Sunday, July 20, 2014


South Burlington, VT

A few weeks ago, we were traveling north along The Champlain Canal by boat. As we departed from one of the locks, I noticed two men sitting and fishing at the edge of the lock wall. One of the men was talking. He raised his hands in front of his belly, palms inward in the classical gesture of someone telling a fish story. Then as I watched, his hands drifted farther apart as he told his story.

I was too far away for verbal communication with the man, but as the boat passed, I managed to get eye contact with him. I raised my hands to the fish story position spread just as widely as his hands. Then I moved my hands still farther apart. The man broke into a big ear-to-ear grin and he responded by moving his hands apart to the full length of his arms. I did likewise.

Nonverbal message sent and received, allowing two passing strangers to share a warm moment

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Caption Contest

Burlington, Vermonty

On Tuesday we had a visit from long time fiends Gerry and Phyllis.  We went to the Champlain Maritime Museum.

Help me put a caption on this photo of Libby at the Museum. (p.s. Why not me in the helmet?  My head is too big to fit.)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rube Goldberg? Could Be Worse

South Burlington, Vermont
See below. This is not a very good picture, but perhaps good enough enough.
Our anchor, Bessie, has a 7/8 inch shackle on the end. Our anchor chain is 5/16. How to connect the two?
Previously I had no good soulution so I just tied a bowline knot in the chain around the 7/8 shackle. That is unconventional, seems insecure, and looks ugly. I needed something better.
Now I have a better solution. The 7/8 shackle links to a 3/4 shackle that links to a 3/8 shackle, that links to the 5/16 chain. Whew. Now I have to add safety wires.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Data Mining

South Burlington, Vermont
Libby and Jen are our doing the hoity-toity Flynn Garden Tour today. Hopefully photos and a report from Libby to follow.
Me? I'm surfing the net.
I blogged about these plots after Hurricsne Irene. They show the lake level at the north end (top right), middle (top left), and south end (bottom). It covers a range of 100 miles.
If the levels at all three locations tend the same, it means tha the volume of water in the lake is changing. If they trend differently, it means that the wind is blowing. Note the abrupt decrease in level at the south, and increase at the north end. Yes, it corresponds with the arrival of strong southerly winds starting about 0400 this morning.
If the wind stopped suddenly right now, we would see oscillations at both ends that would be the analogs of water sloshing in a bathtub. They are called seiche waves. In addition to water level, we can have seiche waves in water temperature (thermocline) and salinity/density. Temperature seiche waves in Champlain tend to go east-west while level seich waves go north-south.
Do these tech details entertain you or bore you?
P.s the strong storm that made us drag anchor the other day also blew in the hanger doors at the airport and damaged the F16s stored inside. I learned that the storm was a "single bow" kind of "serial delrecho". That is notable only because of the wide publicity about a delrecho that hit Washington DC last year. They bring very strong winds.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Bessie Vindicated

Vergennes, Vermont

I fussed and worried about what I wrote about Bessie letting us down and dragging the other day during a storm. I want to continue to have confidence in her. Therefore I trolled my memory in detail, and I found something that allows me to make a new theory.

The picture above shows a Luke anchor of the type like Bessie. Visualize it sitting on the bottom doing her job. By definition, one of those big flukes will be dug into the mud and the other will be sticking up in the air (actually sticking up in the water). The cross bar at the top is mounted 90 degrees to the flukes to assure that one of those flukes always points down.

Now, the new evidence I found in my memory. The other night, the anchor dragged. Still worse, it refused to catch again and continued dragging more than 300 feet over the period of 15 minutes. I decided that we had to re-anchor. Libby and I both put on full foul weather gear and went out into the storm. The wind were no longer strong but it was raining very hard, and it was also very dark.

I pulled up the 100 feet of chain manually as I always do (we do not have an electric windlass). I noticed (this is the key part) that it pulled tight. I thought that I had come to the end and it remained to lift Bessie off the bottom. I switched to using the manual windlass. But then the chain suddently became slack again. I pulled in another 30 feet or so before it really became tight and I brought Bessie to the surface with everything appearing normal.
So here’s my new theory. I think that we had a loop of chain wrapped around the fluke that was sticking up. Thus when the storm hit, instead of the boat pulling Bessie from the shackle at end of the stock as we should, it pulled the fluke. The opposite fluke was pulled out of the mud. Bessie could not reset because she continued being pulled by the fluke. When I was bringing up the chain, the loop pulled tight but then slipped off the fluke.

How could that happen? By letting out too much chain too fast when we dropped the anchor. That is easier to do with an electric windlass, but we have to do it manually, and we screwed up. After Bessie hits bottom, we must back the boat up and let out extra chain to match the boat’s backward motion. That should prevent extra chain from piling up on top of Bessie’s flukes.

So does that prove the case? Hardly, but better evidence is unlikely to come forward, so that’s the best I’ll be able to do.