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D & D Nagle aboard MV DavidEllis
Life At The Dock
photo is the original diesel duck -- see story below
01/19/2012, Spud Point Marina, Bodega Bay CA

So, what's been happening on the good ship DavidEllis? Things are falling apart; that's what's happening! Right before Christmas the isolation transformer (where the electrical shorepower enters the boat) shorted itself and a week later the inverter-charger (which takes shorepower or generator AC and charges the boat's battery banks - that's the charger side; also turns battery DC into outlet AC via the inverter) fried. Boat electricity at this point amounts to the shorepower cord acting like an extension cord to run a portable multi-stage battery charger and we function as we would 'on the hook' (at anchor) mainly on DC (battery) power. The one major inconvenience is the lack of hot water (which we usually heat by a loop of engine coolant when we're underway) or by running the generator to provide AC power and heat the water (as you would at home with a conventional electric water heater). Can't do that now though, as all our AC outlets run through the inverter-charger which, as noted above, is fried. So Dot heats water on our propane cook stove - kinda like camping. And we have small inverters which handle small AC loads like electronics and phone chargers.

I've had some great help and advice from one of the fishboat captains here, who is also a commercial electrician, and I am very grateful. Fixing all this is not just a matter of buying new units and plugging in, as there have been some significant improvements / changes in this type of equipment since DE was built. There are also some (possibly unnecessary) complexities to our current electrical set-up which could be adjusted and with almost 6 years of cruising and living aboard, in a variety of situations, we have some ideas about how things might be made better, more usable, more redundant. I am seeing the projects I thought I would be doing this winter sliding back down the "to do" list, as there's a limit on available "boat units" to pay for it all. "Boat Units" within the cruising world are a facetious reference to $1000 increments, so something costing $2,500 would be referred to as "2.5 boat units", presumably to take some of the emotional pain out of the expense.

In the almost 2 months since my last post, the local crab fleet has gotten underway and from what I hear on the dock, while things have slowed down significantly, the haul has been pretty good (although not so much as last year). The weather has helped the fishing, as we haven't seen any winter storms yet - one may be arriving as I write this. There was a week of rain, end of September / beginning October when we first arrived in Bodega Bay, but since it's been generally sunny, although cold the past two months, and a couple days fog. One report I heard said that the most rainfall recorded in the San Francisco Bay Area this year, has been at Half Moon Bay, where they received 7% of normal - everywhere else locally is less. So while there have been some short-term benefits to the lack of winter storms / rain, it's really not a good situation. Hopefully we won't get our annual rainfall all at once... shades of the many Russian River floods we worked over the years.

We continue to have visitors to DE - family and friends who've only seen her in photos until now. We also have admirers on the dock, one such was a fisherman from down south who was driving the coast and looking for a new boat; seeing DE he said he wished the boat had a 20 ton fishhold (and we'd be willing to sell?) which reminded me of my old dive partner Mike M. who used to say "I wish I had (what that fellow has) and he had a feather up his butt and we'd both be tickled". A couple days later I noticed two gentlemen looking the boat over from the dock and thought they were the usual admirers. It turns out they are the Millerick brothers who in '94 built the original Diesel Duck (from George Buehler's design) in their welding shop on Lone Pine Rd just south of Sebastopol. It was great fun meeting them and showing them around the boat. The photo at the top of the blog is of that boat. (from Buehler's website at:

Yesterday was a quarterly re-qualification shoot at the SO range; retired guys on the first round. Great to see familiar faces... and everyone can still shoot straight too! Some of these guys I've known for 40 years... and the stories that come to mind just seeing them... well, I guess you just had to be there.

Between the time I started this blog post yesterday, and now, the rain has come in earnest but not nearly so hard as the tropical monsoons we experienced in Hong Kong and the Philippines (not to mention the several typhoons); and not so cold as Wrangell, AK where we were this time last year (3 degrees F there the past few days) or even Seattle which is having record snow. Later this week, hopefully after the weather settles, we'll drive back up to Seattle for the recreation boat show, and several diesel engine classes I'll be taking from Bob Senter at Northern Lights / Lugger. Always great to be able to pick the brain of someone who knows his stuff.

This is not what we meant by "Semper Gumbi"

Check the link below; apparantly someone attempted a 7-11 211PC (armed robbery) dressed in a Gumbi suit..... sigh

Things & Stuff

We've just returned from a whirlwind driving trip to Seattle for the annual workboat show. This is a boat show for tugs, fishboats, charter boats and such - boats very similar in size to ours, with much of the same equipment aboard. It's a chance to talk to engineers and technicians who build and service the stuff we have; to see what's new, and what might help solve this or that nagging little issue we have with the boat.

This year I'm focusing on our heater system (which uses engine coolant to heat the fore and aft ends of the boat inside); improvements to the performance of the air conditioners (which are also heaters); the flow scan which measures the amount of fuel being used and the right materials for dealing with paint / rust issues. Also I found a very cool little gizmo that should solve the issue of knowing how deep the effluent is in the black water tanks (as long as I can solve the problem of how to install it).

We also had the chance to visit with many of our Seattle friends - Wade, who's crewed with us portions of the past two summers; John (Wade's friend) a solo circumnavigator in a tiny sailboat who crewed in September from Pt Angeles to Bodega Bay; Ben, who crewed with us from Seattle to Wrangell AK last January and his parents - especially his mom who actually reads, and can quote from this blog, bless her; Kurt & Marcia from MV Alpenglow; Ginger & Peter from SV Marcy; David Burch at Starpath; Deniva and the folks at SMA; Barb & Bill, boat parts people extraordinaire at Hatton Marine and David C. who is close now to taking delivery of his very own Diesel Duck.

The weather wasn't great, and I did get a cold/sore throat for a couple of days, but overall it was an enjoyable, successful trip. On the way up we stopped overnight with our good friend Bill H at Trinity Center (northwest of Redding CA). The following morning, we headed north on Hwy 3 over Scott Mountain, through Etna and Fort Jones. The roads were clear as there'd been no snow for a week or so, skies blue. A really beautiful drive up to Yreka (Gump's hometown), then back onto I-5 for the rest of the trip north.

Back to Sonoma County in time for Thanksgiving at the house on Pleasant Hill with Patrick's family. No actual fistfights, no blood drawn, great food and good company making it a successful holiday by my calculation. And back to DavidEllis... everyone happy to be home. The crab fleet hasn't made it out of the harbor yet; between weather and the price being offered by the buyers, it hasn't yet been worth starting an engine. There was a meeting yesterday afternoon, but the buyers are offering the same price the fisherman sold their crab for 20 years ago. Some are now taking the pots off their boats and going black cod fishing until the price comes up - it's their life, and they're entitled to a fair price.

Had a visit yesterday from grand-daughter Jordanne and her friends Benje and Rob. They played Risk with Dorothy. World domination was not actually settled but I'm pretty sure the gals from Sebastopol wiped up the floor with the boys from Texas. My brother John and Birdy came out with my brother Terry, his wife Martha and their great kids Joseph and Jezelle. John and Bird did their vacation on DE summer 2010, but Terry and his family have never seen the boat. I wouldn't be surprised if Joseph and/or Jezelle end up as cabin boy/girl next summer.

Apparently it's tick season - I hates 'em, along with mossies, fire ants and the Alaskan white-sock no-see-um which nails me each time I visit the beach at Pruth Bay.

That'll do it for now...

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Who: Mike (Dave) and Dorothy Nagle
Port: Sebastopol, CA, USA
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