Thursday, July 20, 2017

'Tis The Season

In years past, we always cleaned the crab before bringing them aboard, cooked them, and then refrigerated or froze it.  Because they are ubiquitous, we used Zip-lock bags for storage.

But after a disappointingly short time in the refrigerator or freezer, the crab looses it's sweet, just-caught flavor.  And the flesh turns kind of leathery.
So this year, Jane is trying something different.  First, she is picking all the meat.  Tedious work, but realistically, most of the crab we froze last year ended up getting picked anyway to make crab cakes.  So she is just doing this up front.

And here is the big change:  instead of Zip-lock bags, we are using a vacuum sealer.  As opposed to the polyethylene Zip-locks, the Food Saver bags are made of a film that is impervious to oxygen, and presumably also to that common "refrigerator/freezer taste".

Bonus:  out of the shell, the crab takes up a lot less space in the freezer!
And of course, none of this applies to the crab which we eat on board, fresh from the sea!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

An Early Morning Metaphysical Experience

The alarm goes off at 05:30.  The sun isn't up yet, but the sky is light., and the water is dead calm - it's a mirror.
I jump out of bed and throw on my groady sweats.   The crab pots are on the fantail - I prepped them yesterday afternoon.  I get down into the dinghy and Jane lowers them down to me.
And I start the outboard and head toward our Sacred Spot - the one that has yielded so many crabs in years past.  I veer to avoid the other boats - everyone else is sleeping, and our old Sears Gamefisher outboard is noisy.
As I motor along, skimming on a mirror, the sun clears the horizon and floods the world with golden light.  I promise you, there is nothing like being on the water at dawn!
I return to Eolian, the pots set, and I make Jane and I some lattes, and we watch the harbor slowly awake...


Monday, June 26, 2017

Reclaiming The View

If your boat has Beckson ports, or any ports which feature polycarbonate (Lexan) lenses, then if those ports are more than a couple years old, they are turning brown and hazy.  Lexan does not do well with UV exposure, but it is used for port light applications because it is easy to injection mold.

For years, I have been removing the affected port lenses (That's what Beckson calls the transparent part) and laboriously rubbing them out with Meguires compounds (#17 and #10).  It helped, but it was a losing battle - the brown coloration was going deeper and deeper into the outside surface of the lenses.

Well, it turns out that that auto manufacturers like that easy injection molding too, and so on all modern cars, those clear headlight covers are also Lexan.  And they too turn brown and hazy.  Now, a product to address boat ports is a lot less likely than one aimed at auto owners trying to refurbish their headlights, and, no surprise,  several companies have met that need.  I trust 3M:

So I bought one of their kits.  It has a velcro disk that is to be chucked in your electric drill and a number of abrasive disks.  It also has a rippled sponge (it's the orange thing in the package picture) and some fine rubbing compound in a pouch.  There is also a wax, but I didn't use it - see below.

So here's what I started with.  You can see how the UV has attacked the plastic, except where the gasket had protected it around the edges.  It's brown, and it's hazy.  The kit first has you go after the surface with a 500 grit disk.  They suggest doing it dry, but the disk materials are all waterproof, so I did it wet - this has the advantage of keeping the dust generated by removing the surface layer suspended in water and keeps it from clogging the sanding disk.  Just sprinkle on s few drops of water.  And boy, did it make a terrible-looking brown slurry out of that decayed Lexan.

After 500 grit
I wiped off the slurry and changed to the next finer disk:  800 grit; I also did this one wet.  And the slurry this time was white - I got all the brown off with the 500 grit!  Now, the purpose of each successively finer grit used is to remove the scratches made by the previous grit, so after the 800 grit treatment, all the 500 grit scratches should be gone.  After wiping off the slurry, I found that I had been a little too impatient and needed to go over the surface again.

After 800 grit
Next on the agenda is 3200 grit.  This time the kit wanted it to be used wet, so, not breaking stride, I used water again.  Same drill - remove the 800 grit scratches.  It's starting to look clear!

After 3200 grit
Finally, after wiping down the lens again, I put on the sponge disk and applied a little rubbing compound to the lens.  Then, scrubbing it around a little so that it wouldn't spray all over the place when I keyed the drill, I turned on the drill and went over the surface a fourth time.

After compounding
Wow!  It's good, but...  So I got out the Meguires and used the #17 and the #10 on it.  This was way easier than in years past because all the hard work had already been done by the drill.

Much better!
Well, it's not quite like new, but this port is much, MUCH clearer than it has been for years.  I suspect that the remaining haziness may be in depth in the plastic.

The whole process took a couple of hours to do four ports, including the time to unmount and remount the lenses...  that's less time than I would have spent doing one port by hand, with more mediocre results.  And a tired arm.

The directions want you to have a medium speed drill, and I would second that.  You definitely want to use a variable speed drill, running at a moderate speed.  One of those single speed drills will turn so fast that heat generation will be a problem (especially if you follow the directions and do it dry...  don't do that).  It is also important to tightly control the drill so that less than half of the disk is in contact with the surface.  If you try to hold it flat, it will inevitably spiral out of control, and then you will likely gouge the surface with the edge of the abrasive disk.

Would I recommend the 3M kit?  Absolutely.  Even for your car.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Phone App Recommendation

All the newer phone apps that show or predict wind speed and direction have those little moving arrows to give an animated display of the wind flow.  But how many of them actually predict or show what is happening?  Not so many.  A pretty animated display is not necessarily accurate.

Windy (for both iPhone and Android) is not one of these.  This is the best wind app that I have seen.  Tho it covers the entire Earth, my experience with it is local, which is nevertheless perhaps an excellent test.  Windy successfully deals with the complexity of the three major wind channels (Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Strait of Georgia) in the Salish Sea, and the mess of islands sitting right at their junction.

By comparison, the NOAA "Northern Inland Waters" forecast seems to pick the worst spot in the area and report on that.  I suppose that makes sense from a safety perspective, but it has a tendency to limit boating unnecessarily, because wind speeds can vary dramatically between the southern end of the San Juans and the northern end, or from east to west.

I've been comparing reality with the little flowing arrows in Windy's screen for 6 months now, and from what I can see, it does an excellent job of describing the actual current flow pattern.  In addition, for forecasting it gives you the choice of using three different models.  I use the European high resolution model, ECMWF, but occasionally check the other two models to see how they differ.  The forecasts are also excellent.

The app has many more features which I I'll leave to you to discover.  Just for the wind forecasts this app is worth every penny of it's $0.00 cost!

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