A hot shower never felt so good!!

For the last several weeks I’ve been living the inconvenience of no hot water on my boat/my home.  Not to worry, I still found heater_insta way to get my daily shower.  I would shower at work or at our clubhouse in the marina but not nearly as convenient as showering in your own home!

My water is heater has worked flawlessly for the last 15 years (and it’s been on my boat much longer than that!).  It is a Paloma (Legacy -as in old) Ph5 propane tankless/on-demand water heater.  The last time I changed my propane tank out, in later December, I noticed that the water was just not as hot as usual!  The situation quickly worsened.  Luke warm at best showers and the research began.  The flame in the heater would light but the water wouldn’t get very warm and then wouldn’t stay even luke warm.

There are a lot of newer version on demand heaters out there but the main thing I love about this one is the compact size and the fact that it completely mechanical.  No electronic control board -a simple piezo ignition so no battery or power required.  The first thing I checked for in the troubleshooting process was a propane leak.  I soaked all my lines with leak detector and could find no flaws.  The Tankless Water experts at Low Energy Systems have a great website for the purpose of parts and even troubleshooting on a unit as old as mine.  They have a section that addresses common problems, complete with pictures and parts.  For the problem of water not getting hot enough the first suspect on their troubleshooting list is the water valve and this same company sells the water valve rebuild kit for $60.  the part that troubled me with this was the fact that the problem hadn’t occurred until I had changed the propane tank.  My inclination was consider a gas leak.  I have a propane detector in my boat (alarm that would go off it sensed propane) and I had checked all my lines for leaks.  My propane heater on the boat also worked fine.  As far as I was concerned it could be anything!

As luck would have it there was the exact model of propane heater available on Craigslist and the person selling it had terrific pictures and said to the best of his knowledge it looked virtually unused.  It was in Santa Cruz, a couple of hours away from me and he was willing to ship it for a reasonable fee.  I bought it sight unseen hoping for the best.  My reasoning on this was, yes I could buy a water valve rebuild kit which could fix the problem but what if it was a gas valve

In the process of my water heater repair troubleshooting research a common thread was along the lines of flushing the system out for lime deposits and such.  After I received the new water heater I rigged up a means to flush the water heater out using a submersible utility pump, washing machine hoses and a 5 gallon  bucket full of white vinegar.  I did this outside on the dock so as to not stink up my boat.  I flushed both water heaters thoroughly and went ahead and installed the water heater I had just received back into my boat.

I have to admit I was excited at the prospect of having  a nice hot shower in the comfort of my own boat.  Water lines & gas line back in place I was ready to go for it.  Time to light the pilot light and test it all out.  What a disappointment!  The new (used heater) had a faulty ignition valve.

As I would try to turn the valve to ignite the heater it felt like it was hitting a mechanical stop within the valve and I could not budge it past a certain point.  I had to take the new heater back out.  Back out on the dock I laid a couple of towels down over the boards because the only thing left to do was to try and disassemble the ignition valve and see if there was some way to get this heater going.  Everything about it looked shiny and I could only hope that it was the lack of use that had rendered the ignition valve frozen!  With the towels laid on the dock (so I wouldn’t take the chance of losing parts in the tear-down) I proceeded to disassemble the heater.


This is what the valve looks like after I got everything out of the way.  I wound up soaking the valve in a penetrating oil for a good 10 minutes.  After the soak I used a screw a large screwdriver in one of the notches pointed to on my picture to push the valve down and attempt to turn it.  I kept adding the penetrating oil and working the valve.  It must have been a good 20-30 minutes of letting i soak alternating with trying to move the valve.  Finally, success!  I could feel the ignition valve starting to work at last.

I mounted the first (bad heater) outside and with all safety precautions in place (fire extinguisher hose etc)  I rigged up the propane and the input hose to the first heater to see how hot the water would get.   Initially the water came out of my first heater with decent heat -better than luke warm but not hot.  I then rigged up this new heater (new to me not new mind you) and though it took a couple of tries to get the ignition to actually light off I soon had a full on flame going in the water heater just as it should be.  The best news of all: the water coming out of the water heater was now scalding hot.  In the 15 years of using the previous water heater I have never had water so hot!

It took me a while to finish this post.  Basically around Christmas 2015 is when my water heater started acting up and then I was fortunate enough to find this replacement one about 3 weeks later.  A long weekend was spent in all the troubleshooting and repairs but by about the middle of January I was able to take hot showers on my own boat again as opposed to having to take all my showers at work or in our marina clubhouse.  I have to say my first hot water shower on my own boat after several weeks of showering at work was absolutely awesome.  One of the longest and most relaxing showers ever.  Thanks James (the man I bought the water heater from) for being willing to ship it to me.  I know that part was a headache too but you were very kind to get it on my way so quickly.  I also want to mention that Seth at TanklessWaterHeaters.com was very helpful in my call to them.  He was the one who said it would be ok to use the penetrating oil on the valve and her also diagnosed my problem in the old water heater to be the water valve.  I am quite sure it is the vale and when finances allow I will buy their rebuild kit for that valve and get that water heater going too.  I had been looking for this model heater for a while to put on my other boat so once I get the old one fixed I’ll have a source of hot water for my Gibson boat as I continue it’s remodel process.





Dogs, Racoons and Rural living

remote_harbourLiving in a rural area as I do means living in the vicinity/proximity of wildlife.  We have deer, turkeys, rats, raccoons, snakes  and even a mountain lion has been sighted on occasion.   My dogs for the most part stay reasonably close by but once they get the scent for something to chase -well the chase is on!  At night time I have lights for them to wear.  Super bright led lights.  Sky my Australian Shepherd wears the red lights and Zulu the green lights so I can easily tell them apart when they are running in the dark.

Last Tuesday when I got home from work at about 11pm after a double shift I had plans to take the pups for a brief walk around our marina.  Mostly just over to the beach but not too far from my dock.

We had barely started our walk when Zulu, my 48lb Catahoula took off and ran all the way up to the habour master’s house.  I could see his green lights from his collar going crazy as if he was in a fight with something (wild animal) but without the noise from his adversary.

I ran to his aid.  (This is the first time I have attempted running since my ankle tendon replacement surgery last July – and I mentally took note of this and mentally said a short prayer for both myself and the pup).  I was terrified that he was being injured by his prey which I could only assume to be the most common of our night critters, the raccoon.

Anyone who has encountered the cute little raccoon up close knows that there cuteness is generally racoon (1)accompanied by a ferocious claw and a temperament that is not prone to surrender.  They are vicious animals in the up close and personal!  This does not mean that I wish harm on the raccoon -only that that their cuteness must be accompanied by a wariness for their viciousness.

Zulu by nature is a hunting/prey driven animal.  He is almost 5 years old now and has become far more of a ‘home-body’ than even me.  He used to be gone for hours in his hunting explorations but now he comes almost instantly when called, and stays closer to home than my Australian Shepherd (known for her desire to be invisibly underfoot – like in your blind-spot-step-on-the-poor-dog zone!!) Zulu was right in the middle of this audible altercation and not backing down and I was scared and running ! 

I came upon Zulu and his foe.  They were in open space right under me.  I was yelling at Zulu to drop the raccoon and simultaneously trying to kick the racoon – they were really right in the middle of the drive and literally under foot.  Reason set in with me and I realised that the only sounds of distress were coming from zuluthe raccoon.  Ideally I would have loved for both animals to walk away unharmed but in this circumstance I had to root for Zulu and pray he would be ok.  He apprantly had the raccoon in a death grip and the two of them circled and circled through the brush and up and down a small crest of hill.  The harbour masters’ son, Mark, heard our calls of distress -(mostly mine) but the dog’s & raccoon’s as well and came out with a shotgun in hand.  He warned me that it would be loud but there was really nothing to be done until Zulu released the raccoon and that didn’t happen until Zulu felt he had won.

Mark yelled at Zulu to get out of the way and then put the raccoon out of his misery.  I don’t think either Mark or myself had any pleasure or desire to see any living being having to be shot but as the circumstances warranted this deemed the only humane solution and I do thank Mark for being there and helping to end the altercation.

I was so grateful that my other dog Sky, my Australian Shepherd did not attempt to go to Zulu’s aid or get involved.  After it was all said and done the three of us, Zulu, Sky & myself headed back home.  Zulu, as if another day in the life and nothing had happened stopped to relieve himself in a matter of fact way.  I personally was rather shaken up and in disbelief.

Ever since that day I have found a way to have the pups on leash after about 6 pm.  It gets dark around 430 or 5 pm.  I really don’t want to be in this situation with either of my dogs again and was an idiot for not having had them on leash at the time.  Lights or not raccoons are probably our most dangerous foe in the immediate neighbourhood.  Yes there is the mountain lion we have seen and the occasional coyote over the years but in all honesty the most viable threat in the immediate vicinity and regular appearance would be the raccoon.  As sorry as I am to see a life lost in the situation (the raccoon’s) I remain grateful that it was small enough (about 10-15lbs) for Zulu to be the victor in this instance.

2015-01-12 17.10.17-2We live in a remote area where wildlife, humans and pets must find ways to coexist.  The raccoons and the rats eat the trash in the outside trash cans and the dogs keep the boundaries defined.  The humans remind the dogs that there are boundaries and the dogs remind the humans that there are wildlife.  We all have a purpose and a meaning – for today I am just grateful Zulu was the winner and is an especially good rat hunter and keeping those rodents off the docks and at bay!

A lesson we all could learn

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There is so much we can all learn from one another and especially from ‘man’s best friend, the dog!.

The other day as I accompanied my pups on a walk at the beach I once again noted especially in Zulu, his innate desire to meet and greet.  As a puppy he thought he was tough and larger than he was and wound up getting out run and out smarted.  As an adult 4 year old dog he has learned the art of chivalry and perception.  He runs with joy to meet new dogs or people and seems to know when that joy might not be reciprocated.  He seems to know those humans who may not want to pet a dog and likewise those dogs who don’t want to partake in the sniff and greets.

2015-06-27 08.20.20On those times when his perceptions incline him, it is really incredible to see the interactions.  Zulu and his new found friend of the moment run up to one another and kind of crouch down nose to nose, both tails wagging.  The pose can be held for seconds until they determine if a playful chase is in order.  In quick order a friendship is made with playful interactions.

In like manner I notice us humans.  The humans with dogs seem to instinctively follow their dogs’ well-taught manners.  There is something about having a dog with you that encourages you to interact with other dog owners.  It’s rare that two dog owners can do less than at least say hello to one another as they pass.  Even people without dogs will greet you when you have a dog with you.  There are those who prefer to not interact in anyway but for the most part dogs are a great example for us all.  Dog owners always seem to find something in common to discuss.

Crissy field is my favourite place to take my dogs.  It is not a dog park per se but is a dog friendly environment where there just seem to be the best level of interactions.  I have encountered people with kids and no dogs who actually bring their kids to the beach to interact with the dogs.  The dog owners at Crissy Field seem to be the most respectful of others that I have encountered in the SF Bay Area.  The dog owners clean up after their dogs and keep their dogs away from kids and people when it seems appropriate.

I’m a shy person at heart and don’t really seek out interactions -but when with my dogs it seems natural to let the dogs play with one another and for us humans to at least follow the example of friendliness.  Dogs are great role models!  They are unconditionally loving, especially towards their food supply source.  Yes I love my dogs and love the examples they set for me and all.


A slideshow of some of my favourite recent pictures

A love of sunsets, my pups & my marina home is the essential subject of this video slideshow.

The first dog silhouette is of Boeing, my Australian Shepherd who passed away a few years ago.  An array of marina photos and sunsets follows.  The one bridge pictured within is the Richmond San Rafael bridge with Mt Tamalpais in the background.  The bridge is not visible from the harbour but a great sunset just the same.

The last two dog-sunset-sihouettes are of my current family members, Zulu (a 4yo catahoula) and then Sky (a 6yo Australian shepherd). The slideshow ends with a couple of stunning moonrises!

The background music is “Oh! Mio Babbino Caro” sung by Gianni Schicchi.  I’m not really an opera music listener but this piece of music inspired me to get the photos together and there is always the option to turn your sound off if the music doesn’t suit you.

Overall the slideshow is for me to remember special moments and images from the last several months and if they suit your taste you will enjoy as well.

Breathless Moments

sunset2“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
― Maya Angelou
What a saying and how true.  The breaths that take our breath away are those individually special moments.  For me it is things like sunsets and the way the same scenery can look so different each day as the sun sets and illuminates the surroundings with that very special sunset light.

Photo 101: Day Nineteen: Double

Double image … my favourite shot of my pup Sky against the sunset and then I mirrored it so it likes like double the ‘Sky’ against the sunset of the sky….!

Double the dog named Sky against the sky

Original of Sky against the sunset
Original of Sky against the sunset


Double seats & double plants
The same double plants as viewed from the dock



and again only from my boat


Share Your World – 2015 Week #12

Cee’s Share your week challenge – 

Share your world!
Share your world!

When was the last time you sat on a park or garden bench for more than ten minutes? Describe the occasion.

Our marina has a couple of chairs on the end of the levy and I frequently sit there in the morning

You can see the outline of the chair I like to watch the sunset from
You can see the outline of the chair I like to watch the sunset from

reading a book (via kindle) in the morning but more often I love watching the sunsets from this vantage point and it is no problem to spend 20-30 minutes minimum..so the occasion is, as frequently as possible!  I have noticed that as much as I love Day Light Savings time -I have been kind of missing the sunsets since they come later and before I know it!




Would you ever be interested in observing a surgery or do you turn away when the nurse brings out the needle? 

I have assisted in some surgery stuff for my dog- but overall not interested.  I do watch if I’m getting an injection -I think more to convince myself that I can rather than wanting or liking to look.


Where’s your favorite place to take out-of-town guests?

It used to be the Metreon in San Francisco.  There was a really cool virtual bowling alley.  Overall depending on the guests -if they are people who enjoy the outdoors then it is Muir Woods and Crissy Field / Golden Gate Bridge.

If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

Home Depot!  Always have a million projects -would probably just bring the store home 🙂