28 March 2011

Splicing and whipping

HAUL OUT MONDAY!

Carol playing splice.
We've been working hard for about two weeks now and our boat doesn't come out of the water until tomorrow. We have another solid two or so weeks of work before we get to scoot North.

Non-boating friends - this one is just going to be boring. See you next time.

Spliced eye with d-ring & stemball
We are converting our running backstays from wire to a hi-tech core dependent line (D2 for the rope people). We needed to shorten them because they are long enough that when we stow them at the shrouds with the block and tackle still on, they bang on the deck. While we were shortening them we thought we would change to synthetics rather than wire so we could further minimize banging and because synthetic line is sexy.

In process
Carol used the Marlow splice book (instructions also online) and a set of splicing tools to create 4 eye splices - a set on each running backstay. These connect via a d-ring to a stemball fitting which fits into cups in our shrouds.

A big thanks to Lauren of SV Piko and Ken of SV Seeker (both sister ships) for advising us on this process.

Finished except for trimming tail
I then took the splices and finished them off with a half-hitch style whipping from the Samson instructions.

All in all, they are not as aesthetically perfect as if done by a professional but as far as we can tell in this type of splice, pretty isn't the same as functionally strong. In fact, Carol moved a large cement block, on accident, while pulling on the splice.

25 March 2011

Check out this rant

I quite enjoyed this recent post from SV Letitgo. Check out a tidbit (emphasis added):
If I hear one more time : “If you leave without a sextant and a full keel boat, you are going to die!” I am going to blow a valve. With all due respect to the old sailors, the world is evolving quickly. “Yes” you did it the hard way and “No” we don’t have to ourselves. Yes you are hero, we are spoiled and lazy! Yes you are real “man”, we, on the other hand want to set on an offshore cruise with our partner, in comfort. Yes you are tough, don’t bruise, we use bandage and ointment on our side.
My feeling is that they are upset because their adventure has been popularized by the knowledge sharing and the evolution of all the technologies.  In our eyes they are still great explorers and their experience is a wonderful tool for us to work with. However, we are not the explorers of the past! Just some ordinary folks doing what used to be out of reach for many when only a few with knowledge or craziness were able to set out on their adventure. 

23 March 2011

NOAA Beaufort Sea State Images

There was a poster with these images at the Seattle Boat Show. I had seen them once before but it was a long time ago and I enjoyed trying to match what I had experienced with the numbers.

Note the descriptions underneath each photo. There is a full description on wiki if you want more information but it is fun just to scroll through these all at once and watch the progression.

Beaufort_scale_0

Beaufort_scale_1

Beaufort_scale_2

Beaufort_scale_3

Beaufort_scale_4

Beaufort_scale_5

Beaufort_scale_6

Beaufort_scale_7

Beaufort_scale_8

Beaufort_scale_9

Beaufort_scale_10

Beaufort_scale_11

Beaufort_scale_12
All photos are public domain, copyrighted by NOAA.

22 March 2011

Liquid Motivation

IMG_5556 (1280x853)

Thank you, oh thank you, dear readers. Another chronicle in the Liquid Motivation series.

Our latest Google Adsense check came in and we took it straight to the bank store. The Pretorien comes with a wine locker. After all, it’s a French boat, right? We took out the plywood upright bottle holding insert because we can fit more wine bottles on their side, but we use the original location for our booze locker.

From left to right:
  • Driftwood Ale – A local Victoria brewery and our very favorite BC beer. Something like a Manny’s for folks in Seattle.
  • Obikwa – We had a Cab Sauv brown bag tasting evening onboard and this wine came in a close second to a $35 bottle and is substantially cheaper. A good every day wine in Canada where the booze is cheap.
  • We love Spanish wine. It might have something to do with the climbing and sailing trip we took to Mallorca after a few months of dating.
  • Deckhand Belgian Saison – I don’t know but we couldn’t pass up the bottle. Could you?
  • Peeking out from behind the Deckhand is a mega bottle of Naked Grape – a BC cheap wine that is “just fine”. The big bottle is nice when you are having some thirsty cruisers aboard for a long night of conversation.
  • Sea Dog Ale – Vancouver Island Brewery made this beer for the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy. The Canadian Pacific Fleet is based in Victoria as is Vancouver Island Brewery.
  • On top is Bowen Island Lager. Cheap. Not that great, but local (ish) and better tasting than a mega-brew. This was put in the fridge first and, after a sweaty week of boatwork, is already in our bellies.

21 March 2011

Removing a keel stepped mast

Remember…HAUL OUT MONDAYS!

P1010626 (960x1280)As mentioned previously, we try to keep the stick side of the boat UP and the pointy side FORWARD, with the former being much more important than the latter. The stick is held up by its own strength and the wires connecting it to the boat. In our boat, the mast goes through the top deck down into the living space and then underneath the floorboards where it connects to a heavy duty piece of metal which is connected to the hull of our boat. It is connected to the hull at the front of our keel (the square-ish bit underwater in the middle of our boat).
This is pretty cool when you think about it because the power of the wind is connected not just to the top half of our boat, but all the way underwater to the bottom of our boat through a strong but slightly bendy aluminum mast.

Friends of mine who are swing dancers, think this one through. Interesting, huh?

Here we are at the bottom of the mast with the floor boards removed and the absolute disgustingness we found underneath when we pulled the mast.

P1010628 (1280x960)P1010629 (960x1280)

Also important to note is that there are wires and ropes inside the mast. The ropes are to raise various sails and the wires are for things like the light at the top of the mast that we light when we are at anchor, an antenna for our VHF radio and instruments that measure the strength and direction of the wind. Those wires have to be disconnected at the bottom of the mast before you pull the mast out (or you will be sad).

One wire that we wanted to disconnect outside was the wire for our radar. Our radar is about half way up the mast so we climbed up the mast (mostly cams, a few nuts*) and disconnected the wire. Then, again so we wouldn’t be sad later, we tied a small “tag” line to the wires and pulled the wire out of the mast with the rope inside tied on both ends so we can pull the wire back through the mast when we need to plug it back in.

P1010620 (1280x960)P1010625 (1280x960)

Pre mast removal prep work:
  • Remove floor boards and ceiling panel near mast inside boat.
  • Tape two yoga mats to wall to protect it from damage.
  • Remove all electrical wires.
  • Remove all sails.
  • Remove wind instrument at top of mast to prevent damage.
  • Tie all halyards to the mast at the deck using cleats.
  • Mark all turnbuckles above and below with electrical tape for guides when re-attaching.
  • Remove SSB antenna from backstay.
  • Remove any mastboot covers.
  • Spray some WD-40 at the base of the mast.
  • Just before removing mast – loosen all turnbuckles, put bolts in where the pins are and hand tighten turnbuckles. This makes removing the rigging easier and prevents losing expensive parts overboard in the chaos.
  • When removing mast, mark the wooden shims at the deck with numbers and mark those numbers on the mast where each shim should go.
How did it go? I was incredibly nervous. Other than a cosmetic scratch on the mast, in the end everything went very well. We removed the mast with the help of a bunch of experienced people and a crane at our sailing association (HI DANA!).

At one point, the boat moved, the mast went at a slight angle and Carol put his fingers between the mast and the bulkhead to “save the bulkhead” (bad Carol!). Hearing his cry of pain, I promptly lost my shit. Once that was sorted, and the boat moved into correct position again (it only takes a few inches when you need exact alignment) I was able to go back to breathing.

It is fascinating after owning a boat for 4 years to learn so much more about how really important parts of it go together. To see our mast step and the inside of our mast is very cool. Carol has spent a few days pulling all of the rigging off of the mast so we can take it to our rigger which is quite a chunk of cost savings for us considering most riggers in our area charge in the ballpark of $80/hour.

20 March 2011

The Estrellita Report: 2011 Update #1

These quick summaries are for non-regular blog readers. Regular readers will see them a few times a year and can tune them out.
-----------------------------------------
Family & Friends,

As you know, we left our dock in June of 2010 and it has been a busy first 8 months of cruising. We left Victoria and headed North with Carol's family onboard and spent a week with them in the Gulf Islands. We picked up our next set of guests, Lauren & Nathan, and dropped Carol's family in Sidney BC and promptly headed further North. We spent a fantastic 3 months sailing around Vancouver Island.

Rather than spending the entire winter at anchor, Carol took half time work over the winter and we traveled for the other half. We spent some time in Bahrain learning to kite board and we took two sailing trips: 3.5 weeks into the Puget Sound and 5 weeks spent heading to Princess Louisa Inlet and Vancouver.

We are currently spending one month working on the boat, doing some minor work and one major planned upgrade. In mid-April we head North again toward the Queen Charlottes and we plan to head South from the West Coast of Vancouver Island sometime around August in a single shot to California. This will be our first major ocean passage.

We will be in California until early November 2011 when we will head into Mexico. Family and friends who wish to visit, we expect to be in Mexico at least until March 2012, but possibly a full year after that. Let us know.

Best, Livia & Carol

19 March 2011

US Citizens travelling abroad

It is probably a bit of a pain to update while cruising, but the US State Department maintains a travel registry for US Citizens where you can list where you will be living or travelling and they will send you updates on any urgent issues for your area.

I registered when I moved to Victoria, BC and promptly forgot about it. They had never sent me any email until this one the day of the tsunami.

This Warden Message alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or residing on the
Pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada or residing on Vancouver
Island of a tsunami wave which is anticipated to hit land beginning
about 5:30 am local time on March 11, 2011.  A massive 8.9 magnitude
earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean near Northeastern Japan at around 2:46
pm JST on March 11, causing damage with blackouts, fire and tsunami.
The large earthquake triggered a tsunami warning for countries all
around the Pacific ocean. British Columbia authorities are especially
warning the areas of the North Coast and the Haida Gwaii Islands; the
Central Coast including Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Shearwater; and
the outer West Coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Court
Renfrew.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
<http://www.noaa.gov/> , "sea level readings confirm that a tsunami has
been generated which could cause widespread damage...A tsunami is a
series of waves and the first wave may not be the largest.  Tsunami wave
heights cannot be predicted and can vary significantly along a coast due
to local effects.  The time from one tsunami wave to the next can be
five minutes to an hour, and the threat can continue for many hours as
multiple waves arrive.  When no major waves are observed for two hours
after the estimated time of arrival or damaging waves have not occurred
for at least two hours then local authorities can assume the threat is
passed.  Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several
hours due to rapid currents.  As local conditions can cause a wide
variation in tsunami wave action, the all clear determination must be
made by local authorities."

NOAA anticipates that the waves will arrive at the Alaska/British
Columbia border beginning at 5:30 am; Vancouver Island at 6:20am;
Washington/British Columbia border at 7:00 am.

Granted, their email was too late to be effective for that particular type of emergency but for other types of emergencies it would still be a good notification system.

18 March 2011

Something is missing

P1010640 (960x1280)P1010632 (960x1280)

Something is wrong with these pictures…can you guess what?

17 March 2011

Voicemail while cruising

One of the things that is stressful about living aboard and traveling is that governmental and other systems are not set up well for vagabonds. We just had a rough time getting our drivers licences renewed because we don't have a street address. I once had someone almost refuse to rent me a DVD, despite the fact that I had a Gold VISA card because my mailing address wasn't a street number or PO Box.

Everyone wants an address and a phone number and will deliver important time sensitive information via mail or via phone. For the phone number, this is what we decided to do.

We wanted:
1) A phone number with voicemail.
2) The least amount of stress for not too much money.

Skype Number: We already have Skype accounts that we use to call people when we have a good internet connection. We can talk to our family with video for free when they are signed into their Skype accounts and we can call people on their phones when they are not. A SkypeIn number costs $60 and gives us an honest-to-goodness phone number that we can give our family, friends and various institutions (like banks, etc). A SkypeIn number is 50% off if you also have a subscription with Skype. So, we signed up for unlimited calling from our Skype account to Canada and the US (on sale 15% off for $30/yr) and that reduced our SkypeIn number to half off ($30/yr). For $60/year we have a phone number, voicemail and unlimited calling "home" when we have the internet to do so. This completely solves #1.

Google Voice: We also signed up for a Google Voice number. This gives you phone and voicemail (#1) but also Google will send a transcription of your voicemail to your email account. This means that if you have crappy internet but it is good enough to download your email, you can see if anyone has called you which really helps with #2 (stress). The translations suck (missing words, errors, etc) but they are generally enough to get the gist of the message (i.e., is this my bank, my mother or spam?). As anyone who has used any VOIP service like Skype, you know how crappy connections can be and checking voicemail with Skype can be extremely frustrating with the system continuously saying "I'm sorry, I don't understand your response".

Why didn't we just use Google Voice? You need a US phone number (or at least someone willing to play along with you) in order to set up your Google Voice number. We used our SkypeIn number rather than using a family member or friend for two reasons related to stress: 1) you need the phone also to set up and change your voicemail greeting and 2) because of fear of not having complete control over the account in some remote port if it goes wonky.

Skype + Google Voice: We enabled voicemail on our Skype number and then forwarded it to our Google Voice number. Our voicemail is currently being collected by Google, transcribed and emailed to us. We get a phone, voicemail, email transcriptions and we don't have to worry about the number getting shut down at some point when we don't have the facilities (i.e., internet) to fix it.

Other options that might work better for you:

If you don't want the added complexity, don't need the texts but you want the control, you can stick with a SkypeIn number only. Skype can be set up to send you an email (no transcription, just a notification) whenever you have a voicemail.

If you want a completely free version, and have a trusted person to coordinate with who has a phone and who doesn't want their own Google Voice account, you can use their phone number and set up a Google Voice phone number for free. This is what we would have done if we were mainlined to the internet which would have allowed us to fix any problems that might come up, in a relatively short time, without interruptions in our voicemail service.

16 March 2011

Cruising blogs

Someone recently pointed out to us that we are now on Yacht Blogs which is a compendium of cruising blogs (sailing only). When we were dreaming of cruising, I spent a lot of time combing through blogs, feeding the dream. If you are like me, it's worth checking out.

Several things I really like about the site are:
  • They have a ton of blogs to peruse. Dangerous!
  • They try to filter the blogs for quality/quantity control. Yes, we're flattered.
  • They show the title and a snipped of the posts from blogs they follow and link back to the original blog for the full post. This is polite, rather than snagging the entire post without permission.
  • Did I mention it is a free resource that someone took the time to create??!
Something I would like to see*: They have related posts from the same blog but the related posts are just the most recent. For example, when the SSB post was the featured post from our blog, the related posts could be ones with the radio or boatwork tags. That would be cool.

*Not a criticism. Like I always say, we get to complain as much as we pay.

15 March 2011

Logbook: Tsunami sailing

We woke up intending to sail from Sidney to Esquimalt, having finally found a weather window that would allow us to sail South and then West without encountering over 30 knots.

Carol got out of bed first and turned on the weather on the VHF radio and heard a Tsunami advisory. I jumped out of bed and we turned on the FM radio hoping for more information. Shortly afterwards my mother called (good show award!) to make sure we were aware of the situation and we called friends in Victoria harbour to spread the word to them.

As we listened to more information we realized that the advisory was for the West Coast of Vancouver Island only, not the inside (where we were) and not the East side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (where we were headed). We decided to wait to depart until after the wave was expected to hit and, assuming nothing happened, we would head out for our day of sailing.

Nothing happened and so we headed out. We later heard there were some burly currents in areas of Esquimalt harbour and some tidal variation that morning but otherwise that area was unaffected.

For us, the major lesson learned was that unless you are monitoring your VHF 24 hours a day, or are lucky enough to be up early listening to weather when the warning comes out, word-of-mouth is the only way we would have found out about an event like that. Scary. Remember this the next time you are thinking of being rude to your neighbors!

14 March 2011

On the water in British Columbia

Sawdust False Creek VancouverJervis InletSunningDerelict

13 March 2011

Village Bay

P1010615 (960x1280)We had another light air sail from Silva Bay, down the Strait of Georgia to Active Pass. We motored through just before dark and pulled into Village Bay on the NW of Mayne Island. There is nothing to recommend this bay in particular. We went because we wanted to anchor before dark, get a night of sleep and head out in the morning. Village Bay is open, deep until the head, and the head of the bay is full of private moorings and crab pots.

As it turns out, not all of those pots are connected to floats any more. I pulled up a monster of a metal trap with Marilyn (our anchor). It was relatively easy to hook with the boat hook but was heavy and didn’t want to come loose from the hook. So there I was on the bow trying to shake this monster trap off the slippery boat hook without getting pulled overboard.

We left and sailed to Tsehum Harbour in Sidney, BC. I say sail but really there was almost no wind and so we drifted in the ebb current with the sails up for about half of the distance and sailed at a knot or two (plus the current) for the other half.

I forgot to mention earlier but in Silva Bay we met another couple from the Great Northern Boaters Net (Oliver & Lynne aboard SV Hannibal) who took us in, and treated us to a lovely dinner and hours of good conversation. Oliver is a former climber and the two of them have been all kinds of fun places in BC. We have started joking that we will write a dining guide for the net regulars.

12 March 2011

SSB Ground Plane: One thru hull + water tanks

IMG_5456 (1280x853)When we finished our SSB installation in the Polkinghorne Islands, we ran copper foil from our tuner to a single thru-hull. (Pretorien owners, this is the sink drain.) We’ve been checking in on the nets, getting weather and checking email for the last 6 months or so with the copper just draped over the thru hull--->

Our water tanks were already connected to this thru hull with copper wire so we also have our water tanks in the mix.

We decided to start with a minimal ground plane installation and if that didn’t work well enough, add more. We initially did some simple testing of the system and found that we were heard better with both the water tanks and the thru hull than just the thru hull but with just the thru hull we were consistently being heard and connecting to email/weather via winlink.

Even though our tuner (Icom AH-4) has some built in current protection, to further protect from any stray current eating at our thru hull, since the install, we have had to open up the floor panel and manually connect and then remove the foil from the thru hull so it wasn’t touching when we weren’t using the SSB.
Recently, we finished the installation by permanently connecting the foil to the thru hull with some .15 microfarad capacitors as blocks for stray current.

Here we have my tools set out. SV Endless, I promise I am eventually returning your solder iron!

 IMG_5467 (1280x853)

Here you can see the pipe cuff that was already installed for the water tank wire (to make contact with the thru hull). Using the screw holes as a template I folded the foil over several times and then drilled holes through the folded copper foil to match.

IMG_5465 (1280x853)IMG_5466 (1280x853)

Finally, I glued the foil to a bit of starboard with clean gap (no glue or anything bridging the gap) and soldered the capacitors to the foil. My soldering skills remain laughable but so far, everything I’ve soldered still works so I’m calling that a victory.

Here you can see the final installation with the copper wire that goes to a foils strap on our water tanks.

IMG_5471 (1280x853)

We’ve now had a chance to test the installation and it works. The problem with an SSB is that the only way we know how to test it is functionally: it works if people can hear us, if we can hear people and if we can regularly connect to winlink stations. A complication is that propagation makes all contacts vary and recently there were a bunch of solar flares.

Readers:

If anyone knows of a super simple way we can test our signal strength (think SSB for dummies) other than asking for reports from contacts, please do let us know. We have all kinds of meters on our radio and so I know that in RF quiet anchorages we have very little noise (if we turn off RF loud equipment). I can use our noise blockers and attenuators in noisy places and those often help. I can see we read about 1 (SWR I believe that reading is called) when I key our microphone.

Also, we need to get some headphones. We’ve had the feedback that cheap normal headphones are fine. Anyone have experience with various sets? We don’t want one with a built in microphone or anything fancy – just audio.

11 March 2011

How slow will you go?

P1010611 (1280x960) Probably the better way to phrase the question is “when sailing, how slow is still fun for you?” but that doesn’t rhyme.

I think it is an important question for cruisers to ask themselves because it had direct applications to cruising plans. We didn’t realize that at first…lesson learned.

Our answer (so far – on day sails) is that we are happy to let our speed drop as low as it is possible to maintain steerage (non-boaters: you have to have water passing over your rudder to use it to steer so you can’t steer when drifting). Actually, if there are no rocks around we don’t mind loosing steerage either, particularly if the weather is nice.

 P1010612 (1280x960)We realized this early on during our circumnavigation of Vancouver Island and changed our planning process from choosing a destination to choosing an assortment of destinations at varying distances from where we were so we could focus on the day of sailing not the destination. This had the side effect of relieving a lot of destination induced stress if we weren’t “making progress”.

If there was no wind and we were ready to move anchorages, we chose somewhere very close and tried to sail there anyway. If we couldn’t, we knew it would only be a short bit of motoring.

P1010609 (1280x960)If there was some wind, we poked our nose out there and chose several places to stop along our sailing path. During the sail, depending on how fast or slow our progress was we would make a choice about where we would stop.

We are not sailing purists. This is more of an exploration of our own personal fun-to-suck ratio regarding going slow vs. getting somewhere. We also feel differently depending on the day and some places that are difficult to sail to are worth long motoring days (Princess Louisa Falls is a good example).

By the way, the trip we used as an example yesterday (Vancouver to Silva Bay) is slightly more than 20 miles and this time it took us 9.5 hours. Notice the glassy water in the photos!

The wind was less than 5 knots from all kinds of directions and we sailed very, very slowly and didn’t turn on the engine (except at the exit and the entrance). It was blue skies and sunny so we weren’t in a hurry.

10 March 2011

How long will it take?

This one is for our non-boating friends.

We are often asked “how long does it take to get from (the place we are) to (this other place)?” and we hem and haw and say “well, it depends” and they look slightly annoyed and counter “just a ballpark” as if we are being purposefully vague and we make something up to be polite.

Why can’t we give a better estimate?

Let’s take the example of sailing from Vancouver to Silva Bay and let’s stick with the round number of 20 nautical miles as the approximate distance. We had a forecast of variable 5-15 knots.  FYI: A nautical mile is slightly longer than a statutory mile and knots are nautical miles per hour. Nautical miles are cooler than statutory miles because a nautical mile is one minute of latitude and so when looking at a chart you can use latitude to reckon distances.

Now first, what if we had 5 knots of wind? If that wind is coming from in front of us at about 60 degrees to our right or 60 degrees to our left, we might be able to sail at 4 knots (5 hours travel time). If that wind is behind us directly, we might be able to sail at 2 knots (10 hours travel time).

P1010610 (960x1280)Readers will remember however, if the wind was directly ahead of us, we have to zig zag and so we might only make 1 knot toward our destination even if sailing faster through the water (20 hours).

If the wind was on the high end of the forecast and we have 15 knots of wind also at 60 degrees to one side, we might make 7 knots (3 hours of travel time) or if the wind was behind us we might make 5 knots (4 hours of travel time).
This means that in the simplest conditions we might take from 3 hours to 20 hours to make that trip.

Complications: A current against us would add time and a current with us would subtract time on either end. Waves slow us down if they are coming from ahead and speed us up if they are coming from behind. We might be the kind of boat that decides to motor if sailing less than a certain speed. As the distances get longer, the variability becomes greater. For example, a 40 mile trip in the same conditions could take 6 or 40 hours. Of course, I don’t know many people that would zig zag back and forth for 40 hours by choice. Finally, the length of the boat, the type of sails the boat has, its shape in and above the water, and the expertise of the crew all make a difference in how fast different boats go at the same wind speed.

09 March 2011

Chuck it? Yes please.

As referenced by lifehacker, OKCupid says these three questions are the best predictors of long term compatibility:

  1. Do you like horror movies?
  2. Have you ever traveled around another country alone?
  3. Wouldn't it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?

Team Giddyup: Not really, Yes, Yes.

(Thanks Amy!)


    08 March 2011

    Logbook: False Creek, Vancouver

    P1010608 (1280x960) False Creek has several claims to fame for visiting boaters: you can anchor, and you can spend 3 hours tied up to the docks at Granville Island. Granville Island has a lovely market – Pike Place Market style for those familiar with Seattle.

    Both times we have visited we have come in the winter and really enjoyed walking around Granville Island.

    Still, we haven’t had the best luck in False Creek. The first time we came we had a very unpleasant interaction with one of the harbour ferry drivers in which he became increasingly verbally aggressive and then faked ramming us. We were in our dinghy at the time, in freezing cold water, and the prospect of getting tipped by him or his wake was not endearing. The local boater welcome office said that it wasn’t an uncommon behavior for them. Needless to say, we now refuse to use their (very convenient) service and will walk miles out of our way or inflate our dinghy in order to avoid giving them any of our cash.

    Also, this time the city had shut down the Granville Island docks for the filming of Mission Impossible 4 (major bummer since this was our primary reason to visit) and so we couldn’t take our boat to provision although we did come back and use the docks with the dinghy. They used to have a fuel dock in False Creek but they no longer do. The first time we visited we were counting on fueling (our mistake – remember the old Waggoner?) and that was a big bummer.

    The anchorage is fairly shoal for a boat of our draft but you can stay for quite a long time (permit required).

    One big change which is very nice is that there is now a place on the North shore where you can take your dinghy. When we came before there was *nowhere* on the North shore to dinghy to which made visiting downtown very difficult.

    False Creek is really the only option for most visitors who want to visit Vancouver on the cheap. However, with the luxury of cheap/free reciprocal moorage elsewhere, we much preferred Coal Harbor with its easy access to downtown and Stanley Park.

    07 March 2011

    First Cruising Birthday

    I had my first cruising birthday while we were in Vancouver.

    On the one hand, it wasn't much different than any birthday I've had since I've moved to Canada. Vancouver is not exactly an exotic or remote location. No big deal to find an internet connection or to make or receive phone calls. On the other hand, it was different. I spent the day with Carol and with new friends in a new place rather than with Carol and old friends in a familiar place.

    Trophy Room at Vancouver Rowing Club
    Carol spoiled me rotten. Coffee in bed. Breakfast of my choice. A lazy day. Pints at the Vancouver Rowing Club where one of the very cool members we had met and showed our boat to, found out it was my birthday and bought us a round of microbrews. Then a short bus ride, a tasty latte at Jitters and a truly fantastic meal at Bistrot Bistro. We also met up with new cruiser friends who went above the call of duty and brought me a birthday gift (a Honda 2000 shop manual!).

    If you are looking for dinner in Vancouver, we can highly recommend Bistrot Bistro. We had Kir Royales, a tasty salad, baguette and tapenade, a half liter of French wine and for entrees we had filet mignon (Carol) and duck confit (Livia) followed by coffee and chocolate mousse.

    06 March 2011

    Coal Harbour, Vancouver

    05 March 2011

    Wallas, you naughty Nautic

    P1010579 (1280x960)Snow on deck, broken diesel heater below. Thankfully we were at a dock when this happened and had a space heater keeping things from freezing inside.

    The short story is that our Wallas Nautic 30D heater is “not intended for full time use” and yet we use it full time when off the dock in the winter/spring/fall and 1/4 to 1/2 of the time in the summer. We are supposed to clean it out thoroughly every 100 hours or so of use. Not going to happen. We aren’t cleaning the system every 4 days while sailing in the winter. We last serviced the unit in June and so by now, after almost 2 months of off-dock winter sailing and occasional use while at the dock, the entire interior of the burn chamber was a sooty carbonized caramelized mess (Problem #1).

    P1010576 (1280x960)Carol scraped out the soot, replaced the wick (i.e., glass mat), and replaced the working aged glow plug so we could keep the old one as the spare. But Wallas wouldn’t start.

    Problem #2: The drip tube for the fuel had backed up with carbon as well and was plugged. Careful twisting of a drill bit with the tube inverter cleared most of that soot and the rest was removed over a series of trials with air and diesel being pressed into the tube (and eventually through the tube) with a syringe.

    P1010578 (1280x960)During that process, we lost the prime in the fuel system (Problem #3). After talking to several technicians who described regaining the prime in the Wallas as “a major pain in the arse” Carol did acrobatics to get the fuel running and the air out. The Wallas has a built in safety feature where it will purge excess diesel after a false start. Normally this keeps the unit from blowing up, and thus is good, but the technician explained that when you are trying to get some fuel flowing through the tube into the burn chamber the purge can work against regaining the prime. And, as already described, Carol sucked diesel. Twice.

    ((Note from Carol: Diesel tastes buttery.))

    The good news is that the Wallas Nautic 30D is fairly simple. As long as the circuit board doesn’t go wonky, what was inside was easy to understand. It may be a pain in the arse but it is a simple system to troubleshoot and the error messages it gives when it fails were instructive (and correct). Either you don’t have fuel coming in (clog, prime or pump), the fan fails, or the glow plug (i.e., lighter) fails. We didn’t have fuel. We could feel the pump working on the start so the pump was good. At the end, it appears we had both a clog and after clearing the clog, a prime issue. The pump is a very wee pulsing pump so it can’t overcome a clog or prime issue.

    Other things we like about our heater, and its installation, are that it draws relatively low amps and is fuel efficient, can keep our boat warm down to the freezing mark and, like all diesel heaters, helps to dry out the boat. The downside is how often we would have to clean it if we were going to live in the cold at anchor full-time. In other good news, we didn’t pay for it or install it (they are expensive - thank you PO!) and we aren’t planning to go to Alaska for a few years so we don’t have to worry about full time winter use for long.

    04 March 2011

    Coal Harbour, Vancouver

    We spent 7 nights in Coal Harbour. We arrived just before sunset and tied up at the Vancouver Rowing Club. We had a great time at those docks -- friendly club. Such a great time that we came back in March for two more nights. They have a fun bar with once a week live music, nice people on the docks and they are in a prime location right in Stanley Park.

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    From there we filled up our diesel tanks in the harbour and moved next door for 3 nights at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. They have two locations and we understand that their other location has the fancy dining/club house. We were mostly homebodies those nights. I played support team for Carol while he fixed our heater and did minor boat tasks in between. However, we met the crew of SV Letitgo who are on a 5 (ish) year plan to cruising and have recently bought “the boat”. They took us out to a fantastic lunch at Rongoli and offered to drive us around for parts for our heater.

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    We took full advantage of being downtown and in Stanley Park. Well, when we weren’t working on the boat we took advantage. We took several long walks through downtown, bought groceries, had medium-good coffee, and went for lunch. We also walked through large parts of Stanley Park in the snow. It was beautiful and because of the cold we had the park mostly to ourselves.

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    03 March 2011

    Ode to Waggoner

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    This is what is left of our 2007 Waggoner Cruising Guide. Waggoners, as we call it, is the encyclopedic cruising guide for the region. Although it has anchoring information for some areas, it is not our go to anchoring guide (we are Dreamspeaker fans), but it is the perfect place to look up contact information, fuel locations, marina info, etc for anywhere you are sailing past or to. I hesitate to call it a “must have” but there isn’t a guidebook we would buy ahead of it; we supplemented it but it has all of the basics. We’ve also enjoyed the sidebars which are often reader submitted stories about the area.

    Each year we kept saying “we should buy a new Waggoner” and then we would say “but we’re going South soon, so…”. At this point, it is no longer bound, has no cover, and many of the pages are no longer in order. Because we didn’t update it, it is also factually out of date. Marinas have changed hands or closed, fuel stations are no longer where they were listed, etc. The 2011 version looked very shiny at the Seattle Boat Show.

    Although we’ll be selling our charts and guidebooks for this area when we leave, I think our poor old Waggoner is only fit for the recycle bin.