Tag Archives: disability

Uncharted Waters: An Autistic Captain and Ariose ______________________________________________

An Autistic captain and Ariose! We’re alone, but, we have each other and the open ocean to keep us company! 

Welcome to the Ariosenote blog/ ArioseSailing channel! There is a link to the video at the end if you’d prefer to sit back and watch. Enjoy!

Flag for Neurodiversiy including autism.

A quick plug for autism

So this journey is about Sailing, isn’t it? Yes, it is and there will be plenty of that. But, being Autistic colours everything I do and say, not to mention how society responds to me; it is who I am. If you come from a career that enforced the idea that “your disability does not define you” please subscribe at the very least. There is lots of good learning to have from Autistics themselves since they are the ones that have the lived experience.

With this blog/channel, you will be sailing with an Autistic sailor that wants to break down some of the stereotypes and stigma around being Autistic and neurodivergent in this mostly neurotypically organized and compliant society. If you want to check out the autism introductory video click on Tim’s Autistic Journey for the youtube link.

You will always see my Autistic identity capitalized as Autistic. This erases the medical model of autism as a dysfunction and replaces it with the social model of disability, which enforces the idea that there is nothing wrong with being Autistic. Nothing wrong equals nothing to change! What we need is the acceptance and tools to help us function to our own standard; not to conform to Neurotypical standards. If society stops thinking that we have to fit in to an artificial mould that we simply cannot comply with, then we can be excepted as just another part of the collective gene pool, and, there is no need to change us to be like others; Autists are just different people. Enough on that!

The Sign

It was a gorgeous august day at my home in a lake in Northern Ontario. Cant you just hear the white-throated sparrows, common yellowthroat warblers and swamp sparrows calling? It reminds me of those old Mutual of Omaha short videos from the 70’s.

Sunny, warm and calm, I splashed into the lake signifying the future launching of Ariose into the ocean. But, what if the original splashing is interrupted? (see the video of interrupted splashing).Does this translate into an interruption of Arioses launching? More on that later.

Shirl and I made the trip to Gold River Nova Scotia with the ceremonial first night in Montreal. Then a night in a lovely little Airbnb near Fredericton New Brunswick. Finally, after a few days, we pulled up on Ariose in anticipation and trepidation. I mean, what would we find after an entire winter? Sorry……no photos of beautiful mold!

Concentrating on flying the drone (see the shadow in the hull on the left?).

Ariose looked great on the outside, and sailboats are fairly water resistant creatures, but, water always gets in somehow and the moisture levels over a period of time can render the surfaces fuzzy with mold. I am very happy that we had the local boat works ( Tern Boat Works) drill a hole just above the keel (bottom of the bilge) that lets water out when it does begin to accumulate over the winter. (See video for installation of the garboard plug that is fitted into this hole). Photo of garboard plug

The interior conformed to our expectations, but it was tough to see Ariose in this condition. It seems quite hopeless and disheartening at the time, but, all it takes is a meticulous wiping with some cleaner and anti mold solution over every surface. Before long the boat is clean from bow to stern. Beautiful sunny days that allowed all windows and hatches to be open and the breeze to flow through made this process much easier.

Shirley’s Sienta, a cutie little 4wd RHD that I imported for her from Japan!

Shirl’s 2006 Sienta- (imported from Japan – a special interest of mine -more about special interests and how important they are to Autistic people in a future autism blog) stuck around for a couple days since we needed to get a few things like the sails, emergency raft and such from our local friend George and I needed to stock up on food for an extended period. Then, when it was clear that the soloing must begin, Shirl and I said our teary goodbyes!

The last 2 weeks have been a blur. After getting many things packed away and out from under foot, I began knocking off one project after another.

The projects, oh….the projects!

The garboard plug had to be installed (see the video for installation).

Talking to the garboard plug “now you listen here……I don’t want you changing your mind about staying in the hole once we’re in the water”.

I replaced the packing in the packing gland. It is part of the stuffing box which allows water in from the outside through the stern tube. The packing nut that covers the propeller shaft houses packing material. This material intercepts water that moves up the shaft from outside the boat and cools the shaft. The packing is tightened to allow the water to flow enough to cool the shaft and drip into the bilge. Normally, the flow rate is a few drips per minute. Once the packing wears out, the drips can increase substantially. Like……a stream!

Next, I converted our rigid boom vang into a regular rope vang by taking out 3 heavy springs inside the tube, which allowed me to install a replacement gooseneck bracket that we picked up in the fall after hurricane Fiona.

Then I replaced the sails, the roller of the ancher roller (the other one was warn right off) and carved down the anchor so that I could fit the securing pin in the hole on the anchor roller.

I Installed the solar panels, reprogrammed the controller to accept Lithium, top balanced my new lithium cells and installed them.

Had some trouble getting the app to connect to the battery management system (BMS) but, soon I had it working and battery was fully charged! It was so nice to have a fridge and lights again after an entire week without.

The engine aboard has been a source of irritation for me. When we arrived in Gold River in the fall, the engines secondary fuel filter had been leaking into the bilge and the bilge pumps dumping this into the ocean! I was in a panic upon arrival because this is so hugely against my environmentalist principles that I was fraught with anxiety!

It seems that the installation of a correct o-ring and the correct tightening procedure, took care of this problem. Upon firing the engine up for the first time in 9 months, the leak was fixed! The engine started and ran perfectly!

Now, the throttle on the other hand, created new problems. Both the throttle and the shift cable had slowly become stiffer and stiffer over the last few years. So, when I cranked the engine over, it started and I gave it a bit more fuel. The throttle lever snapped off in my hand due to the amount of force required to operate it. So, another project availed itself. I thought that the cables had become stiff, but, it turns out that it was just the stainless pins that transferred the action of the throttle lever and transmission shift cables were corroded inside the aluminum casing of the binnacle. Once I cleaned up and oiled the pins, the cables worked smoothly. The throttle lever ended up being threaded on both ends with a very common thread that I just happened to have the right drill bit and tap for. So, I drilled and tapped a new hole in the pin to accept the lever and voila, good as new!

The little red head on the left is the throttle lever that snapped off and the transmission lever on the right

The premonition

The original Northern Ontario dive into the my home lake (video of the dock near the beginning) was supposed to signify the splash of Ariose in Nova Scotia. Because of technical difficulties (a micro SD card that couldn’t handle the 4k video) the splash was not captured by the drone, although, the literal splash did occur, I swear – it was refreshing!

Tim about to splash in Trout Lake – FAIL!

Local marina politics at Gold River Marina in Nova Scotia conspired to obliterate my splash date, robbing me of precious preparatory time for my journey on the water. Then I had to sit, ready to go, on the hard through a gorgeous long weekend and think about the last time that Ariose was robbed of the splashing – the marina in Kingston in 2021!. It almost seemed as though, the original malfunction of the drone, just before the northern Ontario splash, was a sign of things to come!

A blessing in disguise?

At the time of writing, hurricane Franklin came and went. Now hurricane Lee is forecast to build into a catagory 3+ hurricane and is set to make landfall directly over Ariose and is creating a frenzy of activity this coming week as boat owners instruct the marina to get their boats out of the water! I guess I’ll stick it out and then splash after Lee has passed.

I just hope that next week brings some water close to the hull. It’s all I can do but hope!

Hurricane Lee (eventually downgraded to a tropical storm)

Having a friend nearby willing to take me in during the hurricane was a blessing, thanks George. We lost power on the first morning of the storm and remained without power over the next night. Then next morning George had already been out to find that the road along the ocean front to his house had been piled up with debree and rocks from the massive waves. On the way to check out his boat anchored in Lunenburg harbour, he had to pick his way through the piles on the way back to keep from bottoming out on the rocks! (his boat Sh’Boom- an Alberg 29 – was rocking but holding fast). Within hours though, the road was cleared.

With the forecast showing that the worst of Tropical Storm Lee had passed, George took me to Ariose to check on it and to leave me to begin the process of installing everything that I had already installed a few weeks before! Luckily, we were on the side of the storm that normally doesn’t get all the rain, so , there was very little problem with leakage inside. Mostly, there was tons of debris from nearby trees on deck, but, no damage. I was surprised by the speed in which everything went back on. I think that having a dry run made the second re-install go pretty smoothly! There’s always a silver lining, if you try hard enough to find one!

After the storm, the marina had a lot of cleanup to do because, in their rush to get as many boats out as they could before the storm, a lot of services that they normally provide went undone. There was a few days of catch up to finish pressure washing hulls and putting things away that would have normally been part of the process. Then….finally, the day came when Ariose and I were next on the list! Stay tuned for this epic beginning to the journey! Fair winds!

Click on the link for the full length video!