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’.