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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

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... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mix and Match

The Hobie Mirage Drive in Action
All KINDS of things come to mind!

Lesser artist borrow,
Great artists steal.
-- Igor Stravinsky

Mix and Match

One of the wonderful aspects of designing on so versatile a platform as the box barge is that almost any idea afloat can be appropriated and adapted.

Used to be walking the docks, or perusing library classics was the way to scan for ideas. Nowadays - with so many classic boats and good books gone over the bar - I stroll the internet. Most search engines allow image searches. With the right keywords, it's amazing what you can find.

Here are a few sources I've found attractive...

From the UnlikelyBoatBuilder

From early on, I've admired Thomas Gilmer's BLUE MOON. One of the attractive features is the flush mid-deck with a trunk cabin aft and large hatch forward. Cockpit and foredeck are sunk below sheer height for secure work decks. I've used this layout in LUNA (based on Bolger's AS29) and WAYWARD (ex T32x8 LUNA).

Once you have the mast, why not make a crane of it?

Howzabout an A-frame mast that doubles as a crane? And speaking of salty work barges, Tad Roberts doodled this next one around an old engine he came across...

Doodle by Tad Roberts


The possibilities of what we could build on top of 'em are endless!

Traditional fishing boats on Lake Como

From Kerala India

If ya can fold out a trailer, why not a barge?

Waste Not!


These are but a taste of what's possible!

That's the joy of building a box... it frees you to think out side of one.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Magic Triangles: Handy Math Trick for Befogged Brains

Mathematics is a collection of cheap tricks and dirty jokes.
-- Lipman Bers 

Magic Triangles: Handy Math Trick for Befogged Brains

Magic triangles are a handy little mental trick that helps with some of the math we boaters frequently encounter.

Anything that makes math simpler helps in those wee, hypothermic hours of pre-dawn fatigue! Anything that makes math simpler helps cut down on error, even when wide awake!

I first read of these in Miner Brotherton's 12V Bible for Boats (one of the most accessible DC12V sources around), who learned them in the Army. Apparently, some go so far as to tattoo them on the back of one hand.

Magic Triangles work for any equation of the form X = Y x Z.

Consider the Speed, Distance, Time calculations a navigator must face, if only in the rough. There are three, related formulas:

D = S x T ......... If we know Speed and Time, we can find Distance.
S = D / T .......... If we know Distance and Time, we can find Speed.
T = D / S .......... If we know Distance and Speed, we can find Time.

Got that? I don't! This kind of thing doesn't stick in my brain.

Each of these is a variant of the others, transformed by simple, algebraic balancing acts. Right.

I used to remember that car Speed is given in familiar miles per hour (aka Distance / Time), so S = D/T, and then work the others out as needed. But this doesn't come easy in the bleary hours, and paper helps at the best of times.

Here's the equivalent magic Triangle:

To use, cover the one you WANT TO KNOW. Of what's left showing, one over another means divide; side by side means multiply. 

Let's say you want to know S. Cover it with a finger, and we see D/T. Shazaam!

Three formulas in one. Better yet, I find I can do this in my head without breaking a sweat.

Any mnemonic works that puts the top letter first, followed by the other two (their order isn't important... DST or DTS works the same). 

What's important is that you start with the variable that stands alone, and equal to two multiplied variables. 

EXAMPLE:   Xamine Your Zipper    =>    X = Y x Z    =>    Magic Triangle with X on top.

Here's a couple others that are handy afloat or ashore:

These handle most marine electrical calculations.

So there ya go... MAGIC Triangles... making smart fellers of fart smellers since 1906.


Extra Credit:

As with a spreadsheet, you're not limited to a simple variable within triangle spaces. Consider the following, common navigational trio:


Angles can be measured by sextant, compass, pelorus, cross-sticks or fingers. Distance may be known from fixes on the chart. Spread may be known from the chart, topo maps or average heights (an example in our area is trees, for whom average height is about 100ft). Other clues may be pressed into service, such as roughly 10 vertical feet per story in modern house construction. Tangents can be looked up in tables, on the web, using scientific calculators (many phones can handle these).

All subjects covered elsewhere (though not by me). 

Go get 'em, Tigers!

PS. Astute reader JOHN caught me with the wrong magic triangle for the extra-credit (now repaired)... thanks, John!

As it turned out, I'd already realized it, as the same afternoon, Anke and I used it to lay out our sails, but it wasn't making any sense!

Just goes to show, easier is still a challenge for some of us!  8)  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Duet Together
Photo by Dorothea Lange
See more of her work here

We hail from a time when,
If something gets broke, ya fix it.
Ya don't just throw it away.
-- An Elderly Couple's Secret to Long Love

Duet Together

Sad news percolates through the grapevine; another couple, once very much in love, has grown apart and split the sheets.

Now, we don't think of these as failed partnerships, and shy away from the judgement implicit in the word. There are as many reasons why couples part as for coming together. Rather, it's a time to support friends who are most often hurting, and helping, where we can, to facilitate their transition from love to simple amity.

 But there's a pretty common thread, running among these partings; often, the couple spent a great deal of their waking hours apart. Work and commute, domestic chores, hobbies and pastimes, social activities, social interactions, toob time... many of these are activities pursued separately. These take a toll on time and energy that might be invested in partnership. These run lovers along paths which can, and so often do diverge.

There are other possibilities.

Anke's about to head out to renew her passport – for about a week – while I stay at our winter care-taking gig. It occurs to me that, from 26 years, this will bring us up to total of one month apart. I hate it; she hates it. Gotta be done.

One of the most frequent questions we're asked about living aboard is, “Don't you need some time and space away from each other, now and then?” Answer, “Umm, no. Why?”

I suppose we do take time apart, in a sense.. We both like to read, and only sometimes in the same subjects. I write, she draws. She hits the hay earlier than I do, most days.

But this all takes place within reach of conversational tones. It's easy to share, and check in, and steal a kiss 'n' a hug. We're not walking in lockstep, but neither do we lose contact.

When we're home, we live close.
Life onboard is ... well... intimate. The needful goes better with all hands, pulling together. The pleasures of the life are shared by all aboard. One is never further than voice can carry, and thoughts and laughter are easily shared.

When we work, we work together.
Bad enough we have to work, now and then... but to work apart from each other?? Package deal or no deal. This can deliver a hit to our economic potential, of course. A job like care-taking pays the same, whether for one or two. Or working possibilities are limited to the overlap of our skills.

When we travel, we travel together. No separate vacations for us. Most of our travel is just moving around with the wind; travel without really leaving home. Travel overseas to see her family is an arduous and risky venture. If anything's gonna happen, we'll face it together.

If something gets broke, we fix it.
We may fuss and we may fight, but it ain't like that all the time (line from Ruby Pearl by the Hackensaw Boys)! We work at this as hard as anybody, and with as much cause. We're not always fair or patient with one another, but we notice, and talk until we get there.

I'm not bragging here. These approaches won't work for everyone. This is a way that works for us, and we like it. I merely suspect they might avoid some of the growing apart that goes around.

That, and stay in touch with why you fell in love.


PS. What got me thinking about this was a task we've been tackling, together, these last few days. A generator is failing, and its 500lb replacement needs to be swapped in. This entails getting it out of storage, across a couple of separate docks, up a tidal ramp, across boardwalks and a gravelled path, through some woods and over stones and boulders, up two levels of powerhouse porches, through a narrow door and crowded machine room, then wire up its three phases and presto! I'll spare you the reverse trip for the old one.

The job entails chewing gum, baling wire and a whole lot of odds and ends. It's a little dangerous, and if we drop it, we've bought it. Alone it would be doable, but tedious. Together, it's doable, and yet another bonding experience, replete with laughter and copious opportunities for growth.

She is my 'buddy from work', and so much more.

Another day at the office!
Anke running the hoist.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Footwear's Footprint: Problems and a Solution?

Tire Sandals.

From Thomas J. Elpel's Primitive Living Skills
Article contains tire sandal pattern and instructions

Sell a man a boot, you boot him for a while.
Teach a man to boot, you boot him for life.

-- Ancient Chinese saying, sort of 

 Footwear's Footprint: Problems and a Solution?

As coastal cruisers in temperate climes, we are oppressed by our mountain of footwear.

Here's our current list by type and purpose; 
  • Rubber Boots Edge-of-the-water and wet hikes ashore.
  • Leather Boots – Longer, more rugged hikes.
  • Hip Waders – Wading for repairs or thin water maneuvers... chest waders would be nice, instead.
  • Winter Boots – Insulated for cold weather sailing or snow ashore.
  • Sandals – In and out of water in warm weather... good soles allow doubling as street shoes.
  • Slippers – Sheerling for lounging and fair-weather sailing, while high soles allow short, wet deck excursions.
  • Snow Shoes – Snow and occasionally mud.

Times two! Sheesh!! This adds up to a bulky heap o' gear.

Shoes get a lot of wear and tear, and replacing them adds up, over time, to a pretty penny. 

If not given prime storage, they tend to mildew, no matter how well cleaned.
Our vital rubber boots, in particular, only last a few seasons at best... we face a choice of carrying a spare set or patching (mixed success) until pulling into a town for replacement. And over the years, they leave a trail of unrecyclable garbage. Can sometimes cut them down to 'garden loafers' and pass out to friends, but most of them are doing the same, themselves.

My hip waders are heavy rubber whose tops fold down and up again, like old-fashioned sea-boots (this makes them near impossible to use with pant-style raingear, and a short rainjacket doesn't cover their tops). While I like them in dry weather, they are too heavy and expensive for general use. Anke uses a lighter set, but they're still not economical for frequent use.

In general, we go for robust treads for afloat/ashore use. Not for us the sliced sole, deck-gripping yacht tread... they just can't cope with a slimy rock or mossy log.

But I've come across some ideas that might help reduce our footprint.

Leather has some distinct advantages, with DIY potential.

Well made, maintained and oiled, leather boots are reliably waterproof. Irving Johnson, in Around the Horn, reports that professional sailors preferred leather sea-boots to rubber. Apparently, they kept feet warmer and overall dryer. I'm guessing it's because rubber doesn't breath, and feet are soon dampened from condensation, even on dry days. 

Boot leather is tough stuff. We wear out our resole-able rubber treads, but the uppers just keep on going.

A friend directed me to this brilliant idea: 

Make DIY sandals from old tires. Add a moccasin. Add good socks. Go. 

This system has been reported to be extraordinarily comfortable on thousand plus mile treks in rugged terrain. In our case, we'd be looking at boot moccasins (or moc + tall, waterproof socks?). 

It's a modular system (my favorite), which confers high versatility. Each component can be used separately or in combination. The sandals provide solid, sure, cheap soles to the boot mocs, while the socks layer up to moderate weather.

In our case, we would need the boot leather to be selected, treated and built for waterproof service. At best, waterproofness is pursued from the tanning process on. 

To this basic system, I would like to add a roll of light, water-proof or -resistant fabric to the boot top. Waxed cotton, for example, dampens when immersed, but will not flood through. It would normally be worn furled, but could be unrolled as hip-waders. This avoids the weight and volume issues of folded leather. Having them always available would be a big asset. 

Insulated overboots from sturdy fabric for cold-weather can be DIYed, again using the sandals for soles. Weather cold enough for insulation is generally dry. With care, these can be used ashore. With luck, the overboot could double as a lounging slipper?

In-soles are a low-profile accessory. Wool insoles provide cushion and insulation from the ground without over insulating the foot above. Specialized insoles increase shock absorption. 

The only sticking point is that, while moccasins are easily made by the home craftsperson, waterproof moccasins are not (they can be DIYed, but it's skilled work). There are a few professionals who offer these, custom made, but they cost considerably more than one normally expects to pay for common footwear. 

Still, I'm guessing that a custom crafted boot moc will pay for itself with decades of life if faithfully protected by the sandals. We waffle, but my guess is that this is one skill we'll not acquire unless forced by circumstance.

If this works, we'd be down to the modular system and snowshoes... 

That's more like it!