Ben Lobaugh Online

I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail

Boat Delivery – San Pedro, CA to Tacoma, WA – trip log

Day One – Aug 15, 2020

Long day today. Woke up at 3 am and hopped on a flight from SeaTac, WA to Long Beach, WA. Planned to sleep on the first flight, then on the layover in Oakland, CA to get coffee and breakfast. All went to plan until Oakland. The airport had significant portions physically closed off, including all the restaurants and coffee shops…

Finally arrived in Long Beach and went right to the boat.

42’ Uniflite. The boat had been working as a commercial dive boat, taking groups out to Catalina Island. It was somewhat modified. Customers dropped off over the last couple of years and the boat was retired. The owner is moving it up to Tacoma, WA, and converting it back into a pleasure craft for cruising Puget Sound. There was still a lot on it from it’s working days. We hauled a lot off the boat.

Later met a great guy named Gary. Friend of the owner. He had a beautiful 75’ Chris Craft. We ran hard today. I was ready to drop at midnight. Fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.

I never did get any coffee…

Provisioning Day – Aug 16, 2020

Fiddled with the AIS this morning. Something wonky going on. It is transmitting, but also throwing an error. Turned out that the antenna was being shared by the VHF and it did not like that. Acquired a new antenna to install tomorrow.

Jesse and I went on a provisioning run. The amount of food we purchased is astonishing. I lived on a 33’ powerboat with my wife, and we cruised. 36’ sailboat. We always had plenty of food,  but it was tight. This boat is 42’ and has a full-sized fridge and freezer! There is also a large chest style fridge for drinks. It is provisioned to the gills with so. Much. Food. 

Tomorrow is the final prep day. We need to install then antenna, retrieve spare parts from a storage shed, finish resealing one window, and secure loose items, then we are ready to head out! Santa Barbara will be the first stop. Short hop/shakedown cruise.

Final Prep Day! – Aug 17, 2020

All the last minute projects got completed today. 8 person self-inflating life raft was installed, and Jesse did a stellar job of cleaning the carpets. 

My good childhood friend, Josh, moved down in this area a couple of years ago. Had not seen him since. He was able to stop by after work for a couple of hours. I missed that guy!

Missing Alix and Clara too. Clara gets excited to see me on FaceTime. She is 16 months old and adorable as heck.

All systems go to cast off in the morning!

Cast Off! – Aug 18, 2020

Left the dock at 7:31 AM

Big fog rolled into the harbor, but between the remaining visibility and our radar, we were not to be stopped.

Running at about 15 knots on fairly smooth seas. Engines running strong. They are brand new Cummins Diesels with only about 500 hours on them.

We got into Santa Barbara marina around 2 pm. Today was intentionally short. About 80 miles. We can run 150 without issue. Shakedown cruise for the owner. 

Every boat in this marina is nice. A big change from San Pedro, where most boats looked like derelicts. Walked passed an amazing sailboat, Moody DS54. Would be a fantastic offshore boat. Perfect for this area. The cabin was massive. Good for entertaining and cruising. On sailboats with that big of a hull, the sail-ability of the boat usually suffers, but this boat had a massive rig. It looks like it could be a good performer.

Getting up early in the morning and making a fast run to either San Lius Abisbo or Morro Bay, depending on the weather. There is a big northerly coming in in the afternoon that we want to avoid. The boat can handle it, but it would be a very uncomfortable ride.

Day Two – Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo – Aug 19, 2020

Up at 6 am, left the dock at 7am. The seas here are very calm.

Passed an oil rig that was stinking up the whole area. It leaked something and the water around for miles had a smelly sheen on it. 

Weather is looking good for a run to San Luis Obispo. When we get close we will reevaluate Morro bay and head there, depending on the weather. I would prefer to get further north myself and do not mind bumpy conditions for a couple hours.

We headed to Morro bay. Had a few interesting moments. This boat is capable of 24 knots, which is pretty quick. We had been cruising at 17 knots when the waves started building. I was using the head (boat speak for toilet) and just pulling my shorts back up when we launched off a big wave. Suddenly I was floating weightless! It felt like minutes, but it was likely 5-10 seconds. We hit the bottom hard and I crumpled to the floor. No damage done to me or the boat.

Winds whipped up shortly after that. The storm that was coming in arrived a couple hours early and made life uncomfortable. 

Whales! There were a lot of humpback whales playing around us, spread out for miles. Blowing spouts, slapping tails, and a bunch of full body breaches as they jumped out of the water. It was fun to watch and a nice distraction from the lumpy water.

I have only been seasick once that I can recall. It was just off Washington, as the sailboat I was on turned South. The water was all mixed up and it was like being in a washing machine. In those conditions being inside the cabin is one of the worst places you can be. I stayed up on the flybridge, but even so, the stomach felt a little funny.

Once we got around the point the water calmed down and we were able to punch up to 17 knots again. During the slop we had slowed to 12 knots to prevent slamming into the waves.

Morro Bay Layover Day – August 20, 2020

The storm out on the coast is blowing gale force (25 mph+) winds and there are 8-foot waves at 5 seconds apart. That would make for a very uncomfortable and dangerous ride. We are sticking in Morro Bay today.

Harold and I walked the town. 20,000 steps in! Founds some nice gifts for ourselves and our ladies.

The forest fires are filling the area with smoke, blocking the sun and lowering the temperature. It was chilly. I wound up in my sleeping bag with pants and a sweatshirt on!

Morro Bay Layover Day Part Two – August 21, 2020

Today is the 5th year anniversary of the wedding with my lovely and wonderful wife, Alix Lobaugh. The last 5 years have been some of the most amazing and formative years of my life. Thank you, Alix. I love you!

We are sticking to Morro Bay for one more day. Conditions are not horrible out there, but would not be comfortable. Tomorrow looks promising, with the following days forecast to be quite pleasant. It hope they are and we can make some good headway. I would like to be able to finish the trip and not have to fly home. California is a long state! It takes several days to traverse. Once we get to Oregon and Washington the trip will move much faster.

Onward! A dash to Monterey Bay – August 22, 2020

We boogied out of Morro Bay around 7 am. Waters were initially calm. All was calm and boring in the beginning, but we knew that somewhere near Point Sur the water conditions would go to crap, and boy did they. The waters pile up from two directions around the point and collide together, making for some very confused and lumpy seas. We had to slow quite a bit to keep from slamming down. Ran at 10 knots. It was a lumpy and uncomfortable ride till we got around the point. To add to the misery, a thick fog rolled in.

Just past Point Sur a 15 foot Bayliner flagged us down. Three men were fishing and had become lost in the fog. We stopped to help them. Only one could speak English, and that barely. They followed us into the Monterey marina. The direction they were heading before was taking them AWAY from land. That would not have made for a happy day.

Cruised past the Monterey Bay Aquarium where my sister-in-law works. She saw us through the binoculars.

Monterey Bay to Bodega Bay – August 23, 2020

Pulled away from the dock about 7am. Headed from Monterey Bay to Bodega Bay.

This will be our longest single push. About 120 nautical miles. The seas started calm and we have been making 17 knots. There was a thick fog in Monterey Bay that dropped visibility to 150 feet or so. 

Made it safely to Bodega! Little fishing marina. I like the people here. Some neat looking fishing boats. I think If I lived on the ocean I would be happy to have a commercial fishing vessel.

The fog lifted some out of Monterey Bay, then came back with a vengeance and stayed with us till Bogeda Bay, where it magically lifted. 

No heater in the boat. I was freezing. Could not find my jacket. Looked all over my bunk and suitcase. Guess what…. after shivering for hours, we get to the dock and the jacket was hanging right above my head. What a dummy I am!

There was some debate about Fort Bragg or Eureka tomorrow. Eureka would be a long slog. We could make it, but Cape Mendocino is right before Eureka and we may take a beating there. After most of a day out there it would be rough. So Fort Bragg it is.

Getting near the end of my work vacation time. Did some future scoping- I think that I may make it, but the weather has to 100% cooperate with us. I would like to finish the trip!

Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg – Aug 24, 2020

Left the dock around 7am again. The weather is looking ok early in the day. 

Mostly easy going for the morning. Saw a pod of Blue Whales and Fin Whales traveling together. That was pretty neat! The Blue Whale is the largest mammal on earth, coming in  nearly 100 feet long. That is more than twice the length of the boat!

We ran into a fog wall. Amazing how one second you are in clear skies and the next a murky white soup. As soon as we entered we were hit by two very steep eight-foot tall waves. Of course, they came from different directions too… gave us quite the knocking about. There were a lot of fishing vessels in the fog. We passed nearby them and never saw another boat the whole time, the fog was that thick. 

Fort Bragg is crazy. Whoever thought of putting a marina and building a fishing village here was nuts. The entrance is between rocks and has lots of wave action. Once you get inside that, there is barely enough room for two boats side by side. The channel is dredged to about 20 feet, though there were many times it was a lot shallower.  If you miss the marina entrance you will almost immediately go aground! 

We ran into a snag with fuel. There is no fuel dock. You have to call a fuel truck and they will come to you. Unfortunately there is no truck till 1pm tomorrow. 

Cape Mendocino is the next leap. It has a bad reputation, justly received. When I brought the sailboat down we nearly got stuck there from a strong north-flowing current. 

The weather window to get around the cape is early in the morning tomorrow. Miss it and the wait is almost a week before it is safe again. We missed it. 

I am unfortunately throwing in the towel. My journey with Second Stage ends here. It will not be possible to make it home inside my time table. I am bummed about it. Even if we were able to leave, there are several other stops along the trip that we would get stuck at due to weather. They will not be home for at least another week, maybe two.  

As luck has it, there is one car rental place in the area and it is two miles from the marina. I put in a reservation to get a car tomorrow. Will fly home from Sacramento. 

The journeys end – Aug 25, 2020

Renting a car at Fort Bragg and driving it to the Sacramento airport. 

There is one rental car agency in the area. I made the two-mile walk and their lot was empty! Wanted to leave at 10 am. Turns out that most people rent cars one way, away from here. There is a truck on the way, carrying cars back. 

11:30 am the cars arrived! The lady here was extra nice and offered me my pick of any car at no additional cost. I picked the brand new Dodge Challenger. Looks fun.

Back to the boat to pick up my bags, then heading toward the airport!

The drive from Fort Bragg to Sacramento airport took four hours. There are lots of curves on the 20. That Challenger was super fun to drive. It swept around the corners with style and grace. Smoke from the forest fires in California was intense. It was like driving through a thick brown fog for 4 hours. Luckily the A/C system in the Challenger had a recirculation mode that worked excellently.

Was delayed by some construction. Flight at 5:20 pm, arrived at the rental drop off at 4 pm. I was sweating for time, but everything went smoothly from here. Walked to the shuttle area and one was there- stepped aboard and the door shut. Nobody was in the bag drop off line. Took the escalator up to the train to TSA and it left right as I stepped on. Walked right through TSA. Made it to my gate with 15 minutes to spare before boarding! Just enough time to grab some chicken nuggets. 4:30 pm. I had not eaten all day!

Nano Reef 13 gallon cleaned up

Nano Reef cleaned up!

The tank is doing great now! It has been several weeks without new issues cropping.

I did lose the Watchman Goby, everybody else is quite healthy though 🙂

The fish and invertebrates are still in the tank, just hiding in this photo.

Quick tip to access protected properties in PHP object

Calling an object that has a protected property that you need access to? This function will allow you to quickly access data stored in protected properties of PHP objects.

Note: I tested this on PHP 7.4. It will likely work on other versions, but may need tweaking.

Good developers will protect the internals of their objects with private and protected scopes. That means from outside of the object your code will not be able to access whatever is protected. What I am about to show you breaks that encapsulation. Generally, this is not something you want to do, however, if you are working with an object you have no control over, it may be necessary. I ran across this while working with an object from an external library.

This method works by typecasting the object to an array. You can then access the property using a little known method.

Let’s see the code!

    function getProtectedValue( $object, $prop_name ) { 
        $array = ( array ) $object;
        $prefix = chr( 0 ) . '*' . chr( 0 );
        return $array[ $prefix . $prop_name ];

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Finally- A Diet That Works! My Experience With Intermittent Fasting

I was huge, giant of a man…. but in the wrong direction. Hey, I like to eat ok? Though I am always busy, I am not particularly active. In the last few years the pounds have really packed on.

I felt yucky and uncomfortable in my own skin. A change was needed, and quickly.

When it comes to what I eat, I am pretty lazy. Whatever is quick is what I will grab, which usually also means the most unhealthy. Knowing my history of not putting much effort into meals, I knew that whatever diet I went on had to be easy, in the extreme. No special foods, or big meal prep days. I would fall off that wagon quickly.

It was at this point a coworker introduced me to Intermittent Fasting (IF).

Fasting is simple, just do not eat. Well, that solves one checkbox, but I was concerned about lack of concentration, energy, and focus.

The more research I did into IF, the more benefits for the body and brain I uncovered, and then I ran across this video by Dr. Jason Fung and was hooked.

I committed to trying IF for one month, decided on the 16:8 model, and set a date to begin (I had to finish all the cookies in the house first!).

The 16:8 model means you fast for 16 hours and have an 8 hour window where you can eat. 16 hours is the shortest amount of time that will put your body into ketosis, or the first level of fat burning.

The first day was surprisingly easy, and the second, and the third, and the first week, and the third week. In fact, it has all been easy. Before starting IF, I was often hungry, and if anything, knowing I was working toward a goal made it easier to go without food and remain a good human. My energy level has gone up, not down.

As it so happened, with my work schedule, I have averaged 19.5:4.5 for the past month and a half. That puts my body in a much longer state of ketosis, which lets it burn more fat, more rapidly.

The effect has been noticeable. Not only to I feel thinner, and look thinner, it is also much easier to breathe. Activities that were quickly tiring me out before I easily power through now. I also feel a lot more alert during the day, and sleep better during the night.

During this first month and half I have lost twenty pounds!!!

Here is a before and after shot. The side view looks similar in the photos, but in real life it is quite different.

My wife asked me what is next, and I told her I am going to keep on the IF bandwagon! I am making a couple changes however. I enjoy the time together with my family during breakfast and have designated Saturday as a day that does not have strict IF, so I can enjoy the time with them. I am also experimenting with OMAD, or One Meal A Day. After 19.5 hours of fasting, I have something to eat and a couple hours later is dinner time. I have naturally seen a shift to OMAD for several days now already.

My conclusion- Intermittent Fasting is a great way to diet and lose weight. There is no food tracking, no food prep, no extra money spent, in fact you save money by not eating! Perhaps biggest of all, since you are not eating, there is no temptation to “cheat” and add that extra scoop of whatever your diet restricts you on.

If you are looking for a weight loss diet, I highly recommend checking out IF. To start, watch Dr. Jason Fung’s video. From there, do the research you need to understand the process.

And as always, I am not a doctor, nor a medially trained person. What I have shared here is my experience, which may not be typical. Consult your doctor before making any life changes that may affect your health.

Ecco Pro filtered tank

Eheim Ecco Pro Canister Filter Review

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through a link I will receive a small commission from the seller, at no additional cost to you.

With the upcoming build of my 90 gallon aquarium, I have been using my 30 gallon tank as a bit of a testbed for exploring different filtration methods. Thus far I have implemented an under gravel and a homemade sump.  Both have worked quite well. In this article, I will share the results of using the Eheim Ecco Pro canister filter. 

Ecco Pro

For three decades I have turned to under gravel filters as my filtration method of choice. Though incredibly simple, I will always contend that, when properly set up, the under gravel filter is a fantastic choice.

The sump was not your traditional sump, it was made from a 5 gallon bucket. I posted details on it in this article. It took some fiddling to get it, but in the end, it did the job it was supposed to do and kept the water a lot more clean than the under gravel filter. However, the wife was not a fan of the running water noise it produced, so back to the drawing board. 

While visiting my parents, I took a look at my father’s fish gear cabinet. There are things in there that have not been made in decades! It is a treasure trove, and in the corner of that pile, I spotted an Eheim Ecco Pro canister filter. I had found my next filter to test!

The hoses were missing and it was covered in thick, crusty, dust. My father did not know if it worked. I brought it home, disassembled it, and cleaned it up. When I first popped it open I was pleased to find it had three media compartments, which still contained Eheim’s glass beads. The Eheim Ecco Pro is a small canister, which gave me pause, 30 gallons is not a big tank, would this provide enough filtration?

Ecco Pro Media Baskets

The Ecco Pro is an outside-in filter, meaning that water comes into the canister around the outside of the media baskets. It is then sucked up from the bottom and through the middle of the media baskets. Water then gets pushed out the top via a return pump, and back into the tank. 

With filtration, there are three components that go into every system: mechanical, biological, and chemical. Unless you are an advanced fish keeper, they should also go in that order. When I looked at the order in the Ecco Pro baskets, I noticed the biological filtration was before the mechanical. Not only that, but Eheim’s own manual also shows it that way! For an otherwise great product, this misinformation disappointed me. Not to worry though, the baskets are highly configurable. I simply swapped in some of my own filter floss and moved the biological filtration later in the stack. 

Ecco Pro Sink Test

The Ecco Pro has been running on the 30 gallon for a couple months (as of the writing of this article). The numbers on my water test kit are consistently on target. The pump is nearly silent and there is no water flow noise, a big plus for my wife. I was able to use some common hose that I picked up at the local hardware store for cheap. 

Ecco Pro filtered tank

Would I use a canister filter on the 90 gallon tank? Yes, but not an Ecco Pro. 30 gallons is the max I would consider using it on. 

Do I recommend the Eheim Ecco Pro canister filter? Absolutely! It is a great unit, quiet and compact. The Eheim glass bio-media works well. Just make sure you put the mechanical filter in front of the biological or the biological media will gum up real fast and become ineffective. 

Link to manual

Check prices on amazon. 

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