Field Trip to Emerald Galvanizing and Lake Union

Whenever Mike and I get to go someplace new to do a boat task, we feel like we are going on a field trip. We always learn so much about things we’ve never been exposed to before. Our major project of the month is the anchoring system, including refurbishing/rebuilding the windlass locker and getting the 300 feet of chain we carry regalvanized. Time for a field trip to Emerald Galvanizing in Seattle, the only game in town.DSC03205

The previous week, we had removed the chain from the chain locker and had it stowed securely in the back of our little red beater truck. My thought was that I would take it up to Seattle on Friday, but Mike didn’t want me to have all the fun by myself. He took a half day off from work, I picked him up, and we tootled up to Seattle.

Emerald Galvanizing is in a small building that you’ll miss if you blink. It literally looks like nothing until you get behind it, where the action it. Then all the mystery is solved and we realized how dead simple it actually was to have this done. When things are unknown, they don’t seem simple. They seem daunting and complex. This was none of the above.

When we drove into the yard, a very nice man (in the photo above)  put a pallet on his truck lift, drove it over to our truck, and removed our chain by hand, piling it on the lift. He’s been at Emerald for 39 years and is getting ready to retire. Makes our time in the saddle pale by comparison.  He was able to tell us right then that our chain was in really good condition. One small area, that we had been concerned about, was just now ready for regalvanizing. This was excellent news as replacing the quality of chain we have would have been a ton of money, as usual. He said the chain would be ready in a week, took our name and phone number, then offered us a tour of the workshop. Fieldtrip! Yay! If only my good camera were not in the shop being cleaned.


Is that the glow from the Crack of Doom?


Don’t even think of putting your hand in there.

This galvanizing business is hot and dirty work. We watched the guys for awhile as they handled the large metal buckets of parts and dunked things into the molten zinc bath. Standing in the work area, we could have been in the depths of Mordor with the molten zinc bath glowing orange, surrounded by dim and grey.  No Orcs in sight, but should I ever come upon a magic ring that keeps evil in power,  I’ll know where to dispose of it.  The mind reels with possibilities.

But no, the workmen were all smiles and waves. And I had to wonder: Do these guys who work here ever get their skin actually clean?

Our chain will be put into the pool of molten zinc, then it will go in a centrifuge that will spin the excess zinc off. We should have it back long before we are finished with the windlass locker, which is turning into quite the project. More on that later. Meanwhile…epoxy epoxy epoxy.

When we finished dropping off the chain, it was mid afternoon on a Friday in summer.  Which means that rush hour starts before 3:00. In Seattle, in rush hour, you aren’t going anywhere. You’re going to be sitting in traffic. No, thank you very much. We were pretty much stuck.  Yes, that’s right, stuck in Seattle on a really nice day. The horror.


The steampunk-looking boiler on the Virginia V.

We decided to seize the day, park the car by Lake Union near the Center for Wooden Boats and go walk around the lake, look at boats,and generally take in the atmosphere. Our favorite Starbucks with its delicious coffee and excellent bathroom for middle aged tourists is close by,  and we could say hello to one of our favorite boats: M/V Lotus, which is docked right there behind the museum. Boats, coffee, bathrooms open to the public. It was a dream date.


in the bowels of the steam engine.

South Lake Union is really a fun place to just walk around and people/boat watch, but you shouldn’t miss seeing the Virginia V, docked right there behind the museum. Launched in 1922, the steamship Virginia V delivered people and goods from Seattle down the water to Tacoma via the west coast of Vashon Island.  She is built entirely of clear Douglass Fir and her steam engine is something to behold, like something out of a steampunk novel, except real.

Our tour guide was an extremely competent young man named Ed. Ed knows probably everything there is to know about this ship, as well as the other boats on the dock. He’s pretty impressive and answers any and all questions with factual information including numbers, dates, names and all. Ed is a history teacher’s dream. Just don’t suggest they might use WD-40 on that engine as a lubricant. One of the guys in our tour group mentioned something on that order. I’m thinking Ed has heard that one before, and his amusement is running thin. I hope I hid my smile well.

With still some time to kill, it seems appropriate to sit on the end of the dock and dangle our feet in the cool water of Lake Union. You don’t have to worry about sharks taking a foot off because… it’s a LAKE! All the little sailboats are racing each other, seaplanes are coming and going, it’s a cool place to hang out for an hour. greensailboat

I’d say that if you are looking for an interesting afternoon, go have a tour of the Virginia V after you drop off your anchor chain at Emerald Galvanizing. Ask for Ed. You’re going to learn some history, and there will be no test later!

Oh, and by the way. Here’s a piece of good news for you: When we left the truck, I accidentally left my window rolled all the way down. As in completely down. Mike’s bike was in the back of the truck, locked, but drawing attention. Mike’s backpack was in the cab, my bag from Nordstrom Rack with new walking sandals was in the cab. When we returned, all was exactly as we left it. No one took anything! Yeah, I know there’s no drama to this. No one stole anything, no one was shot, pretty much nothing at all happened.  That’s the point. Just a piece of good news about humanity in a week of pretty shitty news otherwise. People are mostly good. If they weren’t, then the bad things reported on the ‘news’ would not be ‘news’.




Introducing “Penguin”, Our Newest Addition to the Fleet

While we were here hemming and hawing about which dinghy we should get, wanting a Portland Pudgy, but not wanting to spend the money on a new one, and wasting time going to see inflatables and Mintos that got sold out from under us, the Universe was busy organizing a big surprise. Low and behold, on July 4, someone named Aaron in Port Townsend listed a white Portland Pudgy on Craigslist for exactly the amount of money I was willing to spend on a used one: way less than 1/2 the price of a new one.  I saw the ad within 2 hours of its listing, got so excited I emailed the guy twice just to be sure he got my message, and the next day I drove up to Port Townsend and put her in the back of my beater truck. I’ve never been so successful at Craigslist scrounging.

She fits in the back of our beater truck like she was made to go home with us!

She fits in the back of our beater truck like she was made to go home with us!

Honestly, we are pretty stoked that we’ve scored a Pudgy without paying retail price for it.  I hear through the grapevine at the marina that ‘all the cool kids have Pudgies’.  I’ve always wanted to be a ‘cool kid’. Who knew that at the ripening age of mid-50’s I might finally belong to a club that I might even want to belong to? Or that would accept me as a member.  Between being gifted charts for the west coast and finding this deal on the Pudgy, it’s been quite a week. I begin to think we might just be pulling this plan off.

So now that we have ‘Penguin’, some decisions that have been hanging like chads on a ballot can be finalized. We will get the life raft kit for her. The boat came with pieces to make our own sail rig. We’ll give that a go. We’d like to have the Pudgy sail kit, but it’s not really a requirement and we should be able to rig something decent from the pieces that came with the boat. We have wanted a sailing dinghy for a long time. This will be fun!

Penguin, not in her natural habitat.

You’ll notice on our new ‘gear to buy‘ list that I’ve left the RIB and engine on that list. That’s because we will likely go ahead and have a RIB on board, but now we aren’t in any hurry to get it. We understand that there are times when really the RIB is the best choice of tenders,  so we haven’t given up on that. To be clear, Universe, that’s a Hypalon RIB with a folding transom,  about 10’ long. If we can get the Achilles HB300FX that stows in its own bag, that would be great!

We’re looking forward to getting this pudgy little Penguin down to the docks to give her a spin and say howdy to the other Pudgies at the marina.

We Heart Charts

A while back my blogging friend Ellen over at The Cynical Sailor and His Salty Sidekick mentioned that she scored a bunch of paper charts on the ‘free’ table at her marina in Florida. I might have been just a wee bit envious of her score because we really need paper charts on board Galapagos. We can buy charts at about $25.00 a pop, but we need a lot of them, so that begins to very quickly add up to a ton of money, especially as they will not be our primary means of navigation. And especially as we have many other things we need to get. (Hey, I’ve spent some time updating our project list and creating a list of things we still need to buy.  Check them out.) I began to double down on focusing on getting charts to appear somehow. Somewhere.  charts2

So why do we even want to carry paper charts? Isn’t that going a bit too far? Well, considering that the paper charts will be back ups to our back up to our back up, I can see why people who do not travel by boat might wonder that. But our GPS, great as it is, just cannot take the place of a big paper chart. With big charts there is no scrolling around on an electronic device, no zooming in and out on a relatively small screen, and generally no driving old eyes insane. You can see at a glance and a magnifying glass what the coastline looks like, what kinds of depths you will find, where might be a good place to tuck in for the night. You get the ‘big picture’ fairly quickly. They are also dead best for route planning. No one sits around the table dreaming and planning about their voyage over a hot GPS screen. Charts are required for that. So I want them. We heart charts.

Enter a man named Gary. Gary works on ferry boats and lives on a sailboat at our marina. He also used to work on tug boats where he was in charge of keeping the charts updated. Gary has a garage at the marina; we have a garage at the marina. Gary was cleaning out his garage, I was getting rid of stuff from ours, putting it in the ‘free’ area. I noticed these HUGE rolls of charts sticking out of his garbage box.

“You throwing those away?” I asked, breath held ever so gently, eyes casual.
He says yep, he is.
“We are looking for charts for our trip down the coast. Would you mind if I took them off your hands?”
He didn’t mind if I took what was trash for him, but could be treasure sure as the world for me.

I scurried away, charts bundled tightly under both arms lest he change his mind. Two days later, Mike would deliver a couple of 6 packs of good beer to his boat by way of ‘thanky very much, fellow sailor!’. Can we use his old charts? Why yes. Yes we can.  charts3

What a gold mine! There are charts that show the entire west coast of the United States, including up to Alaska. There are charts for the Columbia River and Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, even Hawaii! Mike and I had too much fun looking over each one and sorting them in piles. Want, Don’t Want, Wish we wanted but we probably don’t. We were kind of a little bit in heaven. Both of us love paper charts. There is something, I don’t know, so ‘tactile’ about them.

These charts are several years old, of course. So they need updating, and you wouldn’t want to use them as your primary means of navigation without updating them. Fortunately for us, NOAA has the updates on line and has made it simple, if time consuming. You simply enter a chart number, and a list of the updates will be given.

Here's a screenshot of the kinds of updates you will find.

Here’s a screenshot of the kinds of updates you will find.

Most of the changes are minor, such as moving a buoy a bit. But there could be changes in depth in areas, and there are additions and deletions to aids to navigation. I took to the interweb site to update this chart of the coast of Washington State.  charts4

Yeah, I could use some actual tools for plotting on charts, but for now this sheet rock square helped. By way of example, I had to move a buoy just a little further from the rocks on this chart. I plotted the new location for the buoy, which, frankly wasn’t very different from the first location and I thought , ‘man if we couldn’t find that buoy without a location that was precise to the minute, we probably have more problems than an out of date chart’. Still, we’re talking crunchy rocks here that this buoy alerts us to, so it’s not like it’s unimportant.

The black dot is the new location. Not too far from the old, but still, it's either correct or it isn't. Now it is.

The black dot is the new location. Not too far from the old, but still, it’s either correct or it isn’t. Now it is.

Again, these are back ups to our backups. They are great for getting an overall picture, and for planning, plotting,  and dreaming. So if the shit hits the fan and every single one of our other navigation tools somehow fails us, we can take that trusty little sextant out of the cupboard and carry on! (Yeah, we’ll blog about that another day.)

We’ll choose the ones that are most useful to us and then update them. But we’ll also buy a couple of new charts that are the most important ones, just to be sure. This has saved us a lot of money and we’re very grateful! Next, we’d really like to find some charts of the Pacific Coast south of our border, and the Sea of Cortez, Central America, the Galapagos Islands, the south Pacific Islands, you name it.  We’ll buy them off you if you’ve done your trip and don’t need them anymore. Pass the word to your friends! We heart charts.