Category Archives: Life

Madsu Boom Mod

I’m getting set to paint the mast and boom on Madsu before putting her in the water this year.

But before I get there, I’ve got a few modifications to make, so I’ve commandeered the picnic table and set up for some serious mucking-about-time.

I started with the boom, stripping all the hardware so I can replace the self-tapping screws with tapped versions.

I’m also fixing the outhaul – the previous owner seemed to think a piece of line wrapped around a becket at the end of the boom was a proper outhaul. It drove me crazy last season, but since the main was pretty bagged, I put up with it.

Since I’ve got a brand new North Sail main for this season, and I was stripping the boom down anyway, I thought it was worth the trouble of making an internal outhaul system based on Gene Ferguson’s excellent 1997 design. Using Gene’s diagram, I ad-libbed a bit, using Harken 225 and 226 microblocks and New England V-100 1/4″ braid and sticking with wire for the 2nd block and exit out the thru-deck at the aft end of the boom to the clew.

Since the exit at the boom-end is wire, the thru-deck block is nice and small, and through the magic of the Dremel tool I’ve managed to cut a nice slot for the block. It sits in the foot channel and is just big enough to reach into the main section of the boom where the guts of the outhaul are hidden. Having a swaging tool makes working with wire a breeze – I picked up a hand tool at West Marine last year and have used it a lot more than I thought I would.

I’ll have more pictures soon – the outhaul is rigged and sitting in my cupboard with the new sail.

Madsu’s New Andersen Winches

Madsu’s still on the trailer in the driveway. It puts a crimp on sailing, but is handy for doing upgrades.

I’ve just finished replacing the electrical I didn’t get to last year, pics on that soon.

Today I finally got the new self-tailing winches installed. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I pulled the old Lewmar winches off the cowling along with the cleat –


I managed to get the fiberglass fairly clean, filled the old holes, and drilled six new holes for the new Andersen winches –

I picked up some 1/4 inch aluminum plate from Express Metal supply in Burnaby and cut & drilled some backing plates –

With some help from Garnet and Matthew, bolted the new winches down, and they look downright lovely – even if they are on a boat in the front yard !

New Winches for Madsu

As I blogged about last year, I picked up 2 new Andersen winches for Madsu, and they’ve been in their nice boxes since I bought them at Steveston Marine.

I spent most of this afternoon removing the old Lewmar winches and jam cleats from Madsu’s cockpit coaming. The Lewmars were attached with 4 bolts, and I was by myself so it was a bit of challenge.


Getting the bolts out meant having to crawl into the cockpit lockers to clamp a pair of locking pliers to the nut, jam it up against the hull, then back up into the cockpit to unscrew the bolt until the nut dropped off.

Its not exactly roomy in there so each trip was a bit of a contortionist act. By the time I got the starboard winch off I came up with a better plan for port side; 4 pairs of locking pliers, one for each bolt, reducing the number of tight squeeze tricks to one.

I’ll fill the old holes, clean up the coaming, and site the new winches over the next couple of days.

The old Lewmars still have some life in them, so I’m going to service them and see if anyone wants to buy them. I don’t know how old they are, but they’ve been around a while. For their size their really well made and that English steel must be a fairly high grade as they still look pretty good. You can see from the picture of the coaming that the old winch and cleat have been on for a good long time.

The Andersen winches really are gorgeous. Sitting on the kitchen counter next to the Lewmar you can see the added heft of the Andersen winch, the larger drum will make a big difference when hauling in the 150 – I can’t wait to get them on the boat. Having the self-tailers is going to make a huge difference for me since I’m solo sailing a lot of the time. And the cockpit will be a little neater too, I never did like the placement of the cleat.


Searching for Moorage for Madsu

I’m on the hunt for moorage for Madsu, my 22 ft. Catalina swing keel sailboat.

I’m trying to find moorage on Vancouver’s north shore – either in West Vancouver or North Vancouver.

Last year I was in Thunderbird Marina and loved it there, but they’re doing a big reno to the docks there and aren’t optimistic they’ll have space – apparently they’re going to be short berths for some of their long term costumers. I’m on waiting list there and at Sewell’s in Horseshoe Bay, as well as at Burrard Civic in Vancouver.

If you have private moorage or access to moorage, let me know. I’m willing to pay market rates. We don’t need any fancy amenities.

Madsu is 22 feet, just a bit under 8 feet in the beam, and draws only 2 feet with the keel up so can tuck in to shallow moorage.

We’re quiet and neat. Email me if you know of anything. Thanks.



Madsu at anchor in the Secretary Islands

Old School Look at Cypress

It was foggy so I thought I’d try some vintage looks.


This tree is right at the top of the Lion’s Express chair. We watched with amusement today as a ski instructor spoke to his class of about 8 kids, all gathered round near this tree. 7 of the kids were paying rapt attention, but the 8th was facing the other way, wacking at the snow covered branches with his ski pole.



Cypress in the Fog

We had an insane run at Cypress Mountain this morning.

I’ve boarded in foggy conditions before, but nothing like what we encountered this morning on the first run. MB and I were excited to be making first tracks again, but it became immediately obvious after we stepped off the Lions Express chair that it would be slow going.


It was totally nuts. I couldn’t see more than 2 metres in front of me, and subsequently was going dead slow. What I could see was pretty much just white on white. Goggles didn’t help, and other boarders (very few of them) loomed into sight at the last minute.

I quickly discovered that when you can’t see, your sense of balance gets totally messed up (d’oh).

I found myself sliding sideways across the hill when I thought I was going down. I wiped out a number of times on simple turns even though we were on a green run (after bailing off a blue). What if found was that I had no sense of how far I was leaning into the turn, and no proper sense of when to pull out.

Very very disconcerting, and a bit frightening. I can certainly see how people get lost and disoriented in white-outs or heavy snowfalls.

At least it’s not raining.


Looking back towards Guest Services as we walked back to the car

Homer Simpson Appears in Cheese and Tomato Sandwich

There’s a centuries old New Year tradition in our family.

For generations, Ouimet’s have celebrated the wee hours of the new year with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.

This year, like every other, I followed the family tradition to the letter, as handed down from Ouimet to Ouimet


In case you’re having trouble reading the scanned document:

  • slice white bread, thick
  • slice tomato, thin
  • slice Canadian cheddar, medium
  • place tomato slices on bread
  • cover with sliced cheese
  • grind black pepper, coarse
  • grill on open fire until cheese melts
  • eat and celebrate the New Year

Maybe it was just the way the light played on the cheddar, maybe my eyes were tired, I really can’t explain it. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to eat my New Year sandwich when I looked down at the plate.

Judge for yourself.


Holy Springfield ! Some kind of miracle ! What a way to start 2008 !

I probably should try to sell it on eBay.

We Need Snow on the North Shore Mountains


Yikes. GB and I went up to Cypress today, even though we knew the only lift open was the Easy Rider chair which services the bunny hill (Runway).

I was really surprised to see how little snow there is on the mountain. Thanks to last week’s pineapple express, there’s no base left what-so-ever, even though the web site says they have 61 cm at mid-mountain. You can see from this picture at the top of the Easy Rider lift that the terrain above is pretty much rocks.

When you drive up you can see most of the way up the mountain, and there’s very little snow up there – the runs are all showing gravel or grass through the light dusting of snow. I actually think there was more snow in mid-October than there is today.

I gather they’re hauling snow up from the parking lots to keep the bunny hill open, which means it’s festooned with bits of rock and gravel. So if you’re going up, better buy some P-Tex. Better yet, leave your good board at home.

It sure brings home the vagaries of local weather. Last year, most of the mountain was open by mid-November.

I’m disappointed to hear the forecast calls for clearing tomorrow. Damn. We just need a couple of days of snowfall like we had a couple of weeks ago and we should be good to go.

I’m doing a snow dance tonite.



Technology – Where The Rubber Hits the Road


The work I do centres around communication and technology. I hear the word technology a lot in my day to day work. And mostly when I hear the word ‘technology’ I think computers, the internet, video cameras, cool new gadgets, that sort of thing.

When I put a new set of tires on my car this week, I was hit smack in the head by technology. Its not sexy, and doesn’t make the tech pages of your local paper, but tire technology means I now have a smoother, quieter ride – even though I thought we had already reached tire nirvana.

Interestingly, the tires I bought have a more aggressive tread than previous, yet the ride is remarkably smoother and quieter. My old set of mud/snow tires were from the same manufacturer, Michelin.

Since I’m only using my old Jeep Cherokee occasionally now that we’ve got a Yaris, I figured a more aggressive tread would be ideal for those winter trips to Cypress and other snowboard destinations. This week I bought a brand new model, the LTX A/T 2.

I wasn’t expecting a smoother quieter ride – in fact quite the opposite.

I bought them the Tireland on the North Shore, and the guys were pretty jazzed about installing them since they’re a brand new line. They even gave me a deal on the price, on top of Michelin’s 100-dollar cash back promotion (on until the end of December in case you’re looking – get a coupon on their web site).

Bargain aside (and I like a good bargain) I couldn’t believe the difference when I drove away. Jeeps the vintage of mine (91) aren’t known for their smooth ride, so anything helps. It’s impressive when technology improvements are that pronounced – now I can’t wait to get a little snow under them.

Then again, if it is on fire…

One of the engineers I used to work with was fond of saying “If it isn’t on fire, it’s a software problem”.

Last night while working diligently away on some wireframes on my MacBook Pro I did a double-take when my power adapter did a little pre-Halloween fireworks show and sent up a small but pungent trail of black smoke.


“What’s that smell?” came the chorus from the kitchen. “Well, family, that’s the smell of the clash between form and function”.

All kidding aside, its a good thing I was working at the kitchen counter – not sure what would have happened had I had the computer in my lap, or sitting on bits of paper on the desk (which it often WAS).

I’d read about supposed issues where the power cord connects to the (MagSafe) magnetic connector, but Apple hasn’t issued a recall and there’s no information about this problem on their web site.

I have Apple Care and they didn’t even hesitate to offer to send a new one out. The first question the service rep asked was “Was there anything else damaged when this happened”.

Fortunately I have a 2nd adapter so I’m not without power – not sure what you’d do if you had to wait the 5-7 working days for a new one to arrive.

More, larger pictures on Flickr.


Wow!  I got the new replacement power cable via courier today – one day after talking to Apple Care on the phone.  That’s impressive !


Organic is Better

They don’t just taste better. A new UK study finds that organic foods are more nutritious…

They found that organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40% more antioxidants than non-organic varieties. Levels of antioxidants in organic milk were up to 90% higher than in milk from conventional herds. Medical experts believe antioxidants can reduce the risk of cancer and coronary heart disease. Full story here

Note to Canadian Retailers – I'll Pay US prices if that's ok with you

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti, his article on the Globe and Mail’s website today really hits home.

A more valuable currency should make the things we buy from other countries cheaper. But, over the past five years, as the value of the Canadian dollar has appreciated against the American dollar, that has not been what’s happened. Canadian retailers have not lowered their prices — instead, they have used the rising dollar to gain excessive profits at the expense of consumers and the whole economy.
[full story at the Globe and Mail]

And right now, this failure to reflect the strong Canadian dollar is really obvious.

However, things have changed the last few years. More and more of us are buying a lot of our consumer and small business goods online.

When there is such a great disparity between the price at retail in Canada, and the same article in the US dollars, it’s up to us to act. And guess what ? The internet is there once again to level the playing field in a big way. Not only can you comparison shop, you can buy online and in a lot of cases, get shipping for free.

But the good retailers, the smart retailers, are actually going out of their way to treat their customers differently. A couple of weeks ago, Craig Strong at Oakwood Broadcast in Winnipeg emailed me (and I’m assuming all their customers, I’m not that special) to point out a number of items that are substantially cheaper, due to the strong dollar. And he says, more price drops to come. Not only is that good business, that’s good customer relations, and he’ll continue to get my loyalty even though he’s 2 provinces away from me.

And today, I went into Steveston Marine to ask them about the price on an Andersen winch for my sail boat. Their web site lists the winch at 699.00 Canadian.

But wait, when I check West Marine’s web site, the same winch is 447.99 U.S.

Hmmm. Even with shipping, I am way ahead buying it from a US company.

And guess what ? Steveston Marine proved how good a retailer they are and matched the price – and in so doing made the sale. And, I suspect, are still are making a decent profit.

So, what to do ? Well, do your homework. It’s hard to argue with a 250.00 difference in price. Or a 25 dollar difference for that matter. Good retailers will do what they can – keep in mind that some of them are getting squeezed by their suppliers.

I’d much rather buy local if I can, so I try to get my local suppliers to at least match pricee (or get close enough). If they won’t budge, take your money and go to where the deal is. FedEx and the internet have made ‘mail order’ cool again.

With some products, its a no-brainer. You know what it is and ordering ‘from away’ is painless.

And some things will surprise you.

I buy all my photo-printing inkjet paper direct from Epson online. I originally went there because I could never get the paper I wanted here at retail. Sometimes Staples would have it, other times not, and the same with London Drugs. What I discovered with Epson is that the paper price is the same or lower than at the local store, and Epson ships for free. Not only that, but ordering paper and ink from them online is way easier than actually finding it at my local Staples. So, I get the stock I want, delivered to my door in a couple of days.

At the end of the day, its up to us to make sure we get a fair deal. If Canadian retailers are guilty, as Ken Georgetti claims, of “greed, gouging and bad citizenship” then us consumers are somewhat complicit because we’ve let them get away with it. Getting the best price is work and takes a bit of advance planning. But I can assure you, you’ll discover who’s a great retailer really quickly when you start asking them to ‘adjust’ their prices.

Second Wave Board Deals (Again)

Its never too early to be thinking about snowboarding. Last year, we had our first ride on Nov 11th, so I’m hoping the local mountains will open up early again this year.

Just back from picking up some amazing deals at Second Wave on Lonsdale. I’ve blogged about them before, and they never fail to impress every time I’m there.

They’ve got a whole rack of last year’s boards at 40% off and some decent boots on sale as well. If you need some fresh gear, get down there soon before the good stuff is gone.

MB picked up a new Burton board and new camo boots – can’t wait to see him riding this bit of kit.