Wash down pump project.

I’ve been working on installing a wash down pump for about a month, now.  I’ve been thinking about it for a couple years.  I tried using a dc pump that I just lowered over the side, and it was sort of okay but not really convenient, as it took a long run of wires to power it.  
After online research of message boards and equipment and getting advice from Kurt, I finally ordered what the materials (pump and hose) I’d need to install a washdown pump, using the intake line to my boat toilet (aka, head) for the water intake.   I’d seen this as a viable option on boat message boards, as it means you don’t have to put a new hole in your boat for a through hull fitting.  
The first thing I did was to get Dorothy to help me.  I needed a skinny body to drop down into my engine room and feed the 1/2 inch hose from the rear of the boat though the engine room and up to the bathroom, where the 3/4 inch line leading to the head was available for splicing in to.  We completed this task and some other little things in an hour, and that got her lunch at McDonalds and twenty bucks from Uncle Mark.
The 3/4 inch line coming up from the through hull fitting ran under the bathroom sink counter, and that’s where I figured I could splice into it with a 3/4 inch to 1/2 inch tee to divert water to the pump via a 1/2 inch line.  Under the counter was also a convenient, accessible, and out of the way location to mount the pump.  On my hands and knees, I could look through the cabinet doors under the sink and see the intake line in there about 3 feet away under the sink counter along the starbard hull.  I could also see the line from above when I took out the counter drawer, which was right over it.  But I had my doubts about actually getting to the hose in the narrow area under the sink counter or the narrow drawer opening.  How would I get enough leverage to cut the hose and then install the tee hose barbs in such a tight space.  I could barely squeeze my shoulders in there to reach it from the side, and could only reach one arm through the drawer opening to reach it from above.  I even asked Bob about neatly cutting an access panel through the top of the bathroom cabinet that I could reinstall and not have it look like I butchered it. 
As I sat there wondering just how I was going to do all this, I saw it: the hose line coming up to the manual head pump was right there in front of me in plain sight!  All I had to do was loosed the hose clamp and hope it would pull down from the pump intake nipple, which it did surprisingly easily!  From there, I just pushed the hose down a bit, and put the tee in the end!  I walked up to Harri’s for a little piece of 3/4″ hose to connect from the other side of the tee back to the intake nipple.  I was in business.
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I drilled a hole through the cabinet.  Then I fed a piece of the 1/2 inch hose from the tee through the cabinet wall and clamped it to the fitting on the intake side of the pump.  Then, I clamped the hose coming in from the engine room to the outflow side of the pump.  Finally, I bolted the pump in place to the inside of the cabinet wall.  That part was done.
Now for the other end of the hose on the back deck. There are two teak steps attached to the back wall that are for climbing up onto the roof of the salon area.  Under one of the steps I’d installed the outlet for the freezer on the back deck last year.  I decided to install the spigot under the other step.  First, I had to run the hose through the salon cabinetry, then under the bench seating around the salon table, which didn’t require any drilling as there was ample space in holes where other lines were already installed.  I drilled a hole under the step from the outside wall, then fed the hose from the salon out the hole and clamped it to a fitting that would connect it to the hose bib I mounted under the step.  I used a continuous piece of hose from the outlet of the pump all the way to the outside of the back wall so that the only place the system could leak inside the boat was at the fittings on the pump under the bathroom sink – short of the hose line itself springing a leak somewhere, which is unlikely.   After I hooked up the hose to the spigot, I went back inside and neatly secured the hose with hanger straps down the inside wall of the salon and under the benches so it was out of the way.
Lastly came the wiring of the pump.  I considered several different circuits on the boat to run the pump through, as I didn’t want a direct connection to the battery, but rather wanted it to run through the fuse panel.  Then, again, I saw it – there’s a light on the ceiling of the bathroom!  I’d never noticed it before.  I threw the switch on for the lights in the forward berths, and flicked the switch on and off on the bathroom light.  Nothing happened.  I then removed the light’s globe glass, and dropped the fixture down.  I tested the wires with the battery meter.  Bingo.  12.3 volts.  When I removed the bulb and could see it was cloudy and likely no good.
My final problem was where to put in a switch for the pump.  Most DC switches nowadays are made for the very thin walls of aluminum or console board.  Not for thicker cabinet walls.  I had no switches with long enough necks to go through the wall, and in fact had had this same issue when I installed a wiper switch.  I knew these long neck switches were not available in town.  I had an appointment approaching in mid-afternoon, so I quit for the day about half way through the wiring.  
On the way home I had my final epiphany: just install another switch on the housing for the light!  The light housing is a thin piece of metal, and this made things very simple.  I put in the extra switch, then put in a new bulb and got the light working. After I installed the second switch, I tested it with the volt meter till I had the wiring to the right leads on the switch, then remounted the light fixture back in place.  I’d drilled a hole in the side of the light fixture mount to feed in the sheathed wiring. The wiring sheath is white, and matched the white color of the bathroom walls nicely.  I used white plastic wiring staples to neatly secure the wire from the light fixture along the ceiling, then down the wall through another hole drilled through the counter, and down to the pump.
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I connected the wiring to the pump, walked outside to open the spigot valve, and threw the switch at the light fixture.  I could hear the pump working and thought I heard something outside, but I could not see any water coming up the clear hose from the tee to the pump in front of me.  I thought the outside noise was just air moving through the system.  I tried jiggling the toilet valve to be sure it was closed and that I wasn’t sucking air, and felt around the pump fittings, but could not feel any air or water leaks.  Finally I went out to the spigot, and it was gushing water.  I couldn’t see the water moving through the hose, but it was moving alright!.  I finished my last task of the project by securing the wiring under the counter so it would be out of the way, and that was it!  Now for clean up and putting things away, which I’ll spread out over today and tomorrow.  
A satisfying last major project I wanted done on the boat for now to make it how I want it.  The wash down pump will replace the back breaking chore of throwing over a 6 gallon buck over the side to get water to clean fish or clean the deck, and make cleaning fish a lot easier and thorough.

Kickin’ it with Bob

Came off of a subpar ski on the cross country trail at Eaglecrest yesterday and saw I had a phone message.  Bob said if I was ready to fix my ski, he could do it.  I called him back and said I’d stop on the way home.

Bob is a craftsman’s craftsman.  He’s had a hand in most every museum in the state setting up displays, from Dutch Harbor to Utqiagvik to Skagway.  He’s also a stringed instrument builder and repairman.  He supervised the building of the state museum in town.

I’d mounted bindings on the skis, and they were not lined up.  Not centered properly and canted to one side.  But the mount was not off by much, so you can’t just back out the screws, line it up, and reinstall the screws because the new holes will be so close to the old one that you’ll just be making one big hole that the screw will not hold in.

Enter Bob.  While we talked, he methodically went to work.  I helped him back out the old screws.  Then he got a drill of the size of a piece of maple dowel he had, put a piece of tape on the drill bit about a half inch from the tip so he could drill all the holes to the same depth, then drilled out all the holes.  Next he mixed some JB Weld quick setting epoxy and filled each hole.

He then cut little pieces off the maple dowel for each hole with the band saw.  These were going every which way off the saw.  When he was done, we picked the pieces up off the floor and took them over to the ski.

He set a piece of dowel in each hole and pounded it in with a hammer.  Then he took a fine little saw I’d guess he uses for instrument repair and cut the dowels off even with the top of the ski.  Next he used a fine scraper to get them as flush as he could with the ski top.

Now he went to work finding the dead center of the ski. He made his marks with a punch, then drilled down.  He did the top center and back center screws of the nnn binding.  Once these were lined up on the centerline, they would hold the binding in perfect place to put in the two side by side screws of the nnn binding.  By doing the centerline screws front and back first, it was impossible for the binding to move and cant to one side as I had done.  Simple stuff.  Crap, a guy can learn a lot in 30 minutes.

Bob and his wife have helped me out in any number of ways over the years.  I met them through Sara right after we were married, and they are about 10 years older than Sara and I.  Bob welded zincs on the Dutch Master when I needed it.  He helped me plan and build my garage.  Laura, a graphic designer by early trade and social worker later in life, designed our company logo.  She also took a deer backbone, cleaned it all up, glued it together, then painted it to a beautiful art piece she gave me as a present.  Laura and I gather fiddleheads and nettles each spring. Sam used to go with us on the expedition when he was a kid.  Me – I just keep them in deer, moose, salmon, crab, and halibut.  A perfect match.
Took the ski out today to Montana Creek trail with Kurt, and it worked perfect.  

October Deer Hunting

Went down to Craig soon after I returned from Ecuador.  Charlie was supposed to join me soon after I arrived.  Then he slipped on his deck when drinking coffee and smoking a heater, I’m sure, as that’s why he was out there – and he fell on his hand and sprained his wrist.   So no Charlie this year.
The weather was back to regular October weather.  Pouring rain and blowing the rain sideways.  The rain without the wind is tolerable as it allows travel by boat to hunting spots.  But the wind makes the travel and safe anchoring marginal, plus worrying about your boat dragging anchor all day if you do get there.  
The first day was in middle October, when the bucks are not moving all that much.  But I hoped there would still be some salal berries out as I was getting low on jam I’d made a couple years earlier, so I went to a berry hotspot where Charlie and I have taken several deer.  My hip has been bugging the crap out  of me ever since I returned with Kurt on the tug from Ketchikan, and I’ve been getting worried about my hiking abilities.  But the hike in went well.  I got a couple big Costco nut jars full of berries, and called in a few deer but no bucks.  A real nice day.
Ellen mentioned a friend’s advice to freeze the salal berries whole, on the stem, before picking them off the stem.  The salal berries grow more like grapes than they do blue berries.  And the berries don’t pick off their stem that easy.  Her friend was right.  The berries separated from the stem much easier, and there was very little chafe in the berries like there was the last time I made jam.  Nice.  
The weather was crappy the next few days, so I made jam.  I put about 1/2 the volume of sugar as the volume of berries and when the berries were good and cooked, I used an immersion blender I got at Vera’s garage sale to pulverize everything, then canned the jams.  I think I got half a dozen half pints.  I gave one to Barb when she brought by a dozen of her hen’s eggs.
I didn’t get back out for several more days due to weather.  I returned to berry patch site as I knew it would be a safe anchorage compared to some others in the weather.  I hiked in further than I did on the first day to spots we’d taken deer.  I saw some doe but no bucks.  I picked some berries on the way out, as I found some really honey holes near the beach. Then it started pouring again and I thought: are you really going to keep picking berries in this downpour?  I hiked out to the beach, swapped my cork boots for regular Xtra Tuffs, pulled in the boat, then pulled on the punt, and headed towards home.  I cranked up the heater today, and it felt good to be warm.
After a few more days of sideways rain, I got out one more day.  I tried a new island I’d not hunted on the advice of my brother in law.  I found a nice muskeg on OnX.  As I entered the bay, there was a deer on the beach.  Or so I thought.  When I looked through the binoculars, I thought it wasn’t a deer now, as it looked like rocks.  Then the rocks moved, and I saw it was a deer.  From the way it moved, I thought for sure it was a buck.  But I needed to be sure sure.  I idled in and it wasn’t all that nervous, and then I saw it was a buck.  A medium fork horn.
The beach wasn’t very long and I didn’t think I could run to the end of the beach to get off and shoot and think the deer wouldn’t go back in the woods.  I thought I’d try to idle around the point out of sight of the deer, and then come back through the woods to the beach behind him.  But just as I got to the point, he’d had enough and walked back into the woods.  Oh well.  As I headed further into the bay to get to the muskeg, here comes a doe and yearling down the same beach to the water’s edge.   
I went in the bay a little further and when I got across from the muskeg I wanted to go to, the anchorage wasn’t good, so I kept going til it was.  I’d side hill it to the muskeg.  
As I got into the woods, it looked alot steeper than I expected it to be, but I started side hilling it up the hill.   Once I got going, my hip actually feels better when I get it going.  Probably took me 30 to 45 min to get up to the muskeg.  It was a perfect setting, with me perched above and where I could call and not be seen too easily and be in a spot where deer could come from lots of directions without me seeing them till they were close.
I called for an hour or two.  I called a couple of doe in, but no bucks.  It was a beautiful day in the sun and I didn’t want to leave.  I figured I’d take a short cut and go straight down to the beach, then follow the beach back to the boat.   The going down was nice and easy for the first little while.  Right down through some muskeg grass.  Then I came to the edge.  It wasn’t sheer, but almost.  I picked my way down slowly and carefully.  I eventually got to the beach fringe, and started back to the boat.  Across some creek bottoms and around deadfalls.  I got to a spot I could make it easily to the beach, and I took the bait.   I got down to the water’s edge, and followed it back towards the boat.  Then I ran out of beach and into rocks that fell right off to 4 to 6 feet of water.  So I had to scramble up the rock with tightly knit brush until I got back up the to the beach fringe, then finally made my way back to the boat.   I’ve never been happier I didn’t get a deer!  It would have been a serious chore getting it out of that place.  I doubt I’ll go back there.
Made my way home, and decided when I got back and looked at the forecast I better get back to Juneau.  With another volunteer consulting trip coming up, it looked like I’d have a one or two day window where I could fly and then it might be shut down again for another week, and I didn’t want to risk not getting back to get ready.    
I started to button things up, and by the next day was ready to head home with no deer.  Approaching 60, getting deer isn’t as big of importance as it used to be.  Hopefully when I get back in early December I’ll still have time to take a trip on the tug closer to home.

Today’s Short History

I finally made it to Baranof Warm Springs.  I was working on the new boat when Larry called at about noon and asked if I could go with him to BWS, as a group of people were weathered out with their scheduled sea plane service and hoping to get there by boat. A couple hours later, off we go.
It’s a 90 mile run to BWS.  Seas were up to 4 feet going down Chatham, so it was a long slog.  The group was a hearty bunch and nobody got sick.  They were heading for Baranof Wilderness Lodge, where most or all of them, it seemed, had spent many weeks over the years.  You could tell they were anticipating returning to a familiar, favorite place.
We arrived near sunset.  Before we left, Larry warned me we might have to spend the night, so I wasn’t surprised when we decided to do so.  The decision was not difficult. We were greeted at the dock by a thankful lodge crew, relieved their guests had arrived for the week.  The kitchen staff handed us bags of cookies before we had the boat tied up.  Soon, the owner, Mike Trotter, greeted us like long lost friends, invited us to dinner and to spend the night in one of his spare cabins.  We eagerly agreed.
We mingled with the staff and newly arrived guests.  Lots of beer on ice in the cooler.  We felt right at home. Mike was busy taking people’s orders for steaks, and then tended the grill of fresh salmon and a load of steaks.   Turns out Mike had guided out in Bristol Bay on the Nushagak River, just as I had.  We talked of the tremendous king salmon runs to the river back in those days.
As I talked to the age 20 something guides and asked them where they were from, I smiled thinking of my own guiding years in my 20’s and the home states – Minnesota, Montana, Idaho and northern California – were the same home states as guides and staff I worked with then then as these kids now.  All of them to a person seemed happy and content- a sign they worked for a good lodge owner, especially this far into a long, rainy summer season.
Dinner was fantastic.  Perfect steaks, perfect salmon, salad, mashed potatoes, rolls – then ice cream with triple chocolate brownies for dessert.  We ate our fill and more.  
Well after dark, one of the guides ran Larry and I and Jon, the other boat’s captain, up to the little town proper, where we were let in to Mike’s spare cabin.  It was right next to the falls that drain the lake above.   After a long day on the water, we were soon asleep in comfortable beds, with the rushing water from the waterfalls to put us to sleep.
The bay is like a cathedral, with steep treeless mountain tops and a commanding water fall of sorts that cascades down a steep rock face into the head of the bay.  I bet it’s dark and cold here in the winter.  The place is also somewhat magical for me since it was the home for Wayne Short and his family growing up.  He’s the author of several of my favorite books, including The Cheechakoes and This Raw Land, about coming to Southeast Alaska in the 1950s and coming of age in a new land.  The family bought the store and property in Baranof Warm Springs, including the main lodge house compound we were dining in.  I’ve read the books so many times I felt like I’d already been here before many times.
We awoke at 6 and a guide came back for us right on time.  As we walked across the docks on our way to the boardwalk up to the lodge, I studied the fishing gear the lodge used.  The halibut set ups had spin and glos on one side of a three way swivel, with a circle hook on a stout leader on the other, and a snap hanging down to clip on a weight.  The hootchies were white with red in the head – a similar pattern to those I’d had success with further up Chatham this year.
When we got up to the lodge, we were greeted by kitchen staff with plates full of breakfast before we could even sit down.  We ate our fill with the guides as they talked about the day to come.  The cook rang the bell to call the guests to breakfast, and we said our goodbyes and headed down to our boats.  Soon, we were on our way back to Juneau at full speed and fair seas, and tied up in Auke Bay before noon.  I didn’t get a hot soak in the hot springs on this run, and look forward to doing that on the next trip.

February Trip to Tenakee

After postponing due to seas on Tuesday, Larry and I tried again to make it to Tenakee.  We had loads going down and back.  We were delayed about an hour at Auke Bay as passengers were doing last minute shopping, and it was probably a good thing.  A squall came through spitting snow that looks like the insides of a bean bag.
We headed out out about 9 am, and seas were 1 to 2 feet with no white caps.  With our load we were making 14 knots.  I snoozed from Auke Bay to North Chatham, then woke up cold.  I moved up to the captain’s chair and took the helm from Larry to get near the heat.  Seas continued to be fair as we headed south across the mouth of Icy Strait.  We seemed to have caught a weather system change just right.
We arrived in Tenakee between 1 and 2 pm.  I took the opportunity with the light winds to practice steering the jets in tight spots, after watching Larry do it for all the trips till now.  I made it fine into the small boat offloading dock, and our passengers disembarked.  We moved over to the tight spot under the crane along the big dock, and after several tries, I handed it over to Larry, who nestled us in.
Lots of people were up on the dock, including an excellent crane operator, who made the offloading and reloading quick.  We were headed back to Juneau shortly after 3, with just Larry and I on board.
We had a lighter load and made over 22 knots on the way home.  We were back to Auke Bay by 530, and this time I was able to maneuver the boat into a fairly tight spot.  I’m starting to get a feel for it, and Larry’s a patient coach.
Seems like this was the first trip where nothing happened.  No alarms or water where we didn’t want it.  The lack of heat was as expected, and I’d worn my red union suit long underwear in defense.  Hopefully this will be the norm now!

January Boating with Barry

I had a session with Ketchikan scouts as a snow sports merit badge counselor all lined up for Saturday evening.   Then Barry called.  Can you crew with my son and I to take a load of drinking water to Angoon.   
We were to leave at 530 am and be back about 7 pm.  That would work for me to keep my appointment with the scouts.  There were 180 cases of bottled water to offload in Angoon, where their drinking water supply was on the fritz due to problems with their public water system.  Sure I said.
Normally, he might not ask for another crew on such a trip.  But it’s the middle of winter, the load would be near the maximum for his  boat, the cases of bottled water had to be offloaded by hand on the beach, and an extra deckhand would be an added safety measure when there might not be any other boats on the water for the ~ 100 mile trip to Angoon.   Plus, it would be an adventure in an otherwise somewhat idle time here in the archipelago
I knew, and Barry likely knew, full well, based on just about every prior trip, that things would not go as planned.  We would never be back by 7 pm.  But we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.
We left right on time from downtown Juneau.  That was the first flaw in the plan.  If the boat was first sailed to Auke Bay and loaded their instead, we could save 4 or 5 hours.  But, here we were.
The trip was relatively uneventful at the beginning.  Yes, the boat was loaded to about it’s maximum capacity.  But, the seas were fair and the temperature was above freezing.  We noticed about 5 hours into the trip that we were shipping water through the front drop bow seam, and the water was collecting forward.  The water was not casually exiting the scuppers aft of the bow as it should have, and the bow would not raise further with the trim tabs to get the leaky seam out of the water.
When we started bucking some choppy seas from a southeast wind, things seemed to get a little worse.  We tried turning with the wind to get the water holding on deck to escape out the scuppers.  We tried some turns, as well, to shed more water from the deck.  When the deck was dry and the water shipping through the bow got to be in equilibrium with the water exiting the scuppers, we continued on to Angoon.
We arrive near dusk, having not seen a single boat on the water all day.  I handed over the helm to Barry, and he easily navigated the entrance to Mitchell Bay.  I’d fished the area in the Dutch Master years ago, and never had the courage to transit through this entrance, with its mighty current.
Once inside, a crew of lads from Angoon met us on the beach near a dock, and we began unloading the 180 cases of water.   Barry’s son Matt and I helped the Angoon crew while Barry stayed at the helm, and soon we had the pair of pick up trucks loaded.   We offloaded the rest of the water on the beach.  Barry had to stop us from offloading a couple times so he could back the boat off the beach and reposition so as not to get beached on the outgoing tide.
When all the drinking water was offloaded, we tied up to the nearby dock to inspect the bilges before returning home.  By now it was getting on to 4 pm, but I still thought maybe I could make it back by 8 to help the scouts.
When he popped the deck hatch that was directly under the load of water, the hold chamber was full of sea water.  The water shipping on board was going in this bulkhead below decks, and that was what was weighing the bow down further, and why the bow could not be raised with the trim tabs enroute.
Barry got to work checking wires and bilge pumps.  By now, I knew I wasn’t getting back to Juneau in time, so I texted the scout leaders and rescheduled tomorrow.  As they, too, are from an isolated community in this country, the reschedule was not unexpected.
I pulled up the Buffalo Bills home announcer broadcast on the XM radio app on my phone to joyfully listen to the Bills beating the snot out of the Patriots.   I sent and received texts to old college friends who are a successful business family in Buffalo and help one of the Bills players with his charity.  So surreal to be in the middle of nowhere with some invisible signal that allows me to pull in a game out of the ether and correspond with friends 5000 miles away.
As Barry continued with purging the bilges of seawater and the Bills continued running the Patriots, the afternoon turned to evening and darkness.  We had planned returning to Juneau when Larry finished, as the weather was fair.  I then overheard Barry’s son talking to his mom.  His son said “yes mom, I know what your vote is going to be.  The same as it’s always been after dark”.  That gave me a good laugh.  Barry’s wife was voting we stay put in Angoon and come back in the morning. Which made perfect sense, of course.   Why return in the dark when we could return in the morning.
We found a room, the driveway to which was located not 50 yards from the top of the dock ramp.  The place was a fishing lodge in the summer, and the owner had the caretaker warm up our room.  By the time we got there 10 minutes later, it was already toasty warm.  Matt and Larry took the queen bed, and I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag.   Larry returned to the boat to finish wiring the bilge pumps, and Matt and I were soon settled in and asleep.
We awoke at 6 am.  Barry went down to start the boat while I made coffee.  We were underway about 630.  It was past “nautical twilight”, which is a term Barry had introduced me the day before.  It’s the time before sunrise, but when you can see the horizon.  You can see alot on the water several hours before sunrise, even when it’s cloudy.   
We made our way out to Chatham Strait and headed north and home.  It was flat calm.  Barry’s wife was right.  We got a good night’s sleep, light was only going to increase, and seas were flatter than they were the night before.  And we saw no boats on our trip til we were near Juneau several hours later.
Barry calculated we should be able to make the Auke Bay fuel dock with about 25 gallons to spare.  That was kind of cutting it close, but not too bad.  Our options were few as fuel docks in Angoon and other small towns are generally closed on Sundays.  Especially in the winter.   
We made it to Auke Bay in about 3 hours.  We’d polished off the dozen doughnuts I brought for the trip yesterday, and that was all the food I’d brought.   Luckily, Barry had brought a package of dried salami and wedge of cheese, and I put those on stale triscuts for breakfast to go with our coffee.  
As we neared Auke Bay, we saw a few folks out trolling for king salmon near town.  We took on fuel, and  then made the rest of the hour plus trip around Douglas Island and back to Harris Harbor.    I arrived home grateful for another Alaskan adventure, especially in the dead of winter, with Barry and Son.