Monday, December 21, 2015

Maridel By The Book

I thought readers might appreciate a look at the original documentation that Gary dug up for MARIDEL, his 1959 Stephens Brothers yacht. I scanned these images, Gary framed them, and they appear on the walls of its cabins today.

Here we go ... BTW depending on your device, you can click on any image for an enlarged version.

This is the end of this short blog.

If you want to see more, you can look at Yacht Hero's photo album of Maridel. CLICK HERE

Making of a New Maridel

This blog has covered my activities on and around an old wooden boat named JASON. Built by Stephens Brothers in Stockton in 1963, JASON was revived several times by its owner Gary Fraser. In the spring of 2014 he sold JASON to his nephew Jim, and we cruised it up to Seattle. That story is told in earlier installments of this blog. (Check the index on the right, or click here to go to the first chapter).

Gary (even before the sale) had his eyes on another Stephens yacht, the Sedan Cruiser known as MARIDEL. At 36 feet it is 11 feet shorter than Jason, and missing one bedroom/bathroom (or in nautical terms, a stateroom and head). It's also missing an inside steering station. But it has lots of nifty features, and we can describe them going forward in this blog.

Gary knew about this boat for more than 30 years, as it sat unloved, but under cover, in an Alameda boatyard. He bought the boat in 2013 "for a song" and shipped it to San Diego. My wife, who loves JASON, cried when she saw it:

Here it is on the boat transport trailer, languishing on Shelter Island until its eventual home was finalized.

The engines weren't running - in fact, most of the mechanical bits were in substandard condition. Along with most of the cosmetics. And the wiring. And a few structural things.

Like the interior, which was mostly pale green Formica and paint. I didn't take too many photos of this stage of its restoration, as Gary was usually upside down with his head in a cabinet or engine hatch.

To illustrate the contrast, here's how the saloon looks today:

The vinyl on the bench is gone, replaced by a tastefully upholstered, comfortable fabric, a new folding-leaf table, softly-polished wood, etc.

Gary did lots of things on the outside too, before booking MARIDEL into Kohler's boatyard for a complete spa treatment.

Here's the outside appearance.

The insides got attention too - new packing and ribs and things on the hull,

plus paint, detailing, wiring, hoses and other improvements on the two Crusader 350 gas engines (which Gary had had rebuilt).

But most of the good things on MARIDEL happen while we are looking outward, not at the boat. Either sitting in La Playa Cove,

or out in the harbor or heading for the ocean.

She'll do a comfortable cruise at 12 knots, with maximum around 20 knots.

That's the new MARIDEL.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Joyriding on Jason

Regular readers (both of them) know that we have been staying on the Motor Vessel Jason in Seattle. "Caretakers" would be a generous description and "freeloaders" a cynical one. Let's just say we are "Friends of Jason."  Now is the appropriate time for those of you reading for the first time to ask, "What or Who is Jason?"

Here it (she/he?) is:

As noted in the advertisement above, the boat was built for Jay Gould III. However, for most of its life it was owned by Gary Fraser (below, in 2005 or so):

Gary restored the boat to near original (only better) condition over 30 years. His nephew Jim bought Jason last year. Jim and I did a repositioning cruise up from San Diego to Seattle, where Jason now resides. This blog is the story of our trip, and some subsequent adventures.

TIME FOR A BREAK -- Typical photos showing the delights of boating in the Puget Sound area.


At this point we should mention that not all boating is snow-capped mountain peaks and uh umm other sorts of peaks.

Some of it is definitely depressions and depressing. Such as the power outage we had for 2 days that sadly sunk a boat across from us, whose bilge pump had no volts for 48 hours. Jason was safe, with strong batteries, a good generator, and an onboard crew.

We took it out for a short ride on Tuesday, in preparation for the big SeaFair extravaganza this coming weekend. While cruising, Jim noticed the Starboard engine was overheating. We shut it down and I drove around slowly for a half-hour while he did troubleshooting to determine the cause.

The diagnosis was a bad water impeller, a small part which circulates ocean or lake water through a heat exchanger, which removes excess heat from the coolant in the diesel engines. It's a water pump (in automotive terms) consisting of a housing and a rotating portion with rubber vanes to push the water. Or at least it is supposed to have rubber vanes. Ours had none! Luckily we carry a spare.

The coolant pump is "conveniently" located here on the side of each John Deere diesel engine.

Of course the engines were running for an hour, so they were plenty hot. Let's say 200° F or just below boiling. All Jim had to do was keep from falling into the still running Port motor, and reach into the engine, remove these 6 screws, pull out the old impeller and all the debris, then refit the new one and put it back together.

Did I forget to mention the 120 decibel noise level, the 120° F air temperature, and that he was on his knees in jeans and a long-sleeve shirt while doing it?

Since our trip resulted in little damage other than some sunburn, we stopped to celebrate at Ivar's Acres of Clams. The Slippery Sue's hat was a gift to Jim from his sister, some time ago.

Yes, boating is surely lots of fun. But only some of the time.

We made it safely back to the dock, and I predict that Jason is out there right now, cruising Lake Washington, while we are in San Diego.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dealing With Ashes

When a loved one dies, it's quite possible you might end up being asked to deal with their cremated remains. Apparently 44% of the people in the U.S. will be cremated this year. 

We put my mother's ashes into the Pacific 5 years ago, from the foredeck of Jason. Just 10 feet from where I am sitting now. 

My friend Steve (who was on the boat that day) just went to San Felipe, Mexico and sprinkled his uncle Robert Louis Hansen into the water on what would have been his 92nd birthday. 

So it wasn't a great surprise when my brother mentioned that he had some ashes to dispose of, and could we help?

I asked, "Whose?" 

"It's Al" Brian replied (his dad, my step-dad). 

To which I countered, "But Brian, he's been gone at least 6 years!" 

"Wrong. It's been almost 8 years..."

[If you ever have the chance to see a play called "Leaving Iowa," see it. It deals with Ash Procrastination.]

So, after an hour of preparation, we lowered Jason's dinghy and set off. 

I must mention that Brian asked for a salt water service. Al was in the Merchant Marines, and it didn't seem right to leave him in a lake. But we didn't exactly have a rough water vessel.  

Luckily we just had to leave Salmon Bay and go around to Discovery Park. Unluckily, the Ballard Locks are in the way. They would drop and lift us the 12+ feet to sea level. 

This historic facility passes thousands of boats a month from salt-to-fresh water and back. 

We waited 20 minutes in a line of boats, then slipped into the lock as directed, next to a crew of Sea Scouts and a ski boat filled with beer-guzzling ruffians. We were by far the smallest watercraft in the lock. 

We were lowered to sea level and charged out of the lock and around the point to Discovery Park. We had a few quiet moments, shared some appropriate thoughts, and lowered Al's ashes into the water. Brian had brought some white roses too. 

On the way back, Brian pointed out Anthony's HomePort restaurant, sister to Chinook's where he works.  I said "Why not stop for lunch?"

Knowing we could get a meal, no matter what, we coasted into a tiny bay, jumped out, and clambered up the rocks, much to the amazement of other diners and the waiters. 

We didn't get a sunny patio seat but sat just inside. All the restaurant staff came by to say hello to my brother and the crazy folks accompanying him. 

Oyster po'boy with cole slaw

We had a nice lunch made even more pleasant by the friendly service and Brian's employee discount. 

Hopping back into our inflatable craft, we went back to the lock, watched a train go over our heads, and were instructed to tie onto a police boat. 

They had 900 horsepower and a 20,000 lb. vessel, while we had 9 hp for 200 lbs. That sounds about even -- multiply both sides by 100... add the payloads -- we are a 200 lb boat with say, 650 lbs. -- forget it; they're faster!

Rather than go straight home, we foolishly took a detour down the ship canal, where tour boat run by Argosy (ignoring the No Wake rule) half swamped us just off the Lakeside Industries Fremont asphalt plant. 

We pulled over to a public ramp, walked over to Fred Meyer for gelato, then putted home. Damp, sunburnt, and delighted with ourselves.