Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday, 11August2015: Von Donop to Octopus Islands, BC

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  Flat.

A departure from our regularly scheduled program.
When Strider was first bought, a rail mounted propane grill was needed.  Cooking inside a boat is difficult, particularly in the heat, lack of headroom and, most importantly, men are masters of the grill!  Just look at the Bayeux Tapestry.  It clearly shows men grilling meat before The Battle of Hastings!  Don't believe me?  Check the right hand side of this image.

A Magma Cabo was bought, primarily because it was the least expensive grill available and because it has the most surface area.  After years of faithful service, the grill's limitations had become evident, primarily:  It did not get hot enough.  Sure, it could cook sausages and roast some veggies, but it did not do well with a steak.  So, it was modified by drilling out the orifice.  While not recommended, it now puts out the heat searing steaks nicely!

Then one day, while doing a shelf check (strolling through the store to see if there was anything new), a Magma teflon-coated griddle was spotted.  I had to have it!  With it, culinary artistry on the back of the boat increased tremendously.  With the new and improved flame, the grill/griddle gets hot enough so vegetables can be stir fried, fish can be fried etc etc.

So what is the point of all this?  Only that one particularly gorgeous morning last August in Von Donop Inlet, some bread was getting stale and I was in the mood for french toast.  So, the grill was fired up and the bread slices were toasted on the grate.  Then, the griddle was thrown on and heated, butter added, toast dunked and made french toast!  All without heating up the inside of the boat.  Now if I can only figure out a way to make coffee on the grill....
We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.

After the breakfast above, we departed around 1100 and motored out of Von Donop around 1120 making a left turn into Sutil Channel.  Rounding the south end of Read Island, we continued to motor north in Hoskyn Channel, ducking between Read and Hoskyn Rock and Dunsterville Islet.   Intending to arrive at Surge Narrows at slack, we were going to be early and slowed to about 3 knots...we still arrived early.  Waiting for about 45min, watching two large power boats push through Beazly Passage and seeing a few more sailboats stack up behind us, I couldn't take it any longer and pushed into the current.

A big advantage Strider has is she can turn on a dime.  If at any point I felt we were in trouble, I could easily bail.  The disadvantage is she is under powered for such excursions:  She can make 6.5kts maximum.  It did not deter us and into the breach!  The passage was not difficult and I was able to give a play by play to Freestyle waiting to she what we did.  The eddies bounced us around a bit (radio call:  Dancing!).  The surprising part was even at near slack, there was 5kts of current slowing us to 1kt forward speed for about 5min.  A whale tour boat came out as we were headed in and was kind enough to slow down and minimize its wake as they passed by.  Very nice of them!

Once Strider was through, Freestyle came on through!  Awaiting us on the north side were 3 whale tour boats, obviously watching something, but we could not spot anything and they would not answer calls on 16.  Freestyle was first in our group to spot the orca, traveling south along the southwest shore of Maurelle Island.  3 of them, large, medium and small!  Kelly was enthralled.  Her first orca!  We drifted with the current to watch them breach, splash, even jumped over another!  After about 20min, we finally lost them in the waters between Peck and Quadra Islands.

The 3.5nm motor to Octopus Islands Marine Provincial Park was a fascinating study of Kelly, simultaneously ecstatic and horrified.  Ecstatic to finally see orca in the wild and horrified that man had caged these animals for entertainment purposes.

Freestyle, being the faster boat, was out of sight by the time we arrived at the south entrance to the park.  Motoring in, we spotted Freestyle in a quiet nook on the SW side of Octopus Island, anchored and finishing a stern tie.  By the time we arrived, the fenders were in place and Strider was rafted without incident.

This night's dinner was special!  Remember the clams dug at Von Donop the day before?  Yep, this night was the first of two night's meals.  At this point, we had no idea how many clams were in the bucket.  So I just started sorting and cleaning the outsides.  Three were found empty and full of mud and one was found dead.  Still, at roughly half the bucket, there were 140 clams for dinner!

The recipe was simple and straight forward.  Using the crab cooking equipment (capable of 95,000 btu), onion and garlic were sauteed in olive oil.  Then, a bottle of inexpensive white wine was added.  At boiling, the fresh-from-the-saltwater clams were added.  With this cooker, it took about 5min to cook the clams, which were scarfed down along with a fresh veggie plate.  Naturally, a white wine accompanied.  The ladies were a bit shy of the clams, but ate their share...even Em who is normally a very picky eater.  RT and I could not get enough.  Lovely, simply lovely.

The juice was retained and boiled it down for later use.  Because the clams did not have a fresh water rinse, the concentrate was very salty, something to compensate for later.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

9-11Aug2015: Von Donop Inlet, BC

Weather:  Sunny and warm!  Winds:  A few gentle, cooling swirls.  Waves:  0.

Spent a couple days enjoying Von Donop Inlet...clamming, swimming, paddle boarding, chatting...the usual stuff when relaxing!  Another intimate anchorage. 

The morning of the first full day there, RT, MM, Em and I spent an hour gathering 350 clams!  RT had paddle boarded around and found a likely spot.  We dinghied over at low tide and followed the tide in, staying in about 6in of water.  Clams were only a couple inches down and easily collected.  The catch was immediately placed into the crab condo (holey 5gal bucket w/lid), loaded with corn meal for flushing and suspended over the side in cooler water, about 5ft down.  The bivalves didn't hesitate and went right to work!  With a nurse onboard, there was some concern about toxic shellfish.  A call to Canada Fish and Wildlife cleared all concerns.

Did a little paddle boarding.  Got better at it, but don't think I'm ready to invest in one.  While out, chatted with a couple pulling crab traps.  They had been skunked.  While chatting, a big powerboat came in and stopped short of our little cluster (a dinghy and SUP).  I was floored when a lady came out and asked us to move.  We were in the way of their preferred anchor spot.  Really?  Apparently they thought they had the right of way and apparently the 300ft around us was not enough room to go around.  I get restricted in maneuvering.  This just didn't appear to meet any criteria I understood.

All around enjoyable place!  I'd come back!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sunday, 9August2015: Gorge Harbour to Heriot Bay to Von Donop Inlet

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  S 0-5.  Waves:  Nill.

After a windy night, departed Gorge Harbour at 0900, motoring through the narrow entrance and still not spotting the petroglyphs.  Once out of the harbor, made a right turn around the Heather Islets towards Shark Spit.  Had a little S wind and popped the screacher for about 10min.  Wind died just north of Heather Islets and we motored as we wove our way around Shark Spit in the Uganda Passage then west towards Hariot Bay.

Wind picked up once out of the north end lee of Marina Island and we made 7kts on a beam reach under main and screacher across Sutil Channel.  The problem with making good speed under sail is short distances are used up quickly.  It is less than 4nm across Sutil Channel and less than 30min after setting the sails, the wind died in the lee of Quadra Island and we were motoring again.

Motored into Hariot Bay and all the dock spaces were taken...the anchorage was also pretty full with permanent mooring balls.  One advantage of having a boat drawing so little (5ft with centerboard down, 3.5ft with rudder down, 2ft rudder up) is the ability to anchor her in close to shore.  So, we motored into about 10ft of water, dropped the hook and let out enough scope to swing into about 5ft of water.  With no wind and a tide nearly at low and soon be rising, we were good!

Dinghied over to the dock, walked a couple long blocks to the nicely provisioned grocery, stocked up, utilized their free shuttle back to the dock, stowed our goods, pulled anchor and was underway to Von Donop before noon!

The 10nm motor north in Sutil Channel to the entrance of Von Donop was pretty boring.  Had some cell coverage so we made a couple calls.  Else, uneventful.

Making the 3nm to the head of Von Donop was far more interesting, reminding me of motoring up the Kalamazoo River to Douglas in 2011.  Narrow in spots, but not as uncomfortable as the guide books made it out to be, no trees reached out to grab us.  Freestyle, being the fast motor boat was already anchored with fenders out when we arrived.  Mooring was uneventful and we were secure at 1530.

A pleasant evening with some SUP practice!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Saturday, 8August2015: Gorge Harbour

Weather:  Overcast and rain all day.  Winds:  S 0-5.  Waves:  <1ft.

Rain dampened the day as we remained rafted on Freestyle, doing laundry, visiting the store and saying goodbye to Hannah, one of the 13yr olds.  The day was both frustrating and emotional in separate events.

Frustrating was doing laundry in the local facility...and what started as a load between the two boats became a couple loads.  The facility was crowded, hot, humid, boring and expensive.  This facility is the single biggest reason why I wrote Laundry and will avoid laundromats in the future.  Waiting, trying to stave off the boredom and escape the oppressive heat and humidity, I visited the store.  The customers were in a rush and focused only on themselves.  As a result, they ended up being rude, hopefully unintentionally.  Tip of the hat to the employees for their patience.  I could not have done it.  Regarding the store, not badly stocked, similar to a convenience store but with a more frozen goods and fresh veggies.  It was a bit cheaper than the store at Refuge.

The emotional part was the departure of Hannah, one of the 13yr olds and a lovely young lady.  She flew out on the 1330 flight and sat right front, in on the cockpit's starboard seat.  We were aboard the boats when the float plane's engine fired up.  I grabbed the binoculars to see into the cockpit and there was Hannah, waving like a maniac!  The Kenmore Air's pilot taxied right past the our boats giving us a chance for a last goodbye.  The entire time, I was doing a running commentary on what Hannah was doing.  "She's waving, now with two hands, face is in the wind screen now, huge grin, her camera now, face again, single hand wave, now two!"  You get the idea...just image the unbridled enthusiasm of a 13yr old girl!  Then the throttle was firewalled and with a roar, the plane lifted off and disappeared over the trees and was gone.

Why were there tears in my eyes?  I'd only met her last week.  I'll chock it up to the unbridled enthusiasm of a....

Monday, November 9, 2015

Friday, 7August2015: Squirrel Cove to Gorge Harbour

Weather:  Sunny and warm, becoming overcast with showers.  Winds:  S @5kts.  Waves:  <1ft.

Pretty day after a pleasant night, but time to move on.  Freestyle wanted to go to Gorge Harbour as they were dropping one of the 13yr olds there on Saturday to fly back home.

Departed around 1000 and beat at 6kts initially with the genoa only.  Exchanged it for the screacher as winds quieted, maintaining 5+kts to the sound end of Cortes Island.  Motored from there.

The reef between Sutil Point and the Q20 buoy was clearly visible.  Though rounding the buoy to the west is recommended, there was the boat equivalent to a traffic jam there.  So, we cut the corner to the east with no difficulty.

Two bald eagles greeted us from the Guide Islets outside Gorge.  Looked for the petroglyphs on the narrow entrance into Gorge, but did not find them.  Once inside, we expected to anchor out because Freestyle wanted a dock.  Was motoring around looking for a place, while enjoying the variety of unusual boats anchored, when Freestyle left the fuel dock and headed our way.  No room at the inn.  So, we waited as Freestyle found a high spot on the west side and dropped the hook.  Just in time for the rain, we rafted around 1500.

Two groups made dinghy excursions, the ladies ashore for some retail therapy and the gentlemen on a cocktail cruise to take a closer look at the anchored vessels.  There was a Catana 50 sporting a German flag causing some major boat envy on my part....

The rest of the night started damp, but quiet.  Around 0200, winds picked up and gusted causing a restless couple hours as I was constantly checking our position as we swung, hanging far out on Freestyle's big anchor.  We did not drag, but there was a game plan in place involving our anchor, dinghy, braving the teeth of the storm and getting very wet.  No need however and the winds died back down around 0400 and restful sleep returned!

Thursday, 6August2015: Roscoe to Refuge to Teakerne Arm to Squirrel Cove

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light becoming S 5-15.  Waves <1ft.

After several days of playing in Roscoe Bay, it was time to run the errands and explore.  Departed Roscoe ahead of Freestyle and gave them depth reports though the cut.  Motored the distance to Refuge Cove arriving as Freestyle was getting off the fuel dock, Freestyle is a fast boat!

One of my goals for this trip was to not fold Strider and this trip to Refuge proved a challenge to the goal.  The place was crowded.  Docks were full, including the floating dock.  There were three other boats waiting in line, we thought for the fuel dock since they are all power boats.  Turned out only two were waiting for the fuel dock but the third was looking for a 'go to the store' spot.  We waited about 5 minutes and then a spot opened deep inside, between a couple docks.  We slowly made way for it when the third boat said, "Hey, we were here first!"  We backed off.  However, they looked closer and did not like the challenge and waved us to go ahead!  The space was a bit tight, but the winds were negligible, and Strider slipped right in at the foot of the dock.  Upon arrival, a 7yr old boy asked, "Why do you have three boats?"  "To go fast" was the response!

Post shopping and stowing, we departed.  Since Strider was on a port tie, a line was secured to the aft port quarter, the engine reversed, pivoting the bow out and we motored out!  Like we'd done it before!

Motored out the north side of Refuge and northbound in the Lewis Channel making for Teakerne Arm, the waterfalls and Cassel Lake above the falls.  Though we'd heard the falls were way down this year because of the dry weather, we thought it would still be nice to see them and perhaps swim in the lake.  S to SW winds picked up as we rounded Joyce Point into Teakerne Arm and the screacher was unfurled.  Had a pleasant, 4kt sail up channel, being patient as Freestyle anchored and set up for rafting.

Teakerne Arm is a deep fiord with limited anchorages.  There were a lot of boats in the anchorages, many not stern tied.  In other words, they were hogging the place and not allowing other boats room.  Freestyle tried a couple different spots, one up close to the falls and another around the corner a bit.  In both cases, the anchor would not bite.  This, combined with rising wind, waves and crowd, made us decide to wave off and go somewhere else.

So, we made for Squirrel Cove.  The winds were straight up channel, right in our face for departing so Strider motored out.  Once back in Lewis Channel, the screacher was brought back out and we beat south.  Not often a beat is pleasant, but in this case, it was!  Just a nice 6kt sail with non-annoying waves.  Rounding the rocks at Boulder Point, we continued to sail through the narrow entrance on the west side of Protection Island and into Squirrel.  We continued to sail until the winds finally died on the north side of Protection.  At this point, we spotted Freestyle anchored on the north end, close to the saltwater outflow.  Motored up and rafted at 1530.

A nice, quiet evening followed.  Squirrel Cove had a lot of room but was protected, like a small lake.  Good spot.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Saturday, 1August, 2015: Roscoe Bay to Refuge Cove and back

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

It was time for some fresh groceries, a holding tank dump and fuel so we departed Roscoe Bay at 0830, mostly motored the 7nm around the corner to Refuge Cove and arrived at 1015.  What sailing was done was with the screacher only.

Motored up to the fuel dock and was assisted by an energetic kid from Michigan who'd relocated with his dad.  He was entertaining.  After fueling, Strider was relocated to the floating dock and we rowed the dinghy to the store.

Refuge Cove: float/dock to the left, fuel dock center, store to right

The Refuge Cove Store would not have been out of place in a bayou backwater in Louisiana.  I half expected Calypso from the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' to come walking in.  It is a small store so items/selections are limited.  Further, they are pricey.  Still, finding some fresh veggies, eggs, cheese, Flor de Caña 5yr and a fresh cinnamon roll was great!  We needed to get creative loading the dinghy with the new stash....  Retail therapy!

Refuge Cove Store
Once back aboard, Kelly stowed the goods while I rowed the dinghy over to the local garbage barge where, for a buck Canadian a pound, trash will be taken to a recycle/land fill for disposal.  Very convenient!

We departed Refuge Cove around 1200 and motored/sailed to Tenedos Bay where we had such great fun in 2013.  Upon arrival, we went to the protected area in the NNW corner only to find it pretty crowded.  Attempted to anchor so we could squeeze in between a couple boats, but could not get a purchase.  So we pulled anchor and explored the bay further, looking closer to the beach and trail to Unwin Lake.  As we motored around, I kept getting an uneasy feeling.  The steep banks would be hard to stern tie to and the steep banks indicated deep water close to shore.  Further, the afternoon wind had picked up (in the bay only of course) setting things rocking.  Too open, too wasn't Roscoe.  So, at 1400, we headed back to Roscoe.

Arriving at 1530, selected a spot on the south side of the bay thinking the orientation would help with the solar charging but also in anticipation of Freestyle's arrival and there was plenty of room there.  Double stern tied, making a Y, centering Strider in a tripod.  Needed to extend the anchor rode and did so with the dinghy.

Safe and secure, we headed off for a fresh water cool down.  Then back for dinner, rum and the nightly herring and moon jelly show!

Roscoe Bay, West Redonda Island, BC

We stayed in the Desolation Sound area for about 4 weeks and Roscoe Bay became our home base.  Every 3-5 days we would depart Roscoe on an errand or exploration only to find our new location was not as nice as Roscoe and we would come back.

We went to Roscoe based on a recommendation from my Dragonfly mentor Steve.  Last year, he and his wife Janet aboard Flexible Flyer went there, stayed a month and never moved.  They liked it that much!

Roscoe Bay and Black Lake via Google Earth
Roscoe essentially had it all.  A small, protected bay with a sticky mud bottom and multiple stern ties made for secure mooring.  The saltwater water temperature was not the warmest, but 68 was good enough for some of us.  Better was the easy access via a 10 minute walk from the head of the bay to the fresh water Black Lake.  The lake's water temp was in the low 70s...great!

Our initial anchorage was in the notch on the north side of the bay and turned out to be fortunate.  The notch's size limited the number of boats able to fit in, allowing privacy while the rest of the bay filled over the next couple days.  Turns out, our arrival was just before a long BC weekend and there were a lot of boats on the move.  By Wednesday, there were 53 boats moored in the bay, crowded as a Michigan State Park campground on Labor Day!  OK, not quite that bad, but comparatively packed.  By Friday, most of the boats had moved on and from then on, there were between 10 and 20 in the bay.

Just a small portion of the initial crowd
Easy days, easy living - a vacation!  We fell into a routine, a relaxing morning, breakfast and a cafe' followed by a boat check, a little reading and scoping out the neighbors.  Late morning, we'd row to the head of the bay and walk to Black Lake for the first swim of the day.  Back aboard for lunch and then boat chores: "Shaking out the rug," rigging adjustment, corroded solar panels, sheave greasing, minor repairs, laundry etc.  Mid afternoon found us back at the lake for our second swim.  Back aboard for supper, something grilled of course -  no need to heat up the boat!

We snorkeled the lake once.  The shore is steep and the lake gets deep and dark fast.  There were some interesting rock formations (cliffs down into the water) and a lot of fallen, sunken logs.  Else, just not a lot to see...a few minnows, weeds etc.  Snorkeled once in the saltwater.  Also, not much to see.  So, used the gear to clean Strider's bottom, which was easy with the new bottom paint.

As evening rolled around, the massive herring schools expanded their patrols, encircling Strider, and the moon jellies rose to the surface seeking love.  Off and on, we'd be entertained by someone on another boat, someone with a bagpipe or a mandolin or just singing.  One afternoon, there was a mom and a, I'm guessing, 4 year old, both padding their own SUP.  The little kid was singing O Sole Mio at the top of her(?) lungs.  Very cute, very entertaining.

Quiet, restful days
The water therapy worked for Kelly, loosening her hip.  "Gravity is not my friend" was a common refrain as she splashed and floated in Black Lake.  With Freestyle's arrival came a couple 13yr olds and their energy.  They were able to draw Kelly into the salt water and she was routinely seen jumping off the boat into the bay and playing with the kids.  She was...kinda outta control...but in a good way!

Kelly relaxing!
Freestyle arrived Monday, 3Aug, bringing water toys including a SUP.  Kelly and I both wanted to try one and had many opportunities to use this one.  The two pieces of advice worked:  1) Trust the SUP, it will feel tippy, but will not go over;  2) Don't look down, but look out at the horizon.  Great fun, but don't want to buy one at this point.

A word on the electrical system.  Two of the 25 watt solar panel internal wire connections had corroded.  I was able to lift the top plastic film and effect a repair.  Even with the repair, we were loosing about 9% per day, necessitating a 1hr engine run every 4 days.  We could have gone longer if I had kept the engine start battery.  Since I hadn't, I wanted the batteries to be above 50% all the time just to ensure there was enough cranking amps to turn the engine over.  The engine runs were usually accomplished with running our errands or exploring.  While a bit disappointing, it was perfectly in line with the design.  It does need to be noted though, we were running a refrigerator and a freezer, both big draws.  Further, there was a 120v CPAP machine in use.  Also, the orientation and narrowness of the bay and our mooring within the bay prevented optimal solar collection.  So, all in all, not bad.

On another note, I was really pleased to see, over the course of the time in Roscoe, several, less than 25ft boats with young couples or small families.  These boats do not have a lot of creature comforts, usually a porta potty, a coleman stove and perhaps an inflatable raft for a dinghy.  Some of of people slept in sleeping bags in the cockpit, others down below.  The point?  They were out there doing it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Monday, 27July2015: Westview/Powell River to Roscoe Bay, West Redonda Island, BC

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

The predicted high winds did not materialize, at least on the east side of the Georgia Strait.  Boring motor north.

Departed Westview around 0800 and motored the 25nm north arriving at Roscoe Bay around 1300.  The bay seemed crowded.  We motored around, checking out the place and settled on a small nook on the north side.

Had a bit of trouble anchoring/stern tying.  Got set up intitially with about 5:1 scope and about 100ft of stern tie around a large cedar tree.  However, the two point set up allowed the building afternoon inflow winds to vibrate us from side to side, making the anchor walk and decreasing the distance to the boat behind.  Add in the 14ft spring tides and...this just was not going to work.

So, repositioned the anchor from the dinghy and switched up the stern tie from a single point to a two point, stringing the stern line to two trees about 100ft apart.  This put Strider in the center of a stable triangle and we did not move.

With the boat secured, we rowed to the head of the bay and made the 10min walk to Black Lake and enjoyed a warm, fresh water swim!

That evening, as the sun went down, we got our first experience with moon jellies, a stingless jellyfish filling the bay.  They were everywhere and far too many to count!  We also saw large schools of herring circling the bay.  These dark schools looked like cloud shadows moving across the surface.

Sunday, 26July2015: Westview/Powell River, BC

Wx:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light.  Seas:  N/A

Not an exciting day.  Had intended to go further north today but stayed in Westview/Powell River to run errands, gather groceries and makes some repairs.

Repairs included reattaching engine room sound dampening with contact cement, reattaching the head cover seat, cleaning up the electrical meltdown from yesterday, flushed watertanks.

Witnessed a first world problem when a lady had a meltdown when she could not connect to the marina wifi....

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Weight Reduction 2015

Weight Reduction

Multihulls, trimarans in particular, are weight sensitive.  In comparison to a monohull, they are generally considered to be overpowered for the weight.  Ever watch a beach cat, NACRA for instance, sail circles around a big monohull?  Strider is 33 feet long and is 5,100 pounds empty.  For comparison, a 31 foot Beneteau Sense is 10,670 pounds empty.  Strider is a light boat! 

This all started when I received a quote by Jens Quorning, the manufacturer of the Dragonfly, forwarded by a friend exploring the DF 1000:
"The DF 1000 was originally designed for coastal and offshore cruising.  The DF 1000 is not designed and built as strong as our designs today – where we today have much more knowledge in design and production. The DF 1000 was designed back in 1989/90.  I cannot recommend the DF 1000 for ocean crossings or bluewater type sailing.  The problem is that the boat is heavier than it was designed for."
The first thought was about the last line:  "Heavier than designed for...."  Understandable, but unsettling.  The second thought was regarding how technology has changed since 1989/90.  What is available now that wasn't available then?  These beg the question:  "How can weight be reduced and therefore improve performance and presumably, safety?"

For clarification, there does not seem to be much older boat support from Quorning.  Hell, the DF 1000 is not even on their website, nor is a support page.  Sure, they will sell you something, if the stock is on hand and you want to pay their prices (45 euro for a locker hinge or $2200 for a set of waterstays).  Forget engineering support.  So I took this on myself.  For further clarification, I've an Aerospace Engineering degree with structures being a focus.  I've some practical experience.  Further, I know how to research.  That said, none of the below has any kind of certification.  DISCLAIMER:  I'd be happy to provide details, but if you follow, you are on your own.

Creature Comforts:
As my mentor Steve has mentioned:  We also fall prey to the creature comfort weight addition syndrome.  A watermaker adds 60lbs.  Food, utensils, tools, clothing, crab trap, fishing gear, cleaning supplies, a couple sails, stern tie, better wiring.  You get the picture.  All these things to make life easier or more comfortable, but a heavier boat.  The easiest weight reduction is to purge your boat.

The fiberglass and structural stainless steel are what they are.  Unless one can replace structural stainless with titanium or aluminum, there is very little to be done to reduce hull weight except ensure the non-hydrophobic foam core stays dry.  If water can intrude, it will be absorbed by the foam, increasing the weight.  So, to help prevent water intrusion, Strider's hatches and rails are being reseated using the technique explained in this Maine Cruising article.

There are other small things.  Like putting lightening holes in some of the wood panels.  Lightening holes?  1-2in holes cut in the wood panels, making them look like swiss cheese.  Like the panels in the V-berth, most of the panels are not structural, but are covers over storage areas.  They can be 'holed' easily.  While weight reduction is minor, the air circulation benefit is huge.

Replace 1/4in plexiglass windscreen with 1/8in acrylic.  Replace vinyl and rubber water lines with PEX.  With the exception of keeping the foam dry, the above are small things:  a pound here, a couple ounces there.

What could have a bigger effect?  This is where the latest technology really helps.

Strider came with 3 Optima Yellow Top batteries, one start and two house.  I followed Steve's example and replaced the 3x44 pound batteries with 4x12.5 pound (132lb vs 50lb), LiFEPO4 batteries.

More weight reduction can be achieved by replacing stainless cables with synthetic line.  The best part is I can do it on my own!

A note of caution:  The cable replacement was not done all at once.  Since something new can be risky on a sailboat, one step at a time.  Paul Calder's articles on replacing stainless with synthetic were very helpful.

First, the waterstays were replaced.  Details are available here.  Essentially, one of the waterstay fittings was corroding and cracking and I balked at paying Quorning's price for replacements.  New waterstays were fabricated after research into stainless vs Plasma break-strengths/stretch-characteristics, a local rigger's assistance to learn splicing first hand and locally acquired materials.  Colligo Marine's lashing tie off instructions were followed and they allow for easy adjustment, which was necessary as the plasma/dyneema settled in.  This took a while and I cringed when larger wakes and waves approached.  38 pound reduction.

Once satisfied, the nets and aka cables were next.  While still not pretty, the net edge finishing is a work in progress, the Net-Systems Ultra Cross was selected.  I was concerned my dogs would not like the new net with the larger holes.  The couldn't care less and may actually prefer it as one spends his time on the net now and not on the solar panel.  Another 38 pound weight reduction.

As of this writing the backstays are being worked on, replacing the stainless and the blocks.  While overkill in strength, 5/16" dyneema is used because its stretch characteristic is the same as the replaced stainless.  While only partially complete, the 4:1 backstay adjustment system has yet to be replaced, the main section has been replaced using Colligo's chain plate distributor at the bottom, a simple 8mm thimble at the top.  The stay side adjustment block and large quick link between the upper and lower stay have been eliminated by using Colligo's double enhanced lashing block.  The upper and lower backstay components are spliced through the center of the block while the adjustment line goes around the outside.  22 pounds weight reduction.

Coming soon; the mast supports/shrouds.  There is a lot of stainless cabling on the mast.  Reducing this weight will reduce the weight aloft and decrease the hobby-horse effects.

To date, the weight reduction has been:

Stainless Cable Replacement:

Waterstays:  38 pounds
Aka:              2 pounds
Backstays:  22 pounds
Shrouds:     Not yet....

Other Sources:

Batteries:     82 pounds
Nets:            38 pounds

Total:         184 pounds!

Saturday, 25July2015: Smuggler's Cove to Powell River, BC: Goats Roped, Dragons Slain...

Weather:  Sunny and warm!  Winds:  Light.  Seas:  Choppy becoming flat then 1ft.

I'd hoped to go the 55+ miles to Desolation Sound today, but the winds just weren't there and motoring at 5kts would make for a long day.  Further, goats needed roping and dragons needed slaying and crisis averted.  32nm.

Goat Roping
Motored out of French Inlet around 0750 and into Malaspina Strait.  Had about 5min worth of wind to make 5.5kts, but it died quickly.  Fired up the iron genny and motored north.  Along the way, noticed a hot engine light, high temp gauge and troubleshooting began.  Raw cooling water was discharging so not the impeller.  Pulled the engine cover off and lo and behold, a busted fan belt was laying in the bilge.  Fortunately, there was a replacement and we were soon underway again.  Regarding the broken belt, this was the second of a Gates brand to come apart.  I will not purchase Gates again.

Dragon Slaying
Continued motoring north.  In the vicinity of Nelson Island, between Agamemnon Channel and Jervis Inlet, all electrical systems went off line.  Dead.  Burnt electrical wire smell.  Troubleshooting began again.  30 amp fuse had blown.  No circuit breakers had blown.  Since the engine was not affected and we were in clear water with clear weather, we continued to motor north troubleshooting.  Did not have a replacement 30 amp, but a lot of 16 amp fuses.  Opened all the circuit breakers, inserted a 16 amp fuse and began energizing systems one at a time.  Got to the pumps circuit breaker and pop, out went the 16 amp fuse.  Pumps...Strider has 5, two bilge pumps, a saltwater pump, a freshwater pump and a shower sump.  The saltwater and engine bilge pumps checked good.  Tore the v-berth apart and the freshwater pump checked good.
Strider's Engel freezer is conveniently placed on top of the salon bilge access, where the bilge pump is.  It is heavy, so unloaded, moved it and checked the pump, also good.  Put it all back together.
The electrical smell was strongest forward, between the salon and the v-berth pumps.  The head, and shower sump are located there and yes indeed, the sump pump was fried, frozen solid with salt encrustation.  I surmise:  Saltwater has been known to back flow into the sump while sailing in rough water.  Normally, I pump it out.  However, I had not been doing that for a while since there had not been much.  But apparently enough that when the water evaporated, the salt encrusted the impeller, jamming the pump.  Lastly, the pump switch is located in a place where it is routinely bumped while the head is in use.  Normally, the pump's whine alerts the user and it is shut off.  This particular morning, the switch was bumped and went unnoticed for there was no whine.  A couple hours later, it gave up the ghost, shorting and blowing the fuse.
Fortunately, we do not shower in the head, have never used the sump and can do without.  Removed the pump, chucked it and isolated the circuit.  The question remains:  Why did the main fuse blow and not the pump circuit breaker?  YTBD.

Crisis Averted
Westview/Powell River had room for us though we circled outside for 30min while boats were repositioned for us.  Naturally, SW winds began to pick up was we entered the marina, winds to push us off the dock.  Fortunately, we had the outermost slip on the north side.  Heading into the wind, brought the port side to the NW corner of the dock, handed a spring line off to an attendant who secured it.  Then I let the wind push the bow back towards the north, settling Strider onto the dock.  Did a short spring line walk exercise to position us.  Like we had done it before!  On the dock at 1530.
Not long after, we witnessed two separate boat incidents.  The first, a large mono hull got trapped in a narrow spot, could not control the weather vane effect and crashed into two other docked boats.  The second was a large powerboat smash into a dock.
Fortunately, Powell River is a large town with well stocked stores and we easily found replacement belts and fuses.  Also found 7yr old Flor di Cana Nicaraguan rum, 1800 tequila and margarita mix for about half the price seen in Washington!

Wandering around, we found a most excellent restaurant on Marine Avenue called Tree Frog Bistro.  Kelly went for the fish and chips with jicama slaw.  I normally go for something I would not make at home and I was not disappointed with the Insalata di Mare (West Coast Ling Cod, Salmon, Shrimp, Mushrooms, Onions, Red Peppers and Tomatoes, Organic Greens, Asiago Garlic Dressing).  Really yummy.  While the fresh veggies underneath were cold, the seafood on top was hot making for a very nice, savory combo.  I'd have it again.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Friday, 24July2015, Horton Bay to Smuggler's Cove, BC

Weather:  Overcast and cool, 60's F.  Winds:  SE 0 building to 10-15 gusts to 20.  Waves: 0 building to SE 4ft.

The intent was to get north, crossing the strait heading directly to Smuggler's Cove/Secret Cove area, about 54nm, knowing there were multiple bailout spots to the west; Active Pass, Poltier Pass, Gabriola Pass with a final decision point at Nanaimo.  Why the rush?  Weather guessers were stating strong NW winds Sunday and Monday, which would make any travel up the strait difficult aboard Strider.  So, get north sooner rather than later else we would have to hole up somewhere Sunday, Monday and probably Tuesday as the seas settled.  Today's predicted SE winds should get us a good ways towards our Desolation Sound goal.

Underway at 1000hrs, motoring out of Horton Bay via the south end of Curlew Island and east into the Strait of Georgia via one of the channels south of Georgeson Island.  Once in the strait, the wind was dead calm and there were no waves.  Just overcast and gloomy.  A hint of a breeze began about an hour into the passage.  At two hours, there was enough wind to unfurl the screacher (only - predicted winds indicated headsails only today) and make 6kts!

Winds continued to build and by Nanaimo, we were making 8kts.  45 minutes later, winds were 15 gusting to 20 and waves had built to 3ft with 4ft sets.  Fortunately, it was all from behind, the whole 'fair winds and following seas' thing.  Not unpleasant at all, to the point Kelly was below napping!  Strider was making 8.5kts with common excursions to 12-14kts and I did see 15.2kts!  During this time I remembered a tip from my Dragonfly mentor Steve, "Use the main halyard as a backstay."  I did.

I had total confidence in the rig, including the new waterstays.  Though there was one moment....  While surfing down the face of a 4ft wave directly into the back of another 4ft wave at 14kts, I wondered 'how is this going to turn out?'  Turns out Strider rode up the back of the wave effortlessly.  One of the ama tops got a little wet, but not much.  No green water anywhere:  Like a cork!

Approaching the Merry Island Light, just before entering Half Moon Bay, I thought to slow Strider by changing the screacher out for the genoa.  After the screacher blowout fiasco a couple years ago, I wanted to blanket the screacher with the genoa.  However, a jam prevented the genoa from unfurling.  I overburdened the screacher furler somewhat and managed to furl it some, slowing us to 6kts.  I went forward, found the offending genoa jam, errant shackle had flipped, corrected it, unfurled the genoa to blanket the screacher, unfurled the screacher and properly furled it.  Still, under the genoa only, we were making 6.5kts!

The rest of the passage through Welcome Channel was uneventful.  Rounding Grant Island, heading towards Smuggler's, the land gave a good wind shadow making for an easy furl and motor into Smuggler's.  We motored through Smuggler's and into the back area, France Inlet.  There were 4 other boats back there, but lots of room.  Dropped the hook in the center, about 20ft of water, and by 1800hrs, we were stern tied on a bolt to the west.  Since it was dead calm in there, it was easy peasy.  One of the boaters inside asked if it was blowing 'out there.'  Yep.

It was a long, 8hr day of hand steering as auto was acting up.  Also, with the gloom and low visibility, there was a 4hr stretch of steering by the compass, something I hadn't done in a long time and it took a while to get my scan back up to speed.  Still, we made about 54nm in roughly 7hrs, an average of 7.7kts!

Lesson Learned:  Use the main halyard as a backstay.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thursday, 23July2015: Skyline to Horton Bay, Mayne Island, BC

Weather:  Initially overcast becoming sunny and warm.  Winds:  Var 0-15, mostly S.  Waves:  <1ft.

The beginning of our summer trip to Desolation Sound and our initial destination was going to be determined by the winds.  Could we go straight to Vancouver?  Could we make it to the Gulf Islands?  Or would we overnight somewhere in the San Juans?

1015 departure.
Motored out of the marina at and west through Burrows Channel raising the main heading into Rosario.  SW winds were up on the Rosario and we sailed for about 15min until the winds died east of Thatcher Pass.  Motored to the south end of Cypress Island where S winds picked up.  Made 6.5kts under the main and screacher to Lawrence Point on Orcas Island when the winds died.  Still thinking we might make Vancouver, we motored north along the east side of of The Sisters and Clark Island, checking out the mooring buoys on Clark.  There were several open buoys and Clark would have made a nice stop.  But, it was only early afternoon and stopping now seemed too soon.  However, looking north into the Georgia Strait, the seas were dead calm indicating it would be a very long motor to Vancouver.

We made a left turn then and continued to motor past the south side of Matia and Sucia Islands intending to go somewhere in the Gulf Islands.  The winds picked up briefly just west of Sucia and we sailed at 8.5kts directly towards Plumper Sound in the Gulf Islands.  Winds died and while still on a heading towards Plumper, motored past Waldron Island.  Winds again picked up while crossing Boundary Pass and we made 8.5kts decreasing to 6.5kts as we entered Plumper.

Winds continued to decrease and we motored past Port Browning on North Pender Island.  Once past Port Browning, winds again picked up and we made 7kts under the main only.  Called the CANPASS line and made an appointment for Horton Bay.   Past Lyall Harbour and Winter Cove, the winds died and we motored through Georgeson Passage between Lizard and Samuel Islands and into Horton Bay at 1745.

Why Horton Bay?  First, there is a CANPASS customs dock there.  Second, it was someplace new for us.  Third, looked like a nice place in the guide book though it warned of potential anchoring problems.

Ever notice how one is an expert at the end of a trip but manages to forget everything over the winter and is a complete novice the next year?  We got to the customs dock early and gooned the docking.  Not being used to docking with the amas out, I smacked into the dock, leaving a little paint on the starboard ama bow.  Second attempt was better, though still not pretty.  Once on the dock, ate dinner while waiting the required time for a customs official.  After the time expired, we went searching for an anchorage.

Attempted to anchor first in the west end of the bay.  The area is filled with private buoys.  Got the anchor down and set, but a comfortable scope was not possible without potentially drifting into another boat.  So we next tried a tiny cove to the left of the customs dock.  Very shallow and we were warned about drying flats.  Even though shallow, there was too much rode and we were too close to the customs dock.

Location number 3 was on the east side in the vicinity of Curlew Island.  There was one other boat over there so we thought it would be good.  However, there was a lot of current moving through there and I never felt the anchor was truly set.  Pulled it up and found a lot of kelp, but no mud.  Off to spot 4.

4th time is a charm?  4th spot was on the SE side of the bay, directly in front of a cottage, upsetting their dog, but not the owners.  The water was clear and we could see sand between bunches of kelp.  Chose a spot and dropped the anchor into a sand patch where is set right away!  It was now 1930ish and we were tired.  But apparently not the kids about 100yds away who were in the water splashing and laughing until well after dark.  Did I mention the water temp was 55F?  Personally, I won't get into water less than 66F and then reluctantly.  These kids were crazy!

Grabbing a bit of Pusser's with an ice cube, we sat down for a pleasant evening of R&R in a peaceful anchorage.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


In my-not-so-humble opinion, laundromats suck.  Marina laundries even more.  Few and far between, they are a quality craps shoot.  Tending to be hot and steamy, they may or may not have fully functioning machines.  Even if the washers function, there are other probable problems like not getting all the soap out.  Then, what was left behind by the previous user?  For instance, boat waxing rags leaving all kinds of muck in the machine?  Dryers...well, they take forever.  Everything is also expensive.  Further, the facilities tend to be is lucky if the crowd is friendly.

No sir, I don't like it and would rather spend time on the boat vice a marina laundry.

So, a search for an alternative was deduced, experimented with and the results are presented.

The basics:  Wash and dry.  There may be a few intermediate steps in the process; sort, load into water with cleaning agent, agitate, wring out cleaning water, load into rinse water, agitate, wring.  Most of these are normally done by automatic washing machines.  Hands on are only required for the sorting, initial loading and transfer to the dryer.  Lucky these are modern times and we are not living in grandma's era huh?  I promise I don't envy grandma and I am too lazy to do all she did.

First, an admittedly smart assed assumption:  Everyone is familiar with solar clothes dryers.  This is the clothes drying method used since ancient days where clothing is placed such that circulating air and the shining sun can dry them.  Modern versions generally include a stretched, horizontal line and the use of clothes pins to secure the clothing to the line.  Sail boaters know lifelines and sheets work well for this purpose.

How to do the wash?  I had stumbled across the Wonderwash a few years ago and thought to purchase one.  Reviews were good, but it is a one-use-product, only used to do laundry.  I don't like one-use-products aboard, especially fairly large (size of a small microwave) one-use-products.  There is just not enough space. 

So, alternatives were looked for.  The internet and youtube can provide a lot of information, some is quite entertaining and I came across this 'cheap and easy DIY washing machine'.  Now this could be done easily as both the bucket and holey bucket were already aboard!  The on board bucket, besides being a just a bucket, seconded as the bottom half for a 'Bucket Head' vacuum cleaner.  With a lid, the holey bucket, suspended into the water next to the boat, is a live seafood container also known as a 'crab condo'.

Instead of the drilled plunger for an agitator though, a Breathing Mobile Washer was purchased w/o a handle.  It is small enough to store very easily (inside a bucket).  The boat hook already aboard has a compatible screw-in portion and could double as a handle.

So, bucket and agitator:  Check.  How to get rid of the water (wring) efficiently?

It is important to effectively get rid of the wash cycle water prior to rinsing.  The more soapy water removed, the less rinse water required.  While the sit squish method in the video worked, my 220 pounds did not 'wring' the clothing well enough and they came out wet.  The spin method just took too long and was labor intensive.  Hand wringing is a viable option.  But unless the clothes-damaging, around-the-lifeline-stanchion method was used, the bare hand method is just not effective enough.

Then a buddy suggested a wringer, an actual hand crank, roller wringer like grandma used to use.  They are still available!  Several were looked at and the DynaJet BL-38 was selected because of its simplicity.  A couple Magma T10-380 grill mounts easily replaced the stock mounts to enable rail mounting.  Mounting and adjusting the wringing pressure will be dependant upon the model purchased and your personal preferences.

Bucket, agitator and wringer:  Check.  Cleaning agent....

Strider only holds 30 gallons total fresh water.  Tough to do laundry with so little.  The first thought was to use salt water for the wash (detergent) portion then rinse with fresh.  Via cruiser forums, this was a bad idea.  More fresh water would be used to rinse the salt out than if fresh was used in the first place.  It is critical to get the salt out!  Salt will attract water (hence rice in the salt shaker) and the clothing, or bed sheets, will always feel damp.  Other forums discussed how much soap to use etc.

Then a reference was found to use ammonia instead of detergent.  An ancient cleaning solution, the Romans actually collected urine to convert to ammonia for use in their laundries.  Now, before anyone says 'yuck' or 'smells bad' or 'are you nuts' or 'piss' - ask yourselves how did the Romans get their togas so white?  And they did not walk around smelling like urine (BO maybe, but not urine).

So ammonia has a strong smell.  Use it in a well ventilated area like the stern of the boat.  Further, it is an organic, completely natural, disinfecting cleaner and not a bleaching agent - it will not change the color of the clothes.  Last, and best of all, it evaporates.  That's right, evaporates.  Translation:  No Rinsing is Required.

How much:  3/4 cup clear ammonia to 2.5 gallons of water is a good baseline and was found to work very well.  Make sure to get clear ammonia and not sudsy ammonia.  Sudsy ammonia has a small amount of detergent...which will require rinsing.

Bucket, agitator, wringer, cleaning agent:  Check, check, check and check.

The rest is just technique.  2.5 gallons of water and 3/4 cup ammonia in a 5 gallon bucket is not a lot of water/space so small loads are required or the clothes will not get an adequate agitation.  Since the wash water/ammonia solution will be used over and over, sort the clothing into small loads from lightly soiled to most heavily soiled and this is the order of washing:  Lightly soiled to more heavily soiled.

Details:  A small amount of clothing was loaded and agitated for about 2 minutes.  A lid was put on the bucket to prevent ammonia evaporation and load left to soak.  After about 30 minutes, the load was again agitated for about 2 minutes.  The wash cycle was now complete!  The trick now was to conserve as much of the wash water as possible.  Items were removed one at a time and some water was hand wrung back into the bucket.  Then the item was put through the wringer.  Smaller items were folded a couple times to increase the wringing pressure.  Larger items, like towels and bed linens had to be folded to make them narrow enough to fit into the wringer aperture.  Each wrung item was then set aside for hanging.  After the entire load was wrung, the next load was placed in the bucket and agitated for 2 minutes.  While the new wash load was soaking for 30 minutes, the wrung load was hung to dry.

100% water recovery is not possible and if there are too many loads, the water level or load amount will have to be adjusted.  If the loads are really dirty, a fresh batch of water/ammonia may be required.  Your option of course.

All in all, each load required about 40 minutes from loading to hung for drying.  30 minutes was soaking time, essentially down time available for something else like relaxing or another boat chore.

In the end, the left over cleaning solution was often pretty dirty.  Most times, the dirty water was just poured over the side (organic, natural remember) via the cockpit drains to help keep them clean.  Relatively clean solution was used to clean the sinks, countertops, around the toilet etc.

The results were impressive.  My wife, a skeptic with a nose able to detect a mouse fart, was thoroughly amazed and loved the results.  Fresh, clean, crisp bed linens!  The boat buddies with us decided to try it and are now purchasing their own equipment.

1 Home Depot buckets              ~$3.00 (free since it was already aboard)
1 Home Depot bucket lid          ~$1.00 (free since it was already aboard)
1 Whisper w/o handle               ~$14.00
1 DynaJet Wringer                    ~$140.00
2 Magma Grill Mounts             ~$50.00 ea
Ammonia                                  cheap

The only cost I don't like was for the grill mounts.  They work great...just hate the cost. 

The formula is simple:  2.5 gallons fresh water + 3/4 cup ammonia + agitator + wringer + clothes line + sunshine = fresh, clean, crisp clothing.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Tuesday, 7July2015: Port Townsend to Skyline

Weather:  Overcast and cool.  Winds:  0.  Waves:  Flat

Awakened at 0515 by a neighboring engine.  Slack tide was right now.  Since I was now wide awake and the tides dictated leaving soon or have to wait until 1100, I got up, adjusted the waterstays after they had been stressed the day before and we were underway by 0630...a little behind the tides/currents.

Initially, caught a nice eddy pushing us north towards Point Wilson at 6kts.  At Point Wilson, encountered rips.  Fortunately, they were not the big washing machine kind and they just slowed us to 3kts.  Pushed through, angling towards Partridge Point on Whidbey Island.

Encountered more rips and oceanic swells off Partridge Point...along with harbor porpoises!  Made it through the rips and the northbound flood started pushing towards home.  By the entrance to Burrows Bay, we were making 6.5kts!  Encountered a strong cross current at the entrance to Skyline, requiring a large crab.

Went straight to the fuel dock, fueled and folded while Kelly walked the dogs.  Cracked the homecoming beer at 1200.

Overall, slow going.  21nm in 5.5hrs.  Tides have been 10ft or 2ft with the current, huge, full moon.  The morning one has been the big one.  Got lucky on last Thursday's trip and was able to ride well.  Not so lucky on this trip.

Monday, 6July2015: Gig Harbor to Port Townsend

Weather:  Sunny and warm turning overcast and cool.  Winds:  S 0-10 becoming N 10-15 gusts to 20.
Waves:  Flat becoming 1-2ft.

After adjusting the waterstays (becoming a theme) and clearing the boat, departed Gig Harbor around 0930 to catch the northbound ebb.  Motored out and briefly sailed under the genoa alone to the Colvos.  Motored to the north end of Vashon Island and was able to sail again under the genoa only. 

Intended to go to Bell Harbor Marina in downtown marina setting us up for an easy jaunt to Elliot Bay Marina to pick up a watermaker Tuesday morning.  Just east of Blake Island, called the retailer and found out the device had not been shipped and probably would not arrive until Wednesday or Thursday.  We decided to skip downtown and pressed towards home.  Wind died and we motored along, around 6kts with the current.

Arrived at Kingston around 1430 and since it was early, decided to press on, perhaps Port Townsend as there are not a lot of places to pull over between Kingston and Port T.  Vicinity of Point No Point, winds had picked up and we were working hard against the flood current.  Made 2.5kts around Point No Point.  Wind waves were starting to hit us making things more difficult.  Angled towards Foulweather Bluff at the entrance to the Hood Canal, unfurled the genoa, stabilizing Strider and motor sailed at 6.5kts!

Briefly furled the genoa and motored around Foulweather Bluff.  Once around continued the bash towards Oak Bay Park.  As we got protected by Indian Island, the wind calmed and we motored towards what we thought was the park.  Indeed, we had found the place, but the water was so full of algae and crud (technical term), we decided to press on, through the Port Townsend Canal, towards Fort Flagler Marine State Park.

Once into the bay, the wind and chop hit us again in the face.  Motoring around the Indian Island Naval Facility, we could see a couple of the park buoys were occupied, but more importantly, the wind seemed to be blowing straight into the anchorage.  Since the distance to Point Hudson Marina was roughly the same as to the park, we decided to go to Point Hudson where the wind was generally moderated.

Due to the rough waves outside, did not fold until inside the marina.  Got inside and the real difficulty began.  There were several open slips, including a perfect one where we would not have to fold.  All but one had 'reserved' signs.  Attempted to back into one with the wind blowing us off.  Gooned it and ended up on the neighboring boat fending off our boat.  Said the heck with it and made a smooth landing on the 'Do Not Moor Here' pump out station.  It was now 2000, a long day and WTF?

Tired, we took the dogs for a walk and treated ourselves to Elevated Ice Cream.  Hit the rack around 2130.

A long day.  Should probably just bit the bullet and anchored in Oak Bay.  Once back home, called Point Hudson and spoke with a nice lady.  I asked what is the policy regarding reserved signs:  Such as after 2000 they are no longer reserved?  She stated normally the reserved signs meant something, but not currently.  She was doing the normal work of 4 people and with the adjacent RV park, just could not get down to the docks to pull any signs.

I also got a bit frustrated with the boat owners in the marina.  Several stopped what they were doing and watched us fold and attempt to moor, but not came to help us get into the first slip.  Yes, an indictment.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sunday, 5July2015: Blake Island to Gig Harbor

Weather:  Sunny and warm to hot.  Wind:  N 5-10 gusts to 15.  Waves:  1ft.

Since the wind was northerly and we were headed south, rigged the spinnaker before departure.  Checked the waterstays and adjusted since the boat wakes had compressed the fibers - slackening them.  Departed around 1000 with a sailing start.  Started the engine just in case, but released off Freestyle and let the wind pushed us clear and aft.  Did a Y turn and popped the spinnaker, heading south at 5kts.  The wind died at the north end of the Colvos and I was nearly temped to start the engine, but saw a breeze building to the south.  Also, Freestyle had wind to the NW of us.  RT, also did a sailing start - said he was goaded into it!

So, waited a bit while Freestyle caught up and then the wind picked up and we were off at 6.5kts.  After having done a light wind gybe solo, I thought I could handle one with a stronger wind.  Completely gooned it and twisted the sail in the middle.  Socked it and completed the gybe.  During this time, Freestyle closed half the is a fast boat!  Strider gained some and then came time for another gybe...and once again, gooned it.  Socked it and completed the gybe.  During this 5 minutes of fiddling around, Freestyle closed half the distance once again.  Damn fast boat.  Did one other gybe but socked it first (maybe I can learn something).

Sailed to nearly the harbor entrance, socked the spinnaker and motored in.  Kelly did a fine job avoiding kayaks, powerboats, small sailboats and other hazards moving around the harbor.  We motored to the far end of the bay, just looking around while waiting for our floating dock to arrive.  Freestyle arrived and dropped their hook just off Arabela's Landing.  Fenders were already over the side and we motored right up, tied off and opened a beer...two of mine since RT had drank all his...seems I'm always bailing out my little brother.

Enjoyed the busy Gig Harbor boat show:  Near collisions, big boats attempting to get into a slip, clueless kayaks and the occasional dinkus making wakus in the no wake zone and then making dumb ass excuses.  Watched the kids jump into the water once gain, at least this time it was 63 degrees.  Entertaining!

A pleasant evening eating mozzarella a caprese and left over chicken:  Perfect for the hot day!  The wind scoop was great at keeping the boat cool.  Slept well!

2-5July2015, Blake Island

Weather:  Sunny and hot!  Wind:  Calm to N@10-15.  Waves:  Flat except for wakes.

Anchored on the east side of Blake Island State Park for the 4th of July holiday.  From the east side, we had a tremendous view of Vashon Island to the south, and from Tacoma all the way north of Seattle.  Downtown Seattle and the Space Needle were clearly visible.  Impressive view and a great place to watch fireworks without the boom and bang to scare the dogs.

Thursday evening, after tying to a mooring buoy and walking the dogs ashore, taking care to avoid the abundant deer and raccoons, we settled into a nice, quiet sleep.  Early Friday morning, the dogs got us up and we took them ashore for their morning constitutions, once again, avoiding the deer and raccoons.  The dogs would have loved to chase the critters.  The deer would have outrun them and we probably would have lost our little girl in the woods since she does not know when to call it quits and come back.  Though the dogs think they are tough, the raccoons would have torn them to shreds.  Still, once sighted, the dogs would set off a caterwaul to wake the dead.  We tried to keep them quiet and let the campers sleep.

The island had more tent campers than we had seen before, but it was only the beginning.  By Saturday night, the NE corner of the island was nearly packed.  One of the park employees stated there was even a special ferry coming out, depositing more people just for the fireworks.

After breakfast, while still calm, I adjusted the waterstays.  Later, after other boats were moving about, Kelly hoisted me up the mast to retrieve the errant spinnaker halyard.  It was not as easy as I thought it would be.  The passing boat's wakes made life up the mast difficult.  At one point, I could see a set of big ones coming and I called for Kelly to hurry up about 3 more feet so I could stand on the spreaders and hold on.  But, got the halyard down!

RT, MM and Em arrived aboard Freestyle about 1130 Friday having rode the tide from Gig Harbor.  They tied off of Strider and then, since Freestyle weighs 27,000 pounds and Strider only 5,100 pounds, the mooring buoy was transferred to Freestyle.

Spent the next couple days comparing notes, telling lies er embellishing stories, watching Em and her friend Andrew jump into the 55 degree water (kids are insane), watching RT deplete his beer store.  Found a way to turn a hanging chair and a hammock into wind scoops.  Played with white tarps as sunshades...if Washington state can have blue tarp campers then it can have white tarp sailors!  The combination aft tarp and wind scoop kept Strider very comfortable.  Saturday, Em and Andrew fished in earnest and caught enough rock sole, augmented by 5 rock crab, to make a meal!

Saturday evening...great place to watch the fireworks.  The view, as mentioned above, was panoramic.  Once the sun was down and dusk nearly over, the fireworks began and did not really end...though most were over by 2300.  The display from the Federal Way/SeaTac area was consistent and long term leading us to believe we were seeing individual and not city fireworks.  Tacoma's was probably the longest large display and was quite lovely.  Seattle's, while spectacular, was very short.

Thursday, 2July2015, Skyline to Blake Island

Weather:  Sunny and warm!  Winds:  N 0-10  Waves:  <1ft

Moved aboard Wednesday night to get an early start to catch the tide on Thursday.

Thursday morning, moored for 30 minutes at the fuel dock to check the waterstay tension.  Adjusted them and we motored out around 0830.  Hooked a right into the Burrows Channel taking advantage of the westbound ebb.  Turned south in Rosario and the southbound ebb bumped us up to 7kts!  Wind picked up some and the main and genoa were set.  Wind died after an hour and we were back to motoring.

Hugged Partridge Point on Whidbey Island at the eastern entrance to the San Juan Strait to avoid the normal rips at Point Wilson.  Entered Admiralty Inlet with a slight ebb slowing us to 4kts.  We were off Port Townsend at slack.  Soon, a strong southbound flood had us moving fast again.

North wind started to pick up around 1300 and I thought to take advantage and raise the spinnaker.  Nearly to the top, the pelican hook lanyard caught on something up high on the genoa furler and the spinnaker dropped to the deck with a bang.  Fortunately, most of the spinnaker was on the deck and only about 15ft was in the water.  Pulled it out and set it on the nets.  Problem now was the the spinnaker halyard was up the mast and impeded the unfurling of the genoa.  I thought to lower the main and use the main halyard to go up and get it.  Kelly talked me out of it.  Frustrating to see the sailboats actually sailing and we were motoring.  Found a solution by furling and unfurling the genoa, each time slightly getting more slack in the spinnaker halyard.  Finally, the halyard dropped free of the furler and we were able to use the genoa!  The halyard though, was still at the top of the mast....

Sailed for about 2hrs, gybing back and forth under the main and genoa, staying in the southbound current, making 6.5kts.  Winds died off Kingston and we were back to motoring.  Arrived Blake Island State Park east side mooring buoys around 1900.  2 of 5 buoys were available and we took the middle one, the one closest to shore.

62 miles in 10 hours.  Not too bad.  Liked to have done it sailing, but after the spinnaker halyard goat rope, Strider was limited to the heavier weight sails, just not practical for the light winds.

We encountered several large ships, including a US Navy Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Momsen DDG-92 and several other powerboats creating large wakes.  These wakes caused concern as the waterstays were stressed and slackened, still 'stretching'.  The material is not really stretching, but being pulled into position, kind of like getting the air out.  Still, there was no unexposed place to pull over and tighten them.  So, the hinges, particularly the port side, took the brunt of the forces.  Waterstay tension will need to be monitored and adjusted for quite some time.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday, 28June2015, James Island to Skyline

Weather:  Sunny turning to overcast.  Winds: 0-5 becoming stronger and gusty.  Waves:  <1ft.

First sail post refit.

Day dawned bright and sunny.  Had 2 solar amps going into the batteries by 0700!  Took a couple strolls on the island and chatted with a couple of folks and learned about the camp visiting raccoons inhabiting the island.  About 1000, readjusted the starboard ama and pushed, touring counter clockwise around the island.  Dipped into the west cove, checking out the boats and anchoring possibilities.  Guide books say it is a tricky anchorage, locals say because of strong currents.

Departed around the south side of the island and headed east towards Skyline.  About a mile into Rosario, vicinity of Belle Rock light, winds picked up enough to give sailing a try.  Up went the main!

With about 5kts of wind, made about 3.2kts on a reach.  Enough to put some pressure on the port ama and ease the pressure on the starboard.  Both looked good!  Decided to up the pressure by turning more into the wind.  With 8kts wind apparent and making 3.8kts, everything still looked good.  However, Strider does not like pointing without the jib, just not enough balance and she wants to head up into the wind more.  So, unfurled the jib and made 4kts.  Amas still looked good!  Turned to a beam reach, keeping the sails depowered.  Made 4.5kts.  While not flying, the starboard ama was really unweighted and the waterstays did not sag.  Port side looked solid, with no grunts or groans or moans!

Granted, very benign conditions, exactly what I wanted for first tests, but all looked good!  Next step is to check the tension again as the dyneema will continue to settle into its tensioned position.  Then, just keep pushing the envelope...bit by bit.

Saturday, 27June2015, Skyline to James Island

Weather:  Sunny and hot.  Winds:  Weak.  Waves:  Nil.

First test post refit!  Motor only in easy conditions.

Loaded aboard, double checked the waterstay tension and net tension.  All looked good so we motored out into Burrows Bay and made a right turn towards Rosario Strait, intending to go to Spencer Spit.  About 3 minutes out of the gate, ran into a big powerboat wake.  Starboard side ama looked good but the port side moved too much.  We pulled over and spent 10 minutes readjusting the waterstays.  Pressed.

About 1/2 across Rosario, noticed the port side was rock solid but the starboard side was moving a tad.  Decided to go to James Island State Park, partly because it was closer and partly because we had never been there.  Pulled directly into East Bay and found 2 (of 4) brand new mooring buoys available.  As we pulled in, witnessed someone from the boat on the adjacent buoy jump into the 61 degree water.  Nuts!  Later, I asked how it was.  "It lets you know you are alive" was his response!

James Island was nice.  Several pit toilets and campsites.  Burn ban was in affect because of the dry weather.  Nice trails to wander on with some great overlooks.  Dogs were excited by something as they kept their noses to the ground and pulling us.  Found out via some campers there are raccoons on the island who scattered some trash and kept another dog on alert all night.  Saw a river otter and a couple babies on Sunday morning.  Kelly said she would go back!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Major Overhaul 2015 Part 1

Just what is a major overhaul/refit?  I'm not sure.  Is it over X dollars spent?  How about the number of tasks completed?  I asked a buddy and he did not know the answer, but suggested Strider's winter 2015 projects fit his definition:  "I know it when I see it."  So, a major overhaul/refit for Strider in winter/spring 2015.  It all began with fiberglass fatigue/failure on the amas, which kept leading to more...naturally.



Strider is folded most of the time.   Folding creates a long lever between the ama and the forward aka with the force focused on the pivot pin.  Wind and waves combine to force a scissoring action between the two, fatiguing the ama fiberglass.  After several years and possible previous repairs, the ama fiberglass was collapsing.
Port Ama Extended
Starboard Ama Folded
New fiberglass repair area
Area Repaired.  Black UHMW was selected for the rub rail/skid plate for its alleged UV resistance
In addition to the external repairs, additional support was added inside.  OEM included an athwart support, centered on the pivot bolt.  This did fine supporting the structure while extended, but did nothing while folded.  There is now an additional fore and aft support (fiberglass with wood core), reinforcing the structure while folded.

Internal Reinforcement

Simple scissor preventer.  Eye nut on top, 3/16 dyneema with snap shackle in the middle and a U bolt on the ama.  Tails at the top are for adjusting the length.

Solar Panels

I've made mention in previous posts I was not satisfied with the 100 watt solar panel placement.  Too far aft and partially shaded by the stays and the net.  So, moved them forward, just aft of the ama hatch.  This move necessitated the repair of the bolt holes, which were completed with a bit of fiberglass.  But since the non-skid color could not matched, the grey, gelcoat non-skid was sanded off and new, off-white, polyurethane/bead non-skid applied.  Only the exposed ama top, aft of the panel, got the non-skid.  The area under the solar panel is plain off-white polyurethane.

To move the solar panel forward, a folding padeye, mounted 6 inches aft of the hatch for the ama in-haul line, had to be removed.  This roller's axle was replaced with a bolt and eye nut for the in-haul line.



Were out of round at the pins allowing the ama/akas to flex while underway.  It is a bit disconcerting to see them flapping around in the waves.  So, the hinges were removed and brought to a machinist who has fabricated seemingly massive collars/bushings to bring the hinges back into round.

Note the large bushing.  It was pressed in and then welded.
Forward half installed.
Aka half installed.


With the amas off and the hinges removed, the shoulder cracks on the vaka were more visible and and more extensive.
Forward Starboard
Aft Starboard

Swing Wing Cables

These cables are inside the aft aka and used to extend the amas, pulling the ama forward via a line integrated in the net.  A couple broken strands were found on a cable indicating replacement is due.  So, removed, cleaned and polished the brass aka sheaves abraded by the stainless cables.  Used a rubber drum for a sanding wheel chucked in a drill press.  Clamped the sheave assembly in a vise and pressed the sheave onto the rubber drum, causing the sheave to spin.  Used stiff sand paper to smooth and polish the sheave.  Then, replaced the stainless steel cables with 1/4 inch amsteel using heavy duty thimbles.

1/4" dyneema aka cable with red 3/16" dyneema soft shackle.


With the ama off, was able to inspect the waterstays, the cable preventing the amas from collapsing upward while in the extended position.  The waterstays were about 7ft of 14mm stainless cable with a 20mm stud terminal at one end and an eye terminal at the other.  One eye terminal had extensive cracks.  With one close to failure combined with the manufacturer's recommendation to replace all every 5yrs, I decided to replace all.
I contacted the manufacturer and was quoted about $2200 to replace all, but the material was not in stock, would have ordered, then manufactured, then shipped.  I decided to attempt something new with a local rigger and machinist.
We were able to salvage the 3/4" double jaw toggles from the hull side end and the 20mm stud terminal from the aka side.  Had a machinist bore out the cable from the 20mm stud and tap the stud for 5/8in-18 T-bolt toggle, like the bottom half of the turnbuckle in this picture.

Salvaged 20mm stud with new 5/8in t-bolt with terminals
Locally fabricated 1/2in Cortland Plasma 12 strand synthetic line is used along with thimbles to replace the cables.  Weight reduction is 28 pounds.  Material cost was about $500.  Machining was $300.  Labor, including consultations and learning how to assemble the system (watching the rigger splice and sew) was $600.  $1400 for new waterstays and done using local talent and material!
New Waterstay Assembly
UPDATE:  This did not work out as planned.  The combination 20mm stud and the 5/8 t-bolt toggle was too long and interfered with the ama folding.  Fortunately, Plan B was too use the 5/8 t-bolt toggle solo, inserted into the 20mm receptacle.  Eliminating the 20mm stud also removed 5 pounds.

The results:  Purple is the plasma, blue is 1/4" dyneema lashing.


Replaced the silicon sealed 1/4" plexiglass with weather stripped 1/8" polycarbonate.  The thin polycarbonate was relatively easy to work with.  The difficult part was removing all the old, black silicon sealant.
New Windscreen

Rudder Assembly

Removed/cleaned and replaced the bottom fitting, bottom half of the rudder support assembly.  Assembly was sloppy in its holes, with about a 1/2 inch swing.  So, created a couple stainless bushings by modifying spacers to fit over the assembly bolts and redrilled the fiberglass hull holes to fit the outside diameter of the spacers, now a very tight fit.  Used butyl tape with countersink method detailed in this Compass Marine article.

Replaced a couple aluminum, 75mm, ball bearing Frederiksen sheaves, worn through by the stainless steel steering cable with a couple 50mm Ronstan RF50000HL sheaves.  Though slightly smaller, the sheave is a direct replacement and the Nylatron material is good for cable.