Monday, March 31, 2014

Collapsed bearing on the crankshaft

Well the reason behind the clonk bang bang became clear on dismantling the engine.

The bottom seal on the crankshaft had failed and the bottom bearing had been subjected to salt water so it failed also. This would also explain why the bottom spark plug needed frequent replacement.

I can only hope that the spares are going to be available.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Well I was zipping across Falmouth harbor in Antigua when my two year old Tohatsu 18hp 2 stroke started sounding very unhappy and slowed down.

I throttled back and it clonked on for a moment or two before stopping. It restarted briefly but now does not turn at all. Some kind of catastrophic internal failure I think.


The situation is complicated of course by the fact that I bought the OB in St Maarten and am now in Antigua with no intention of going to St Maarten this year.

Tohatsu offer a five year warranty. I wonder has anybody had any success claiming on this.

Or should I just buy a shiny new Yamaha?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I just can not believe how slick Salt Lake City airport is compared to Miami. I drove in the rental car and dropped it off with the people at Alamo processing me through in 2 to 3 minutes. Walked across the road to the flight check in, used the automatic check in device to scan my passport and got waved forward to baggage check in where the guy was waiting with my boarding passes and the luggage label, another 3 minutes.

Relieved of my luggage I ambled down to security to find again I was prechecked and avoided the scrum removing shoes/belts/jackets/laptops etc. My carryon went through the scanner I went through the usual arch and reunited with my bag and a minute laterI was free to enjoy some airport retail therapy. I remembered from last year that the WIFI was free, so I fired up the lappie and was soon deep in my email inbox.

OK if I return next year I have to find a way of avoiding Miami.

Spotted this hanging from the roof though. Weird?

My knees are saying well before you book a return to the ski slopes can we talk about this. But I reminded them of the 80 year old we met still skiing on 210 GS race skis and the old farts group all 80+ that meet regularly to hoon about at Alta. Yes I am creaky and it is not getting any easier but to manage to cruise down the blues and easier blacks on a sunny day in the rockies is such a delight. Also I am lucky to find a poker game that is laidback and not too cut throat. Eric runs a great home game and varies things to stop it being boring.

So somehow I think I will be back in Salt Lake City next February, maybe a week or two earlier than this year. The memory of standing at 11,000 feet in the Rockies on a sunny day with a perfectly groomed piste falling away in front of my feet is so vivid, so sharp and so amazingly life enhancing that I have to see if I can repeat it. To say nothing of carving my way at speed down the hill with the snow hissing as it spumes off the tails of my skis.

Well I collected Dizzy Sox from cat hell
and I have been on maximum guilt trip ever since. He has been welded to my side and as good as gold. I can hear cat telepathy bouncing off my brain as he beams messages of cat love and pleas not to be sent back. Although it looks like they did a good job at PAAWS he is obviously happy to be back on board.

Marker buoy misplaced. Anyone looking for the port side channel marker at the entrance to Falmouth harbor will find it in the car park behind the gas station.

23 days with out water. We need water onboard Elephants Child. We do have a watermaker but I like to keep things simple so fill up our tanks when ever we can. I knew there was a water shortage in Antigua but when I called the fuel dock for water and diesel they tell me it is 23 days since they have had water. From the taps in the marina. I wonder what the mega yachts are doing?

After calling around it turned out that Catamaran Club had water and we got our tanks filled. So I did not have to go to all the hassle of recommissioning the watermaker which would have been a real PITA.

All the supermarkets have HUGE stocks of water in.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I took a much needed day off yesterday as the forecast was for a strong cold front to blow through with very high windspeeds.

Most of the high lifts were closed and resorts were reporting winds in excess of 90 mph. This is equal to a cat 1 hurricane. I did not hear of damage in the resorts but trucks were blown over and barns destroyed.

I woke up today to snow on the car

but nothing like the snow I had last year.

With the promise of better conditions lower down I decided to make the trip up to Snowbasin for my last day on this ski trip. After all a bit of luxury never hurts.

Marble tiled toilets.

Elegant washbasins.

Comfortable chairs in front of real fires when you feel the need to relax for a moment.

And last but not least the best on mountain lodge with the best chilli I have tasted so far.

But it was cold and with enough wind to add significant wind chill so I was in silk balaclava and inner gloves mode for the morning.

In the afternoon the clouds rolled in and the light went so I stayed on familiar runs until my knees cried uncle.

I drove back to Salt Lake City thinking that although the dates were kind of forced on me by the problems with the autopilot and cutlass bearing delays skiing this late on had given me a lot of blue sky days and as Alta has a base station that is higher than the summit lift at Whistler good snow conditions as long as I chose the resort for the day carefully.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Well I got my to do list seen to in the morning with visits to Harbor Freight and an auto store so headed up to Alta.

I was a little worried that it would be crowded as it was the weekend and certainly I did see this queue at the bottom lift but once I was up the queues disappeared.

Just another perfect day in the mountains at Alta.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


As the cold front has dropped some snow and the temperatures I thought it worthwhile to drive to Park City. The snow was perfect and the pistes pretty quiet. The lift operation must run at a loss but I guess they make their money on real estate. The average house selling for 2M$ +.

After lunch I joined a resort history tour hosted by Gaynor who made sense of some of the features I had noticed as I skied around the place.

Like the conveniently placed suggestion box.

The skeletal figures are supposed to indicate that Park City uses renewable energy sources.

She told us about the origin of the name Blue Slip Run. The run was used by resort workers heading home at the end of their shift. However the area was out of bounds at the time. The resort Human Resources manager stood at the bottom of the run one day and handed out blue slips [ dismissal notices] to those using the short cut.

She also told us about the origin of the name Park City. The area was travelled by the early Mormon pioneers on their journey to where they settled and built Salt Lake City. One of their leaders, Parley P. Pratt, explored the canyon in 1848. He was given a charter the following year to build a toll road through it, which was finished in 1849.[6] The basin at the top of the canyon was good for grazing, and a few families settled there. Early on, the area was deeded to Samuel Snyder, Heber C. Kimball and Jedediah Grant. The settlers named it "Parley's Park City", which was shortened to "Park City" in the early 1900s. Practicing polygamy, Pratt was murdered in 1857 by the estranged husband of his twelfth wife. He had a total of 30 children, and his living descendants in 2011 were estimated to number 30,000 to 50,000. He was a great-great-grandfather of Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican candidate for President of the United States. Remember he is the one who wears magic underwear.

I met an skier in his 80s. He invited me over to play with his full size tank and anti aircraft gun.

Smart phone add on. You can get an alarm APP to help you wake up. As well as ringing it generates the smell of frying bacon.
An old gentleman staying in the same hotel as I called 911 when he could not turn his engine off. This was the turnout.

Finally this quote made me think.

Only in America are poor people fat.

Monday, March 10, 2014


The sun has been shining in the mountains and the clouds have gone on holiday. The good weather was predicted by the weathermen so I was surprised that the higher snow sure resorts like Alta were no busier.

I have spent the last three days skiing at Alta. Alta does not allow snowboards and maybe that was why it was quieter. The snow was excellent even late in the afternoon and I had a great time making big wide sweeping turns on the slopes. I mostly stick to the prepared slopes but did spend some time in fresh powder on Friday. I was following a local who knew of this route into a secret stash of powder. It was fun but soon had my knee complaining so it was back to the 'groomers' where my knees do not have to work so hard.

Some people climb up on the ridge lines to access fresh powder others just twist the throttle on their snowmobiles. Their noise seems so wrong in the mountains.

Today they are forecast a frontal system with a promise of some fresh snow. The lence shaped clouds over the mountains suggested that the winds will be blowing up there.

Perhaps I will have to find another poker game. I really enjoyed playing at Erics 500th home game. Proper poker table and chips. Great fun playing Kansas City Lowball!

Friday, March 7, 2014


It is pretty warm out here in Northern Utah and the lower resorts are reporting poor conditions on lower slopes so it looks like I will be sticking to Alta Snowbird Solitude and Brighton. These are the 4 ' Cottonwood Canyons ' resorts and hold their snow better than the lower resorts like Park City.

So I went to Snowbird. One reason was they were running the Swatch Freeride World Tour. I stopped to watch for a little while and again was amazed by the risks they were taking. Still I did not see anybody being helicoptered off to intensive care.

I wonder if any of them had been motivated to be a little more careful after reading that it is looking increasingly unlikely that Michael Schumacher will ever wake up.

One of the unusual features at Snowbird is the 600ft tunnel through the mountain which leads out to a great sunny bowl.

You ride through one a magic carpet and they entertain you as you go with oldie pics and factoids.

It would not be good for anyone suffering from claustrophobia though.

But I was soon back on the slopes just enjoying being in the mountains and feeling the snow beneath my skis.
However it was Mardi Gras and I spotted a young lady donating her beads to the bead tree while another tree nearby was growing more 'strange fruit'.

Yup Snowbird has an underwear tree too!

But the runs were pretty empty, lift queues were non existent and the sun was shining. So life is good.

Monday, March 3, 2014

I succumbed to my addiction to the white stuff again.

I am happy as a warm cat in the Caribbean. Swimming all year round suits me very well and I love the sailing but as

John Muir said;

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

So I set off for the white stuff again. I had thought about The Portes du Soleil in France but I had such a good time last year in Salt Lake City despite the inversion, that I decided to return.

Things started badly in Miami when it took one hour and a half to get to the immigration desks. There were people missing their connections tired family groups and airline staff running around trying to ' expedite ' things but the queue was not easy to short cut. Me? I just had to stand and shuffle. I did see a news snippet that said that US immigration is looking at ways to speed things up. It can not come too soon.

Next day things got better, I got upgraded on the flight and when I arrived in SLC Alamo car hire upgraded me too. So I am driving around in a Chevy SUV with FWD.

Studio 6 is clean and comfortable but most importantly it is quiet.

We had snow over the weekend and after a day at Alta and a day at Brighton I chose Canyons today. This resort is now owned by the same company that owns Vail. Despite that their online senior price was less than the other resorts.

I had a great day with no queues at the lifts and empty pistes.

It is with regret I must inform you of the demise of yet another old skiing friend. My Carreras have disintegrated,