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Thursday, 29 July 2021


 In today's epic adventure, the Mary Mary encounters a squall while at anchor. Warning: Virtually Nothing Bad Happens.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Mister Cookie's View from the Bilge (continued, underway)

This morning I, Bos'n, awoke to find the milk carton sweating in the fridge, checked the fridge temp readout under the bench and found it displaying 17°C.  Checked to see that the breaker on the D.C. Panel hadn't switched off, then went down into the engine room to inspect the strainer basket that supplies water to the pump which cools the fridge motor that we installed in 2010.
 
 
The pump had been sounding noisy to me lately, but I never bothered to check into it. Lazy Bones. 
Flashlight showed the strainer cloudy and dark thru the glass. I closed the seacock and removed the cap on the strainer, found the basket clogged with grasses, so removed it and cleaned it out. 
 
Unscrewed the 7/16 bolt on the underside of the strainer unit, and flushed the glass with fresh water. Lots of gunk... 
 
Thought it best to pull the hose off the inflow port to the pump too, to flush it, in case. Gotta say, a peek inside the front of the pump showed some slime too, but the Bos'n might wait til we get back to the marina before taking the whole unit out to clean it. 🥴. 
 
Flushed and replaced everything, tightened caps, bolt, and nuts, opened the seacock, and the fridge motor is back and running, and maintaining its 5° setting. 
 
You mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Cappie, that the air conditioner had made a funny sound the last time you turned it on--but we haven't used it since--I checked it this morning, too, and found it also clogged. 
 
The generator strainer was clear of debris. 
 
Perhaps during the engines check tomorrow we should inspect the raw-water intakes for them as well.
 
Also, have a peek at the impellers. 


Wednesday, 25 September 2019

End of the Season Trip - Day 2

Day 2 - Sept. 16, 2019 - The Bustards to The French River


The best laid plans of mice. Well, despite the ridiculously benign conditions of yesterday, things always change, don’t they?

We got up today with the intention of taking a tin-boat ride around the waterways of the Bustards and then taking the oceanic highway over to Odjig Island (formerly the unfortunately named Squaw Island. I only mention it because the name has only recently been changed, and if you’re following us on a map, you might be confused. There we were going to anchor in Frog Bay, now called Frenchman’s Cove. Kidding, there is no Frog Bay.) 

The tin boat that we haul behind us (a fourteen-foot runabout with a 15 hp Johnson on the back. No relation to Brooke) was a good ride as we explored Wicks Channel. It is a long, straight passage leading to the windward side of the islands and we followed along as best as possible checking out the sights. On the way back we were crossed off the bow by a large black bear, swimming on its way to forage. How bears got out here in the first place is a mystery to me as the Bustards are a good four or five miles off the mainland. Could a mating pair have swum this far out?

Brooke at the helm of the tin boat
Then we wayed anchor and headed off from the islands with the intention of motoring across the 25 miles to Odjig, thinking that the low winds would offer easy passage. This was not the case as, once we had passed the head of the barrier islands, we were met with 3 to 4-foot swells that would have made the 2-hour trip very unpleasant. Where these swells could have originated with so little wind, who knows?

So instead, we headed to the French River and made our way to McDougal Bay where we have anchored for the night. Hopefully, the promise of an even calmer day tomorrow will enable us to resume our quest for the North Channel. 

Exploring The French River
It was extremely harrowing and upsetting, Mister Hattie had to get up twice for treats, but a dinner of dry-rub ribs and avocado and tomato salad had us back in high spirits. That and half the rum supply. We also went a bit further up the French in the tin-boat as far as the Dallas Rapids. 


Ship's cat, Mister Hattie, worn out from the traveling
As it turns out, Cappie didn’t fall off the boat.

Next episode: No turning back.


End of the Season Trip - Day 1



Today marks the end of our summer. Not literally, but as it marks the beginning of our season-ending final voyage, it is that. We try to get in one last, longer voyage to some place we haven’t been before. Last year it was north of Killarney and the La Cloche mountain fjords. This year we are trying for the North Channel. Of course, there are several factors affecting the eventual success of that notion, the major one being weather. But other things like work and such are factors. Fortunately, competition is fierce in my line of work. Hopefully, one of those other bastards will beat me out for jobs I have recently auditioned for. Priorities, you know. Anyway, I’m a going to attempt to log this trip and you can travel along with us, on the good ship Mary Mary, as we ply our way north and west. 

The Crew - Day of departure

 Day 1 – Sept. 15, 2019 Wright's Marina, Britt to The Bustard Islands

The first day is always full of work as we get the ship ready for long-term travel. We’re not the Endeavour to be sure, but we do have a cat on board and apart from that there’s just the two of us. Mister Hattie, head mouser, has had no work really as we have no mice. But we had to provision and do other tasks like filling the water tanks, pumping out the waste tanks, fuelling up and making sure we had enough alcohol on board. As you can imagine, the latter task was the most taxing. We had to hire some men for that. Healthy young stevedores that tend to gather on the piers and busk for work. One of them quit when he realized the intensity of the job.

Anyhow, along about 1330 hours we headed off up Byng Inlet, on route to The Bustard Islands. The weather is benign, with no wind to speak of and the often-tempestuous bay at rest and gently rolling us out to deep water. We don’t get out to the bigger bay very often as weather and waves can make it too problematic to attempt. We tend to stick to the Small Craft Channel, a buoyed waterway that uses the numerous islands as a shield from the environment. But today, encouraged by the soft breezes, we chanced it out on Georgian Bay. 

Out on Georgian Bay
 
It was, as I had hoped, a simple two-and-a-half-hour trip, skirting the ever-dangerous and perilous rocks and outcrops that have lured many a pleasure-boater to their doom. (Not really, but you do have to watch out.) Then we ducked into what I am calling the Northeast Channel cove in The Bustards and anchored in about 23 feet of water, tucked behind a small island.

The anchorage - The Bustards
We have been pretty much alone since then except for a brief incursion by an O.P.P. patrol boat that came in the narrow channel, heaving up a huge wake that made us rock and roll. Smiling, the officer asked us how long we were staying. We gave a vague answer and he was on his way. Brooke speculated that the reason the boat was there at all was because of the equally svelte female officer that was seated beside him. I guess they had to hove-to somewhere else.

The evening is grand with a fine sunset peering through a gap in the islands and we had cedar-planked salmon with asparagus for dinner, cooked on the portable BBQ. So far so good. Tomorrow promises more of the same and we may motor on further than usual as it is so hospitable. 

Planked Salmon on the barbie
Next episode: Cappie falls off the boat. Knock on wood.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

A Much Kneeded Stairway Makeover (in which "Mister Cookie" toots her horn!)

By Brooke (a.k.a. Mister Cookie)

Every summer season has its projects, some of which involve necessary repairs or refits, some are cosmetic projects, and some are to enhance or better the boating experience. And, I guess, some of these projects happen when one of us has time alone at the marina because the other is away for a spell. When I was in Montreal doing a show for five weeks during the summer of 2010, I returned to find Adrian had installed and wired a lovely new refrigeration system. In 2017 I was in Wolfville for a week and he had created the first drawer on a pull-out system he had devised for the pantry cupboards under the bench.

This past June, Adrian was down in Toronto a fair bit, doing some recordings and also getting some help for his knees. After Monovisc injections were tried and failed, he was undergoing a relatively new procedure, called PRP: Platelet Replacement Procedure. 

A boat is a tough place for bad knees. The 1979 Grand Banks 36 that we have is, for the most part, superb in its design considerations. However, there is one notable flaw: the stairs between the Stateroom/Master Cabin and the Salon/Saloon.  These stairs have always felt awkward, even on our once athletic knees, and we figure the poor design of them is, in part, to blame for the poor state of Adrian's pegs.

This staircase is fitted with only two steps spanning a total drop of 35 ½ inches. 
Please ignore the wood chunks in the photo (they factor in later...) The bottom step opens up to reveal one of the many storage spaces on the Grand Banks 36. The door to the right is to the head, and opens out , the sliding door on the left opens a Standing locker. Under the middle step is a bracket for a fire extinguisher, and the pull ring on the floor opens into the hull space with access to the shower sump pump. The white module on the wall is a CO monitor, wired through the bulkhead, down onto one of the batteries in the engine room.

While Adrian was away, I figured it was time to start doing something about the steps, so that any improvement on his knees wouldn’t be canceled out after his return to the boat. But I didn't want to attempt anything that was irreversible, in case it didn't work; and I certainly didn't want to affect the original boat architecture. I needed to find a way to add to, and work with, what was already there.

The rise of the original steps is as follows, as if it were viewed from the side:
 
Looking at this now, seven months later, I'm not sure why my measurement lines don't include the 1" thickness of the existing step. How's that saying go: measure once, cut twice..?


A standard rise for stairs on land is just under 8 inches, and obviously, the rise should be consistent, or else, your body can get a shock descending and a trippy surprise ascending….

The constraints of this space don't allow for much engineering leeway. The edge of the trim on the doorway to the head is only 36/8 inches from the bottom box-step, as you can see in the above diagram. The best thing about the existing stairway is that there is a sturdy handhold on the wall. 

I  made a few drawings, scratched my tiny head a lot, tossed around several different ideas, and ultimately, after trying to weigh its potential flaws, decided, with slight modifications, to attempt this one:
  




It would be by no means perfect, but each rise would be considerably less in height, and, overall, consistent-ish.  Whereas before, one step was 13½” , now there would be no big jump between steps, the greatest being 9”. In order to achieve nothing higher than 9", I would have to create a sort of a pancake step on the floor, low enough to allow the head door to swing open.

The drawback to making three steps into five is that the tread, or run, of the steps would be affected. That's why the best feature of the stairway is the sturdy handhold! Going up will be no issue, but in descending, big feet will have to turn to the side on the narrowest step--and, voila, thanks GB, the handhold is there to assist the turn.
 
Just atop a small cliff above the marina, friends Gord and Chris live, during the summer months. Gord has a shed with an impressive array of tools, and any we don't have he generously lets us use. In this case, Gord offered me use of his table saw, showed me how to set it up and use it (with ear protection) and then provided me with a pick of his scrap lumber! .

I was able to cut my variety of risers and treads from some dry 2x10s (spruce, I think) and then created trim from some pine pieces I scrounged from the boatyard's scrap pile. 

The view down to the trawler from atop the cliff at Chris and Gord's. I'd climbed up to grab a shot of the early evening rainbow over Wright's Marina.
The lumber, 2X10 softwood, needed a fair bit of sanding. Not an elegant choice, but it was sturdy and available...and FREE. The most important part of this endeavour is that the steps are completely secure--not bendy, nor shifty--and I figured that if the engineering worked but the result looked out of place on the beautiful Grand Banks interior, I could always use the softwood as a basic template from which a future stairway could be made, with something closer to the original Teak.

The saws and drill/driver from our boat tool locker aren't visible, but pretty much everything else is, and as you can see, nothing so wonderful as a table saw...

           Below are some photos of my step-by-step process (literally) to make the drawing a reality.

The added middle step, and the risers in place for the other steps. There will still be a cubby space behind for the fire extinguisher, and the box-step will be able to open when the side support pieces beside the hinged step are shaved slightly thinner.  I had to make quite a few trips back up the hill to the saw. Measure three times, cut once...then shave a little here and there...and, maybe a bit more there...


I had to cut notches to fit the new steps snug-ish-ly around the vertical trim.






All the steps in position. Not pretty, but sturdy. The extension on the "box-step" was the easiest, as it was a straight two by four. The floor panel is still able to come out, by turning it around so the lift ring is reachable. All of the support risers are secured to the wall with hidden Robertson screws (through the left wall from the inside of the locker, and through the right wall from inside the cabinet in the head.) A middle support, as in my drawing, wasn't necessary. I used no glue, except on the final trim, so all of the components are easily removable, if need be.

First coat of stain. There was no stain at the local general store and so, as Adrian had the car down in the city, I used whatever opened cans of stain I could scrounge from the boat (and Gord) to try to create a warm tone. This was from a can of cherry, I think. And then I added a layer of golden oak.


The trim was ripped on the saw from scraps in the boatyard, to give a more finished look to the step edges, and to help make the whole impression a bit more golden. Here's two coats of varnish.
The view down, including the cans of stain and varnish at the bottom...and a view of my varnishing-sock-clad little feet. An unanticipated bonus of the pine trim is that it provides a highlight that allows you to see the edges safely. Much like glow tape on the edge of the stage in the theatre.

Finished Stairway, with a view of the handhold on the wall.
It was a pretty successful project, using and upcycling what was generously offered and at hand, and at no cost, except maybe a couple of splinters.
I will finish this post now, lest I run out of breath...
All in all, Adrian is happy, I is happy, and his knees were saved for other endeavours...



          ...like hiking up that cliff over there....



              Why, it was a piece of cake!  A piece of cake with a rewarding view.

                      (Covered Portage Cove, Northern Georgian Bay, September 2018)