Thursday, November 16, 2017

Winter Dads get away to Stuart

This past weekend I realized I had the chance to get away from home and do a trip with my younger son. Since my wife and other son couldn't come, I decided to invite another Dad and his son along for the fun. Given how busy and over scheduled people are these days, I was surprised when he said "Yes" so enthusiastically.

Such is the appeal of a sailboat trip in the San Juans. Even in winter.
Happy father and son in paradise

All who read this blog know how much I love our winter trips. To have the islands to yourself, to yourself, and so dramatically beautiful, is just incredible. I continue to be amazed how people stay away by the millions.

Winter trips anyone?
We went to Reid Harbor as there were some strong winds forecast. It was as snug as always. We dropped our trusty Mantus anchor off the public dock and enjoyed a couple days of hiking, reading, playing and eating. Oh, and the deep sleep that always comes from being on the boat.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Four 7th graders for two days, Oh My!

We are back from a wonderful weekend get away to the islands for my son's birthday party. He chose to go to Jones with some of his best friends and we were delighted it was not another trip to the skating rink or bowling. So off we went with a truck full of 7th grade boys.

Want to know what modern American 7th grade boys talked about for 2 hours of driving and 90 minutes of ferry riding? Magic cards. That's it. Magic cards. It was both endearing and mind numbing.  The future of America is secure if it involves people knowing how to draw cards from a deck in mock supernatural fights.
A boy and the Salish Sea. 

Jones island was as magical as always, yet there were other humans present! We are so accustomed to having Jones to our self from Fall through Spring that it was rather shocking. The winds were calm so the boys didn't get to experience sailing, but the trip was still a novelty to them.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

17 days and 372 miles in British Columbia

A few days ago we returned from our voyage north into British Columbia. It has taken a few days to get my bearings on land, and to adjust back into syphilization. It is not an adjustment I ever experience easily, or without anguish. This particular journey was longer in time than some we've had recently, as our schedules allowed the sort of expansive time any real and safe boat journey requires. And this extended time allowed for the transition into those other versions of ourselves that we love so much. For some reason, we find the lifestyle of sailing, hiking, reading great books, playing cards, swimming in the ocean and in lakes, jumping off rocks and hanging out in dramatic wilderness conducive to us being 100% alive and happy:

This is Elliott jumping maybe 25-30 feet at Smugglers Cove. A beautiful setting. He later jumped a couple spots much higher in Teakerne Arm and Walsh Cove. 

This is the Teakerne Arm jump. You can see the lovely Cassel Lake falls in the background. It doesn't look too high on video, but he is nearly 6' tall, and you can count how many of him it would take to reach the ocean below! 

Due to the length of this trip, and my appetite for narrative right now, I will render some stories as highlights and bullets. It was an incredible, unforgettable three weeks. A reminder of all that is innately good and happy and free in each of us, and of the majesty of the Salish Sea.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Back to Friday Harbor, Ready for 3 weeks in Canada!

The sea! The sea! The peaks around. Olympics, Mt. Baker, glaciers and rock. Islands here, and over there, low and rounded. With a pivot of your head you take in three National Parks, and the sweep of ocean out to Japan.

There is no more singularly dramatic wild place for a boat to be placed in the lower 48 than just off Smith Island in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. For all you can see, it is essentially now as it was 2,000 years ago. Like Pre-Contact.

Time passed without notice. It felt timeless. here and now. Here. Now.

Ebb out Admiraly Inlet. 10 knots for hours. Flood into Cattle Pass, 10 knots again. 30 miles in less than 5 hours. Rippled seas and bright sun.

There is no greater thing. There is no greater being.

New cockpit scuppers on Aeolus

I'll do a post specifically on my cockpit scuppers for those interested. Gulf 32's come with drains glassed into the cockpit, which is an alright idea, except they reduce in size as they descend and the conical shape makes it difficult to get a hose to securely clamp around them.

On Aeolus this lead down through a 1 1/2" drain hose to the through hull, which exits the boat above the waterline. I used to have a Marelon ball valve on the through hull, but this reduced the size of the drain hole even further and would frequently jam up with any hair and plastic crap that might have made it down the hose.

My first step in improving my drain was to remove those Marelon valves and install a simple Marelon hose bar that maintains the maximum diameter of the hose. Because the through hull drains just above the waterline, this is an ABYC acceptable practice. Also, having been out in very large violent seas from the stern, I have never had any issue with water backing up through the cockpit drains into the cockpit.

Anyway, that done, I wanted to install more normal cockpit scuppers that would accept the hose better and have a built in screen. I found and used these Perko plastic scuppers:

On Aeolus I had to Dremel out the old glass drains, which was fairly easy. Then I had to shape the hole to the size and bevel angle of this Perko scupper. With the sandpaper barrel on the Dremel this was pretty easy. I then used Gflex to epoxy the scupper into the new hole, having roughed up the plastic with 60 grip sandpaper.

The hose fits on perfectly with a little dishwashing soap to lube it up, and they look good. I put some white paint over the epoxy exposed to protect from UV.

I now have a worry free cockpit drain system and won't have to unplug them anymore. These are not super high capacity, and will not drain the cockpit of being full in one minute, as you read for offshore boats, but it's better than we had and we are unlikely to be in cockpit filling seas anytime in the future.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ready to splash!

It's been a busy and bruising haul out but I am now ready to splash back in on Monday. The busy part is rather obvious, as my time in the boat yard reminded me that every boater there was working furiously all day every day on their boats, and I was too. It's more expensive to be out than in the water, and not to mention less fun. You meet the most interesting people in a boat yard, especially in Port Townsend. I had nice conversations with the old curmudgeon who wanted you to know that he knew everything, and the oddly decorated philosophically wise lady who bought a boat without inspection only to find the engine dead, and a couple who had the odd habit of only having the wife speak to people until she had introduced the husband, where he would say the minimal amount and make sure you understood he didn't want to talk. And the yard guys and gals are a great mix. It's just a great cross section of Anglo Saxon humanity.
Bottom painted and boot stripe done. Ready for North! 

The bruising part was because of two particular projects I had to tackle this time. One was removing the engine to access the transmission. Doing this requires disconnecting all sorts of hoses, and wires, and bolts, and all of this means I am laying on my stomach, my side, my shoulders, and reaching down into the bilge area where the engine rests. Doing this for hours and hours means you get bruised and sore from literally hundreds of repetitions of laying in awkward positions and reaching and wrenching in hard spaces. Then do it all again when you put it back together.
It's disgraceful that Twin Disc uses cast iron on a marine transmission and doesn't paint it themselves, or at the very least, scream it to customers that you must paint it yourself before installing. 
It's a lot of work to get to this point, and don't screw up because money starts burning when you do!

I cleaned and painted the rusted cast iron parts on the Twin Disc, damn them. I hope to not have any more trouble with rust on the stupid thing. I took the opportunity to degrease my engine and clean various electrical connections.

My other reason for bruising was related to my replacing of the cockpit scuppers. The work in the cockpit is straightforward physically, but to attach the hoses you have to lay in the most remarkably awkward position imaginable. You are laying head down, upside down, and sideways, while reaching to your side. You keep your lower body hanging out, with a foot hooked on the wheel or braced somewhere, to leverage yourself. Repeat, repeat. When I got home last night I saw nice little bruises all along my thighs from doing this.

My other projects were not bruising and just laborious. I painted my boot stripe, which was looking shabby. I use Brightside down there and have been happy with the results.

Isn't that nice?
Besides bottom paint, I once again used lanocote prop treatment but this time applied it like the directions say of about a credit card thickness. I've had pretty good luck. But I must say, every other boat in the yard was using zinc spray from the hardware store. Cold galvanizing 93% zinc spray. I'd like to know how well that lasts, in particular, whether it lasts more than one year. If you know, tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Haul out starting off well

My trip from Friday Harbor to Port Townsend was as easy as it gets in summer. Every day before and since has been blowing 20-30, but on that Friday last I had no wind and flat seas. It's a six hour trip at five to six knots. And beautiful beyond belief. There were several moments when I was in the middle of the Straits when I just melted with appreciation for where I was. One way the Olympics, the other Mt. Baker, over there Whidbey, and yonder is Vancouver Island, and just to the back is Lopez, San Juan and the rest. When you are in the middle of the Straits, the view from there encompasses three national parks and stunning varieties of grandeur.
Smith Island with Olympics in the background. I weep at the stunning beauty of this spot in the Straits. 

I've managed to clean off my prop using the paper towel soaked in vinegar method to soften things up, and applied the first coat of bottom paint. I'm really pleased with both the paint and my last job of doing it as I had very few spots that needed scraping and no hard growth anywhere.
They always look so sad on the hard

On this haul I am also replacing my cockpit scuppers with proper units with the built in screen so I don't have to worry about crap plugging up my lines anymore. And I am pulling out the diesel tomorrow for cleaning and to do the work cleaning and painting the transmission as I've mentioned before. If time permits, I am also going to paint my boot stripe.

It's great to be among the eclectic characters in Port Townsend. It is such a mix of humanity, though they mostly all look slovenly.