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.