Monday, December 28, 2015

Pulling the Puddle Duck: An assessment

Well, it's finally getting late enough in the season that it's probably time, despite the ridiculously warm weather we've been having, to put our little Puddle Duck Racer "Dharma Duck" ashore for the season.
Yeah, it's the end of December and it's 70 degrees.

First, the good news:  The construction we used in the little PDRacer has worked.  All the seams seem sound, and the old school seam protection, saturating canvas with TitebondIII and doing a dutch mend on the seam (as an alternative to fiberglass) shows no signs of wear or deterioration, despite months in the water.  The interior, which has been flooded with rainwater periodically likewise shows only a tiny amount of checking on the plywood, and no leaks at all.  All in all I'm happy.

Dharma Duck now ashore, all seams tight, and free of fouling.

Despite a major Zebra Mussel invasion this summer and fall, the bottom paint has worked well, with absolutely zero sign of the beasties stuck to the hull or the leeboard.  All in all, we're really pleased.

A few things we DIDN"T anticipate:  Despite the intact paint and seams, the boat (like all wooden boats) will absorb a fair amount of moisture.  So in pulling the 120 lb. boat we shortly discovered we were lifting something more like 200 lbs. out of the water.  No grief, but we wound up sliding the hull along one of the pier boards (happily wet and slippery with rain) to get her ashore.  Even so, the canvas seams and bottom paint took almost no grief.

except. . . .

Except we failed to notice the 1" high protruding nail that had worked it's way up from the dock boards.

Yeah, that's a gouge.
Ow.  So we got a nasty 2 1/2' gouge in the bottom.  I'll patch it when we repaint for spring, but I felt badly for our little duck.  It's okay, we'll give her a nice new coat of bottom and interior paint in spring for the splash and all will be well.

All in all our little PDRacer project has been a great one:  Its been a lot of fun, was easy and entertaining to build, and makes a great tender for "Floating Empire."

Waiting for Warmer Days

More later.  Hope you all survived the Holidays.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Puddleduck update

So today we began to prep our beloved Puddleduck Racer "Dharma Duck" to pull for the season, and I thought I'd do a bit of an update on how the construction has held up.
Dharma Duck on her very first sail.
We built the boat on a shoestring, including canvas taping on the seams and construction of just regular exterior ply.

Dharma Duck's seams were just canvas, saturated with TitebondIII
Despite having lived in the water at our stern for months and having periodically been filled with rainwater, I'm very pleased to report that the little PDRacer has weathered just fine, thank you.  The seams are intact and tight, most of the paint has held up well, and the bottom paint has kept her clean even through our rather nasty Zebra Mussel invasion.

The Duck at rest
All in all, I'm quite happy.  So our little Duck will sit on shore under the awning for the winter, and then we will re-splash her with a bit more paint and better sails in the spring.

Have I mentioned I love living on the water?

Hey, new stuff over at Life, Art, Water.  Check it out.

more later


Friday, December 11, 2015

Foggy mornings on the water

We're having unseasonably warm weather here on the Middle River, with sunny days in the 60's.  Not complaining, mind you, we cooked out last night for the first time in a month, but as John, the mechanic at the Marina says "we'll pay for this later."  Probably, but the mornings are gorgeous.

This morning.  Just thought I'd share.
More later.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Last Harvest of the Season II: Sunchokes!!!

So today we dug up the sun choke (also called Jerusalem Artichoke) rhizomes.  These all came from three tiny pieces of root stock given us by the kind folks at Marshy Point Nature Center.
Sunchoke tubers from the nice folks at Marshy Point Nature Center.
Yeah, there's a wild carrot in there, too.
The Jerusalem Artichoke is a misnomer, having nothing to to whatsoever with Jerusalem (it's native American) and not being in any way an Artichoke.  The name is thought to be a mispronunciation of Giraselle, Italian for sunflower, which is what it is.  The root can be treated like a potato in most ways, can be sliced thin and eaten raw, or baked, mashed, or cooked in stews.  It has a wonderful, sweet taste, and does, indeed, have a bit of an artichoke flavor when cooked.

We had heard they were prolific in building tubers.  They weren't kidding.

Right out of the ground.

This is just a part of the harvest from 3, count em, 3 plants.
So we dug up our multitude of tubers and are keeping them chilled.  Some will go back in the ground in spring to make new crops, others will find their way into soups and stews and shepard's pies and the like.

Cool, hunh?

More later.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Foraging for Alcohol IV: Here we go again!

So today at the grocery, we note some happy brown gallon jugs of fresh apple juice from Baugher's orchard in Westminster, MD.  No preservatives and pressed this week.

Couldn't pass it up.

here we go again

So two gallons of the wonderful sweet stuff goes into the carefully cleaned bucket, along with a handful of raisins and a handful of brown sugar, and then the yeast again.

So about the time we're running low on our wonderful crabapple hard cider, there will be some new lovely drink in the offing.

Ready, set. . . . .
As always, stay tuned.


Last Harvest of the Season

The frosts of the last few nights have put, finally, and end to our little container garden here at the marina.  Our peppers are long done, along with the ground cherries.  We've gotten an astonishing amount of food off these little garden plants over the summer and fall.

Last of the amazing Mexico Midgets.
Particularly our heroic little Mexico Midget plant (a heritage variety of small tomato that I highly recommend) is finally done for the season.  The thing has produced--and heavily--its little flavor-filled tomato bombs all summer.  Two of these things and you could damn near run a farm stand, no fooling.

Yum.  Rhubarb.

We cut down the last of our Rhubarb, destined for a crumble dessert tonight.  In the next few days, we'll be digging up the sun choke rhizomes, probably a bunch of them as prolific as that sunflower tends to be.

This has been, along with foraging crab apples and wild raspberries, a wonderful addition to our culinary efforts.  

We're already scheming for spring.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Foraging for Alcohol III: Bottling

So today on a bright and windy afternoon we decided to rack and bottle our crabapple cider.  here's some pix:

Pretty clear.  There was quite a bit of deceased yeast in the bottom of the container.
Fermentation seemed to have stopped, so we ladled the cider out through a cloth into a glass beehive dispenser for bottling, discarding the last half inch or so of the liquid and it's accompanying sediment.

There was still a fair amount of funk left behind in the filter as well.
We rinsed out wine bottles from our Thanksgiving revels (we were REALLY good at them this year) with a bleach solution and then with filtered water and filled from the dispenser.  The dispenser, btw, made filling easy.

The dispenser made filling bottles easy.  The color is lovely.
The finished cider filled about 8 wine bottles (of course we had to do some sampling on the way, right?), which we returned to the fermentation bucket to store in case of . . . .well. . .explosions.  As it is, I plan to "burp" the screw top bottles periodically to make sure that doesn't happen, but at present, there's little sign of additional fermentation.

Yeah, we were slackers.  We didn't even soak
the wine labels off the bottles.

The resulting cider is about 9% ABV, with a crisp bite from the crab apples, still, and dead dry (which is the way we prefer our wines).  I'll be interested to see how it mellows in the bottle.

This was fun.  More projects to come.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015


I've noted with some sadness that we've been hit with "referral spam" here at the blog.  For those of you who don't know, referral spam is caused when other sites, generally criminal ones, make it appear that they have linked to your blog in the hopes that you'll click on the analytics to see who they are and why they linked.  Then they try to sell you something, scam you, or infect your computer.

Most of these sites come out of Russia or the Russian-controlled portion of Ukraine, two places which apparently lack the pride to stop criminal activities in their territories.  They jam up your analytics, making it impossible to tell who is reading your blog, or, in the case of commercial blogs, who your customers really are.  They make the net less fun and less useful.  If you get one of them, you'll find yourself on a list somewhere and you'll get thousands.  That's where we are now, and it's frustrating.

Hey, Putin!  Clean up your mess.