Getting Close

It’s 9pm and I just spoke with Jeff on the boat. They are just approaching the Columbia River and the seas are starting to calm.

We had an unintentionally funny moment when he asked if I was going to fly out and ride on the boat for the last 100 mile run into Seattle. 

Roberta and I have been swamped, getting ready to move (moving from a house to a condo), plus we’re leaving in a week to head to Cabo for a month. Adding to it all I’m gone all next week for a marine electric course.

So.. I thought seriously about doing the final leg with Jeff, but then the last straw was when I checked the weather today. On Thursday, for the final stretch, the boat will be beating straight into a 20 knot wind all day.

When Jeff asked if I was going to make the run, I mentioned that it just didn’t sound that much fun to pound into a 20kt head wind, in the rain, all day. Jeff said “S**t Ken — Are you kidding? — that’ll be a calm day in the sunshine!” We both starting laughing hard at the same time, and couldn’t stop . Jeff has “been around,” and done a lot of miles, but I think this trip from Costa Rica has recalibrated his definition of rough running. He has run 3,700 miles, dodged two hurricanes, run in 115 heat for days, in endless squalls, with no air conditioning, and 40 degree days with no heat, and not had a nice sunny calm day yet. I wasn’t going to get much sympathy for not being excited about slamming into rainy 20kt headwinds. I’m still laughing, but it was one of the dumber things I’ve ever said… I owe Jeff a few favors when I see him next (which is very soon now!). He did say that as soon as he turns the corner at Cape Flattery he’ll be going into a marina for the night. He’ll be only 12 hours from home, but with all the high wind in the Pacific NW, the waters will be full of logs. It’s smarter to relax over night, and make the final run in the daylight.

And, on a different topic….

My project today was to investigate different “flow sensors.” I’m interested in measuring the raw water that is coming out of my seachest, to feed the watermakers, gensets, hydraulic cooling and a/c cooling. I like the idea of being able to constantly monitor the gallons per hour of water flowing. If the water flow is constricted, I want to know it before it leads to a problem. It’s not really something I need to do, but it’s something I’d like to do, and that I know is possible. Unfortunately, the ultra sonic sensors I’ve wanted to use have been cost prohibitive. The makers of my vessel monitoring system, Simon, recommended I go with sensors that protude into the hose, and represent an obstruction to flow. I ruled that out immediately. The ultra sonic sensors work with no interuption to the water they are measuring, but cost $4,000 to $6,000 per sensor! After some googling I finally found some sensors that are $400 each. That puts the project back in reach, and the Simon people were as excited as I was. I’ll know more once I get one here and see if it actually works.

And.. my other project for the day was seeking moorage for our fleet of four boats that is arriving in Japan in August. I went to the website for virtually every marina in Japan. Most were in Japanese, with no english. Fortunately, I have a son who speaks Japanese who was helping me figure out email addresses, and fax numbers. I wrote to them all, and hopefully tomorrow I’ll start getting a sense of how practical finding moorage for our group will be.

I’m not optimistic. When I was last in Japan, I went to the Yokohama marina. It is the largest marina I’ve found, at 1,400 slips. The next closest is much smaller. At Yokohama, there were a lot of boats, but most were 20 to 40 foot sailboats. There were power boats, but they were smaller. There were only a few slips or endcaps for power boats our size, and they were all taken.

I know we’ll figure this out, but I’m not sure how…

-Ken W

5 Responses

  1. Ken, thanks for the response and I apologize for placing you in an ethical quandary, please don’t worry about providing the source, as you suggest, we can find an appropriate sensor by searching the www. With regards to ultrasonic flow sensors and how they work, check out the following: (

    The problem with ultrasonic sensors is that the velocity is the measured parameter. Once the velocity is measured, the flow rate is computed given an assumed fixed diameter of the pipe. So if the diameter is decreasing (due to growth), one merrily goes on their way assuming the flow rate is acceptable. So you can see that ultrasonic flow rate sensors don’t necessarily help in your situation. Perhaps you can keep the sensor clean so the diameter remains constant, but you might be better off looking at sensing pressure at both ends of the system (as suggested in a previous anonymous post). Good luck and thanks for a great web page.

  2. Ron: I wrote yesterday to all of the major marinas in Japan, and all of the Yacht Clubs I could find. Not one responded today. I’m not sure why. My guess is that they weren’t sure what to make of my inquiry, or perhaps no one was around who spoke enough english to understand what I was asking. If I don’t get a response by next week, I’ll have my son work with me on a request in Japanese, and see what happens.

    I’m sure that if we were only going to be in Japan for a few weeks that we could anchor out, or find something that would work. But, we’re assuming we’ll stay six months to a year! In my case, I’m thinking we’ll stay a month or two, cruising locally, then leave the boat for four to six months, and then come back to “go to the next country” (wherever that is!?)

    None of us really know what we’ll do after Japan. I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan, so I won’t need as much time there as the others. My guess is that while we’re back in the states, they’ll be enjoying Japan, and that about the time Roberta and I return to Japan, the whole group will be ready for a new experience. But, we’ll see…

    Thank you! All ideas appreciated! – Ken W

  3. Greetings Rich. You’ve completely stumped me. This probably shouldn’t be bugging me, but I’m feeling in a bit of an ethical quandary. Posting the link would seem a bit “wrong”, given that you are a Simon competitor, even though it is public information, and I really meant to post it yesterday, and forgot. It didn’t take me long googling to find more than one sensor, and I’m sure if you are creative in what you google, you’ll find the same ones I did. If you don’t find it yourself, ask me again in a couple days. I’ll consult with my moral guidance counselor (Roberta) who I’m sure will have an opinion for me. – Ken W

    PS I don’t even know that these things work! (but, like you, I hope they do!)

  4. Ken,

    Are there yacht clubs where you could anchor out and use their launch service – if all else fails. Also, our military usually has yacht clubs which might assist you, especially if any one of you has been in the military. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that either of these alternatives will have big slips available.


  5. Mr. Williams,

    My name is Richard Gauer (Rich) and I am the president of Maretron. Maretron is a relatively new marine electronics company offering a vessel monitoring system based on the National Marine Electronics Association networking standard called NMEA 2000. I would be interested in incorporating flow measurement into our system and it sounds as though you have found a cost effective ultrasonic sensor. Could I impose on you to provide the make and model so I can determine the feasibility of incorporating the sensor into our system?

    Thank you,

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