Wednesday, June 17, 2020

An evening sail

An after work warm evening what the hell went out to sail escape! Oh how lovely. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Time for Haul Out

Was able to finally haul out at Port of Olympia after a pandemic delay and only had to do bottom paint and a prop clean. But this time I put a coat of red PCA Gold on first and then topped with blue, as I want to have a better sense of the rate it ablates. I fear it is accumulating a bit more than dissipating, and this will tell me. I also decided to try the Petit Zinc Prop Coat on the prop instead of more lanocote prop coat as I figure I can't do much worse. The lanocote lasts a bit less than a year, and then I am constantly fighting barnacles. I even had a full on OYSTER growing on the base of the prop at this haulout.
Such a stout and lovely vessel

Also used an aluminum instead of zinc 
Now if that isn't the wrong way to see a boat, I don't know what is! 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hope Island a new favorite!

Now that Aeolus is in the South Sound we are eager to find places to get away, and though we have no expectation to replace our San Juan and Gulf Island favorites, we need at least a few places worthy of trips. We found one in nearby Hope Island State Park just up Budd Inlet from Swantown.
Aeolito at low tide on the south side. 

The island, like all others like it, is entirely a State Park and therefore you have freedom to roam. The trail that goes around does not go along the water the way they do on Jones or others up north, but the forest is pretty second growth with a lot of trillium and sword fern. The beaches are all pretty marginal, and disappear at high tide, but at anything less than high tide you have plenty of space to lay around and play frisbee, as we did.

You can evidently anchor around the entire island, as depths are suitable. We have gone twice and anchored on the south side both times. The east side seems to be most popular, between Hope and Squaxin islands. On the south side you drop in about 30 feet of water at high tide and get good holding in sand, gravel and mud. The current pumps through here but with a modern anchor you won't move.
Maturing 2nd growth forest

The island is great to circumnavigate at low tide, with the north side having the mud for clams and moon snails, which we found!

It is already a South Sound favorite and a place we will return to for as long as Aeolus is down south here.
Moon Snails are huge! 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Repaired and improved cabin doors

As anyone with a Gulf 32 may know, the cabin doors leave a few things to be desired. For one, they are, in my opinion, rather ugly. The choice of a dark acrylic was maybe alright for the SoCal climate where they were made, but for those of us here in the less solar NW, the darkness is of no benefit and considerably diminished visibility from inside the boat out into the cockpit. The acrylic is held in place by being sandwiched into notches of wood that are part of the wooden frame. Not a bad design, but they leak readily if rain hits the doors. You could caulk it inside or out, but that looks bad if you aren't a magician with caulk. And the design of the wood looks like something out of an old western bar room. To my eye, it was always the most dated and out of place part of my boat.
Between the leaking, the look and a need to revarnish anyway, I decided to go ahead and upgrade my doors. I cut out the old acrylic, cutting right along the reinforcing rectangle of wood that faces the interior of the boat. With this cut out, I then drilled holes through the new, clear acrylic and the doors. I used 5/16" bolts. The acrylic is 3/8" thick. To keep water out, I laid a bead of silicone along the side of the acrylic that would be pressed up against the door. I overlapped the acrylic enough that water would not readily get in. I also rounded the edges of the acrylic with sandpaper.

After varnishing the doors with three good coats, I put it all together and they look great! No more leaks, no more dated looking doors. Unfortunately I had to have nuts on the back side of the bolts, which means when the doors are open, and you lean up against them, you definitely need a cushion between you and the door, but we did that anyway. 
View of the inside part of door, showing bolt and nut pattern

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Switched to Renewable Diesel!

For many years I have been running blends of biodiesel on Aeolus, for all the environmental, as well as mechanical, reasons. For a while it was available at the fuel dock in Friday Harbor but they didn't sell enough to keep it. Those big trawlers come in and get 500 gallons and they weren't getting biodiesel because they were concerned about their hoses and such. I've written on this blog before about biodiesel, and how it is better for our engines. When I run a high percentage of it, I love that the exhaust smells pleasant instead of nasty, and I know my engine is able to smoothly operate.

However, biodiesel has become hard to acquire here in Western Washington. The stations that sell it have dwindled and I've had to use numerous 5 gallon fuel cans to transport it to Aeolus.

Well, since we have moved to Olympia, WA I've joined the South Sound Sailing Society and attended a recent meeting. At this meeting the speaker was Peter Wilcox of the Inside Passage Decarbonization Project,  who did a wonderful job of giving us an overview of his organization and various ways we can aid in the effort to reduce our carbon footprint as boaters on the Salish Sea. Even for those of us sailors, we know the winds here, especially in summer, often mean hours of motoring, so fuel is a prime candidate for reducing carbon.

Among several good ideas, I got most excited about a new diesel that is not new, but new to me as a sailor here in the Salish Sea. The new fuel is renewable diesel and it is close cousin of biodiesel but with some significant differences. For one thing, renewable diesel is chemically interchangeable with fossil diesel! Every atom in renewable diesel is found in fossil diesel. It is just hydrocarbons. But it is made from the same feed stock as biodiesel, fats and oils and such. Unlike biodiesel, the process for renewable diesel injects hydrogen, creating the hydrocarbons, and unlike fossil diesel, it does not contain the impurities and sulphur and soot that fossil diesel does. Renewable has a much higher cetane number, which is like an octane rating for diesel. It burns more completely, and thus with more energy, than either fossil or biodiesel.
Clear, Odorless, Clean, Higher Cetane...Awesome!

But wait, it gets even better: The darn stuff is clear and odorless! That's right, it's as clear as a glass of water and doesn't smell. My wife is delighted at the thought of our boat not having the "diesel smell" anymore. So the bottom line for me, is that it is better for my diesel, is a direct replacement for fossil diesel, and is way better for the environment and the Salish Sea. It's a win in all directions. There are issues with the sourcing of fats and oils, and scaling this to national levels presents challenges, but small scale for now it is golden.

I'll add that it is being used widely in fleets of diesel trucks in CA where it is mandated by law. These big trucking companies have testimonials about how great it is in their engines, causing no problems with hoses or such.

The current challenge here in WA is that it cannot be purchased in WA! Bummer. But you can do like me and get a fuel card at Carson Fuels in PDX and get it there. I went down with six 5 gallon cans and got a load last week, and will be going back soon to finish filling my 70 gallon tank.

Sure would be great if more of us here in the Salish Sea would take the challenge issued by Peter and the Inside Passage Decarbonization Project and among other things, switch to renewable diesel.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Update on fuel tank cleaning and hatch installation

Back in 2016 I dug into my fuel tank to address the unknowns of tank sludge and address clogging filters. The massive 70 gallon tank on a Gulf 32 is aluminum and encased in a fiberglass shell to hold it in place. As I detailed in my post on 1/16 about the project, I had to cut access hatches into each of the three compartments because the tank comes with no access whatsoever. Also, that fiberglass shell held leaking diesel for many, many years as the bottom of the tank was Swiss cheese I discovered.
View of the hatch most forward, with the top plate and bolts removed. 

Fast forward three years and I needed to redo the bedding used on the hatch closest to the bow because the Permatex blue product I had used that claimed to be fuel resistant, wasn't. Also, I was never really satisfied by the security of that hatch as the tank aluminum is quite thin and though the holes were tapped and threaded, the aluminum is too thin and weak to hold the screws securely and keep them from turning. This resulted in screws that would not fasten as securely as I would like and a sealant that was disappointing.

For this round, I took everything off and was happy to see that the tank still looks pristine. Spotless. NO sign of anything, including water. I cleaned everything off with a scraper and acetone, and decided to use West System GFlex to epoxy the heads of the bolts into place permanently. I love GFlex for how versatile and resilient it is. Some of the screw holes were so loose that I had to use tape to hold them in place until the epoxy hardened.

Completed with bolts held firmly by Gflex epoxy and LeakLock sealant
I did this yesterday and when I came back today I found everything nicely cured and solid. Before installing the plate I applied an even coat of Leak Lock, which I have found to be the best cheapest sealant that is truly impervious to the diesel and biodiesel and such. This time, with the bolts nicely epoxied into place, I was able to tighten everything down nice and snug. Tight enough to push a small bead of the sealant out along the edges. For what it is worth, I used 1/4 stainless bolts with a lock washer and nut.

Delighted to have done this project and feel better about it being solid now.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Trip to Jarrell Cove from new home port in Olympia with South Sound Sailing Society

Since moving Aeolus down to her new home in Olympia we have been busy with life and work and not going out, which is a shame but understandable given the incredible and lengthy time aboard this past summer. On a recent trip to the Optometrist she told me about the South Sound Sailing Society and we joined them on a trip to Jarrell Cove this weekend as our first overnight get away from our new slip at Swantown. The club has both racing and cruising folks, and organizes a number of cruises over the course of the year.
Calm seas going and coming were welcome. This is in Case Inlet. 

We left Swantown after a lazy Saturday morning, and didn't depart until 10:30 or so. Would have left later but the current in Dana Passage was turning to flood around 12:30 and we didn't want to make the trip any longer than it already was. The wind was calm, and there was ground level fog and mist throughout the day. Flat grey world.

Aeolus, of course, is well suited to these conditions since I can steer from inside the warmth of the nicely heated cabin. The trip from Oly at 5-6 knots takes about 3 hours or so, depending on currents. You have to go around Harstene the long way since the State engineers built the bridge to Harstene with a clearance of only 31 feet!!! Don't know the laws really well but had assumed it was illegal to impede the navigation of waterways. Because of this obstruction, you have to go the long way around which adds no small amount of distance. I don't have an exact number but it is certainly an hour or so.

It felt so deeply good to be on Aeolus, watching the landscape slide by unchanging in the grey. We had quite a sighting of harbor seals and sea lions in Case Inlet. Nice to see the megafauna down south here. Must be plenty of fish for the sea lions to hang around. As always, we leave screens behind and passengers typically alternate between napping and reading while we are underway. Much needed.