Bob and Marilyn's Weblog
July 2016
Saskatchewan road trip - 2016 version
July 23
We left Buchanan last Tuesday and spent the next 3 nights in our standard Saskatoon camping spot - 16 West. There's a new outdoor farm show that started up last summer near to Langham.  I was underwhelmed last summer but this year the show had improved a lot.  There's still a lot of notable companies absent - specifically all of the mainline equipment manufacturers.  The show had good representation from the seed and chemical companies last year - in many cases they are one and the same now.  There were also plenty of the "hangers on" - shortline equipment manufacturers and sales agents as well as the purveyors of various snake oil substances.  Many of the exhibitors have planted demonstration or even research plots on the grounds where the show is held.  That is moderately interesting to look at but not particularly informative.  After a while 60 pea plots with slightly different treatments just looks like a large field of peas with maze like paths through it.
Summer in Saskatchewan
From Sasatoon we moved to Lucky Lake so that I could start visiting CPPIB tenants.  I don't have as big a stack of files as I have had some years but it will still take a while to work through them.  
Back in site #72 at 16 West, where we've been many times before.  And that's little R2D2 sitting out front grabbing satellite signals so we could watch the RNC-Trump show.
At the outdoor Ag in Motion show I ran into an old friend who farms near Langham so I stopped at his yard for a visit and we went on a short crop tour.  This looks like a field of Lambs Quarters (bad weed) but is in fact Quinoa.  So any of you trendy foody types - this is what it looks like in the field.
We're not on the ocean any more
July 16
Its hard to believe that two short weeks ago we were floating in Ladysmith Harbour, having moved there a day earlier.  Floating on and frantically unloading the boat.  Buchanan is about as far from the ocean as any place you could imagine.  We arrived home a week ago Friday and the past week has been a blur of activity.  

The first activity was to get the shop emptied.  I  had stuffed it full of my antique equipment before we left and I have to say I did a pretty good job of storing.  The only antique that put up a fight about starting was the Genie lift.  Unfortunately it was also one of the most essential pieces of equipment so it was moderately stressful until I got it running.  Its not running 100% yet but it is usable so a perfect fix will have to wait until later this summer.  
Far From the Ocean
It was essential to get the Genie running because the building paper that I wrapped around the shop last fall mostly all fell off over the winter.  It was a hell of a mess and really depressing to look at.  So depressing in fact that I never took any pictures of it.  Not to mention that the remnants of paper which were still hanging on the walls flapped mercilessly in the wind making an incredibly annoying racket that only served to remind me what a miserable mess it was.  I'm not sure what is going on with the Genie although I am inclined to blame the carburetor.  I had to replace the battery before I could do anything which was no big deal but once I got it to roll over it resisted all my efforts to even try to start.  

I think the root of my problems was simply water.  I had wrapped the lift with tarps to protect the base but snow would still have got in on top of the engine and around the air cleaner.  I think when that snow melted it filled the intake with water which was promptly ingested when I started cranking the engine.  It was a long and painful process but I finally got the little bugger running and moved home to the shop.  That was in the evening and the next morning it again refused to start.  

That time I eventually blamed the carb but it was a slow process to get to that point.  Father told me years ago that its never the carb.  His advice was that even if an engine is running like crap, as long as it runs at all you should leave the carb the hell alone.  In this case, while the engine wasn't running at the moment, it clearly had run 24 hours earlier.  When I finally did pull the carb it turned out to be  very simple and I found a tiny bit of black snot on the needle seat, the removal of which appeared to solve the starting problem.  I say "appeared to solve" because the engine still doesn't make the kind of power that it used to.  Particularly when I engage the lift the engine bogs down and struggles but it is usable so I dumped some injector cleaner in the tank and hoped for the best. 

All my other pieces of junk seemed happy to come out of hibernation.  Even the little Case yard tractors started up on their own.  They've got tiny little batteries that are almost disposable items but both of them survived the winter and held enough charge to start their respective engines.  The final piece of equipment to revive was the fifth wheel and we got that done yesterday.  With Marilyn's assistance I got it stuffed into the shop where it was much easier to do the wheel bearings and now it is set up beside the shop so that we can pack it for travel.  

Our rurrent plan is to leave Tuesday morning to start our Sask Summer Road Tour.  We'll go to Saskatoon first mainly because there's an outdoor farm show at Langham next week.  After that we'll go somewhere - we're not 100% sure where just yet but we need to be in Nipawin by the end of July because the Maier family is having a reunion at Tobin Lake on the August long weekend (which inexplicably is predominately in July this year).

This little guy is the latest equipment failure I've been dealing with.  Its the hydraulic pump out of my prime garden tractor/lawn mower.  Everything came to a sudden halt last night. 
Everything came to a sudden halt last night.  When I got the tractor apart today I expected to find a sheared key but instead found that one of the little shafts that the internal gears run on had snapped in half. There was a lot of wear on the pump body so it has likely been failing for a long time.  I was pushing some dead lilacs over when it quit so I guess I was just asking too much of the little guy but I sure wish it had held together a while longer.
The political stupid season
And I'm not referring to Trump.

The National Liberal Cheerleading Corporation has been in full bray (along with CNN and BBC and pretty well every other station with the notable exception of Fox) lauding the successful triumph of democracy in Turkey Friday night.  Unfortunately I fear that many (most??) of my fellow Canucks are stupid enough to swallow that pablum at face value.  

News Flash - Erdoğan is not a nice guy.  More importantly he's no friend of the West.  You could easily make the case that he's a big ISIS supporter.  At a minimum he's definitely an ISIS enabler.  He will now use this failed coup as an excuse to further clamp down on Turkish society and to move further away from the secular success that started with Ataturk. The current resident of the White House is no better than the chattering class, in fact he's a lot worse because he has been a staunch supporter of Erdoğan since 2008. The combination of an Islamist government and membership in NATO is deadly and will inevitably lead to further loss of western lives.
No fool like an old fool
July 8
When we left Gray Hawk Tuesday afternoon we planned to meet Michael and RJ on the way through Medicine Hat.  I phoned them from somewhere on the road and they asked me if I wanted to go for a ski. Of course I said "Yes", never once considering that it has been over 6 years since I wore water skis.  

So Thursday morning at 6:00 there I was shivering in the parking lot of the Travelodge Hotel in Medicine Hat and an hour later I was suiting up in Michael's dry suit for an early morning ski on Rattlesnake Lake.  I elected for the cowardly start (dropping a ski) and the start went well but the drop .... not so much.  It all went sideways and Michael snapped this photo quite by accident.  He intended to capture my awesome form but instead caught me mid-wreck.  
Coming Home
Marilyn had to drive for a while after we left Medicine Hat because I was moderately damaged in the above incident. Its nothing serious - maybe a cracked rib or two but no big deal as long as I don't laugh or cough.  She got us back into Saskatchewan and we arrived in Regina before 4:00 on Thursday which let us pick up our large accumulation of mail from the terrorist who runs our UPS store. 

We were pretty excited to be back in Buchanan but we had a few things to do in Regina and that stretched out into a whole day in Regina before we got everything done.  We didn't get away from the city until well after 5:00 PM which meant that we arrived in Buchanan around 8:30 so we didn't get much unpacking done before we crashed for the night. I was happy to get back to my own bed to nurse my sore ribs.  

The only big disappointment at home was that most of the building paper which I so carefully wrapped around my garage is now lying in a messy heap on the ground.  What isn't actually lying on the ground is mostly hanging in shreds except where Keith stuck a couple of battens on the south wall to keep it in place.  Apparently we had some vicious winds through the winter and I'm sure once it started coming down it was like peeling a banana.  I'll need to get the Genie lift going sooner than I had planned because that's the only way I'll get the paper back in place.  I think it likely looks a lot worse than it really is and probably I'll be able to salvage most of it once I get into it.  Other than the building paper our little house was waiting for us just as we left it.

We've been gone so long and there's so many things to do that it feels a bit overwhelming.  The truck was stuffed literally to the bursting point.  I opened the endgate on the cap to show the boys how full it was and then wasn't sure I'd get it closed again - that's how full it was.  We had enough room in the cab that Marilyn was able to make a Costco run but once she did that the cab too was overflowing.  We emptied the cab last night and I've been slowly unloading the box/cap while Marilyn has concentrated on putting things away.  Our panty is looking really impressive because a lot of what we brought back was food - canned items, dry goods and condiments.  We did well on the deep freeze and fridge - everything perishable fit in one cooler with room for a frozen gallon of sea water but we had many lockers full of things like macaroni, flour and breafast cereal so all those items are filling the pantry now.  

My little Scat fired right up - gotta love that Perkins 4-108 - but the Genie lift is not co-operating.  The battery may just be too far gone to charge.  Its on the charger now and if it doesn't light up on Monday I'll have to buy a new battery.  Tomorrow is lawn mower day.  We've got a lot of grass and it all needs mowing.  No matter how overwhelming the task list appears ultimately its like eating an elephant - one bite at a time.  

Brokers and other low lifes
July 2
35 years ago I took some sales training sponsored by Cargill but based on the very successful Xerox model.  Our trainer emphasized process and professionalism and the lessons stuck with me.  In any sales encounter I can't resist observing and rating the process even as I experience it.  This is not always an asset but it is what it is.

Shortly after we left Cow Bay last winter I phoned Thunderbird Yacht Sales in Vancouver on the recommendation of a former Cow Bay liveaboard.  Barry went to school with one of the partners in Thunderbird so when it came time for Barry to sell his Bayliner he naturally turned to his schoolday chum and he got a very quick sale.  In hindsight I realize that's a flimsy reason to pick a broker but its what I had to work with so I  phoned Barry and then phoned Thunderbird.  Unfortunately things kind of fell of the rails from there on, although at the time I didn't realize just how badly it was going.  
Endings and New Beginnings
My initial call to Thunderbird went well enough but I ended up talking to the non-buddy partner, Andrew.  No big deal - Barry had told me there were two partners in the business and I was talking to one of them so what problem could that be?  Andrew said they would be happy to sell Gray Hawk, told me how many boats they had sold last year and told me to contact him when we got about two weeks away from bringing the boat to Vancouver so that they couuld get a place ready for her on their sales dock.  He gave me a rough idea of what he thought the boat might be worth without ever having seen it and I made some other calls in that regard which tended to support his rough appraisal. So for the next four months that was the plan - take Michael to Princess Louisa, return to the dock in Sidney, move the truck to Vancouver and place the boat in Thunderbird's North Van marina.

Unfortunately when we got about two weeks away from Vancouver and I called Andrew to tell him that we were getting close, things started to come unglued.  It was never anything overt but, as I mentioned already, I can't help observing the process and it wasn't going well.  First off there was a blatant failure to respond to phone calls.  Then there was a general "we're doing you a favour by selling your boat" attitude.  Finally Marilyn and I had a chat and agreed that it wasn't going well and that at the very least we needed to review what other options we might have.  

Foolishly - very foolishly - my first contact was the local "broker" in Cow Bay.  I use "broker" in the loosest sense of the word and only because "idiot who wastes people's time by pretending to sell boats" takes so long to type. The "idiot who wastes people's time by pretending to sell boats" sent his chubby partner to visit us and we almost died of boredom before we managed to get him off the boat again.  The only useful information we gleaned from the encounter was that we would not be listing the boat with Doofus 1 & 2. 

Our next encounter was slightly more productive but we need some background first. If you're serious about buying a largish used boat then you know about  There's other websites for used boats - lots of them - but if you're serious then you are going to go to Yachtworld and sooner rather than later.  The abiltiy to search worldwide listings is one big attraction for buyers but for sellers the appeal is the ability to see what boats actually sold for.  Mere mortals like you and I can't see that information but the boat brokers pay a fee to get access to and they can see the selling prices.  I'm not convinced that information is anywhere near 100% complete or accurate but its the only game in town so access is vital in order to properly price a boat.  Similarly listing a boat on Yachtworld is only open to brokers and you have to be listed if you are serious about selling a larger boat.  

Long story short we interviewed two more brokers and, while each encounter was productive and a vast improvement over Doofus 1, one of those two brokers obviously stood out from the crowd. Time will tell how well Larry does at selling Gray Hawk but he certainly did his homework before he came to see us.  He actually has a Defever 44 listing right now which Marilyn found some time ago on Yachtworld and, perhaps as a result, he had some knowledge of the Defever brand.  More importantly he arrived with a Soldboats printout showing identical boat selling prices in Washington, Oregon, Alaska & California within the last 24 months.  Its a measure of how unique this boat is that there were only two Defever 43s sold in that geography in those two years. That report alone may have been enough to convince us but the visit also went well and his process was smooth and professional. 

On Canada Day we untied from Gary's temporary moorage at Cow Bay and moved the boat to Ladysmith where Larry's office is located.  I might have preferred to be in Nanaimo or Vancouver but we're only about 15 minutes from the Nanaimo airport so there's worse places.  This is also a very new dock with wide fairways and good power so it shows well although the parking and office area is currently a construction zone and appears likely to remain so through the summer.  For better or worse this is where we are and - with any luck - this is where our big boat adventure will finally end.  We've got most of the "stuff" from the boat jammed into the back of the big Ford.  We removed so much stuff that our waterline has risen a solid 3 inches.  The Ford is full - and I mean FULL.  We bought U-Haul boxes and then filled any gaps with clothing packed in garbage bags.  We had to leave all our wine at Jim and Judy's place so we'll be back out here at least once and we likely will need to leave at least one 3 cubic foot box of last minute stuff because we're simply out of room in the truck.  We haven't got the kayaks loaded on the roof yet - that will be the last big hurdle to cross.  I need to find someone with an unattended step ladder in order to complete that project.

Brown water where it shouldn't be
I never wanted to be a plumber - its bad enough working with your own shit but someone else's ????  errrrggghhh

RVing and boating have shit management in common.  When the black water system goes south everything stops.  One of the unpleasant little realities of boating is that most of the shit we generate goes overboard.  We're pretty careful where we do that - in deep water, as far from shore as possible - but overboard it goes and that takes a pump to get it there.  One of the brokers that we didn't end up using lifted a bilge cover and made a bad face.  He then proceeded to give me a long lecture about how to figure out where my leak was coming from.  So A+ on the advice that nobody wants to see a dirty bilge and my bad for not checking it ahead of time.  His advice - whatever.  Like I said, we didn't end up hiring him.

Yesterday I isolated where the dirty brown water in the bilge was originating.  It was pretty obviously shit but the question was "how was it getting into the bilge".  The tank is fibreglass so - while a leak was theoretically possible -, it was unlikely.  I got everything cleaned out and washed, mopped all the water out and then watched it carefully.  Fairly shortly I could see brown water starting to pool in the bottom and I could see a drip line down the starboard hull.  That led me towards the overboard macerator pump but initially I focussed on the plumbing upstream of the pump thinking it was most likely a rotten hose or loose hose clamp.  At some point I took a closer look at the pump and noticed that there appeared to be a loose bolt on the housing.  That turned out to be a bolt that had completely corroded through.  I expect whenever we pumped overboard there was a regular little shit shower in that compartment and we were really lucky it didn't fail completely because it would have been a hell of a shitty mess to clean up.  As it was I was able to shut off the holding tank and change pumps with relatively little drama.  
This one is pretty gloomy which is appropriate in that it matches my mood when I discovered the brown bilge water that is visible top centre.  When I took this shot I thought I might need it for a reference as to the progress of the leak but it turned out to be rapid enough that I didn't really need the "before" picture.
The same area cleaned up in daylight.  I still need to tidy up the wires and tie them down but the new pump is installed and working.  The old one for some reason had the wires coming out of the motor reversed - orange was ground and black was hot.  In an unusually careful move on my part, I took the time to check that out before just hooking the new one up with the same colour wire on the pump to the wire its predecessor had been attached to on the boat.  I don't think it would have hurt the pump but its a DC motor so it definitely wouldn't have pumped anything running backwards.  The instructions that Google eventually found for me said it WOULD hurt something but I'm doubtful.  It could however have been extremely difficult to troubleshoot if I had in fact hooked it up matching the old arrangement.  After I got all done I found a note on the old pump stating that the wires were reversed.  I have no idea what that was about and I suppose by now whoever wrote that note has long since forgotten about it - I know for sure I didn't write it.  I actually have a spare macerator pump because I've been worried about this one for a long time - like maybe 4 years long - but of course that pump is somewhere deep in the box on the mighty Ford now so there's no hope of finding it.