Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mea culpa. mea culpa ...

I know it has been a very long time since my last confession (er, blog entry), but I do have an excuse - for some time I was very busy with finishing the student book and teacher resource for the second edition of our grade 12 world issues book (it is now out, btw, and would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift for that special someone). Also there seem to be a never ending list of jobs to do on the boat ranging from the very big to the very small.

Thought it was time to show off Ainia a bit more. First pic is an overview taken this spring. Since the time that photo was taken the canvas (dodger and bimini) have been replaced and the exterior teak has had 11 coats of varnish.

Ainia is a Bristol 45.5 designed by Ted Hood and built in Rhode Island in 1982. The main dimensions are LOA 45' Beam 13' 4" Draft 4' 10" and Displacement 34,500 pounds. The two of these that need comment are the shallow draft - this is because, like many Hood designs, the boat has a centreboard with 12' draft when the board is down. The C/B has both advantages and disadvantages - the shallow draft means that you can get into shallower places like much of the Bahamas while still having good pointing ability with the board down. The main disadvantage is that it is just one more thing that go wrong - either the board can stuck up or stuck down - neither is a good thing.

Ainia is the first centre cockpit boat that I have had. Again, like most things on a boat, this is good and bad. It gives you a private aft cabin, good engine access and better visibility when docking. On the other hand, you end up with very limited storage for big items like sail bags because, at least with this design you have no large cockpit lockers.

Hood designs are quite heavy but he did a good job of making them not look too fat. This was accomplished by having hull shapes that are very full below the waterline - they are sometimes called "whale-shaped". As well as having an aesthetic advantage it means that are lots of places to store stuff below where other boats do not typically places at all.

It is hard to take decent interior pictures without a wide-angle lense but here are a few so you get the idea of what it is like. Bristol built with lots of heavy teak everywhere and use much more substantial construction methods than most builders (which may explain why a) they went out of business and b) their boats have such a good reputation).

Here is June in the main cabin with the picture looking forward. There is a cabin and head beyond the mast and bulkhead shown. To starboard there is a settee with lots of storage. All of the boat's water and fuel tanks (400 + gallons in all) are below the floorboards so it makes the areas below the furniture available for storage.

This is the passageway to the aft cabin with the nav station on the right and storage behind it before the cabin door. You get a sense of the woodwork here. There are no areas of fibreglass liner anywhere - even in the overhead. Instead they just finished the bottom of the very thick deck.

This is taken looking into the aft cabin. You can see about 2/3 of the berth here. Around the corner to the left is the head with a separate shower cubicle.

All for now. Lots more to talk about in later posts.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter weather comes to visit

First of all, I must apologize for not keeping this blog as often as I intend to. There are reasons (there are always reasons), I am being kept very busy by the many editors at Pearson. For those who don't know, I am nearing the end of a new edition of my grade 12 world issues book. The topics in this book are so interesting that it is not an unpleasant task but there are just so many details (and people) involved in the process that it keeps my busy. There are constant queries about everything (photos, captions, thinks that are not clear) as well as editting the chapters several times each as they go from Word files to something that looks vaguely book-like to proofs of the pages (without all the illustrations) to, well, you get the idea. It gets to be a problem when three or four editors working on different aspects of the book all want your attention at the same time.

To be subject at hand, weather. Compared to the Toronto area we have had a pretty easy time of it here, although it has been colder than average for this time of year. We did get about 8" of wet snow one day (pictures below) that I shovelled off the boat with a plastic dust pan and deck broom - that worked pretty well and got 98% off before the freezing rain came that night to make things really hard. The marina staff shovel a path down the docks so it is pretty good overall. This morning there was a bit of ice around the boats - they did not put the bubblers on until this morning and they were breaking up the thin ice that had formed. It is supposed to get warmer starting on the weekend. It will be nice to do some boat work outside when it happens.

Monday, February 11, 2008

On Ania - the name that is

Only one entry on the derivation of the name Ainia. My younger son, Ian, showing a willingness to do research that was not altogether present when he was in school, came up with a totally different explanation for the word, which works really well.

Where the name came from - "ai ni" in Chinese means "love you". We added the second 'a' to make the name longer (there is a big transom) and to make it (possibly) easier to say. It also is a palindrome which is of interest only to nerds like me I fear. A final take on this name - it could be seen as very Canadian, as in "Love you, eh".

Ian's research found the following. "In Greek mythology, Ainia was an enemy of Achilles and an Amazon, one of the twelve who accompanied Penthesilea to the Trojan War. Her name means "swiftness."" I don't know if swiftness is the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about a Bristol 45.5, but i doubt that there was an Amazon whose name translated as "comfort". Anyway, I think that this is a really apt name for a boat so now we have two meanings from two different cultures.


So much for the 'news', now on to the weather... it was really cold last night and today. Yesterday afternoon it was about 7C and then dropped like a rock as a cold front passed. Last night was very noisy with wind (~35 knots at times I would think) blew through the masts and the boat rubbed the fenders. Our normal problem with a bit of condensation on the hatches became a layer of frost on the metal parts of the hatches - which of course melted and dripped off when we turned the heat up. At night we tend to keep the heat down because it is too warm under the duvet otherwise. With conditions like last night we have to be careful to insure that the whole boat is warm enough so we do not get freezing in throughhulls or inside the water-cooled refrigeration system. It is very slowly warming but will still be -8C or so tonight. Too bad June did not get this job in San Diego or somewhere like that.

Friday, February 8, 2008

US Politics I

I imagine that I will be writing a few entries about politics in the US since it really is quite fascinating - and entirely a blood sport. The 'Tri-State' area (NJ, NY, CT) just had their primaries as part of Super-Tuesday. Not much evidence of it in JC though - the night before the vote some small Obama signs appeared and brochures were being given out at the light rail stations (looks like a street car to me).

Compared to Canada, people here take their politics very seriously and it causes some big problems - as does the whole primary/caucus system. This extended and costly pre-election tends to divide the supporters within each party. This can be seen very clearly in the Republican Party where the right wing talk show hosts are going after McCain with devastating attacks - calling him the Clinton's sock puppet and worse and saying that if he is the nominee (which looks certain) they will vote for Hillary out of spite - not at all sure how those two statements can be seen as logically consistent but logic and US talk radio have little to do with each other. The Republicans just have so many factions that often have fundamental disagreements with each other. You get the libertarian types who just want the government to do as little as possible. Ron Paul was their hero this time and he has considerable grass roots support and lots of money donated a bit at a time. You get those who are financially conservative but not socially so - they tend to keep their heads down, but have had some success in pointing out that deficits have risen with GOP presidents and fallen with Democratic presidents in recent decades. You get the war-hawks who don't much care how much it costs (lives or dollars), they want to rebuild the world in the form that they see as best - the New American Century guys. Finally (or perhaps not) are the social conservatives who have rallied around Huckabee. He seems like a pretty nice guy, but hard to take seriously a president who does not believe in evolution. Add to the mix, the recently departed Mr Romney who would be whatever you wanted him to be so long as he got to be president.

On the other side, you have the intriguing pair of Hillary and Barack and the possibility that the US will have a woman or black for president (not sure why he is considered black when he is only half black but that is a discussion for another day). I will have more to say about these two later, but there is a marvellous column in the NY Times today that goes a long way to explaining the different appeal that each has. I hope this link works when it is no longer 'today's paper' . Perhaps it would work with ref=todayspaper cut

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The weather

I have lots of catching up to do - I am not very reliable when it comes to keeping a blog it seems, but there is also the stuff that is happening now to talk about too. Oh, the complications!

Anyway, I have to talk a bit about JC weather in comparison to weather in the Toronto area. Before we decided to move on to the boat I checked climate stats and it seemed that in the winter average monthly temps here are about 6C warmer than Toronto. Not to get too climatic (rather than climactic), that seems like a reasonable estimate for what we have been experiencing. When it is -2C there it will be something like +4 here. I suspect that this is mainly because of the moderating effect of the ocean rather than latitudinal differences, although the latter likely does contribute a bit too.

The big news today is the enormous difference. I checked the weather in TO and it is -3 with lots of snow on the ground and more coming tonight. When I arrived at the library to get the internet, the temperature in JC was 21c! Of course there is no snow on the ground an there reall;y; has not been all winter -other than a few mm once or twice. There is a powerful cold front just north of New York City that will arrive only gradually. Even tomorrow it is to be something like 8C. We will get rain tonight - hopefully after June and I get back on the boat.

We have been really lucky with the weather. Several storms have hit just on the northern fringes of the NYC area but have missed us. Noreasters are the big winter storms around here - a low pressure area passes out to sea and the return counter-clockwise circulation can produce nasty storms. There have been a few of these that have nailed Boston but so far, not here.

Maybe next posting I will try to do some catching up or look at interesting things around here like politics and immigration.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Becoming a boat person

First of all, I guess I should explain how it came to pass that we are now living on board our new (to us) boat. It all happened very quickly. Well into the fall June received a phone call from a former co-worker at HP in Toronto who was looking for someone who could do the same work as she was currently doing but for a British financial company named ICAP which has its North American headquarters in Jersey City (JC or JCNJ to those of us who live here) across from lower Manhattan. The pay was significantly larger than in Toronto and it seemed like a good opportunity for a bit of adventure, so … here we are. June did not want to commute (typical commutes here seem to be 1 to 1 ½ + hours) so we checked local rentals. JC seems to have two main parts – the new stuff along the river and the old part which is still pretty run down. Rents in the old section are not too bad $1200 to 2000, but most of these areas are really not too nice and I have no idea if there are safety issues. The new part (which has a few nice, older areas) has many very nice apartments from four to 35 floors but these rent from $2500 to $4500+ so this was not an attractive option. The high rents might be understandable by considering that this part of JC is being sold as Wall Street West. It is almost as if Manhattan has spread across the river with many financial companies paying well and housing being built to provide housing.

This led to the idea of living on a boat. There are a number of marinas along the water that are very close to June’s office. The one we are in requires a one-minute ferry trip and a ten-minute walk to the office. If the weather is really bad there is a bus on the other side of the ferry that goes to her office complex. We had been looking at a somewhat larger boat before the job offer, but the idea of living aboard allowed us to look for something a bit bigger and more comfortable. I will include a separate blog about the boat (actually more than one), but our new home was found in far eastern Connecticut. After finalizing the deal we had to get a bit of work done at a very nice, but very expensive yard in Stonington, CT. Most important in this was the installation of an Espar diesel-fired heating system – more on that later because it is obviously a very important item.