Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How to Salvadge a Tug

Gee who knew the tide would come in that fast? Well Tana did, but thats besides the point. We laid down for a nap at 3:15. The tide was way out and I thought it would be hours before it came back in. We were woken at 5 am by Gerards son, Mike, screaming for David to get up, the tug was taking on water. Gerard, David, Mike and Greig all jumped into rescue mode and quickly loaded a pump and hose onto the dingy and got it going to pump out the water. Half of it was splashing into the dingy and it had to be bailed to keep from sinking. Greig attached a a come-along to the piling and with superhuman strength, pulled the tug upright with it. Gerard had a dunking when he tried to walk across a slippery log to reach the tug ( he doesnt swim) , it was a tense few moments watching him struggle to get back on the log, but he made it ok. Hopefully he doesnt get hypothermia, its just above freezing right now and he got soaked and continued working for abit before finally going in to get changed. The engines went under the water so its back to square one to get them running again. The oil has to be drained out and replaced, the filters replaced, the injectors pulled and the water drained out but hopefully she will be up and running by this afternoon. Right now a nap is in order, right after a good stiff drink to chse away the cold.

This is Going to be a Long Night

Well it took a month but the boys got the tug up and running. Many hours were spent cleaning it out, ( a mountain of stuff was found in the hold, surrounded by mud and guck), the engines got fixed, parts ordered and replaced and finally the engines turned over. It purrs like a Mercedes and runs very smooth. The last two days were spent transfering fuel from the Lightship holds to the tugs fuel tanks. There were some issues with that process when David discovered that tons of water had leaked into the Lightships tanks and were now being pumped into the tug. The water had to be drained off and the other fuel tanks checked. A bad leak on the Lightship was discovered which will have to be repaired soon.

They decided they had enough fuel for the moment to start doing some work with the tug. Greig had been wheelwashing the shoreline beside Tana to try and remove enough mud so she could stay afloat during low tide. The tug he was using was not that powerful and after three days had still not cleared enough for her to float clear. That tug developed some problems and was taken out of service. This afternoon Greig got our tug in beside Tana and proceeded to dig a massive hole. We had a super low tide tonight and he had to stop as he was sitting on the bottom .There is all kinds of stuff visible in the mud now, large logs, an old water heater, tons of cables running in all directions,the bare remains of a sucken rowboat. As the tide continued to recede, the tug listed right over. It is 1 am now and she is completely out of the water, lying almost right on her side.

David is out and about gathering gear to right the boat as the tide comes back in . He needs pumps and firehose to bail the tug if neccesary, a come-along to to provide torque on the topside, and all the electrical gear has to be removed so it doesn't get damaged if water gets in. He has a couple of hours before the tide turns , then a long night of waiting for it to rise while keeping the tug above water.

This was a good opportunity to see the underside of the tug. The topside is in somewhat rough condition and there was some concerns as to what the hull and prop looked like. The wheel had been wobbling yesterday and we were concerned that something was caught in it. Tonight we were able to get a good look at the whole boat and it looks great. Nothing a good cleaning couldnt fix. Got my fingers and toes crossed that all goes well tonight. I hate to see boys cry.

My life hsnt been any near as exciting. Ive been working nonstop for weeks now. I went to a meeting at a clinic that Im doing a locum at and found out two of the staff are moving way at the end of the year. Its a nice place, very busy and the rent is reasonable. After seven years of being way from clinic work, I think Im ready to go bck to it again. The regular hours appeal to me after years of working on call. A steady paycheck wont hurt my feelings either, I just hope my body holds out. My tendinitis is giving me no mercy these days. If I can swing it, I would love a quick holiday somewhere warm in January before taking on a full schedule.

After a week of hunting down info and various fuels, I finally tried out my kerosene stove. It was a disaster. One burner sputtered off and on, the other wouldnt light at all and the oven was a flamethrower shooting flames everywhere. And it stank! I would have lost my appetite before I could have eaten anything cooked on that stove. It was quite a process to light the thing. You have to use Methyl Hydrate and squirt it carefully into a hard to reach small dish below the burner. You light that(watching your eyebrows in the process), when it has almost burned out , you turn on the kerosene burner and pray that it lights.( if it doesnt you have to wait for it all to cool down before you try the whole process again) The stove is connected to a tank of kerosene that has to have the pressure increased to between 2 and 7 degrees with a bicycle pump. The pressure drops as you cook and you have to keep pumping it up again. Quite a hassle if you just want to boil water for coffee! Needless to say, I returned the stove and am back to using my coleman 2 burner propane stove for now. I still want an oven at some point, Im craving roast chicken.

I still don't have the water heater hooked up. Mike had some family issues and couldnt do the job after all. I finally got the heater back from him but its back to square one again. In the meantime, I finished repainting the bathroom. I redid the walls in white and painted the beams in a burgendy colour. I did the outside of the bathtub in the same colour as well and quite like the finished result. I bought a circular shower curtain rod but of course it doesnt fit in my funny shaped bathroom so will have to modify it sometime soon.

We got our first bit of snow tonight. We went downtown earlier to try and get my boat and the tug registered but found out there were other forms to be filled out and we would have to come back. While we down there I finally got around to taking my passport renewal in. It sounds like I should have it before the end of the year. Im surprised because I have been reading about the extremely long waits. All Canadians are now required to have a passport to travel to the States, so they have tons more applications then normal. On our way home we got stuck in a bad traffic jam on the Knight Street bridge. It took us 45 minutes to go about 2 blocks. As we sat there, the rain turned to snow. Its stopped now, but Im ready. I went to the house earlier today and grabbed my winter emergency gear: a large snow shovel, a bag of salt, lock de-icer and some traction thingys. I learned my lesson last year when I got snowed in for a week, Im not going there again.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Add Plumber to My Resume

Ive been putting off trying to fix my toilet as I was scared of it. Scared of the horrible smells emanating from it and scared I would inadvertently unleash a flood of river water into the boat. Yesterday, I overcame my fear and decided to tackle it. I armed myself with rubber gloves, wads of paper towel, a huge jug of bleach and a screwdiver and went in to face my hell.

I turned off the valves and removed the pipes. I quickly found the problem in the outflow pipe. It was clogged with wetwipes that I had used one day when I ran out of toilet paper( note to self- wetwipes dont flush well at all). I got them out, flushed out the pipes and bravely opened the inlet valve to make sure water was coming in. It was, luckly at a rate I could control and get the valve closed again. I removed the cover from the pump mechanism to take a look at the gasket. I gave everything a good clean and tried to put it back together. There was a weird piece of loose plastic that took me about 3 hours and much swearing and screaming to figure out how it fit into everything. I finally figured it out and got things back together for the umpteenth time and Hallaluyah!! it works. I gave the bathroom a good scrub with liberal amounts of bleach and went to crack a well deserved beer to celebrate. No more midnight runs in the dark, yahoo

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Spoke too Soon

Funny we had power all during the storm, but the next day we kept getting brownouts till we had basically no power at all. That lasted about 2 days until late last night when it finally came back on again. Other than no tv or internet, I didnt really notice as I use woodheat and a propane stove to cook with anyway. The boat looks lovely all lit by candlelight, I should do that more often anyway.The biggest issue for most people down here was that their bilge pumps weren't working with no electricity. That can get scary as some of the boats take on quite abit of water.

Still no water heater yet :( , Im starting to wonder if I will ever get it hooked up. I went out and bought shower curtains and a bathmat in anticipation of having a bath, but looks like thats still on hold for now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sleepless in Vancouver

We finally got hit with a good storm last night. Winds gusting to over 100 km an hour, with sustained winds of 60 km/hr and lots of rain. My tarp frame took it well with only some minor loosing at the back on the right side. David, my hero, got up at 5:30 AM with screw gun in hand and fastened down the bits that had come loose. It was a long night, listening to the wind howl, strange things banging in the dark and the boat tossing around like a washing machine. Things finally calmed down in the late morning and I went out to assess the damage. Not too bad, had to fasten down the tarp in a few places and it looks like the rotten wood on the sides of the boat took a bit of a beating, but all in all very good for the extent of the storm. There are about 200,000 people without power today in the lower mainland. Luckily we aren’t among them. Our power is only about 50 percent, cant run heaters, microwaves etc. but still have lights and a working fridge. And strangely enough the satellite stayed up the whole time.

A few heavy pieces of railing went flying off the deck of the Bowie and hit Karen’s sailboat and Troy’s boat, but the damage seems minimal. Otherwise the marina looks pretty good, thank god for that. The sun came out this afternoon, which gave us the opportunity to go around and tie everything down more securely just in case it decided to storm some more.

I spent the afternoon contemplating my bathroom. I’ve designed some storage cabinets that I will have to build, and decided to paint the outside of my bathtub. I wanted to get rid of it altogether and build a shower stall but don’t think that will be feasible. It’s going to cost me about $300-400 to get the bathtub reglazed. It needs doing badly so will just slap a coat of the burgundy paint on the outside of it until I can afford to have it redone properly. I’m praying Mike finally shows up tomorrow to install my hot water heater, I cant wait to get that done and have my first bath here.

Last year a film crew came down to the marina and did some filming for a reality tv show about our life down here. Today the producer showed up with a copy of the dvd containing the footage they shot. It was really well done. It would be so cool if they decide to go ahead and do the show. There is defiantly never a dull moment around here, and an odder cast of characters they couldn’t of dreamed of if they tried.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another Day, Another Project

So today I decided to install my new stove and rebuild my kitchen cupboards. We pulled everything back and put plastic vapour barrior along the wall behind the couch and inside the pot cupboard. David used his sawsall to cut out the front of the cupboards and then built proper shelves for me. The stove managed to fit through the front door( we thought we would have to put it in through the window)and I decided to put it beside the cupboards after some modification to them.I filled the kerosene tank and proceeded to use a bicycle pump to add some pressure. I hadnt tightened the connections enough and gas sprayed everywhere. Yuch!! What a stench. Anyway after much adjusting of the connections we got the leaks stopped and tried to light the stove. No Luck. From what I can gather online, it seems I need some sort of combustible paste to warm up the burners first. Not sure what thats all about, will have to check into it further tomoorow. I gave up and went out for hamburgers.

The cupboards are awesome now,lots of room for the pots and pans, I can finally get at everything easily and without the propane stove on the counter I have a little counter space to work on now. I want to put a metal barrier behind and above the stove to protect the wood above. Now I just have to rebuild the cupboard beside the fridge and my kitchen reno's will be complete.

Im still scaring myself everytime I pass a mirror, not sure who this dark haired person is on my boat. In the light of day, it seems the colour I picked is a dark blue instead of dark black. Oh well, Ive never been one to follow fashion trends, maybe Ill start a new one.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

How I Spent My Day Off

Well I finally talked David into taking a day off with me. The sun was shining, I had $500 burning a hole in my pocket, so off we went shopping. We went to a propane shop to look for conversion parts for Davids gas water heater. They had a few items there I would be interested in. A fan for the woodstove that runs off the heat of the stove(no electricty required) costs $130-200 and propane lights that attach to the wall .We hit a few hardware stores looking for plumbing fixtures, then went to explore Steveston. To my surprise, David had never been there before, this boy needs to get out more! We found the 2nd hand marine store hidden a a back alley. I scored! I found a kerosene cookstove with 2 burners, an oven, the tank and hoses for $130. I also got a brass lamp that is exactly like the one I got off the tugboat the other day. Im going to hook them up to battery power for dock lights and use coloured gels to transform them into navigational lights when underway.

We spent the rest of the afternoon poking around all the shops.At one point I dragged David into a wig shop to get his professional opinion on a different haircolour for me. There was a gaggle of ladies in there and everyone loved the black, so off to the drugstore for some hairdye. After some nailbiting and a glass of wine, I enlisted David's hairdressing services and bit the bullet to see whats its like on the dark side. Greigs daughter Dosha and her friend Patton came over and offered their stylist skills to my new do. I settled on the pigtails( less hair to get used to lol). Davids happy, he has his brunette, finally got a picture of us together,( I think he was embarrased to be seen with a blonde)

All in all a fun , productive day, with lots of new toys and a new look. Tomorrow is girly day, if its open we are off to the Korean Spa where we will soak our aches and pains in salt and mud and sip green tea. Nice to be girly again for a minute, Ive almost forgotten how to do that being in construction mode most of the time.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Update Time

Well work has finally picked up for me lately. Many of my clients have extended medical which allows for so many treatments per year. Most of them hang on to them till the end of the year, then realize they have 10 left or something and want to use them all before the year is over. I"m now working 6 days a week for the next while. Good for the wallet but hard on the body. This will probaly continue till Christmas, then I'll be lucky to get any work for January.

I havent had much time to work on the boat lately. Last week I finaly got around to insulating the bedroom. There was a big hole under the bed that led to the back deck, that was letting in tons of cold air. I plugged it with styrofoam, then laid a piece of aluminum foil covered with insulation over it and covered that with plastic, pink insualation and more plastic. I put a whole bale of insulation double wrapped in plastic under the whole bed and stapled more plastic over the whole thing. I also stapled plastic under the bedroom floor in an effort to stop all the cold drafts. I dont think all my work made much difference. I still can feel drafts blowing around my feet. Cant figure out where they are coming from, but I give up for now.

We had tons of problems with our satellite tv, kept losing the signal with the tides. The guy came back a few times trying to sort it out. Yesterday, he took the reciever off of Davids house and mounted it to a piling nearby. Hopefully that does the trick, it seems to be working good now. Everytime David would phone to bitch about it, they kept saying they were sorry and offering us more channels and free months ect, but whats the use of that if we have no signal??? They finally got the point and fixed it proper.

I havent had time to cut firewood, so have been buying presto logs in the meantime. I am looking for a big woodstove that I can give to David, so I can have the one that's at his house. Its bigger than mine but will fit in here nicely. The best part is it takes regular size logs. Mine is so small I have to cut the firewood to toothpick size which is time consuming to do and doesnt burn very long at all. I called the guy that was going to installed my propane furnace and asked him to order the parts it needs so I can get it hooked up. It will be nice to have another source of heat in here.

Im still waiting for the Mike to come back and install my hot water heater, there is a rumour he is coming this weekend, I cant wait to get that going. Hope it happens! I repainted the bathroom panels white, it needs another coat of paint that Im hoping to get done today. IM SICK OF PAINTING! Ive done a terrible job of it, if I had known he was going to take this long to get back to me, I would have just stripped the green off and left it wood. Oh well, another lifetime perhaps.

My Dad and his wife stopped by last week on their way to Indonesia. Im not sure what he thought of my living conditions, probaly not much, it looks pretty rough down here. I took them out to the River Rock Casino for a buffet dinner( belated birthday present for him), it was really good, lots of tasty food. Ill have to go back there again.

One of the issues we face down here at the marina is the river mud. It has been building up alot this year and is pushing us all out further into the river. This is causing alot of grief with the Port Authority and Seaspan who want us to move back. We have been experiencing super low tides lately that leave half the boats sitting on mud and tilting over on their sides. Makes life very difficult, esp for Tana who is closest to shore. Her houseboat is listing so bad, its filling the hold with water, knocking all her stuff of the shelves and making the toilets and shower unuable for large chunks of the day. Not good for any of us as she has one of the only working bathrooms down here. Greig has been using a tugboat to propwash the shoreline trying to clear out the mud beside her so she can float again. In the process he uncovered an old piling that had been cut off and is now stuck under her bow. Not sure how they are going to deal with that yet, but its an ongoing battle.

The Port Authority is going to be dredging the river around here in the next few weeks, so we want to clear as much mud out as possible before they get to us. We would love to have it dredged right up to the shoreline but that would mean moving all our boats and docks, not a feasable thing for us as we have nowhere to put us all, so will have to make do with the propwashing and hope that does the trick.

Well back to my painting, take care all xxoo