2008 Week 38 in Review

This week on Catalyst, we finished up the Alaska cruising season:

Sunday, September 14 – Montague Harbour to Friday Harbor: clear into US, pack and prepare for reentry to “real” life

After I stepped off in Friday Harbor, I headed for the nearest restaurant to feed my need for fried food. I had a great time on the boat, but it was good to get ashore again. I’ll see the Catalyst again in a month or so when they come to Seattle for winter repairs.

Research into proper propeller pitch & keel cooling

Since one of the Catalyst’s big winter projects will be to resolve the overloading issue, I called Sound Propeller Services about re-pitching the propeller. They said that it sounded like it needed to be re-pitched, and recommended that I look at what size the original propeller was.

Dan also told me a cute equation to figure out how to re-pitch a propeller to resolve an overloaded engine:
1) divide achieved RPM at full rack by nameplate RPM to get a decimal amount (0.XX)
2) multiply pitch by ([current pitch] by 3) and that should be the new pitch

I don’t know how scientific it is, but it sounds close. For Catalyst, that’d be 390 divided by 450 to get .86, multiplied by 32 equals 27.5, so it should have a propeller pitch of 27.5 inches. Hmmm…

I also called Keith Sternberg for information about installing a keel cooler on the Catalyst. He recommended one-inch brass pipe in a pattern to get the same surface area as the heat exchanger (or more). Larger than the heat exchanger is fine, too, since the thermostat equals it all out anyway. The most expensive part of the process will be the fittings.

Catching up with the museum ships

I spent a bit of time this week at Northwest Seaport working on some of their projects. Up in the office, we’re wrapping up some final reports for Arthur Foss programming and repairs (mostly last year’s haul-out), and planning the big fall take-it-apart-and-fix it. More on that later.

Down on the wharf, I’m working on the Duwamish again. I’m making slow progress on this project, but I’ll pitch it up after I catch up on everything else. I’ve been gone for quite a while, so there’s plenty to do.

More construction at Lake Union Park

Back in Week 19, I wrote about how excited I am about re-developing Lake Union Park. Well, they finally kicked off Phase II this week by starting to demolish the old yard:

Daily photographs of Phase II construction (and demolition) at Lake Union Park, from Northwest Seaport

This makes me just a little sad. I lived on board the Arthur Foss for two years, starting right after the “old crew” left in August of 1996. Back then, we moved the boat around quite a bit. I had a great time tinkering in the engine room, which then turned in to a full time “job” of volunteer management and program coordination. We got some good work done then, like raising a new aft mast, painting the whole boat, and training up a crew for deck and engine room work. I lead the group through all the projects, just like I was taught in Sea Scouts. We had a good crew.

Much of our time was spent moored at South Lake Union where the Northwest Seaport had its small shipyard. I had a blast working there – fully recognizing that there was no way that it would be a permanent facility. It was prime real estate, and we were just playing in it.

It was a funny place. The land is a small industrial hold-out right next to downtown Seattle, that’d been completely forgotten by the city. Back then, the Navy owned it and trained reservists in the buildings there, but Northwest Seaport had a long-term arrangement with the City to have historic ship maintenance facilities and moorage there. We had “maintenance” toys like a big old crane and a forklift (we used both to make a 12-foot snowman one winter). We used them to get a lot of work done, but we also did stupid things like taking “crane rides.” We’d hang a fender from the crane, get someone to sit on it, and then swing the boom up and around. Wow. Completely dangerous, but fun.

We also met a lot of people this way. Some of them were short-time volunteers or tourists, but others were “regulars” around the yard. They happened to live there, under the picnic tables or in the out-buildings. They’d be up early for coffee, very respectful, and often worked on the boats or served as crew when we needed an extra hand. They just had a hard time fitting into “normal” society. Maybe 100 years ago they would have been old-time sailors working a respectable job, but now they’re just bums in the park.

Those were the fun times, and I enjoyed them while they lasted, but now the days of the Seaport yard are over. I think it’s for the better – the “interactive” shipyard takes too much space in return for too little public benefit, and it’s declined in the past few years to be just someone’s spare lot to park their junk in (to be fair, a lot of organizations have parked their junk there; not just Northwest Seaport).

So I’m a little sad to hear it’s going since I have good memories of that space, but I’m really excited that it’s being made into a park for a lot of people. I welcome the planned grassy hills and park benches, and even the “interactive fountain.” Let’s hope this change reintroduces more people to their watery roots, and sparks the love for the boats that represent the remaining bits of maritime heritage.

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Filed under museums, tugboats, week in review

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