Summer is definitely here… Could it please leave now?

On June 08, 2011 In Boat, Captains Log

34 degrees Celsius? Honestly? For Pete’s sake this weather is not being kind.

Fortunately we have 1 weapon available for the time being… The lake. It’s still cold water in there so the cargohold stays at a much cooler temp than the pilot house etc which does get very hot. Next week I’ll be dragging the in window AC unit down to put into one of our windows in said pilot house. Cool air should fall from there into the lower areas eventually much more easily than the issue we had in winter where hot air apparently decided to not rise from the cargo holds fire place.

We also install the other 1/2 of the cabinets in the galley and I have a few pictures of that. Just haven’t had a moment to upload them given how busy work has been. sigh

Back home at TIM

On April 25, 2011 In Boat, Captains Log

As cheesy as this sounds it really felt like a home coming when we got back to TIM this past Friday. Before we get to far into it here’s the path we took:


View Pier 4 to TIM April 2011 in a larger map

Originally we had planned to make this trip a lot bigger by going out the Western gap then coming in through the Eastern gap and coming into TIM. We didn’t do this for a number of reasons.

  1. During winter we used quite a bit of fuel for heating with the Webasto. Near the end we had sorted out the system a bit more thus we got it to use less but still that ate through a quite a lot of fuel.
  2. We couldn’t get a fuel truck in to give us more fuel. This was rather ridiculous overall. We wanted 1500L of undyed diesel delivered to us for heating and general fuel (The Webasto is a fuel oil system and fuel oil is just dyed diesel. Legally we can’t run dyed diesel in the boat since we can use it for moving the ship around and undyed diesel is taxed in a particular way for non-commercial transportation…. It’s a bit confusing but whatever)
  3. Timing. Basically since the fuel issue was around we could do the trip in a short while and get ourselves safely across, have a drink or 2, and call it a day for Easter weekend. If we had stayed around longer the day would get a bit longer for the entire crew and we’d all get home late.

Overall the entire trip went fairly well with only the typical issues associated with manually dragging a large ship with the wind blowing it into the marina through a narrow channel. Lots of rope and some elbow grease and we were able to pull Pathfinder through the bridge and passed one of the docks that was pointing into the channel a bit. The engine then started up alright and we headed on off across the harbour to the Islands (A trip of 2km roughly). Things were going well until we were just shy of the 1/2 way point when the engine started to conk out the way an engine does when it has no fuel. A number of questions raced through my head really quickly.

Had my last fuel sounding been off drastically?

Did we really not have 600L’s in fuel left?

Were we going to be in serious trouble and get blown into the airport before we got rescued?!

Turns out none of those. Apparently right before winter we shutoff the fuel lines to the engine just to stop any fuel leaks we might have. So ya. Whoops! This just reinforces that I need to get a sensor array working in the engine rooms so we have a ships status screen of some sorts.

The other issue that we had was the weather. It was gorgeous no doubt but when I had woken up that day it was perfectly calm with NO wind at all. By the time we were ready to set off (around 11:45) the wind had picked up and was starting to blow the ship sideways (Ships such as Pathfinder have no sails and don’t use wind as a mode of transportation BUT since we have a super structure [The house like section above the hull part of the boat] we have a lot of something called “freeboard” which is the amount of surface area of the ship above the water. THIS acts like a sail and since Pathfinder has a LOT of weight it takes a lot of pulling to stop it from drifting away since the wind was blowing us west into the middle of the marina.). By the time we got to the Deep Pike Cut, where we have to keep an eye out for a hidden sand bar that depending on the water depth, we couldn’t see through the waves since it was a bit choppy. Regardless we made it through with no issues and managed to get to our dock with no incident… minus our dock have 2 ships on it temporarily which got out of our way REALLY quickly.

Once tied up it was like a really nice home coming. Saw a lot of faces I recognized and they recognized our crew back which was nice. So now everything is as it should be. Back at the island where it’s nice and quiet, the cottage country in the middle of down town Toronto.

Big thanks to Niel, Sandy and John Cameron along with Marjorie. Also thanks to Shane from Pier 4 for helping with the ropes. Naturally a HUGE thanks to my Dad for piloting us across (something I hope to learn how to do properly this year)!

Cookin’ up a galley in the kitchen.

On March 24, 2011 In Boat

As the title indicates we’ve been working on the galley space a bit. FINALLY we have a room that has a well defined purpose other than the engine room. That being said it’s not complete but it’s got the gray cabinets up and in place with a counter on top now. Regardless we now have this:

So although we don’t have any sink or anything like that you can see the space is really well defined now! :)

Next up I’m back off to the cargo hold to finish some metal work and to get back to working on the buttress so we can move our bedroom down there instead. Busy busy as usual!

Heat wave! Oi! Oi!

On March 08, 2011 In Boat, News

Again I have failed in updating my blog in a timely manor. Saying that I’ve been busy is kinda redundant at this point, regardless though here’s the much awaited update including more pictures including a few of the interior!

In case people are missing the title reference here’s the YouTube from “A Muppet Christmas Carol”

Anyways turns out that this heater is crazy efficient at creating, well, heat. I can actually make some rooms 30 Celcius easily. The cargo hold for instance can keep VERY warm with 1 heater (ok the HUGE one) going on low. Both Jeannie and myself can now effectively LAUGH in the face of cold! HA! HAAAAAA!!! Well until what happened yesterday happened. Thanks to a migraine we didn’t come back Sunday night from up north and we were only able to make it back yesterday thanks to Jeannie driving all the way down. When we got back after some shopping for some parts for the boat the Webasto was off (We knew this’d happen as a result of not enough fuel in the reserve tank since we didn’t top it off before we left on Sunday). When I went down to the engine room to rehook up the fuel pump (I had taken it off because I wanted to reseal it all and mount it on a shelf) I noticed that radiator fluid was everywhere, we had a new leak. Near the bottom of the entire system we have basically a T section so we can drain the entire system if we need to or want to, the fittings that were holding the valve in earlier were leaking a bit so I had tightened them, which apparently caused it to leak more. ALSO there was a leak in the connection between the Webasto and the T itself which was new. So while migrained up and now stoned on Tylenol 3 (I had taken it before I went to fix it thinking that I only had to top up the fuel, then I could take a nap) and with the help of Jeannie we drained the system, fixed the connections, recharged the system and got our heat back. FUN! But it wasn’t stressful really. Maybe I’m just now used to this sort of crisis happening or perhaps I’m just like “Meh. I can handle this biznitch!” So ya. THAT was yesterday.

Interior wise we’ve been busy doing stuff. I’ve literally worked in every section of the boat at some time or other over the past few months. We cut the last of the metal out of the bathroom for headroom in the shower area, I’ve started on the buttress on the port side (We have no other term for it really. Basically since a boats walls curve we built a section of wall straight out like a shelf 1/2 way down then from the front edge of the shelf we build straight to the floor. In the space behind there we can put things like electrical, plumbing, the heaters etc.), reorganized the bow area, worked on the galley a bit (we have a cabinet area in there that we just need to finish securing this week. Thanks Dad!), and electrical for all the fans etc.

The headache is coming back so I’ll leave you with these pictures.

Josh vs The Webastard

On February 15, 2011 In Boat, News

Wow. So it’s been a month since my last update. Huh. I wonder how that happened… Whoops.

Anyways I’ve been very busy lately which is 1 reason for the lack of posts. I’ll get some photos up once I have sorted out the heating system aka the Webastard. So the way the ship will be heated is through what is essentially a boiler system that heats up a fluid (Basically anti-freeze used in engines which is also called glycol) that’s pumped around the ship through pipes to radiators that have fans on them. For Pathfinder we have basically 3 areas that are being heated on separate lines from the main manifold for the entire system. There’s a line for the galley that goes to 2 medium sized radiators, a BIG line to the cargo hold that has 1 medium and 1 large radiator (the large one is capable of pumping 36,000BTU’s out) and 1 small one that resides in the bathroom, and finally a line that goes to the pilot house for another medium one and the reservoir tank for bleeding air out of the system and adding extra glycol too. All the fluid is pumped and heated by a central Webasto heating system that with minimal fuel can produce 103,000 BTU’s of heat.

Although this system sounds complicated (it sorta is) it’s very efficient. Well… Rather it WILL be once all the kinks in the system are hooked up. Which brings me to why it’s called the Webastard now.

You’d figure that when you ship a heater it’d be ready to run with all the safety wiring hooked up properly or with notes to say “Hey. We ship this unplugged so it won’t work.” Yaaaa no. So the fuel pump system is hooked up in series to a bunch of sensors that are either 100% working or if there’s an issue 100% not working. They include 1 for overheating (stop the system from melting), 1 for a lack of flame in the combustion chamber (stop the system from flooding with fuel), and another one for no glycol in the system. So if any of these are not working then the fuel pump won’t go. So… IF that’s not documented and you’re hooking this up yourself you’d say waste a bunch of time trying several fuel systems before giving up after spending oodles of cash on alternative fuel delivery systems such as secondary tanks, pumps etc. Turns out what the issue was was that 1 plug in the sensors was not plugged in on purpose during their testing and was just left unplugged when it was delivered. This little tid bit could’ve meant that I’d have had heat over 2 weeks ago.

Personally I think this was some sort of evil German scientist plot to overthrow the world by denying people heat. This sounds like something some guy in a white lab coat with a crazy accent would do.

“Professor! We have completed the new heater that’s extremely efficient and will help keep people warm!”

“Excellent. UND now zat vee are over throwing zee heating industry vee shall launch phase 2 of zee plan! Unplug zee sensors and tell no one about it!” DUN dun DUUUUUUUUUUUUN

At least that’s how it sounds in my head.

I got that sorted out with tech support guy Gilbert et voila! The system roared to life… FILLING the engine room with exhaust. After clearing that out I sealed the exhaust system a few times (it wouldn’t stay sealed. Not enough sealant).

Finally the day came where I could get the radiators running. Which on that day 3 things happened in quick succession.

  1. I found a new leak in the exhaust
  2. The medium sized radiators all blow backwards from the way we expect
  3. A pipe exploded out of one of the clamps in the system flooding the cargo hold with steam AND glycol.

Exciting eh? So after the explosion that’s left a Jackson Pollock painting on the wall I’ve clamped everything up, re-sealed the exhaust and tonight we finish modifying the medium radiators so that we can use them as we had intended. Whew. See? I’ve been busy.

Pictures will be coming after I sort out the heating so that people can see the progress of the interior.

Hard afloat!

On January 20, 2011 In Boat

During the summer season we were hard aground for several weeks and even when we left port we had to essentially throttle the ship way up to pull ourselves off the mud. Aside from that the way we knew we were hard aground was the fact that the ship wasn’t moving at all when we were on it. This is common in the latter days of summer and fall since the water levels typically slowly get lower and lower. Fortunately Pathfinder has the umph to pull itself off (T-Boats of my sort were designed to do just that in war time).

Fast forward to now.

We have ice in the harbour. LOADS of it. In my previous post you can see the ice there. What you can’t see is how thick it was. 4 to 5 inches. Enough that one could stand on it even though one shouldn’t try (I tested my weight on it while holding onto the ship to make sure I wasn’t going to fall in). Oddly enough this had the same effect as being hard aground. The ship simply wasn’t moving anywhere and was even heeled over at about 5 to 10 degrees (this was probably due to the ice pushing against us which pushed us against the ice on the side of the concrete wall). Anyways we chopped away at the ice and Dad installed an agitator from our friends at HMP and we seem to have leveled out significantly. Thanks Dad!

Basically what an agitator is and does is that it’s a fan/propeller that you put below the ice and have it stir up the warmer water just below the surface. 2 things happen then. Ice doesn’t form on moving water so it keeps any new ice from forming. Secondly any existing ice will be turned to slush since it is warmer water below the ice (although it’s only just above freezing below the ice that is “warmer” than the ice. So it melts it.).

Until next time. Later all.

Winter is here to stay

On January 10, 2011 In Boat

1 thing that is a bit of a bummer and bonus about living in Toronto and global warming is that winter doesn’t really start until mid January now. This sucks because frankly I like snow. Snow makes things nice and white (Toronto looks clean while its snowing for instance!), it also has a sound dampening effect on the city itself so you can really just enjoy the snow by yourself despite all the people in the city. Basically the more winter is like Charlie Browns Christmas the better. The part that sucks mind you is that you need it to be cold to have snow… which wouldn’t be a big issue if we still weren’t trying to iron out heating on the boat at the moment but at current we do have to abandon ship once in a while because it’ll get too cold. I hope by this week to get most of the radiators attached. This weekend will be the big push for completing the heating system, but FRIDAY I’m taking off because I’m off to the Toronto Boat Show. I hope to score some deals or at least find out what sort of gear I can get and is available this year to make life more comfortable on the ship.

Although I’m making the boat sound slightly uncomfortable it really is my favourite place in Toronto. The neighbors are quiet, the view is dynamite, and the commute is awesome (10 minute walk). Plus every time I work on it there’s a noticeable difference on the interior. Before the weekend I put down some more plywood flooring to get ready for the radiator up in the pilot house and earlier in the week I installed the radiator in the bathroom. So we’re making good progress. Just need to invent the 48hr day I think. :P

Here’s a few choice pictures of Pathfinder during the snow storm we had just last week. 6 inches is quite a lot for Toronto really lately especially within like 10hrs or so (basically this all fell overnight).

Holy crap… It’s December!

On December 01, 2010 In Boat, Uncategorized

Who’s done all their Christmas shopping raise their hands… … … Good I’m not the only one that hasn’t done it yet either. WHEW!

I, like many in my family (read all), find it incredibly difficult to get into the Christmas “mood” when there isn’t any snow around. While my parents house has certainly had snow since they’re further north than I am it isn’t exactly white up there yet. To use a phrase that’ll make me sound a skillion years old, when I was a kid I remember having snow that hung around by the end of October. Seriously. No lie! I literally got dressed in my Halloween costume, threw on a winter coat and go trudging with my parents to get that sugary loot we were all after back then.

Annnnnd then there’s now. It’s been pouring rain for nearly 3 days straight now. When we DO get snow Toronto wusses out and calls in the army to clear out the snow. For Pete’s sake (which Pete is referred to in that phrase I’ll never know. Lets go with Peter Jackson director of Lord of the Rings… That sounds about right.) this town used to get snowed in regularly, now we get a few days of heavy snow and all hell breaks loose? Sheesh.

Now… I do have to admit that there is 1 bonus to a distinct lack of winter weather right now. That is… the temperature. We now HAVE the heater for the boat but we have to get time to install the sucker and run the hoses to the radiators. So ya. Not all bad. But it doesn’t make it any easier to get all Christmasy with this weather we have.

I wonder how many people would get behind moving Christmas to say January so we at least have snow? I mean think about it. New Years typically has snow. There’s already a party going on. Why not merge the 2 celebrations? Or better yet make them run back to back so everyone can just nurse one horrific hangover after 2 days of partying instead of doing it twice in the span of a week or so. Hmmmm… ;)

The sea’s were getting rough, the little ship was tossed…

On November 25, 2010 In Boat, News

No we didn’t go for a 3 hour tour recently in the boat but with the weather as it is currently the marina we’re in is more akin to a washing machine than a calm harbor. Basically whenever the winds kick up the waves out in the lake (especially if the wind is coming from the south at all) all the wave action starts to funnel into the marina area tossing around all the boats there. It’s times like these I’m happy that Pathfinder has serious bulk on its side so the waves have a harder time moving us around but even then there are times when Jeannie and I will be there and we’re both feeling a bit sea sick. But to make ourselves feel better we look out the window at the other ships in the marina. Dear LORD I have no idea how those people stay in bed with the boats tossing like they do. It was SO rough this morning that one of our fellow boaters was tossed from the dock into the water. He was alright and some people were able to help him get out but still… BIG waves (just a note out there to people worried that the same will happen to the crew of the Pathfinder, don’t worry. We’re tied up to the concrete wall so when we stand on our “dock” we’re actually standing on land not a floating platform).

If the weather is still as rough as it is now tonight I’ll take some photos of the waves going by the entrance of the marina. BIG white caps.

Also these waves should be moderated out a LOT more in the coming week when Kajama and the Empire Sandy arrive in our area… Like they said they were about 3 weeks ago… I’m not exactly holding my breath BUT it would be nice for them to be there to help curb the wave action we’re suffering through some nights.

Sorry for the meandering post there. I woke up early to the weather and a lot of crashing noises which turned out to be the ships on the other side getting tossed around roughly. So I’m a bit disoriented. Fortunately today should be fairly light work wise.

Also GOOD LUCK JEANNIE on your second interview!

Roughing it in TO

On November 06, 2010 In Boat, Captains Log

Jeannie and I have just completed on the Pathfinder at Pier 4 (more or less). Things have been going rather well even if the ship isn’t 100% complete. We now have most of the equipment ready to be installed but we’re still working on wood work. Today I hope to get the galley paneled and with Dad’s help get some electrical run. Although that sounds like a rather large amount of work Dad and I have decided that if we don’t get to it, then we don’t get to it. This week is our week of recovery since the mad rush we did the end of last week (where we did the majority of the wood work, finished 90% of the insulation and vapor barrier installation, and brought Pathfinder across to Pier 4.

Wow. You can really tell this is an early morning post. I’m just meandering all over the place with topics. Whew. Ok. I need coffee…

Back to how it was on board Pathfinder. Most of the time the temperature right now hovers around 20 degrees Celsius in the pilot house which has become our temporary master bedroom until the wood work in the cargo hold is done (right now it’s acting as wood storage and my workshop). The bathroom right now is by far the most insulated place in the entire boat… considering it’s holding onto all the last batons of insulation ready for installation when we have the rest of the framing up for the cargo hold. The galley right now has a picnic table in it along with some of the rest of our miscellaneous gear and kitchen utensils. We hope to have this mostly sorted out say end of next week but we probably won’t drop the mattress down to the cargo hold until the week after some time since next weekend we’re getting our HUGE Wabasto heater for the boat. This new heater will be total overkill for our purposes and is a bit pricey… But at this point a bit of overkill on heat for the coming winter is a good thing :)

Aside from the mess and general disorganized nature we’re living in, Jeannie and I are happy. We have our own space! :D

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