Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 214 Part two

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We just got back from a walk on Jones Island. We finally launched the dingy late this morning. I crawled down into the sail locker and got the seat that goes on it and over the side it went. We tried to use the crane that Bill(previous owner) had installed on the rigging and while it helped, it sure put a strain on the rigging. I'm not sure how well it would handle an adult that had fallen overboard. That was the original idea for the crane. It would be nearly impossible to get someone back on board that was in bad shape without it, but I digress.

We rowed ashore as I didn't want to install the outboard motor. No need for that kind of power, plus we expect to be moving on tomorrow. I rowed in and Tracy rowed back. She has never rowed a boat! Having Wayne for a father--incredible outdoors man, I just don't see how that could be possible. I learned at Summer Camp--ah Camp Lakewood. The stories my brother could tell. I was quite shy back then--go figure. We decided to spend a second night here since the fog and intense dew was still doing its job on us. Just as we got ashore, it started to rain again. Luckily, we had put on foul weather coats so we were nice and dry. A lovely walk from the North cove to the South cove. Didn't see another person. Now upon our return, we were greeted by two other boats that had come into our private cove. How rude!! :^) I can't imagine how busy this place must be in the Summer. It's lovely with picnic tables and camp sights. We read signs posted at the dock that you can only stay three days during the Summer.

We had planned on moving on to Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island but will stay here for a second night since the strait is still shrouded in fog. We could fire up the radar and zip right across but what the heck, there is no real hurry. A day or two at Prevost, maybe one at Reid Harbor--just South of Prevost then down to Fishermans Bay on Lopez Island and back to Point Hudson for repairs and redos.

Sure hope we get internet soon. My Verizon phone could barely get a connection on the South side of the island. While we have a way to communicate with the outside world--vhf radio, a day without the internet is like a day without sunshine. :^)

Day 214 Rain, Fog and more of the same.

We're at Jones Island, just West of Orcas Island. A whole 1.5 miles West of Deer Harbor. We left on Friday morning as we were trying to get out before as a blow from the South was expected and since we were exposed to the South, we felt it better to get going as the harbor we were headed to is open only on the Northeast side. A well protected harbor. There was no reason to stay any longer, especially at $37.50 a night. We were there to make it easier to cook Thanksgiving dinner(use the microwave oven) and get the batteries fully recharged since we had the problem with the alternator since leaving Point Hudson. With the batteries fully charged, we should be able to keep them charged with the engine and the DuoGen--at least we hope so.

We still have no internet nor cell phone so I am still using a program called Mars Edit to write this so it can be posted once we get service. All I have to do is get somewhere where they have service and it will post it for me. We're still fine and dandy--though a bit dew logged as it doesn't seem to rain but it sure has intense dew.

I figured out the problem with the Panasonic Toughbook. I had turned off the wireless connector that is built into the computer. It suddenly dawned on me yesterday as I sat at the computer what was wrong. I turned it back on and up came the Toughbook. Problem solved!! I'm slowly learning the tech side of life. I pretty much know what not to touch so I don't get in trouble. When I do, the tough part is remembering how to get myself back to where I was.

The engine has been giving us a bit of a problem starting over the past few days. It was not wanting to start up unless the key was turned a few times. This morning, I had Tracy sit at the controls on deck as I turned the key while I had the engine doors open. There appeared to be a small spark coming from around the starter on the engine. I inspected the wires and found one of the wires to it was loose. I tightened it up and the engine started right up. We were afraid that if the problem continued, we would have to head back to Point Hudson this morning.

With no real set schedule, we pretty much take each day as it comes and decide by what the weather is going to be as to where we will go. With there being drizzle and fog in the straits outside our anchorage, we may sit still for another day. If it clears up, we will take off for Prevost Bay on Stuart Island. They have another state park there with a nice dock we can tie up to. We really want to get our monies worth out of the state parks pass we bought.

Tracy made Turkey Curry for dinner last night. She knows my tastes so well. It really hit the spot. I stocked up on at least 6 different types of curry before we set foot on Zephyr. Only cooking half a turkey has been perfect. Some leftovers but not enough to feel you're choking on turkey. There's enough for another sandwich or two. We can cook the other half in a week or so.

I finished a book yesterday called "Cross Bones" by Kathy Reiches. A tough read as I just couldn't get into the characters. She's the author the tv show call "Bones" is based on. Can't say I'd recommend it.

Tracy is sitting across from me stitching by flashlight. She's working on "Sail Away" by Shepherd's Bush. She's only stitching the center part of the chart--and doing it over one so it will fit on Zephyr. The little landscape part that has a house on a hill with a sailboat on the ocean and a lighthouse. She never met a chart design she didn't want to change--and did. She's getting into this nautical thing. She thinks of Karen Page every time she comes up clean and goes down dirty--or at least that is what she told me.

Stay dry out there.

More to come.

Day 211 Now in Deer Bay

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We made it to Deer Harbor Marina in short order this morning. We had to judge our departure by several factors. First--currents through the channels. Some times they can get very powerful. Second--the ferries that run up and down the channels. They go a lot faster than us and should really be avoided at all costs.

The first was easy. I checked my computer program so we knew when it was safe to go. The second--the ferries was a visual thing as we had no idea what their schedule was. The computer said the currents would be no problem any time during the late morning to early afternoon. The ferries on the other hand were at both stops that were on our route when we were ready to go. The first was at Blind Bay terminal right across from us. The second was right across the channel at another terminal. Add to that a tug boat was making its way down the channel pulling a load of logs behind it. We hustled ourselves out while the ferries were at their terminals and took off. Got past both. The tug on the other hand had slowed down to avoid the same ferries. We jogged around him and headed out the channel. The ferry that had been stopped right across the channel got under way and took off after us. He's doing 14 knots to our 6.5. Guess who wins that race? He caught up to us before we got to the next channel. Tracy pulled a 180 on the wheel and we waited him out. After he zipped past, we got in line right behind him and let him go on his merry way. He was quickly out of sight as he rounded the next island. We rounded Crane Island and slipped right into Deer Harbor. With the marina at the North end, it was an easy trip. I radioed them and they sent a man down to help us get tied up. I'll never turn down free help. As we have no internet at this marina. I'm using a different program to write this. If it works right, there will be a photo of a float plane that followed us up the bay to the marina. I have to admit, I've been followed into many marinas before, but never by a plane. It's a tad intimidating to have him right on your stern. We were all tied up and set by 12:30.

Now there was no rush to get here, but Tracy had some things she wanted to get baked and made for tomorrows Thanksgiving dinner so we beat an early exit to Blind Bay so she would have plenty of time. She's been baking and cooking all afternoon.

I've been tinkering with a new toy we bought earlier this year that is a separate computer screen that networks with the Acer computer we use below decks. The new toy will show us everything that the computer shows below deck. This new one is a Panasonic Toughbook. Made to take a lot more weather than a normal computer would. I'd gotten it all set up while we were in Colorado but I'd added some network devices since we left and now it won't connect and complete the network that is required.

Where last night we had some of the best internet and cell phone connections we'd had since getting to Washington state, here in Deer Harbor, my cell phone is pretty much dead and the internet connection device we have won't connect at all. That's why I'm using this new program. A distance of 5 miles and we went from great to dead. Go figure. I'll probably subscribe to one of the local internet services that services the island since Verizon doesn't.

As I said in last nights post, I checked the anchor light from the dock. It's dead all right. I checked the connections on the back with my ohm meter and it's getting power so heaven only knows where the problem lies but that is Sea Marines problem. They can track it and replace it. They installed it(twice). The problem for us is where to stay since we don't have an anchor light to show people we are at anchor. I found an old kerosene anchor light that we may have to hoist up into the rigging to make do.

When we pulled in here, one of the other sailors came out to welcome us. Jeff has been all over the world in the last 6 years. He bought his boat in Houston from a couple in their 80's that had been sailing her for over twenty years and finally figured it was time to stop. He's been across the Atlantic to England, Ireland, Scotland then to Spain and Portugal. Over to the Canary Islands and back across the ocean to Trinidad. Finally ending up in the Yucatan, he had his boat trucked to Washington state and has been here for three months. Hearing our problem with the oil pressure switch, he offered to take me to the local marine store to see if they had it in stock. Off we went. No such luck, but I did get a toggle switch that I can turn on and off when we are motoring so the current will flow to the batteries past the oil pressure switch. With the switch "jumped" the pressure gauge on deck showed a pressure of 30lbs instead of the 13 it had read earlier in the trip.

We figure to be here till Friday, maybe Saturday. Not sure yet where to go from there. We'll be checking the charts and books we have purchased about all the islands around us. The weather is supposed to be nice so we will see.

Day 212 Happy Thanksgiving!!

Half a turkey sure beat none. We had ours cut in half at Safeway so that we didn't have to try and get through a 16 pound turkey in back to back to back meals. The second half is down in the base of the refrigerator/freezer still pretty much hard as a rock.

As I said in yesterdays post that is delayed in getting posted since we have no internet here at the Deer Bay Marina, Tracy did a lot of the baking on Wednesday. Today was the turkey, mashed potatoes, and the rest of the great stuff. Dinner was set by 5:00 and it went down real easy.

Earlier in the day, we took a walk around the area to see what was nearby. Not a lot. Lots of houses and a nearby boatwork yard. There is another marina up at the end of the bay and that's about it. A nice quiet rural area. I will say that the drivers on this island don't drive slow. They hit the road running and just keep at it only slowing down on the curves--if then.

While this is a nice marina and a lot cheaper than Point Hudson, with no phone nor internet service, we will continue to search for some place to call home over the Winter. Being at anchor is great but there are times that we will need to come into a port for provisions.

I have classes in diesel engines at Port Hadlock from December 8 through the 11 so we will be either anchored there or in Point Hudson. Then there is a class in our specific engine over in Seattle on December 20 and I'm not about to miss it as by then I will know what questions to ask that specifically concern my engine. Until then we take each day one at a time.

Tomorrow, we take off for Jones Island just West of here for a day or two. Then who knows where. We simply need to find a state park that we can use so we get our money back of the cost of the permit we bought in late October. At $150.00 for the permit and each night at a buoy costs $10.00 per night if you don't have the permit. We've stayed two nights so far. If we find a park with a dock we can pull into, it is more so that is the plan. Find a park with a dock.

We ran into two men as we returned from our walk. They clued us into what to do and where to go in the islands and up in Canada. We plan on trying some of them out over the next few months. It was great talking to two men who really knew the area.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 210 A lazy day.

If you click on the picture, it gets bigger--who knew?  This is a picture of Mt. Baker.

It was a lazy day on board Zephyr. Cleaning, reading and of course the occasional shower of rain. The Sun came out to play and dried everything out by early in the afternoon

Seagulls came to visit so Tracy brought up some bread that had hardened so much that there was no way we were going to be able to eat it. She soaked it in some water after cutting it apart so the gulls would stand a chance. Word spread quickly around the harbor that there was a free lunch being offered and gulls came from far and wide. We started with two youngsters and had over a dozen by the time we ran out. They squawked and bellowed for more. I tend to think they have been well trained over the Summers to expect handouts from boaters as they went to the boat that had anyone on deck. I went out several times and every time I did over they came bellowing for more, more, more!!!

I programed in the course for Deer Harbor Marina into the Garmin chart plotter/GPS. A whole 5 miles away. Winds are expected to be light--maybe 5-10mph if we are lucky. We will try and sail if possible as I would like to use the DuoGen in the water mode again to see what it could put out in amps for the batteries. We ran the engine several times yesterday to keep the batteries up to charge as there was very little wind. With the "jumper cable" attached to the oil switch, she pumped out lots of amps.

We stood on deck last night and watched the stars again. We think our anchor light has given up the ghost again. There didn't appear to be any light anywhere around the instruments at the top of the mast. It's on a photo cell so that it will come on automatically when the Sun goes down. We'll check it again tonight as we will be in the Deer Harbor Marina for the next few days. We can get off and look at the top to see if it's on. Sea Marine has already changed it out once since the strobe function didn't work. They may be up there again. We are going to check the wires down here just to make sure we didn't knock anything loose while stowing provisions if we find it out tonight.

Two other boats have come into the anchorage. One large power boats about 35 feet long and another sailboat that has taken off all their sails for the Winter. Both set anchors instead of using a buoy like we did. Guess they don't have a season pass to the state park.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 209 Buoyed in Blind Bay.


Tracy's two cents:

When you get past 50 years old, you start forgetting things.  This becomes quite an issue when you are in the islands, moored to a tire, behind a bitty island.  There isn't a grocery store or for that matter a 7-11 on the nearest shore.

Lunchtime yesterday we attach to a buoy at Spencer Spit, a sand bar cutting through the water between Lopez Island and a small blob of an island.  It was lunchtime, so I figure we'll stop and relax and have Grinders.  These are sandwiches that Bill used to make at a small shop while in college.  They consist of French rolls, thin sliced ham, provolone, sliced tomato, sprinkled with ground oregano, salt and pepper, then chopped lettuce with a mix of olive oil topped with the hollowed out top part of the roll.  So far so good...I had provisioned the ham and tomato, but forgot the nice soft french rolls, the cheese and the iceburg lettuce.  I did have one small baguette I purchased at Safeway and shredded Mexican cheese, so substitutions started into the mix.  

I never thought that bread would EVER dry out in 80% humidity, but it does!  It was like hard tack.  I was hoping a little extra oil would make it somewhat softer...it really doesn't.  So I served up these tiny bit of REALLY dry bread with the fixings and said, "Eat this at your own teeths risk."  They tasted okay, but water helped them slide down.  There was even one bite that cracked the bread and I wondered if it was the bread or a tooth.  Thank Goodness it was the bread.  I must admit, Bill ate and never once complained about it...I guess this passagemaking thing might actually work!  I'm sure that in the middle of the ocean, some ingredient will have been forgotten and something else will have to be inserted.  Life is good.

The transit went well, very flat water, lots of ferries going to distant cities.  It reminds me of the bus system in Port Townsend.

I think today, which is cloudy and rainy, we might if the mood strikes us, put the dingy overboard and go onto land.

Now it's back to the important stuff(yeah right)--it's Bill turn to blog!

Yesterday was a lovely day.  Tracy was at the helm as I checked and rechecked systems and installed more things on Zephyr.  For those of you with Google Earth, we are at 48 35.168N  122 56.325 W.  That's Blind Bay on the North side of Shaw Island.

As we motored, I kept checking the battery monitor as that is the life blood of keeping a boat like Zephyr running.  Without them we are pretty much dead in the water especially if there is no wind.  The monitor never got above 12.4 volts the entire time we were motoring.  Now I'm not the smartest guy when it comes to electricity and batteries but I know that a 12 volt battery holds more than 12 volts--check your car battery some time.  With the engine running, it should have read much closer to 13.5 volts as its alternators made power for the batteries and loaded the amps into the batteries.  It just wasn't happening.  Once we pulled into Blind Bay, I pulled a Captain Kirk calling Scottie--Jack the electrician at Sea Marine--to let him know the dilithium crystals weren't making energy.  We still had engines(sorry no warp power) but our life support system was failing fast.   So as not too get to technical, he had me check a few thing and add a few wires and it turns out that the alternator for the house batteries wasn't turning it self on.  It was spinning just fine with the fan belt but there was no power coming from it.  It turns out that the oil pressure switch had malfunctioned and since it wasn't working, it stopped the alternators from working.  If anyone out there can explain what the oil pressure switch has to do with the alternators making power, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.  
With the wire jumping the switch, we started making power and life support was restored.

I'd never tied up to any buoys since we started boating.  Even when we chartered in the British Virgin Islands several years ago, I was always at the wheel while Tracy and Matt hooked us up.  As we approached my first buoy when we stopped for lunch, I wasn't sure how I was supposed to get attached to this big ring about 5 feet below our deck.  I took one of our boat hooks and grabbed hold of it--making sure I didn't get pulled overboard.  Low and behold, the ring is attached to a chain that pulls right up the center of the buoy--actually a tire.  I tied it on and we were all set.  For the buoy here in Blind Bay, I used a metal fastener run through an "eye" splice for the connection instead of a simple knot as I had earlier.  We're not going anywhere.

We settled back and watched one of our first beautiful sunsets--at anchor--since we left Point Hudson. 

Strangely, the internet/cell phone connection up here is better than what we can get at Hudson Point.  We decided to download the "Amazing Race" since we had missed last Sundays show.  It's was only 43 minutes long.  We set up the connection and let her rip.  While our connection was great, the download speed of this Verizon Wireless connector really SUCKS!!!  We were still downloading the show 5 hours later.  We'd have to wait five minutes to get 30 seconds of show--if that.  It was one of the most painful experiences of watching a show we could ever remember.  We finally set back and read books for a few minutes and then watched.  Washed the dishes and then watched.  It went on like this for hours.  While it was great to see the show, we won't be doing that again.  I sent a post to Verizon to ask if there was any way to get a speedier connection.  Perhaps this is the boating Gods way of telling us to sit back and relax and stop watching the boob tube.  

More to come.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 208 Back in Hunter Bay

I think it's day 208 but I using another program to write this and then will post it when we have internet access. The connection is a bit spotty out here in the islands.

The early morning was a bit of a rush to get things done so we could get out of Point Hudson. More things to stow and the water tanks still needed filling. Boy they sure take a lot of water. We were down to only about 6" in the tanks so they really needed water for this trip.

We were finally ready and set off about 11:15. The wind was non-existent. Just about as flat a channel as I'd seen in a while. With all the winds we had had over Thursday, Friday and Saturday(30+ knots) while it was nice to have it calm, at least Mother Nature could have done was give us some wind to make Zephyr go.

We just left the motor run and off we went. No real wind until about 2pm. Up went the sails and the engine was shut down. We sailed for about an hour until the wind shifted to come out of the Northeast and since that was the way we needed to go, down came the sails and on came the engine. Now the forecast had been for winds from the Southeast so the weather people were close. They at least got the "east" part right.

We were all snugged in by 4:15.

I'd installed the "water" propeller on the new DuoGen and lowered it into the water while we sailed. It took off spinning like crazy. The energy monitor showed lots of amps getting pumped into the batteries. We ran over a small field of kelp as we sailed and it left a few strands on the DuoGens propeller but no harm. Once we were ready to start the engine, up came the DuoGen and it got stowed. Once in the bay, I hooked on the wind blades and let her go. NO WIND! It became so calm that after dinner while checking the deck, I could see the reflection of the stars in the water. Now that is calm!!

The stars last night were incredible. We both just stood out on deck and stared. It was an amazing sight to behold.

Today, we are off to Blind Bay to hook up to one of the state parks buoys. We bought a pass and feel we should try and get our monies worth. Blind Bay is on the North side of Shaw Island. A well protected bay except from North winds. We expect spend a day or two there. Not sure where after that. Time will tell.

Tracy's two cents:

Hi all, Bill is really great about telling you what we have been doing, so I thought I would tell you about what we are seeing and at times about the history of where we are cruising plus whatever is on my mind at the time

The Straits of Juan de Fuca is really wide and very deep. It is the main artery for shipping into the Pacific Northwest. We dodge container ships, barges being pulled by big tugboats, cruise ships and fishing vessels of all shapes and sizes.

From Port Townsend out we head north along the west side of Whidbey Island. There are houses lined all the way along the cliffs on the island. There is a lot of farm land on Whidbey as well as a Navel Air Station on the north end, so we get to hear and see our tax dollars being spent as the fighter jets practice over Rosario Strait on our way up to Lopez Island.

Yesterdays cruise/sail was calm and relaxing. I got a chance to just stare out and observe our surroundings. WOW, what unbelievable colors the sky can be here. At the waterline it is almost turquoise then it slowly turns to a baby blue then into a beautiful Cyrillic blue, dark and beautiful with water the same color.

We turn from the Rosario Straits to port into a very small cut between Lopez Island and a tiny privately own island that is for sale. The current on an outgoing tide produces small eddies that make the transit less than comfortable, but once inside the water calms down and we are almost immediately in Hunter Bay, where we anchored for the night. I really have fallen in love with this bay. It has been deserted both times we have been here. The bay is surrounded with forested land all the way down to the water. The water is twenty feet deep and easy to anchor into a muddy bottom with great holding. It is perfect with a velvety black sky and more stars than I have every seen in my life. That coupled with a perfectly BBQ steak paired with a great bottle of Merlot. Now that is living the dream!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 207 Trying to get out again.

We spent yesterday battening down the hatches so to speak in an effort to try and make us ready to take off again today.
  
The day started with another trip back to Silverdale as one of the items we bought was found to be broken upon unboxing it.  That shot 2+ hours.

Upon our return, we fired up the engine and took off for Port Townsends fuel dock for a fill up.  We hadn't filled up since we got here back in lat July and boy am I glad.  The cost was a whole lot less than when we got here.  We took 126 gallons at $2.91 plus sales tax.  While not cheap, it is better than the $5.00 they were charging back then.  We pumped out the heads tanks and motored back the 1.1 miles to Point Hudson.

Off to Safeway(what a mad house) for more provisions as we hope to be out for a week this time.  We bought a Turkey for Thanksgiving and had them cut it in half.  The oven could not hold an entire turkey and there is no way the two of us could eat it.  So half will get cooked and the other will get put way down in the refrigerator/freezer where it gets the coldest for a later date.  I shrink bagged the steaks we had bought earlier as well as the second half of the turkey while Tracy pulled everything out of the refrigerator. With it being a top loader, there is no easy way to get to the bottom of it other than to pull everything out and repack it.  

I hauled out trash and a few things that will get stored in the car while we are gone and put everything back under the stern bunk down in the bilge that we had yanked out for the DuoGen installation and cleaned up and fastened down as well as charged up all the battery driven gear that we use on passage.  Everything from  radios to computers to drills, they needed to be checked and charged.

Today, we will be filling the water tanks as we ran out of time yesterday, finish the battening down and take off.  With luck, we will be out by 10am.  Back to Hunter Bay for a night and then on to other islands and coves to see what is out there.  The weather is supposed to be nice though light winds so we will see how much sailing versus motoring we will be doing.

But first, off to the showers.  We need to start out clean at least.

More to come. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day 206 A quick one

Just a quick post as yesterday was fast and furious.  We took off for Silverdale down the coast for some intense shopping in the "big"city.

As we pulled into the shopping center, we saw a "mobile" glass repair tent.  I'd gotten a crack in the windshield as I drove North last month coming up from Newport.  I pulled in and got it fixed.  Since we have complete coverage on the car, out insurance company paid for it.  A nice surprise.

Then into the mall and shop.  We'd made a list and sort of stuck to it.  Store after store after store.  One of the most important things we went looking for was long underwear.  It does get cold up here especially when out sailing.  It took several store before we found pairs for both of us.   The rest of the shopping was for other stuff that we had wither run out of or felt we needed to make life on board a bit more comfortable.  Of course Costco was a must while there.  You just can't go to the big city without hitting Costco.  We actually got gas at $1.89!!  Now for you in Denver, that may be the norm but for us, we are still paying $2.09 and that just got reduced a day ago from $2.29.

We got a call while there from West Marine that things we'd special ordered in had arrived so we stopped in on the way through Port Townsend and picked them up.

It was windy in Port Townsend the entire time we were in Silverdale so the wind generator got a good workout.  We'd left it on while gone and let her rip.  The batteries were fully charged when we returned.

And that was the way the day went.  As I said--fast and furious.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 205 Jack approved!!

Our new DuoGen is now Jack approved!!  

Jack, the electrician, came down to Zephyr first thing yesterday to see how our new wind generator worked.  Since we'd fired it up the previous night and had shut if off due to some questions we'd had, I had to start her up.  We were having winds over 30 knots and she took off.  Pumping out amps like there was no tomorrow.  We switched off the shore power and put a big load on the batteries to drain some of its reserve power off so we could see how much the DuoGen could make and that so that we could measure its output.  It worked like a charm!!!   Now we can stay out much longer and quieter not having to fire up the engine nor the Honda generator anywhere near as much.  The DuoGen may not make all the power we need(unless it is blowing like mad) but it will keep most of the systems near full capacity.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning up and putting away things that had been used for the installation plus left over wire and connectors that needed to be stored.  I'd made quite a mess of several areas of the boat.  We still need to go through the boxes we hauled out of the stern bilge so that I could get down there for my work on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Zephyr was pretty much a mess.   I still need to organize lots of what I have here but I'm getting better.

We took a trip to Safeway for more provisions and are planning a trip to Silverdale-about 60 miles down the coast to do some more intense shopping.  We both need new shoes and some other things that just aren't available locally.

The weather over the next day or so is set to be very windy with a "possibility" of rain.  The weekend is supposed to be better so we will see if we can get out by Sunday.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 204 We've got power!!

After another day of "boat yoga", we have power!!!  We threaded the wire from Zephyrs stern past the drive shaft.  Then past the engine and up to the cabinet that holds the water pumps where we split the two stand wire into two single strands of wire.  One went to the port side to be attached to the negative posts of the battery and one to the starboard side to be connected to the positive terminal of that bank of batteries.

I installed the two fuses for the system and made the final connection of the "diversion load" gizmo(bleeds of excess power once the batteries are charged) to the negative terminal on the starter for the engine and we were done!!!

We'd started about 10:30 and were done by 4:30 this afternoon.  But hey--guess what--NO WIND!!! It was dead clam.  Not 
even a ripple on the water.  There was nothing to make the generator go around.  

Here we were, all done and there was no way to find out if it actually worked.  The wind finally started up just after 9:30 tonight.  It works just fine though we can't seem to figure out how many amps it is actually putting out.  The voltage on the batteries goes up nicely so we know it is putting out power, we just don't know how much.  I'll be talking to Jack, the electrician tomorrow since he set up the diagram as to how to install the system.  We figure with all the time involved in installing the DuoGen, close to 40 hours, we saved ourselves almost $3,000 by doing it ourselves and that figure may be conservative.  We still don't understand how the Brits claim that it can be installed in 4 hours.

Here's an example of "boat yoga".  I'm down in the bilge area under the berth in the stern cabin.  The boards that support the mattress have been removed as well as everything we had stored down in this area.  We had almost 40 feet of wire that needed to be strung through the boat.  Holes had to be drilled and clasps installed that would support the wires through all the different compartments it had to pass through.   The actual distance that it had to transit was only about 15 feet, but with all the twists and turns, it ate through almost 35 feet of wire before we got to the batteries.

We bought our new DuoGen back in May and finally have it installed.  We had originally planned to have it put in back in early August with the help of Larry and Fred from Southeast Marine in Scappoose, Oregon.  A pair of great guys that are willing to go above the call when the situation requires it.  Knowing that we knew just about nothing of installing such a unit, they were willing to come down to Astoria to help install the unit.  How's that for service?

The weather for the past two days has been quite pleasant for November.  There was actually a good bit of Sun out today.  Now tomorrow will be back to the normal.  Rain and lots of it plus wind and lots of it too if the weather people are correct(yeah, right!).  At least with the new wind generator up, we can have some fun seeing how it performs.  We'll turn off the juice from the dock and see how she charges.  We want to take off again this Saturday for at least a week to see how independent we can be now that we have the wind generator installed.  It's just about the last thing we had been waiting for to make us ready for cruising for longer than just a few days.  With luck, we will have some sunshine to make it that much better.

We're now about 95% ready with just a few more things that still need attention but nothing that can't be handled over the next few weeks during the nice days.  Now the fun can begin and we can see what the great state of Washington has to offer cruisers like us.  Stay tuned.  The adventure is about to begin--at lease we hope so.

Day 203 Boat yoga.

Boat Yoga:  Taking a big body and trying to fit it into a small space where there is just about no way it will fit and if you do, it is very uncomfortable.  Just imagine changing out your garbage disposal while fitting your entire body inside the cabinet.  That's the way yesterday was. 

We're still working on getting the wind generator installed.  Monday was run more wires and make connections to the main controller unit.  The installation manual says it can be done in four hours.  It's a British product so that may be British time.  We've been at this since Sunday.  

We had a visit from Ted and Judy from Newport.  Really nice to see them again.  They had stopped in to pick up our old wire rigging.  They are going to recycle it into new life lines for their sailboat in Newport.  They had asked us to save it for them before we left Newport back in July.  Not a problem since we figured we'd be back there in late August.  Since that fell apart and now we don't figure we will be there till next August they decided to drive up and pick it up.  We had a nice chat about the Summer and how they are progressing on their boat.  I got them all loaded up and off they went. They'd hoped to drive all the way back to Newport that night.  A LONG trip for one day.

Yesterday was drill and thread more wires day.  I drilled the hole in the deck for the wire from the DuoGen.  It is always a stressful time for me drilling holes in our boat when the main object when working on a boat is to keep the water out.  Now here I am making a hole in what was a nice water tight area of the deck.  We had thought and planned and talked to the local electricians about what to do and how to do it.  I would be using a special fitting that screws down to the deck with a rubber gland.  We planned to drill the hole making sure I went into a cabinet inside the aft cabin.  We were trying to avoid having exposed wires trailing down the wall.  Tracy stayed inside as I drilled the hole.  We talked to each other via two way radio.  We measured and remeasured and then took a small bit and made a small test hole just to make sure we were in the right area.  We got it right the first time!  Out came the BIG bit and the main drilling was done.  The wire was fed through the hole into the cabin and the fitting was attached.  The fitting comes in two pieces.  One screws to the deck with a rubber gland under it.  I added some silicone just to make sure it didn't leak.  The second piece has to have a hole drilled through a large thick rubber gland that the wire passes through and then screws to the first piece.  I added more silicone between the two pieces and screwed it down.  All done--at least with the deck portion.

Now we had to get it through the cabinets and down into the bilge so we can run it forward in the boat.  We attached the wires to the cabinet with special clasps so they wouldn't move or shift.  The wires from the generator had to be spliced to the wires that we were running through the boat.  I joined them with crimp on fittings and then used a heat shrink tube to seal them both.  I had to stagger the splices to they wouldn't have any chance to touch.  Once that was done, I covered both splices with one large piece of heat shrink tube just in case. 

We planned and planned and measured and drilled and drilled and drilled all trying to get the wires down, down, down.  Through one cabinet into the second cabinet and down it went.  We had to lift up the mattress so I could squeeze(boat yoga) into the bilge area to try and find the best way to tread the wires all the while trying to keep the mattress up and off my back and not drop the flashlights into the bilge(did that twice).  Unfortunately, the boat builders installed insulation between the base of the bottom cabinet and the final horizontal board in the bilge. There is a 5 inch space between the two boards.   I drilled down into the space and then up into the space all the while having the mattress pressing down on me while pretty much upside down.   I stuck a piece of stiff wire up through the hole to see if I could get through the two holes.  The wire got hung up on God only knows what in the space and once in, it would not come out.  So as a last resort, I took a chance and stuck the wire through the top hole and got lucky hitting the bottom hole through the insulation on my first try.  LUCKY!!!  We pulled the wires through and quit as it was already after 5pm and I was soaked in sweat.  I was dripping more than a bad faucet. YUCK!!!  

As you can imagine, I was off to the showers.  I was a mess of sawdust, fiberglass and sweat.  Real manly!!? 

We're glad that portion is done as the rest should be relatively easy.  At least we hope so.  All that is left is thread and attach the remaining wires and install the fuses and it should work just fine.  Keep your fingers crossed!!      

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 201 Half way there.

Yesterday was spent for the most part trying to install the wiring for the  DuoGen wind generator.  We started ripping up the main cabin and threading wires over, under and around the bilge.  Unfortunately, the wire I bought ended up being to short.  I'd bought 25 feet figuring that would be enough to get from the stern of the boat to the main cabin.  Not even close.  So we started threading the wires that were to go from the generators regulator to the diversion load gizmo(bleeds off excess power once the batteries are charged) in the engine room.  I'd gotten 20 feet.  Nope too short too.  We were getting no place quickly.  Off to West Marine for more wire.  We've been there enough times that they know us by name.

Since they were having a sale, if I had to screw it up, at least I wasn't going to have to pay full price to get the replacements we needed to do the job.  Back home and back under the cabin floor boards.  This time they went in just fine with even a bit to spare.  Connections were made and sealed and wire were strapped to others to form a bundle and give support.  The regulator was installed with lots of wires going into and out of it and we got about 2/3s of the way done.  We still have to drill the hole in the deck for the primary wires from the generator and seal it up.  Then lead those lines to the regulator and grounds.  A few more connections and fuse installations and we will be done.  Sure hope it works.

We installed a few pieces of stainless steel hardware on deck for better organization and safety.  We attached two rings to the shrouds(wires the hold the mast up) that will hold the boat hook.  This way, it will always be in the same place when we need it.  It goes up through the big ring at the top and then sits in a smaller ring at the bottom.  Gravity should hold it in just fine.

The ring that is just to the left of the boat hook in the picture will be used for our "Jack Lines".  These are nylon straps that run the length of the boat so that when we are off shore, you hook your safety straps to it to make sure you don't go overboard should a big wave hit you while on deck.  Some people just lay them on the deck from the stern to the bow.  We like the feature of having them at shoulder height.  This way we don't step on them and perhaps trip on them as we go forward.  Just another thing that needed installation.  The list never really gets smaller.

The harbor is currently fogged in with fog horns blowing all around us as boats pass the marina.  No Sun but no rain either till Wednesday.  Another cloudy day here in the Pacific Northwest.  I know there is a Sun up there, but we sure don't see a lot of her.  Perhaps later today.  Meanwhile, back to running wires.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 200 Hard to believe.


It's hard to believe that we've been at this for 200 days.  It's been a long journey over this Spring and Summer.  A large learning experience for the both of us.  It's hard to believe how naive and green we were when we arrived at Zephyr back at the end of April.  We knew a lot about sailing but not a lot about what it takes to get a boat like Zephyr ready for cruising.  There is a BIG difference between a simple day sail(what we have been doing for years) and long distance cruising.  It's a whole new layer of knowledge and experience that is required to go out in the "wild and woolly".  We learned how under educated we were on our trip from Newport to Port Townsend back in late July.  We'd worked and worked trying to get Zephyr ready for the trip and still we weren't ready for what Mother Nature threw at us during that trip.

Not only have we changed but so has Zephyr.  Just about every system has been inspected and either approved or improved.  From the stem fitting that holds the anchor to the decal on the stern, we have dug and and removed as well as inspected and installed more things on Zephyr than either of us had ever imagined we would.   From new drains and electrical circuits to repairing fiberglass tanks, the work goes on.  There are still many small projects as well as large ones(installing the wind generator), but we are nearing completion if that can be possible.  Part of the "cruising" lifestyle is the constant attention to your boat.  Nothing can be left to chance.  Maintenance is a way of life.  Check, check and recheck day after day.  Many times, your life can depend on it.  It's the lifestyle that Tracy and I have chosen.  We understand that there will be many challenges ahead of us and just hope that we will be prepared for them.  Only time will tell.

Tracy lacquered the new outlet I installed in the galley.  It came out great and comes really close to matching the surrounding woodwork.  I still plan on installing at least one more outlet in the main cabin.  According to Jack the electrician, there can only be 5 outlets on each circuit.  I don't figure any more than one or two will be used at any one time so adding one more shouldn't be a problem.

We took off for West Marine after having lunch at Sea J's restaurant.  Since it's right across the street from West Marine it was the perfect spot.  They still make one of the best burgers in Port Townsend and cheap too. 

We'd made a list of things we needed for Zephyr to make her even better.  From stainless steel ratchet straps to hold the inflatable dingy on board the deck to the folding pad eyes that will be used to attach it to the deck.  A new water pump for the engine and 3 more impellers to keep as backups since just about every blog we read of other sailors talks about theirs going bad.  Winter sailing gloves and a clock to match our barometer.   We'd considered buying a new set of Steiner binoculars but we took in our Bushnells to compare and they seemed to be about the same so that saved us a good bit of money.  We replaced the block to lift the dingy on board with our crane.  The previous block had frozen solid due to corrosion.  Now it will be much easier to get it on and off the deck.  

We're hoping to be able to replace the pelican hooks(these hold the life lines closed at the gates for getting on and off the boat) since they aren't suitable for ocean passages.  We need the type that can be latched closed so there is no chance of them coming open while at sea.  They may have to be special ordered.

Tomorrow, the installation of the wind generator continues as well as add all the new equipment we bought today.  I'm sure we will be back at West Marine again as the sale goes through tomorrow.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 199 Planning and diagraming


Today was planning and diagramming out the electrical wiring for the DuoGen that we restarted installing yesterday.  I read and reread the installation manual until I thought I understood what was necessary to get it all wired and running.  

I went to Sea Marines parts department to buy wire and fittings.  With parts in hand I went in to talk to Jack, the electrician about his ideas on how it should be done.   By the time I was done, I was totally, absolutely and completely confused as to how I was to wire it in.  Add in frustrated and I went back to Zephyr to rethink my plans.  I had a nice lunch and returned to the parts department to get more supplies--three times actually, and then up to see Jack again for clarification of his plans.

The ideal setup is that my energy monitor will tell me the state of each bank of batteries with how much power is in each bank.  This way, we will know when to change the switch to the next bank to charge it.  Set up correctly, I will be able to keep all three banks(house 1 and 2 plus the start batteries) fully charged.  During a nice windy day or while out sailing, the DuoGen will pump out enough power to keep us nicely charged--as long as we practice some decent energy conservation.  It will make being at anchor a lot more enjoyable.

After picking up more supplies for the installation, I went back to see Jack about a few more questions.  He thought about the installation and redid the diagram all over again.  He had miscalculated where the wire should be connected to.  I bought a few more connectors and went back to Zephyr to diagram it for myself on a new sheet of paper.  By the time that was done, the Sun was going down and we settled in for a nice quiet evening.

As we settled in with the kids wandering around the deck, we saw the same Liberty sailboat coming back in the harbor that we visited a few months ago.  I expect we will see them tomorrow.  The last time they were here, we were still in the yard on stands.  At least this time we are back in the water.  

I spent the evening completing the list of items we want to buy at West Marine tomorrow during the sale.  They may be providing a nice steak dinner, but they will more than make it back in what we will be buying. 

As I've said in earlier posts, Shadow has taken on a totally new personality.  He now want to be fed just about every time one of us goes any where near the galley.  He thinks nothing of standing up on his rear legs and meowing loudly just to make sure we understand what he wants and that he wants it NOW!  As thin as he is, we feed him every time he asks.  The other kids pretty much leave him alone to eat and then take their turn after he is done.

Well, it off to bed.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Day 198 Doing better.


We're both doing better.   Moving around easier.  I stopped taking my drugs and just tried to stretch and relax the muscles.

We started installing the DuoGen again.  We'd stopped since early this Summer since we didn't have the correct pole for the wind vane.  Now that we have that we have continued the installation.  We installed the pole yesterday and will be working on stringing the wires in the bilges over the next day or so.  I will be consulting with Jack, the electrician to get his advice on the final hookups.  We want to make sure that it will charge both of the house battery banks.  One runs the refrigerator and the other runs everything else.  Both need to be charged regularly.  I just need to find out how to wire it so it will.  The blades don't get installed until all the electrical wires are installed to the batteries.  I don't want to get shocked while getting it installed. 

One thing they forget to tell you about small town living is the lack of some things.  The installation manual called for a 5 millimeter drill bit to install a rivet in a hole in the pole.  No one in this town carries metric drill bits!!  The only hardware store in town doesn't, nor NAPA, not West Marine.  Not even the boatyard where we are berthed has them.  I had to use a "standard" bit and work it in and out until the rivet would fit.   Once it fit, I used the rivet gun to install it.  Unlike most "pop" rivets, this one refused to "pop".  Pop rivets go in a hole and then what looks like a nail that comes out of the end of the rivet is put in a "gun" that pulls the nail out until it break or "pops" off.  This one refused to "pop".  I finally took a hack saw to it to get it to come off.  Looks fine now.

We sorted through more papers in Zephyr and now need to find a shredder to get rid of them.  The pile keeps getting bigger.

West Marine is having a big sale tomorrow.  They are even having a steak dinner to go along with it.  I've been making a list and will be reviewing it to make sure I have all that we need on it.  At 20% off, that can add up.

Well, it's back to work.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 197 Taking it easy.


We're still taking it easy since both our backs are in rebellion.  I keep using a hot water bottle and it gets better as each day passes.  I found that the drugs didn't really do anything to ease the pain.  Tracy is just stiff at the base of her back and may go back to the doctor.

I spent the day going through more papers and magazines that have been piling up.  Now I need to find a grinder to get rid of all the personal papers that I don't want to just put into the trash.  No reason to give another person access to important numbers that are on them.

I'm still looking for the instruction manual for the DuoGen wind electric generator.  It's here somewhere.  I'll find it if I have to turn the boat inside out.

More rain yesterday afternoon and very windy through the night.  It can really howl out here. 

Brion and Gordon came by late in the afternoon and "tiged" the rigging.  This is what you are seeing in the picture.  After the rigging is in place and after a few sailing trips, the rigging has to be set so that the wire adjusting turnbuckles can't loosen up.  Most riggers use cotter pins to keep the shafts from turning.  Brion uses bronze rods bent to fit through both holes at once so there is no possible way for the shafts to come undone.  Brion and Gordon worked in the rain to get it done.  It's one of the last things that needed to be done.  I stayed out there with them to see exactly how it was done.  Once done, they invited me back to their loft and gave us a present of a "lucky"knot.  Apparently, in sailing history some knots were thought to bring luck to sailors.  They custom tied this one in the traditional hemp fibers that have been used on sailing ships for generations.  I now have it hanging in our navigation station.

Today is set for more cleaning out and the hunt goes on for the instructions for the DuoGen.  It is supposed to be sunny but the wind is hitting 15-20 knots.  Oh well.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 196 Good News!

We got the final report on our new transmission.  It is perfectly natural for the propeller to spin slowly while the engine is running even if it is in neutral.  It's the nature of the beast.  I spoke with the transmission manufacturer and their response was that it was normal for a Paragon transmission to do what it is doing.  As it gets broken in, this will slowly stop, but as a new one, it is fine.  It will not move fast enough to move the boat as heavy as Zephyr is and causes no stress on it.  Since it can be stopped by simply applying pressure with a hand, it is not really in gear, it is just picking so residual power from the pressure plate inside on the engine.  Good news!

They also told us that when the engine is place in neutral, it is natural for the propeller to continue to spin.  I explained about our Maxprop and it's feathering feature. He advised us to call the manufacturer.  I did so and their comment was to stop the engine while it is still in gear and the prop will feather just fine.  The pressure on  the shaft will cause the prop to rotate back to its "0" drag position.  It won't if it is in neutral when the engine is stopped.   Good news all around.  They won't have to rip out the transmission!!

My back is still upset with me.  I'm just taking it slow and see what happens.  A hot water bottle sure makes it feel better.  It will just take some time to get over it.

Jack, the electrician, made me a diagram of my electrical system so that I will have a better understanding of its workings.  I'm getting a better handle in it every day.  

The "diversion" load gizmo--also known as a "sock warmer"came in yesterday.  This thing is used to "bleed off" excess energy from the wind/electric generator.  Once the batteries get to a full charge, the extra power that is being made has to be gotten rid of and this is the thing that does it.  Some people install an extra heating element in their water heaters to  allow it to heat their water.  At the age of my water heater, I'm reluctant to cut any kind of opening into it to install a new element.  I'll mount it in the engine compartment and let it get rid of the excess energy there.   

The weather forecast still remains bleak.  It rained last night and there is more in the future.  The wind was hitting 40+ knots late last night.  The forecast had been for guts up to 60!!  It's relatively calm now.  Tracy added an extra dock line just to make sure Zephyr stays put.  She also checked the lines on the other boats at the dock just to make sure they stay put also.

The fix of the forward head worked fine.  It no longer leaks water back into the bowl.  Glad that problem is solved.

Today, into the stern head to get its macerater fixed.  It's a good thing my nose isn't tremendously sensitive to bad smells.  Since the tank was pumped out, there shouldn't be a big problem getting it fixed.  Out with the old and in with the new.  That should solve the problem.

The folks at Sure Pumps are going to ship me a new fresh water pump in the next week or so.  They have to wait until one comes in so they can ship it out to me.  The one I installed back in May just keeps wanting to run and run.  Slowly but still run.  Each time it runs, it uses more battery power and while we are at anchor, that power could be used for something else.  There is a pressure switch installed in it that is supposed to shut itself off when it reaches 40psi.  It doesn't shut off.

More things to do. 


Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 195 Back at Point Hudson


We prepared for the trip back to Point Hudson early Sunday morning.  The forecast was for 20-25 knot winds from the Southeast with probable showers and 1 to 3 foot waves growing to 3 to 5 feet in the afternoon.  We hanked on the jib sail and led the sheets for it to the cockpit.  Uncovered the main and got it ready to be hoisted.  The Genoa sail was all set to go.  We put on our foul weather gear with gloves to protect ourselves during the sail home.  We stowed the generator and strapped it to the stern rail after putting on the cover.   Everything was checked below decks and strapped in and the doors fastened closed.

The engine was started and I started the windlass to pull up the anchor.  The bay had been said to have a mud bottom and it held true to its reputation.  The chain was clogged with mud as was the anchor.  I used a brush on the chain to try and get as much off as I can.  Tracy was at the wheel and controls.   By the time the anchor was up, the forward deck was awash in mud.  I had plans for the hose on the dock when we arrived at the marina.

Off we went to tour through Mud Bay just to the East of Hunter Bay.  We were glad we anchored in Hunter Bay as we found it much more attractive.

After the tour, we headed out through Lopez Pass into the Rosario Strait to face what Mother Nature was ready to throw at us.  As we passed through the pass, we faced a small incoming current.  It slowed us just a bit but out we went into the fray. 

WHAT FRAY!!! It was dead calm.  Not a breathe of any wind to be seen.   We were ready for bear and couldn't even find a cub.   The only wind we felt was what came at us as the Zephyr moved forward.  We motored the entire way back to Point Hudson.  No waves, no wind and no rain!!!  You just can't believe the weather people of the world.  I know they have lots of computers and satellites so why can't they get it right or at least closer to what is actually going to happen.  

Once back at Point Hudson we made a stop at the pump out station  to empty our our tanks.  We think the stern tanks pump is no longer pumping and will need to be replaced shortly.  We can hear the motor running but nothing appears to come out the under water pipe.  We picked up the "joker" valve to fix the forward head during the afternoon after we arrived back at Point Hudson and I installed it last night.  So far so good.  

I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday morning while coming onto deck.  No lifting, no nothing, just coming onto deck.  I have taken it easy ever since.  I went to the doctor today for some nice drugs!!

The kids took the trip back from Hunter Bay just fine especially since the boat wasn't rocking just riding along nice and smoothly.  Tracy fed Snowshoe a anti-seasick pill just before we set off.  He was very mellow through the rest of the afternoon.

Nice hot showers and laundry was the call of the afternoon after our return.  The decks got scrubbed and the sail repacked, covered and stowed.  The electricity was plugged in, the batteries charged and the satellite turned on.  We were all set, safe and sound.

We flipped the switches and on came the power inside Zephyr.  I set out to align the satellite system and found that the receiver had fried itself and wouldn't come on.  A call was place to Direct TV and they are ending us a new unit.  It should be here by Wednesday.  We pulled out the old antenna that we had used while in Newport and hooked it up.  We set the tv to do an auto channel search and let it loose.  It found lots of channels--over the air channels that we had no idea even existed.  Many broadcasting in HD.  We finally got to see what our set will do in HD.  Boy, I can sure see why people like it.  This afternoon, the receiver fired it self up and is running just fine.  I still plan on switching it for our unit upon its arrival.

Two of Sea Marines mechanics came by the Zephyr this morning to check out the transmission to see why we have been having problems with the propeller never stopping.  They checked it out went off to call the people that made the transmission to see what could be causing the problem.  The current thought is that friction plate in the transmission may be defective and the entire new transmission may need to be pulled and sent back to be rebuilt.  OH JOY!!! More time here in Port Townsend.  We'll get the official report in the next few days.  Better it happen here and now than once we left.  That is one of the primary reasons we decided to spend the next few months in this area instead of setting off for Mexico.

Jack, the electrician, came by after the mechanics left and we reviewed the electrical system he has installed on Zephyr.  From what I have learned over the past few days, plus what our son Matt had sent to me about battery systems, it all became much clearer.  We discussed everything from the grounding system to the problem we have had with the "inverted polarity"on the generator connection to the electrical system on Zephyr.  We discussed the installation of the wind/electrical generator that we have planned for later this week--weather permitting.

It's going to be a busy week.   


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 194 Some Sun!!


We had some Sun today!!  It dried out somewhat and was actually a pretty day--at least the morning.  The afternoon clouded back up and the winds came back.  Over 30 knots at some times.  The anchor did as it was asked to.  It held firm and Zephyr swung as the winds blew and changed direction.  Lots of rocking and rolling from side to side as we blew around the bay.  It was forecast to be out of the South but we mainly had winds from the East.  We're relatively protected except from winds from the North.  So far, few of them
 
I took some pictures which with luck I will be able to upload.  As I've said, it's slow out here.  It a beautiful cove.  Beautiful green hills and a few homes dot the coastline.  The tragedy of Colorados mountains with the bark beetle destroying the forests have so far not been visited on Washingtons islands.  At least not that we have seen.  The water is a deep shade of green.

I read more and Tracy did more stitching.  In the afternoon, while the Sun was shining, I worked outside on our Gramin chart plotter/GPS setting up a "route" for our return to Point Hudson.  We plan on heading back today--Sunday.  

We have a few things to fix and install that will make life on the hook much easier.  First, our wind/generator, known as a DuoGen.  It will make power when the wind blows and it can also be dragged in the water behind the boat and with the attachment of a small propeller, will make power that way.  The forward head needs a new valve that will allow what is pumped out to stay out.  It started malfunctioning a few weeks ago and the part we need should have come in while we have been out here.  

As we were making the final inspection on deck before we turned in, the Moon was beautiful illuminating the clouds, water and hillsides.  At only a 3/4 moon it was quite bright.  Brighter than I had expected.  At a full moon, I think we would be able to read outside.

The forecast is for more wind--out of the Southeast.  Exactly where we need to go and you can't sail a sailboat into the wind.  The engine will probably get more of the 50 hours they want on the transmission today.  Only a 40% chance of rain going up to 80% tomorrow.  

Well, I've got to close so I can start getting ready to take off for Point Hudson.  More later.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day 193 Sun, Sun, where fore art thou Sun?

Since Blue and Snowshoe love grass so much, we have started growing our own so they won't have to explore the dock(like this will actually stop that?) looking for some.  It comes in a nice plastic tray and grows easily on board.  We just have to put it up where the kids can't always get to it so it has a chance to re-grow after they are done munching.
  
Yesterday was another overcast day.  Relatively calm which was nice.  Still rainy and dreary but all in all pleasant. 

I called some marinas in the islands to see what their Winter rates are.  We have VERY limited cell phone service out here but at least we do have service.  Most are FAR cheaper than the rates that we will be paying at Point Hudson if we end up staying there.  The dredging has been postponed till early December so they are in absolutely no hurry to have us come into their dock.  Most are about 1/2 the fees plus some free perks that Point Hudson doesn't offer.  Point Hudsons big advantage is the availability to more city services(provisions, etc.)  We plan on visiting the marinas to see what they have.

The mind is a horrible thing to waste and I was doing that yesterday.  I'd remarked about having to charge the batteries using the engine.  I had totally forgotten about the 3000 watt Honda generator we have sitting on the stern.  I threw a cover over the top of it and fired it up.  The charge going to Zephyr was just like the charge that we get off of shore power.  Our battery charger came on line and started the charging.  A few hours later and we were just about all set when the light on our main circuit board inside Zephyr began to blink about "reverse polarity" on the line coming into Zephyr.  I placed a call to Jack the electrician.  His recommendation was to shut it down at least for a while.  Apparently, unless the generator is connected to the "ground" on Zephyr, there may be some problems with the polarity.  If I hook the generator up via a wire to the ground on Zephyr we would be fine.  The worst we could expect would be a mild tingle or shock if we touched something that was using or getting power as the generator ran.  Since the only thing that is getting power is the charger and it's under the settee, we don't think there will be any problem using it.  Meanwhile, we boosted the charge in our batteries from 12.25  to 12.75--back to just about a full charge.  We will fire the generator up again today for a while just to keep the batteries topped up.  We're forced to do this till we install the wind electric generator.  The last of its components will be at the dock on Monday.  Once it is installed, every time the wind blows, the batteries will get a charge.  Since we're currently experiencing 15-30 knot winds, if we had had it already installed there won't be a problem keeping them nicely charged.

I read and Tracy stitched.  She's finished three projects just since we've been at anchor.  All were ones she had started much earlier but had never gotten back to.  You stitchers out there know how that goes don't you?

As the day passed, I went out and scrubbed the deck to get all the dirt and bird poo that has come on board over the Summer off.  With all the rain, it washed off easily.  I just kept dunking the brush on a boat hook in the water and scrubbing away.  It had stopped raining at that time so it wasn't all that bad.  Still no Sun but at least no rain.

We played dominoes for several hours to while away the time and then I cooked a nice spaghetti dinner.  The movie of the night was the "Chronicles of Narnia".  Both Tracy and I had read and enjoyed the book series while in college so it was nice seeing this rendition.

The night passed with a bit more rain and lots of wind.  As I said earlier, we are in gusts of up to 30 knots as I type this.  The anchor is holding well but I still get up to check our position regularly just in case.  While we have anchored many times on Sloop to Nuts(our Laguna 26) this is our first time on Zephyr and every little sound will evoke a response to check it out.  The last thing we want to have happen is for the anchor to slip and we end up on shore(yuck).

I actually saw my first star this morning since we anchored.  The clouds appear to be breaking yet the forecast is still for more rain.  I guess we will see what happens as the day passes.

We will be heading back to Point Hudson probably tomorrow.  The new transmission has a problem keeping itself in neutral when the engine is running.  The prop just keeps wanting to turn.  Slowly but still turn and no matter where I place the gear selector switch, it just keeps on revolving.  We need the boat to stay in neutral while at anchor so that we don't go riding around endangering other boats that may be in the cove.  Larry at Sea Marine had adjusted it just before we left the dock but I guess we will need to have it looked at again.

Several years ago when Tracy, Matt and I were chartering a boat in the British Virgin Islands, I had gone a shore in the dingy to pay for our stay.  Matt and Tracy had stayed on board to get cleaned up.  The engine was running to keep the refrigerator running.  Suddenly I looked out at the boat and she was swinging around and around  on the mooring buoy.  She had slipped into gear with no one above deck.  I jumped into the dingy and headed out.  The other boats in the anchorage had scattered all in fear of getting hit.  As I motored out trying to figure out how I was going to get on board a moving boat, Matt came above deck and put her back into neutral.  He had been in the shower and looked out the porthole and saw the beach passing  over and over again.  He knew that was not supposed to be happening.   For the rest of the trip, if the engine was on, someone was on deck keeping watch just in case.

Well, the Sun is up and I do see some blue sky!!  It's still blowing but that's fine as long as we have a blue sky.  It will be nice to see the Sun again.

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 192 Our first full day at anchor.

Well, we have finished our first full day at anchor.  It reminds me of when we were stuck in our house during one of the blizzards we get in Colorado.  The difference is that it is raining and there is no place to go and not snowed in and no place to go.  

We woke up to rain yesterday and we went to bed with rain.  Rain, rain, rain.  It is still raining now and is scheduled to continue for as far into the future as the weather people can forecast.  Having come  from Colorado, I'm just not used to that.  I don't know how the people of western Washington state endure this for the entire Winter.  My hats off to them. 

I sat and read and worked at the computer sending out a few emails.  Tracy sat and stitched most of the day.  Though it was raining, dinner was steak done on the grill.  Since the Sun is now setting at about 4:30 and with it being totally overcast, I grilled them in the dark using a flashlight to check on them every few minutes.  Into the cockpit to stay dry and then out to check the meat.  Back and forth.  Tracy cooked potatoes in the oven as we have learned that the microwave is an energy HOG!  It drains the batteries fast and that means running the engine more to charge them.  We have lots to learn about managing our power when we are away from the marina with it always available 110 power.
This is a picture of one of the freighters that passed us as we headed out on Wednesday.  He's about a 1/4 mile off our starboard side.  I checked his speed on our AIS (a gizmo that connects to the computer that tells us about big boats that are around us).  He was doing over 18 knots--3 times what our speed was.  We saw a few other freighters but he was the closest by far.

As I said above, we are learning the rules of energy conservation.  How long and what we can and cannot run is becoming readily apparent.  The microwave is out.  The oven and cooktop is in.  Having more than one light on is just about out.  The bulbs we have currently are halogen.  They use about 2 amps of power.  I installed an LED fixture and it uses less than 1/2 an amp but gives off much less light--almost like mood lighting when you're on a date than for lighting a cabin to read.   

I ran the engine last night for about 1.5 hours to put some charge back into the batteries.  They normally sit at 12.75 when at the dock.  As of last night, they had fallen to 12.30.  After running the engine, they registered back at 12.7 but as of this morning, they were back at 12.30.  Since the engine is the only way we have to charge them, I think we will have to run it longer to get us back to where we need to be and then conserve conserve, conserve.  I was surprised that the alternators on the engine only ramped up the charge to 13.15 volts as the engine was running.  I would have thought that they would have put out more juice.

Well, it's another day of rain and clouds with fog and overcast thrown in for fun.  I have some manuals to read to pass the day.  We are looking at moving to another anchorage in a day or so.  We'll see what Mother Nature brings.

One thing we found at Costco is a little hand warmer called "Little Hotties".  We picked up a case of them the last time we were there.  They're little packets of stuff that when opened and shaken put out heat.  Up to 135 degrees they claim.  Tracy tried one yesterday.  It got quite warm.  Not to 135 but still a nice tool to keep us a bit warmer.

We're living the dream!?!
 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day 191 At anchor!!!


Yes, that's right.  We're at anchor!!!  We sailed away from Point Hudson yesterday morning getting underway at about 10am.  We headed North towards Lopez Island in the San Juan chain with winds over the starboard side of Zephyr.  We selected Hunter Bay on the South end to anchor in as the weather forecast has been for winds from the South and with the bays only opening towards the North we felt it a safe place.  As we anchored yesterday afternoon, the winds were from the east as they had been for then entire sail.  This morning, they are from the Northeast--right into the anchorage!!!  What happened to the South winds the weather folks had talked about?  

The sail was great as we headed North with Mt.Baker off to the East in all its glory.  Boat traffic was minimal with only a few freighters and fishing boats anywhere around us.  We were hitting 7+ knots through the first half of the trip and then it started slowing down as the wind slowed.  By the time we got to Lopez Pass--the passage way into the bay--the wind had pretty much died. Down came the sails, on came the engine and in we went.  We found Hunter Bay and motored in to check it out.  Only one other boat here and that is an old fishing boat.  Next door is Mud Bay.  Bigger bay but about 4 boats anchored there.  They probably belong to the people that have houses around the island.  There aren't many people out sailing this time of year.  We dropped the anchor.  Since we are in 18 feet of water, I let out about 120 feet of chain and fastened her down.  The anchor bit in and stayed just fine.  We were "home"--at least for a few days.  All settled in by 3:30.  The Sun sets about 4:15 so we needed to be in and settled by then.

On went the canvas covers for the sail and the cockpit.  With LOTS of rain in the forecast, we prefer to be as dry as we can.  With the cockpit all closed in, it makes for a nice extra room if the Sun ever comes out(not much chance of that).   It started raining just after midnight and still is with gusts of 10-12 from the Northeast.  It is "supposed" to change to the South by this afternoon.  Meanwhile we rock and roll here

Now we start learning energy conservation.  Everything on board revolves on the proper use of what power you have stored in the batteries that are on board.  Once we have our wind electric generator set up we will be in far better shape for sitting out on anchor.  Until then, we watch the meters to see how much we are using.  We turn on the "inverter"when we need AC power for extras.  Things like Tracy's stitching lamp, the microwave oven, battery charges for the computers all require AC power to work.  Sometime during the day, we will be firing up the engine to give the batteries a charge to get them back to capacity.  Meanwhile we conserve as much as is reasonable.

As to the "kids", Snowshoe took the trip the worst.  He lost his lunch several times during the trip and slobbered like there was no tomorrow.  He was not a happy camper.  He eventually joined us in the cockpit.  Blue didn't take it well either and lost it too.  Shadow just found a nice safe place and settled in for the trip.  All came out once we anchored and have been fine since.

Amazingly, we have some internet access--limited and slow, but at least we have a connection.  I'll keep you up to date as the days pass.  We hope to be out here for the next few days.  Even though the forecast has been for rain--and lots of it--we just had to get out and experience being at anchor in a deserted bay.  As long as the food and the heater hold out, we will be away from the marina.  I'll try and take some pictures of where we are if the weather cooperates.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 190 So much for bad weather!

The forecast had been for 25-30 knot winds and rain.  Instead we got Sun and 5-10 knot winds!!  You give these guys pretty computers and satellites and they still get it wrong.

If we had know it was going to be so nice we would have set off today.  Instead, we tackled more projects.  The Webasto has been diagnosed with a clogged diesel sensor.  I will need to dismantle it and clean it out.  Meanwhile, it can be used just that the thermostat won't turn it on but will turn it off.  It must be started manually.  Once it is off, I will turn it off and then back on and it will start up when it hits the correct temperature that it is set to start up at.  Once it runs, it won't start up on its own but will blink that there is a problem.  That's fine, it will still heat Zephyr while we are gone.  Just run it at bed time and then restart it and it will run later during the night.

I installed a new Carbon Monoxide/ smoke detector this afternoon.  The last smoke detector went off if you did toast in the galley.  This one talks and has a LOUD siren.  Never hurts to be safe.

I'm doing this blog tonight since we will be off tomorrow morning and I expect it to be a bit hectic.  I have to drive to the local NAPA store to pick up a 5 gallon gas can so we will have enough gas for the generator while we are gone.  I needed a plastic "jerry" can style and all everyone carries is the small squat style that won't fasten easily to the stanchions.  I don't want it coming loose as we sail.

I had to buy special screw drivers for the heater removal and a special socket driver.  Jobs for later.

We'll I just made a quick run to Safeway and now back to Zephyr.

I'll try and post if I can get contact through Verizons gizmo.  I'm not sure it will work in the islands.  Guess we will find out over the next few days.  

This is a test of a new program.

impellers.jpg

This is a test of a new program that will allow us to make and save blog entries when we have no connections to the internet.

Day 189 Errands and repairs.

Yesterday was errands and repairs day.  

We started out with Larry of Sea Marine coming down to Zephyr and taking apart the impeller that pushes sea water through the engine.  I had tried to replace it on Sunday but it was jammed into its fitting real well.   By the time Larry had shown up, I'd removed the screws and cover so he could get at it real easy.  At $90.00 per hour, I was perfectly happy to get some of the the work done that he was going to have to do anyway.  He went in with a screw driver and wedged it in nice and tight and with some prying, got it out.  It appeared to be in good condition but since it is  a VERY important part of the engine(keeps it cool) it is best to replace it about once a year depending on how much you use your engine.  Here's a picture of what they look like.  At about $28.00 a piece, they aren't cheap but they sure are important.  I'm going to buy a couple more before we set out.  It's one of those things you always keep backups of.  We plan on buying an entire replacement pump as it is one of those things that will fail and is hard to replace when you're out cruising.

After getting it out, he cleaned up the cover plate(scratched off the old seal) and got it nice and shiny while getting some goop to hold the new gasket to the plate.  Back into the engine compartment and shoved the new one into place.  Stuck on the plate and started installing the screws.  In true "Bill" fashion, he dropped one of the screws under the engine.  Couldn't find it so went back to the shop to find another screw.  Please keep in mind that this is all at $90.00 per hour.  Came back with screws.  Even brought me some extras.  Of course, the threads didn't fit the holes.  So he started reaching under the engine to find the lost screw.  It was of course at the exact center under the engine.  In it went and job done.  I started the engine and no leaks.  

Since we had been having a small water leak, he searched around and found a small leak in the water exhaust system.  Unlike auto exhaust systems, boat diesels use water to cool themselves. It mixes with the exhaust of the engine and blows out the stern.  The impeller that we just replaced pushes the water into the engine and then it blows out the back.  Larry tightened the hose clamp and no more water.

Our Webasto diesel heater(heats the cabin)malfunctioned when we started it last weekend.  Larry had worked on the system changing out the diesel lines so he looked at it since he was here.  Tightened up some hose clamps.  I tried it later and got the same report(flame failure) on the electronic readout.  I'll be calling the Sure Marine Services today.  They sell and service Webasto.

By the time Larry was done, two hours had passed.  We'll see what he bills in at.

We took off for Sequim in the afternoon for errands.  Costco, Office Depot, Petco, and even a haircut.  We had an appointment with the dermatologist for skin checks.  We expect to be exposed to lots of bad UV rays over the next years and want to sure we are alright before we set off.  

We finally got back a bit after 6pm and set about getting Zephyr ready to set off.  The forecasts over the next few days still stinks--20 to 30 knot winds and showers, but we really want to get out of here even if it is for just a few days.  Wednesday(tomorrow) appears to be the best day so we will see what happens tomorrow.  Say a prayer to any weather Gods you know of.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 187 More rain and wind.

I know there is a sun up there but it's hiding.  Overcast virtually all day with winds up to 30 knots and rain off and on.  Oh well.  It makes it easier to get things done inside.

I installed the plastic cover over the 110 circuit board in the engine compartment.  A nice piece of plastic that covers all the wires from top to bottom so that I won't get shocked poking my fingers where they don't belong.  It's held off the wires by small plastic tubes that keep it off the wall.

Into the nav station to dig out everything I'd put in there over the past 6 months.  Threw away and organized into nice water tight bins just in case we spring a leak.  One for computer stuff.  One for papers and one for navigations tools and safety equipment.  Lots of pens and pencils got rounded up and put in baggies.  It's nice to have it organized instead of a mess.  It will be much easier to find things now.

Dug through tool boxes and drawers  getting them organized.   I have a long way to go to get them done.  I have a lot more tools here than I thought--which is a good thing.

Tracy wanted to reposition Zephyr on the dock so Sea Marine will have a nice large space for any boats that come in for work.  We hauled her about 60 feet farther down the dock and retied her.  Unfortunately, what we didn't realize that where we put her, one of the dock lights shines right through the aft cabin porthole at night.  Stuff a pillow in the space and the problem is solved.  No curtains on Zephyrs portholes.  We will be looking into that today at the local hardware store.

I installed more updates to computer navigation programs.  I had received updates from Nobeltec to take my system from 9.2 to 9.3.  Got it all installed and now they have sent me an update that is virtually a new program.  Not sure about installing it.  I've never seen it in action and as they say--"if it ain't broke, don't fix it".  I'll be calling their support people this morning to see if it's really worth updating.  The biggest benefit is that the charts they give us will take us from Washington state to Acapulco.  The current ones we have only go to the Mexico border.  I wouldn't have to pay for more charts for quite a while.  I'll still need the ones for Alaska next Spring but not till then.

Our son called late this morning.  It was great hearing from him.  It's been quite a while since we talked.  He's looking into a program he'd recommended earlier that I hadn't been able to get to work.  I'll be playing with it over the next few days as time permits.  Nice to have a tech savvy person in the family.

We will be tackling more projects as the day passes.  With it being overcast, rainy and very windy, it gives us time to get them done with out regretting not going out sailing.

I hope everyone had a nice Halloween.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 186 Chart updates.

I installed new chart updates for my Garmin 172 GPS/Chartplotter.  I purchased their latest updates and went about installing them not only on my computer but also the chartplotter.  This is a gizmo that is right in front of me right on the steering column or binnacle.  It tells me not only where we are but gives me charts of the area we are in plus what services are available in all the areas we go to.  I'm currently set up with the charts for Washington down to South of San Francisco.  I''ll be purchasing more charts for it next year for farther North and down South toward Mexico.

I have several other electronic chart/ navigation programs but this on is right in front of me as we steer.  I have C-maps, Nobletec, and Max Sea programs as well so we are well covered.  I have a remote terminal that will link with my Acer computer that will show me what is on the screen of the computer(kept down below nice and safe)as we sail.  This way, what ever navigation program I'm running, I can see it on deck.  It's got a range of 150 feet.  If I get past that range, I've got real problem.

During the installation, there were problems of course(it's on a computer), so I called Garmin for a technical assist.  They walked me through the installation.  First, the program didn't recognize my customer ID, we got that resolved.  Then it wouldn't recognize the gizmo that installs the information on the chip that goes into the chart plotter.  At which point the tech transferred me to the higher techs for help.  Since it was after hours there he didn't feel there would be much of a wait.  He was right.  After about 10 minutes on hold  I got cut off!!  Since it was after hours, I went at the installation myself. I rebooted the computer and did as he had told me and computer recognized the download gizmo for the chip and installed it just fine.   The original tech sent me a message to make sure I had gotten the help I needed from the "upper" techs.  I told him what I did and that all was well.  Nice getting good help even if you do get cut off once in a while.

I actually took time off yesterday to read a magazine.  I'm glad I did as I found a blurb in it about an up coming class on "Boat engine maintenance and troubleshooting" that is being held right down the coast in Port Hadlock next month.  It's just what I have been searching for since while I know the routine things to do, I don't have the full scope of what to do in an emergency.  There is no AAA out there.  I placed a call and left a message.

I've started clearing up my messes in the nav station and my work bench area.  I can really trash an area fast while working on Zephyr.  Today is clean up and clean out unnecessary things.  I can be such a pack rat sometimes.

More rain and high winds are scheduled for this afternoon just as they were yesterday.  The Sun will come back eventually. 

Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight.  "Standard" time returns.