Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 485 & 486 Made it to California!!

Yes, that's right, we made it out of the official "Pacific Northwest".  We're now in the land of "milk and honey" as Keith in Newport calls it.   Sunny California!!!   Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn't going to let us get out of there without a small fight.

We started to leave on Thursday, one week after getting into Newport by disconnecting the electrical lines from the dock to Zephyr.  Apparently, there is a short somewhere on the transient dock because as I was unscrewing the cord from Zephyrs terminal, I got quite a shock in the process.  It had been raining and was foggy so the docks were quite wet.  I know the electricity wasn't coming from us as all our systems were off and the engine hadn't been started and the power had already been disconnected on the dock.  If I took my foot off the dock, the shock stopped.  Ted, if you read this, please let them know.  Someone could get hurt by it.  There have been instances of people getting electrocuted by electricity being bled off dock circuits.

Anyway, we were off by 0730 and out into fog.  Not dense, but it was still obscuring our early voyage.  Once we rounded the channel, the wind, while light was from the South---of course--so we kept the motor on and just kept pushing our way through the light winds and swell--also from the South of course.  Mother Nature got the email that we were heading out and were trying to escape from the Northwest.

On we pushed, slogging away into the seas.  A few hours later, the Sun finally broke free and it was quite pretty.  Along the trip, we saw numerous whales-types unknown, as well as lots of dolphins or porpoises and sea lions.  Even being about 15 miles away from shore, we still had birds and flies around the boat.  Not sure how the flies get out that far but there appears to be no way to escape them.  We have found the flies up here to be much skinnier flies that back home in Colorado.  They are down right emaciated.  Colorado flies are a portly.  These are skinny and for the most part dumb.  They just sit there as you swat them.  No flying off in fear of their lives for them.   We saw a few freighters and a tug along the way and got passed by fishing boats during the night.  One much closer than I would have liked.  They are lit up like a big city and can be seen for miles in the night.  We even saw what we think were sharks as we passed through the smooth water.  At least they looked like small baby sharks with the typical dorsal fin and tail fin sticking out of the water.  Most were about 3 to 4 feet long and only showed up for about 15 miles of the trip and then they were gone.  We were surprised how many we saw just floating along at the surface.  For most of the trip, the seas were smooth and somewhat glassy with no wind.   As we rounded the last point of the Oregon coast, the winds cropped up from the East strangely and the swells came out of the Northwest and West in a confused state throwing Zephyr all over the place.  We kept trying to maintain a course heading Southeast toward Crescent City but eventually we had to head Southwest to try and take the waves--now about 15 feet tall from repeatedly rolling Zephyr from side to side.  I was trying to get a bit of rest down below in the stern bunk and at one time, I was literally standing up in the bunk while still laying down.  That's how bad the rolling got.  Once we changed course into the waves, then it was up and down at the bow much like the trip North in July of '08.  It lasted about a half hour and then the seas straightened out and we could change course back to Southeast for our destination.

We pulled in at 1500 hours and pulled into the dock--the wrong space of course.  It would help if the marinas marked the dock slips so approaching boats could see the numbers instead of just writing on the flat surface of the dock.  But hey, that's just my opinion.  Jay & Benita off Moon Angel were already here and greeted us as we pulled in.  They had left Newport a few hours ahead of us.  

One of the problems that cropped up during this trip was the autopilot kept failing giving us a report that the rudder was failing to comply.  Well, when we got in, I think we found out why we were getting that action.  I had installed the new rudder for the Hydrovane(new wind driven auto pilot)on the stern and it was covered in bull kelp.  There must have been 15 LONG strands of the stuff all wrapped and tied around the Hydrovane rudder creating quite the drag on Zephyrs main auto pilot.  The malfunction didn't happen all the time, just occasionally.  While we are here, I'll check all the electrical connections and I've already checked the connection at the rudder and it was fine.  

We moved Zephyr to the proper slip we'd been assigned(I'd called on Thursday to let them know we were coming) with Jay's help and got all tied in.  Up to the marina office to get checked in and then off for either and early dinner or late lunch.  It was already 1600 hours.  Once back to Zephyr, I opened the engine doors to check the transmission fluid since I had installed the new cooler in Newport.  Surprise!!  No fluid showed up on the dip stick.  Guess I spent a bit of money on something we didn't need.  Oh well, you take a shot and some times you hit and some times you miss.  Now I have to dig further to find out where the transmission fluid is going.  It is either a different hose that I haven't found or it is leaking through the forward seal where it mounts on the engine.  If it is the latter, it will necessitate  the transmission being removed all over again!!!  I walked over and spent some "guy time" with Jay on Moon Angel.  We discussed the situation and logical solutions.  His Ford Lehmans don't have the same transmission.  He showed me his systems(see Bill drool)and how well he is organized.  You can eat off the floors of his engine room.  It was fun watching and learning how someone who has a lot more experience does thing.  Ah, the fun never stops aboard Zephyr!  I'll be looking into that situation this afternoon.

Later in the afternoon, the folks aboard Nereid(a Delphia 40)that we have been sort of traveling with pulled in.  They had left shortly after us so the  Newport folks just moved to Crescent City. 

It's foggy again outside so we'll just settle in for a while and get ourselves cleaned up and Zephyr set for dockside use for a few days.  I've already emailed the transmission folks about our situation.  At least it comes with a six month warranty.  The bad part is that it says that it has to be taken back to where it was installed and we're a long way from Sea Marine, so we will see what develops on Monday.  One project for today is changing the engine oil.  We passed the 100 hour mark on the trip down.

More to come as always.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 484 The cooler is in.

I got a call from the marina office early this morning that the new transmission cooler had arrived.  I guess it really pays to have these things shipped overnight.  It may cost a bunch, but it saves you some money in that we won't have to stay here more days than necessary. 

I'd ordered two so that I would have a backup as the Ford Lehman engine uses the same cooler to cool the engine oil and since the expected life span on one of these things is only about 2,000 hours of operations and God knows how long ago if ever the oil cooler was changed, it is better to have one on hand than be out some where and need but not have it.  Hey, that's what storage on a boat is all about.  It's not necessarily about storing food, it's storing anything that might be necessary some where done the road.  The new cooler is the gray gizmo above with all the hoses going into it.  I had it all installed by about 1300 hours and the engine started for testing.  We had to make sure Zephyr was tied up to the dock well as we had to slip her into gear to make sure the transmission pump circulated the oil through the cooler and that there were no leaks.  So far so good--no leaks.  Once we had tried it out, I had to shut off the engine and check the fluid level and top it off as a good bit of the oil had gone into the cooler and needed to be topped off.  With this piece of equipment installed, with luck and good weather, we will be off tomorrow for Crescent City down South.

We've stowed just about everything and will fill the water tanks just before we leave in the morning.  We'll hold off on the diesel fuel since the prices in Crescent City are only about .02 cents different and with weight always being a factor, it can wait till we get there.

We stowed things and actually took a walk around the dock this afternoon and I actually sat down a read part of a magazine.  We had dinner aboard Moon Angel with Jay and Benita whom we met back in January up in the Port of Brownsville near Silverdale.  Great people and far more knowledgeable about boating than we are.  

After dinner, we walked over to see Ted and Judy.  They live aboard their boat and have for several years here at the marina.  She was the masseuse that took care of my back and few days ago.  One more quick job on it tonight since we expect to be leaving in the morning and I'm a lot better than I was earlier.

All in all, a nice day.  Sunny and warm enough I changed into shorts this afternoon.  One of our new friends left earlier this morning for Crescent City so we expect to see them there in a few days when we arrive.  Mean while, it's off to bed.  Morning is going to be busy getting the last things done before we shove off.  At least if the weather is still good.  I'll let you know.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 483 Still here in Newport.

We're still here in Newport for several reasons.  First, the weather down South took a turn and swells were forecast for the 18 to 20 foot range(coming out of the South).  Little wind but we would have been going straight into them and that is not a fun trip.

Secondly, as I did my routine check of systems in the engine room--oil level in the engine, antifreeze in the coolant tank,  fluid in the steering system and transmission fluid all topped up, I found that the transmission fluid didn't even register on the dip stick.  When we had been traveling up in Alaska, I had found that one time before, but I just added some and all was well.  Since we were traveling at the time, I didn't pursue it and we just continued on with me checking the fluids each day.  Well, now it was time to find out why and get it fixed.  We didn't want to be out there and suddenly the transmission seize up and die after we had just put in the new one.  There were no obvious leaks so that only left one place for the fluid to be going and that is out through the transmission cooler.  Unlike cars, boats transmission fluid gets cooled by passing it through a large tube that has lots of smaller tubes in it.  The raw water from out side the boat flows through some of these tubes and the transmission fluid passes through the rest getting cooled by the water passing over it's tubes.  Well it appears that ours has developed a small leak and is slowly pushing the fluid out of the transmission.  Better it go out than suck water into the transmission.  I ordered in two--one to use and the second one as a reserve as they are typically only good for about 2,000 hours of use.  Plus, it is the same cooler that is used the cool the engine oil.  They should be here tomorrow for installation.

When I got up the morning, as I went up the hill, I found Moon Angel parked in front of us.  This the the boat owned by Jay and Benita whom we met while we spent the Winter in The Port of Brownsville.  They also spent the Summer traveling up the Alaska.  We're having dinner with them tomorrow.  Nice folks and VERY knowledgeable about all things boating.  He's the one that clued me into the transmission solution.

We also have had a small fresh water problem for a while that the pump that pumps all the fresh water to the faucets keeps going on and off instead of just running when the pressure tanks needs re-pressurizing.  Zephyr came with a special tank that keeps the water under pressure at all times instead of having the pump turn on each time you turn on a faucet.  Now instead of it pressurizing the tank, the pump turns on each time the faucets are used.  That tell me that the pressure tank wasn't working right.   I checked it this afternoon and found it full of water instead of air.  The rubber bladder inside it apparently had broken making it useless.  Now I get to take it out and find a replacement some where along the road.  We still get water when we turn on the faucets, but this will just make the pump have to work harder.  The learning curve just keeps growing as the miles keep going.

We had a small get together this evening aboard Zephyr with folks from two other boats joining us for some cake and strawberries.  Nothing special, just a chance for some sailers to get together and swap stories and information.  One man even brought his daughter along.  A nice young girl that will be sailing with her parents and getting home schooled.  

Weather permitting, several of our friends will be setting off for either Coos Bay or Crescent City tomorrow.  I haven't checked as I know we won't be leaving for a few days.  It depends on when the transmission cooler gets in.  If tomorrow, we could be out of here by Thursday---again--as weather permits.

Stay tuned, our saga just keeps getting longer and more interesting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 482 A massage and more tasks

I took off this morning for my first massage.  The top of my back and left arm has been bothering me since my return from Denver.  I think my bag weighed too much and I carried it just a bit to far.  I had it done by Judy whom we met two years ago when we first moved Zephyr to Newport.  She and Ted, her husband, live on another sailboat here at the marina.  It's been great to see them again since our return last Thursday.  They've been a big help since we got back.  Judy worked and worked and got all the kinks out and the rest of the day has been great.

I bought more charts today at Englund's Marine to get us to San Francisco and beyond.  While we have several electronic chart plotters, we feel it best to have the same thing in paper in paper form so that just in case something should cause a power failure or a computer crash, we will still know where we are and can find our way to a safe harbor.  We carry a hand held GPS as well as several fixed units.  It never hurts to be prepared. 

Below are pictures of some of our rigging.   When it was done, the attachments for the shrouds were too wide for the chain plates(holds the wire onto the boat that keep the mast from falling down) causing a gap that continually caught the lines that control our big Genoa sail at the bow.

We decided to add some stainless steel washers to the fitting to force the outside of the fitting to come closer inboard so the line will run free.  The pictures above so the problem and how the addition of the washers solved it.  The rigging on the side facing the dock was easy.  The side of the boat on the opposite side was different.  Tracy came up with a solution.  I would sit in the chair we use to go up the mast and she would lower me over the side until I was at the correct height to do the repairs.  It was much easier than leaning over the life lines and having to do the job upside down.  Now there will be no more problems as we tack the Genoa.  It had caused us to have to leave the cockpit and pull the lines free.

We got our new Hydrovane auto steering assembly ready for travel this afternoon.  I went down the ladder and tried to fit the rudder to the bottom of the post.  If you click on the pictures, it blows them up for much better viewing.  I sort of lost my balance and promptly fell into the water.  Not all the way,but far enough that I came out quite soaked.  Since I was already wet, it made getting the rudder on much easier.  Seeing how much fun I had doing this in a placid marina, I can't imagine what fun it would have been out in the open ocean.  I attached the red vane at the top of the unit and now she is ready to do her job--steer Zephyr when we are out in the ocean.

We are hoping to be taking off tomorrow(Tuesday) for either Coos Bay or Crescent City.  We're not sure which or either.  It depends on the weather as always.  Several boats left today and one left about 2200 this evening and will be sailing all night--wind permitting.  The forecast for the next few days is a bit mixed and we won't make a decision till tomorrow morning as to whether we will set off or stay one more day when the weather window appears(at least so far) to be a bet better.  There is no real hurry to get anywhere any more and we are with some nice people here in Newport.

If we are here tomorrow, there will be more projects still to do so we will just wait and see.  The electrical outlet in the galley I thought I had fixed so that the reverse polarity light stayed out is now causing some problems.  While on shore power or with power coming from the Honda Generator, it works fine but if you turn on the inverter to use the power from the batteries to make it work, it doesn't work at all and says the wires are wrong and that's what I changed before that allowed it to work right.  If we're here tomorrow, I'll start in on that project.  If not, well, it will just have to wait till the next stop.

It's off to bed to see what tomorrow brings.  If there is no blog tomorrow night, you will know we took off and will have more stories when we reach our next destination.  Hopefully Mother Nature will give us a break this time.

Stay tuned for more.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 480 & 481 Moved and more jobs done.

After spending two days in someone else's slip, we finally got moved over to "J" dock with the rest of the transients or world cruisers if you please.  We are a mishmash of folks from all over the world.  One boat is even from Switzerland.  We checked out the dock this morning and found a few empty spaces along the linear dock and took off back to Zephyr.  We undid the electrical cord and lines, started the engine and prepared to get underway.  I climbed aboard and the wind quickly blew Zephyr away from the dock.  The bad part was that Tracy was still on the dock!!!  She threw the last line on board but by then, Zephyr was to far away for her to get on.  She took off running for "J" dock while I SLOWLY motored Zephyr over.  I really took my time and she met me there along with a half dozen other boaters and we got Zephyr all tied in with no problems.  We were finally where we were supposed to be. 

Several hours later, Keith, another of our friends that works for the marina showed up and told us that an 85 foot motor yacht was coming in and had been told by the office to just pull up to "J" dock.  "There was plenty of room".  It had taken us three days to get space available for us to get on the dock and now they expected an 85 foot yacht to just pull in??  So everyone on the dock got together and we shifted the boats that were on the linear dock MUCH closer together and made enough room for him to fit.  The yacht has all the thrusters and engine power to do just about anything it pleased and she pulled in just fine and got all snugged in.  Amazingly, we had seen her while we were coming back from Alaska as we were heading South from Lopez Island on the South edge of the San Juan Islands. The reason we remember them so well is that they darn near ran us over.  We had the "right of way"(for what that is worth) as we headed South and he just kept on coming straight at us.  If we had not altered course, he would have taken us out.  We told him we remembered seeing his boat( he was just the captain).  He jokingly asked me if he had tried to run us down.  OK, he asked so I told him--"YES, you did actually".  While I know he was joking when he asked the question, I think it bothered him with my answer.  He wanted to know all the specifics of where and when it had happened.  He apologized for the incident but hey, that's all part of boating.  As long as no harm comes of it, you get on with your life(until they happen to cross your path again on land at least).  Beautiful boat.  He was going to take it to the fuel dock before he left--4200 gallons!!!  He must have a great credit limit on his charge card. 

We lowered the "guppy zinc" back into the water off the stern so that the electricity that floats in the water around the marina will attack it instead of the zinc that is attached to our boat.  A chunk of protection.

I took some time and went at the circuit board to check for more loose screws since they have caused me problems in the past.  I found several that were just a bit loose and got each and everyone of them tightened so there should be no more problems with some circuits working some times and others not.  I have a hard time thinking that the movement of the boat has made the screws loosen.  I guess it could but now that problem is gone--at least for now anyhow(I hope).

I read through the manual for our autopilot and figured out exactly how to make it work in sailing mode.  It will give us a backup system for when we are out there and want to quickly engage an auto pilot without having to hook up the Hydrovane on the stern.  If the weather gets to bad as we encountered on the trip down, we can now just flip a switch and sit back and let the machine do the job instead of further exhausting us.  I wish I had known how to do it before we left Neah Bay.  Life would have been a lot easier on the way South.

We washed down Zephyr today making sure to get all the salt water off her decks and hull with extra attention given to the hardware on board as salt water can corrode and lock up parts fast when repeatedly exposed to it.  Out with the brushes, sponges and hose and on came the water.  She looks much better now.

The weather down South is still the pits with lots of wind and tall waves so we think we will just stay here for a few more days.  The price is cheap for a slip and we have lots of friends to spend time with(plus wine here is really cheap)

Tomorrow, I'm off to a masseuse to have my back and shoulders worked on.  They have been causing me a bit of problem since I got back from Denver.  I've never had one so it should be interesting.  My therapist is actually one of our friends from our first time here in Newport.  She's worked on Tracy before.  I'll let you know tomorrow how it turns out.

I've still got a list of projects to do so the fun never stops.  I've been asked to stop over at another boat and look at their DuoGen(makes electricity on our boat).  Ours works better than theirs apparently.  I guess we will see.  It's been a long while since I have given advise instead of asking for it.

Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 479 Bus rides and jobs to be done.

I took off early this morning on the 8:17 bus to find a new propane line for the galley stove.  The one we bought last year snapped during the trip down the coast and emptied all the propane from the tank into the boat.  We're lucky we didn't catch on fire or explode.  Tracy hooked up fans in the boat and pushed air down into the bilge to make sure all the fumes were out.

I headed for Amerigas, the local propane dealer and keeper of all things related to propane.  I walked in with the broken hose(see above picture) and they asked what it was used for.  Here comes the good part!!  "On a boat?  Oh, we don't do boat stuff".  What is wrong with people in this town?  There are lots of boats and fishing people in the area.  Why would you shut yourself off from a gold mine like that?  They sent we to Newport Marine & RV several miles South of town.   I walked across Highway 101 and waited for the bus to take me there, or at least sorta close.  While I waited I made several phone calls.  

One of the calls I made was to Orca Green.  They make the mast head light that not only is set up to be used as an anchor light, but also for an emergency strobe light and a set of navigation lights.  It also comes with a photo cell that will turn it on as the evening turns dark and off at dawn.  Neat piece of equipment.  Only problem is that ours glows with the intensity of about a 2 watt bulb.  When I explained the problem, they fessed up that they had had a problem with the computer chip inside the fixture and would replace it at no charge.  Now all I have to do is figure when I will actually get it.  I finally told them to ship it to the house and I'll have it forwarded to us some where down the coast.  Oh, boy, I get to go up the mast to swap it out!!  The top of the mast is about the height of a six story building.  It's up there.  I've never made it to the top so this will be my first time.  Tracy usually goes up but this will be my turn.

I finally got to Newport Marine & RV and they actually had the hose fitting I needed.  It was the last one they had.  I got lucky!!  I picked up a few more fittings and started the long walk back to the marina.  The bus only makes stops at any particular place about every 90 minutes.  I could walk the distance in a lot shorter time than that.  Once back at the marina, I took all the fittings and made sure the threads were covered in Teflon tape and she went in slick as a whistle.  We had propane again.

I called Ted, one of our friends from our last time here in Newport and asked for a lift to Amerigas to get our tank filled and a stop at Englund Marine for some wire to fix the solenoid that controls the propane coming out of the tank.  It turn on and shuts off the flow of gas with a switch inside the boat.  I'd checked it earlier while we were at Neah Bay and found that no power was going to it to have it turn on.  Today was the day to fix it since I had fixed the propane line.  I pulled out my volt meter and checked.  Zero volts.  I checked at the switch and had 12 volts.  Must be a broken wire.  Oh what fun--threading wires through the walls even behind the walls and inside cabinets.  A fun afternoon was ahead of me.  I picked up the wires with Ted and headed back to start the project.  As a last resort, I pulled out the volt meter and checked one last time.  Nope, still no volts at the solenoid.  Lightening suddenly struck me in the head!!!  Check to see if the screws that hold the wire to the switch are tight!?!  Hey, guess what???  They were loose.  I had to turn one screw six times to get it tight and two others were also loose but not to that extreme.  Suddenly(you guessed it)I had power at the solenoid.  I'd already cut the old(probably still perfectly good) off and had a new one all ready to be installed.  Now I had power so out came the wire strippers and crimpers and special shrink butt connectors for the wires.  You crimp the wires into the fitting and then use a heat gun or even a lighter to head a tube on the fitting and it shrinks around the wires and makes a water proof seal so once set, no water can get in a corrode the fitting.  A must have for any serious boater who wants to keep electrical shorts out of their life.  Now we were all set.  New hose and a new solenoid and we were set.  I also came away with a 30 foot piece of two strand 16 gauge wire for future projects.

Onto the forward head.  Ever since we launched and even before we launched, the forward head kept refilling with waste material after I had flushed it.  What is called the "Joker" valve had apparently failed.  It's a one way valve made of rubber that closes after each flush to make sure it only goes out and never comes back in.  I drained the bowl and took the fittings apart.  No real problem as I had made sure the only thing in the plumbing pipes was salt water by repeated flushings.  Out came the old valve and in with the new.  Another job done.

We were currently set on "F" dock which is right on the pathway for every small fishing boat that comes and goes in and out of the water at the marina.  With tomorrow being Saturday and many, many boaters expected, we wanted to move to "J" dock with the rest of the cruisers.  We waited till the tide had risen( about 2030 hours) and the wind had dropped and headed over. We started out from "F" dock and suddenly, all the lights in the marina went out--power failure just as we were getting underway!   As we rounded the corner to "J" dock we suddenly came to a complete stop.  The water was still low enough that we ran into the silt bottom that had built up at the base of "J" dock.  It's right beside the entrance to the marina and it gets a lot of current as the tide raises and lowers and it slowly fills the area with silt.  We ran smack into it.  We were going slowly so it was no big deal.  I slipped Zephyr into reverse and slowly backed her off the stuff and back out into the marina.  We decided to head over to the "maintenance dock" area for the night.  The marina staff had given us permission to go there if we wanted to to avoid the pandemonium that will be taking place where we had been tied up.  It only had 3.5 feet of water under us so we slipped across the way and tied up to a long dock that belongs to another boater but he is off in Alaska and isn't expected back any  time soon.  We figure we will move over to "J" dock tomorrow afternoon when the tide is in.  The only problem with that is that we can only leave the marina during high tides.  We'll just take it as it comes and see what happens.

Another project I took care of was to reenforce the head board of the mainsail.  You can see in the picture that the top of the sail has two slides in it that attach to the mast.  It used to have only one.  I added the second  on the right side of the plate.  Now it will be better supported as it get pulled up the mast.  When we had had the sails inspected by Port Townsend Sails, they had recommended that this be done.  Since I had taken a class on sail making and repairing from them, I figured I could do it(perhaps not as well) a lot cheaper than they could.  Out came the 1/2" webbing and a needle and thread(industrial waxed thread for sails) and on it went.  Not the main is better prepared for what is to come in the future.

I've already made a list of jobs for tomorrow.  the weather down South is supposed to be rotten for the next five days or so, so we could be here for a while.  No problem, I have lots of jobs that still need to be done.

Tomorrow is another day.  More to come!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 476,477 & 478 Into Newport

Sit back and get something to drink cause this is going to be a long blog post!!!

We're here in Newport, OR after a long 50 hour sail/motor trip South.

We left Neah Bay about 0930 on Tuesday in beautiful skies.  On Monday when we arrived, we barely beat the fog in.  As you can see from the pictures, it was right behind us as we pulled in.  Just about every boat that followed us in came in in a misty vale.  It covered the harbor and then vanished, then back for another shot.  This went on for several hours in the afternoon.  One minutes it beautifully clear and the next--fogged in.  One thing we have noticed is that when the fog rolls in, the temperature drops like a stone.  Once gone, it's nice and warm all over again.

The top photo is of our first sunrise as we headed West out Juan de Fuca Strait.  The waters were beautifully calm for a change.  

The last photo was taken on Tuesday morning as we rounded Tatoosh Island at the West end of Juan de Fuca as we were heading out to sail to Newport.  It was a glorious morning with bright blue skies and a marvelous wind from the Northwest pushing us along beautifully.  We had all our sails up to get as much wind as we could so we would move at Zephyrs maximum speed.  Out came the Genoa and Main and then for fun, we put up the Forestaysail sail to boot.  

As we headed out from Juan de Fuca, Tracy called to me that she saw a whale about 100 feet off the port(left) side of the boat.  We both looked out the side to see if we could see it again--nope.  Suddenly, we heard this "woosh" sound from beside Zephyr.  We looked at each other and then started looking around Zephyr to see what might have made the sound.  Suddenly, there was a Humpback whale not 15 feet from the port side of the boat.  I could have jumped on hers(or his) back she was so close.  We saw her back as she slowly rose right beside Zephyr, her tail still under the keel.  She rolled on her side and stared at us with one dark black eye, then blew again through her blowhole and dove under the boat and was gone.  That's about as close as we ever want to be to a whale, especially a Humpback.  They can grow to anywhere from 39 to over 50 feet and weigh in at over 75,000 pounds.  Now that was cool--scary but cool.

Off we went just having the time of our lives in absolutely perfect wind and seas.  As the day progressed, the wind got stronger and stronger so we finally rolled in the Genoa sail and just had the forestaysail sail and main up and were still moving along at over 7 knots.  As the Sun went down, we just kept on going.  By midnight, the winds had grown to about 35 knots or about 40 miles per hour.  

When you go off shore--or even in shore, it is a cardinal rule that we ALWAYS wear a life jacket, even when we are in the cockpit.  Once we are away from shore, we carry tethers that hook onto the life jacket and are then hooked to what are called "Jack Lines".  These are nylon webbing straps that clip to the bow of the boat and run the length to the stern.  Ours is hooked at the bow to the base plate for the forestaysail sail and then is tied to rings I installed on one of the shrouds(wires that hole the mast up)on each side and then is tied off to the large cleat on the stern.  This way, when ever you leave the cockpit, day or night, you hook your tether to the "Jack Line" and should you fall overboard, you won't go far.  Some books recommend the lines be on deck and some books recommend that they be shoulder high to keep you from tripping on them.  We have set ours up with the straps high along each side of the boat.  It's easier to clip and unclip as you work your way down the deck.   

With the winds being that strong, I clipped on to the "Jack Lines" and made my way to the mast to put a reef in the mainsail(keep in mind, it's about 0100--yeah 1:00 am blowing 30 knots and pitch black).  A mainsail is set up with "reefing points" that can be setup to have the main sail up but in smaller and smaller sections as needed.  Our mainsail has three reefs in it so it can be made quite small but engaging each reefing point in turn as the winds would grow.  This time, we set it up with just the first reef.  Tracy stayed in the cockpit to control the boat and the halyard(line that raises the mainsail)while I worked out on deck.  First, the main halyard that holds the sail up has to be loosened and the sail lowered--not a lot, but still lowered so one of the reefing eyes(straps that are put through grommeted holes in the sail with rings sew in the straps)that are on the sail up near the mast can be attached to big hooks on the boom.  Then the sail is raised but not before the line at the end of the boom that goes through the back end of the mainsail is pulled tight.  This line pulls the back end of the mainsail down and pulls it out so that once the sail is raised, it will still have the right shape to allow it to power your boat(are  we having fun yet?).  Now Zephyr was under control.  We were dead tired but under control--oh, did I tell you there was no moon that night?  It was pitch black.  Apparently, Mother Nature had finally gotten the email that we were out there and she was out to have some fun with us.  Not only did she make it blow, but she continually changed the direction of the wind.  Now ocean sailing is supposed to have winds relatively constant not only in speed but also in direction.  At least that is what the books we have read tell us.  Apparently, this is not the rule along the Washington/Oregon coast line.  We were almost 90 miles off shore and getting thrown around quite a bit.  We finally decided to just take down the forestaysail sail and start the motor and motor sail for a while using the auto pilot to guide the boat.   We were absolutely worn out and that is the time mistakes get made.  the motor was started and out I went(hooked to the "Jack Lines of course) and down came the forestaysail sail.  I hooked the halyard(raises the sail) to one of the cleats at the bow to make sure it didn't fly around on deck in the wind and made my way back to the cockpit--winds still about 35 knots in a pitch black night.  With this done, the auto pilot could be engaged and Zephyr would just motor along on a set course.  We could finally sit back and relax a bit.  It was a long night for both of us.

As dawn arrived--no more Sun of course(thanks Mother Nature).  We had totally overcast skies and that was how it was for the entire day.   Not one bit of Sun broke through the clouds.  We continued on motor sailing as the winds had now dropped down to about 5 to 8 knots and it had shifted to being out of the Southeast--right where we needed to go(thanks Mother Nature).  Every forecast we had had the winds to be coming from the Northwest.  On we went, hour after hour of gray skies and the drone of the motor.  We took time out to catch a few hours of sleep as the day progressed yet one of us was always on deck in the cockpit keeping watch for other ships and fishing boats.  We had our AIS(Automatic Identification System) running on our computer screen, but that only shows you really big boats.  Being over 90 miles off shore, we saw no ships at all.

By Wednesday night, we started heading back toward shore and coming into Newport Harbor.  As we headed in, our AIS started showing us other ships--the big ones--and where they were headed.  About 2330 hours, we were faced with one ship heading South--right up our stern, and two ships heading North--right at our bow.  All would pass with in about three miles of each other with us right in the middle of it.  We could not have picked a worse time to try and cross the shipping channel.  It was the only time I ever saw three ships come together like that.  If I had continued on the course I had set, the South bound freighter would have come right up our stern and hit us.  If I changed course the wrong way, the ships heading North could have hit us.  So I changed our course so that we would head back out to sea until they passed us.  "He who changes course and sails away, lives to sail another day" of some such saying.  Even changing course, they passed with in a few miles of us and out in the ocean, that is closer than we would have liked.  

As dawn broke this morning, we were only 35 miles from Newport and making good time.  It was still overcast and gray but no fog--at least not yet.  As we neared Newport, I spent some time on deck(still hooked up) cleaning up from the night before.  I found the forestaysail sail halyard snap shackle(raised the sail) that clips onto the the top of the sail and  had broken at some time.  Luckily, it happened after I had lowered the sail to the deck.  We didn't have to go up the mast to pull the halyard back down to the deck.  If it had broken while the sail was up, there would be no way to get it back down with out going up the mast to retrieve it.

As we approached Newport, the fog started settling in(or course) and we entered the harbor entrance in the white stuff.  Not bad, but even some fog is too much fog.  We entered the marina and tied up to "F" dock.  We expect to be here for several days.  Several reasons.  One, the weather down South is turning rotten with winds in the high 30 to low 40s and we don't want to face those.  Oh, and of course, the winds are coming from the South.  

Secondly, we found that the new propane line to the stove had broken some time during our trip South.  Tracy had tried to use the stove and found it wouldn't turn on--no gas.  What I have failed to tell you, is that we had a propane problem while in Neah Bay on Monday.  The switch that turns on the propane had failed again.  This was the third time it has happened.  You turn on a switch in the main cabin and that activates a valve at the tank that allow the propane to flow through the lines and get to the stove.  The first two times it has happened, all we had to do was unhook the line from the propane tanks and reattach it and strangely, the propane would come right back on.  Not this time.  It was not coming on.  The voltage at the valve was only reading 3 volts.  The company that makes it says it should read closer to 12 volts when turned on.  I installed a new valve and still nothing.  So out with the valve and I just plumbed it straight into Zephyr.  It worked just fine.  Now that we were in Newport, Tracy wanted to cook something for dinner and no gas.  I hadn't turned it off at the tank so when I checked, the tank ready empty.  It had read 100 pounds the night before.  I pulled out my wrenches and I checked each fitting at the tanks to make sure I hadn't not tightened the copper tubes from the tank to the stove.  All appeared tight, so off with the old tank and in with the one we keep to use with the barbecue grill.  I turned it on and Tracy started yelling to turn it off.  We were leaking propane gas below decks.  The night before, Tracy had complained that she kept smelling rotten onions on board.  Sorry, it wasn't bad onions, it was propane from the tanks.  The line into the stove had sheared--or just simply broken.  It's amazing we didn't explode.   Tomorrow, my first job is to set off to get a new hose or have one made that can take the swinging motion.  We can't leave with out it being fixed.  I also need to have the propane tank refilled and about a dozen other things that need my attention.

So it's off to bed as it is quickly approaching midnight here.  Tomorrow is another day--hopefully sunny for a change.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 475 Into Neah Bay and out today!

We made it nicely into Neah Bay out at the west end of Juan De Fuca and are preparing to head off shore today.

We beat the fog that kept coming and going as we sat at anchor and watched other boats come in after us shrouded in the stuff.

This will be short as I have a few last chores to do so we can get out of here.  The next you hear from us should be from much farther South is a few days.  Maybe Newport again.  Who knows?

We're finally off!!!  YEAH!!!  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 474 Heading West

Along the beach at Fort Worden.

The light house at Point Wilson right beside Fort Worden.
Here's our electronics setup that we use to help navigate our way.  The top piece is our Garmin 172C chart plotter and GPS.  I've tied it into our Robertson Autopilot that is right below it.  Now we have all the information we need as we sail(or motor) through the water.  What the chart looks like as well as what our speed and depth and longitude and latitude so we know exactly where we are and can pin point it on the paper charts we have with us in the cockpit.  We have plenty of electronic charts but still keep a set of paper charts with us pretty much at all times.   If there is a battery failure, we can still find our way with the paper charts and a backup hand held GPS we keep squirreled away for just such an emergency.  When the main alternator blew on the way back from Alaska, we might have needed it except we were lucky enough to be need a "big" city where we could get it fixed.  If not, we would have quickly run out of power for the built in GPS's and had to pull out the portable one. 

We left Fort Worden this morning about 0930 and headed West in the Straits of Juan de Fuca for Port Angeles.  Unfortunately, we had to fight our way through opposing currents and it slowed us down a lot.  There were times we were doing just over two knots while our engine was cranking away at 1750 rpms.  That much power from the engine normally lets us do over 6 knots and some times 7.  With  a strong current heading East and us going West, it was a fight to make any good time.

As we left Fort Worden, the strait was like a washing machine on agitate.  It was very choppy with lots of white cap waves.  A few miles farther West, it just stopped as we were past the area where water rushes out from the Seattle area and meets the water heading in from Juan de Fuca.  The tend to collide just off Port Townsend and can really stir up the water.

Once past the chop, the winds died and the waters flattened and we just move along nicely.  We got to Port Angeles a bit early so we went about 6 miles further to Freshwater Bay(48 08.891N  123 38.428W) and dropped the hook about 1720 hours and had a nice dinner of barbecued chicken.  Once we are off shore, we will try our luck at trolling for fish.  Since we don't have a license to fish in Washington state, we don't want to press our luck by doing it while we are in their waters.

Tomorrow, we are off for Neah Bay out at the far West end of Juan de Fuca and will wait for a good weather window for heading South.  So far, the weather window for the rest of this week looks good.  If any of you out there find anything different(weather wise) than what we think we know, please feel free to post it in the "comments" section  at the bottom of the blog.  We can use all the help we can get.  There are "weather routers" that people hire as their own personal weather person to get the most accurate forecasts for what they will be facing.  We listen to the weather and check the Internet to see if they know anything better than we do.  Sometimes yes and sometimes no!  We just remember our trip North a year ago and don't want to make that mistake!

All in all, out first day back in the water was alright.  Blues has lost her sea legs and is slowly drooling everywhere she goes.  Shadow has set himself up on the forward starboard bunk and isn't moving.  Blue has decided that's just fine and moved in along side him.  Snowshoe is, as always, out in the cockpit with us sitting one one of the chairs we use.  No way is he going down below decks.  He likes it out there.

Well, it's day two of our new journey and it's off just fine.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.  If you find out anything different about the weather, do let us know.  Till then, stay tuned.  We're about to head out into the Pacific in a few days and want to be prepared. 

Day 472 & 473 Work and splash!

Friday was work, work, work.  Lists were made of what needed to be done and off we went.

I got the NM42 from NoLand Electronics installed.  This gizmo(best thing to call it) allows two different streams of information from my Garmin GPS and my Datamarine wind instrument to go into my Robertson autopilot.  Before, it would read only one of the streams of information and not both.  To make the autopilot work to its fullest potential, it needs information from both.  This way it knows where we are(GPS info) and which way the wind is coming from(Data Marine info)  Combining the two and the Robertson autopilot is a champ.  I'd bought the unit about a year ago, but couldn't get it to "listen" to the information I was putting in.  That time, I had hooked it up to the Data Marine and the Raytheon GPS.  It would read the Data Marine but not the Raytheon.  This time, I used my "new" Garmin 172C for the GPS input and it works fine.  I can now read the screen on the autopilot and see which way and how strong the wind is and I can check and verify our location with the input from the GPS.  It's now able to do everything it was originally made to do.

We had a plate made to fit the back of the new Toshiba TV since as I said in the earlier post, the old wall bracket didn't fit it.  Peter's Marine here in the boat yard whipped it out in under an hour.  We screwed it on to the TV and then lined up the old plate on the new plate and had him weld them together.  Problem solved!!  Now the TV is all attached to the wall and ready for travel and all without another trip to Costco.  That has been one of the joys of being in this yard.   If we need a part or something made, the proper people to do it quickly are just down the yard.  It's been great.

The rest of Friday was spent cleaning up, putting away and throwing away things we don't need anymore.  Tracy took off for the laundry room while I dug into my mass of stuff that I had piled here and there.  By late Friday evening, we looked much better.

Saturday was more of the same.  Tidy up and get ready for splashing.  We were on the standby schedule for being put back in the water!!  Yes, that's right, back in the water again exactly four weeks after we had been hauled out.  We had no idea when or if we would make it but two of the companies we had used to get a bit of work done said they would make sure we got lifted and put in the water that day.  If not, we were scheduled to go in next Tuesday afternoon.  About 1400, the lift showed up and into the straps we went.  They had to lift us so the last bit of bottom paint could be applied to the areas that had been covered with stands and blocks under the keel.  Up she went and on went the paint.  Then they left us while they put another boat in the water.  They wanted the paint to have some time to dry before putting Zephyr back in the water.   One of the things about this yard is that they have lifts big enough that we don't have to take off the stern rigging to get into their lifts.  In every yard we have been in in the past, we have had to undo the back stay that helps support the mast.  The first time we had to do this, both Tracy and I had visions of the mast just falling forward and crashing onto the deck.  Now we know better.  While the wire if off, the mast is still held in place by other wires in the rigging.

Up Zephyr went about 1530 and into the water she went.  We stopped at the yard office and made sure to settle our bill before she even splashed down.

Once in the water(still supported by their straps just in case we started to sink), we started the engine and I made sure the propeller packing gland I had worked on(it had been too loose) had refilled with water(keeps the propeller cool while it spins).  Once filled, they lowered us the final few inches and off we went!!!  We were back in the water right on schedule.  We'd set August 15 as the target date and we made it!!  This will give us the weather window we need to get off shore for heading South.

During the Summer, the winds off the Washington, Oregon and California coasts flows from the North or Northwest making it easier to head South(where we want to go).  Come early to mid September, the wind shifts and starts coming from the South.  As sailboats don't sail into the wind(but sure do motor) we want to make sure we don't miss the weather window we missed last year.  That's why we ended up staying in Port Townsend for the winter.  We are more than ready to move on.  We'd set the 15th as the target date for being ready and we made it.

Once in the water, we headed for the pump out station to take care of the sewage tanks and then topped off the water tanks.  Once done, we were off for the fuel dock to top off those tanks. We took 79.1 gallons and had used the engine almost exactly 80 hours so that works out to about a gallon per hour.  That is great for a boat of Zephyrs size.  Most don't come near that.  Yeah, I know, it's hard to brag when you are only getting maybe 7 miles to the gallon, but on a boat of her size, that is really quite good.  The fuel man was nice enough to give us the "over 100 gallon" price which save us a bit so we didn't get burned too badly.

We were set.  Fuel and water in and waste out and we were off.  We checked out Port Townsends town docks to see if we could tie up there for the night but they have changed the regulations to 30 minute stop over for commercial boats only so we took off for Fort Worden State Park(48 08.283N  122 45.493W) to spend the night on the hook for a change.  

It's interesting to me that while we were out "sailing" to Alaska, it felt natural to be on the water and spend the night at anchor.  Yet while we were in the boat yard in Port Townsend, it felt natural to be on the hard all over again.  Now we are back in the water and about continue our journey.  This time, South for a change.  With luck, we have seen the last of snow for a while.  I guess time will tell.      

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 469 & 470 and 471 Work and travel.

More jobs done and now I'm finally back on board Zephyr after a flight yesterday morning.

Work at the house continued and I made a trip to Lake Granby to check out Sloop to Nuts, one of our other boats.  The Marina that is supposed to be selling her lost the key and finally cut the lock off so some one could finally look at her.  Unfortunately, they forgot to get another lock and just left her open for all the go inside right beside the highway.  Someone came along and took our solar panel that had been attached to the boat.  The folks at the marina were surprised but no real apology was made as to their lack of thinking of putting another lock on to replace the one they cut off.  I'm still waiting for a call from the manager as to what they want to do now.  I enquired about the tarp that had been covering the boat and the man in the office had no idea of where it is let alone the dozens of bungee cords that had been used to string it down.  They did remember to bill me for storage for the Summer and make sure to collect it while I was there though.

I put a third coat of paint on the shutters and garage door at the house so it looks much better.  The HOA had asked that we paint the house.  Maybe this will make them happy as it looks much better now.  I sprayed the yard with "weed be gone"(twice) and  put down not only bug killer but a good layer of fertilizer so the yard should green up and fill in the gaps soon.

It was run, run, run the entire time I was there.  Meals were on the fly and I don't think I sat to watch any TV.  Crashed at night and was up by 0500 to get more things done.  The hail storm back in June caused us to have the house re-roofed and that took all of Monday and half of Tuesday to get finished.  They ran out of materials and had to have more brought over.  I guess they got shorted by the delivery men who brought the materials last week.  Oh well, at least that is done.

We got our TV replaced yesterday at Costco.  All TV's come with a two year warranty when you get them there and that saved us.  Now we just have to have a bracket made today so we can get it up on the wall.  The old bracket doesn't fit this TV(gee what a surprise).  It's off to the machine shop for some fabrication this morning.  I had hoped that the old bracket we had would work with the new TV but that of course was not to be.

Well, it's back to work.  Lots to do in the next 36 hours if we are to get launched Saturday.

Stay tuned.  More to come.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 467 & 468 The work continues.

Over grown and covering most of the gate area.After the clipping to clear the gate and getting them ready for the trash man to take away.

The work at the house continues.  I've been to Home Depot and Lowe's more times than I can remember in the past 5 days.

As you can see from the pictures, I've been doing a lot of pruning the bushes back that have over grown their area.  I had to do these since they blocked my access to the gate that needed repair.  I ended up using not only clippers and tree trimmers but also an electric reciprocating saw to get through the bigger branches.  Into cans and out with the rope to bundle the bigger branches.  

As to the gate, I changed out the hardware for the hinges since they were bent and the job went much easier as reinstalling the old hardware was just about impossible with out tearing one side of the fence apart.  The new hardware runs along the line of the horizontal 2 X 4s instead of having to be bolted to the 4 X 4 post as the previous one had been.

Now the gate is all repaired and works better than it did when I originally built it years ago.

Here's a picture of more hail damage in the back yard.  It ripped lots of holes in the cover for my grill.  Amazingly,  there wasn't a dent in the top of the grill.  CharBroil makes a tough grill.

I had to cut some big branches off our trees in the back yard as some had died and several looked quite ill with some kind of blight that had eaten through the bark of several branches.  Off they came before(hopefully)it moved to other branches of the tree.  I guess we will see.

I got a call from the roofers just after 0700 on Monday that they were in transit and should be here by 0800.  At 0750, I got another call that they had to reschedule my job to Wednesday since the weather had put them behind schedule.  When I told the second caller that the first caller had called, he back tracked and said I had more information than he did and they must be in transit after all and should be here soon.  As I waited for the roofers, I painted the edges of the garage door so I could roller paint the rest later and then put a second coat of paint on the shutters.  By 0850, I was getting worried and called the roofers to check and make sure they were actually coming.  They assured me that yes, they were in transit.  At 0930, the showed up.  They ran into traffic and got lost as this crew came up form Pueblo, Colorado to do the job.  Roofers are a precious commodity here in Colorado as hail storms have been particularly violent this year. 

Up went the ladders and off came the roof in sections.  As they finished ripping off one section, they installed the new shingles while another group went at another section of the roof.  As the weather here in Colorado is very unstable during August(rain forecast just about every afternoon)they want to make sure that the roof has the new shingles installed as quickly as possible.  They were still going strong at 1930 hours and finally acknowledged that they were not going to get the job done in one day and would have to come back Tuesday to finish.  Off they went at 1945 and I took off for a quick burger at "Good Times".  Back at 2015 and  out with the rollers and paint and I painted the garage door in the setting Sun and the dark that followed.  A second coat will be needed just to make sure it stays nice and white over the next few years.  

The roofers showed up just after 0700 this morning and started removing the final section of the roof.  They then told me that they were about to run out of supplies to finish the job and had to send for more shingles and nails.  I guess who ever estimated the job didn't do such a good job.  I'm not sure when they will finish but I still have to drive to Lake Granby today to check on "Sloop to Nuts", our Laguna 26 sailboat.  The marina(Grand Elk Marina)that is supposed to be selling it lost the keys for the doors so they can't show it to anyone.  At least that is what they told us a few weeks ago when they had a person interested in seeing her.  I have one key left and will have to take a hacksaw with me to get the lock off the outboard motor as they had the only key we had for it.

It's going to be a long day today.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 465 & 466 It's me, not her.

Ever since I arrived back in Colorado, the weather has been crazy.  Not that it isn't in Colorado in August, but we have had rain(lots of it), wind and hail by the bucket load.  This gives me reason to believe that the "Hudson Effect"(we bring weird weather where ever we go) is centered on me and not Tracy as she has been having nice weather back in Port Townsend since I left.   More rain and wind is in the forecast for today.  We will see how it goes.

I took off running on projects first thing Thursday morning.  I spot sprayed the yard with weed killer and checked all the sprinkler heads.  Surprisingly, I found a broken one in the back yard.  It had sheared off far under ground.  Out with the shovel and down I went.  After pulling the broken pieces out of the hole, I took off for Home Depot and got the replacement parts.  Thirty minutes later and all was fixed and now that section of the yard should return to it's nice green self.

Off came the screens around the house since the hail storm back in early June had trashed many of them.  I loaded them up in the car and took off for the Screen Medics to get them re done.  They could have come to the house to fix them but that cost an additional $10.00 per screen.  No reason to shaft the insurance company so I took them in to be fixed instead.  From there, it was off to Air Care Colorado the have the emissions checked on the Mazda I just brought home.  Earlier this year, it had needed to be re registered and with the car being in Washington state, there was no way to get an emissions test done.  The folks at Motor Vehicles had allowed me(after jumping through several hoops)to register it with the understanding that when the car came back to Colorado, I would get it checked.  She passed with flying colors.

With that done, I was off to the Motor Vehicle Department to get our file updated and see about having to register our Toyota that hasn't been driven in sixteen months.  Colorado wanted it registered and an emissions test done on it also.  Well, when we left, we down graded the insurance on it to just cover it as a stored vehicle that was never driven but would be covered if something happened in the garage(fire).  It was supposed to be registered back in May, but since we were well on our way to Alaska, there was no way that was going to happen.  Since I was already several months late and had already incurred a fine for being late, they told me to just not register it now since we won't be driving it for the next several years and the fines for not registering it top out at $100.00.  If I registered it now, I would have to pay the fine twice--once now and once when we got back to Colorado.  So she is no longer registered in Colorado.  I did get them to up date the file on the Mazda and issue me a new registration card so that project is done.

Back to Home Depot for more things.  I needed another plastic tarp to cover one of our boats so rain and snow don't get in and blow apart the hull when the water freezes and expands.  That happened many years ago and I don't want to have it happen again.  I got some caulk to put around the windows in the back of the house to keep the rain out.  Strangely, the caulk in the front of the house(South side) is fine but the caulk on the North side is all but gone from around the windows and the sliding glass door.  We have had rain come in around the windows before and I want to make sure it doesn't do it again.  Ah, the things an absentee home owner must do when ever they get back home.

The pictures at the top of the blog show hail damage from the June 6th storm.  It went right through the tops of my Rubbermaid trash cans.  It also ripped the cover on my barbecue grill and trashed two of our Summer furniture chairs on the patio.  I see signs all around the neighborhood of roofing companies and the houses that are getting redone.  Ours is scheduled for Monday.

Yesterday was more errands.  I'd made an appointment to see the doctor where I had my Lasik surgery done back in 2007.  My right eye had to be redone(late in 2007) as the first try didn't do the job.  The second appears to be no better and I wanted to get them checked while I was in town.  As it turns out, the healing process didn't go as planed and there is no way to correct my right eye to 20/20 as these places promise.  I'm at 20/50 and even with glasses, it will never get better than 20/30.  Oh well, I guess that's just the luck of the draw.  I'm the "one in five thousand" that it "may" happen to that they talk about in their disclaimer when you go in for the surgery.  But 20/30 still beats the 20/650 I was.

Today, more jobs and errands between the rain and hail.  Even our neighbors asked me last night if I'd brought it with me.  Ah, the power I have with Mother Nature.

More to come--maybe not boat related but I'll be back in Port Townsend by the end of next week and then we'll be back to normal. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Day 464 Back home

Well, after a two day drive, I'm home again.  I left Tuesday at 0640 and headed out for the Bainbridge Ferry to take me over to Seattle so I could get on I-90 to head East.  I got to the ferry and it was a mad house.  There were tons of cars already waiting to get across.  They stopped me at the toll gate and told me to wait there as the car waiting area was already full.  The car in front of me got the last space.  It came down to who got their car in what lane of the toll booths and how fast the person was in front of you at paying the toll.  There being 4 toll booths, it was a roll of the dice.  I ended up being car number 1 in the waiting line for the next ferry(50 minutes later).  After they got everyone one on board, there was space for three more cars, so I got lucky and didn't have to wait for the next one.

I was using the Microsoft Street and Trips program on my computer which was sitting on the seat beside me to guide me where I needed to go.  I'd attached my small GPS unit that I use on Zephyrs navigation computer.  The program shows me on a map exactly where I am at all times.  As the ferry left the dock, we started heading South instead of East to Seattle!!!  For the first 10 minutes we were heading in the wrong direction.  I was getting concerned that I had some how gotten on the wrong ferry.  Now there is only one ferry that leaves Bainbridge and it always goes to Seattle so there was no way I could be on a wrong ferry.  Ten minutes out, we suddenly turned East and headed toward Seattle.  I don't know why we were going in the wrong direction but I was glad we were now going in the right direction.  We pulled in about 20 minutes later.   

Once off the ferry, I took off East to make up for the time sitting during the cross though taking the ferry saved me a lot of miles as I would have had to go through Portland, Oregon if I had gone South down the peninsula.  Once into the eastern section of Washington state, I was amazed as I came over the ridge the vast openness of the prairie ahead of me.   It went on for miles and miles of just open wilderness.  I know it was probably some ones ranch or farm, but as far as I could see, there was just the open grass lands.  I'd forgotten the vast openness of the prairie there.  It was like being on an ocean of land with nothing as far as the eye could see but earth instead of water and not a soul on it.  It was quite startling to see after so long on the water.  

I kept running into construction zones as I drove and was surprised that while the cones were all out, no repairs were being made.  I guess that is another sign of the budget cutbacks the states are having to make during this time of shortfalls in money.  While I saw some work being done on Seattle streets, I didn't see any more work being done until I was into eastern Wyoming though I passed through at least a dozen construction zones.  Each time, everyone had to slow down for them yet saw nothing being done in them.  Maybe there will be money next year and they can get back on track to finish what they started.

I made it to Twin Falls, Idaho the first day after a long 11 + hours behind the wheel plus I lost a hour switching to Mountain Time.  I pulled into Best Western found dinner and crashed for the night.

Yesterday, I was on the road by 0800 and got into Denver at about 1930 hours.  Not bad for about 1400 miles in a car that hasn't really been driven in a long time by a person who hasn't driven that kind of distance in a long time.  When I ran out of radio stations in the back roads, I fired up iTunes on my Mac and listened to a book on tape I'd loaded a long time ago to listen to as we sailed at night.  Just about the same thing except the Sun was up instead of the moon.

Now the fun begins taking care of those things that still need to be taken care of but that we hadn't since we have been gone from home for such a long time.  It's going to be several days of run, run run so don't expect lots of exciting things on the blog for a while.

Tracy meanwhile has been working on the canvas cover that protects the teak sides of Zephyrs hull.  Having installed so many things on the edge of the deck and the stern, it needed to be refashioned to fit properly around all the new equipment.  Lots of cutting, fitting and sewing on our sewing machine.  We bought a very big and heavy sewing machine to keep on Zephyr for any kind of sail repairs that might need to be fixed or made for that matter.  It's made by Sailrite that specializes in machines for just such projects where big and thick pieces of canvas need to be stitched together.  It will even stitch through multi layers of leather and canvas at the same time.

The TV has continued to act up so Tracy is trying to rent a car to take it to Poulsbo for repairs.  No cars have been available for the past day or so at the rental lot so she may end up having to take the bus to get it there.  Hopefully, since the problem is intermittent, they can find out what is wrong and get it fixed.  It's no fun hearing the program but only seeing multi colored vertical(like a upc code)stripes on the screen. 

Well, that's about it for now.  It's errand time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 461 More off the list.

Today started with Mike from Seventh Wave(the fuel polisher)showing up about 0930 to pump out and "clean" all the diesel fuel on Zephyr.  Being 27 years old, I'm not sure if anyone has done it before on Zephyr.  With that many years and three owners before us, we felt it was a good idea to do it especially since the filters had clogged on our trip to Alaska.

Mike came on board and opened the access ports to the tanks and started pumping  out the fuel and putting it through the filters in his truck.  At one tank at a time, it takes a while to get it all "scrubbed" clean.  It goes through a filter that is set to do 800 gallons per hour and each tank was passed through it for three hours.  Each tank was down to about 70 gallons so it got well filtered.  He changed the filters at least three times during the "cleaning" to make sure it was done right.  He finally finished about 1600.

Brion Toss and Gordon showed up just after lunch to work on the mast head and replace the main sail sheave for a ball bearing one.  The original kept binding up each time we tried to raise the sail.  Brion took off up the mast to get the job done.  He re threaded the line down the inside of the 

mast and it was all replaced.  We don't know if it solved the problem since we couldn't raise the sail--too much wind--but will try later.

Since I will be leaving tomorrow for Denver, we had lunch at Sea J's.  As I have said in the past, they make the greatest burgers.

I'll be out of here tomorrow early in the morning so I can catch the Bainbridge Island ferry to Seattle and head East from there.  With luck, I will be back in Aurora by late Wednesday night or Thursday at the latest.  The roof gets replaced on Monday.

More to come.

Day 459 & 460. Work and a road trip again.

Saturday was projects.  I started the day crawling back under the stern bed and taking off the nylon locking nuts I had installed on the rudder shaft just to get them off the boat since we had been warned that after a few years, there was no way that we would ever get them off.  With our recent experience with them--everyone refusing to come off after being screwed on, we wanted them gone and just two nuts and locking washers installed.  So it's back to how it started down there.  I added Locktite to the threads to make sure(sure hope so) they don't come unscrewed again.  It always happens when we are in a nasty place.  Going through rapids or narrows and having the steering fail is never a good feeling.

While I was under the bunk, Tracy started defrosting the freezer.  With it being so hot recently and us being in and out of the freezer/refrigerator a lot, it had amassed a good deal of ice on it and wasn't cooling as well as it should.  She took off quite a bit of ice.  I made another piece of insulation to fit in the top hole of the freezer.  Maybe it will help keep it cooler.

Next, I was down into the stern hold to shorten and tighten the dripless bearing that keeps the water out while the propeller turns.  For those of you that have been following our trip to Alaska, you will remember it failing for a short time and starting to flood the bilge.  It did it twice during the trip and I have since checked and rechecked(several times a day normally) the fitting anytime we are underway with the engine running and the prop turning.  The first time scared me.  Consulting with the manufacturer, they told be that its overall length was to be 7 3/8".  I found it to be 8 3/8" so it needed to be tightened up to be made shorter.

In this picture, I have taken off the set screws that hold it tight to the shaft(so it spins as the shaft rotates) and screwed in long bolts to allow me the leverage to move the stainless steel  fitting(has the bolts in it) towards the end of the shaft.  I squirted in some dish washing soap to lubricate the fitting(per the manufacturers suggestion) and she slowly moved down the shaft.  Now she is the required 7 3/8" length.  I just have to remember to make sure it fills with water once we put Zephyr back in the water.  The rubber bellows area is full of water which acts as a coolant for the shaft as it turns.  One reason I didn't do the tightening earlier was that water pressure made it hard to move and it would gush in when I tried to.   I just waited till we were out and the pressure and water were gone.  With luck, there will be no more water coming in through this fitting.  Even when the propeller turned, it allowed some, though not much, water into the boat.

Next, I was down into the forward storage at the bow and took out everything until I could take out the grating that makes up the flooring.  It had been repaired while we were at Sea Marine since Jack had jumped down on it and broken two of the teak boards.  The repairman had used screws that only came out of the grating and into the base boards by 1/4" and they hadn't held.  So out they came and in went 1/2" longer screws.  I mixed up some epoxy to make sure they don't come loose and back in it went.  All fixed.

Next, we were off for the storage lock where we have rented a space for the past few months.  We needed to get prepared to empty it so I can take the majority of it back to Denver.  We made piles of things to go the Zephyr, one for Goodwill and one for the trip.  Off to Goodwill and back to Zephyr.

I took off for Henery's Hardware for some corks to put in the exhaust pipe for the Webasto heater.  Bill(previous owner)had advised us to plug the pipe with a cork to keep the water out when we are out sailing.  I'd found a cork on Zephyr but it fell out sometime while we were out sailing.  This time, I bought two(of course it took several trips to the hardware store to find the right size) and got some "eye" screws to put in the end that I can attach a lanyard to so the cork doesn't float away.

Yesterday was a road trip to Silverdale.  The TV has continued to act strangely so we headed for Costco to look for a replacement.  As we were looking, we talked to a woman that was there looking too and she told us that ours may still be covered under Costco's extended warranty plan.  We bought it back in May of 08 and found that Costco extends the warranty for two years, not the normal 90 days.  Yes, it was covered!!  So onto the phone and they told us to call them back once we were at the TV.  We took off for Zephyr.  Calls were placed and now we have to take it into a service place in Poulsbo for repairs.  Of course, it hasn't acted up again and once I drop it off on Monday, we will have to rent a car to pick it up as I will have taken our car back to Colorado by then.  We plan on waiting to see if it goes bad on Monday before we take it in.

We returned to the storage building and emptied it out and filled a great deal of the car.  Now, we have to load the things we plan to take off Zephyr and I will be ready to go on Tuesday morning.

The fuel polisher is due any minute so I will close now.  More to come

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Day 457 & 458 Road trip and more off the list.

Thursday, I was on a road trip to Seattle while Tracy stayed on Zephyr so the doors could be open to allow a breeze to keep the kids cool.

Yesterday was a day of several jobs to get them off the list.  I started my day(early to avoid the heat) by taking apart the windlass.  This is the marvelous piece of equipment that pulls up the anchor every time we are ready to leave after a night stay in some cove or harbor.  Without it, my back would be in really rotten shape or we would be using a lot of line instead of chain to connect our anchor to Zephyrs bow(as many boats do).   Chain is better for anchoring as it holds better and is much stronger than line.  We have been anchoring the majority of the trip to Alaska, I felt it was time to tear it apart(I'd done it in Newport) and get her all cleaned and re-greased.  For the last part of the trip, it got a good bit harder to have the chain come out from the anchor locker.  The gypsy(holds the chain) was harder to turn.  Apart she came and off to get all the dirt and "stuff" out of her workings at the local hose.  Using a metal as well as a bristle brush, I finally got her all clean.  I put on a waterproof grease as I rebuilt her and now she is ready for more anchoring.

While I was doing this, Tracy was getting the equipment ready to go up the mast.  She's been up before and we needed to switch out the clevis pin(holds the wires to the mast)for the forestaysail stay.  When Brion Toss did our rigging last year, he didn't have the right pin for that fitting and used a bolt and nylon locking nut.  With our recent experience with these nuts, we knew it was time to get the bolt off and the new clevis pin installed.  We'd had two made at the local metal fabricator.  

We strung a line to the top of the mast and then using what can best be described as mountain climbing gear, up the line she goes(No that is NOT Tracy in the pictures).  You sit in the "chair" and pull up the bottom straps so it grabs the line and stand up.  Then you raise the strap for the seat so it binds on the line.  Over and over until you get to where you need to go.  To get down, it is just the reverse.

About 25 minutes later, she was up at the fitting with a bag full of tools and line to tie off the wire and the job was done.  The new clevis pin(surprise surprise) fit perfectly.  Most times, when we have something made like this, it's just off a little bit, but not this time.  Now the forestaysail stay is on the way it is supposed to be and the nylon locking nut came off just fine.
Down Tracy came and the gear was stowed and all the lines needed were coiled and put away.

Next we were off to Port Townsend Rigging to pick up our new "quick"disconnect fitting for the forestaysail stay we had just worked on.   While we were out sailing with the Genoa sail, we found(as Bill-previous owner had found) that the wire for the forestaysail gets in the way as you tack(change directions under sail) the boat.  With this new fitting, we can detach the wire and stow it against the mast as we use the Genoa.  Since the Genoa is the primary sail at the bow and gets used most, it's important that she be able to be used without something causing problems as we tack.  Now we will be able to stow the wire and yet use it when we need the forestaysail in rough weather.

Typically, the forestaysail is used in rougher weather.  It sits much close to the center to the boat and allows better control as the weather gets nasty.  We've used it several times when we are out sailing and the wind misbehaves.  The fitting simply tightens the wire when you hold the upper handle and rotate the lower handle.  We had to cut off the old fitting from the forestaysail stay with a hacksaw making sure we left enough wire to join the two fittings.

This is the fitting that attaches to the wire.  The "eye" of the fitting goes into the adjuster and when cinched down, the wire is nice and tight.

Once that was done, we took off on errands.  One of our friends that keeps their boat at Sea Marine had planned to launch yesterday afternoon but as we drove by we found them still in the yard.  Not sure what the delay was but we will find out the next time we see them.  We stopped at West Marine to pick up a package the we had shipped there.  It get strange telling people you have no real address for mailing you things and West Marine has allowed us to use there store for a mail drop.  My package came(via UPS)to the boat yard from Fisheries Supply with the 17 new pine plugs that are to be used in case and through hull fitting blows.  You keep one at each through hull just in case they are needed.  I checked them out and they are the wrong size.   The small end was much bigger than was listed on their website.

I called Fisheries Supply and they checked their inventory and found that everyone they had was cut wrong and they would issue a call tag and take the bad plugs back.  Unfortunately, they won't have anymore to send me until they get the problem resolved with their supplier.  Oh well, maybe later once we hit shore farther down the coast once we leave Port Townsend.

We're sitting in fog as I type this yet the day is forecast for nice sunshine.  The heat wave has stopped at least for the next day or so.  Seattle is finally out of the high 90's.

Well, it's off to take care of more jobs while it cool outside.