Archive for October, 2005

Dinghy, Revisited

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Well, after agonizing over no less than four different reasons why we may need a more typical hard dinghy, we nearly leapt out of our skins when we saw a USED (Never. Happens.) Porta-bote up in Santa Rosa, which is maybe 6000 miles away as the 900-dollar Volvo flies. But dedicated we were and we got up at the crack of dawn (like, 9:30) to get an early start, coffee in our porta-mugs.

To make a winded explanation short, the used Porta-bote was “Eh” to “Hrmmm.” It was maybe 15 years old and weathered to the point that the polypropylene was breaking down where it had been stored in the sun for the past decade and the “safety” flotation foam was an icky UV-trashed mess. We left somewhat dejected and drove to Napa where we planned on getting drunker’n Cootie Brown at my friend’s birthday party.

Miraculously, we still remembered the incident of the used Porta-bote after the debauchery of Michelle’s 32nd and the next day, I called the actual Porta-bote office (which, um, is just down the street, Bay Area speaking) in order to inquire about the oxidation of polypropylene and the specs and oh, just stuff. Her response was somewhere in the league of, “everything breaks down in the sun if you leave it sitting for a decade.” That’s science for you. I had a brochure in hand and the prices were listed at $1700ish for the 10 footer (way way too much, I mean come ON! My Volvo cost $900); however, she said that the factory prices they could quote (since I’m in the area and special) were $1200 or something like that. I was taking careful notes. Or, she said casually, we do have this one boat – you wouldn’t probably be interested or anything – that we could sell for $850 because it was the demo and so has a few scratches, and I don’t even know why I’m mentioning it haha…

Again, to cut down on the windage, a mere 23 hours later, I was driving home with the Bote tied to the top of my car. They threw in a lot of extra rivets, like 2 extra sets of cotter pins and bolts/wingnuts, some oars, oarlocks, some rope, etc. Plus the hull still has the 10-year warranty. Score!

Good. I like it. In fact, I think it’s great. It actually is easy to put together (not just a marketer’s prank). Assembling the bote on the deck of “the big boat” was also no big whoop. It fits nicely on the trampoline under the catwalk and isn’t that heavy. In the water it is very stable – due to the semi-rigid quality (it wobbles with the water rather than bouncing atop it). It rows easily (especially when Joshua rows) and, although we haven’t gone through the hassle of taking our 6hp off Time Machine, it should take our motor with no problem.

porta-bote launch

porta-bote afloat

Minor design flaws: The seats are not as ingeniously designed as they could be and, although they look great on the boat, they are somewhat awkward to stow (they should fold too, I think). They are black and I imagine a damp towel will be in order in the hotter climes. And, I guess my only other complaint is that the drink holder was clearly designed by the marketing department and not an engineer.

“I’m thinking of implementing a drink holder; have Randy work up a spec on that.”

So unfortunately, it is too big for a beer can/bottle and too small for a beer can/bottle wrapped in a canwrap. Drat.

Porta-bote detail

Buzzer Board

Monday, October 17th, 2005

A buzzer board for upstairs apartments on lower haight, San Fransisco, California

San Francisco, CA

Open studios inspired me to abuse this blog a little by posting some off topic photography. This was taken in lower haight this past weekend.

Once and For All

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

This month’s Latitude 38 thoughtfully included a bit about what actually IS a “Poop Deck.” I wonder how many letters per month it took for them to finally dispatch the intern to the archives in hopes of shutting up the potty-humored masses.

So here it is: it’s NOT a deck that is covered in poop, as we’ve all been led to believe. Nor is it in close proximity (say, underneath) the, um, “head” (har har). I know what you are thinking (besides wtf) because I’m thinking the same thing: Latin must surely be involved, and so it is. The term is derived from the Latin puppis, which means “stern.” And that’s Latin for you—taking a perfectly reasonable word like ‘stern’ and coming up with a far freakier word that recalls insect larvae or very young dogs or poop and handing it back to us with no explanation. And before you know it, boat decks in the back are being called “Poop Deck” by sandal-wearing pseudo-intellectuals and, er … here’s a photo of TimeMachine’s Poop Deck.

Poop deck diagram Searunner 31

On the meaning of “waterproof”

Monday, October 10th, 2005

A little watch shopping led me to ponder the meaning of words like “waterproof” and “water resistant” and “ferociously ugly.” Sadly, I will be adding the following to my “what’s wrong with this world” list:


* Water-resistant to 30 meters (100 feet) will withstand splashes of water or rain but should not be worn while swimming or diving. [For those times when you are doing the dishes at 100 feet.]

* Water-resistant to 50 meters (165 feet) will be suitable for showering or swimming in shallow water. [Water over 165 feet is no longer classified as shallow, but ‘insipid.’]

* Water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet) will be suitable for swimming and snorkeling. [One sees many fish snorkeling at 330 feet.]

* Water-resistant to 150 meters (500 feet) will be suitable for snorkeling. [Again, I regularly snorkel at 500 feet; just me and the underwater volcanoes.]

* Water-resistant to 200 meters (660 feet) will be suitable for skin diving. [Well, it’s about freakin’ time.]


Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

Yes, we have a dinghy of sorts (see lovely stock photo below). It’s an 11-foot yellow inflatable kayak. We currently can view our wood floor or murky bay scuzz through the window. Clearly we need to get gone to more scenic parts.

clear blue hawaii inflatable kayak

Reasons we got this instead of a more conventional dinghy-style dinghy:
* We are radical, cutting-edge rockstars who will not be cowed by the color yellow, or practicality.
* It is maneuverable and easy to paddle/row (we’re not just about to plop a spare—ha ha—motor on the back of anything and go speeding off).
* It seats two persons (there are two of us; coincidence?) but can be converted to a one-person in the event that one of us is eaten by a shark.
* It folds down (being inflatable) and takes about five minutes to pump up.
* It has a very simple design (INGENIOUS!!): two removable pontoons inside of a seemingly sturdy Cordura sleeve; the bottom/edge is made from very tough nylon (840 denier nylon). It has a clear viewing panel in the bottom for fisk viewing made of 40 gg pvc.
* It has many places to lash/tie/strap/hook/rope things.

clear blue hawaii inflatable kayak

* It weighs 32 pounds.
* Our boat is 32 feet long.
* It’s a kayak and can be used for exploring!
* We may have already come up with a name for it. Besides “Yellowy.”
* It was relatively inexpensive and used dinghys on Craigslist were not forthcoming unless they were owned by freaks who did not answer your emails with actual information. We tried to look into buying a zodiac-type thing but the ad did not list dimensions or weight or anything useful and the guy would not tell us no matter how many times we rephrased the questions. Another that I really wanted was the cutest little orange jobber but the guy never answered me at all. Yellow = er…um; orange = good, pumpkin-like, tomato-like, CANDY-like.

Reasons I’m a little apprehensive:
* It’s freakin’ YELLOW. Newfangled looking.
* I worry about the proverbial kid with a bad attitude and a pocketknife.
* It will be a tight squeeze when provisioning for water or groceries
* We will have to make multiple trips if we have visitors.
* The Cordura part—the hull—is vivid yellow and screams out yellowness. There are irritating product names on it too (we’ll cover that).
* We’ll have to take care to protect the clear panels on the bottom; cover them when toting stuff around, etc.

So, we’ll see how it goes. Worst-case scenario is that it is not practical and we need to get a hard dinghy as well (but we’ll still have a kayak to play with and this isn’t a bad thing). Which puts us back at the which-dinghy-to-buy dilemma. The Porta-bote is cool and folds up small and is lightweight (heavier than this kayak) and a very real alternative; however, the max capacity is 445 pounds (the kayak is 500). It also seems expensive. We could instead buy a second kayak if we had visitors, or we could upgrade to the Soar, which has a freaking 1000 pound capacity and WINS. It is pricey (explains why we don’t have a Soar taking up the entire living room floor right this moment) and I wouldn’t be able to stop worrying about it getting stolen, slashed, eaten by a shark, getting scurvy…

In other, non-dinghy news, yesterday was spent provisioning non-perishables. I got looks from the other shoppers when I tossed 18 tins of dolmas onto my cart; I told them that I had spent the last 16 months in a secret assassin training facility and hadn’t shopped in a while. When I went to bed last night, I dreamed about Lara Bars.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell