The boat show was very different for me this year. It was Hilary and me alone. I went to learn about water makers, to see my sail maker, and to meet with Jesús and Zoë, who are friends from the newspaper industry who are planning on calling it quits and move onto a trawler.
Hilary and I are staying full time in the Port Townsend house. It has been very cold (to my PNW/South-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line self): Highs in the low forties, lows around freezing. It is also 2-1/2 hours from Port Townsend to Seattle.
The show opened at 11. Hilary and I left PT about 8.15 so we could go to the boat, pick up a bicycle and make sure all was okay before going to the show.
We found that the bilge had water in it – the float switch for the bilge stopped working this summer and we won’t replaced it until we haul out in PT. Caro Babbo floats on fresh water so a taste test wouldn’t tell me anything about where the water is coming from. The engine on a Maxi 95 breathes through the mast, which allows rainwater to flow down the mast into the bilge. The water in the bilge could be nothing but rainwater.
Hilary was surprisingly content to sit below while I moved the bicycle to the car and checked the boat. The Webasto diesel heater worked very well – It has been flakey lately but has worked since we returned. More on that later in the post.
We left the car at the boat and then walked to the shuttle bus at South Lake Union. On the way, we saw the new education center at CWB. (For a while, I was meeting Dick Wagner, for whom the center is named, about once a week. He never remembered meeting me.) The center looks so much like the rendering that that I thought the rendering might have been a photograph of the finished building. I was impressed that the center raised the $9 million dollars to build it so fast.
We picked up our tickets at will call (thank you Wayne Gilham), then went to the stands at the loft. Our mission here was to visit friends at Fisheries, Diana at Captain’s and then learn about water makers.
We’ve been pretty much gone for an entire year, so we are all a year older. The kids working working at Fisheries have changed the most, moving away from being kids and some changes in body form.
The time spent with the water maker people was the most interesting. The water maker reps are distributed evenly around the loft so that a circle of the loft sees everyone.
The water maker I had been thinking of is the PowerSurvivor 40E, made by Katadyn. Katadyn has recently been bought by Spectra. The 40E is available from Fisheries, with my discount, for about $3500.
I found that most companies don’t make a product for sailboats running on solar power, so they are quite willing to discuss the other products out there, and I believe they are being quite honest.
As we finished the circle, every product we looked at had been trashed by someone.
The PowerSurvivor was criticized as being a hand pump that had been motorized and had never been intended for that, and it used too many supplies.
The something midget, was given good reviews as something the manufacturer sold many of, but needs lots of supplies, the Spectra 150 has breakdown history… and the list goes on.
The major problem is cost. Everything else costs over $6K, which would move it to the 2018 budget.
My current thinking is to buy the PowerSurvivor 40E. My Amex card doubles the warranty, so we can find out whether it will hold up. We can sell it used if we don’t like it. It requires more energy per gallon, which is an issue, but power draw is the name of the game: the electrical equivalent of cash flow.
We will pull out the second water bladder we installed last year, but take it with us. If the water maker is a bust we can reinstall the bladder.
Having said all this, a company called Rain Man makes a modular, portable water maker that I need to look at.
I want to get this decision made and the product ordered before we move Caro Babbo to Port Townsend.
The next stop was Captain’s books to visit with Dianna. Captain’s is doing well; Dianna is thriving.
The news that made sense is that the Wagner education center had enough for the shell of the building, but not the interior. More fund raising is necessary to complete the building.
On the way to lunch we spoke to the Webasto rep where Jeff (not Jeff Storm) from the marina is working… He cleans up really well and looked great.
To service the Webasto will cost about $500, but Jeff’s colleague gave me a very nice list of things to check and replace that might be causing the overheating problem. For $500, I am more likely to attempt servicing myself. Assuming I don’t actually break anything in the attempt, there is no downside, if replacing the recommended hoses doesn’t work.
[I had been falsely lead to believe that I would be pushed into buying a new device rather than have this device serviced.]
After lunch at the Mexican food truck across the convention center – Hilary switched over into Spanish to order her tamale – we met up with Jesús and Zoë.
They have taken a different, but not uncommon approach the show: They came for a week and attended many courses and sessions. They were having a great time.
It’s hard, in a couple of respects, to understand that I know Jesús for ten years. On the one hand, that time has gone by so quickly, and on the other hand, it’s difficult to believe I don’t know him my entire newspaper career.
Like most people I know from the newspaper industry, I only know Jesús from faraway cities: tradeshows in Vienna and Amsterdam, meetings in Italy and the UK, chasing business all over Brazil and at his office in Miami.
And now at a boat show in Seattle.
We went dinner at Rock Creek Grill, and had a wonderful time.
I’m always mixed about going out to dinner these days, especially without Jennifer. We live on very little money. (I’ve done the restaurant thing, multi-star Michelin places, famous chefs du jour, and eating out over 300 times in a year, in addition to lunch at an office.)
Dining out is about being with people in a public setting.
Dinner for Hilary and me was $150. We currently budget $100/month per person for groceries (food, detergents and the like). It is difficult to reconcile the disparity right now between $300/month for the three of us and half of that for one evening. We are living on very little personal money and roughly 20% of that goes to capital expenses for the boat (as opposed to operating expenses like dock space, fuel, maintenance costs, etc.) There is separate business money for the rental properties that support us.
Being away sailing is less expensive than living ashore.
When we met Jesús and Zoë at the show, we had just been asking the show staff about ‘‘family’’ bathrooms. There is one in the arena part of the complex, and after a while received instructions how to get to it. It involved finding a black curtain across from a hallway, going behind a curtain to an elevator, etc.
Zoë immediately took over the role of getting Hilary into a toilet stall, assuring that no changes of clothing were necessary. Zoë did this at the show and at the restaurant. Thank you, Zoë.
In the Über on the way back from the restaurant, Hilary and I were dropped off a Nickerson’s Bar and Grill at the top of the stairs to the marina, where we left Jennifer’s Subie.
After a stop at Winco to pick up cat litter, we were home by 11.30pm.
Hilary and I never went on a single boat. We never found Derek and Dorin, who were also at the show, and never said thank you to Wayne Gilham for the tickets. We did see Jeff Storm, but missed Kimberly who recommended the restaurant, but did not set up to see Chuck and Laura from Lealea, who we met in Peterburg, AK.
We did however, sit with our sailmaker Jim Kitchen, the Doyle Sails rep here in Seattle, and costed out a new 135% jib and full battened main: roughly $5000. We’ll move to a loose-footed main and ‘‘off shore’’ sails.
We decided against an asymmetrical spinnaker. Since we make sail changes, I’m finding the 170% Genoa is better for going to windward in the light airs and a symmetrical spinnaker is much better for going down wind.
An interesting side note, Carol Hasse, who we saw at the show, is now reviewing boats for Cruising World.
As I have written, everything is fashion: how boats are rigged, the number of berths and the hull shape. In the last few years it has become standard practice that all lines are lead aft to the cockpit.
In the Boat of the Year issue (BOTY), Carol applauds boats where some lines are left at the mast, requiring the sailor to leave the cockpit and work there. She complained the tangled mess of lines in the cockpit was a nuisance and not worth it.
It is not uncommon to have ten lines come in over the cabin top. Strategies to organize the lines are often mentioned, but generally played down, because it can be such a mess.
Jim Kitchen will visit the boat next week, make detailed measurements, and then I will send him 50% on order, and 50% on delivery.
The water maker decision lingers. All comments and recommendations are welcome.