Monthly Archives: November 2010

Chetzemoka Not a Wimp

If you’re wondering how the new ferry Chetzemoka got blown off the Port Townsend-Coupeville route Monday night and Tuesday morning, you must not be the only ones. Washington State Ferries felt the need to send out  information explaining it.

It was a lot nastier up there than down here. There was a gale warning for Admiralty Inlet. At 8 a.m. Tuesday, there were steady southeast winds of 43 to 48 mph at the Coupeville terminal with gusts to 57. An hour later in Admiralty Inlet, the winds were 52 to 57 mph with higher gusts and 5- to 7-foot seas.

Overall, the Chetzemoka has missed 10 round trips since entering service two weeks ago. The captains and crews are still getting a feel for how the new boat operates in various sea and wind conditions on the most challenging route in the ferry system. It didn’t help that there were windstorms the first two Mondays the boat was on the route.

Over time and with more experience, the Chetzemoka will be able to operate through a larger range of weather conditions, according to the ferries system.

Garage Door Openers Not Working Again

We’ve been getting lots of reports the past few days that people’s garage door openers and car remotes aren’t working. Generally that happens when an aircraft carrier arrives or leaves the base or shipyard. It’s probably the case this time too, kind of. Work is wrapping up on the USS John C. Stennis and it has been conducting tests, according to the shipyard. Part of the work involved a radar system upgrade, so if they’re testing that, I bet that’s the problem. The Navy’s going to confirm everything for me tomorrow, but I thought I’d give you an educated guess.

The Navy has sent me a statement when this happened before, but I can’t find it right now. It says something like the Navy owns the frequency and the garage door and car people are using it. If you have a problem with it not working when the radar is going, take it back to the manufacturer and have them change the frequency. I wrote a blog item on March 23 that goes into the history of it. I’ll just paste it below.

March 23, 2010-

Many people have learned through experience that when an aircraft carrier rolls in or out of Bremerton, their electronic garage door opener or remote keyless entry for their car might stop working.
It happened again Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, when the USS Nimitz popped in to pick up supplies and family members for a cruise to San Diego.
Chelsea Browning, office manager at Kitsap Garage Door in Bremerton, said she got 25 to 30 calls about remotes going on the fritz. She told them there was probably interference coming from the shipyard and it should go away soon.
It was more of the same at area car dealers. Aaron Taylor, service writer at Grey Chevrolet in Port Orchard, said 10 people came in or called because their fobs weren’t working, and Bay Ford service adviser Dawn Moore said keyless entries wouldn’t unlock any cars on the lot, including hers.
“To everybody who came in we said wait two days and they’ll go back to normal,” Moore said. “They wanted to buy new ones or buy batteries and we said you’re going to waste your money, don’t do that.”
The Navy checked with the Nimitz folks, who said it wasn’t them. Maybe the tugboats or Coast Guard cutters that accompany it were causing the interference.
It’s not that big a deal, really. People can just pop the key out of its fob and unlock the door manually, or get out of the car and operate the garage door. My car is too old to have a fob, and I’d just as soon not have electric windows and door locks, but that’s another story.
Even if it is the carriers, the Navy owns the radio frequencies that are being interrupted. Consumer gadget-makers, including those of garage door openers, have been allowed to borrow them if they keep their signals weak enough to accommodate the military, according to an old Washington Post story.
In 2001, keyless remotes wouldn’t work on thousands of vehicles around Bremerton, Port Orchard and Silverdale from March 21 to 26 and for several hours on April 12. Speculation was that the carrier USS Carl Vinson, which had recently returned to Bremerton, was causing the interference, but Navy officials said there was no evidence that a Navy ship was causing the problem. Nobody every figured out the cause.
And way back in 1995, the Nimitz’s radar scrambled the Kitsap Sun’s satellite data reception and it wasn’t able to print its stock tables. The Nimitz was preparing to go to sea after a long overhaul, and the crew was testing its systems. The paper and Navy had a deal that radar testing would only occur during the day because most of the paper’s material was transmitted at night.
The paper had similar problems two years earlier as the overhaul of the cruiser USS California drew to a close.
It has to be more than a coincidence that a big Navy ship is coming or going, or getting ready to come or go, every time the remotes go dead. It’d be nice to be the guy to pinpoint the cause, but maybe more fun for it to remain a mystery.

Take the Red-Eye Train on Thanksgiving

Extra trains will be added to the Amtrak Cascades route between Portland and Seattle during Thanksgiving week, including a red-eye.

Instead of the usual 11 trains a day, there will be 19 from Wednesday, Nov. 25, through Sunday, Nov. 28. That week is traditionally Amtrak’s busiest.

The red-eye trip will leave Seattle at midnight and arrive nonstop in Portland at 4:14 a.m. That seems like a long time. Can’t you drive to Portland in about two hours? I guess that’s the point. You don’t have to drive. But I thought the trains went faster than that. I wonder how long it takes when you have to make all the stops. Someday, I’m going to do this.

One-way trips are as low as $37. You need a reservation. Visit www.AmtrakCascades.com.

Money Will Fix That Bridge Scour

Forty-seven city and county projects across the state will share $80.6 million in federal funds to repair or replace aging bridges. Kitsap is getting $276,000. It’ll be split in half to fix bridge scour at the Sam Chrstopherson arch near Gorst and the Seabeck Highway bridge. I don’t know which Seabeck Highway bridge it’s talking about and when I read the press release I had no idea what bridge scour was.

It’s when the dirt and rocks are scoured away from around bridge abutments or piers by swiftly moving water, which I suppose I should’ve figured. I can’t think of what swiftly moving water there is at Sam Christopherson.

Did you know that 60% of all bridge failures result from scour? Riprap is the most common countermeasure. This all courtesy of Wikipedia.

Welcome To Audi

My kid got his first car a while back. He picked up a 1998 Audi A4 for $4,200. I love it. It’s a lot nicer than my car. I kept closing the doors because they sound so solid. It’s zippy, with a 6 cyclinder, which I’m not crazy about a 16-year-old driving. It has nice leather and a sunroof. Real pretty.

The one thing I’m worried about is the maintenance cost. It only came with one key so we stopped by the Audi place to get another one. The fob was like $200. $100 for the key and $100 to program it. For a car key! The service guy saw both of our mouths drop and says, “Welcome to Audi.”

We decided to do without the fob, but just a regular key cost $85. You can’t just go to Ace and get one made.

Then something happened to the front end. It was pulling to the right when he got it, but then it became undriveable. He was indignant that he didn’t hit anything, so I don’t know what could’ve happened. So up it went to Les Schwab and get a lot of work done that cost $500.

I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.

What do you think of this car for a 16-year-old kid?

What’s Wrong With My Car?

My 1996 Accord is freaking me out lately. I’ll be driving along and it’ll just go dead. The first two times I was on the highway and it was just a hiccup and went right back to normal after a second. The next two times I was on country roads and it died and I had to pull over. After a few seconds, it started right up like normal and ran fine. It seems to happen in the first few miles of a trip, and after it happens, it’s fine thereafter.

Some people told me they think it’s the ignition switch. They said to look at the dash lights. If they go out, that’s the giveaway. I didn’t notice if they do or not.

Any ideas?