Friday, April 29, 2016

The Migration North

We cast loose our lines in Eagle Harbor before 6 AM on Wednesday, April 27, for our sixth trip to SE Alaska in the last seven years.  There is a familiarity to the preparation but also an edge of paranoia.  You just know in your heart that complacency in preparation or operation can easily lead to calamity.

Our first night was in Garrison Bay on the northwest corner of San Juan Island just south of the Roche Harbor.  It provided us quick access the next morning to the Port of Sidney on Vancouver Island where we cleared Canadian Customs.  We have Nexus cards which speed our passage through customs.  After a phone call and waiting 15 minutes to allow a customs officer to show up to inspect us should they want to, we were on our way.

Shaggy TulipIt had been three years since our last visit to Butchart Gardens so for our second night we anchored in Tod Inlet near the Butchart Gardens.  We dropped our dinghy and motored over to the dock down the hill from the Japanese Gardens.  Reportedly the tulips were past prime but if they were, we didn’t notice.Cup of Tea

As I write this, we are tied to the dock at Salt Springs Marina in Ganges Harbour.  Our yacht club has leases dock space as an outstation here so it is inexpensive moorage as we do some light provisioning for those items that are prohibited from being brought in.

Our plans for this season are pretty similar to prior years.  We’ll move north pretty directly to SE Alaska arriving around the middle of May.  We’ll stay in Alaska for about 2-1/2 months until the end of July/first part of August when we’ll begin the slower journey south.  Arrival in Puget Sound will be the middle of September.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Haul Out Time

2016-03-Haulout-033xIt has been three years since we last had the boat hauled out and recoated the bottom with anti-fouling paint.  Besides the bottom, we always have a list of other projects that we are either unable or unwilling to do ourselves.  Since we’re in the boatyard, we like to take advantage of the skilled people and tools they bring to the tasks.

We returned from Arizona a week or two earlier than we might have otherwise to make sure that we had adequate time for the boatyard but also not delay the start of our cruise.  We left Arizona Sunday, March 13, for the migration and arrived in Bainbridge Island on March 15.  While our cats, Annie & Maggie, do not enjoy the drive, they tolerate it better each trip.  They even use the litter box we’ve provided as we drive along.  Marcia tends to their needs while I drive.

Once on the boat, we checked all the systems to make sure they still worked and got the boat ready for the 36 mile trip to Port Townsend where the work would take place.  Everything was good and we left pre-dawn on Sunday, March 20 to beat the arrival of high winds in the afternoon.  Sure enough the winds were starting to pick up to the upper teens as we docked in Port Townsends Boat Haven shortly before noon.

2016-03-Haulout-003xWe were intending to do a sea trial with a couple of people from the boatyard we were using, Port Townsend Shipwrights Coop (PTSC), the next day, Monday, March 21, but the winds were still blowing in the 20’s so we postponed it to the Tuesday morning before our haul out when winds were forecast to be calmer.

Tuesday morning we did the sea trial and got the rudder to make the noise that we wanted the PTSC people to hear.  We then headed into the slip where the travel-lift picked us up in the slings and transported us to the yard where we’d be for the next 15 days. 

2016-03-Haulout-006xIt was striking how much stuff had grown on our hull since we last had a diver (about a year ago), clean off our bottom while we were at the dock.  These two photos show the before and after state of 2016-03-Haulout-031xapproximately the same area near the rudder post and top of the rudder.

Living on the boat on the hard while work is being performed has its pluses and minuses.  On the negative side is the necessity to minimize your onboard water use since we can’t dump anything from our holding tanks.  The positive side is that we can answer questions and make decisions on any issues that come up while the work is being done.  Also, we are able to do boat projects ourselves that would be more difficult while in the water.

We came in pretty close to the budget that PTSC estimated based on the work statement we provided them.  Since we had a lot of “inspect and repair” items, some things ending up being more while others were less.  The biggest unplanned expense was the new driveshaft we had to have fabricated on account of the pit corrosion discovered in ours when it was removed.

Below is a list of the major work (not an exhaustive list) done:

  1. Power train inspected and repaired (included new shaft)
  2. Steering system inspected and repaired
  3. New house bank batteries
  4. Bottom painted
  5. New chain
  6. Regalvanized anchor
  7. Rigging inspected and repaired

We were relaunched on April 6 and did a sea trial to make sure everything was still working and the issues we identified addressed.

The next day we headed up to Anacortes to have our furnace serviced.  As we traveled along the west shore of Whidbey Island toward Rosario Strait, we crossed paths with Shearwater, a classic Diesel Duck owned by David Cohn.  He keeps his boat in Anacortes and was heading south for a visit with friends in Poulsbo.  We took advantage of our passing by taking photos of each other.



After a night’s stay in Anacortes, we headed up to Echo Bay on Sucia Island for a couple of nights at anchor.  This gave us a chance to make sure things were working well and ease back into cruising mode.

On Sunday, April 10 we left Sucia Island heading south toward Puget Sound.  Coincidentally, we again encountered Shearwater but this time our directions were reversed and David was making his way back to Anacortes.  Since David, as are we, is returning to SE Alaska this coming season and we expect to meet him even more this summer.

Rather than heading back into Eagle Harbor, we anchored for the night in Port Madison on the north end of Bainbridge Island.  The next day we headed down to Des Moines Marina to top off our fuel tanks for the upcoming cruising season.

Now back in Eagle Harbor at the QCYC outstation, we are devoting ourselves to provisioning and putting the finishing touches on things.  Our plan is to leave around the end of April.