Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Candy Store

It's an exciting week for me. With a full workday planned at The Boat Yard on Friday, I need to pick up some supplies. And that means I get to go to Fisheries Supply. How much do I love this place? Two floors of everything you could ever want for a boat. All the coolest sailing gear, hardware, electronics, and just all around boating stuff there is. If you are a boat nerd, Fisheries is your Candy Store. One expensive candy store. It's a stroke of luck that there isn't much room on the old Visa card these days...

But even better than the store is the Fisheries Supply Catalog. For those of you who aren't in Seattle and can't make it to the retail store, the catalog is a pretty good substitute. Everything about both the store and the catalog puts Worst Marine, Defender, and the rest to shame. Do yourself a favor and order up a copy. Pretty soon you'll be doing projects on your boat just so you can order stuff. I feel like Navin R. Johnson every time the new catalog arrives on the step (it's too big to fit in the mailbox): "The new phonebooks are here! The new phonebooks are here!"

But I'm getting off track here...and now I have the urge to go order The Jerk on pay-per-view.

Anyway, I just placed a will-call order for some thru-hulls, seacocks, and other plumbing parts to get the sanitation system back in place. We're going from bronze to Marelon thru-hulls (I've not found a single good reason to keep metal thru-hulls. Anyone?) and running the pipe in a little more logical manner. We're also redesigning the system to have a pump overboard or pump out option. We call it the Northwest Package: in Puget Sound you can't even spit overboard anymore, but cross the imaginary line in the middle of the Straits of Juan de Fuca into Canada and shit directly into the ocean. It's a strange world we live in. On one side of that purple dotted line, you have to have your overboard discharge locked closed. On the other? Flush away.

The plan is pretty simple, and so far I've rounded up all of the parts except the manual pump for the overboard discharge. No one seems to have the one we need in stock, so I'll just have to leave room for it in the layout and keep searching. Which reminds me:

This weekend I also need to go see Previous Boat Owner, who called last week to remind me that he still has an outboard engine and "some other stuff that goes with the boat" at his house in Port Townsend. Seems that so long as I am in Port Townsend it would be a shame not to browse through the boatyard. The consignment shop there is one of my favorite haunts, and the shops up there actually carry the stuff people need for their boats, not just drink cozies and "Life's Good" t-shirts (I'm looking at you, Worst Marine). Who knows what I'll find when I'm there! Something I have to have, no doubt.

I will take some award-winning pictures of the progress this weekend. I'm sure this will be the time nothing at all goes wrong with a boat project. Right?

Monday, October 5, 2009


I have never been a mechanical sorta guy. I wasn't into cars when I was little, and engines never interested me. So when I first owned a boat in my past life, the powerplant was just a mysterious gray monster that lived under the companionway stairs. It started and it ran, and the surveyor said it was in good shape, so I was happy.

And then on a early trip, the kind little Yanmar 2GM caught a case of engine runaway and almost took the boat to the bottom of the Puget Sound with it. Scary stuff, that. I got lucky, and the runaway stopped itself after a few minutes and before the engine completely seized, but it was never the same after that. Or maybe it was that I was never the same again. Something like that.

From that day on I was always pretty sure I could hear the engine sputtering or laboring. I always had a little tick of nerves that she was going to go south on me. She never did, and was still running great when we sold her years later, but the damage had been done to my psyche.

So here we are with our new-old boat, getting ready to find a way to get a new engine in there, and I have admit that I'm pretty damn excited about it. The idea of starting completely fresh is making me into a bit of a mechanical geek: reading manuals, learning about reduction gears, calculating torque ratios, sketching installation plans. Even the simple idea of a perfectly clean and organized engine space is motivating enough to make me want to rip the old Yanmar out and get started.

And I think we might have settled on our engine:

Isn't she adorable? This is the Betamarine 14. A 13.5 horsepower 2-cylinder marinized Kubota engine. I spoke with the local dealer this morning about our project and I have to say I have a lot of confidence in them. The engine would come with mounts to match the current installation, all wiring, the control, and all the support I need from the yard. They will customize it with specific options for our needs (bigger alternator, hot water heater hook ups, etc) and from actual order to a pallet in our garage is one week.

The ONLY problem is that the base cost is 6 full Boat Units. For the price of this engine we could get:
  • 500 cases of Red Hook ESB
  • 3,000 nonfat lattes at Jason's Java
  • 3 full sets of new sails
  • 2 rebuilt Yanmar 2GM engines
  • 1 used Cape Dory 25
  • 2 used Santana 22s
  • 1/2 of a BMW F800GS
  • Out of debt.
But nothing beats a reliable, powerful, easy to maintain diesel engine when you are cruising in the Northwest, where 5 knot surface currents are not uncommon and the wind is ALWAYS on the nose when you are trying to push through Deception Pass.

So now we're actively entering into the fundraising portion of this program. I might have to start drinking cheap beer again to make this one work...