31 July 2010

Testing the radio

After Carol spent a few hours doing the last few minor (yet annoying of course) tasks to finish the SSB such as run the copper foil from the tuner and put the ring connector on the GTO-15 antenna line, we opened Airmail and on the first try we sent an email. Of course, it took us a dozen more tries to connect to send the second and we have a learning curve ahead of us to figure out how to improve our sound. We knew we needed some more ferrite chokes (as I understand, these minimize stray RF from wires and thus reduce noise) and we definitely will be picking a few to fill out the ones we have on various cords.

Our biggest RF noise producer are our inverter and our water pump. Perhaps our second largest RF noise producers are both our main GPS and our USB puck style GPS and our wind/depth instruments. We get small amounts of noise from just about everything else. Our fridge only seems to cause a chirping sound but not a lot of static. We added a small sticky by the SSB power button reminding us to turn the fridge back on so we don't defrost it accidentally. Email seems more robust to RF noise than voice transmission/reception. For example, we can still send/receive email if we are inverting or if the water pump goes on.

Still, the first email went out with a copper strap running from the tuner to the middle of the boat. No thru-hull, no water tanks, no 100 sq ft of copper. We tested our signal with a friend and it improves in strength when we touched the copper strap to the thru hull and it is strongest with both the thru hull and our two water tanks tied in. We plan to install it that way. For now we are just touching the copper to the thru hull when we want to transmit and then removing it when finished.

So far, we've checked in with radio nets originating in Sidney & Port Alberni, BC in Anchorage, AK, we can hear boats checking into the Pacific Seafarers from as far as Hawaii and the S. Pacific and we checked in during the warm up of that net (based in Hawaii) and they could hear us. We seem to have figured out the email system a bit more, are connecting more regularly and more easily and are downloading text weather and grib (image) weather files.

More on the weather files and the nets later, but it works!

- Livia & Carol

30 July 2010

YMMV

As I’m writing all of these logs about places we’ve been it occurs to me that there is something that should go without saying but unfortunately needs to be said and that is: your mileage may vary (YMMV).
We aren't you, so of course our opinions will probably be different. Keeps life interesting.

How we feel about a place is affected by many, many things such as:
- the types of stuff we like to do (kayak, hike, climb, swim, etc.) - some places are so-so by boat but gorgeous if you take the kayak around the island or into the nooks and crannies in the anchorage
- our comfort level or lack of with the anchoring conditions (holding, swell, wind)
- the weather we had at the time – sun makes a big difference in perception
- whether we had seen too many anchorages just like this recently or none like it
- our experiences with other boaters or locals at that place
- whether we caught anything to eat
- the position of pisces in relation to taurus and our chakra alignment
- etc.

If we didn’t like a place that someone else liked or if we liked a place other’s do not like we are NOT saying anything about them or about their experiences. Like I’m fond of reminding myself - “it isn’t always about you”.

Except here…it is our blog and all so I guess it *is* all about u.

- L

29 July 2010

Team Giddyup - brought to you by Icom

I am not certain if SSB to blog posting is pulling the SSB into the present or pulling blogging into the past...but we're here, on the interweb, via single sideband radio. Miraculous.
First, a note on our blog. We had two weeks of prescheduled posts uploaded when we left Port Hardy and we haven't seen a trace of wifi since and aren't certain when our next wifi access will be. Welcome to cruising the WILD SIDE, right?
I've been writing posts with pictures that will go up at some point. Until then, I'll only post when I have something that can be conveyed adequately in plain old text.
Also, for those who have been hearing from us via SSB radio, either voice or email, you may have noticed that we are not in the location of the last blog post. This is of course because of the two week lag. We are currently in Green Head Cove on Little Bunsby in the kayakers' haven that is the Bunsby Islands. Our good friend Ryan has updated our google map so you can see where we've been between Port Hardy & here.
Finally, this means that we have not synced our gmail accounts with our offline email editor for weeks, meaning there will be a torrential download of a month worth of email and blog comments via email and uploading of a month worth of written responses when we do. I'm looking forward to that because it's nice to hear from people and I miss people - but don't find myself fiending for internet access otherwise.
- More later on what it feels like to have been out a month and a half, Livia & Carol (50 05.673 N 127 33.225 W)

28 July 2010

Victoria, BC

I wrote a foodie guide to Victora, BC for boaters which was published on Three Sheets NW a day or two after we started cruising so I forgot to link to it here.

27 July 2010

Testing one, two, three

This is a test. This is only a test. This is a test of the SSB email to blog posting system. (1)

Meeting Readers

Since we started cruising we have had contact on the radio with two readers of this blog. It’s really cool to have met people via the blog and then meet them on the radio. So far we haven’t met any in person yet. With our activity on the local boater SSB nets I bet that we will start meeting people in person that we’ve heard on the radio.

First, Steve of SV Silas Crosby saw us leaving the Comox fuel dock and caught us on the VHF radio (politely waiting until we had our sails up and fenders/lines stowed). After chatting with him we started toward the Comox bar in heavy wind at low tide under motor, our standard method of navigating Gulf Island passes. It quickly became apparent that we are a sailboat not a motor boat and having difficulty making way we turned around and anchored to think through our not-so-great plan. We called Silas Crosby on the VHF and picked his brain for information about the bar. Emboldened with this information and the thinking we had done, we put up the sails, beat out of the harbor and then did hull speed across bar in the well marked but narrow channel.

Second, we connected with Carl & Kate of SV MOM after they flagged us down via SSB on the Great Northern Boater Net. We chatted with them on another frequency and have been in touch via email. They are on the West Coast of Vancouver Island and I’m looking forward to picking their brains for their favorite spots.

26 July 2010

Moving our swim ladder

HAUL OUT MONDAY

We had Port Townsend Rigging do the heavy work in installing our Hydrovane. We had some ups and downs working with them. In the end we are happy with the burly factor of the install and the phenolic spacers and backing plates are works of art. We installed the Hydrovane offset and we discussed the placement of the Hydrovane to ensure the swim ladder would still work - but the installer (and we) forgot about the fat part of the vane (white plastic in the middle) and the ladder would no longer lower fully.

*sigh*

So we pulled it out, filled the holes (they still need some gel coat TLC at some point - our matching efforts were not completely successful) and during the haul out Carol drilled new holes and moved the boarding ladder 3" or so to the starboard. Now it works, and still fits inside the stock stern pulpit.

Moved boarding ladder

Now we can go for a swim and still easily get back aboard. It is also a good re-boarding place in calm waters for a conscious man overboard.

24 July 2010

Logbook: 3 Year Anniversary at Blunden Harbor

The wind picks up most afternoons around here so our short upwind sail into Blunden ended with 20 knots of wind. Just enough to be exciting, not enough to seriously regret the kayak on deck.

By the way, we have a crappy point and shoot camera right now and whenever we are in the water (kayak etc) that is what we are using rather than the Rebel.

Blunden Harbor is nice because it is well protected, large, shallow without being too shallow and has great kayaking opportunities. It is really a series of interconnected bays and a huge lagoon connected to the bays by a narrow section that apparently can see a lot of current.  We kayaked for hours all around.


We anchored with two other boats in the bay and over the course of our two nights shared the large anchorage with up to 5 boats. We have had a lot of anchorages to ourselves and with the crowd it was fun to spy on our fellow boaters with the binoculars. Come on, admit it, we all do it.

We decided to use July 7th as our main anniversary celebration and had a bottle of wine from Pender Island where we got married and cooked up some tasty Indian food. 3 years! Carol made me a full breakfast of bacon and eggs.

Carol picked up some extremely tasty mussels while we were kayaking and he cooked them in my new favorite sauce – tom yum soup paste is the perfect way to steam mussels. The lemongrass & chili is fantastic with shellfish. It was so good we were too busy to take a picture and normally our first thought with fantastic food is to photodocument.

The water temp was 15 degrees and it was hot and sunny so we went “swimming” which means that I jumped in and swam as fast as I could to the swim ladder and got out – got soapy and repeated the plunge followed by a quick rinse with the cockpit shower to get the salt off.



- Livia

23 July 2010

Wind in to the wrong direction

This post is for the non-sailing folks.

Why is it such a pain for us to get somewhere when the wind is in the wrong direction? What is the wrong direction?

When the wind is blowing from the place you want to go it is more difficult to get there because you can’t sail directly into the wind. Most cruising boats, I understand – but correct me if I’m wrong, get somewhere around 45 degrees to either side of the true wind (their wind indicators will show them closer to 30 degrees).

For example, today the yellow zig zag was our course:
beating

The harbor we wanted to go to was NW of us and the wind was coming from the NW. The harbor was just over 10 miles away Isee the ruler) but we sailed just under 20 miles through the water to get there. That zig zag was as close to the wind, as close to a straight line, as we could travel

Now, consider the fact that we averaged just under 5 mph. This means that if the wind had been behind us, say from the SE, it would have taken about 2 hours and instead it took just over 4 hours. Effectively, the distance we can cover in daylight is doubled when the wind is behind us (or at least 45 degrees off of our nose) as opposed to directly on our nose.

Further, when we are sailing with the wind in front of us, we tilt over to one side…sometimes a lot. And when the sea state is not calm, we are tilted to one side while surging up and down. It’s like taking a gerbil ball , tilting it and rolling it from side to side while bouncing it slightly, and we are the gerbils.

I have to say that one of the most dangerous maneuvers I do regularly while sailing, with the highest possibility of breaking my femur, is to go to the bathroom while sailing upwind with waves. CLASS EXERCISE: Go to a wall. Lean your hip on the wall and put one hand on the wall. Now try to take off your pants with one hand while maintaining some contact, both hand and body, with the wall. Now try to put them back on. Now imagine the floor is moving. Not easy. I am a climber and recovering swing dance addict and it requires almost more balance than I’ve got.

Still, it is probably the most exciting point of sail. You feel like you are going really fast. You are tilted over which is a thrill. The waves are coming from in front of you (most of the time when the wind is this direction) and they are crashing over the deck. I’m usually grinning ear to ear because it is exhilarating…just don’t try to pee or make lunch.

- L

22 July 2010

Logbook: Lewis Cove

This just rocks. Because Vancouver Island is NW-SE, going further North took us back to the BC mainland. We chose* Lewis Cove and I know I keep saying this, but it was gorgeous. You can trust that when I visit non-gorgeous places I will definitely be honest, but so far…either it is getting prettier as we go North, we have low standards or we are just choosing good places.

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We had Lewis Cove completely to ourselves for two nights. It has a mostly sandy bottom and where there isn’t kelp in the shallows the water becomes a beautiful green-blue. On three sides we had sculpted rocks and Evergreen trees and to the SE we had a view across Queen Charlotte Strait including snow capped mountains. We played explorer in the kayak and picnicked on a sunny rock.

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SV Estrellita 5.10b: To the left, sleek and sexy. To the right, a increasingly serious case of “cruiser butt**”.
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We left this morning in 10 knot winds, flat seas and sun for a short but upwind sail to Blunden Harbor with the kayak still inflated on deck – lazy cruisers that we are.

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- L

*Or rather, the wind defined the general area we were willing to move to and within that area, we chose Lewis Cove.
** Cruiser butt = all of the useful but not sexy stuff you “need” and hang off the back of the butt of the boat. We are currently slightly too heavy in the back compared to the front. Of course, we will probably be adding more chain in our anchor locker (on the nose) next year which might just even us out.

21 July 2010

Boatwork at anchor

The first day the winds were too strong for kayaking in the Polkinghorne’s so we did some boat maintenance.

 

First, we took down the huge 130% (150%?) Genoa on which we had blown the sunbrella stitching on the sail over. The sunbrella stitching was the only thing holding in the leech line (bad design IMHO, the leech line could have been stitched with stitching underneath the sunbrella and thus protected from UV). We replaced the genoa with our working jib. It has a much, much nicer shape when reefed because of its smaller size and we are definitely in reefing strength winds lately.

 

Before we put up the jib I wanted to do a few small improvements that came up in Carol Hasse’s sail repair course when we examined this sail as a class. Primarily, I wanted to put leather chafe gear on the head and the tack which would protect simultaneously from chafing on the metal furling and halyard attachment points hand also protect these two pieces of webbing from UV. Done. I also hand sewed a few places where the sunbrella stitching had rotted off (on this sail as well - *sigh* UV thread anyone?). While doing so I saw that the areas that had ripped were between areas that had already been repaired. At least the previous repairs were in great shape. I probably restitched 10% of the length of the sail, anywhere there was stitching coming loose. Hopefully the sunbrella will stay put for a while.

 

Resized IMG_4568

 

Carol was a boat working machine and finished the SSB backstay antenna by terminating the wire inside the hull to the tuner with a ring attachment and he also ran the foil from the tuner amidships.

 

Then he removed our broken hinge from the aft starboard lazarette and attempted to remove the seized pin. However, during this attempt the hinge made a successful escape from the Estrellita foredeck prison and is now free to roam the bottom of the E bay at the Polkinghornes. Any Pretorien owners have an extra upper hinge for that lazarette? I’ll post on the owners’ forum later.

 

The hinge still imprisoned:

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Finally, he wired the AIS for power and the antenna splitter for it. So we now have AIS reception (non-boaters, this is so we can see large ships and know which direction and speed they are heading so we avoid being crunched). Here you can see our navigation program (NavSim’s SailCruiser), we are the pink dot with the yellow track (we are tacking upwind to Blunden Harbor) and I’ve clicked on a boat so you can see what information that it is broadcasting that we can now see. The little brown circles with M’s are markers we made when we dropped anchor so we could see where we were compared to where our anchor touched ground. The yellow arrow just below the box is the current at the time I took the screen shot.

 

ais

 

All of that he did while I was still stitching a single sail. AND, after that we connected via SSB to email and downloaded some practice weather files, checked in with the Great Northern Boater Net, and listened to the Pacific Seafarers net.

 

At Lewis Cove I cranked Carol half way up the mast and he installed our starboard spreader halyard. Non-boaters, this rope allows us to fly flags on the starboard side of the boat. We fly our Canadian flag from the back but we have smaller flags that get flown on the starboard side like courtesy flags for countries we are visiting (small US flag right now) and also any club flags (aka burgees) for clubs we belong to. We also have some fun flags like a pirate and martini flag (THANKS SARAH & CRAIG) and a huge Wauquiez flag we picked up at a rendezvous.

 

This was supposed to be our relaxing few days of becoming more cruiserly, remember?

 

We’ll get the hang of this retired thing eventually. – Livia

50 47.68 N; 126 55.38 W

20 July 2010

Logbook: Polkinghorne Islands

A name ripe for ribald comments, most every variation of which we’ve used in the last 48 hours :)

It’s windy here right now. Really windy. We came in at 25 knots true and since we’ve been here there have been patches of light wind but a lot of gusts in the 20-25 knot range. We started to wonder how much protection we have here on the leeward side of the island until we went kayaking today and saw the anchorage on the windward side. Although we are getting gusts here, the wind is definitely lighter and we have almost no chop, while on the windward side the anchorage has white caps.

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We planned our trip so we were heading upwind and up current on the way out and downwind and down current on the way back and we made sure to have our little emergency dinghy kit dry sack with us just in case the wind increased or we missed the boat on the way back (just kidding Mom & Dad!).

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It’s beautiful here. Tons of little islands and rocks and a pass through the center of the island, or rather, between the cluster of islands filled with things to peer at from a kayak. We have the place to ourselves although that isn’t surprising given the wind strength and the openness of the other two anchorages. It’s enough wind that we are more aware and more focused on tracking where we are than we normally are at anchor but not enough to make us feel the need to move.

- Livia (at 50 47.68 N; 126 55.38 W)

19 July 2010

On waxing

In case you had forgotten, HAUL OUT MONDAY!

I stole borrowed all of these tips from last year's waxing tips on sailnet and Maine Sail deserves big props for taking the time to post his process. All deviations from his tips are for our own expedience and my comments are fiberglass boat specific.

What we've learned:
- Hulls shine by the process of polishing their gel coats NOT the waxing. The wax protects the shine.
- Start with a rougher polish (but only as rough as you need to get results - you are removing a layer of gel coat) and then move to successively finer grained polishes. The more steps, the smoother and glassier the finish, but you can cut steps to fit your own time constraints.
- Use a spray bottle with water before applying the wax. It is amazingly easier to apply and remove if you do so.
- Waxing and polishing a hull is about sex appeal (and for some people - the peer pressure to be a "good boat owner"). Sure, the boat may go a touch faster when heeled and waxed but not fast enough to make the time worth the effort. We would be better off removing some weight. Fiberglass will last for many, many years and polishing only shines the thin coating of gel coat on top of the (in our case) very thick molded fiberglas hull. It isn't about safety or longevity, it is about aesthetics. We polish our boat because we like to see her glowing and think to ourselves "daaay-UM that is a fine looking boat".

Here is the line on our hull from compounding - note this is without wax or the 2 additional polishing steps:

Compounding line

Our steps:
((the following steps are applied with a cheapy 10" polisher and then buffed off with microfiber cloths))
Action shot

Finally, we wax with Collinite Paste Fleetwax. I mist a 2 foot long strip of hull with water, apply a thin layer of wax with a foam applicator pad (by hand) and buff off with microfiber cloths (bought in large packs at Costco and Canadian tire). I applied 3 coats to each side and 5 coats to the stern (where we get exhaust soot).

17 July 2010

Your moment of zen

We are on a downwind sail at about 30 knots true in a sea of mixing tides that are a light green color from the mixing. We have been doing 6-7 knots in the water with the main only, surfing down waves that cause a light shivering or shuddering sound and movement under our feet as we slide down them.

We need to jibe the main. Carol goes forward (tethered) to swap the preventer to the other side (yes, we should have installed a second block and second preventer so we can stay in the cockpit – another way we’ve become wiser already this trip) and as he is moving slowly to avoid coming off the boat the dolphins decide to come play*. As he turns toward me with the rope and the block in his hand, a dolphin leaps fully out of the wave behind him and I take a mental snapshot of its body glistening, suspended in air behind my, now very salty, husband.

- L

* I always imagine them saying to each other “what is wrong with this little fat whale that it swims so slowly?”

16 July 2010

Logbook: Leaving Johnstone Strait and resting in Alert Bay

Motoring = Suck. Well, that first day of motoring might have been fun with the kickin current helping us along but the second day was just painful, as a long day of motoring usually is. I think that if you are going to explore Desolation and the Broughtons as your primary playground you are better off with a nice comfy trawler.

Ah well, enough complaining about our high class problems. Let’s just say that although I think motoring through the passes was a reasonable choice we are going to stick to areas where we don’t have to do that for the next while.

We spent a few nights in Alert Bay. We had some paperwork to get in the mail and that combined with a closed post office on Canada Day (duh) and our tiredness levels (how can two days of motoring possibly be so exhausting?) we spent two nights in Alert Bay. I hate to make this the “complaining” post but after two guidebooks described the picturesque nature of Alert Bay we were a little underwhelmed.

IMG_4561 Resized IMG_4562

IMG_4564 Alert Bay is OK. We were able to take on water, mail stuff and get some produce. They are building a boardwalk which is nice and there are some gorgeous resident eagles that soar over the main street. We see a lot of eagles but these were very close. We didn’t see the museum which we’ve been told is very good. The people were very helpful in pointing us in the right direction for getting our errands done and the restaurant Pass’N Time has a nice view of the harbor. Otherwise, it’s your average struggling coastal town trying to make tourism work. For those who have grown up on this coast or spent a lot of time here, it’s not particularly interesting or particularly picturesque. YMMV.

We had a fun time playing “real cruiser” and fitting 10 gallons of water (in 2 collapsible jugs) plus 2 bags of groceries in the kayak.

We left mid-day to catch the slack at the pass right by Alert Bay and entered Queen Charlotte Strait. From there we had a rock’n’roll upwind sail tacking our way to the Polkinghorne Islands. It was very fun, just shy of the edge of our current comfort zone, and the only thing we broke was the sunbrella stitching on a section of the genoa which we already knew was rotting off and was just waiting for the right gust to pull loose…we found plenty of gusts. A very, very good day.

- Livia (writing from the Polkinghorne Islands)

15 July 2010

Logbook: Sandy Island Marine Park

I pulled some pictures off the camera and realized I didn’t do justice to the few nights we spent at Sandy Island Marine Park at the tip of Denman Island with our friends Lauren & Nathan. We really enjoyed the area and the park and would go back again. We anchored in the bay just south for better protection from the moderate winds that were expected and took a short dinghy ride to shore before a long, beachcombing walk on the spit at mid-tide to the main park. It was windswept and peaceful. I can imagine that the vibe is much different on a hot windless day, perhaps even better.

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We watched a boat in the bay immediately by the marine park drag a half mile. I ran down to the beach and hollered as loud as I could and they scrambled up in a panic, started the engine and went back into the bay to anchor again. This is the second time we’ve woken (or brought on deck) a dragging boat. At least this time they weren’t dragging towards us!

It was just warm enough despite the wind for some napping on the beach and Carol put some flowers in his camo and stalked our dozing friend Nathan for some cuddle time.

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Good times with good friends. - Livia

14 July 2010

Ferry Wake

When you read about an anchorage being exposed to ferry wake in BC waters you might wonder what all of the fuss is about. This is what passes for a ferry up here:

BC Ferries

13 July 2010

Clouds

I am spending a lot of time enjoying the clouds…
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12 July 2010

Painting your prop

HAAAAAAUUUL OUT MONDAY!

Hard to control myself...

As previously mentioned, we have a 2-blade classic Max prop. The first year we hauled out we didn't know what to do to it so we buffed it, cleaned it and put it back in the water.

It grew barnacles. A whole crop of them.

Last year we painted the prop with Pettit's Barnacle Barrier (safe for the prop metal and our aluminum sail drive) and this year we had two baby barnacles.

Max Prop with Pettit Barnacle Barrier

The other thing that we appreciate about this stuff is that it when we haul out we can scrub the remaining paint with a scotch brite pad and it comes right off...allowing us to respray without sanding or buffing. Hours of annoying work we have reclaimed.

This is what the prop looks like when sanded and buffed but not yet re-painted - from a neighbors boat. Pretty without paint, huh? Not so pretty when it grows a beard though so this owner also painted his with traditional bottom paint.

Neighbors Max Prop

10 July 2010

Solar Panel Mounting: Part 1

There is a lot to say about the mounting and wiring of the solar panels and I'll save that post to write on a rainy day at anchor...or a sunny day where I feel like sitting in the cockpit and being bloggie I suppose.

What I thought you might find interesting is something one might not think about when working with solar. They are hot/live as soon as they are in the sun. In order to work with the connections without getting zapped you have to cover them.

We, of course, decided to do this right as the wind was picking up. We started with two blankets as Carol was wiring the middle panel.

Two blankets

My favorite shoes got involved in the act (notice the tag line)

And a shoe

And then out came a robe and a towel and with the wind picking up, foul weather boots to keep things from flying off.

And a robe

Despite that, both blankets blew off in a gust, were rescued out of the salt water by Carol (still at the dock and they blew in between the boat and dock), and taken to the laundry before we cast off.

This is the kind of thing that I don't think of in advance that slows down the project. Also the kind of thing that makes it amusing.

Overcast morning in June, the day after the install as I write this, and we have more than 3 amps coming in. We'll be keeping track of that more as we go.

- Livia

09 July 2010

Solar panels how we love thee

I highly recommend that you install your solar panels just before summer solstice so you can first experience them at their high point (groan – bad pun). We have previously estimated that we use somewhere around 75-80 Amp hours (12 Volts DC) per day. This will increase as we start using our SSB regularly for email and when we install a watermaker next year. With our 245W of solar panels we wake up with a deficit of about 40 Amp hours and by noon we are fully charged again. Because we are fully charged, and the panels keep up with any ongoing drains, we end up inverting and running AC stuff like the laptop for large sections of the day, just for fun, because otherwise the extra amps are just lost. We go to bed most nights with a full battery bank - if we've inverted ALL DAY as we did while doing some last minute paperwork in Alert Bay and it is overcast then we don't make up the deficit.

Normally, motoring out of the harbor means putting some juice in the battery bank, especially with our nice Balmar higher amp (than stock) alternator, but with our solar panels it is not a big positive because we would have topped up the battery bank without it.

We realize that winter, and it’s lower sun angle, will mean less incoming amps, but for now we are extremely impressed with how effective the panels are even at such a high latitude. We thought we would have to wait for the tropic to see this many incoming amps.

- Livia

08 July 2010

My Mom is cooler than your Mom

I don’t mean to start a Mom war here…but it’s true ;)

My Mom always sent care packages to me when I was living away from home. Even when I finally finished grad school and had a career-job, I still got random cool packages to open. Our Bon Voyage was no exception. My Mom and Dad came to Port Townsend for the Wauquiez Rendezvous and that was our Bon Voyage party together. She gave us a care package full of gifts to open on various voyaging occasions.

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After both sets of guests, we opened two gifts: two instant cappuccinos labeled “when you need a hot cup of coffee” and a silicone pasta strainer that collapses and fits perfectly in our sink labeled “when you are going to make pasta”. I’m looking forward to “preparing for rough seas”.

Thanks Mom! Livia

05 July 2010

On owning a sail drive

And another...HAUL OUT MONDAY!

Most Pretorien's came with sail drives. Sail drives are relatively common in European boats.

For the non-boaters, most boats have a stick coming out of the hull (prop shaft) that points backwards and has a propeller at the end of it. Inside the boat the engine (or really the transmission) is connected to the shaft. The shaft spins, the prop spins, and off you go.

In a sail drive, half of the transmission pokes out of the water. Ours looks like this:

Max prop on sail drive

Why a sail drive? I don't really know because I've never owned a prop shaft to compare it to. People say sail drives are better, but probably only those who own them and are rationalizing. I know that we don't have the same amount of prop walk -- prop walk is when you switch to reverse and the water coming off the prop causes the boat to move sideways in the water for a moment. This can really suck in tight places. I think this is partially because the prop is relatively close to a hull on a prop shaft and not as close on a sail drive. Because we are deeper we are also supposedly less likely to foul our prop on anything close to the surface.

Sail drives scare people because they are big holes in a boat. However, the seals that keep the water out of the hull don't fail. Sail drive seals do fail - the ones that keep the water out of the transmission oil itself. This sucks but not in a I'm-going-to-die kind of way.

The most annoying thing about a sail drive is that changing the transmission oil is most easily done by removing what we have been calling "the jesus bolt" in the bottom of the sail drive which can only be done while out of the water.

The Jesus Bolt

Open this bolt, crack the fill cap and the oil gushes out. You can also pump the oil out of the top of the transmission.

For us, the other annoying thing is that our sail drive requires removing the prop to change the zinc anode and we have a complicated (but fantastic, expensive and bought by the PO) prop to remove and this also needs to be done out of the water.

Imagine our delight when we found an adapter which will allow us to convert our zinc to a split (cuff) zinc and thus be more easily changed by diving on the boat! Unfortunately we found it too late for this haul out but I will be buying it and we will install it next year.

Finally, there is this rubber gasket at the hull which prevent growth up inside the cavity where the sail drive's hull seals are. Ours had not been painted and so we were afraid to paint it last year without finding out why. Turns out, as far as I can tell, there is no reason so we painted it with the same aluminum safe paint that we use on the sail drive.

Gasket around sail drive

Here you have the gasket pre-painting but post-powerwash and scraping. As you can tell, we had a beard of mussels and barnacles when we came out of the water.

04 July 2010

Evolution of a sunset

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!

There will be too many sunset photos on this blog. I can already tell.

From Sandy Island Marine Park...a series.

Sandy Island Marine Park

Sandy Island Marine Park

Sandy Island Marine Park

Sandy Island Marine Park

Sandy Island Marine Park

03 July 2010

Offline

Having decided we were moving too much (and 2 days of motoring blech) since our guests left and not playing enough, after a few days of doing errands here in Alert Bay we are heading to the, reportedly lovely, Polkinghorne Islands for some vegging out and then we'll decide where to go from there.

More on Alert Bay when we return to civilization.

- Livia

02 July 2010

Logbook: Motoring Madness

By the way, we've updated our map which we'll update intermittently as we have time and access. The same goes with the blog posts. I'm sure you've noticed that I write them as they are happening (mostly) but don't post them until our next internet binge.

I was reluctant to come up the inside of Vancouver Island because I thought there wouldn’t be enough wind or it would be in the wrong direction. I was also aware that because of the various high current narrows and passes we would probably end up motoring a few days after Comox which sounded just painful.

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I was wrong in the sense that we sailed almost entirely to Comox…and I also find that the motoring we’ve done so far hasn’t been as annoying to me as motoring has been in the past. Even though today we had a solid 7 hours of motoring in light air to time two rapids separated by about 20 miles, there is something satisfying about motoring with a 3-4 knot current in our favor. After flying (for us) at 8 knots speed over ground (SOG) under power, we kept having to slow the engine rpm down to nearly idle in order to keep ourselves from arriving at the second rapids too early.


There was a line of pleasure boats plus a cruise ship and a tug with a barge of logs all marching North to hit Seymour Narrows at slack. You know the rapids are strong when cruise ships time their arrival so carefully.

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After entering the channel, we spent the morning curving with the main channel with high snow covered peaks on Vancouver Island to our West (Colorado folks – these aren’t *real* mountains – but they look impressive from sea level).

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We arrived just after lunch, just before the rapids here began again, and anchored in a small cove on Helmcken Island at the exact same time as another sailboat, who also can read a current table apparently. Speaking of, we realized yet again that we were forgetting to add an hour to the tide tables because the Canadian ones don’t correct for daylight savings. You think we would have learned that lesson by now. Thankfully Carol realized that the night before we set off for these narrows.

The anchorage on Helmcken (Billygoat Bay) is pretty but without much to do on land…but we aren’t planning to get off the boat so that is just fine. It is a nice hiding spot from any incoming strong winds and after poking around a bit we found good mud for the anchor. At the end of the day, while eating lamb on salad in the cockpit we had a sudden rainstorm (tiny pearls bouncing off the bay) and a stupendous rainbow. If anyone knows SV Koru (USA) we have great pictures of their boat. ((Guidebook correction: Billygoat Bay has plenty of room for 2 maybe 3 boats))

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Same schedule again today: Up early, pull the anchor, make the slack and ride the ebb NW.

- L