Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Walbro pump and maintenance

Today was a  maintenance day on Aeolus and what a day for it. The weather in Anacortes was as beautiful as a day could be, with bright fall sun and temperatures around 65. Just perfect.

My trusty old Walbro 6805 which will be retired into backup status. 
The FRB13-2
My main project today was replacing my main fuel pump, which I did merely out of an abundance of caution. My trust Walbro 6805 had given 10 years of reliable service and about 1500 hours of use. This is far below the rated hours for this pump, but after 10 years, I just felt like it was time to replace it. Fuel issues are by the far the biggest cause of engine failure, and I've had recent experience with stormy conditions that reminded me of the desire to never have my engine fail.

I replace the 6805 older model with the newer FRB13-2. Interesting to note that the 6805 was rated only for diesel fuel, where the FRB13-2 is labeled for all fuels, including ethanol and all biodiesels. Since I run biodiesel, I'm happy about this, though I never did have trouble with my 6805.

The swap out is easy, and even the mounting hole patter is the same.

While down there I also replace my exchanger zinc. Ever since putting a spacer between the transmission and prop shaft I have had much less rapid corrosion of my exchanger zincs. It is now electrically isolated from the shaft, salt water and propeller. They last about a year for me now, and at that time they are only about half gone. A nice interval.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A summer week of exploring, and a summer storm to remember

The boys and I took off for an end of summer trip and a last chance to swim in comfortable salt water in 2016. It has been an incredible summer, filled with adventures, and yet light on big boat trips. Now that the boys are big enough, we are tackling some favorite backpacking locations to expand their familiarity with North American geography. This year was the Canadian Rockies.

But this kept us from getting up into Desolation Sound or further north this summer, and that is a sadness. To partially make it up, and to appease our need for summer swimming in BC, the boys and I took off for a quick trip into the northern Gulf Islands. We knew we didn't have time, or want to push enough, to get up to Jedidiah or our favorite places further up the Straits of Georgia, so we aimed instead for either DeCourcy or Wallace.

Our first day out from Anacortes was lovely and calm. We powered our way to Prevost Harbor on Stuart and didn't get there until fairly late due to a late start. It was a rare thing indeed as we dropped anchor and never even went to shore. Due to it being August and all the fair weather boaters, the part of the anchorage near the public dock in Prevost was packed. Few seem to know there is an easy and lovely anchorage over by the County Dock and Erickson farm that has great holding and no obstacles. We dropped there, and enjoyed the better views out to the coast ranges and Boundary Pass.

The next day we were off north. In the end we decided to stop at Wallace Island and not push the additional time to DeCourcy. We poked our noses into Conniver Cove and were surprised to find that there was room for us stern tied against the eastern shore. We arrived fairly early, around lunch time, and were delighted. Anchoring in this cove is a very sketchy proposition, as I have related in previous posts. The holding is really poor in a torn up mud bottom, and the spaces are tight. This time, with our Mantus Anchor, I had great confidence we would not budge, but our neighbors were still a concern.

We had no sooner dropped the anchor than we had on our swim shorts and were jumping in. Oh the joys of salt water swimming in water that is above 70 degrees! My temperature gauge said the water in the cove was 80F, and it might have been at the surface.

Owen paddling our inflatable kayak in Conover Cove, Wallace Island
We enjoyed this day and the morning of the next doing all the lovely things one can do at Wallace. Owen paddled the kayak, as did I. Elliott stayed in the hammock for extended periods. We walked north up to Panther Point to view the twilight on the water. We played frisbee in the field. All a joy.

Since we only planned on four days, and we didn't want to go from Wallace all the way back to Anacortes in a day, which is 50 miles, we left on Saturday after lunch and made some distance south down to Winter Cove on Saturna. Our last visit there was this winter, and we were alone. Now there were dozens of boats, and it was festive. There was even a competitive softball game going on in the field above the dock. Red against blue, local teams. We watched a few innings and enjoyed being fans.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Wonderful circuit of the San Juans with Orcas and Dungeness

Amy and I have some time without the boys and so took advantage of the 4th of July weekend for a four day sailing trip into some new places.

We left Anacortes on Friday and went down the Swinomish Channel to catch Dungeness on the opening day. It's interesting that when you look online for information on the channel it is filled with dire warnings and cautionary tales. I've gone through several times and it seems to me no more or less hazardous than any place I go, and much less troubling than many. Anyway, once through the channel uneventfully we did some crabbing on our way to Cornet Bay. We caught a few keepers before arriving, and found good crabbing right in the Bay itself.

It can be a bit rolly in Cornet Bay because the zippy power boats launch right there and pay no attention to you being anchored. But the views are stunning, and it quiets down at dark.

The next day we had an incredible journey with the ebb and flood. We transited Deception Pass with the last of the ebb, and that is always a highlight of any trip. Riding this waning ebb toward south Lopez, we caught the start of the flood right up Haro Strait to our destination at D'Arcy Island across the border into Canada. South Lopez is among the prettiest spots in all the San Juans. It is most like the islands much further north in Canada and makes you feel farther away than you are. Jagged rocks and crashing coves. We had to flip on the radar near Cattle Pass as some fog rolled in, and there were many fishing boats.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Replaced old compass with RAM mount for iPhone

Our old compass at the inside steering station was clouded and rather useless. As I have come to enjoy my Navionics navigation app on my iPhone as a reliable back up to my chartplotter, I decided to mount a RAM system in the same place.

It looks fine, and works perfectly. Now, when I am steering from inside, I don't have to look back at my chartplotter through the companionway doors. I can rely on the phone app which has the same functionality.
Works great! Will probably replace the wooden disc with teak when I am next around a source for it.

Memorial Day the Tumbo Way!

For Memorial Day we, well, went to Tumbo again! Our first night was actually at Jones Island as there were strong SE winds and getting from Anacortes to Tumbo right up Rosario Strait and then across Boundary Pass in those conditions is pretty rough going. But Sunday morning we hopped over to Tumbo and had the usual fantastic time.

Time stands still in places like Tumbo Island. It is timeless in the way the ecology is deeply rooted to ancient cycles, and though change is constant, it blends together to form a consistency that is palpable.

The reality of being out on the boat is so far removed from the humdrum facsimiles of urban and domestic machinations.

View from Cabbage south toward Tumbo. This spit of land is exposed at low tides, and gives the name to Tumbo as a distortion of Tumbolo.      

Friday, May 27, 2016


After all these years of going on trips across the Salish Sea, you might think they would lose their edge the way so many other things do. Become known. But they don't. We are leaving tonight for another three day weekend trip up into BC, and my stomach has the same excitement I used to feel thousands of ocean miles ago.

I think this speaks to the wilderness that is the ocean. Part of the allure is the fact that the sea, even inside the Straits with our more benign conditions, is an uncontrollable place. There are so many variables. When heading out on a backpacking trip, the variables are fewer, and more easily controlled. With sailing, if the wind kicks up to 30 knots, no matter how well prepared you are, you are in for a rough ride. If you lose a major system on your boat, especially sails or motors, then you are perhaps adrift on a conveyor belt of water that heads toward every rock. Put another way, the consequence of error when sailing are literally life and death. Or at least great suffering.

So we are packing and preparing like so many times before. With so much experience, we do it now without thinking. And we will soon head off to the unknown that is a voyage on the sea. Forecasts call for SE 15-25 tomorrow, but will that happen? Will we get to sail north? Or will it rub against an ebb too hard and kick up a nasty sea?

No way to know, despite a pile of experience. In this way, going sailing is a journey into the unknown. And that is delightful. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Spencer Spit escape

Last weekend the pressure in our adventure tanks had risen too high and was in danger of blowing, so we headed up to Aeolus and out for the weekend. It turned out to be an utterly gorgeous and calm series of days, with only one short chance to sail. Spencer Spit on Lopez island is a wonderful and close hop away from Anacortes. About 2.5 hours, depending on the always contrary currents in Guemes Channel.

With the whole family aboard, we motored our way through water and wove our way among seabirds over through Thatcher Pass and around Frost Island to the northern side of Spencer Spit. We anchored in about 20' of water and were soon ashore for the fun that follows. Both boys love scaling and sliding back down the sandy cliffs just north of the campground.
Elliott in the hammock and blissing out

Generally speaking my wife and I are quick to tell our boys about reducing erosion and staying on trails and all that. Lessons from careers in outdoor education stay with you. But in the case of these sand cliffs, it is all open access. There is a serious problem around the Salish Sea with people using bulkheads and walls to prevent shore erosion and cliff crumbling. Sounds good, for the house owners, but that erosion and sand deposition is essential to maintaining healthy habitats for feeder fish, the small ones that feed everything else. That's why those sandy bluffs are called "Feeder" bluffs. They feed the sand that nourishes the beaches that supports the marine life.