The Less I write, the More I must write

Lee’s Landing Marina, Lake Union, Seattle, WA USA, 22-FEB-2018 – One of the faults I’m least proud of is falling out of touch with friends. I stay in touch with friends generally by writing to them. In this world of instant written communications, a phone call has become too intrusive, and by corollary Skype, Whatsapp, and Facebook messenger. So writing is the method through I use to keep in touch with friends.

Keeping in touch with friends is important. When I am overdue to communicate with friends, whether to initiate a written exchange, or respond to a message, I put myself into a spiral: it has been a while since I have written, therefore I can’t write something small. I need to write something that has taken some effort to make up for the amount of time that has passed. But, the amount of time to be put aside never appears, and the amount of effort that should be put into the correspondence grows, and along with it the amount of time necessary to expend that effort.

Recently, this blog is fallen into this trap, only more convoluted. Because, excessively long blog posts are not good either.

So please accept my apologies for the amount of time since the last post and either the large number of things that I leave out of this blog, or its excessive length because of the number of things that I do include.

The last few weeks have been quite productive because I am getting things done and feel more productive because I am tackling the many small items that are on the list. There is great joy in being able to check off many things from a to do list.

103 overdue items of 306 for Caro Babbo. These are the incomplete categories.

My productivity is also rising because I have indulged enough in nonproductive activities that I am bored of them. Having nothing to do, together with being bored with the time-waster choices, makes me more productive because I do work.

When I reflect on why I am in this state, when I haven’t been in such a while, I realize it is because Hilary is not here. (We’ll see Hilary next week when we return to Atlanta.) Hilary took one full person whenever she was awake. Hilary kept me from having excess time.

Proper registration on Caro Babbo vs a dog’s breakfast of fonts on the dinghy.

Which brings us to the first thing that I have accomplished: the registration numbers on our Portland Pudgy dinghy are a dog’s breakfast of fonts: a “muttley*” collection of mismatched fonts found at Home Depot or Ace Hardware. Too many years writing software to properly and aesthetically set type in newspapers has made such graphics painful to look at.

While I was at it, I named the dinghy Hilary Hoffmann, and bought the graphics for the transom. While Jennifer did not like the shape of the letters of Vincent A, which was what I originally wanted to name Caro Babbo, the aitches of Hilary Hoffmann create no such discomfort. And so it is, Hilary Hoffmann. One L, Two Fs, Two Ns.

Caro Babbo in Vancouver before we bought her with superimposed graphics.

I have yet to buy the very large graphics for the sides of Caro Babbo that I designed when we first bought the boat, but I have bought a few small graphics, like inoffensive tattoos.

This logo is actually for his clothing line. I don’t know if I’ll put it on the boat.

I bought the words “Maxi 95” for the aft sides of the boat, either directly above or below the rub rail. The number 165, which is the hull number, for the deck rise where the cabin raises to 6 feet tall, and, though I don’t know if I’ll use it or not, the Pelle Pettersen logo. Pelle Pettersen is the designer of the Maxi and I like the idea of his logo on the boat. The logo is the name Pelle, his first name only, like Madonna or Cher.

A less-good style of shackle attaches the main sheet to a genoa track. These shackles are easily done and undone meaning we can easily move the mainsheet to the side of the boat when at anchor or at a dock.
The length beyond the knot is long because the knot in this less-good shackle can migrate. The knot that held the boom vang temporarily in place did this.

I’ve become accomplished at creating soft shackles and can do so without watching a video.

I finished installing the mainsheet traveler with the stops facing the correct direction and I’ve almost completed installing the new navigation lights on the bow.

Old bow lights, disassembled as part of removal. The small black ball is one of the new replacement lights.

Unfortunately I over thought the nav-light-installation process. What I thought were studs to be counter sunk into the mounting surface, turn out to be spacers to keep the body of the nav light away from the mounting surface. Countersinking those studs makes the cover pop off when the screws are tightened. Properly mounted, the nav lights are not in contact with the hull except through the studs.

The new bow lights installed. The old lights allowed the connectors to be installed in the housing. This new wires will be tidied up once the weather warms up so electrical tape becomes more pliable.

I am waiting for parts for the Yanmar engine:

  • The 2000-hour maintenance recommends replacing the thermostat;
  • The kill cable needed to be special ordered because it is longer than the stock cable, and
  • The formed hose that we replaced with an off-the-shelf hose, in my opinion, had too much stress on it.

So while the engine maintenance has been completed, almost, the engine can’t be started because the hose is missing.

New and newly installed diesel fuel shutoff valve in the off position.

The new fuel shutoff has been installed: this is all part of the unending search for where air is getting into the fuel line. It is only recently that I realized the fitting that the fuel line attaches to is at the top of the tank, not at the bottom: it is a siphon, not a drain. This means that the entire length of the fuel line, prior to the lift pump, is suction.

The original valve, which looks like it came from a 60s-era home heater, oil burner. We suspect that air may have been leaking in through the valve stem. Rather than repack the valve, I bought a newer-technology 1/4-turn ball valve.

The shut off valve that was installed looks very familiar to me because I think it is the standard valve that is used on East Coast heating fuel tanks. If air is getting in here, I think it is getting in through the shaft. My initial remedy for this was to repack the valve, which I realize is craziness of the highest order. New valves are quarter turn ball valves, which never leak air, and only cost about four dollars. All up, with replacement fittings, the cost was less than fifteen dollars, but it will be a number of days of using the engine before we can be sure we have found the air leak, if it is not instantly demonstrable as a failure the second time we try to start the engine.

There is always so much to be done before we go way, and although we say we have left the workforce, we really have not. Jennifer manages nine houses and I provide much of the labor and technical support for many of those houses. CaroBabbo doesn’t so much require maintenance, but we are continually upgrading it with such things as new navigation lights.

I have put off buying things in order to keep my American Express bill below a grand this month, but it has grown to $1700 without seeming to actually buy anything… Though to be fair, 769 of those dollars are a new solid state drive for my Mac Laptop.

The weeks are falling into a rhythm. I spend days here at the boat working. Jennifer works separately in Port Townsend enjoying her lovely house. At the end of the week, I either go back to Port Townsend and return the following Tuesday, or Jennifer joins me for the weekend and we go back on Monday.

This is all punctuated by trips to Atlanta: we leave this coming Tuesday.

The new waste line hose.

I’ve been putting off replacing a waste line hose. I bought the hose yesterday and it sits on the opposite banquette, shiny and inert like a very large worm that as a young child I thought inhabited the septic system: I was told about living things that digest the effluent. Everyone spoke in euphemisms, no one just said bacteria.

Instead of replacing the waste hose, after finally finishing the nav lights, I will start on the wind vane steering gear!

As I have mentioned, the previous owner decided the proper way to keep the vane from going out of adjustment was to epoxy the adjustment. So tomorrow I’ll try to remove the epoxy.

Other completed projects are worth their own blog posts, and so they may, though probably will not, get their own post: Satellite communications, weather routing, Celestial navigation and the big, boat-related topics that I’ve been researching.

Machine learning is the next topic up: it’s time to start writing software products again. I’d like to learn about machine learning and apply it, if possible, to marine topics. Machine learning requires a lot of data, so the major question is where to get the data. But I’m putting the cart before the horse, let me learn about the topic first.

Some of the small satisfying tasks that got done (as if they did it themselves):

  • Stop small, annoying leak from water heater – It was so small that the water would not saturate a paper towel, but it would generate green and block mold.
  • Replace worn impeller belt – I wouldn’t have seen this if I did not replace the impeller. I have bought Yanmar belts, rather than off the shelf. The sizes seem odd, and the angle of the V is non-standard. The cost, of course, gives pause.
  • Order new LED tape lights for up and down lights
  • Label, label, label with new Dymo USB labeller – We had one die shortly after receipt and Dymo paid Fedex both ways to replace it!
  • Repair Electric Drill Cord – This drill was assembled by hand during manufacture, which made disassembly and reassembly easy. It is also so old that the cord contains natural fibers. Why do I carry a plug-in drill? Look for an future article, versus a post, on why we do certain things.
  • Installed the aforementioned Solid State Disk drive in my laptop – Yay. Besides returning the Mac back to working order, I no longer need an external drive for pictures, movies and audio. (Previous Mac had a 1TB SSD in conventional form, which was cheap, cheap cheap. This was THREE times the price because Apple decided to use a non-standard interface.)
  • Installed the retaining hardware on the plexiglass drop boards, so the drop boards stay in place and can act as a safety feature. By delaying the installation, the boards fell repeatedly and shattered the corners on two boards.

We’re down to about five weeks before we’re supposed to leave, though I think in about four weeks we will move the boat to a mooring buoy at Port Hadlock (thank you Dennis and Lisa) and take off from there. Jennifer and I have one more, one-week trip by plane we must do,then we will be off.

A bunch of things have been purchased and have not yet arrived, a number of things must still be purchased, but none of those are critical.

Coming blog posts: what must get done before we go; how much money have I actually spent on this boat (roughly 5 times what we paid for it), our plans for this year’s trip.

Thanks for staying with me.

* A reference to a dog character named Muttley, voiced by Paul Winchell, in the Dick Dastardly TV cartoon of the 1960s. A favorite of my dad, for whom Caro Babbo is named.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

3 thoughts on “The Less I write, the More I must write”

  1. You mentioned Celestial Navigation . . . here is the best tutorial on the market. Warning . . . do not attempt to apply machine learning to this tropic 🙂

    Celestial Navigation Mystery: Solved by Captain David Bell

    1. I have that book and Mary Blewitt’s. After I reread Blewitt’s, I’m going to take this online course,, and then return to Bell’s book. (Didn’t you give me Bell’s book?)

      If you read this post immediately after it went up, it was filled with typos, many of which have been corrected. Now, off to MER, by bicycle, to pick up engine parts. 😉

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