Monday, March 30, 2015

March 2015 in Seattle

It was a Gusty day early in March when I went down to do my volunteer Sailing Instruction. A Seaplane had just capsized, you can just see the pontoons at it is being towed upside down by the smaller vessel as the larger safety vessel stands by. The crew got out ok, It had just landed and was taxing when a gust forced the nose down in the water and it turtled.

It happened about 12:15 just as the winds were peaking in Strength, we had a interesting sailing lesson in the 20' Blanchard with the Main reefed of course.

Woods Hole Spirit Boat having no issues with the gusty winds.

And the Pelican taking it all in strides as well.

I bought a Groupon to rent one of these 10 passenger electric boats, hope to use it in April.

Elena's crew found a Message in a Bottle, They added to the message and sent it back out into  Lake Union...Passing it Forward!

What happened to the Sun? One of the new Amazon buildings took it all!, I walk by here all the time but this is the first time I have noticed the environmental impact of the new 1/2 city block sized building had on the very valued Seattle sunlight. A huge swath of South Lake Union is now in the shade.

I stopped to watch a crew disassemble a construction crane one piece at a time. It takes two mobile cranes, one small and one giant one to take it down.

Timing is everything

The beautiful early Spring days filled March up.

With Rainer being the exception since it's elevation is 14,409', Mt. Snoqualmie is 6,280. Since the heavier snow pack starts at around 10,00' this year in the Pacific Northwest due to a record warm winter and spring,, the state is concerned about it's water resources and power generating for the remainder of the year.

We took a day to Visit the MOHI, Museum of History and Industry, and had time to visit the upper floors this time.  I found this Janurary 1882 comment by a Seattle Mayor interesting. I think the current mayor could easily make a similar statement.

I looked into tickets for the Seattle Sounders Opening Season Game against the New England Revolution, they were sold out but you can easily buy on the second hand market so I got a couple of Cheap tickets, $45 a pop so I could take the Admiral to see this incredible MLS Team. We stopped by THE Ninety to hear some Soccer talk by the managers of the Sounders and soak up the Fan Mania that supports this team.

The view is Ok from the bottom of the upper deck.

Pre Game excitement and then just minutes into the game Clint Dempsey is fouled in the box and converts on a Plenty kick! I knew the Admiral would get to see Dempsey score but I did not know he would score twice in this game.

The view pre-game and at Halftime. 

The Sounders Fan were in a Blur after the Win over the Patriots.

Big D started the Little Kickers program, I think that red hair comes from a Brazilian Line. Move over Ronaldo

We didn't stay long at the Irish festival but these guys were fun:

Brian asked if I would crew for him and his Admiral aboard this J 105.

The Plan was to sail to Port Madison and back. The local resident Eagle saw us out into Shillshole Bay, We had perfect winds and I was amazed at how fast this boat accelerated to speed, we were immediately making 7+  knots effortlessly. Loved the double main sheet system for fine tuning the mainsail.

Brian and Ann becoming a great sailing team!

Noticed this cool Vessel for sail when we returned from our J 105 sail, you can see it on yachtworld at

Then the next week Brian invited me to accompany him on a J 80 to practice some tacking maneuvers. Again we sailed over towards Port Madison but since he wanted to perfect his Jibbing we got pretty far North in the nice South winds. A little over half way back the winds died and we motored back. 

This time I was surprised to see a Catalina 250 for sail on the docks, a C250 was our first sailboat on Canyon Lake so I had to get a picture of this one for old times sake!

I could sail this one blind.

Brian told me about the Cheery Trees at the University of Washington, He said we better hurry if we wanted to see them in bloom. Two days later we packed Big D in the car and drove over for a Day at the "Quad". The trees were in the last stages of the bloom but never the less still beautiful. 

You can see full bloom pics here from the University's we site:

Lots of interesting Architecture around the Quad


We closed out March with a Admirals Sail on a cloudy gusty day. Rally cool Cutter Ketch moored on the Northern end of the East shore.

Look at that Main, we are sailing close Hauled!

See Y'all in Texas soon.

March 2015 in Seattle

March started out with a big rain and then it was just sunny for about 10 days, they said on the news that Spring was 6 weeks early here. But then the rains began to alternate with the sun and I wondered if this would be a record wet March? But no, March 2014 was the wettest on the record books.  March also brought the winds, it was either barely enough to sail or pretty breezy with lots of gusty swirls thrown in.  Heck, In early March I was standing on the end of the dock at the Center for Wooden Boats waiting on my students to show up and a Seaplane was blown over nose first into the lake and it completely turtled over. The Pontoons  was the only thing that saved the plane as it was floating upside down in the lake. A small boat got a tow line on it and towed it to the North end of the lake so a crane could lift it and begin Salvage operations. The 2 crew made it out safely. My Buddy Randy said that it is not an uncommon thing for Seaplanes to get blown over but it was the first for me!.
We are still awed by living in an area with actual seasons. The Spring Beauty of the Pacific Northwest started peeking out early this year and that along with the unusual warm temps has had the natives being a lot more jovial. I had the great fortunate to meet a new sailing friend Brian from Colorado. He and his wife Ann basically found Seattle fore the same reasons we did, they followed their adult children up here and enjoy it so much they are staying for a while. They are trying to find ways to spend their summers at their home in Winter Park and their winters here where it is much milder. Brian and Ann joined Seattle Sailing Club to learn to sail and enjoy the incredible Puget Sound. This Sailing club is located right next door to Windworks Sailing that I belonged to. Seattle Sailing emphasizes racing and so they have a lot of J boats in their fleet. Brian has invited me several times to crew  and it has been a great opportunity for me to sail on go fast boats. I like them all but the J 105 is really nice!
Brian mentioned the Cherry Blossoms at the University of Washington and we knew of them through our daughters conversation but Brian tipped the scale and I knew we needed to see them. Brian said they should still be there but we better hurry if we wanted to see them. Two days later we packed Drew up and drove over and spent the whole morning enjoying the "Quad". It had rained the night before so there were a couple of puddles around, a Duck was enjoying one of those puddles and Big D decided he would join him. In the blink of an eye Drew fell on his butt in the puddle and the Admiral sprang into action. Drew had his muddy clothes off in a New York minute and we were off to the car for some clean threads.
We finished the month off with a fine Lake Union Sail in the Gusty March winds. We sailed all the way to the Washington Bridge downwind and the Admiral said now your going to make me work by having to tack all the way back in this wind. So I put my Sailor hat on and met her challenge by using the gust to work my way windward and reducing the number of tacks and thus limiting the number of times she would have to tack the jib. A little competition is always fun

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Washington Street Boat Landing, The Seattle Seawall Project and Big Bertha Tunneling Machine

Washington Street Boat Landing, The Seattle Seawall Project and 
Big Bertha Tunneling Machine

I knew there was this little park on the Water Front that was adjacent to the Port of Seattle Container docks. I had some time one morning so I walked downtown and took a street down to the waterfront near the Ferry docks. I knew it would be just a short walk from there. For some reason though I was having trouble finding information about it on the internet before walking down there. As I found out all the construction along the water front in the area of the park caused the access to the park to be fenced in by the needs of the construction going on down there.

I found this picture on the Seattle Parks site:
I was unable to get into the Historic Park due to construction fencing. Later I found out where the Pergola went:

I was able to just get to the Seattle Water Taxi Docks and get a couple of pics across the dock to the park where the trees are.

I could not make out any shape of the pagoda pic above but I knew this had to be the Park, the only area with any trees.
I tried to find a back door in but there was always security in the area at each construction gate. There are two huge projects going on along this section of the waterfront and a lot of construction activity. One of the projects is the renewal of the Seattle Seawall along a significant portion of Alaskan Way in what is usually the highest concentration of tourist traffic and commuter traffic from the Washington State Ferry docks. The second project is a huge tunneling project to replace the old elevated Highway 99 Viaduct with a underground tunnel. The old Highway bridge is old and does not meet standards for earthquake or tsunami's.

I did not get to visit the Historic park and wondered if it would ever be re-opened to the public so I started checking out other things on the checklist. This is the Commuter Water Taxi dock to West Seattle and Vashon Island. I plan on taking the taxi some day just for fun so I at least got to preview where to board the vessel. It does not run in the middle of the day, just mornings and afternoons, so you have to really plan the trip to coincide with their departure and return times. 

The Taxi's resting till the afternoon commuter rush.

On the way by the Ferry dock I took time to take a couple of pics, the Kalakala has been on the evening news lately here. The Kalakala was recently taken to the bone yard and cut into pieces, the good pieces were put into a huge warehouse and auctioned off, everything sold in less than 2 hours. See The Kalakala was among a fleet of vessels bought by the State of Washington when the State Government went into the Ferry business in 1951.

Leschi was the first vessel in Puget sound to carry vehicles, mostly on Lake Washington 1913

Walking along the area of the Seawall replacement construction you cant help but notice the spaghetti of pipes running just inside the wall from the sidewalk. Hoses connected to pipes that are leading straight down about 2 feet apart the entire length of the construction along the wall. All the connections are frozen and the ice surrounding the connections stands out.  

Several of these refrigeration units are humming full speed along the way

I asked one of the hardhats about the pipes running deep underground. They have frozen the soils deep below the construction area to prevent seepage of water as they replace the old seawall with the new. It prevents water seeping underneath the Highway 99 elevated structure.

Since Highway 99 is just feet from the Seawall they are trying to prevent subsidence or sinking of the old highway that is still used by 10's of 1,000's of cars daily  The Highway has already sunk by 3/4 inch and nobody seems to know how far it can sink before it becomes unsafe for use.
Lots of drilling and replacement of pilings go on 24/7

Here is the latest update:

Several area business had to close for a year so they are taking advantage of the closure and remodeling as well.

The size and scope of the project is incredible, they say it is a one year deal but they got lucky with the warmest driest winter ever so they might be on target to meet their deadlines.These are called Z panels, see the video here:

The new wall is supposed to stand through earthquake and  tsunami for the next 75 years.

This has always been covered by sidewalk so you never really knew if you were walking over land or water. 

Project #2 is the Tunnel project underneath the elevated Hwy 99 viaduct that parallels the seawall just feet away which can be seen in this picture. The only thing that separates the two projects is some artificially frozen soil.

This is "Bertha" The Largest Tunneling machine in the world and the first time it has ever been used to dig a tunnel This is a must see video on this incredible piece of Japanese Engineering:

Bertha is in place and fired up for the first time to start boring the 2 mile long tunnel.

Bertha ran into what they thought was some old steel pipes left underground years ago. It stalled the boring for several days. They finally got her re-started and then the machine starting running hot. They diagnosed the problem as a bad main bearing. So they had to shut her down and figure out how to fix the problem. The decision was made to dig a huge access hole ahead of the machine and then raise the cutting head to the surface where they could install a new bearing.This is a picture taken just recently after Bertha emerged into the access pit. They are now going to start the disassembling process and bring the head to the surface for repairs. So far about a year long delay and who knows how much money in cost overruns? Great news story here: You can imagine the political fall out over such a delay for this project which is even further complicated by the fact that when they began to dig the access pit to remove the cutting head the elevated Hwy 99 began to sink. Old Even buildings in Pioneer Square which runs along side Hwy. 99 had some buildings sinking, walls cracking and other issues like water seeping in. One used book store had to re-locate due to water damage which cost the business $30,000 to find new digs. But this is why they must complete the project no matter what the cost:

The red structure was built to raise the extremely heavy cutting head to the surface.

On the bright side the Longshoreman have reached a agreement and in early March everything kicked back into gear at all the West Coast Ports but there is a huge backlog of ships to be unloaded. The containers are stacked in Mountains everywhere and the truck traffic to and from the port is pissing drivers off. But you will probably be able to set your stuff soon!

On both sides of 99 the containers are stacked everywhere.

Check out that fork lift!

That is the stern of a container ship, its one of the big ones that carry about 20,000 containers!

Just can't Contain it all!

The port should have the back log cleared up by the end of March.

Trucks backed up in all directions going in and out.

It was a great morning for a walk along the waterfront!
Seattle is a city on the move with not just the projects above but record growth in the city as all the tech companies are adding thousands to their workforce. Last Year an average of 180 persons were moving into the Seattle Metro area per day (Much like Austin, TX). The growing pains of accommodating such fast and big change is certainly apparent everywhere here. Life will be very different 5 years from now when all the buildings are full and these huge projects are complete. If any city can rise to the challenge it is Seattle with it's incredible techno work force to solve a whole new set of issues that will emerge very soon.