#58 Imagination

The phone rang recently. It was our 5 year old grand daughter Anna who politely asked to speak to Mimi. Debbie took the phone and Anna blurted tearfully "Mimi, mommy says my imagination has gone wild. What should I doooo?" Debbie consoled "Anna, there is nothing wrong with your imagination. What she said is just a figure of speech. It's OK to use your mind to imagine things.

Anna was quickly calmed, but it got me thinking as I looked out the window. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined having a home overlooking San Francisco Bay. Yep, a quiet gated community with easy access to all the surrounding communities. Minutes from wine country to the North, Berkeley to the South and San Francisco minutes away on the BART train. Even more incredible, our spot is only temporary during two gorgeous months of the year. I decided my imagination is no match for reality.

Beautiful San Francisco Bay from Marin Highlands

Richmond Shipyards

Richmond Bay Marina where we stayed is situated in a quiet residential neighborhood. During World War II, however, Kaiser shipyard #2 occupied this very spot. It was anything but quiet. More ships were built here during the war than any other yard in the country.

With multiple fronts and a major submarine threat, the country needed ships quickly. More than 747 Victory and Liberty ships were built here during the war, a feat not equaled anywhere else in the world before or since. What's more, they built them in two-thirds the time at one fourth of the cost of any other yard of the time. Henry Kaiser and his workers applied innovative techniques bringing pre-made parts together, moving them into place with huge cranes. They were then welded or riveted together in the yard using unskilled laborers to do the repetitive jobs required. This effort opened up jobs to women and minorities.

By 1944, the yard could assemble a ship from start to finish in just two weeks. When challenged, they produced the Liberty ship SS Robert E. Peary in just 5 days. For the first time women were employed in massive numbers. The population of Richmond grew almost overnight from 20,000 to 100,000. Now that's imagination!

Richmond Marina today.

Our slip is where the number 2 is in this photo.

'Wendy the Welder'. Women served the war effort in mass numbers. There is also a 'Rosie the Riveter' memorial on this site.

The Red Oak Victory, one of the last remaining ships of the era. This photo was taken just two months ago before being put into dry dock for new paint.

The Red Oak Victory returned to her berth just as we were leaving so I snapped this photo of her. What a difference. This one may be the only one that will be preserved for future generations to see.


Michael Jones is Chief Technology Advocate for Google. He is an amazingly interesting and quick minded guy. Michael is also a serious student of all things boating. Among his diverse boating interests, he follows Eliana's Journal. So when Eliana arrived to town, Michael invited us to the Google campus for a tour. Debbie and I jumped at the chance.

Google was incorporated in 1998 as a private company with the mission statement "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". The name Google was a misspelling of googol, the term representing the number 1 with one hundred zeros behind it. Today, Google manages data centers around the world processing over 11 billion core searches last month alone. In fact, the term "to google" is now considered a verb in several languages.

The Googleplex in Mountain View, CA is staggering in size. Over 40 buildings, each is dedicated to various departments and portions of the business. The campus is up and running around the clock. Employees enjoy a culture of innovation and problem solving while being cared for in every possible way. The magnitude of the impact Google has on humankind is difficult to grasp. And to think this has been achieved this in only a decade. It makes me wonder what may be possible in the next decade. I can't imagine. Can you?

Viewing a portion of the campus using, you guessed it, Google Earth.

Debbie printing her visitor badge.

Building to building transportation is fast and efficient on company provided bicycles.

One of the buildings.

Google's first production server. I have no idea how many they have now, but it's a lot.

This monitor in the front lobby scrolls real time searches being done all over the world. Of course, it only shows a tiny fraction of the millions of searches every second, but it was fun to see what people type in to search.

Michael Jones with his demonstration booth. It allows the user to stand in the middle with a joystick and fly all around the world seeing it in spectacular realism.

You can even fly it to the moon or mars.

Shop Talk

A few weeks ago I posted #55 Milestones and Mistakes. In it I related the account of losing our main engine power as we approached San Francisco. Later, the topic resurfaced in the Nordhavn Dreamers forum with concerns about our steering and backup configuration on Eliana. By the time I got to it, the thread had ended so I thought this may be a better time to review as I know many of my readers subscribe to the forum and may be wanting answers.

You may recall that we ran out of fuel because I unintentionally turned the wrong fuel valve. This particular valve is out of sight so I got in the bad habit of turning it by feel and I simply grabbed the wrong one. It was an error of execution, not omission. I performed the step, just didn't do it right.

Furthermore, in the story, I related what happened in sequential order. I shared my thoughts, describing the recovery steps in exactly as they occurred. What I didn't mention (and should have) was how long it took. Despite having never rehearsed an engine out recovery, only a few moments elapsed (30 seconds tops) to regain propulsion, steering and stabilization.

There were comments questioning our steering arrangement. Eliana's steering was designed by Kobelt. It is essentially the same simple and basic system used on most working boats such as the Alaska fishing fleet. The benefits of it are high performance (responsive rudder), ease of use and supreme reliability day in and day out.

Here are the components...

Rudder post on the right. Steering cylinders and simple hydraulic control blocks behind the cylinders.

Steering hydraulics and oil reservoir is dedicated only to steering. It does not receive power from or rely on the ship's general hydraulic system.

The primary hydraulic pump is attached directly to the main engine and provides steering power at all times.

The backup pump should the main engine fail. It's powered by the 32KW generator which is often already running, but if it isn't, it starts in just seconds.

Finally, many thanks to those who provided advice to us on this topic. Especially Ken Williams and George Laycock who wisely advised changing the procedure which eliminates tank switching altogether. As Ken says "If you are constantly fiddling with the fuel valves, you will run out of fuel sooner or later". Another important take away for us is to practice engine out procedures regularly.

Before Signing Off

Eliana has completed the transit from San Francisco to Dana Point. We would like to express our appreciation to our readers for your interest and for your comments or questions. Please click on the link below to go directly to the website where you can post. If you know of others you think may be interested, please do pass along the link to our home page where they can register to receive each post.

Rick Heiniger

N7617 Eliana

Lying: Dana Point, CA

Mileage: 8,629 Nautical Miles


Vic Lafrank 11/3/2011
Ooops! Sorry Rick, didn't mean to mess up your name. Galloping brain fade on my party, no doubt. Mea Culpa!
Vic Lafrank 11/3/2011
Yet another in a long series of fascinating posts, Ken. Many thanx for taking the time and making the effort for the rest of us. Keep on living the dream, and we'll keep on dreaming the life. Enjoy!
Cedric 11/3/2011
As is your norm, Rick, well done and informative. I know I speak for all of Eliana's followers when I say, "thank you so much. We appreciate and learn from your post.". All the best to you and your, Mate.
Chris Hallock 11/3/2011
Hey Rick, Along the lines of your fuel valve saying that Ken mentioned, the same holds true for pilots. My flight instructors always said when flying on complex aircraft with retractable gear, it's just a matter of time before you land without your full set of wheels for one reason or another. I always have that in the back of my mind as well. It's how well you train yourself to react to a problem, so when that problem happens you know how to react correctly and not make even more mistakes which cause a much larger problem. Thanks, Chris
David Evans 11/3/2011
Looks like S.F is treating you well. Meeting Michael Jones would be exciting and informative, especially in the Google corp. context. I had hoped you were planning to attend the TRAC seminar in Santa Rosa and actually drove to Bodega Bay expecting to see Eliana moored there. Fortunately, they serve great sea-food chowder Manhatten style at the Landing, so I warmed up before heading back inland to the hotel.
rick, is there a reason why the backup hydraulics for the steering are not on the wing engine instead of the generator? i thought the wing engine had its own separate fuel supply whereas the generator runs off the main's fuel. looking at the picture you have a set of racors by the generator so i assume you separate its fuel from the main. jon Hi Jon, You're on top of it! I knew someone would ask, but you got on it quick. The reason is because our wing engine does not have a PTO to drive it. The one it has is used for the primary ship hydraulics which is used to power our thrusters and windlasses. If there were another PTO, I would use it. However, the 32 KW will run quite awhile just on the long lines and filters going to it. Unless we completely run out of fuel, we're OK. Not ideal, but I'm OK with it. Rick
Kathy Clark 11/3/2011
Great update! Nice photos of Google and Michael......