The week began with a mad scramble to find performers for the OTM Inc co-sponsored event after the reschedule, but we pulled it off. The show on Saturday was incredible. The music, dancers and fire performer all did an amazing job:
Someone even made a video of performer Veronica Fire doing her routine, which she’s posted here.
We had about 400 people come to the party, some who even flew in just for the evening. Thanks to Old Tacoma Marine Inc, Adrian Lipp, Pierre Ferguson, Foundry for Sound Studios, the Big Building Llc, Drew Middlebrooks, Lia Stamatiou, and many more.
An Update on the Maris Pearl
This week’s Maris Pearl project was overhauling the hydraulic lifters. Some still made noise even after being replaced, so I tightened them a little more. They sound good now, but I want to know if there are other valve train parts that could be contributing to the noise. I’ll take a look on the trip north, which is coming up very soon.
An Update on the Lightship #83
Remember the Preliminary Engineering Assessment that OTM Inc prepared for rehabilitating the Lightship #83? Well, the project is still moving forward through layers of bureaucracy. This week, we negotiated the lumber bid request for Northwest Seaport.
I also assisted them with a grant they’re writing for the next phase of rehabilitation. Following the systems work and the deck replacement, I recommend a lot more hull work – needle-gunning and patching, regular haul-outs, welding on new doublers, and maybe even some new riveting. I also believe that it’s very important to make the ship more usable by restoring some of the living spaces, like Officers’ Country, the Crew Mess, and the Galley. This would create and encourage more people-energy to go into the boat following the first major phase. In addition to more educational programs and just getting the public onto a great old ship, it might also be a good opportunity to invite some live-aboards on as well.
This might sound funny to us critical types and haters of voodoo magic, but I think when more people spend time on the boat and use the boat for a meeting place, party, and just a place to hang out, the boat benefits greatly from the powerful people-energy spiritual force that binds us together in harmony with the universe.
On Squatting versus Living Aboard
Some of you who remember my previous rants about squatters may be surprised that I want the Seaport to get the Lightship ready for using the boat and maybe even inviting live-aboards on. I want to clarify that there is a big difference between using the boat and squatting. This is an ongoing issue with the Arthur Foss, as many folks have squatted on the boat over the years.
To me, squatting is living somewhere (a boat, a house, a building; it doesn’t matter) in a very timid and naive way. Being timid and naïve on a boat (or in a house) means staying in your room, not spending much time aboard, getting your meals elsewhere, and being “low impact” (there’s no such thing as low impact, but that’s a separate rant). It means not using or understanding essential systems, not changing light-bulbs except for the one in your reading lamp, and not learning about your environment. This kind of living promotes neglect and laziness and does nothing to help the boat (or house, or building). If it sinks (or burns down), the squatter grabs his or her sleeping bag and finds a new place to squat.
In contrast, living aboard means treating the boat (or house) as a place that you contribute to and improve through your presence. If people make an effort to live aboard and use a boat, it’s cared for far better than shoreside owners are usually able to. Live-aboards become leaders and followers, who change the light bulbs, wash the sheets, replenish the TP and paper towels, and keep it running shipshape. They invite their friends aboard to see the cool place they’re staying and encourage interest in the boat. They also run the systems, learn the equipment, and keep it used rather than just tied up at the dock. If people live aboard rather than squat, the boat looks and feels great – lived in. It’s sort of like the “house versus home” idea.
I know that I’ve developed a reputation at South Lake Union for being mean to squatters, but what I’m really doing is trying to make people take responsibility for the boat in exchange for living aboard. I get really, really mad when people call me up and complain about how the head is broken or the plumbing is leaking. That’s the mark of a squatter, who doesn’t care that they’re living on an awesome old tug. A proper live-aboard would say “oh, the head’s backed up – how can I fix it?” If a live-aboard ever calls me to ask me how to fix something that’s broken, I’ll tell them exactly how to fix it, step by step, because they’re trying to improve the boat through their presence aboard.
A Rising Tide for the Fireboat Duwamish
Later in the week, we made plans to repair the air compressor for the fireboat Duwamish after I get back from the Alaska trip. The Northwest Seaport got a grant on behalf of the fireboat guys to fix the air compressors, which still work but aren’t efficient enough to fill the high-pressure tanks. This is an unheard-of act of stewardship in the maritime heritage world, which often sees limited resources to fight over rather than opportunities to share. The Seaport should be commended for understanding how connected all the old boats at South Lake Union are. I often say that a boat is only as clean as its bilge, kind of like how a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Whichever saying you use, the heritage groups in South Lake Union are only as good as the ugliest boat or the emptiest program.
Until recently, I’ve liked the ugliness in South Lake Union, which is about an acre of open land just south of the Naval Reserve Armory on Lake Union (about a mile north of downtown, for you out-of-towners). It has workshops and piles of wood scraps and old anchors and dumpsters and boats on blocks and looks pretty junky – though not nearly as junky as an actual working shipyard:
It’s got a nice salty feel to it, with boats being scraped and re-caulked in the middle of a gravel parking lot, and I’ve always used the space like a clubhouse to exclude outsiders.
A few years ago, though, I helped start up new educational programs on the Arthur Foss. With the boat not cruising, it’d lost a lot of volunteers and wasn’t being used or maintained nearly enough. We needed the programming to bring the boat back to life, but we also needed new people to keep taking the programs and we’d established our little clubhouse. I started to want grassy hills, sculptures, lampposts, benches, and a path right to a pier with lots of clean, painted, and accessible old boats to attract more people to the programs.
It turns out that the Seattle Parks Department, which now manages the site, shares the same vision. They just completed phase one of developing South Lake Union into a space open to all visitors – not just the boat people:
I’m really excited by their plans, even if they’re cleaning out our clubhouse. There are some growing pains and some people will be displaced, but it will be good in the long run. With the park more attractive to visitors, we’ll get more people participating in the programs and just coming aboard, which will lead to more enthusiasm and more volunteers. This will in turn lead to better-looking boats, which will lead to more funds available, and the cycle will keep going to the benefit of everyone. It may even lead to some of the big old boats cruising again (I know the Virginia V cruises, but it’s really a much newer boat), which will hugely increase the enthusiasm and the volunteers.
Ugliness (which, of course, is in the eyes of the offended) is often measured in unfair ways, but what is fair? I think that ugliness is just fine until it works against your goals. If our goal at South Lake Union is to attract tourists, suitors, funders, and activity then it’s better to be clean, well-maintained, and with the look of winners. If our goal is to tighten the group of members and exclude unannounced visitors, then a messy space with a vacant look will do just fine.
Club houses are great – dusty, no signs, locked doors, a funny door bell and a front door with a peep hole, a secret members-only entrance – but I am very excited to see that all of the organizations at South Lake Union have an increasingly Macy’s storefront look to them that welcomes everyone in.