ways, you must have a means and the genset provides the means with which to do work. It’s a fairly new Wacker Neuson industrial-standard unit but looks ancient as it was a rental machine and has been treated with abuse and disrespect it’s whole short life. It was given to me and it starts every time (even when accidentally fueled with diesel). It’s like a ‘rescue’ genset.  Amazing machine.

The deck is 8 feet by 16 feet.  If my partners want more space, we’ll double it. There’s about $1500 of recent cash in it so far, with much of that supplemented by my inventory of junk and salvaged debris. If everything was purchased, it might cost as much as $3000 to do this project. To have this built could cost as much as $10,000 all in (remote location, custom steel work, working around tides, putting up the crew for a few days, remote premium, water taxi and a winch of that size is usually very expensive if you buy it new), not to mention the genset.  In total value, it is all worth nothing, really, except to me once a year. Maybe a camping partner now and then.  On the other hand, when your boat is sinking (as mine was a month or so ago), it is invaluable, essential and worth every penny and ounce of effort.

You can see by the last picture (taken from 200 feet away and 75 in elevation – from where our home site is) that the marine ways – which was a significant project for us is, in reality, a minor bit of nothing dwarfed into almost invisibility by the surroundings. Even with a boat on it, it will be ‘lost’ in the forest.

I was going to wait until we were done to post this, but I see a couple more days of putzing about, so I’ll break this into two posts . . . more to come . . .

Friends, eh?

“I have had enough of Trump.  You are on notice to write about your greenhouse, fer Gawd’s sake.  I wanna see it.  I wanna see plants.  And I want pictures, NOT just words!  Seriously.  Gimme lots of pictures.  I am giving you four days in which to comply or else there will be consequences.  Don’t make me come over there. “

He told me that in Campbell River on Tuesday.  My deadline is nigh.  So, to avoid whatever threat he is contemplating, please accept the following post as the compliance and capitulation demanded of me.   Just be thankful he didn’t demand ravens……

 The above picture was taken looking south.  Entry door on the left.  Picture taken from the back wall.  

Sal has been somewhat busy already in the Greenhouse and in the garden these past three weeks.  And we have lettuce up the wazoo as a result.  Everything else is taking a bit of time but the micro climate inside is pretty pleasant by leafy standards. Everything is growing well.  It’s always above 60 now — even in the evening and often up around 80-85 degrees Farenheit / 25 – 30 Celcius.  At 80 F or so, the solar powered fan kicks on. If it goes higher, the fan spins faster and sometimes we open the doors for more air flow and, as well, the back wall also opens up.  We keep a light breeze going through. It’s a very pleasant environment.

This view is looking north with the back wall open and the entry doors on the right.





This is taken looking north but from the outside.  It shows the black-blob solar fan. The curlicue tree in the foreground is a naturally occurring phenomena and not ‘my first Bonsai effort’ as Sal likes to claim.

The fan is on and spinning.




The picture below is taken looking Northwest.  In the foreground is one of the large raised planter-cum-garden boxes that eventually takes the new seedlings germinated in the greenhouse and raises them to edible adulthood.






Decorator touches include a copper sink, a copper pan and the stumpy-stick handles on the doors.

Below, you will see the much-loved and doted-on seedlings under protective hardware cloth.  That hardware cloth was deemed necessary due to some impudent and picky mice that munched some of the ‘new-born’ plants just as they poked up through the soil. Sometimes the nasty little long-tailed scourge ‘ostriched’ themselves to find the seeds! Stupid, they are not.

Ever since we placed the protection the plants have not been tampered with. Interesting, don’t you think? A seed might provide a 3 ounce mouse with a meal or, if left alone to grow, can feed 300 pounds of humans a few weeks later.

 More from the Martha Stewart collection, below. The little Mayan casting on the wall is made of (fiber) glass-reinforced concrete (GFRC)–a very unusual composite.  The coat hooks came mounted all together from a derelict building. Note the temperature indicated on the clock face–81 degrees F. The outside temperature today was around 60F.

This is the lettuce forest.  A few weeks ago, I picked up some starters at the nursery just so we would have something that actually grew.  Since then, we have had many salads and it looks like we could still handle a yoga lunch crowd.
Sally’s sister, Mary, made the linen bunting banner and the avocado plant was a gift from Kathy, who is featured in the prologue to our new book.

Sally’s Guest Blog on Quilting (what else?)

I have, in the recent past, made the odd reference to my new status as the orphaned husband or widower-by-quilt and this blog is the proof of that pathetic circumstance.  I didn’t lose my wife to the postman, I lost her to fabric art!  This is her blog:

There are three things I know about myself that apply to my quilting:

  1. I am one of those annoying people who believe the rules apply to everyone but me. (Editor’s note: Nothing.  JDC is NOT allowed to comment).
  2. I love quirky stuff–be it movies, décor, or individuals (now you know one of the many reasons why David and I are together).
  3. I have always loved fabric and believed that one day I would create fabric art, whatever form that might take.

I have used patterns occasionally but the quilts I have enjoyed making the most are the ones that come from who-knows-where. David told me that he thought readers would be interested in my creative process. Yikes! I didn’t realize I even had one.

I had to think about it.

I first thought about ‘Plum Crazy’. My daughter specified the colours she wanted so I purchased those. I looked at lots of quilts on-line. I had recently used metallic thread in a workshop and decided to incorporate that. The plum coloured fabric I bought reminded me of a moving blanket we had brought back from New York decades ago, in a similar colour, so I hand quilted Plum Crazy in a similar fashion.

So, the quilt was really just the result of a bunch of different ideas percolating around in my head and gelling at some random point. Is that a process?

Plumb Crazy Quilt made for my daughter and her husband -- E. specified plum black and white -- which meant stylized birch trees to me.

‘Plumb Crazy’ made for my daughter and our son-in-law.  E. specified plum, black and white for the colour scheme–which translated into my design of stylized birch trees. Hand quilting on the plum background and machine quilting (silver thread) on the trees.

What was the process for ‘Black and White and Read  All Over (pun intended)? Not so complex. I just wanted to use black and red, my son’s favourite colours, and found a quilt on-line that I liked and figured out how to make a similar one.

Black and White and Read All Over

‘Black and White and Read All Over’  made for my son and daughter-in-law because red and black are my son’s favourite colours. It doesn’t fit with their décor (or probably anyone’s) so it has an attached bag that turns it into a black pillow when not in use. Copied from a similar quilt I saw on-line.

For Sharon’s little baby, Rachel’s, quilt I picked out some pretty pink fabrics and sewed them together in a simple framed block design with a little hand quilting. Quick and easy so I could get it to Hong Kong before she goes to kindergarten.

Rachel with her mom and dad and her 'Pretty in Pink' quilt

Rachel with her mom and dad and her ‘Pretty in Pink’ quilt

The ‘Sashiko Sampler’ came about because I had recently discovered Sashiko stitching. I love the contrast of the white stitches on indigo cloth and the beautiful traditional Japanese designs. I started stitching 6″ by 6″ Sashiko squares, not having a plan in mind. When I had finished a bunch I bought some Japanese fabrics that complemented the indigo and made quilt blocks. Then I laid the fabric blocks and Sashiko squares out on a countertop. I liked the off-white colour of the counter between the squares. I consulted with Leon and Ole, two tall, male German wwoofers who were staying with us at the time, and they agreed. So the sashing became whitish. When I put the quilt top together I could see that the little bits of orange colour in some of the fabrics could be accentuated with an orange strip in the binding so I added that to brighten the quilt. Voila!

Sashiko Sampler

‘Sashiko Sampler’ – My design using  traditional Japanese stitching with white thread on indigo cloth. Details bel0w:


Back of Quilt

Signature block on back of quilt



The ‘Garden Path’ is a paper-pieced quilt design that I made in a workshop. Momentarily out of my mind, I decided I  wanted to learn paper-piecing (which is a very precise and regimented style of quilting). I will never do it again as it is just like sewing on an assembly line–and no sewing outside the lines!
I did learn something valuable while making this quilt, though. I read on an art site that if I was combining two colours I should use sixty percent of one and forty percent of the other to achieve aesthetic balance. I tried this out on this quilt and I think it worked.
I more recently learned that this is actually the Fibonacci Sequence, aka Phi (pronounced fee), the golden mean of 1.618 and an underlying explanation for what is aesthetically pleasing and having dynamic symmetry. When you use this number to divide something (anything), the ratio of the small part to the large part is the same as the ratio of the large part to the whole. This can be demonstrated in nature, architecture, the human body and more. For instance in music there are 5 black keys, and 8 white keys with 13 keys in an octave.
But, back to quilting…

‘Garden Path’ – design from a quilt workshop. Detail below shows the variegated hand stitching on black:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe quilt below is made from Kaffe Fassett fabric. Kaffe is a famous knitter and quilter, who tours the globe like a rock star, welcomed by droves of mostly middle-aged (and older) knitting and quilting groupies. Anyway, it is his books of quilt designs that inspired me to start quilting. And when I saw a bag full of his fabric for sale at one of our Quilting Guild meetings I nabbed it. This quilt is fashioned after one of his designs called Mirror Squares. I loved working OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwith this fabric–it is so bright that it is really uplifting, especially on a bleak rainy day. It always gives me a lift when I look at it, which is a good thing, as I spent over a hundred hours doing the hand quilting, in addition to the cutting and machine piecing.

Based on a Kaffe Fasset design, unnamed as yet. Shown hanging in the local Credit Union on our neighbouring island.

Based on a Kaffe Fasset design, using his fabric, unnamed as yet. Shown hanging in the local Credit Union on our neighbouring island. (Detail above illustrates the spiral hand quilting.)

Still fascinated by Sashiko stitching, I wanted to try mending with it, which was how it was originally used. I must have planned on making a denim quilt for years as I had a huge box of old denim garments. I combined these two aspects with a third. (I had learned a new way to assemble a quilt as I sewed.) I started cutting out pieces and putting them together and ‘Workmates’ is the result. I found that the ‘real’ tears and holes on the garments were too dirty and fragmented to be effective for the look I was going for. So after I made the quilt I ripped tears and holes in it to repair. It was a lot of fun to make. I still have almost a full box of remnants so there will be more denim quilts.

'Workmates" using old denim shirts and jeans that David and I wore out while building our home. My design, natch.

‘Workmates” using old denim shirts and jeans that David and I wore out while building our home. Sashiko stitching used in the traditional manner to repair tears and holes. My design, natch. Detail below.


David loves his appliqued pencil.

David loves the appliqued pencil, just like his in real life.

‘Moonshadow’ is a combination of fabrics I found interesting and put together in a bit of a random way by cutting strips and blocks off kilter. I like the colours in this one. I made a sister quilt which is almost identical, except I used reds, oranges and beiges, which I expected would be brighter. Surprisingly (to me, anyway) it is very monochromatic and has none of the life that ‘Moonshadow’ has.


I am working on my  ‘Moonshadow’ design at the moment, adding some hand quilting.

After what I wrote above I now feel I have to show you the sister quilt, ‘Walking on Sunshine’. I don’t like it–not YET.  And it is kind of stupid to end with something horrible. So, I am still working on it.  However, if anyone has any suggestions on how to salvage it, I’m listening.


‘Walking on Sunshine’ -yuk

I just realized I am writing when I could be quilting. Bye.


jabberwoky for Doug

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.
That opening stanza for Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem, Jabberwoky, is pretty familiar to most people.  Most.  Probably not my friend, Doug.  Doug is much more a no-nonsense kinda guy and we are all the better for it.  His blunt honesty is brutal in a sledge-hammer kind of way and any silly walk or delusionary wandering from reality is strictly forbidden in his presence.  Keep it real or get the hell out!
My hyperbole, colourful speech and/or generally accepted use of social BS is blasted from our conversations like Little Boy on Nagasaki.  I am usually left reeling from some reality check reaming, staggering from some speech slagging and beaten by be-ration when I leave his truth, whole truth and only-the-truth company.  I am reprimanded into plain-speaking for at least as long as it takes to get away.
I usually readjust to the world of lies by dropping into a car dealership, reading the news or listening to a politician……only takes a minute of immersion to erase my newly found focus on reality. 
But then Doug read my book………
OMG!  ‘Gobsmacked’, ‘anthropormorphized’ and ‘Plimsoll line’ started a word war between us.  He hit me first with typical abuse over my use of flowery prose (which he referred to as big words) but followed that up with a few unusual ones of his own.  He seems on a mission to fix me.
The last word he threw at me was kind of fitting: ‘paraprosdokian’ (means: a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence, phrase, or larger discourse is surprising or unexpected, often in a humorous or anticlimactic way).  He thinks I do that.  The fact that he sent that word to me is an example (kinda) of that.  It was a surprise.  It came from him — of all people! He was presenting a walking example of the word!
I think I am in for it.  I am gonna have to keep it simple from now on.  Hammer simple.  Simple simple.  Homer-Simpson-simple.  OMG!
I mention all this, really, because it illustrates a surprising benefit from having written a book.  I am getting some comments on it, of course, but they are almost all wonderful, personal and illuminating comments that reveal a lot about the reader and not just a few things about the author previously unknown.   I am learning how people read and understand the (my) written word, I am hearing my own stories told back to me with emphasis on different parts than I intended.  I am hearing about my use of vocabulary and what my written ‘voice’ is.  I heard yesterday a quote that amused a reader all to hell and it was not intended to be funny at all!
And, unsurprisingly, Sally is being uber lauded for being a saint and an Amazon.  AND a great editor!
In effect, writing a book and getting comments is like writing an e-mail and sending it to thousands.  The responses you might get make you re-think what you wrote and I am sure everyone has had that experience…?  Imagine that feeling times a thousand!
This is all a lot of fun; way more fun than I expected and NOT just because of the extra (and always sought after) attention but also because it is a segue into more personal, intimate and funny conversations.  Honestly, some long standing relationships seem somewhat rekindled over it.  What a gift!
Put bluntly, Doug: it was all worth it.

A hail Mary, perhaps?

Roof’s on.  Soffits are done.  That’s good.  Neigbours houseboat is coming along.  That’s good, too.  Basically life is progressing and I will take some pics to show off today.  It is time for an ‘update’.  But I’ll save that for the next post.

My daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks.  That’s good.  At least 50% of the time, that is good.  Sometimes it isn’t.  Being a mediator for 20 or so years has exposed a lot of marriages to me (I have mediated well over 200 separation agreements) and I have a different view of it all than most people as a result.  But this one looks good.  I like B.  B seems to like me.  That is a good start.  Maybe I can get him to do some of the heavy lifting…?  We’ll see how this pans out.  But, so far, it has all the right ingredients.

But life is changing for young people.  The challenges are new and way more daunting.  We don’t know what they are going to have to deal with.  And how does one or even two deal with climate change and economic turmoil anyway?  Add possible children into the mix and it may be a helluva ride for them.  I wouldn’t want to have to handle that, myself.

It was hard enough when things were easy.  We got started on LIP and OFY grants and be-ins and good music.  We had free love – not free virus-ridden love.  We had The Beatles, The Stones, The Temptations, Otis Redding, Aretha and Janis.  Nowadays, they have rapsters killin’ and bein’ gangstas.  Grunge and crap.  Meth.  They got cartels and Homeland Security and CCTV.  Neither Orwell nor I would want to have to grow up with all that.

If they come to me for help, what can I say?  “Run!  Run for the hills!  Get out!  Get out now!”  Zat sound like experienced wisdom talking?  Zat sound like sage advice?

43% of Spanish youth are unemployed.  23% in Greece.  Over 30 million Americans are unemployed (officially the number is lower but that is because the ‘official’ number is a false one).  Millions more are underemployed.  The richest 400 Americans have a greater net worth than the lowest 155 million Americans combined.  A huge percentage of 24-to-34 year olds still live at home with their parents.  And the US continues to print money and lend it to banks for practically-speaking free in an almost six-year continuing attempt to kick-start the economy.  It is not working.  Not yet, anyway.  That does not make for an ‘easy-entry’ for youth.

But 25 year olds have energy.  They have attitude.  They have dreams.  They have ‘the right stuff’.  So, they may do OK.  They may do great.  Will they ever get to live in paradise and build sheds, tend gardens and be as happy as we are?

I hope so.  But I don’t see it comin’ easy.

We ‘boomers’ may have done a ‘not-so-good’ job with our turn at the helm.  We should have done better.  We still can.  Maybe it is time we collectively did something good for the generations coming up…..waddya think?