David Geller

  • Yes – Coast Guard was involved and was required to clear both boats for safe operation after the accident. It delayed the ferry about 30 min., according to the article.

  • Nice video! I’m guessing you’re using something like a DJI Osmo for the buttery smooth video at eye level. Am I close?

  • I’d like to suggest that as a good measure, recycle your extinguishers every few years – even if not required. Use the old one(s) for training by having family/crew practice using them. Learn how to properly use them by spraying them somewhere where their contents can be safely be cleaned-up. Surprisingly few people have actually used a fire…[Read more]

  • Great post. Loved learning about the boat. Envious of all the work space you have for your tech toys. Love the fact that you’ve got a small 3D printer on-board as well. That could be useful for parts that need making. I just bought a Prusa i3 in kit form on Amazon that arrives Friday. Can’t wait to play with it. I’ve been creating 3D printed cases…[Read more]

  • Thanks Steve! I had fun with it – and having even more fun with v2. Creating the custom case has been a blast. Also creating my own 9V regulators so that I can take in 12V and drive clean 9V to the TP-Link router. It can probably take 12, but it’s rated to take 9V… Plus, it gave me a chance to tinker more. The Pepwave stuff looks interesting,…[Read more]

    • Oh for sure, the TP-Link is one of the best AP’s on the market because of its power, and you can’t beat the price. I like the Pepwave because of it’s ability to auto change sources for Internet (WiFi or LTE) and because I have it meshed together with two other locations via a VPN, which makes accessing things on the boat from home or elsewhere…[Read more]

  • Thanks! I have not tested signal strength with the smaller WiFi antennas on the inside. I don’t have any specific test equipment but may try to do some casual real-world tests with that configuration.

    I’m guessing it would probably work just as well considering how small an area it has to cover for the average recreational boat.

    I’m currently…[Read more]

  • Several years ago I wrote about creating a WiFi extender for our previous boat, the MV LAIKA. For that project, which you can review here, I utilized a Ubiquiti Bullet high-powered WiFi radio to bring distant […]

  • You’re right. Going out, and being at the same height as the lock staff sure makes it much easier – both in handling (and handing off) lines and communicating. Come to think of it – all my solo trips through have been outbound.

  • I’d imagine that’s a situation that warrants communications – for the sake of safety.

  • Excellent point – and something many of the guides point out. I’ve always been aware that they could get stuck but never witnessed them doing so. Perhaps I’ve become a little too complacent about that possibility occurring. Your comment has reinforced my need to be more aware of my surroundings during a locking.

  • I think you’re right.

  • I forgot the mention that sailboats often have a unique advantage going solo through the locks – your assortment of winches, cams, long lines and generally strong seamanship skills can make a complicated job easier. I was in the big locks once and a solo sailer was easily handling both his long lines through a pair of aft winches. From one spot he…[Read more]

  • The summers can certainly be congested. I tend to take it all in stride. Even though we have a fast motorboat we have a self-imposed rule of never rushing to get somewhere. I try and give myself extra time at the locks and enjoy the excitement when it’s super busy.

    You are right about maneuverability being challenging – certainly for vessels…[Read more]

  • I agree that there should be better communications. It’s sometimes very frustrating. However, I suspect their argument will be that they exist primarily (perhaps solely) for the purpose of managing commercial and fishing traffic. I’ll try and ask the next time I’m there walking about as a tourist – which remains an extremely fun thing to do from…[Read more]

    • Hmmm… perhaps I’m wrong about this, but I think that supporting recreational boaters is a formal part of their remit. Commercial traffic rightly enjoys precedence, but easy enough to argue that better-informed recreational boaters will improve the usefulness of the waterways for commercial traffic as well!

      • I think you’re right.

      • Stuart,
        The Corps of Engineers has one criteria for marine operations, commercial tonnage. Since the completion of the 520 bridge, the tonnage has fallen below the threshold for Corps to invest in upgrading the locks (they are 100 years old and in serious need of upgrading). I have just become aware of this problem. A number of years ago the…[Read more]

  • One of my solo lockings was also in the large locks – but it was during the summer and there were other boaters that helped out. Someone rafting up to me came aboard and help tend one of my 50′ lines.

  • Transiting The Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks can be a challenging exercise for recreational boaters. It requires patience, good boating skills, a sense of community and willingness to help others […]

  • Several years ago I wrote about creating a WiFi extender for our previous boat, the MV LAIKA. For that project, which you can review here, I utilized a Ubiquiti Bullet high-powered WiFi radio to bring distant […]

    • Have you tested signal strength with the box (antenna) inside vs outside? How much loss do you get by opting to keep the antenna as part of the whole?

      I suppose you could switch out a coax connector to give you the option of moving the antenna further away?

      Great post!

      Bruce

      • Thanks! I have not tested signal strength with the smaller WiFi antennas on the inside. I don’t have any specific test equipment but may try to do some casual real-world tests with that configuration.

        I’m guessing it would probably work just as well considering how small an area it has to cover for the average recreational boat.

        I’m currently designing a new case in CAD and will 3D print it when done.

    • Great write up! I’ve built several of my own as well, after having had the Wirie as a commercial product. While their product is great, being a network engineer, and wanting access to extra features, it was disappointing that some of the default bits of their solution are masked by their custom firmware.

      I prefer the Ubiquiti Bullet as you used, which has a fantastic feature set. I use a Pepwave WiFi AP which the Bullet is connected to for WiFi, but also has it’s own set of features around LTE and drives those speeds up very high. It’s starting to get to the point, as you mentioned, that LTE speeds are surpassing WiFi, as long as you have enough in your data plan to cover it!

      • Thanks Steve! I had fun with it – and having even more fun with v2. Creating the custom case has been a blast. Also creating my own 9V regulators so that I can take in 12V and drive clean 9V to the TP-Link router. It can probably take 12, but it’s rated to take 9V… Plus, it gave me a chance to tinker more. The Pepwave stuff looks interesting, but I think it would be hard to beat the $23 price of the TP-Link.

        • Oh for sure, the TP-Link is one of the best AP’s on the market because of its power, and you can’t beat the price. I like the Pepwave because of it’s ability to auto change sources for Internet (WiFi or LTE) and because I have it meshed together with two other locations via a VPN, which makes accessing things on the boat from home or elsewhere very convenient.

          Additionally, they have a great monitoring solution that allows for alerts and info on the boat internet connection. But then again, I’m an Internet nerd so that might not be something that others are interested in 🙂

  • Transiting The Hiram M. Chittenden (Ballard) Locks can be a challenging exercise for recreational boaters. It requires patience, good boating skills, a sense of community and willingness to help others […]

    • One of my solo lockings was also in the large locks – but it was during the summer and there were other boaters that helped out. Someone rafting up to me came aboard and help tend one of my 50′ lines.

    • Nice article. Well worth a read by those going through with other crew as well.

      I am alone most of the time when I transit the locks, and I have benefitted from the consideration of the lock wallahs and from other boaters. It is key. I try to call attention to the fact that I am solo when that is the case.

      One thing that would help everyone is an improvement in communication from the lock personnel… especially when coming in from the sound. It is very difficult to hear instructions given the distance and the noise from the railroad trestle (not just trains, but the water that is oven coming down from the trestle).

      And yes, being tuned into channel 13 is very helpful.

      • I agree that there should be better communications. It’s sometimes very frustrating. However, I suspect their argument will be that they exist primarily (perhaps solely) for the purpose of managing commercial and fishing traffic. I’ll try and ask the next time I’m there walking about as a tourist – which remains an extremely fun thing to do from time to time.

        • Hmmm… perhaps I’m wrong about this, but I think that supporting recreational boaters is a formal part of their remit. Commercial traffic rightly enjoys precedence, but easy enough to argue that better-informed recreational boaters will improve the usefulness of the waterways for commercial traffic as well!

          • I think you’re right.

          • Stuart,
            The Corps of Engineers has one criteria for marine operations, commercial tonnage. Since the completion of the 520 bridge, the tonnage has fallen below the threshold for Corps to invest in upgrading the locks (they are 100 years old and in serious need of upgrading). I have just become aware of this problem. A number of years ago the Swinomish Channel was silted up to the point that boaters were in danger of running aground, but the lack of commercial tonnage meant that the Corps would not dredge the channel. I don’t recall how the situation was resolved.

    • I was thinking about writing up a locks tips post too, but would need a lot more lock thrus before I’d even consider going solo.

      Our biggest challenges have been with congestion (in the summer, 50 boats waiting to enter eastbound!) and current / wind pushing on the boat when heading west. Maneuverability of your boat matters a lot. As a sailboat with prop walk we’re not super maneuverable. Seems like a motor boat with twin screws or a bow thruster would have an easier time with some parts of it.

      I thought the VHF communication ban was a USCG decision, rather than Locks imposed. Communications are terrible – they announce instructions over the loudspeaker which no one can hear over the wind.

      • The summers can certainly be congested. I tend to take it all in stride. Even though we have a fast motorboat we have a self-imposed rule of never rushing to get somewhere. I try and give myself extra time at the locks and enjoy the excitement when it’s super busy.

        You are right about maneuverability being challenging – certainly for vessels without a great deal of thrust and directional control. Though, you probably have the advantage of a nice sized rudder.

        The other key for the locks – bring oversized fenders!

      • I forgot the mention that sailboats often have a unique advantage going solo through the locks – your assortment of winches, cams, long lines and generally strong seamanship skills can make a complicated job easier. I was in the big locks once and a solo sailer was easily handling both his long lines through a pair of aft winches. From one spot he was keeping them both properly tensioned. Most powerboaters have no such toys and have to have people manning both ends of the boat!

      • My anecdotal understanding is that this is a local decision, as in other parts of the country, channel 13 is available to recreational boaters. I wouldn’t argue in favor of changing this, but rather to provide better means of communicating to the boaters waiting to get in (or out).

      • Patrick you are correct, it is USCG. You can’t talk to the bridge tenders on the radio either.

    • My simple advise to all skipper transitioning the Locks is; Do what the person on the wall tells you to do. They are pretty good at determining if you are solo. I solo and pickup crew often as I like to leave very early or vary late. I like the locks as it is a challenging seamanship gig.

      The important advice in your article is have everything ready for both sides before you approach. Not just fenders on both sides, but lines. Flake you mooring lines on lifelines, or rail so the Lock Master can pick it with a boathook and help you.

      As a sailboat who opens the BNR bridge, we do have a extra challenge. I have been stuck outside the BNR bridge, in my place in line as the whole locks fills and closes. So on some busy days when the 4pm trains are expected, and the bridge happens to be open, I will pass the crowd to get up stream of bridge. I am polite and know my place in line. Usually only one or two explanations are required. But that presents a new challenge as you are in the bulk of the current with a lot of other boats who will be passing you in a small area. I have found there is a nice eddy right at the end of the wharf between the locks (by the Green/red Stop/Go lights). And you are out of the way. and can setup to move further away the light goes green for either lock.

      Do what the lockmaster on the locks tells you to do and it will be fine! Good article.

    • Excellent point – and something many of the guides point out. I’ve always been aware that they could get stuck but never witnessed them doing so. Perhaps I’ve become a little too complacent about that possibility occurring. Your comment has reinforced my need to be more aware of my surroundings during a locking.

    • I’d imagine that’s a situation that warrants communications – for the sake of safety.

    • You’re right. Going out, and being at the same height as the lock staff sure makes it much easier – both in handling (and handing off) lines and communicating. Come to think of it – all my solo trips through have been outbound.

  • The Port and City of Olympia recently held its annual Harbor Days and Maritime Festival & Tugboat Races event. It was located at Percival Landing and was open to the public. Visitors were able to tour classic tug […]

  • The Port and City of Olympia recently held its annual Harbor Days and Maritime Festival & Tugboat Races event. It was located at Percival Landing and was open to the public. Visitors were able to tour classic tug […]

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