Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Great Salt Plains Afternoon

Jerusalem Artichoke growing thick along the lake shore.

Much of the lake is very shallow, making a perfect haven for waterfowl.
Without spending four hours in the car and driving 200 miles round-trip, there’s so little to do in NW Oklahoma that we find ourselves bored, stale, and imprisoned by our property markers. A couple days ago we just had to break loose for awhile and get out of town. We’ve been to the Great Salt Plains Lake many times with family, picnicking, camping, but even a well-worn path becomes a break from the norm after awhile, and it’s only an hour away.

This cicada had already shed, leaving its exterior hanging in a tree.

We were there at exactly the worst time for expecting to take any wildlife pictures, six hours after morning twilight and 6 hours before evening twilight, the times when wildlife is most active. Yet, just seeing and walking through natural surroundings for a couple hours gave us much needed balm for our nerves and dispositions.

The tasselled heads of grass swaying in the breeze.

The lake is right on a major North American migratory route for many bird and waterfowl species, so much of the lake is shut down for large segments of the year to protect the travel-weary birds. We were a bit early for seeing many birds, but apparently right on time for peak grasshopper and cicada activity. The air was filled with the sharp, shrill chirping of millions of male cicadas to the point of being the dominant sound. There were so many grasshoppers that we were continually being struck by the unskilled flying bugs. We saw only three other people during our stay, making our time along the shore restful and uninterrupted.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Picture of the Day

Credit: Bruce Taylor
"There are those who believe we can have our high technology, continue at the same pace, and still preserve our world.  I doubt that this will be possible.  The only alternative is to reverse our dominant attitude toward the earth and in our use of it, recognize that man is part of nature, and that his welfare depends on it, always has, and always will, [and] on living in harmony with it."
Sigurd F. Olson
...from Open Horizons, 1969

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rescue Dove

One of Jean's rescued critters has been returned to the great outdoors.  The dove was only a few days old when it was discovered after having been blown out of its nest.  A homeowner had found it on the ground under a tree while mowing his lawn.  It was brought to Jean and hand raised.  The work that goes into rescuing a small animal or bird is not unlike the first few weeks of life for a human infant.  They have to be cleaned, fed every three hours through the night and every two hours all day, have their abdomen stroked to stimulate the intestinal track.  Hot water bottles are warmed at every feeding, wrapped in fleece to prevent accidental burns, and placed in the cage to keep them from being chilled. 

After being released, the dove stopped waiting for Jean to clean it, and
started preening on its own.  Its feathers now look smooth and silky.
Finally the bird was weened to solid food, move progressively to larger and larger cages so they strengthen their wings, and provided with perches of different materials and sizes to strengthen their feet. When this one appeared ready, Jean opened the cage door. The animal is routinely left to make their own decision, and is not just thrown into the air. Sometimes they go in and out of the cage for several days, and back and forth to the guaranteed food supply, before deciding to make on their own. This one, however, seemed confident that it was ready to go. It flew first from the patio up onto the eave of the house. Shorly it flew a sortie around the yard and landed on the peak of the roof. Within a couple minutes another dove landed next to it, then another. Shortly there were about ten other doves joining to welcome the new kid to the neighborhood. We have seen it here several times, and it seems to be doing fine and is part of a large local community of doves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Bloom is off the Summer

It is certainly a refreshing change to see the seasons changing.  The shoulder seasons are my favorites.  They could last for five months each, to suit my taste, leaving just enough winter and summer between to prevent anyone from going into shock by the sudden changes in weather.  The milder weather, softer sunlight, and silky-soft breezes have me desperate for some paddling and camping.

James came and picked up his dory a couple days ago.  With that diversion done, I'm back on my hands and knees in the flower beds, but should be able to get a respite from that shortly.  Before leaving summer too far in our wake, it's worth a moment to celebrate the blossoms that have thanked us for our efforts.

I'm certainly no gardening expert, not even a dauber, but to me there is no flower that puts as much effort into its blossoms as the daylily, nor another flower with as much color and variety.

This colorful beauty is another daylily that Michele, Jean's friend, gave to her for Jean's birthday.  Besides the wonderful blossoms in the foreground, you can see another half-dozen buds in the background awaiting their turn.

This is a red honeysuckle that has covered a section of fence we provided for it to climb on.  This has tripled the number of hummingbirds we have had this year.

Yellow daylilies, yellow cannas, and purple Russian sage.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Picture of the Day

Credit: Assassins-Creed, Native American Canoe
"An overgrown lawn is not deadly, but boredom is." Kaydi Payette 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dory Repair - Final

Since you were all good enough to follow me through the repair process, here are some pictures of the finished job. 

Here's the Cape Dory 14 with full sail set.  We had a very, very rare day of light breezes for working on the rig.  This picture was taken without a downhaul, which I provided for below, and hopefully that will take some of the wrinkles out of the sail.

The sail with the brailing line holding the sail and rig out of the way for rowing, beaching, docking, or any other non-sailing occasion.  I left the brailing line tail long enough so that without the need for another line, the tail of the brailing line just passes back through the tack and serves as a downhaul.

Both cleats, with both lines made off and the foredeck clear.  While it would involve getting the extra line out of the way before using either the halyard or brailing line, there's still room for even the bow line to be coiled and hung there.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dory Repair - 2

When making small fairing repairs, there is a lot to recommend taking a couple minutes to tape off the area with masking tape. The amount of sanding needed, the most disgusting and time consuming part of any boat repair, is reduced substantially. Once the fairing putty is created, use a flexible polyethylene squeegee, or for more precise control, a fairing squeegee with a metal blade, to spread the putty over the area being filled or faired. The more precise your work now, the less you’ll have to sand, or even refill, later.

For those without a lot of boat repair experience, a word about mixing resins is important. The two most frequent failures in mixing resins is handling small quantities, and inadequate mixing. The importance of mixing small quantities is that minor differences in measuring parts A and B will greatly, and adversely, affect the mixing ratios. When I speak of small quantities, I’m talking about part A quantities of two tablespoons. The risk is in not getting enough catalyst to properly harden the resins. As measured quantities increase for more substantial repairs, ratios are easier to handle with less error.

Comparing the two pictures, you can immediately see how much sanding
area has been eliminated.  All the overrun above has been eliminated, making
the job neater and easier to sand.
The best description I’ve seen about the importance of mixing resins went like this: Mixing is always important, but with polyester resins, the molecules will seek each other out to link and create a bond. The epoxy resin molecules of parts A & B, however, have to be mixed well enough that the molecules are immediately adjacent to each other to link. Thus, inadequate mixing counts as the number one cause of resins not hardening properly. Small quantities, in a tuna fish can, should be mixed for 3 minutes. Larger amounts should be mixed for 5 minutes, even with a power stirrer.

The foredeck after gelcoat repair and painting.
To create a fairing putty, once the epoxy is properly mixed, add the thickening agent slowly as it is mixed in until you get the consistency that you like. Experience will tell what you find most workable. You want it thick enough that it won’t sag on sloping or vertical surfaces. I look for something half way between peanut butter and wood putty. Getting it too thick wastes materials, weakens the putty, and makes smooth, even spreading more difficult. Also remember that the resin will warm up as it’s chemical process begins, so putties will always get slightly thinner, making sags more likely. Always check back a few times on previous work to making sure it is staying where you want it until it begins to harden.

Its proper name is a boom saddle, but on such a small boat it looks
more like a 3/4-in. plywood donut.  The damage to the foredeck was
from the jaws of the boom grinding and banging on the foredeck.
It's a lot easier to sand and paint the saddle than doing fiberglass and
gelcoat repair to the deck.  Here, the jaws come onto the basically
sacrificial boom saddle instead.
There are specialized thixotropic agents, which I used to use a lot when doing polyester work. It was a two step mixing process using both thixotropic powder and microspheres. With epoxy, I find it easier to go straight to microspheres. I use West System 410 Microlight Fairing Filler. It is great stuff to work with, and it cuts sanding time substantially. There is one caveat. The microspheres are a thermoplastic-based filler, so caution may be needed in using such a filler under dark painted surfaces like dark blue or black, which will be heated to extreme temperatures by the sun.

P.S. - I would think Cape Dory had some way of dealing with the boom saddle issue when the boat was first built.  Cape Dory has an owner forum, and I'm going to check with other owners to see if there are other ideas, but this saddle seems the best option thus far, but I'm not done with the matter.  Another way would be to make a 1/4-inch fiberglass sheet and cut out a boom saddle and just leave it unpainted.  We'll see.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dory Repairs

When you start with delaminated material, you will have no idea how large the repair will be.  Just start with what is visible.  From there, you will just follow the damaged material until you get back to solid fiberglass.  Here, the objective was to get to the fiberglass.  First, I gave up making repairs with polyester resin decades ago.  Everything is done with epoxy, but even epoxy won't adhere to soft filler materials.  The cracks were followed with a Dremel tool until there was no further evidence of crazing or delamination.

The delaminated materials are ground out until we are again to solid fiberglass.  If you notice, at the right end, there is a cove where the liner has chipped out.  This is a clear sign you aren't done.  I slid a knife under the liner and shipped away loose material, and continued grinding for several more inches.

This was a larger damaged area in the stern.  You see the same abrupt edge at the right end, again showing that we're not done, and more loose material needs to be chipped and ground away.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Dory and Duckworks

I’m a bit ahead of the blog with my projects. Most of my time has been spent crawling around on my hands and knees in excess of 2,400 sq. ft. of flower bed weeding, cleaning, trimming, spraying, and mulching in preparation for fall. It’s raining today---blessed rain---so I’m out of the flower bed, and it’s too humid for painting, so here I am.

The crazing and cracks, plus two concentric circles of damage
where the jaws of the boom have rubbed.  We'll try to correct this.
This is around the mast step tube on the foredeck.
James dropped his Cape Dory 14 off at the house Monday a week ago. I have dived into the project a bit, and called him right away with some good news. We had a couple spots where there was delamination in the cockpit sole. We didn’t know if it was fiberglass delaminating or what, but it turns out that the problem is nothing but cosmetic. A pigmented gel is sprayed inside the cockpit so the fiberglass isn’t translucent. Those of us in Kevlar boats are all too familiar with watching the waves pass by our hulls, but in fiberglass boats they like to project a more robust illusion, so work hard to keep light from shinning through the hull. The gel had cracked and separated from the fiberglass hull material, so it is nothing more than chipping and sanding all the loose material away and putting a new epoxy coat on the inside of the hull. It will then be primed, painted light blue, and have non-skid material applied between two coats of finishing paint.

There are other spots of crazing that will be routed and filled. That also is a common issue with older boats, and again is nothing more than cosmetic. The gel pools in low spots in the mold, making it thicker than appropriate in spots, and over time hardens and cracks, especially in stress areas. Once everything is touched up, the entire cockpit will be hand sanded and repainted to look like new. This is hull #55 of the 652 that were built, so it has been giving great service since about 1965.

The paint and non-skid additive have been ordered from Jamestown Distributors, as well as a new set of cleats, strap eyes, a block, and line for the brailing line from Duckworks. Installing the brailing line will take some time to get the angles just right, but I think he will find it to be a great upgrade to the boat’s handling. At least I hope so. There’s always a risk involved in trying to modify someone else’s boat. Oh, by the way. For all you lovers of small boats, if you are not familiar with Duckworks, it is a fine place to explore, admire, dream, and find those small pieces of gear you can’t get elsewhere. A good place to get lost for a day (or a whole winter) is in the plans section. There are 36 small boat designers there for vessels that row, paddle, sail, and putt-putt, and even a selection of free plans. Here’s the link: http://www.duckworksbbs.com/
A bit later:
The darned rain quit, so it was back to the flowerbeds, but still too damp to paint.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Ultimate "Paddling" Gear Guide

Cover credit: campmor.com
You may get the impression from the title of the book, “The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide,” that this is not a paddling post. Nothing could be further from the truth. The logic behind getting this book was the comment I’ve heard frequently about paddling/camping being nothing more than backpacking on the water. Canoes, especially, allow for a few comfort items to be toted along, but some of us carry that a bit far. Actually, I never went overboard on comfort stuff as much as things that I felt might be needed in an emergency. Short of a nuclear blast, there has never been anything that anyone would need on an expedition trip that I wouldn’t have at least one of, or maybe several. The result has made my canoe vastly overweight.

The book, again, is “The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide,” by Andrew Skurka. (pub. by National Geographic, 2012, 217 pp. plus glossary and index) He describes his learning curve, where he started, and how he got where he is now. The list of things he describes as terrible mistakes reads like my packing list. He doesn’t advocate ultra-light, masochistic travel, but has turned packing and provisioning into a science. His full pack for an extended expedition, like the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, weighs 15-pounds minus food and water. As evidence that this can be done, Larry Hoff, an experienced Kruger distance paddler and biker, carried a 7-pound pack when he biked the entire circumference of the United States. Having paddled the width of the U.S. and done many Watertribe events, he undoubtedly has carried his knowledge onto the water. Skurka says it comes down to weight being the inverse of pleasure. For us paddlers, that means the heavier we are, the more water we have to push aside, making every stroke harder, the boat slower, making and breaking camp harder, and making a portage something between agony and impossible.

Skurka knows his stuff. He has been named Adventurer of the Year by Outside Magazine and National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Person of the Year by Backpacker Magazine, has hiked over 30,000 miles over the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, 4,700 miles on an Alaska-Yukon Expedition, and many others. Each piece of gear is examined, compared with possible alternatives, giving pros and cons of each, and how to pack on a budget. He provides packing lists for various sample trips like desert Southwest, Eastern forest, Western mountains, rafting, and Northern winters. On You Tube, you can also find a number of his instructional videos.

I got the book through the library exchange program, and typed copious notes for my own use. Listed at retail for $19.95, it is also a book worth keeping for reference. At the very least, you will find it an eye-opening, informative, and enjoyable read.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Out and About

We see some things of interest because they are our destination, but some that are just as interesting are those we see by chance along the way. 
This beauty is a clemantis, which amazingly enough, is one of 300 species in the buttercup family.  They are of Chinese and Japanese origin, but have also found a welcome home in gardening clubs of Great Britain since 1862.  Besides being known as clemantis in England, they are also called traveler's joy, which we certainly found to be true.  They are a climbing vine that like cool, moist soil, which leaves us 0 for 2 here in Western Oklahoma.  Taken along a rural road near Carlyle, PA.

Western Village RV park near Carlyle, PA, is also a popular haven for full-time residents.  Many have done very nice yard gardens that I have used pictures from before.  I found this one so attractive that I waited out a whole week of rain just to get a picture of it.  This little rock garden is not only beautiful by day, but contains a number of unique solar lights that add interest into the night.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Wings of a Dove

Jean's young dove at feeding time.
“O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away, and be at rest.” Psalm 55-6. For the last several weeks, this dove meant no rest to speak of at all. We’ve had two squirrels and this dove, all infants that came to us within a couple days of birth, and all found abandoned on the ground. Like any infant, that meant being up every three hours around the clock for feedings. At our ages, that left us as numb as zombies. Finally, for the last three nights, the night feedings have finally been cut to zero, and we have slept three nights through without the alarm going off at all hours.

The dove has developed a bit of personality and its own routine. Once the cage is opened, it jumps out and makes a couple flying laps around the bathroom, and then lands on the vanity. Either on its own, or with Jean’s help, it climbs onto a branch to perch as dinner is served from the curled lip of a spoon. It makes a coo to excitedly announce each incoming spoon of food, and turns into a siphon as it draws in the feed. Jean uses Kaytee Exact brand baby bird hand feeding formula, which she has found to be the best. It has also begun pecking at a dish of seed, but will still need at least a couple more weeks of hand care before being ready to rush out into the world.