Back from Hiatus

Judging by the comments, emails and in-person needling at parties and social events, it would seem that people do in fact read my blog. I’m flattered and encouraged, and I apologize for the quiet stretch; it’s been about a month and a half since my last update, and that one wasn’t of much interest anyway. This posting should mark the end of that dry spell and a return to a semi-regular posting schedule.

So, uh… where have I been?

View March 26th 2010 in a larger map

I’m anchored about 300m west of Kitsilano Beach, where I’ve been since February 1st.  There are no regular police patrols to worry about, the marine traffic is low, the people are friendly and the neighborhood is pleasant, if a bit homogenized for my tastes, and perhaps a bit remote from most of my regular haunts. The scenery is good, and I peacefully weathered the collective insanity that was the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games without incident. I’ve technically been “legal” to return to False Creek for just over two months now, but in all honesty I’ve been quite enjoying the change of scenery; all things considered, living on Kits Beach is quite lovely and I haven’t felt any strong drive to return to False Creek. I will very likely return to “my spot” near the Cambie Bridge soon, but I am not in any particular rush.

I was told that anchoring out here would get very unpleasant if the weather turned foul, but in reality the only time it’s bad is when the wind comes from the west – there’s reasonable shelter from the north, east and south, but the open ocean is to the west, so even a light breeze can build up a wave system.  Rowing back home to Tie Fighter can be somewhat exciting when the wind is blowing hard and the waves are 50cm or more and breaking onto the beach!  The first time I tried to row home during a westerly blow, as soon as I pushed off the shore the rowboat was pushed sideways by a wave, where another breaking wave caught her and nearly dumped me completely over, right back onto the beach.  Two or three more waves broke into the dinghy in that row home, and by the time I reached Tie Fighter there was 15cm or so of water around my feet.  Since then I’ve been making a point of using a massive yellow drybag backpack that my friend JP gave me – whenever the weather report looks dubious I replace my usual Chrome cycling bag with the drybag.  I’m certain this practice has saved my laptop from getting wet at least twice.

stuff on my table
completely unrelated: random stuff on my table. whatever, blogs are better with pictures.

Gathering potable water was a big question for a while – during the Olympics, my usual water fill-up spot, just under the Granville Bridge, was blocked by a barge holding a three-story restaurant.  I never did figure out exactly what the point of it was, but the last time I sailed past there were people seated at a table in the window, being served lunch by a waitress; all three waved at me as I went by.  I have been living out of a set of five 4l water jugs for… oh, it must be about three months now.  I fill them up once a week or so; I used to use the faucet on the side of the government building near the Cambie Bridge, but now I’ve been using one on the side of the Watermark Restaurant on Kits Beach.  The restaurant has “security” faucets, which require a special tool to open an access panel and the same tool to turn the water on and off; neither the panel nor the faucet are any match for my trusty Leatherman tool. Before I figured out the security panels, I had been skulking around in the alleys of Kitsilano looking for an unprotected faucet and feeling somewhat scandalous.

Honestly though, the two biggest problems about living on Kits Beach are both related to the beach itself.  For one, there’s really no place to lock my dinghy, so every time I go ashore I have to drag the dinghy bodily up over the tideline.  At low tide, the tideline is a 150m slog uphill in wet sand, dragging a 90kg rowboat, a backpack and a bicycle – some days I have to do this three or four times, and almost every time it’s just a warmup for a long, fast bikeride.  I figure this makes up for not renewing my gym membership.

Kits Beach in the summer
kits beach in the summertime - not my pic

If I leave the dinghy overnight on the beach overnight in good weather, I have to worry about drunken idiots trying to steal it for a joyride.  They usually abandon their mission after they realize the oars are padlocked together and to the boat, but twice now the dinghy has been dragged below the tideline before being abandoned.  If I had been another few hours before returning, the dinghy would most likely have washed away, leaving me with a choice of calling in a couch-favour from a friend, a cold, wet sleep on the beach, or a very cold swim home. This won’t be as big a problem in the summer – in fact I’m considering the idea of swimming to and from the boat just for fun.

In the daytime the dinghy faces a completely different problem; several times now I’ve returned to the beach on warm, sunny afternoons to find children playing in my dinghy. This doesn’t bother me in the slightest in principle, but for the fact that the universal game to play with a boat found on a beach appears to be “See How Much Sand We Can Pile Into The Rowboat“, followed closely by “Appropriate The Bailing Bucket As A Beach Toy, And Lose/Bury/Keep It“. I don’t remember these games from when I was a kid, but just for your own reference my dinghy is *very* difficult to effectively clean sand out of, and making a bailing bucket out of an old laundry detergent container has the important prerequisite of first owning laundry detergent.  If you are the sort of person who owns laundry detergent, I would be much obliged if you would save the jug for me.

The second problem is the sand itself – it gets in everything!  Regardless of how much is in the dinghy, walking across the wet beach my shoes are completely coated in the stuff.  I track sand into Tie Fighter on my shoes, then from the salon into the bedroom on my socks, then into my bed on my feet.  I have sand in my bed.  Do you know what it’s like to have sand in your bed?  In March?

thermostats and tea
boiling water serving two purposes - making tea and testing Yanmar engine thermostats

The engine situation hasn’t changed even a little bit.  There are three bottles of C-L-R sitting on my navigation table, and one of these afternoons (perhaps tomorrow, actually) I should take the time to run it through the engine block just to see how it fares. I will likely need to use several plastic buckets and re-route one or more of the engine water pumps to get the C-L-R into the appropriate engine chambers. It could get messy.

I did take some time to try to diagnose the problem a little further, and I’m starting to think that at least part of the problem was just that the thermostats had corroded into a partly-open state.  I’ve got a new set of thermostats in there now, but given that they’re still in raw water I suspect that I’ll have to replace them yet again before I can call the engine “maintained”.  I still have to convert Maude back to antifreeze cooling and get the electronics all hooked up properly, so that I can have alarms and warning buzzers and gauges on the engine again. Soon, Maude, soon.

Anyhow. Hiatus off. More regular updates to come. I promise.

4 thoughts on “Back from Hiatus”

  1. One time I was on a cross canada train trip and ran out of water around a town called Chapleau (northern ontario), middle of the night while the train is refueling my backpack beside the car in case it takes off without me, I jump the ditch and the hedges into a backyard that had a sprinkler going, I kink the hose and unscrew the sprinkler but the water’s not flowing when I unkink the hose so I wander back to the side of the house and there’s this lady watering her flowers, (after midnight) there was a serious time crunch here and she had already seen me, so I ask her nonchalantly if she wouldn’t mind filling my water jugs, which she has no problem doing at all and is very nice about it, no questions asked about why i’m in her backyard in the middle of the night looking for water in this little northern ontario town, totally casual as though nothing odd at all, she fills my water jugs and I sprint back vault over the hedge jump the ditch and get back to the train. So apparently using other people facets even in their back yards in the middle of the night is not sketchy in the slightest so I wouldn’t worry about it. it’s kinda like hitch hiking with a jerry can (totally acceptable) as opposed to just hitch hiking (frowned upon). People are funny birds.

  2. Thanks for the update! I totally dig learning little things like “boil the thermostats.”

    I wish I was still in vancouver, I just now ran out of some detergent I bought there and the jug is pretty large.

    I thought of you when i bizarrely stumbled on this page…(Article about rice cooker.)


  3. Hey Drew, this is Matthew, Jesse introduced us at the last trancemission party.
    I found your site in your sig on fixed van, I’ve been lurking there bike geeking it up 😀

    I live on my sailboat in richmond, here are some pictures.

    The guy who designed the hull for my boat is Brent Swain. He wrote a book about building boats and lives on his boat and makes a living welding. There’s an awesome mailing list called oragami boats on yahoo
    where people who are building boats discuss various aspects of boat design and solving problems.

    A topic that comes up frequently is exhaust systems on engines. The long and short of it, is that is that wet exhaust systems fail all the time. Someone on the group quoted a marine mechanic friend as saying there he wouldn’t have enough work if everyone used a dry exhaust system.

    My long term life plan besides having kids one day, is to build a 40 foot steel sailboat.

    I hope all is well at anchor, I was looking at the marine forecast today, looks like she’s confused and headed to swing to a north westerly. I’m itching to get out sailing but the weather has been crap, I keep on saying “maybe next weekend”.

    I went for a walk down to the beach at the bottom of Trafalgar with a couple friends, I saw your boat out there, she’s pretty 😀


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