Sunday, April 9, 2023

A stormy jaunt

 It is wisely said that the most dangerous thing on a a calendar. The truth being that if you can travel based on the forecast and not on the calendar you can avoid a very large percentage of troubles at sea. Being weekend warriors, more or less, until we retire, we still boat too much by the calendar. 

This weekend we got aboard Aeolus despite the SE 25-35 forecast and headed to Jones and the north cove. Leaving Friday Harbor around 1:30 pm was in the midst of the ebb, flowing against that SE wind, so the seas were quite choppy. About as choppy as they get in San Juan Channel. Winds were 35-40 at Smith Island. But once you turn out of Friday Harbor it's on your stern and we rolled our way easily north to Jones. Seas were maybe 3-4 feet at most. We went ashore and walked over to the south side to stretch our legs, and by the time we returned to Aeolus, the sun was trying to break through. We ended up having some nice time in the cockpit with the sun streaming nicely. 

This rock formation in the north cove is so spectacular. 

Instead of staying the night, like always, we actually headed back to Friday Harbor a few hours later since we were eager to see one of our sons back home, who had just returned from a backpacking trip, and the forecast was for more storms and rain Sunday morning again against the ebb. By leaving that evening, we had flood going with the ebb. 

What a difference those few hours made! Seas were practically calm, despite the wind remaining stiff. Never ceases to amaze the difference current has on wave behavior. 

An out and back. You might think this would be too short to be satisfying, yet it isn't. Just being out is such a washing clean of the civilized life. We got to see an old friend that night in Friday Harbor, a town so greatly reduced in options compared to a few years ago. 

Aeolus is in fine shape and we had a great little voyage. Anxious for our return to Desolation Sound this summer! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

President's Day weekend escape

 Forecast high winds kept us from hopping over to Victoria so we stayed close to home and our sheltered waters in San Juan Channel and returned to Jones. It was a lovely and benign weekend. Didn't get to the anchorage on the north side until darkness. It was about nautical twilight when we pulled in and it was a strange experience to anchor there without light. No problem. 

Just a sunset scene looking north from Jones

Sunday we enjoyed hiking all around, playing frisbee and climbing trees. Being feral. 

The Cubic Mini stove continues to delight us. It keeps the cabin 70-75F when it is 35-40 outside. Using highly compressed sawdust logs without wax is our approach. You can get them here in the Salish Sea from a local company. Incredible energy density. 

Where's Waldo?

East side

Played some cribbage, remembering how. Reading books. Sleep from 9-8. Boat time. 

Aeolus is in fine shape. Clean prop and bottom. Just changed the oil. Filled up with Renewable diesel I go down to PDX to acquire in 5 gallon buckets. She's in good shape and getting ready for a return to Desolation Sound this summer. Can't wait! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Lovely MLK adventures-Unbelievable Orca/Sea Lion experience

 Went out with the boys this weekend and first visited Stuart, going to the Prevost side to make for a quicker trip to Sucia the next day. All was easy and normal and stunning and breathtaking on the way there. Once there, we went out to the lighthouse. Before even reaching the lighthouse, Elliott exclaimed "Orcas!!!". We ran down, and what we witnessed next was the most incredible display I've ever seen in the Salish Sea in all my years. 

For over an hour, a pod of Biggs Orcas were keeping two and then six big male sea lions hemmed in close to shore. The Orcas were busily spyhopping, tail slapping, calling out in both a squeek and a groan, rolling over one another, and generally doing everything their bodies are capable of doing, while tracking the sea lions and not letting them escape. This went on forever, as we sat right above them watching the whole drama play out beneath us. 

There are no words...and this is but the smallest, poorest little video of the experience: 

The next day we went to Sucia and explored the lovely sandstone coastline and caves. Lovely in winter. A nightmare in summer. 

On Monday the forecast had changed from SE 10 knots to SE 20-30. Leaving Sucia going back anywhere exposes you to SE winds. We had a good SE 20-25 on Monday morning, but the fetch was limited enough that we saw no more than 2-3 foot waves. Then we got into the lee of Orcas and had a smooth trip back to FH. 

A lovely adventurous weekend, filled with all the good food, games and fun of playing in wild places. We will never forget the drama of the Orcas and sea lions on this trip. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Going and coming delightful, in between a bit rough

As any who frequent my blog know, we are frequent visitors to Jones Island and have been for over 15 years now. It's a go to spot anytime outside of summer, and is rather perfectly positioned and laid out to avoid the prevailing winds in either the south or north facing coves. For obvious reasons, the south cove is rarely used for more than a night in winter since our storms are predominately southern winds. However, the biggest winds and by far the most fetch lies to the N. Be ware any mariner who anchors in the north cove without a good eye to the forecast in winter. 

Is it just me? 

On this long weekend we went to Jones and had a delightful time as always. We had both our boys and Elliott's buddy James, who is like family too. Our journey there aboard Aeolus on Friday was smooth and calm, no rain, despite it having poured rain the entire drive up from Olympia. Classic island rain shadow. Forecasts were for winds building Saturday night to 25-35 SW to W.  So we went to the North Cove. On Friday afternoon we were greeted by a dramatic skyline and direct sunshine, rewarding our efforts to get to the islands. 

Just go
On Saturday it dawned cloudy and remained that way, with winds building through the day. Not a peep on the boat until 9:30am, a remarkable thing for students and employees who are normally up and at it far earlier. We had grand adventures on Jones, going cross country to new unseen places and discovering hidden spots off the trails. One of the many joys of Jones is that the entire island is State Park, allowing free wandering. And not too big so you really can't get lost or go wrong far, since any direction will take you to the trail that circles the island. 

Forecast called for strongest winds after midnight on Saturday night. Sure enough. We were asleep and dead to the world when I was awakened at 1:30 am by strong gusts hitting the boat. From where we were in the North Cove, we were fully protected from all SW and even W winds, with nothing more than eddies and wrap around gusts possible, no fetch. But what I woke to was a determined N to NW wind. Trouble! I got up and checked the latest wind speeds at nearby locations and forecasts. As is often the case when low pressure systems approach the Salish Sea, the winds in the Straights of Georgia will be N or NW, and in Puget Sound, S or SE. Hope you know why as I don't have time and energy to explain it here. But it's true. 

Warming a father's heart

So in this situation, we were getting the southernmost push of the Straights of Georgia NW winds for a while. Seas were building, and if it had continued, I was about to raise anchor and depart as that northern cove on Jones is a notorious lee shore in those winds. Nasty, nasty place to be when the Fraser River outflow is happening. 

Fortunately, and mysteriously, those strong NW winds just stopped. As the front moved through, the wind shifted back to W and then dissipated altogether. We didn't have to move, and got back to sleep. 

Our Mantus anchor never disappoints. Our still new Cubic Mini wood stove is such a delight. The cabin is 75 degrees and dry! We've been burning compressed sawdust logs that work well. Not the type with wax, duraflame, but the kind without wax you can buy at hardware stores made locally here in Western WA. 

Look closely and you'll see Elliott

Amy had us eating like kings with Thanksgiving leftovers (OH MY GOSH that stuffing and turkey!) and we played cards and read books all night long. Elliott swam back to Aeolus on Saturday, a full 90 meters by my estimation, in 42 degree air and water. That man has mental strength. Even after that long journey, he went further and just swarm around the boat and explored. So impressed by him.

Our trip back to Friday Harbor Sunday morning was glass calm and sunny. Just gorgeous. Going and coming were calm and sunny. In between, a storm.  

Aeolus, our space ship. We love you. 


Sunday, November 13, 2022

Thank you Veteran's-A grateful escape

Freedom, liberty, democracy, justice, all remain rare in the world, and though we have fought too many wars without good cause, and engaged in no end of foreign interference to the great suffering of many, we remain a nation of better potential and hope than most, and I'm grateful for the role veteran's past and present played in making the United States a possibility. Now, let's get to the work of perfecting our union so that this version of a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, does not perish from the Earth. 

With this in mind, we traveled the Salish Sea this weekend and had a perfectly normal incredible time. The skies were grey on Friday, but clear after that. Warm sun greeted us Saturday morning on Jones. There are no words to express our deep love for these trips. We feel so far away, so refreshed, so connected to each other and what is important. No distractions. A wild feeling. 
A Jones Island view

Jones. Stuart. 

We saw Orca's in San Juan Channel from Jones. We had all the usual seals and sea lions and surf scoters and kingfishers and terns and...lichens and moss and ferns...and cedars and firs and maples and yews. Aeolus is our space ship, and she is so stout.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Time for Haul Out

Now that Jensens Shipyard allows you to work on your own boat, I was able to haul out in Friday Harbor for my every two year time. I was lucky this weekend in October turned out to be sunny and nice, which is a real hazard of planning haul outs in the PNW outside of July and August. Yet in July and August you'd like to be using your boat! 

For this trip I did bottom paint, prop clean and treat, and the hull stripe. 

For bottom paint I learned that the PCA Gold Ablative I've been using for many years does not ablate that much in two years. Last haul out I got clever and painted one coat of red, and then topped it with a blue, so I could learn at the next haul out whether one or two coats was necessary. Turned out, all I could still see was blue paint in all areas except for around the prop and rudder in a few small spots. So this time, I only coated with one coat of paint to not accumulate unnecessary layers. I've found PCA Gold from West Marine, which is a rebranded Petit Paint, to never have hard growth and to do quite well. 

For the prop I was similarly impressed with my last treatment with Petit Zinc Prop Coat Spray. It lasted two years and had only a couple barnacles. For this time, I learned that they recommend top coating the zinc spray with HydroCoat Eco, a non-copper based antifouling paint. So I did that. The only color of HydroCoat Eco that comes in quart sizes was black, so I now have a black propeller. Odd, but I suppose I will spot barnacles more easily. It should work even better than just the Zinc Spray, and time will tell. 

Use aluminum anodes now since they last much better       

The biggest job was the hull stripe. It had been a good many years since I last painted it and it had grown dull and worn out. To do this, it takes many steps. Per Don Casey recommendations, I use two-part polyurethane for a more durable finish. You first have to wipe the whole thing well with a solvent, in my case with Interlux 202N. Then, you sand the whole area with 220. Then you wipe the whole thing again to remove the sanding residue. Then, you can tape! Well those steps alone took about 4 hours. 

It was getting late in the day and so I had to postpone painting until Sunday. Fortunately Aeolus only needed one coat of the paint, as I was painting blue on blue. There is an enormous amount of skill to using two part polyurethane, beyond knowing the roll and tip method. The right amount of thinner is key. I'm happy with the results on Aeolus and yet recognize it is only 90% of perfect. There are things I could have done to have it be nicer, but the time/benefit ratio was not good. We don't race or show Aeolus, and I've always cared way more about her mechanical integrity than her appearance. 

Good enough! 

A great weekend in the islands and lovely to be working at Jensen's again. The Port crew had a heck of a time hauling Aeolus out of the water, but they were careful and finally figured out what old timers know about hauling a full keel boat like Aeolus. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

New Spreader Boots and Boom topping lift

 It was time to replace my spreader boots and the old ones literally fell apart in my hands when I touched them. It's a bit of a pain to get the new ones on as they are just at my arms reach, even with the mast steps. 

Nice and new

Also replaced the boom topping lift out of an abundance of caution. The prior dyneema lift was almost 15 years old so I replaced it. Cheap and easy. New dyneema line and an excuse to go up the mast.