Friday, June 28, 2013

5May2012 Day Sail

Weather:  Warm-ish and sunny.  Winds:  Light and variable  Seas:  <1ft

After the last couple weeks working on Strider, installing solar panels etc, Kelly and I got out into Rosario Strait for a couple hours.  Experimented with a new spinnaker, attempting outside gybes, bringing the clew and sheets around the front of the boat, only to see the upwind sheet go under hulls.  Eventually the wind died and we motored back against a 3kt, super moon flood tide.  Slow going.

After last summer's experiences and winter reading, I decided a very light wind sail was required.  Winds in the PNW have a reputation of being too much or too little.  Most boats are prepared for heavy winds with reefs and/or heavier sails.  But not enough are prepared for light winds though.  Generally, in PNW light winds, sailboats are motoring.  As they say, become a powerboat with a very tall antenna!

I do not like to is a drone.  The local light winds were one of the reasons the light trimaran was purchased - it could move in light winds.  However, the stock sails, even the laminated screecher, needed augmenting.

I started searching for a spinnaker.  Found a huge, nearly new, 3/4oz one via Minney's Yacht Surplus from a Cal 36.  Best of all - it is maize!  Once delivered, I took it to my go to sewing fix it gal Margot, had the old numbers removed and a blue block M added.

"Why maize and blue?"  Well, I'm a Wolverine, a University of Michigan fan.  "But on a spinnaker?"  Well, it is visible.  "Yeah but..."  This goes back to a story my buddy RT tells, about an encounter with an Ohio fan here in the PNW.  Between the Buckeye and RT, there has been a bit of 'my flag is bigger' rivalry.  I'm just prepared and as RT said after seeing the spinnaker, "There is no doubt who you are!"

This was the first day attempting to use it.  Gybing was eventful, requiring me to retrieve a sheet from under the boat.  Since then, we've learned to do inside gybes, bringing the clew and sheets through the space between the spinnaker and the genoa.

I could not hear the guy, but he was on a nearby ferry yelling something at us.  I assume it was "Go Blue!"

15April2012 First Sail!

Weather:  Cool and sunny.  Winds:  N 7  Seas:  <1ft

Day sail with Joe in Rosario Strait.  Just tooled around making 7kts.  Ever hear it is always a race when two boats are in view?  Yep, and Strider's speed impressed Joe!

Just a nice day!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Electrical System Upgrades: Updated 12Jan14

The biggest project during the winter 2011/spring 2012, and therefore subject to its own entry, was the electrical system upgrade.  As indicated by overnight anchorages in 2011, one of the two Optima Yellow Top house batteries had failed.  Further, the two, at least 10yr old, 60watt solar panels weren't doing anything.

With any change, one must ask to what end - what is the change to achieve?  The goal for the electrical system upgrades was to get at least 4 days on the hook without needing to recharge the batteries via engine or shore power.  Why 4 days?  4 days are probably how long Strider's fresh water supply will hold out!

Major Component Overview:

4 CALB 180Ah LiFePO4 Batteries with mini BMS
6 Aurinco solar panels:  2x Compact 100; 2x Bluewater 25; 2x Compact 25
2 Genasun GV-10 MPPT controllers
LED Lighting Throughout
MasterVolt ChargeMaster 12-25-3, MasterVolt MasterViewEasyMkII, MasterVolt MasterShunt, MasterVolt MasterDistro 500, MasterVolt MasterBus USB

What is the consumption?

To design an electrical system properly, one must first know the consumption, or what one will use. Every electrical item aboard must be taken into account:  Refrigerator, lights, radio, pumps (anchor wash down, bilge, galley, shower and head faucets), navigation instruments, hair dryer, fans, stove, windlasses, bow thruster.  Everything.  When Strider's systems were examined, stem to stern, I erred on the side of caution and rounded everything up, overestimating the consumption:  Summer worst case of 40Ah per day.  Winter, using the furnace and probably the stove more, would increase consumption. 

Second, one has to know how long they want to go between charging.  Since 4 days between charging was the goal, 40Ah x 4 days = 160Ah, the working number.  Batteries able to handle 160Ah loss need to be purchased.


My mentor Steve, of the Dragonfly 1000 Flexible Flyer, turned me on to LiFePO4 batteries.   'Standard' batteries, gel, AGM, wet and 6volt deep cycle golf cart, had been looked into.  All had several drawbacks, weight and discharge capability were foremost.  'Standard' batteries are able to discharge a maximum of 50% without damage for a maximum of 500 cycles.  Going by the goal of 4 days on the hook and 160Ah consumed, batteries of at least 320Ah were required.

Looking at the 6volt batteries available, two 370Ah would do the trick.  However, while the could fit in the engine bay, they weigh 113lbs and cost $420 each!  Alternately, assuming the solar panels could keep up with consumption, the next size down 6volt is 215Ah (107Ah, not 160Ah available), weighs 63.5lbs and costs $238.  A little more reasonable, but still heavy.

Gels fitting into the original space under the step are the group 31s.  Each has 97Ah, weighs 72lbs and costs $410.  Two would be required for just 97Ah usable.  To get to the goal's 160Ah, 4 group 31s would be required (3 would fit under the step) or move up to the 4D.  The 4D has 183Ah but weighs 130lbs and costs $645.  Once again, two would be required and they would have to be fitted into the engine bay.

Then Steve mentioned he was replacing his 6volt golf cart batteries with LiFePO4, a single set for both house and engine start.  There are several lithium ion technologies and manufactures, from very expensive, all included, plug and play MasterVolt all the way to less expensive more basic build your own with components.  LiFePO4 are stable and a great amount of power available vs cycles:  70% discharge 3000 times or 80% discharge 2000 times!  Then there is the size and weight:  Small and very light compared to 'standard' batteries.

CALB 180s were selected because they offered a bit more Ah vs size.  Though a 400Ah version were available, 4 would not fit into the space under the stair.  Further, with the solar panels selected (see below), I began to feel the 160Ah requirement was something to be flexible on.  Though rated at 180Ah, they can provide 200Ah (charged above the rated 3.4 volts each).  Their rated power (180Ah) available vs cycles:  126Ah @ 70% discharge or 144Ah @ 80% discharge, close to the 160Ah requirement.  At 11x7x2.8in and 12.5lbs each, they total 50lbs and fit under the stair!  With these, barring something catastrophic, Strider will never see another set of batteries.


A word about the Battery Management System.  There are BMSs available which will do everything, protect and keep the batteries balanced.  I purchased Cleanpower 'mini-BMS' which has 5 components, 1 monitor/battery and an overall control board wired to a solid state relay controlling the shore power charger.  The BMS does no balancing, this must be done by hand (not difficult).  To date, this set up works fine by shunting power across a battery when it is full and prevents the shore power charger from over charging the batteries.  I'm not sure it is required for this set up, but it is an insurance policy.

Steve provided a simple circuit to tie the BMS into the refrigerator t-stat so should the BMS cut off the shore power charger, all will be reset when the refrigerator turns on.  Now, how to keep them charged?


Wind was briefly considered, but dismissed as not practical for a Dragonfly 1000.  The solar setup was based on information gleaned through the Cruisers and Sailing Forums.  In particular:  The rule of thumb for peak solar is 4hrs/day year around in the southern latitudes, 5hrs/day summer-time north and (inferred) 3hrs/day winter-time north.

Again, worst case is winter sunshine is 3hrs/day peak.  To keep up with 40Ah/day, with zero loss, the panels needed to provide 13Ah for each of the 3hrs.  13Ah is about 180watts of panels (13Ah x 14volts = 182watts), round up and call it 200watts.

However, this is under ideal conditions:  All the panels oriented in the same direction and constantly oriented to the sun.  Aboard Strider, there is always shading, from lines, from sails, from the nets.  For instance, if under sail and the starboard is in full sun, the port side is shaded by the sail.  Further, the panels need to mounted on flat surfaces of the boat and none of them are oriented to the sun.  So, while 200watts would suffice in ideal conditions, there are no ideal conditions aboard Strider.  What then is required?  300watts?  400?

Aurinco panels were desired because they had a good reputation.  They did not need blocking diodes to prevent electrical flow from a producing panel to a shaded panel.  They are thin and light with a non-skid surface.  And being somewhat flexible, they are able to bend to mount on the boat's surface.  Further, they are local (Anacortes, WA).

Aurinco's panel styles helped to decide what and where to be mounted.  Strider came with two, 10yr old, 60watt panels and they needed replacing.  Aurinco's 100watt panels were the same size!  So, two of those, one for each ama.  Their location however, is covered when the amas are folded.  When the amas are folded, locations left exposed included the tops of the akas and the aft end of the amas.  Conveniently, Aurinco has a 25watt panel that would fit on top of the aka and a second 25watt that would fit on the aft end of the ama.  With this set up, I'd have 100watts exposed folded (7Ah max ideal) and 300watts extended (21Ah max ideal).  Remember:  There is no ideal aboard Strider, but I thought all in all, 300watts could cover our consumption.

To date, I've been very happy with the panels.  One needed to be replaced as water intruded via the output wires and caused corrosion/delamination.  Aurinco was very accommodating.  For further discussion, there is a results section below.

Solar Panel Arrangement.
The large 100 watt panels on the ama are covered when Strider is folded.
The small panel on the ama sterns are 25 watt.
25 watt panels are on the aft akas.


A controller is required to regulate the nominal 18-21volt solar panel output to something the batteries can handle.  The latest technology is Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT), a technology some claim to increase useful solar output 20-30%.  Practical experiments at Aurinco showed a more modest 10% increase.

The entire system was split into port and starboard, two systems of 150watts each, for redundancy.  A no bells or whistles LiFePO4 specific MPPT by Genasun was selected for each side.  Genasun GV-10 can handle 10.5amps and claim a 98.3% efficiency with .9mA night time consumption.  Because CALB LiFePO4 batteries had been selected (see above), the GV-10s were programed for a 13.8volt charge to protect the batteries from a potential overcharge.  Later, I found out the GV-10 came with a 13.8volt float voltage, this alone woulda/coulda protected the batteries.

Why 13.8volt charge?  Though a Battery Management System was purchased with the batteries, I was unsure the BMS did anything except shunt power across a battery once it is charged and shut off a shore power charger to prevent an overcharge.  So, 13.8 is derived from the CALB charge chart showing each battery is charged to maximum capacity at 3.4volts.  3.4v/battery x 4 batteries = 13.6volts.  .05volts/battery is required to overcome internal resistance.  .05 x 4 = .2volts.  13.6 + .2 = 13.8volts.  Unknown to me, there was a conversation between my supplier and Genasun at my 'unusual' voltage request of 13.8.  According to Genasun, CALB normally requires 14.2volts.  Would this have changed anything?  Not likely, I wanted to protect the batteries...period.  For results, see below.

LED Lighting

LEDs were not a part of the original consumption calculation, the original halogen and incandescent were.  But opportunity presented itself and with the exception of 1 light in a small cupboard, all Strider's lighting was converted to LED, including the navigation lights.  As a result, Strider hardly uses any electricity for lighting.  Navigation lights are Dr LED via West Marine.  Internal lights are Phillips 12volt LED garden lights via Home Depot.  The galley overhead light was replaced with a red/white LED light fixture.  The white side of the light was wired to the stock overhead light above the cook top, increasing light in the galley.  The light in the head was replaced with the same fixture as the galley.  The goose neck map light behind the dashboard in the cockpit was replaced with a red/white light also.  Now, red light is available from the V-berth all the way to the companionway and into the cockpit making night egress easier without sacrificing night vision. 

I have no direct Strider data, but an efficiency example is:  Summer 2012, a buddy was having problems with his boat's electrical system and the masthead incandescent alone was using 16Ah per night.  An LED was loaned and the consumption went to near zero.  This same buddy said Strider's masthead light was very visible (rated at 2nm).


Strider came with only a single output, conventional battery charger and a rudimentary monitoring system (volts only).  Though there are less expensive components available, MasterVolt was selected because each component is compatible with all the others - they communicate and are programmable.

MasterVolt ChargeMaster 12-25-3.  Nearly fully programmable.
MasterVolt MasterViewEasyMkII.  Monitors and allows some system programming.
MasterVolt MasterDistro 500 distributes the power to the boat systems and has 4 ports.  One is connected to the stock, 65-amp alternator, one to shore charger, one to port solar and one to starboard solar.  The type of fuses used in the shunt were readily available for the alternator and charger, but there were none small enough for the solar so I had to create my own.
MasterVolt MasterShunt measures and monitors flow in and out of the batteries.
MasterVolt MasterBus USB connects the system to a small notebook computer carried aboard and via the MasterVolt software, components can be programed.


The ChargeMaster is set at 14 volts (could not go lower) and floats at 14.  However, it is used only occasionally, mostly during the winter when shore power is connected and an electric heater is running on board.  To date, the batteries have had no problem with this setting.  When the batteries are down, the stock alternator outputs 45amps @ 14.2 but throttles back to 2amps @ 13.8 as the bank charges.  Originally, the GV-10s were set at 13.8 volts (turns out this is also their float voltage).  After a summer of use, the GV-10s were sent back to Genesun and reprogrammed to 14.2volts in an attempt to increase charge rate.  A neutral result (see below).


So, after thousands of dollars and millions of lives, how well does this system work?  In a word:  Fantastic!  Spring, summer and fall, with the amas folded and only 100watts of solar panels showing, the refrigerator on, the batteries are kept charged to 100% during the day, even during overcast days.  Winter in this configuration, with thick overcast and rain, the 100watts solar cannot keep up with fridge.  So the fridge is shut if off and the batteries stay at 100%.

Once aboard, with amas out, there is excess power and a freezer was added.  Once the freezer was dialed in, Strider uses 12-15 Ah between sun charges, including using the diesel cook top and furnace in the morning.  Generally, Strider is fully charged around 11am.  If there was a water maker, Strider could be on the hook forever.

The worst consumption/charging experience was before the freezer had been dialed in (originally set too cold and running too much) and anchored in a bay surrounded by trees.  The panels received the morning sun around 8am but were shaded by 4pm.  Additionally, due to angles and shading, the panels were not getting much exposure at all.  Further, these days were hot, about 85 degrees interior temperature, so the freezer and fridge were working hard.  In these conditions, the system was loosing between 10 and 15Ah per day.  Still, after 4 days, Strider was only down about 45Ah.  Not bad!  Winter, the original worst case scenario, has not yet been fully tested.


What would improve the system?  Steve's Flexible Flyer has 320 watts solar, 240 Ah LiFePO4 batteries (different brand), super-insulated, water-cooled fridge, a water maker and has enough excess power to heat his hot water to 170 degrees via the inverter.  His panels are set up more optimally and Strider will never be able to match his output without the addition of an aft arch (dinghy davit/radar/panel structure) like Flexible Flyer.  Still, he has achieved up to 19amps output.  The best seen aboard Strider has been 7amps...not even 50% of the solar panel potential.  As mentioned the GV-10s were sent back for reprogramming from 13.8volts to 14.2volts.  I'd hoped this increased voltage would increase the amp flow, but it doesn't seem to have made a difference.  Next step is to move the 100watt panels to a better location, forward on the ama, just behind the hatch and less shaded by the nets.  The configuration is working great as is, improving output is just something nagging.

What else?  Perhaps add an inverter.  But at this point, everything aboard is 12v or hand crank (blender and coffee grinder), which is fine!  However, my wife goes without a hair drier (but it would be nice).  Doing the hot water system like Steve does would also be nice.  We've a 'bucket head' vacuum cleaner for in port, else a small broom and dust pan is used.  Another addition would be a watermaker.

But all the additions mentioned are improvements to creature comforts, not system improvements.


The goal was at least 4 days on the hook:  Achieved!  The worst case to date was in Tenedos Bay in BC's Desolation Sound.  Even in these conditions, 4 days was easily achieved and Strider probably could have gone 2 weeks.  Anchored in wide open False Creek (Vancouver), Strider was fully charged by 11AM.   So:  Was consumption grossly overestimated?  Perhaps, but the LEDs were not a part of the original calculation and made a huge consumption improvement.

Too much solar?  Even with the niggling improvement mentioned above, the solar panels have been great also.  Probably could have gone with 200watts in the normal spring/summer/fall conditions.  However, the excess does allow for expansion.  Winter conditions have yet to be tested.

The LiFePO4 batteries have been a huge success - maintenance and trouble free!  The other systems have also been maintenance and trouble free.

Best yet, Strider never hooks up to shore power in marinas spring/summer/fall nor ever run a generator.  Quiet!

12January, 2014 Update:  Christmas Cruise 2013

Went for a 6 day Christmas cruise and experimented.  There is not enough data so the results are inconclusive.  However, things can be inferred.  The days were in the low 40s F and nights near freezing.

In port Victoria, with the amas folded, 35Ah consumed overnight (more for a 24hr period) using all the boat systems: furnace, cooktop, lights and radio.  This indicates 2-3 days maximum on the hook.  However, the amas were folded and only 100 watts of the solar array was exposed.  Later, on the same trip, anchored out in Butchart Cove and using the cooktop as a heat source, 25Ah was consumed overnight (more for a 24hr period).  With all the arrays exposed and an overcast/foggy morning, solar charging started around 0830.  Had we spent more time in these conditions, we might have been able to get the 4 day goal.

But all of this might be moot.  This was our first winter foray and we had not realized the importance of having, not just warm, but hot water.  While the engine does not need to run long to fully heat the water, it needs to run twice a day.  Since the alternator is a good one, the batteries would be charged significantly.  With this augmentation, 4 days is probably doable.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Winter 2011 to Spring 2012 Projects and Stuff

After a season sailing Strider, on the Great Lakes and now the Puget Sound, we gained confidence in handling her, but also finding things we liked and those we didn't.  Those we didn't like needed changing, all about turning the Dragonfly into Our Boat instead of Fred's old boat.

Many of the projects must be credited to Steve of Flexible Flyer, my Dragonfly mentor living on Whidbey Island.  Many of these projects were just following his lead.

The biggest project, and subject to its own entry, was the electrical system upgrade.  As indicated by the overnight anchorages, one of the two Optima Yellow Top house batteries had failed.  Further, the two 60watt solar panels weren't doing anything.  The goal for the electrical system upgrades was to get at least 4 days on the hook without needing to recharge via engine or shore power.  On to the other projects.

Head Replacement

The second biggest project was the head.  The OEM head was best.  The upper half, the bowl and lid were just fine, the pump in the lower half was a diaphragm pump which just did not want to push anything but liquid.  We eventually resorted to pooping in a bag...or suffering.  This was just not going to work for any anchoring out.

Based on a recommendation from a member of the Dragonfly forum (, a Raritan PHII lower body unit was purchased.  Allegedly, it would "plug and play" with the OEM bowl and mount in the space easily.  Not so fast.

First a word regarding the plumbing on a Dragonfly 1000.  Like Italians, the Danes are geniuses when it comes to somethings.  Woodworking for instance.  But plumbing?  I have been told the waste system in the DF1000 was designed with 'weight and balance' in mind:  Keep heavy items low and in the center of the boat to improve the ride.  OK, if this is the case, then why is the fresh water tank in the bow and above the waterline?

So, the waste system plumbing:  Starting at the head, the waste hose travels forward about 6ft to the Y-valve/discharge pump.  From here, it goes directly overboard or is redirected aft about 15ft, past the head, to the 14 gallon holding tank.  When desired, the tank is emptied via the Y-valve/discharge pump (15ft forward and uphill) or via the dockside pump out fitting 20ft forward on the bow.  There is a lot of 1.5in hose and a lot of back and forth.  A huge improvement would be to put the Y-valve next to the head.  Far more efficient.  No, I have not done this because a lot of DF1000 have needed to replace a rotting holding tank and I reckon most of the hose and the Y-valve will be eliminated should I have to replace mine.

Removing the old head was pretty straight forward though a few contortions were required accessing bolts on the aft side of the head, dealing with rusted bolts etc.  I had to remove the bowl to access the aft bolts.  Once off, the space was thoroughly cleaned.  Now to check for fit.

The old bowl's and the new base's bolt holes did not line up.  Flange to flange, no problem, just the holes did not align.  So, drilled new holes.  The Raritan base is a softer plastic so I did not worry there.  The old bowl was a harder plastic and I did worry about busting it.  Started with small drill bits and worked my way up.  Slow and steady, new holes and no breaks!

Next, the new base did not fit into the space.  It was about 1in too wide.  Either the pump handle was up against the cabinetry or the bowl overhung the space preventing the flip down seat from sitting properly.  The lower base is an integrated unit, from the bowl flange to a tube across the bottom to the pump unit.  Bolt flanges to secure the head to the deck also come off this unit.  The tube is merely a conduit from the bowl to the hand pump with no pressure.  Stuff just sits in it until sucked out.  I ended up removing about an inch from the tube, reconnecting the system with a black rubber hose with hose clamps.

Now about an inch narrower, the unit fit into the space!  But I had destroyed the unit's rigidity by cutting the tube and it would not mount well, remaining flexible between the bowl and pump.  So, I got a plastic cutting board and mounted the head to it first, using recessed nuts.  Stiffness and integrity restored, the unit could be mounted to the deck using the cutting board as the base.

The old hoses and new head fittings were not in the same place, naturally.  The waste hose needed to be shifted aft about an inch.  A hole saw was used.  The water intake for the old head was on the backside of the unit, the new on the front.  Again, the hole saw was used to cut an access to bring the water line to the front side of the head.

The strict for and aft position of the old head made for difficult sitting, too little knee room.  The new head was angled slightly to starboard to allow for better leg room.  Once properly positioned, new holes were drilled to mount the base to the deck.  This took a couple steps.  The front side of the unit was easily accessed, but the bowl blocked access to the aft side.  So, once the front side was bolted in, the bowl was removed to access/drill and bolt the aft side.  Bowl remounted and system checks great!

OK, this was a pain in the ass and not the 'plug and play' stated by the forum member.  It was worth it though!  As of this writing, we are on our second season and this head works.  A little vigorous pumping and everything disappears!

Refrigerator Efficiency

In the process of installing the new electrical equipment, the refrigerator had to be removed.  The fridge is air cooled and depends on proper ventilation.  Physics 101, heat rises.  But it will only rise if there is ventilation above, but also below to replace that which has risen.  Once the fridge was removed, I found there was sufficient ventilation out the top, but no vents down low to bring in cool air.  All the rising air did was hang in there, heating the cabinet above the fridge.  The fridge sat on a 1/4in plywood base which soon received about a dozen 1.25in holes courtesy of the hole saw.  Though subjective, it is a dramatic improvement.  The fridge is cooler at a lower setting and the cabinet above does not get hot.

Inspection Port

The only access to the bilge is via a 12x18-ish inch hatch at the forward end of the port settee.  This hatch gives access to head hoses, the forward end of the holding tank, some electrical wires, bilge pump and head intake through hull/valve.  Very limited bilge access.  So, I installed a 6" inspection port in the saloon deck in vicinity of galley.  Granted, there is not much space under the deck there and makes for poor storage, but it can now be inspected.  Further, during the winter, a 6" fan is place in the open port to keep air circulating through bilge.  The bilge stays dry and mold free!

V-berth Mats

Based on a recommendation by Steve B. of Flexible Flyer, ventilation mats were installed under v-berth cushions to provide some air circulation.  I was not the original purchaser of this mat so I have no idea what it is called or where to get it.  Steve said he found his at a boat show.  However, this mat reminds me of a very heavy duty scotch-bright pad and is about an inch thick.

Running Rigging

Much of the running rigging was replaced.  All halyards, lazy jacks and screecher sheets were replaced.  The ama in/out lines were replaced with Amsteel lines.  The Amsteel lines worked great for a season but started slipping in the clutch during the second season.  As of this writing, they have been replaced with Dyneema Cored Double Braid.  To date, it has been rock solid.

Anchor Rode

Strider came with a Fortress FX-16 which has been working great for us.  I was not comfortable with the 3/8in rode with 6ft of chain though.  The 3/8 was replaced with 1/2in and 40ft of chain was added at the anchor end.  We now have about 290ft of rode.  I've considered adding a 10 pound downrigger weight as a killet to augment the chain but have not yet.

Getting Rid of Red


This should come as no surprise to those who know me, I am a University of Michigan fan after all.  The original trim on Strider was red.  By the time I purchased her, the red was ratty and faded.  It need replacing.  Since the hull is white, anything with red looks too much like several B1G schools, including that one down south.  The red was replaced with maize and blue stripping, keeping the maize inside of the blue to show up better.  Name and home port were also added.

New Sail Cover

After chasing repairs, the OEM red sail cover was reaching the point decreasing usefulness.  A new was was requested via a local seamstress.  Margot nearly balked at the yellow, "Nobody wants yellow!"  I do.  "It fades fast."  Bright maize or faded, they both work!  Anyway, a cover was made and Margot did a great job!  This cover is nice and tight with no flapping around in a storm.  The previous one needed to be strapped down to prevent it from beating itself to ribbons.

New Cockpit Enclosure

Strider came with the OEM cockpit enclosure.  The OEM enclosure was designed to be a dodger only under sail.  The entire back 2/3s unzipped from the front, was rolled up and stored aft of the cockpit.  This is great in nice weather, or if you just liked getting wet.  The dodger had a couple small windows on the top portion.  But when fully up, the rest of the enclosure had but a single, small window on the aft panel.  Entry into the enclosure was through a small flap on each side, requiring a lot of ducking and bending to use.  It was like a cave.

The cave, OEM Cockpit Enclosure.  The entire rear half must be removed for safe sailing

Sailing in the rain was also a chore.  If one remained behind the wheel, one was fully exposed.  Ducking behind the dodger one could lean on the binnacle, keeping his head only exposed and steer the boat by reaching behind.  The boat's furnace provided a little relief, but not much.  It just was not a configuration for the PNW.

We put up with it until there was one too many repairs.  "Margot, how would you like to make a cockpit enclosure?  No?  Would you make a recommendation?  Tradewinds Canvas?  Expensive but good."  So, John from Tradewinds came out and we chatted.  Told him what we didn't like about the old one.  Told him what we wanted.  He told me no problem!

The new enclosure features as-large-as-practical windows on all vertical surfaces.  The dodger windows were also increased.  Fully enclosed, the space is now a pleasant room and the boat's furnace can keep the space toasty.  With the exception of the aft panel, the boat can be sailed with the entire enclosure up.  The aft panel must be removed because of the main halyard/traveler being inside the cockpit.  Easy entry/exit has been facilitated by removable side panels which extend up onto the roof.  Removed, I can now stand on the cockpit lazarette.  We refer to these side panels as the "T-tops" and have proven to be very versatile.  If cold out, both tops are on.  If warm, both removed leaving a small bimini.  If there is a strong wind from the port side, bringing spray, the port side can be put up leaving the starboard open to facilitate deck entry.

No longer a cave, but a usable room, the new, airy cockpit enclosure!

Note the large rear window!  Entire enclosure can remain in place for motoring but only removal of the rear window is required for sailing.

Side panel, referred to as a 'T-top', removed.

T-Top removed.

Light Wind Spinnaker

Winds in the PNW are normally described as too much or too little.  Spring, fall and winter, too much is fairly easy to deal with, reef and reef some more or stay at home.  Summer on the other hand, is usually a different deal as a high pressure normally settles in and winds become light.  One of the reasons for getting the DF was because it weighs little and, with a lot of sail, could move in the light summer winds.  Strider's only light wind sail is a screacher, a mylar/polyester laminate.  Wonderful sail for reaching and upwind - good for 2kts more than the genoa!  The screacher was adequate downwind, particularly when used wing-on-wing with the genoa.  But, there just wasn't enough sail for downwind in light wind conditions.  A light spinnaker was required.

Enter Minney's Yacht Surplus.  I found out them via a sailing magazine.  I kept monitoring their website for a few weeks.  One day, a 44ft luff, 26ft foot .75oz nylon appeared.  The condition was rated a 9 out of 10, nearly brand new.  Sale price was $900 and best yet, it was bright maize!  I bought it.  Contacted my go to sailmaker.  "Margot, how would you like to modify a spinnaker?  Add a block M.  Yes I'm serious!"  OK, Margot is from Michigan and her brother is a big UM fan, she gets it.

This is a huge sail and we are still learning how to use it.  Figured out we needed to do inside gybes, bringing the sheets inside the sail, between the spinnaker and the genoa.  Figured this out as when we did outside gybes, one of the sheets always ended up under the boat.  Further, I'm not sure putting the sail's tack on the bowsprit is best for downwind, the sail is under utilized.  I'm going to experiment and try putting the tack out between the vaka and the ama, perhaps all the way out to the ama bow.

So, if you see a monster block M on a yellow spinnaker out there, say "Go Blue" or "Beat Ohio!"

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fall, Mid October2011: Last Sail of the Season

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  N 5-10.  Seas:  <1ft.

Though not intended to be, this was the last sail until April 2012.  Joe was in town and we took Strider out into Rosario Strait and just cruised around for a couple hours, a sandwich and a few beers!

Great day!

Sunday, 25September2011: Blakely Island to Skyline

Weather:  Overcast and cool.  Winds:  SE 25+.  Seas 3-4ft.

A pleasant morning in the marina.  Kelly was fascinated watching 3 otters monkeying around on the covered pier while we had breakfast.

On departure, winds in Obstruction Pass were workable, out of the south and full main and genoa were deployed.  Exiting the pass and into the north end of Rosario was another story.  2-3ft chop greeted us and we headed straight across to get into the lee of Cypress Island.  Turned south in the lee and enjoyed a nice, 8kt sail!  Then, upon exiting the lee, the ugly, brutal conditions really hit us.  3-4ft waves in the face, 30+kts apparent winds.  Furled the genoa and reefed the main.  Still needed the engine to give us steerage.  A very fine balancing point between going into irons, keeping the boat moving and not succumbing to excessive list/bashing by falling off a little.


Finally made the channel between Burrows and Fidalgo Islands.  Managed to get the sails down in the calm of the Burrows lee.  Looking ahead, I could see the 2-3ft chop in Burrows Bay leading to our marina entrance.  It was not over and we splashed our way into the marina.  Needed a lot of helm and judicious use of throttle to turn us into the marina and keep us in the channel.

The wind was still strong in the relative calm of the marina and I knew fighting the weather vaning, the natural tendency for the bow to swing away from the wind, putting the wind at our backs, would be insane.  We got into the basin and I let the bow swing downwind bringing the stern into the wind.  Using reverse engine, we could hover.  Kelly took over and did a great job hovering while I brought in the amas and placed the fenders.

Once set, we needed to get to our slip, which was to the left of our position.  A left turn was not going to get there without hitting a dock or putting us into an awkward position for a crappy turn in, so we made a 270 degree turn to the right, putting us in a pretty good position.  The strong winds would push us off our dock.  Kelly had the spring line and was ready to go.  I got us to the dock and Kelly's leg seized.  Oh shit.  With the boat drifting away from the dock, I jumped out of the cockpit, grabbed the line and lept to the dock securing the line to the cleat.

Safe and sound...except the boat was hanging on to the spring line and 7ft from the dock!  Fortunately, our neighbor's boat was absent, on the hard, so we did not have to worry about potential damage there.  I muscled the boat to the dock, in between gusts.  It was tough.  Since then, I've figured out an easier way, using the spring line as usual but in conjunction with the bow line and engine to work the boat back into position.

Once properly moored and we were sitting there having a post event beer, we heard a voice, "You aren't Steve!"  No we aren't.  Steve is my Dragonfly mentor and lives on Whidbey Island with his DF 1000 'Flexible Flyer'.  This gentleman on the dock talking to us has a condo near the marina entrance, saw us 'splashing' in an thinking we were Steve and Janet, came by to say hello.  He introduced himself and in our exhausted state, I missed his name but I do remember he has a DF 820 stored nearby but had not used it for a while, which is unfortunate.

In retrospect, what could have been done differently?  Many things.  Leave the night before.  Stay an extra day.  Go north of Cypress etc:  This last option would have made for a longer day, but could have avoided all the rough water except for the last bit at the marina entrance.  Perhaps go west out of Blakely Island and sailed south through the islands and the shelter they provided.

Lesson Learned:  Strong winds and opposing current can be very ugly.
Lesson Learned:  Use the mooring lines for more than holding a boat to the dock.  We had used the spring line to bring the boat to the dock before using forward engine, but other lines, like the bow line could be used with the engine in reverse.  Could have walked the boat to the dock.
Lesson Learned:  DF hovers/holds-position very well with the stern into the wind.
Lesson Learned:  Reef early, reef often.
Lesson Learned:  The stern is really responsive to rudder and throttle pivoting around the centerboard!

Saturday, 24September2011: Skyline to Blakely Island

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Wind:  Light/variable.  Seas:  Nil.

A buddy from Anacortes Yacht Club invited us out to Blakely Island for an AYC salmon BBQ.  Bring a dish to pass!

Motor-sailed out and backed into a slip in the north end marina.  Clean, clear water in the marina but with marginal facilities, not much to do since the marina is surrounded by private property and $1.30/foot fees, we probably will not be back.

Whilst we knew a few people from AYC and met a few more there, our host decided to depart without a word one the forecast called for heavy winds and 3ft wind waves in the morning.  It was a prudent move on his part, but it sucked he abandoned us like that.

Post gathering, a few people came out to our boat and visited, me in the saloon with a few and Kelly in the cockpit with a few.  Was nice.  At this point, we had decided on "Wind Strider" for a name, a nod towards being light on the wind yet looking like the bug water strider.  One friend with a Farrier got excited as she explained a friend of theirs with another tri named his "Gerris" the latin name for water strider.

We were given warnings about strong south winds and strong southbound currents making for ugly conditions in Rosario Strait.  Those heading towards the east side Anacortes marinas normally went north of Cypress and Guemes Islands.

Tuesday, 13September2011: Port Townsend to Skyline

Weather:  Grey, lifeless, cool.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas:  Nil.

3hr, uneventful motor home.  Did not break out the sails.  Boring.

Monday, 12September2011: Kingston to Port Townsend.

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  NW 0-5.  Seas:  Calm.

Though slow, sailed most of the way.  Ran into a Farrier (32?) just south of Useless Bay.  Aligned on a west tack and, as expected, he was faster and he disappeared into (vicinity of?) Oak Bay.  Motored from then on.  While Auto kept us on course, I cleaned the cockpit and Kelly took a nap.

Moored in Point Hudson Marina.  Not the prettiest place, but good docks, functional facilities and very convenient to downtown Port T.

We went to dinner in Port Townsend, a place called Fins Coastal Cuisine.  Nice meal at a good price.  Introduced Kelly to another ice cream shop, Elevated Ice Cream on the way back to the boat!

Sunday, 11September2011: Gig Harbor to Kingston

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Finicky.  Seas:  <1ft.

Arrived back aboard to a warm refrigerator, no lights and dead house battery.  Apparently the Optima Yellow Top batteries could not cut it.  Fortunately, while there are two for a house battery, the third engine battery had been isolated and was fully functional.  Also, apparently, the solar panels were not functioning very well either.

Took advantage of winds when they were available and ended up sailing up 90% of the Colvos!  Else, it was pretty much a motor trudge.  Found a great ice cream shop called Mora up the street in Kingston.  Turns out they have a second store in Poulsbo....

Saturday, 10September2011: Gig Harbor

Weather:  Sunny and nice!

Woke to a battery that would not light the stove.  Started the engine and lit the stove, had breakfast and a morning coffee.  Left the engine running to charge the battery.  Kelly did not feel comfortable enough to use the kayak to get to RT's slip so I paddled to the slip, borrowed RT's RIB and rowed back to the DF to pick up Kelly.  The entire time, the engine had been running to charge the battery.  Since there are solar panels on the boat, I had hopes batteries etc would survive us leaving her alone for the night.

Locked the DF up and Kelly and I set off for Capt's Mast and a night at RT's!  No, still had not decided on a name, but had narrowed it down.

Friday, 9September2011: Kingston to Gig Harbor

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Calm, building to 10.  Seas:  <1ft.

Departed Kingston early and motored until the winds built enough to sail.  Entered the Colvos under sail and sailed the entire length!  Exited the Colvos making 9kts and into traffic.  Had to dodge around a sailboat motoring along with no one at the helm.  Dumb ass.

Smoked to the harbor entrance and Kelly and I executed a gorgeous bat turn/drop the sail maneuver.  With everything prepped for a sail drop, Kelly commenced a 360 degree starboard turn and I furled the headsail.  Kelly then momentarily holding the boat into the wind and I dropped the main.  Kelly then continued the turn to starboard, lining us up for a harbor entrance.  A calm motor through the entrance while I stowed the sails and gear.  Wonderful we had done it before!

Once in the harbor, we motored around, looking for a spot to anchor.  Ultimately chose a spot directly across from Arabellas, were RT's Captain's Mast is moored.  Anchored in a high tide of 40ft and since it was calm and no storm predicted, used a 3:1 scope.  RT and Emma come out to the DF for dinner and a pleasant evening was had.

Thursday, 8September2011: Skyline to Kingston

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

First leg of our trip to Gig Harbor to watch the Notre Dame/Michigan Under the Lights football game at RT's.  Late start, low winds and full marina at Port Townsend made for a longish day.  9.5hr motor sail to Kingston.  Arrived in the dark at a new marina.  Learned a couple things since the last time we had done this and I put Kelly on the bow with a flashlight to highlight the harbor entrance.  There are a couple lights on the harbor entrance, but the lights on shore as a background combined with the ferry lights masked them too well.

Along the way, saw osprey, dolphin and seals.  I probably cannot express just how magical the motoring at night was.  The seas were mostly flat, almost mirror.  The moon was full.  Visibility was outstanding.  Things above the water were cool, but what was going on below was magical.  As darkness descended, the underwater portion of the starboard ama started to glow bluish, leaving a 1-2ft trail.  The same with the port!  I looked aft and we had a bio-luminescence afterburner extending 15' back in the prop wash!  I called Kelly up onto the net.  From there, the boat looked like it was floating above the water!  Then, to add further mystery, I kept hearing a short lived flutter/splashing from the water.  I looked closer and saw silver flashes, reflections from the moonlight, in conjunction with the flutter/splash, at the surface of the water.  2-3in critters were apparently startled by the passing of the boat and, I assume, attempting to escape her.  We spent the next 45min sitting on the forward aka watching the show as Auto kept us on course.

At the time, I had no idea what they were.  Fish?  Squid?  Since then, at least as of this writing, I assume they were small fish, perhaps herring.  I base this on witnessing two pigeon guillemots working together in Fox Cove on Sucia Island.  As they dove, small 1-2in fish, herring I believe, tried to escape much the same way as the critters on the moonlit night did.  Flutter/splashing with partial leaps out of the water.

The last word on the night:  Magic....

Saturday, 3September2011: Roche Harbor to Anacortes

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

First overnight anchor was a success though the stove would not light in the morning...missed the AM coffee.  Suspect the house battery and did not try a cross over.

Route home was via Mosquito Pass, the Haro Strait to San Juan de Fuca hoping to see orca.  Skunked.  Did see dolphin, seals and jumping salmon!  Sailed when we could, motored when we had to.  Need to avoid a lot of fishing boats vicinity of Lime Kiln Light.

Friday, 2September2011: Anacortes to Roche Harbor

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  Nil.

First trip to someplace new together, decided to take Kelly to Roche Harbor as it has a few unique customs.  Meandered through the islands via Thatcher Pass then north of Shaw Island, through the Wasp Islands, across the San Juan Channel and into Roche.  Sailed when we could, motored when we had to.  Kelly spent a lot of time on the port ama just staring at the scenery.  Saw a bald eagle, dolphin, harbor seals and sea lions.  Anchored in Roche, off of the Customs Dock.  Dead calm in the harbor.

Could not tell if the anchor light was on so Kelly cranked me up...and yes, it was on.  Kelly was amused by the sunset ceremony at Roche.  First, they played the theme from "The Bridge over the River Kwai."  Then, "Oh Canada" and finally "The Star Spangled Banner."  At sunset, a cannon was shot and "Taps" played.  I think the air horns after the cannon startled Kelly more than the cannon.

Beautiful evening and night...the dogs were left at a sitter's!

Sunday, 21August2011: First Saltwater Sail!

Weather:  Sunny and cool.  Winds:  NE 5.  Seas <1ft.

After a week of continuing refit, it was time to take a ride!  Met a couple of our new neighbors readying Pulelehua for an afternoon sail also.  Asked Bernie where they were headed and he thought about Smith Island, a nature reserve at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Since we had not particular destination, this was as good as any!

45 minutes after their departure, we followed Pulelehua out, turned west and raised sail.  Once in Rosario Strait, headed SW towards Smith Island, chasing a sail we thought was Pulelehua.  We caught up with said sail at Smith Island.  It was not Pulelehua.  No idea where they went!

Turned around and headed back to home port at 8kts!  Good day of sailing.  Along the route out and back, we saw Stellar's Sea Lions and a minke whale!  Kelly was really happy!  While sailing the Great Lakes is great fun, they sure missed out on the marine mammals (but no sharks or salt).

Monday, 15August2011: Mast Step Anacortes, WA

Weather:  Sunny and mild.

Kelly and I motored the DF from the west side Skyline Marina to the east side Cap Sante Marina and used the Anacortes Yacht Club's lift and the mast was stepped with Northwest Rigging's expertise.  It was interesting going into Cap Sante.  I'd been in there before, but as a passenger, not at the helm, and certainly not going as deeply into the marina.  Fortunately, there was little wind because it is fairly tight in there....

As we motored back to Skyline, with Kelly at the helm, I continued rigging the boat, adding the boom and then breaking down the mast's transport supports.  Was done in time to enjoy the evening cruise!

Friday, 12August2011: Launch Day Anacortes, WA

Weather:  Sunny and mild.

Other than the successful launch, this was uneventful.  Used the reverse strap system previously described and the boat was picked up, moved to the launch site and lowered into the water.  Spent a couple minutes making sure the stopcocks were open and water was in the shaft tube, fired up the iron genny and motored over to our new slip, TDN20!

Granted, I'd rather have not had the expense of making fiberglass repairs, but the extra time in the yard allowed us to do a bit more for the refit:  clean and polish, replace ama lines, replace halyards etc.

Wednesday, 10August2011: Disaster Anacortes, WA

Weather:  Fair and clear

Kelly and I busted our humps prepping the Dragonfly for launch today.  Though we had not chosen a new name for the DF, we knew HR, while clever, was not ours.  Mid afternoon, the travel lift comes and there is a discussion regarding the new lines I'd placed on the boats lift points.  "Are the going to hold?"  "According to the manufacturer, yes."

Well, after the delivery day goat rope, and since I could not find the stainless steel cable set that came with the boat for lifting via a travel lift, I had purchased some short dyneema lines and used bowlines to attach them to the boat.  These dyneema lines are rated at 10,000 lbs each and since the boat only weighs 5100 pounds empty, I thought they would hold just fine.  What I did not know is dyneema is slippery, requiring some special knots or splicing techniques.

Everything was hooked up and the boat lifted about 3ft up and the port aft line's bowline slipped and came undone.  The boat's port side aka/vaka shoulder slammed down onto the cradle.  The boat then swung to starboard, over-stressing the starboard aft dyneema line.  The bowline tried to hold, but the friction of the moving dyneema caused the dyneema to melt and the stern dropped, punching the cradles port/aft support into the inside port ama.

As the dust settled, the yard workers scattered to the far side of the yard.  Those working on there boats stopped to stare.  I was standing alone, staring at the boat, bow still suspended and the stern sitting on the ground.  Kelly tried to comfort, but I wanted none of it.  All I could think of was 'what to do?'  This was outside of my experience.

Fortunately, there was a professional right around the corner.  He came over in about 10 minutes and took charge.  The bow was supported to prevent another fall.  The straps were put back in place and the stern lifted off the cradle, the cradle removed and the boat placed on standard boatyard supports.

Damage was a 12x12in hole punched into the port ama.  The aka/vaka shoulder was also damaged.  I called RT and he had words of wisdom, "Its just fiberglass."  All was repairable.  

Monday, 8August2011: Delivery Anacortes, WA

Weather:  Fair and clear

Delivery Day!

HR arrived around noon today...filthy with road grime and extra supports.  Apparently, the driver would not take her with single 4x4s supporting the amas and a second was added on top of the first.  Additionally, lines were added from the 4x4s and under the amas to augment the straps I'd used to support the amas.

A goat rope occurred trying to lift HR with the local travel lift.  The Dragonfly is lifted from eye bolts in the 4 corners of the boat.  In Waukegan, a strap system had been developed using 4x 10ft straps from the 4 corners and coming to a central point.  This allowed the boatyard to lift her with a crane.

The travel lift, a box like device on 4 wheels, does not have a single lift point like a crane, but lifts from 4 points, each individually adjustable to allow the boat to be kept level.  The travel lift works great for boats lifted using wide straps placed under, cradling, the boat.  Turns out, the strap system is incompatible with the travel lift, no central point of lift.  After a couple hours of monkeying with this, we finally figured it out.

The solution was to separate the strap system into 2 parts and reverse the configuration.  One set through the aft lift points and the second set through the fore points leaving the strap ends loose to hook into the travel lift's points.  HR was then lifted off the truck and placed in the DIY yard for some prep work to include cleaning and Hull Raiser decal removal!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

13-15July2011: Pack Up Waukegan, IL

Weather:  Sunny and mild.

Pack it up and go!

We spent the first day off loading the boat, packing things back in the car we needed to haul home.  We also returned to Fred a few things he'd left us but we decided weren't useful.

The second day the boat was hauled, de-stepped and stowed in the yard.  During this time, Ferd and I repaired a few leaks and placed ama supports using 4x4s and 2x4s, one over the aft cockpit and the second on the bow.

Third day was finishing up, stowing sails and other things to prevent chaffing etc.  Hot days and we were looking forward to going home.

Can't thank Ferd enough for all the work he did for us, helping us prep for shipment.

Tuesday, 12July2011: Holland to Waukegan

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Variable.  Seas:  Less than 1ft

Nice day though winds were finicky.  75nm in 10hrs-ish.  Motored then motor-sailed then sailed making 6.5 to 9kts.  Motored through the SE corner of Wisconsin and the winds picked back up and we made 6.5-7.5kts and a sunset sail into Waukegan.

Kelly saw 419ft on the depth.  Somewhere there is supposed to be a 925ft depth....

We had an adventure when the screacher mis-furled in stronger winds, twisting on itself.  So, we dropped the sail and stuffed it into the saloon via the hatch.  Kelly had never seen anything like this and wondered WTF?  When the winds died in Wisconsin, we brought it back out, raised and untangled it.  Good thing too as the winds picked up.  The screacher is good for another 2kts and without it, we probably would have entered Waukegan in the dark.

Kelly and the fly phenomenon.  From where, in the middle of the lake, do these flies come?  I don't know.  But Kelly thinks it is right out of a horror movie and spent a good portion of the time we motored, spreading fly guts and blood over the boat with a swatter.

Monday, 11July2011: Holland

Weather:  Thunderstorms throughout the day with sun breaks.  Cracking wind at times.

R&R with dad and Shirley.  The T-storms made them divert around local flooding and downed trees.   Kelly and I took them out to the traditional birthday/anniversary dinner at the Piper Restaurant at the Eldean Marina.  Not bad.  Was good to see dad and Shirley before we headed off across the lake and then back home.

Sometime during the day, I think it was in the morning, I was aboard and Kelly walking the dogs, there was a thunderstorm right over head.  I think we were struck.  There was a sizzle emanating from the vicinity of the companionway, a flash and then a KABOOM.  Nothing smoked, but the sizzle was portentous.  The next day, upon departure, the wind indicator was AFU and ultimately was replaced in Anacortes.

Sunday, 10July2011: Holland

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas: Less than 1ft.

Repeat of the previous day but with Judy, Rick and Sammy.  Great fun was had!  Got Ceili to jump off the boat in to the water with me.  Found the life jackets worked well for the dogs and they were very helpful picking the dogs up and out of the water.

An indication of Kelly's comfort level with the boat.  During this trip, Kelly was at the helm while I handled lines then boarded.  Normally she required direction, helm and throttle positions.  By this point, none of the direction was required...and apparently I'm not either.  This day, whilst I'm on the dock removing the last line, she is backing out...rather quickly and clearly not thinking about me still on the dock.  Meanwhile, I'm yelling, "Hey, hey!  What about me?"  She looks up, puts the throttle back in forward and come back for me.  Clearly not required anymore.

Saturday, 9July2011: Holland

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Light.  Seas:  Less than 1ft.

Lake Macatawa had turned over.  That is, the water at the bottom bottom of the lake comes to the top while the top water sunk to the bottom.  This creates an oxygen starvation.  Algae bloom and fish die off.  Pretty ugly.  Hot in the marina.

R&R with Frank, Sharon, Hunter and Harry.  With them on the bow, we motored out of the marina and with the amas out, everyone was free to move about.  Once on Lake Michigan, raised sail and 'raced' a few boats with Hunter at the helm.  Water temp varied between 68-72 and we anchored on the first sandbar off the beach south of the breakwater.

Good day playing on the boat, beach with everyone and the dogs!  The dogs swam ashore and got to run and run in the sand, something they had not been able to do for a month.  Frank seemed to have a great time while fearless Harry, his youngest, went wild jumping off the boat!  While in the water, cleaned the boat's bottom.

Friday, 8July2011: Muskegon to Holland/Lake Macatawa

Weather:  Sunny and mild 80 degrees.  Winds:  NW 5+.  Seas:  None.

Screecher and main broad to beam reach (120-90 degrees relative) and made 6kts.  Stopped at a dog beach along the way.

Moored in Eldean's.  While new facilities, the new staff seemed confused/under trained.  Older staff did not seem to want to bother with us.  Service just seemed lacking, like pulling teeth to get the weather forecast brought up on the computer.

Ran into a couple from Waukegan (they remembered our dogs) attending a Juneau gathering.  They asked about HR and speed.  I told them we average 6-7kts and have cruised 10-12 hitting 15.  The had asked because they had routinely sailed circles around HR outside of Waukegan.  I can only assume Fred had a relaxed group aboard and not been trying since he knew how to sail and had hit 18.3 on a run to Chicago.

Thursday, 7July2011: Pentwater to Muskegon

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas: a mirror.

Motor sailed.  Pretty boring.  This time, though hot inside, stayed in the Harbor Town Marina.  Much nicer facilities than the previous.  Hooked up with Tim and had a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, 6July2011: Frankfort to Pentwater

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  NW 10.  Seas:  Less than 2ft.

Nice run to Pentwater averaging 6-7kts hitting 9kts towards the end.  65nm in 10hrs.  Saw something on the shore.  Looked like a power plant at the base of the dunes with pipes running down the dune face.  Conversation with the harbormaster and it was a powerplant.  Water is pumped into the reservoir when excess power is available and then discharged when needed.

Pentwater is a nice town, the marina ok.  Facilities are basic.

Tuesday, 5July2011: Frankfort

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas:  Flat.

Found out our expected boat haul to Anacortes has been delayed a week so we slowed down and spent the day in Frankfort.  Visited the grocery store and restocked.

Monday, 4July2011: Leland to Frankfort

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas:  Flat.

Motor to Frankfort, hugging the shore touring Sleeping Bear Dunes from Lake Michigan.

Got to see a second fireworks display from the boat.  Instead of looking up the hill as in Leland, we sat on the boat looking towards Lake Michigan.  Off in the distance, lots of light and not a lot of noise.  Was nice and the mink was still there!

Sunday, 3July2011: Charlevoix to Leland

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas:  Flat.

Motored to Leland, hugging the shore where practical, touring the Leelanau Peninsula.  Stopped and anchored for a bit and went for a swim in 65 degree water.  Hey, I was hot and was tired of being on the water and not in it!

Leland has a small marina and the town is a former fishing village.  Many of the fish shacks along the river have been converted to shops selling local art etc.   Found a nice restaurant to have dinner...and the local ice cream shop of course!

Got back to the marina and a section of the dock was crowded, having been taken over by a few local power boaters seeming to think they owned it.  Was tough getting through them, particularly with the dogs.  Got a treat later as the dock was a pretty good view for the local 4th of July fireworks!  Qatar did not like it of course, but we tried to keep him below.

Saturday, 2July2011: Charlevoix

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas:  Flat.

Once again, R&R in Charlevoix.  Really like this town.  Marina was much busier this time.

Friday, 1July2011: Mackinaw City to Charlevoix

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas:  Flat.

Easier getting through Grey's Reef this time.  Mostly motor Charlevoix.

Thursday, 30June2011: Presque Isle to Mackinaw City

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Nil.  Seas:  Flat

Mostly a motor to Mackinaw City.  Refueled.  Found the Kilwins!

Auto went nuts off Point Au Sable, suddenly going around in circles or weaving.  Thought it might be a calibration, but it kept on.  Shut it down.  I may have had something to do with the tool box being close to the compass.  Moved the tool box to the starboard lazarette.

Wednesday, 29June2011: Presque Isle

Weather:  Sunny and mild!

R&R.  After yesterday, Kelly deserved a break!  The dogs and I got a haircut on the dock!

Tuesday, 28June2011: Harrisville to Presque Isle

Weather:  Variable.  Winds:  W 10-15 building to 20kts.  Seas:  Flat building to 5ft

Interesting day, in a Chinese curse way.

Departed Harrisville with great conditions.  Off shore winds, 10-15 gave us a northbound rocket ride making 11-12 with excursions to 15 all the way to Thunder Bay.  Slowed to 7-8kts to cross Thunder Bay as the fetch pushed the waves to 2-3ft.  Went outside the islands off shore from North Point.  Totaled 20nm in 2hrs, from Harrisville to the Thunder Bay Light.

Past the islands, new course was NW with small, less than 1ft waves and made 6-8kts.  Made Presque Isle at 1330!  Decided to press on to Rogers City, another 13-ish miles.  Continued our heading out into the less protected Lake Huron.  Waves built and wind increased to 20kts.  Kelly at the helm, she started to fall off, having fun while increasing our speed.  "10kts, 11kts 12kts" she called out in rapid succession.  I was down below and realized what she was doing and jumped back up admonishing her to get back on course.  "But the ama was hardly out of the water."  "It is not how far out the upwind ama is, but how deep the downwind ama is!"  I then explained pitch poling...I scared her unfortunately.

To compound this, 30min later the waves had built to 5ft and the apparent wind was 25.  This sucked and 30min later, we tacked back hoping to hug the shore and relieve the beating we were taking.  Reefed the main and genoa, relieving some of the instability and making 7kts, but still taking a pounding.  Once on course, I saw we still had 13miles to go to Rogers City...2hrs of this?  Only 4nm back to Presque Isle.  Add in some rain.  Kelly was really scared at this point and these conditions were BS.  So, with Kelly displaying a tremendous amount of courage, white knuckling the helm, holding us into the wind, I dropped the main and furled the genoa.  We started motoring downwind back to Presque Isle.

Fair winds and following seas.

Suddenly, heading downwind, things seemed calm.  Kelly asked, "What happened, why is it so nice now?"  I brought out the genoa, killed the engine and explained apparent wind vs true wind and how  direction of travel influences conditions.  She now understands the US Navy's good will saying of "Fair Winds and Following Seas."

The 4nm to Presque Isle were uneventful, though inside the marina, the winds were still strong.  First attempt to moor was into the wind and the bow weather vaned, resulting in a prang on the dock, creasing the starboard ama when I tried to muscle it in.  Once away from the dock, I motored to the other side of the dock where the wind was now at our back while entering a slip.  HR handles very well in these conditions and mooring was easy, keeping the engine in reverse as a brake and parking brake.

Lesson Learned:  The beginnings of reef early and reef often
Lesson Learned:  The Dragonfly handles very well with wind on the stern, let the bow weather vane
Lesson Learned:  Kelly has a lot of courage
Lesson Learned:  Think about what the winds are doing and how conditions can change.  If I had thought about it, the fetch on Lake Huron should have been obvious.
Lesson Learned:  Wear the damn life jacket

Monday, 27June2011: Caseville to Harrisville

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Light.  Seas:  Flat.

Bonehead departure from Caseville, turning too soon while backing out of the slip and pinning ourselves between the seawall and the finger pier.  Fortunately there was no wind and a couple pushes got us going.

Motored and sailed, sailed and motored was the theme of the day.  Managed 5-6kts to Harrisville.  Uneventful.

Sunday, 26June2011: Caseville

Weather:  Sunny and mild!  Winds:  East 5-10.  Seas:  1 foot.

Kelly and I motored out of Caseville and barepoled it to the cottage, apparently confusing the folks on the beach.  "What are they doing?"  The cottage is only a mile or so from the marina and the winds were pushing us at 2.5kts, no need to be in a hurry.

Once again, anchored between the sandbars, in about 3ft of water.  Jumped into the cool water, coaxed the dogs in and made them swim ashore, about 100 yards.  Cieli was game, but Qatar was his sensitive, reluctant self.  Stopped off at the boat lift along the way for a short break and really had to coax Qatar off.  Everyone made it to shore and the dogs celebrated with their "I cheated death" dance.

Spent the afternoon and evening chatting with mama and papa Keith and RT's brother and sister-in-law while helping to drain a couple Oberon mini-kegs, one Kelly and I had been hauling since Muskegon.

RT's daughter Emma pulled off the joke of the trip.  She and a neighbor kid were bouncing on a tramp.  Suddenly, Emma was screaming, coming towards those of us seated in front of the cottage and covering her mouth with her hands.  MM jumped to assist, "Oh my god!"  Emma let her hand drop a bit, something was there.  She and MM got closer and Emma dropped her hands all the way, revealing a set of wax lips and a mustache!  MM was shocked.  The rest of us started laughing our asses off.  Emma, though she brought it on herself, didn't like to be the center of that much attention and broke down.  Still, it was really funny!

Towards sunset, the east winds moderated and RT, Chris and I sailed HR back to the marina.  Made 7kts in 5-10kts wind and the boat wasn't even breathing hard.  RT could not believe how effortlessly the boat moved.  He kept saying how his boat would have been rail-in-the-water at 7kts...if it got to 7.  To be fair, his Bavaria 38 will make 8-9kts and if the wind is at his back, the rail is not in the water, but conditions are special then.

All in all, worth the effort to get around the lower Michigan peninsula to hook up with them.  I wish we could have spent another day, but the timeline for the planned trucking of HR dictated heading back towards Waukegan.

Saturday, 25June2011: Harrisville to Caseville

Weather:  Sunny and mild!  Winds:  W 15, calm the E 10.  Seas initially calm

Awesome conditions departing Harrisville!  With off shore west winds at 15 with flat seas, made 9-11kts for 3hrs!  Just excellent!  In the groove smokin' along.  Then the winds died at Tawas and we started to motor across Saginaw Bay.  Part way across, vicinity of Charity Island, east winds started to pick up and we were able to eventually sail at 6kts.

About 12 miles from Caseville, called RT and asked for specifics to the Graham cottage.  "We are about 12 from Caseville, where to?"
"You see the radio towers east of Caseville?"
"The cottage is in front of the second one."
"Got it!  We bear 010 from that tower."
"Got you!"

By now, the wind waves have picked up a bit and about 5 miles from the cottage, a dinghy appeared, bouncing across the waves, headed our way.  Sure enough, RT and Merry Margret came out, clamored aboard and sailed with us to the cottage.  MM, Kelly and the dogs retired to the upwind nets while RT and I managed the cockpit.  RT was amazed with the space available on deck, primarily since MM was not in the cockpit, but out on the net.  I was amazed that the dinghy slowed us from 6 to 4kts.  A lot of drag.

Upon arrival at the cottage, we set the anchor between the two sandbars, but the wind waves were too much.  While the anchor was holding, I was uncomfortable with the wave action and transferring MM, Kelly and the dogs to the dinghy was problematic.  So, once the ladies and dogs were transferred, RT and I motored to the Caseville marina and put HR to bed.  Mission complete!  This is as far as we intend to go on the outbound trip.  From here on out, we are backtracking.

Once moored, Uncle Doug and RT's buddy Chris from OSU (yes, that OSU) met us and promptly delivered us to a local pub serving Oberon on tap.  A couple pitchers later, we were at the Graham cottage for a nice afternoon and evening.

20-24June: Harrisville, Ypsilanti

Weather:  Sunny and mild!

Harrisville is....  Well, Harrisville reminded me of Mayberry of the Andy Griffin Show.  Everyone was polite.  Everyone was helpful.  The marina had bicycles available.  Very nice facilities, bathroom, showers and lounge.  The harbormaster helped to arrange a rental car!  Granted, his motives were to keep our money in Harrisville vice traveling to Tawas and mooring the boat there while we went to Ypsilanti.  But still, he took the initiative and arranged a car from Enterprise in Alpena!  Harrisville had much to offer the boater, but once again, the marina was nearly empty.  They also helped to find a kennel for the knuckleheads.  Found the ice cream shop!

With the car arranged, the dogs dropped off at the sitters, we went to Ypsilanti for a couple days.  The intent had been for Susan and mama Oppat to come to us so they could see the boat.  Mama was feeling poorly though so we went to them.  Nice, short, sweet visit with no run to the M-Den as we had found a M flag in Ludington!

Sunday, 19June2011: Presque Isle to Harrisville

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  E 5-10.  Seas:  1ft.

Two foot or less wave prediction proved somewhat inaccurate as one foot waves greeted us outside Presque Isle.  5-10kt east winds allowed 6-7kts beating, still a little rough after a few hours.  So, decided to cut the corner and take the inside path between the islands and North Point before entering Thunder Bay.  GPS chart proved accurate through the narrow passage.  Easing the sails to slow us down, we wove our way through the shoals.  Crystal clear water made the passage easy to see.

Once through and thinking we were clear, we sheeted in, picking up speed in the flat water.  Suddenly, BANG BANG!   Both the centerboard and the rudder popped.  A vertical rudder makes for easy steering, a horizontal rudder makes it difficult.  "What happened?"  "We hit something!"  "What can I do?"  "Don't know, I'm busy trying to hold on to the helm!"

All in all, we got very lucky.  This area is notorious for eating boats.  I knew this, but thought the risk was worth it.  The charts had proved good.  What wasn't on the chart was the shoal we hit and as I was holding on to the helm, the crystal clear water was making the shoal very visible, but at what depth?  Holy crap!  The centerboard pops at about 5ft.  The rudder at about 4.  How much water was under the boat?  Obviously enough for the the 20 inch draft, but holy crap!

Once THAT was sorted out and the boat back into normal configuration, our course was now south across Thunder Bay and past Sturgeon Point.  With the east wind, it made for an easy run to Harrisville.

Saturday, 18June2011: Mackinaw Island to Presque Isle

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light becoming E 5-10 then dying.  Seas:  Flat

An early and uneventful departure from Mackinaw Island to what became a long, trudge.  No wind initially as we motored along the north side of Bois Blanc and into Lake Huron proper.  Whilst I'd been on the shore of Lake Huron a few times, this was my first time on Lake Huron.  As we motored along, an east wind picked up.  Eventually, we were able to raise sails and take advantage of them, making 6-7kts SE into Hammond Bay.  Winds started to die, but was able to keep moving under sail by hugging the shore and taking advantage of the adiabatic lift the sun-warmed land provided.

Winds were essentially dead by Forty Mile Point and the next 3hrs were a trudge, motoring along at 5kts.  The good news?  Flat, mirror like seas made the trip relatively painless.  Would have been easy to grill dinner, but the grill refused to cooperate, I think it had something to do with the hose from the propane tank.  Still, the sausages were cooked on the stove and all worked out.

Arrival in Presque Isle was easy as there was no one in the marina.  Pick a slip, any slip.  Seemed to be a theme throughout our trip.  Early in the season or the economy?  Found two ice cream shops while walking the dogs who were happy to get off the boat!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Friday, 17June2011: Mackinaw Island

Weather:  Gorgeous, sunny, low 70s.  Winds:  Do not matter!

R&R on Mackinaw Island.  Seasonal weather to date has been cool and the island's lilacs are in full bloom.  Early morning walk with the dogs was great, too early for the hoard of mainland tourists and the flower scents wafting about.  Waded out off an east end beach, getting the dogs to follow and giving them a much appreciated bath!  All the dog walks were fun and easy, the area has much to see, including an upset mother mink moving her kits under a building after the dogs (on leash) barked at her!

Dumped the dogs at the boat, assisted our new friends off the dock to continue their journey to Duluth and then had a good breakfast at a local diner.  Searched a good portion of the day for the Kilwin's (turned out it was in Mackinaw City...) but the time was not wasted as we saw more of the island, making our way through the town, satisfying the shopping gene, over to the Grand Hotel.  Slowly strolled back, making our way through the early island craft/life displays and to the Fort witnessing some of the drills.

Of note, unlike when I was there as a child, the Fort does not do Revolutionary War displays, but post Civil War displays.  While the Fort originated in the pre-Revolutionary War era, the current configuration is post-Civil War.  The displays were changed to reflect the current configuration.

Nice whitefish dinner was had!

All in all, the Mackinaw area remains one of our favorite places.  Kelly and I have made several drives to Michigan through the upper peninsula and make it a point to stop for at least an overnight in the area.