Changing a flat.   

On my way home from Palm Springs.  Made it as far as DFW.  Forty-five minutes late now.   But this might take a while.  

Advertisements

Drats.

It took four and a half years, but yesterday I spectacularly broke the screen on my phone (heavy sigh).   Interestingly, the touch screen capability still works.  I have it in a baggie, so that I am able to use it without cutting my fingers, until I can get to the Apple Store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m no expert, but…..

We are back home in Austin.  A lovely place to be.  For the last 2 days, though, the power has been out at the house. 


I took a look at the power pole today.  And…… I see that the transformer is not hooked up to the transmission line.   At all. 

I’m no expert, but I’m gonna say that maybe that is the problem, and a hopefully quick fix.  

Tread carefully.

I spent Friday night and Saturday with friends that are participating in this weekend’s MS-150 bicycle ride from Houston to Austin.  After taking their luggage to the drop-off point at Tully Stadium at dawn, I spent the rest of Saturday exploring and birding in several parks outside of Houston with Doray.

While our friends were pedalling their hearts out on the 100-mile Day 1 of the two-day MS-150, we had a very fun day.  We visited Cullinan Park, Fiorenza Park and Bear Creek Pioneers Park.   I’m still going through my photos to figure out exactly what we spotted.

While walking on one of the trails at Cullinan Park, I nearly stepped on this snake.  I didn’t see him because I was looking up into the tree tops as I was walking, trying to spot birds.  I’m very thankful for good luck, my guardian angel, and cat-like reflexes 🙂 , because I have since learned that this is a venomous juvenile cottonmouth snake. 😮

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My day could have turned out very differently if I hadn’t been lucky.

Be careful out there, folks.

Oh, Austin…

Austin dubs itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  A well-deserved title.  An equally well-deserved moniker would be “Rubbernecking Capital of the World.”

Seriously.   Austin traffic is dismal.  Bad.  Horrible.   We suffer through long and much-delayed construction projects, restricted lanes, new tolls on well traveled routes, terrible rush hours, and endless debates on funding affordable, responsible mass transit.

In my humble opinion, we can help ourselves out for free by just NOT RUBBERNECKING.  Come on, Austin!   I’ve lived in and traveled through many different cities, but nowhere have I seen this level of self-induced misery.

Case in point:  today we attended a beautiful Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of our friends.  On the way home (1:30PM on a Saturday ), we popped onto Mopac North.   Traffic was moving very slowly.

So, I looked at google maps to see what was going on.   Yuck.  Mopac was red for miles in both directions.  Luckily for us, we were almost through the worst of it.

IMG_2181

Hmm, was it a terrible accident up ahead?  Overturned car?  Lane closure? Jack-knifed trailer tractor?  Police pulled someone over on the shoulder?  A backup on the exit?  Ambulance blocking lanes?

Ummmm.  No.   It was simply an open house and Muster Day at Camp Mabry – lots of brightly colored tents, military equipment and helicopters on display on the parade grounds of Camp Mabry, WAAAY off to the west of Mopac.  But, sadly, it *is* visible from Mopac, if you just turn your head and hit the breaks to take it all in.  And that’s what people were doing, in both directions.   No amount of infrastructure funding is going to help that.  Sigh.

IMG_2182

 

 

 

Boat repair.

A week or so ago, we were at anchor and rafted-up in a cove with another boat when we experienced the largest boat wake we have ever seen on Lake Travis, courtesy of a motorhead who is ignorant of the damage that his wake causes other boats and docks along the lake.  We never saw him, but his wake caused our two boats to smash into eachother, resulting in our port-side gate stanchion breaking.

The next day I got on the phone with Catalina Direct and ordered a replacement.  That was the easy part.  The fun-part remained:  figuring out how to access the nuts & bolts below deck to make the repair.  Suffice to say that it was not a Catalina 320 design point to make access to the stanchion bolts easy or straightforward.  The Catalina 320 owners’ association discussion forum was a helpful resource, with some threads describing the repair.  I decided to document our experience, along with some photos, in the event it helps another sailor down the line.   This is a two-person job, as screwing and unscrewing the nuts requires one person above deck, and one person below.  Oh, and the below deck person needs to be small enough and able to contort his/herself in a very confined space for the duration.  This repair took about 4 hours.   While this post documents replacement of a port-side gate stanchion, I imagine it would be a similar experience for replacing any other stanchion, but the location will dictate a different set of steps to gain access.

In the photo below (new part on the left, broken part on the right)  you can see that the threaded rod of the port-side gate stanchion’s aft leg was broken off at the deck.  It’s actually a great design, in my opinion, because even though the stanchion was bent significantly enough inboard to pop the weld on the threaded rod, there are no outboard through-deck bolts to damage the deck by being pulled out when the damage occurs.  Another thing worth noting is the width of the “h” on the new stanchion was about an inch less than the old one.  You can kind of see that in the photo.  But we were able to remedy that by a gentle, but firm, pull on the legs to spread them enough to make the bolt holes line up with those on deck.   Don’t forget to order the new nuts/bolts/washers that are recommended in the listing for the stanchion on the Catalina Direct website.  They have to be ordered separately.  Our old bolts were bent pretty good, and the washers were cupped a bit.

img_1148

The life lines on our 320 connect forward at the bow pulpit.   Easy enough to remove for the repair.

img_1150

Now for the fun part.  On a 320, the bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion are located behind the aft galley cabinet.  The bolts for the forward leg are behind the middle galley cabinet, where the microwave sits.  You’ll want to open both of them up to gain access.   I recommend taking the divider wall between the two cabinets out as well to make maneuvering a little easier.  There is a molded fiberglass cable chase/run behind the wood trim inside the cabinets.  You will need to cut away part of that to access all the bolts.  A previous owner of our boat had cut some of it away for some other repair or installation.img_1147

When I first opened things up to see what I could see, this is what I saw in the aft cabinet.   Some of the fiberglass panel had been cut away already, but not enough for this repair.

img_1114

I used a Dremel tool to cut away another 4 inches or so.   BE CAREFUL to not damage the cabling behind the fiberglass panel!  Also, take precautions to not work around live electric cables, to avoid damage/death to yourself.     I also recommend eye protection and wearing a mask to protect yourself from breathing in the dust while making the cut.   And, beware, that cut fiberglass edge is sharp.img_1142

This is an upclose view of the 3 bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion.   The big one is the broken outboard threaded rod.  The 2 inboard ones are the smaller through-deck bolts for the aft leg.  I had to lower the cabling that was fastened below deck to get access to the bolts.  I found that there was no clearance below the threaded rod to allow me to use a socket of any kind.  So I had to use a wrench to turn the nut, little by little.  As I did, the top of the broken-off rod rose slowly above the deck, eventually enough to be able to put a vicegrips on it above deck, to keep it from turning as I removed the nut the rest of the way.   I also will note that the recommended bolt/nut/washer kit that we ordered contained new stainless bolts for the inboard holes of the aft leg that are about an inch longer than the old ones.  That might make using a socket difficult, if you don’t have a deep enough one.

img_1144

This picture shows all 5 bolts – the 3 of the aft leg, and the 2 of the forward leg.  It also shows how nice it is to not have the dividing wall between the cabinets there.  It made reaching through with tools easier.img_1143

We first removed the inboard bolts of the aft leg.   Monte unscrewed the bolt above deck, while I held the nut below.

img_1145

This is a shot of the deck with all the bolts removed, and the old adhesive scraped away.   We used fresh marine adhesive, liberally covering the area of each foot.  All that remained was to install with the new hardware.

img_1149

Voila!  repair complete.

img_1156

 

Danger lurks.

I love the water and being out on our boat on the lake.  We are out there nearly every week, year round.   I don’t take for granted the beautiful scenery and the freedom of feeling the sun and wind on my face.   We have fun too; lots of fun with friends.   We spent Friday through Monday on the lake this past July 4th weekend.   We were sun-baked, sore and tired when we finally got home.  But we did get home.  Sadly, on Lake Travis alone, on this one weekend of the year, there were several accidents and drownings:   a 2-year old baby girl fell off a dock near Emerald Point and drowned before her family could rescue her; a bi-plane crashed into the crowded waters off Windy Point, thankfully with no casualties; two motor boats collided one evening near Devil’s Cove, sending ten people into the water in the dark, four people to the hospital, and one driver to jail for DUI; and the body of a 50-year old man was found drowned off Graveyard Point.   The previous weekend a 9-year old girl was injured by the spinning propeller of a motor boat operated by her father as she was floating off the back of the boat near Mansfield Dam Park.   And there have been 2 or 3 other drownings on Lake Travis just in the last month.  Tragic.  Sad.   It makes you pause.  It should make you pause.  It is easy to underestimate or disregard the potential dangers of being on the water, and the responsibility all boaters have to take care for ourselves, our guests, and the other boaters whose paths we cross.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another serene view from Cow Creek

The lake can look serene, but can be deadly.   Put your lifejackets on your kids!   Keep yours on or at least within reach if you are in the boat, and always put one on if you get out of the boat to swim or jet-ski or kayak or SUP or ski or wave-board.  Learn the rules of the road… who has right-of-way, when.   Maintain the required 50′ minimum distance from other boats while underway.  Study the maps of the lake so you know where you are and where you are going.   Don’t drink and drive a boat.  Learn how to anchor securely and safely.  Don’t drive over the anchor rodes of boats you are approaching.  Pay attention to the wind to know how it will blow your boat relative to other boats at anchor.  Know that your boat throws a wake and be courteous to other boaters.  Learn to recognize marker buoys:  hazard buoys, no-wake buoys and channel markers.   A cove with a no-wake buoy means just that:  don’t drive your boat or jet-ski at a speed that will create any wake.   Do not operate your motor if anyone is near your boat or any lines are floating near your boat.   Watch out for floating debris in the water.   Use your running lights after sunset.  Learn how to interpret the running lights on other boats to know in what direction they are moving.   And for God’s sake, slow down.

Check out the LCRA’s safe boating advice.  Or, better yet, take a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department boater safety course.  It is actually required by law in Texas for anyone born after September 1, 1993 who is operating a jet-ski, or any boat with 15 HP or greater motor, or any sailcraft over 14 feet.

Learn how to recognize the signs of drowning.  It’s not necessarily how it is depicted in the movies.

Please be careful out there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hundreds of motor boaters milling around, waiting for Lago Vista fireworks show Saturday night.

Cache-sitter.  

We anchored out in our cove last night with Marty & Sue, and Kurt & Kevin.  This morning I paddled around to check on the 2 geocaches that I have hidden along the shore there.   The first one was still there, just above the highest level of floodwater.   I lifted a rock and found it.   Right next to it was critter I would rather not have come across!

Never forget. 

Fourteen years.  So much has happened.  In each of our lives.  In the world. 

But in an instant I am taken back to that day.  That morning.   Aren’t you?  The sunny, stunningly clear blue September sky.  Getting ready for the day.  

I have tried before, unsuccessfully, to write what I felt on that day.  I cannot.  It was a powerful mix of emotions.  Anger.  Sadness.  Pride. Fear.  Uncertainty.  ANGER.  Pain. 

But here is what I can share….

I watched the planes hit and the towers burn.  I called my family. I prayed. I went to work.   I talked with colleagues in NY.  TVs in the hallways were tuned to the news.   We were glued to them. Three planes.  Maybe more. The pentagon was hit. One tower collapsed.  2 towers collapsed.  Heroes on Flight 93 gave their lives to stop even more carnage. 

Flights all across the country were grounded – a business trip the next day and a flight to Seattle for my mom’s 70th birthday celebration were put on hold.  And I was ok with that. 

I went home from work.  Put a flag up in the window.  Mostly I remember the numbing, profound sense of national mourning – and pride – watching what unfolded for weeks. 

We must hold this in our hearts and Always Remember. 

  
There are so many memorial reminders today.  A friend shared this with me today, and it touched me.  So I share it with you here
Hug your loved ones, ya’ll.  

It’s always something. 

This morning a crew showed up to repair our failed sewer line.   By dinner time we were back in business.   The upside:  I am just very happy that this issue arose now and will be fixed before a big family gathering at the house in a few weeks.  

#ItsAlwaysSomething

Oh, Mercury, give it a rest!

I took this photo last weekend on the lake, right before the last bit of seemingly relentless rain storms passed.   It has an ominous look to it – fitting for how I’m feeling today.

IMG_8304Have you heard tales of bizarro things happening when the planet Mercury is in retrograde (which happens a couple times every year)?   If not, you can read about it here.  Well, Mercury has been in retrograde since May 18, and will be through June 11.

Here’s a short list of things I’m writing off as Mercury’s doing during this period of retrograde:

– historic flooding (since around the 18th……hmmm)
– the docks at our marina have broken in places due to the flooding and storms, so the dock our boat is on Is in limbo, unable to be brought back to shore for the time being
– our anchor rode snapped unexpectedly while pulling up the hook 2 weeks ago
– I found a bat in my office at work yesterday (the Mexican freetail kind, not the Louisville slugger kind)
– the sewer drain at the house up and died last night (freakiest – and grossest – of all)

And we still have almost another week of this.  Have you any bizarre happenings to share?