Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Aeolus North!

The hours tick as Aeolus awaits yet another journey north. Does she know? Can she tell that she is about to slice through the most beautiful waters in North America? Does she tremble with anticipation like I do?

This journey north will be a relief in coming. No matter the timing of any delivery trip, they always come at a needed time. Muir said to shed the routines of our lives and escape to wilderness to cleanse our souls. Amen.

Who will I see? What creatures will I travel near? What wandering thoughts will occupy my mind? Which version of my many selves will inhabit the dominance of my consciousness?

Together we will journey. A trusty vessel and a salty captain. In these days of turmoil, like all past days, the journey will release me to the star capped limitless everywhere.

What more do I need from a three day trip than a voyage through the Salish Sea?

Fellow sailors, wish me well. Not for my physical safety, which is assured, but for the journey between my ears, which is far more hazardous territory. And I am not troubled, beyond my angst of existence and nature abused. The hazardous journey is the challenge of being present enough in the moment to realize the perfection of all things.

The perfection of all things. When traveling the Salish Sea.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Haul out time! PCA Gold has lasted well.

On recent trips I've been appalled to see heavy slime on the hull of Aeolus. She is no racer, but I abhor the thought of extra drag on her efficiency. I looked closer and even saw barnacles on the part of the rudder that the prop wash hits. No Way!

I dove on the prop to scrape off the barnacles on the rudder and a few off the prop as well. Doing this in the Salish Sea means getting into 50 degree water and let me tell you, it's cold! I wear a farmer john wetsuit and a swimmers cap, and that is just enough. I'm too cheap to get a full suit and booties and all that for my occasional dives on the boat. I find the hardest part is the first minute. Once the arms and neck freeze, it's fine!

So it is time to haul out. I have been using West Marine PCA Gold for the past several paintings and have been happy with it. It has been two years since our last haul out and during that time we have done a 900 mile circumnavigation of Vancouver Island and a trip to Princess Louisa. Several thousand miles of water over the hull and it is just now wearing out.

I will also reapply the lanocote I have found effective on the prop. I get a long period of clean prop from lanocote in this way.

I'm also looking forward to hauling out in Port Townsend for the first time. I used to always haul at Jensens in Friday Harbor. A great local shop that I loved supporting, and had advantages. For one, and most importantly, you could work on your own boat!

Port Townsend also allows you to work on your own boat, and for us DIY sailors this is essential. All the yards in Anacortes make you pay them to do your paint or anything, and that is both expensive and absurd. So long as tarps are used there is no reason a professional is any safer for the environment than a DIY. And I know I do a better job as it pained me last time to watch someone else apply my paint.

So hauling will give me an excuse to traverse the eastern Straits again, which is always guaranteed to provide surprises and beauty. I'm not planning to do any major work or surgery, but you never know do you?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tumbo Island never disappoints!

For Memorial Day my family took off for Tumbo as we have the past several years. This was our first voyage from Anacortes. It turned out to be a bit longer, but also more scenic, compared to the trip from Friday Harbor. It was right about 30 miles to Tumbo on a straight line.

Like a space ship approaching a distant world
It was ebbing on Saturday as we began our journey north. I am still learning the peculiarities of the currents there on the eastern side of the San Juans. You more or less avoid the main channels and try to catch eddies wherever possible. We made our way north and enjoyed the immense beauty of Lummi Island and Cypress. What grand places.

There is something magical about Boundary Pass that goes beyond the international boundary. In fact, the only reason it is the international boundary is because it is so special! As a large gap between otherwise thickly packed islands, it is both a major water drainage and transportation corridor. Whenever we cross it we know we will be accompanied by harbor porpoises and seals. We have seen Dalls porpoises as well, but not in years.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Troubles with raw water strainer

Your raw water strainer is an essential and easily ignore part of your engine systems. I don't think I've ever done a post on it over all these years because there is really nothing to say. Unless you break it, like I did! Of course you have to drain and clean them once in a while, and many a boater has encountered engine problems due to a blocked strainer that deprived their cooling system of water. But aside from that, there are no moving parts, and should not be any trouble.

Unless, like me, you manage to snap the little plastic drain plug off in the hole. Yes. I had removed the plug to drain the water, and when tightening the little bugger back in the handle snapped off from the shaft, leaving the threaded shaft in the hole. Damn it. Luckily it allowed only a small dribble of a leak so we were able to continue our trip last time out. I put some tape over it and it wasn't a problem.

New plug ready to install
But nothing bugs me more than knowing I have a leak or problem like this. I can't let it go in my mind, nor should I! So I ordered the new plug from Groco, which looks like an improved and stronger design, and when we went back this time I installed it.

However, as many of you know, it is not easy to get a screw out of something if it has no head. I went ahead and drilled a small hole through the center of the plastic in order to give me something to purchase. I did not have an easy out on the boat, or I would have used it. Instead, I took a small flat screwdriver and managed to get enough purchase to reverse the broken piece back out of the hole. Really, the only thing that allowed this to work is that it is a plastic screw in a plastic hole. If it had been metal or corroded metal, I would have had to get an easy out.

Put it all back together with new Orings and she should be good for another 10 years. One note, the screws that bolt the plastic tank to the bronze top on mine were rusted. I cleaned them off and coated them with ACF 50 this time and wish I had done that before. They were a little tough to remove.

Clark Island a new favorite

As we explore our new local waters around Anacortes we are delighted to come across new favorite places. Cypress Island is quite magnificent, and I've chosen not to write much about it as it remains the wildest of the islands. This time we decided to explore yet another new place I had passed by with the boys on our Sucia a few weeks ago.

Clark Island beach on east side
I had never even heard of Clark Island, which lies just east of Orcas. It is clearly a local haunt for people from Bellingham or Lummi. We fought the ebb for a long way getting there on Saturday and enjoyed the lovely views along the way. The east side of Guemes is quite beautiful, and of course Vendovi and Lummi are rugged gems. Eventually, you end up at Clark Island. With neutral current it is about a 3 hour trip.

There is a bight on the east side that has mooring balls and a few places to anchor. We dropped anchor in about 40' of water and enjoyed a fantastic few days of exploring this great place. The beach on the east side was filled with people camping who had kayaked over from Lummi or in one case, rowed a giant skin frame canoe over as one large group. This group was young, with kids, and has been doing this trip for 14 years on this weekend, I'm told. The skin frame vessel fits 15 or so people, and is apparently quite stout.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sucia weekend with my boys

My wife was going to be busy on Saturday with a workshop, and it had been too long since I had taken Aeolus out for an adventure, so I grabbed the boys and took off for a weekend of fun. Since I work in Seattle, it works well to have the boys get on the ferry from Bainbridge and for me to pick them up on the other side on a Friday night. That is just what we did.

I still hadn't decided where we were going to go, and the forecast was for warm sunny weather. So when we woke up on Saturday morning I took a poll of my conscience preferences and decided on Sucia. Sucia is such a zoo during nice weather that it was a bit risky to go there, but I was in the mood for a long trip, to go far, to see new things, and yet didn't have time to get to Tumbo.

So we struck out for Sucia. It was a motoring trip all the way there. We were going against a strong ebb so I took back channels and found eddies. We probably averaged a SOG of 4.5-5, which was not bad given the current. And it is such a gorgeous trip.

For people who have lived and traveled so much in the Western San Juans, it is quite novel to explore the Easter areas. Cypress is stunning, and Vendovi is a little gem. Lummi is staggering in the south, and then Orcas looms. It is certainly far more rugged, and even prettier, than the haunts around Shaw and San Juan. And Mt. Baker towers over so closely, you feel like you can touch the glaciers.
Lummi Island while heading toward Sucia

We went into Fossil Bay and had a fantastic evening. It is 21 miles to Sucia from Anacortes, and it took us about 5 hours or so. Once we had grabbed a ball, we took the walk over to Echo Bay and enjoyed some fantastic time sunning on the beach and playing around.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cypress Island trip in February was wonderful

Back in February we took our first trip to Cypress Island. It is wonderfully close to Anacortes. And unlike every other place we have gone, I have chosen not to describe this island and it's many wonderful attributes. It is a fairly wild place. Large and rugged. One can experience some wilderness there, despite it having all been logged before. So my only reason for posting this here is to say that Cypress Island is well worth your exploration!