Please visit our home site at www.TRILOBOATS.com.

Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at ABargeInTheMaking.blogspot.com. Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write, and I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK: A Review

Right Turn... I GET it!
from Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK

Anyone who has known a sailor with "a weather eye" and who has also seen the inside of a weather bureau knows the difference between being weather-wise and being meteorologically accurate.

-- Eric Sloane

Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK: A Review

When I studied trigonometry, I memorized table after table of mind-numbing tables of ones, zeros and negative ones just long enough to regurgitate them for a test. In the blizzard of unanchored data, I struggled to make out the point of the exercise. Finally - in an afterword - the authors of the textbook condescended to mention the Unit Circle. The picture that generates all those piddly numbers in lean back, close your eyes and visualize the answer fashion!

I was thoroughly disgusted.

Weather mechanics had been a similar story. I slogged through book after book, nodding off over arcane terms and lists. Even classic pictures of clouds, with their names and meanings were mere creatures of rote.

For instance, high pressure winds spin one way; low pressure winds the other. But which is which? My mind just doesn't hang onto that kind of information without some underlying principle.

And trying to understand weather - arguably a good thing for a sailor - little came together. Like anyone, I could and did look to windward for trouble, but the whys and wherefores of weather eluded me. Neither the gestalt of real weather, nor the usual books were of any help for anything beyond the obvious.

Then along came Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK.

Mr. Sloane's gift is pictures (he's not bad at words, either). Every illustration from his hand is a wonder of clarity and apt information, succinctly delivered. He manages to capture motion and relationships in black and white sketches. His drawings are often beautiful, often humorous or whimsical... always educational.

Another aspect that appeals to me is that it's not merely about weather, but also its effects and affects.

For example, he presents an 'insect thermometer'; from the onset and quality of various insect sounds, one can estimate temperature pretty closely. Of course, no katydids (or katydidn'ts, for that matter) here in Alaska. But maybe the mosquitos?

He opens our eyes to the wonders of weather and the world enveloped in it. He draws out and entices the inner, junior scientist within his readers.

And there lies the beginning of weather-wisdom.






Thursday, December 11, 2014

Way Off-Grid Laundry

 The rest of my clothes are still wet!
From bamboofamilymag.com


I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?
- Wisdom from the Web


Way Off-Grid Laundry

Doing laundry is a challenge for those of us living far from the Grid. 

For offshore sailors fresh water is precious, so efficiency is paramount. And getting it dry - is no small feat in the maritime reaches of a boreal rainforest!

For years, we've been picking away at the problem of laundry at large. Here's what we've found (or hope to find) for those times when the sink just isn't enough...


Location


First we need a decent anchorage. 

Laundry can take a day or two, all told, so we need to be confident we won't get blown away in the night. We might have to wait in a good location for laundry weather, which could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Next, we need a freshwater non-salmon stream with good flow and accessible banks. Fortunately, these abound. If we happen to be near a sea-level hotspring, its run-off simplifies the whole operation.

An adjacent, south-facing beach for drying is a big plus. We'll likely heat water for washing, too, so need some drift- or standing deadwood close at hand.

A big, smooth rock or clean driftwood log is a plus for sorting and folding.


Clothing

Most of our stuff is wool or synthetic, and colorfast. A few cottons take their chances. No whites (it's been said we favor "moth colors"!) or delicates. No sorting; everything gets thrown into one wash. Hot wash (mostly), cold rinse. Regular cycle (we do our worst, in other words).

Wool does shrink, a bit, and can be a little tight the first day worn. Most trousers end up 'let out' at the cuffs. After that, it seems to find its way back. If not (rare), it goes to rags.

We don't have anything that requires a special coating, or I should say, that coating doesn't last. Anything 'breathable' becomes an ordinary garment in fairly short order. And good riddance. Even new, they just tempt us into the rain where we get soaked.



A Cheap and Easy DIY Washing Machine. Spin Cycle Included!
From Tiny House Listings
YouTube location with several useful comments here
Synopsis follows post for the connectivilly challenged

Mechanics


The video (above) presents a brilliant, DIY washing machine; inexpensive, compact, economical and... well... just freaking BRILLIANT! Just heard of it and can't wait to try it out!
 
It's made from two, stackable plastic buckets with plumber's helper agitator (one bucket, lid and agitator modified), rinse, press and spin cycles! Just add water, laundry and muscle.  If you can't load the vid, there's a verbal description following this post.

We're hoping that the the perforated bucket will streamline our present (one bucket) practice, and encourage the heavy agitation and  thorough rinsing that seem the key to clean loads. More efficiency here may further our quest to reduce or eliminate soap (see below).

Aside from their obvious advantages, both buckets can do double duty for other jobs around the boat. The perforated bucket can be a laundry hamper, colander, sieve, clam basket, line bucket, etc..

NOTE: The 'spin cycle' may not be a big improvement over mere gravity drip? But then, all it has to do is overcome surface tension (which holds water in a sponge in spite of gravity), and spinning may help transport what does drip. Either way, it's just too cool a step to skip!  8)

We currently use a Lehman's 'good' hand wringer  (their 'best' wringer is bigger, costlier and harder to clean.. didn't work any better that we could see). But it's amazing the amount of water clinging to fabric! We often have to send it through three to six times. Getting water out is one key to quick drying.

A Press/Spin Cycle prior to wringing may get it down to a single pass. Or none!


Cleaning Agents

Laundry produces a lot of grey water (used, often soapy water), which is difficult to dispose of in a conscientious manner, in town or out. In wilderness settings, its impact can be acute.

We aim to use soaps sparingly or not at all, and to follow (ever evolving) guidelines for disposal.

When in a situation where limited soap seems tolerable, Doc Bronner's is our one-soap-fits-all choice.

First off, the label is a hoot! It's biodegradable, pure castille soap (no animal fats) in concentrated liquid form (Dilute! Dilute! Dilute!) with a range of pleasant scents and righteous credentials. It doesn't foam up, much, which I read as an environmentally good sign, yet cleans well.

Castille soaps can be combined with baking soda and/or vinegar to handle just about any freehold cleaning job. The label even has directions to use it as toothpaste and contraceptive!

If we can get our hands on it, a bar of bile aka gall soap, or, alternatively, naptha soap, can be used topically for oil or grease stains. Both cut right through, and, at least on an engine free sailboat, last a long time.

On the counter-soap side, we've had good luck with some re-usable 'laundry balls' that came our way, for everyday laundry.

These are a collection of ju-ju rich, ceramic pellets in a water permeable container. They claim they reduce or eliminate the need for laundry soap. The science behind them is... ah... dubious. But there's plenty of anecdotal satisfaction (including our own), especially regarding odor neutralization.

Many types are available, and apparently not all created equal. Also, different users get different results, even within the same brand. Caveat emptor!


A similar, and maybe less controversial (?) possibility is stainless steel bars of 'soap', which purport to remove odors. Again, lots of anecdotal success (from professional chefs, among others), and the science is more credible. They're spendy, but generally well made and last forever. They're marketed for hand-washing, not laundry, but what the hey? Eventually, we'll try one and get back to you. Same cautions.


Drying Laundry

Drying is most places a simple matter of line drying. Not so simple in our rainy climate.

We look for a sunny day (ha!) and a breezy spot. As with firewood gathering, we scope the undergrowth for relatively dry, open woods. If it looks like the Black Lagoon, it probably is... even in dry weather, humidity stays high in such spots. And, of course, it has to be close to a freshwater stream.

Direct sun is a big plus, as UV rays help reduce any remaining biologics (cooties) in the laundry, and radiant heat helps dry the clothes. If we ever get it together, I've been thinking of a low level, solar concentrator, cobbled up from reflective space blankets.

Might exceed our productivity threshold, though. Mere laundry is daunting enough!


Summary of Methods

These approaches, in this order (descending) strike me as most effective:
  • Dirt is removed by mechanical agitation in hot water.
  • Grease/oil is removed by solvents (i.e., soap).
  • Odors are neutralized by ionic (?), UV and/or chemical action (e.g., baking soda).
All of the above are aided and abetted by:
  • Multiple rinses (especially with hot water) remove or dilute all of the above.
  • Mechanical extraction of water between rinses multiplies benefits.

None of this is exactly news. It does remind us to lean on the agitator and go light on the soap. Odors tend to evaporate with their medium (grease and dirt), but it never hurts to hedge our bets.

So... whoops... gotta go!

Laundry, again.



*****

SYNOPSIS of DIY Washing Machine: 

Build: Two equal sized, plastic buckets, stackable. Inner bucket and plumber's helper perforated with small holes (not so many as to weaken). Smooth inner hole edges. Hole lid at center to accept helper handle. 

Wash Cycle: Load laundry + water + cleaning agents into inner bucket (stacked in outer). Attach lid over helper and plunge (~5 to 10 minutes). 

Rinse Cycle: Empty liquids and repeat as necessary, minus cleaning agents. 

Press Cycle: Insert intact bucket into perforated one (may raise on two sticks) and sit on it.

Spin Cycle: Hang inner bucket from line. Twist by manually spinning, then stand back and let gravity do the work. Repeat as necessary.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Spawned Out Fruit: Some Recipes for Wine Musts

Must find a way to use the must!
Photo from enofylzwineblog.com


Some very fine fruits died in the making of this wine. Show some respect!
-- Gleaned from the Internet


Spawned Out Fruit: Some Recipes for Wine Musts

Boat Wine generates a fair heap of must; slightly used fruit of dubious appearance... Anke dubbed it 'spawned out fruit'.

It looks a little worse for wear... smooshed, and a bit ragged around the edges. Texture is on the firm side of  'stewed' (especially with liquids drained or pressed out). Little sweetness remains after yeast has had its way.

On the plus side it's chock full of B vitamins from yeast content, as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals from the fruit itself. Much of its original flavor remains, accompanied by a distinctive, alcoholish flavor.

If you're out and away, you work for a living or even try to live mindfully, throwing out this perfectly good food seems wanton waste!

Without restoring the sugar, the fruit can be added to savory dishes. Stir fries, pastas, salads, cassaroles. It goes especially well with meats in the manner of chutneys, along with perhaps a bite of vinegar. Or added to pot roasts and other slow-cooked meals.

Sweetening is a simple matter of adding sugar to taste, after which you can add it to oatmeal, pancakes, cinnamon rolls and the like. Or adapt your favorite recipes for pie, cobbler, strudel and cakes - upside up or down. Or...


In short, you can add it to most anything, playing with possibilities and refining results. You can supplement flavors which all work in the same direction, or experiment with piquant contrasts that titillate the tongue. Plain Jane or Cordon Bleu.

Due to its appearance and a general aversion to 'left-overs', must dishes can encounter an initial lack of enthusiastic reception. But a little creative 'dress up' enhances presentation, making use of its colors and textures.

While it's unique taste is sometimes an acquired one for those raised in Puritan cuisine, we find that, if our friends can get past that first bite, we've usually made a convert!

Bon apetit!


PS. I'm pretty sure the alcohol bakes out of cooked must, but the taste remains. Consider that some of our friends are recovering alcoholics, for whom a bite can range from uncomfortable to downright dangerous. Others may wish to avoid alcohol for religious or personal reasons. This isn't an ingredient to spring on the unsuspecting!

*****

Here are two less common recipes to whet your appetite:


Mazurkas
These are essentially a three layer fruit bar. Thickness and texture of the three vary widely, depending on taste, and how you adapt proportions. The crumble (dough) texture can be varied by a little more or less oil, adding small amounts of water, milk or other liquids. The fruit mix can vary from jam-like to almost chewy, depending on how much thickener is added. Can be gussied up with spices, nuts, chocolate, etc. to taste. 
Combine 1 part each of flour, sugar and rolled oats with 1/2 part oil (minced butter is mighty tasty and works best but it's seldom available to us, so we use liquid oil). Comes out somewhat crumbly. Consider more or less oil, to taste.

In a cake pan or equivalent, spread half this mixture. Press to preferred depth.

Start with fruit in a separate bowl (about 1/2 the volume of the other stuff)  and sweeten to taste.  Add a thickener (cornstarch or flour) as you would for pie filling. Spread evenly over layer in pan, to preferred depth.

Spread the rest of the dry mixture (if you wish to add water, do it while still in bowl).

Bake at 350degF/175degC for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before cutting into bars. Often at its best after a day in a cool (not cold) spot.

NOTE: Our 4g batches of wine use enough must to fit with 1c (~250cc) portions, and fit into a 9x13in (~25x35cm) baking pan.


 Fruit Kim Chi
Kim Chi is ordinarily a fermentation of vegetables with spices. In this variation, it's a second fermentation of fruit with spices (one suite we like is chili peppers, garlic and ginger).
Anaerobic fermentation and salt inhibit yeasts and molds, but permits lactobacilli to produce that 'sour' taste we associate with kraut and pickles. Find precise guidelines here, and free and easy guidelines here.
In a glass container, layer a glop or two of fruit, dried or fresh spices, and (non-iodized) table salt at the rate of one heaping teaspoon per pint (10 grams per half liter). May adjust salt up or down, but I suggest researching the whys and wherefores at the links, above..

Top with a bioplug of any edible, leafy vegetable. This is a sacrificial lamb which
may float, but helps to keep the fruit submerged. Periodically pushing it into the brine should keep it mold free, but if not, exchange it for fresh, carefully wiping any mold from edges of glass.

Add liquid (water, generally, but consider wine or vinegar), with maybe a proportional dash of salt.

Cover with a clean cloth and let sit at room temperature. Bubbling will come and eventually go. Sample occasionally, and use when delicious!

NOTE: You can always add more salt, if not enough (chronically moldy bioplugs), or dilute it if too much (no fermentation or unpleasantly strong taste of salt). If you want extra salty (for garnish, say), you can add it after fermentation or at serving time.