Saturday, December 3, 2016

A wintry day to check and clean

What better thing to do on a wintry day off than go to Friday Harbor and do boat maintenance?

All paths lead to Aeolus! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Aeolus back to Friday Harbor

As I mentioned on my last post, we have moved Aeolus back to Friday Harbor. This decision came about after being in Anacortes for a couple years and facing Rosario Strait in the winter. We are a year-round sailing family, with winter trips being some of our favorite times. Over the past couple of years we have had repeatedly rough conditions in Rosario Strait that have made getting to and from the San Juan Islands a seriously uncomfortable or forbidding affair.

The reality, for those who may not know, is that almost all of our storms come from the SE, and Rosario Strait is open to the full fetch of water from Port Townsend north. It is common for seas in Rosario Strait to be 3-5 feet. Whereas, in contrast, San Juan Channel is a far more protected stretch of water. In all our years of living and sailing in that channel, I can recall only a handful of days that would have kept us from venturing out.

Friday Harbor feels like home, and though we will once again face the tyranny of the San Juan ferry schedule, it is a trade off that allows us to venture whenever we want to where we want to go. Most of our trips take us to Jones or Stuart Island, or into Canada. All of this is closer from Friday Harbor, and much safer getting to and from. It feels good.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A no screens, no news winter weekend escape!

If there were ever a time to get away on Aeolus to remote islands that are millions of miles away it was this weekend. With the recent election and all the drama of doom, we knew it was the perfect time to do what Wendell Berry called entering the "peace of wild things".

We took a family friend and headed out for the three day weekend to favorite places. Departing Anacortes on Friday morning we had calm seas and no wind, so we motored our way all the way to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. No sooner had we arrived than we were walking the trails, enjoying the  smells, and going feral.

On Stuart, in winter, with whales in the distance. Happy Boys!
We all slept like the dead that night, even our teenage guest who normally stays up late was asleep by 9:30 with no screens to keep him awake and a day of activity to tire him out. Getting 9.5 hours of sleep a night is the recommendation I heard today from a school therapist, and we certainly get that and more when aboard Aeolus!

On Saturday we had a lazy morning while some rain swept by. We didn't leave the boat for our walk until around 11, hoping for the mid-day clearing that often happens. There was a wall of fog covering the peak when we headed out, and yet I was hopeful.

Sure enough, as we approached the summit, the fog was being filtered by light and we burst out onto the top in a gorgeous sky and direct sunlight. The skies had cleared just for us, or so we thought. We all commented that the mountain loves us and knew we were coming, so shed the blanket of fog for us to get the warmth and views we so desired.
You tell me, is she an angel? 

It was magnificent in every way.

And then we saw Orcas!

Yes, looking out toward Canada, we spotted a pod of Orcas spouting and jumping and without a single boat on the water to harass them.

The smells, the light, the physical experience of walking...talking under the winter skies.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Gulf 32 affair

Tomorrow I am heading to Aeolus to spend the day doing maintenance and repairs. In a couple weeks we will be aboard for the three day weekend into the islands, so this trip is timely to get some things done.

Sitting at home right now, I am filled with memories of voyages aboard her, and all the adventures my family has shared over the years. What precious reflections!

Amy and I have heard the Call.

The Call is when we know in our bones that it is high time we get aboard and let the boat carry us millions of miles away to a place of deep difference. We  have nothing really to escape from. Our wonderful lives are indeed wonderful. It is a recognition of profound and needed difference, nevertheless.

Doesn't matter where, when. Only that it was. And is. 

We don't have to be unhappy with one thing to need another. And I don't mean a shallow need that is the bane of all people. I mean that we are complex creatures, and that the reasonable life we live can still leave holes where we need filling.

We recognize that we need the intense family time, to pull us together in a non-digital, non-busy way. We recognize a need for wilderness and natural beauty, beyond that which surrounds us on lovely little domesticated Bainbridge Island. We recognize a need for an exposure to risk, to a purposeful life with actual hazards, to a life closer to the edge of real existence. All these things and more compel us to get aboard Aeolus and cast off.

How strange it is that a sailboat became the affair of my lifetime over 10 years ago. None could have ever guessed.

Tomorrow I will be doing several projects that may justify some posting here. Polishing the stone, polishing the stone.

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.