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Friday, July 30, 2010

7/30/2010 - Why pencils have erasers

I certainly hope no one has been writing down our schedule because that already-messy document is about to get messier.

If everything had worked out as originally planned, we would be right where we are right now, sitting at Cody's house complaining about the dial-up internet access. But Siempre Sabado would be tied up in Martinez, California instead of Charleston, Oregon. In the original scenario, we would have driven back up to Silverton and then spent the month up here going to a family reunion, visiting with Lulu's brother Joe (from Iowa) when he brings our niece, Emily, out to get her moved in to Lewis & Clark College mid-month, and then working on and ultimately attending our daughter's wedding at the end of the month. Well, just because we haven't gotten the boat out of Oregon yet doesn't mean that August has somehow gotten less busy.

So here's where the eraser comes in. Instead of rushing back to Charleston right after the reunion next weekend and then waiting and hoping for a weather window to get us to Martinez in time to drive back up for the wedding, completely missing Joe and Emily's visit in between, we've decided to just come back here and blow off trying to get out of Charleston this month. We'll just stay here, get our visiting and so on done and then return to Charleston at the very end of August and hope that the milder inland temps in September give us better coastal conditions for making the trip down. So the only difference from the original agenda is where the boat's parked in August and what we'll be doing the first week of September.

After the reunion, I'm going to go back to Charleston to get a couple things done so Siempre Sabado is ready to go when we are: replace the oil pressure switch, re-wire the alarm, run a heavier power line to the VHF/AIS radio so it won't keep telling me the battery is low, and fix the bow pulpit where our run-in with something (who knows what) caused the front screw to be ripped out of the platform. Meanwhile, Lulu will stay here helping with the wedding preparations.

So, there ya go. Blog entries will be a little sparse during August as there won't be much happening that would be of much interest to anyone outside the family. But check in anyway because, as you've figured out by now, things change.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

7/29/2010 - Warm at last

Yesterday my folks, having heard that we'd changed plans and would need to get to Silverton, dropped everything and drove down to Charleston to pick us up and give us a ride. That's like a 5 hour round trip just between their home in Eureka and our new temporary home in Charleston. And, to make the deal even sweeter, they then gave us their truck to use. We'll have use of it while we're here at our daughter Cody's house and then will drive it up to the family reunion in The Dalles where we'll turn it back over to them, they having gotten a ride up with my sister and her husband. Pretty sweet parents, huh?

We could absolutely not believe we were in the same state when we got out of the truck in Eugene. It was actually WARM! It felt and looked like summer is supposed to. Off came the long johns and hooded sweatshirts and on went the shorts and t-shirts. Get thee behind me double-pairs of socks. Welcome to my feet, Mr. Keen sandals. It feels so good. I realize that the weather that feels so good here is largely responsible for keeping us in Charleston as it's a big cause of the high winds and resultant waves, but it sure feels good.

Of course, the trip was not without some drama, else why blog about it?

Were cruising along between Coos Bay and Drain (nice name for a town in a rainy state, eh?) when my cell phone rings. It's someone at the marina in Charleston. Oh, this can't be good. Seems someone came up to the office and reported that "the alarm on your boat is going off". Alarm? What alarm? Other than the alarm clock, the only alarm I can think of is the low oil pressure/high temperature alarm on the engine. But those only sound if the ignition key is on. She said she'd have someone go down and check again and call me back.

Todd Snider's song rolls through my brain as I wait for her call:

"Tension, tension, tension it's all that I know..."

The phone rings. It's her again. Yes, it's definitely coming from my boat. We talk a bit and she puts me on with Richard, the head of maintenance. After talking to him a minute or so, he heads down to the boat and will call me back.


Richard calls back in just a few minutes and, in the background I can hear the annoying chirping whistle that I'd had to endure for hours on the trip down from Newport. It was the low oil pressure alarm. WTF? How is that even possible?

I give Richard the combination and he climbs below. First I try an easy fix that I know going in isn't going to work. I have him turn off all the breakers (except the fridge). Doesn't work, as expected. How comfortable are you with pulling wires, Richard? I can handle it. Great.

I explain to him how to open the engine compartment door (first remove the companionway steps) and then try to explain where the wires are that terminate on the oil pressure switch. Of course, now that the breakers are off, he has no light so I tell him where to find a flashlight. This is when it's really nice to know exactly where everything is on the boat. Of course, from past postings you know that I don't really know where everything is but fortunately I didn't need to try to explain to him how to find the torque wrench. But I knew how to direct Richard to all the things he needed.

But, I digress. Amid much grunting, Richard finally gets all the wires disconnected from the oil pressure switch. Ah, blessed silence. I WISH! No, that damned horn is still sounding. Double-WTF? Next step is to remove the back from the engine control panel and remove the wires from the horn itself. I explain to Richard where to find a screwdriver and how to proceed. Partway through the procedure, things suddenly go quiet. SUCCESS! Right, Richard? Richard? Oh crap! I lost my signal. I try calling back but I've got no signal.

"Tension, tension..."

Then, miraculously the phone rings. It's Richard's assistant who said she accidentally hung up. But now it IS quiet in the background. The operation was successful. Whew! I thank him and tell him not to bother putting anything away. I'll take care of that when we get back. Just lock up. I thank him and he rings off.

I'm sure you remember the problems we had with the oil pressure alarm coming down the coast after we took water in the cockpit a couple of times. But this is just weird. How could it possibly get energized with the key turned off (not even in the switch)? And then, unless Richard pulled the wrong wires or my interpretation of which wires were the right ones was wrong, how could the horn get juice with the wires pulled? Good thing I have a wiring diagram on the boat. I've ordered a new oil pressure switch just in case but this is going to be an interesting mystery to solve when we get back to chilly Charleston.

Oh well, I know the boat is safe and in no danger of sinking or anything so I guess I'll just relax, enjoy the warm weather, help Cody & Scott get a few things done for their wedding and then go to the reunion. PLenty of time to stress about things that need fixing when we get back to the boat.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

7/27/2010 - on second thought...

Just finished looking at the weather predictions again. We still are looking pretty good for a departure from Coos Bay tomorrow. Unfortunately, the further south we head, the worse things look, at least through the weekend. At first we figured maybe we'd just go as far as Brookings tomorrow. But Brookings is only like 15 miles from Crescent City. So, by the time we arrived, the bad waves would be starting to kick in. So, we've decided to cool out. We're going to leave the boat here in Charleston and catch a bus, or better yet a train, to Salem and from there to our daughter's house in Silverton. We'll attend a family reunion in The Dalles the following weekend and then come back here and start watching the weather agin. It's GOT to be better in August doesn't it?

There are 2 upsides to this plan:

1.) We're sticking to our original plan of not putting ourselves in harm's way for the sake of a schedule.

2.) We might finally get some sunny, warm weather and dry out our cold, wet bones.

7/27/2010 - Hmmmmm.....

Well, things aren't looking too bad for leaving here tomorrow. Oh yeah, we didn't leave today. As yesterday wore on I felt very rushed to get things done (like stop the cockpit sole leak) for a Tuesday departure and felt I might be doing a half-assed job as a result. So we decided to cool out and wait until Wednesday. So now it's Wednesday and I think everything is pretty much done. I do have to go over to a metal fabricator to pick up some little latch pieces that I'm having them make, but other than that, we just have to make sure everything is stowed correctly and get going.

The weather from here to Cape Blanco doesn't look too bad. After that things get a little dicier. We're hoping the forecast will improve as we get further down the coast but we may be making a stop in Crescent City or Eureka. But we hope not to have to.

If we get the self-steering working properly, we will be able to handle things better than on our first leg. Well, that and if we don't get seasick. Our friends Jay and Judy from Newport dropped by on Sunday after reading the blog and brought Lulu some seasickness remedies. Pretty nice of them, eh?

So, anyway, we're hoping that we're not blowing it by leaving tomorrow. We've seen at least one other cruiser (from Friday Harbor, WA) head out. He came in last night and was gone this morning. So it's not like we're the only ones dumb enough to head out. Almost the entire fishing fleet is gone. The docks are very empty looking.

I bit the bullet and paid for wifi here at the marina today. I get 24 hours for $7.50. So, since my time doesn't run out until late tomorrow afternoon, I'll probably send another blog out just before we depart tomorrow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

7/26/2010 - Still looking good to leave tomorrow

Our local restaurant with free wifi is closed today and tomorrow so we're sitting at a picnic table in the restaurant's backyard, using their wifi signal which, fortunately, they don't shut off when they're closed.

The weather is still looking promising for a departure tomorrow morning. If it's like today, the fog should lift by about 1000 or 1030. The flood tide is from 0800 to 1420 or so so we have a nice big window.

Today we got most of our chores done. Still have a couple to do when we get back to the boat, but they should be no problem. Checked on my engine alarm and found that it's set up perfectly to have any water that gets into the engine compartment sit on top of the switch and short it across. I got it all dried up (I think) so I need to make some kind of shield. Obviously I also need to do a better job of waterproofing the cockpit sole so that water can't get down below.

Man, is it cold here! Not as windy as Newport but colder. And foggy. Haven't seen the sun since we got here.

Probably won't get another blog entry written if we head out tomorrow morning, and, as we're hoping to go straight through, be aware that there may be blog silence for the next 5-7 days.

Wish us better luck than last time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

7/25/2010 - This just in

Just finished checking the weather forecasts and it looks like things will start improving tomorrow and be totally tolerable by Tuesday. So, barring a change, we plan to continue our journey south on Tuesday.

7/25/2010 - At least we're not in Newport anymore

We left Newport yesterday morning at about 0730. Our friends Jay and Judy were there to handle lines and see us off. It was pretty placid when we left so we were surprised to hear that the bar was restricted to recreational vessels over 26'. For the past week or so it's been unrestricted. Maybe we should've taken this as a clue and turned back but we really wanted to get going.

The bar crossing was kind of lumpy but not too bad although I wouldn't have wanted to do it in a little sportfishing craft. However, once we got outside we encountered those 10'+ seas we'd been reading about in the weather forecasts. The waves were rolling in from the NW and we were heading SW to get away from land and pick up our southbound route. Consequently, we were taking the seas on the beam which meant for a very rolly ride. Occasionally I'd turn a little south and things calmed down some so I was looking forward to things easing up once we turned full south.

I don't have any way of measuring wave height when we're out there. Everything changes so fast and here's nothing to bet a perspective on. But I do know these were the highest seas we'd ever encountered. And they never let up. Sometimes they got bigger but they never got smaller.

Within a few minutes of clearing the bar, we found everything that hadn't been stowed good enough. Guess that's why they call it a "shake-down" cruise. Fortunately, more things made the ride without becoming unsecured than did. But we still have to solve a couple of issues. Mainly I need to put toggles on the behind-the-seats lockers, a positive closure on the anchor chain locker, and a restraint on the wastebasket. Oh, and we need to be a little more circumspect in stowing miscellaneous little odds and ends. Since it was so rolly and, therefore uncomfortable down below, we just left everything lay where it landed. No sense trying to fix it now.

Matter of fact, it was such a job steering the boat that nothing else got done. One hand had to be on the tiller at ALL times. I couldn't even set up the windvane or autopilot because I couldn't let go of the tiller long enough to do it. And I had my doubts about the autopilot anyway. It's worked great before but these seas were taking a lot of effort to maintain some semblance of a course and it could be more than the autopilot was built to handle. And, since it works great in lesser seas, I saw no purpose in taking a chance on destroying it now. As far as putting the windvane into use, no way was I going to be leaning out over the stern pulpit in these conditions. And, not only could we not get any self-steering connected, we also couldn't get a sail up. I know this sounds like a lame excuse. After all, I could just have Lulu steer while I did whatever else needed doing. But I'm telling you, the ride was so rough that it mostly took both hands just to hang on. We made sure that we were both strapped to the boat, even in the cockpit.

And then, as if the big seas weren't enough, Lulu got seasick. This was in spite of using the scopolamine patch. Having had a poor reaction last time she used one (all she could do was sleep), she opted to use just half a patch this time. Well, apparently it wasn't enough. Eventually she put the other half on and, although it didn't keep her from being sick, it did make her very sleepy. So I told here to do whatever would make her feel less bad. She decided that crawling into bed and getting warm and stationary with her eyes closed might work.

I continued to steer and Lulu went below. She popped her head up every so often to see if I needed anything. What a trooper. I did have her come out one time to spell me long enough for me to take a leak. Note: I will never buy another pair of foul weather pants that don't have a fly. I had to get half undressed (remove life jacket, remove foul weather jacket, then undo the straps and such on the foulie pants just to take a leak. Unacceptable! I realize this is everyday life for you women and I feel your pain. But my plumbing doesn't normally require all that so my clothes shouldn't either. And another thing about foul weather gear: the cargo pockets on my jacket are closed with velcro and have a little flap to keep the contents fairly dry. However, I found it nearly impossible to open the flap and then hold the pocket open to put my glasses away using one gloved hand. It was very frustrating and a good example of how the seas were so rough that doing even minor things was a major undertaking.

So anyway, we are bouncing along the coast, about 5-10 miles out. It's foggy so the range of vision was limited to maybe a 1/2 mile radius. Fortunately we saw no other boats or ships out there and now I'm not surprised.

We got pooped once (took water over the stern) and took water over the side numerous times but, as far as I could see, we never took any water over the bow. Of course, the waves were going in our direction so it sort of stands to reason. And my goodness, did we roll. The compass has marks on it that show how much off level it is. During most of the rolls we'd go maybe 20° side to side. About once every 10 minutes or so we'd go over 30°, occasionally hitting 35°. Then, late in the day, after the wind piped up and the waves got bigger, we would hit 40° every so often. But, inspite of this, I don't think either of us were ever scared. We have such faith in our little Westsail 28 that we know she can take whatever is dished out. She can take far more extreme conditions than we can. It's a great feeling to have implicit confidence in your boat. We're even more confident in her now.

When we got pooped, some water must have washed up into the engine control panel because right afterwards the warning buzzer started sounding. This buzzer goes off on a loss of oil pressure or if the engine temperature gets too high. Fortunately, besides the buzzer, we have actual gauges. I looked at them and all systems were still normal so we pressed on with the buzzer for background noise. It eventually quit but, as soon as we took some water in the cockpit from over the rail, it started up again. This time it ran on and on and on and on. And, even though the gauges were saying that everything was A-OK, it still makes you worry just a little bit. It would have been such a bummer to lose the engine in these conditions. I was also hoping that the fuel filters wouldn't clog up and need to be changed. Of course, I do have dual filters now so I could have just switched to the new set, but what if they plugged up? My scopolamine patch was working fine as long as I stayed topside. No telling what would happen if I had to go below and change a filter. And it would be a major job with the boat rolling 30-40 degrees side to side in a very erratic manner. Fortunately, the engine never faltered so maybe cleaning the fuel tank combined with using a 30 micron filter followed by a 2 micron filter is the way to go.

We had originally intended to sail straight through to SF but now, with Lulu sick, the cabin a mess and no way to connect the self-steering, I made the decision to duck into port. We were about 4-5 hours away from Winchester Bay and would arrive there while it was still light. However, as we approached the harbor, we heard the Coast Guard's bar-condition report. Due to dangerously breaking seas, the bar was closed to all recreational boats. If it had been an emergency we might have tried going in anyway but fortunately we didn't have to make that decision. This meant our next chance at a safe harbor was Coos Bay, another 4-5 hours away. We were both really hoping that it wouldn't be closed since that would mean we just had to keep on going. That would be a bummer. But, like Lulu said, "this is what we signed up for".

I was a little worried about Coos Bay because I had heard that the Coquille River entrance was also closed. I wasn't sure whether or not "Coquille River" was code for Coos Bay in the same way that Winchester Bay is referred to as the Umpqua River. Just have to wait and see.

A couple hours before sundown, the sky finally cleared. Not enough to see the horizon but at least enough to see blue sky and the sun. Just about the time the sun was going down, the almost-completely-full moon came up. That helped but, now that I couldn't see the compass very well (it's built-in light leaves a lot to be desired), it was really hard to stay on course. The compass on the GPS is useless for steering because it changes so much. It get all these readings and, since the waves are causing the boat to point all over the place, the GPS compass reading are also all over the place. Also, once it was dark it was harder to see the waves and anticipate what was coming.

As we neared Coos Bay, the bar report came on. Fortunately the bar was unrestricted. That made me feel much better. I had already resigned myself to continuing on and was trying to come up with a good watch-standing rotation that would allow me to get a little sleep but still keep Lulu from getting too cold or sicker. The unrestricted bar eased my mind a lot.

Next step was getting in to Coos Bay (actually Charleston) in the dark. The path is fairly well lit with aids to navigation (lighted buoys) and the chart on my GPS seemed pretty accurate. But, man! Coming in and trying to determine which lights were which and then finding some that were not where they were supposed to be was very nerve-wracking. Thank goodness Lulu was acting as lookout since my view from the cockpit is somewhat limited by the dodger and the fact that I need to be down low enough to reach the tiller. She kept me from running in to a couple of buoys as well as a small, poorly-marked breakwater.

And then, entering the marina, it was really hard to tell where anything was. So we just picked a slot and turned in. We found a place to tie up right next to a sign the said "Reserved. Do Not Tie Up Here Without Permission". Yeah, well, too bad. I don't know where else to go and there's no one here to tell us. A liveaboard guy came by and said we were fine just where we were. He said that security would probably have us move tomorrow but for tonight just relax.

We were finally tied up and engine off at 0030 Sunday morning. It took us 17 hours to travel just under 100 miles and since we were planning on 100-mile days, that's not too bad.

Lulu straightened up the cabin and I just sat around like a zombie. I removed the scopolamine patch because, now that we weren't moving it was making me feel kind of weird, and not a good weird. Climbing into bed never felt so good.

This morning we got a knock on the hull at about 0830. It was Security getting information and telling us where to move. He agreed to let us wait a couple of hours until we were more awake. As it turns out, neither of us could go back to sleep so we got up made some coffee, walked over to B dock to scope out our digs, then got underway and moved over to B-10.

It's cold, windy and foggy here but at least we're here safe and sound and we're not still in Newport. We're paid up through tomorrow. There's a little restaurant down the road with free wifi so I'm going to walk down and post this, get e-mail and check the weather so we can start watching for much better weather window to get out of here. We both agreed not to purposely set out in waters with waves in excess of 10' again. Should have heeded the advice of our salty friend Keith in Newport.

We're not disappointed that we took the plunge however. After all, we're started in the right direction, almost 1/5 of the way to our first goal (SF Bay) and we now have a better understanding of what wether conditions can do to you as well as even more confidence than before in our little Siempre Sabado. But it would have been a bummer if we'd had to keep on going like the Flying Dutchman.

Lessons learned:
-Make sure everything in the cabin is secured against heavy rolls
-Don't underestimate the influence that heavy seas can have on your trip
-Don't put off necessary jobs for "once we're out there". You may not be able to do anything "out there" except hang on.

PS: Lulu is right now sewing a fly into my foulie pants.

Friday, July 23, 2010

7/23/2010 - We're outa here

When we woke up to another beautiful sunny, albeit cool, day this morning we decided to quit screwing around and just get going. Tomorrow. I just checked the weather forecasts and they're not that much different than they have been. But as we think back to last summer in Newport, as we recalled, this is pretty much the norm all through the season. So, tomorrow morning at about 0700 we'll slip our lines and head to sea. The winds are pretty lax at that time so we'll have a few hours to get out away from shore before the winds start picking up. Of course, since the winds are going in our direction, they shouldn't seem quite as strong although the waves will still be just as big.

We're resigned to being somewhat uncomfortable for the first day or two. No biggie as we know it will pass. We have our scopolamine patches and our non-drowsy Dramamine tablets as well as our Jägermeister (just the threat of having to take a sip of that stuff will be enough to keep us from getting sick). The sandwiches are made, Lulu hard-boiled some eggs and bought a bunch of fruit and snacks today, and our water and fuel tanks are topped off.

So it's early to bed tonight and then tomorrow morning it'll be Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to sea we go.

The distance from here to our marina in Martinez (SF Bay, sort of) is about 500 miles. With no stops we can make that in 5 days. Don't start worrying until you haven't heard from us in 7 or 8 days. We shouldn't have any problem making it in 5 days, though. That's only a hair over 4 knots. We'll be sailing but, in the event that our speed drops below 4 knots we plan to kick on the Westerbeke and keep on truckin'.

So, wish us fair winds and following seas and the next time you hear from us we'll hopefully be somewhere besides Newport, Oregon.

BTW, we'll be traveling about 5-15 miles off the coast during this trip. The route is all plugged in to the GPS/Chartplotter. Sorry our SSB transmitter isn't working right so we can't keep you updated as we go, but that's the way the Mercedes Benz.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

7/22/2010 - If only...

If only we were south of Point St. George (Crescent City, CA) already. We had great plans to shove off tomorrow morning. The forecasts, while not ideal, were at least looking better. But I just now looked at the current forecast and it's getting gnarly out there again (winds > 20 knots and combined seas > 10'). South of Pt. St. George things mellow out and are looking pretty ideal right now. But, although we had our hearts set on leaving in the morning, we really don't want to get spanked so I guess we'll hold off and see what Saturday morning looks like. Right now the forecasts show Sunday as the first promising day but maybe we'll get lucky.

Today we got everything done in anticipation of leaving. Rigged the jacklines, rigged the windvane, mounted the deck knives, secured the deck cargo, etc. Lulu made as many sandwiches as we had bread for which was quite a bunch. She also cooked up any meat that was in the fridge so it would be easier to use underway. We emptied the composter (more about our composting toilet in a future blog when we get a little more experience), dumped the garbage, and filed the water tank. So it looks like tomorrow we have pretty much nothing to do.

Even with all the stuff we got done, we still managed to make it to town to have another burger at the Sandbar.

Well, I guess tomorrow we'll just sleep extra late and loaf all day.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

7/21/2010 - All dressed up and ready to go

Ok, time to catch up. The last several blog entries were written while we were at anchor and then posted once we got back to "civilization".

We decided to head back to the marina on Monday instead of Tuesday. No particular reason except that we were getting anxious to see what the weather conditions were really like. So, after a leisurely breakfast, we hoisted (weighed?) the anchor and headed back to South Beach. The difference in the weather that a couple of miles and a couple of bends in the river make is amazing. It had been pretty pleasant at anchor but the closer we got to Newport, the harder the wind was blowing and the colder it got.

We pulled in to the fuel dock and took on a whopping 4 gallons of diesel. This covers all the fuel we've used since our first trip to the boatyard last year. Looking at the GPS, we've covered about 46 miles in that time. So, we're getting about 11.5 MPG. Of course that also includes the diesel burned in the heater which, although run infrequently, has been run a few times over the last year. Since boat's generally keep track of their fuel consumption in gallons per hour rather than miles per gallon, we can translate the 11.5 MPG to about 0.40 gph based on an average speed of 4.5 knots (a "knot" being 1 nautical mile per hour...no such thing as "knots per hour"). This is about 4/10 of what the owner's manual cites as the normal average consumption. And that's a good thing. Based on these figure we could motor all the way to SF if necessary. We carry 39 gallons in the main tank which should take us most of the way, and then we carry another 20 gallons in jerry jugs on deck which will more than finish the trip. Of course, we hope to not motor the whole way but it's good to know we could if we had to.

After filling the diesel tank and the various gas cans (the little Nissan outboard is going to be so happy), we moved over to the "guest" dock. It was blowing pretty good and I had a little trouble getting in to the first slip but ultimately got into one a bit further down the fairway. Our friend Roger, having spied our telltale green furled headsails, was right there to help us dock and get tied up.

We paid for one day's moorage and then, after checking the weather forecast, increased this to a week. So, here we are, all dressed up and ready to go.

The weather reports still don't look all that promising but we're hoping that by either Friday or Saturday things will have calmed down enough for us to scoot on out. The weather is crazy, though. I get all these forecasts talking about Small Craft Advisories and hazardous seas and such. But when I look out at the ocean it looks pretty flat and relatively placid. If the weather reports tell us that things down below Crescent City have calmed down nicely by Friday or Saturday, then, unless things are REALLY ugly here, we're going to head out. The first day might be kind of bouncy but it should moderate after that. We'll just have to wait and see.

I was pretty sure that we didn't have but a couple of small projects left to do before we set sail. Then our friend Jay loaned me a book called "Offshore Sailing - 200 Essential Passagemaking Tips" by Bill Seifert with Daniel Spurr. After reading through this little manual I'm sure that I'll need another month or two to be really ready. But I'm not falling for it. I took a couple suggestions to heart and I'll file the others away for future reference, but we are definitely not going to hang around until everything the author suggests has been done. But there are a of of good suggestions in the book.

Today we went to town to get some things: spare electric bilge pump, hooks to keep the companionway doors from flopping around, padeyes to hook jacklines to (a jackline is the line that runs the length of the boat that we hook our harnesses to when out on the ocean so that we can't fall off the boat), diver's sheath knives to lash to the mast and somewhere in the cockpit so they'll be readily handy if we need to cut something loose immediately, a 1365 lumen rechargeable handheld spotlight, a pint of Jägermeister (supposed to be good for calming an upset stomach), as well as some milk, half & half, and orange juice. Once we were done with our errands we decided to go for broke and head down to The Sandbar and Grill for a couple brews and a cheeseburger.

I have to tell you about these burgers. We ordered the "Paul's Burger" which is a 1/2 lb. patty. My experience with hamburgers over the past several years is that they are all pretty tasteless. I suspect this is because they all get the same frozen patties from Costco or some such place. They honestly have no flavor. None. Nil. Nada. Nothing. Not so, Paul's Burger. The meat actually tasted like real meat. This seems a small thing but, just because of this one little thing, this was the best burger I've had in years, ever since the surprisingly good ones we had at "101 Camp" outside Beaver, Oregon a number of years ago. They were so surprisingly good that we might, might mind you, have to go back tomorrow and get another one. So, take my advice. If you're ever in Newport and want a really tasty burger, cruise on down to the Sandbar in Nye Beach and have a Paul's Burger. I can't vouch for the 1/3 lb. Sandbar Burger because we didn't have that one. And after eating one of Paul's I can't imagine why I would ever order its little brother.

Okay, now you're up to date. I'm about to head up to the laundry room to send this out, get e-mail and check the weather. Here's hoping for an easing of these freakin' cold wintry winds we've been experiencing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

7/18/2010 - The little engine that could

Our little 3.5 hp 2-stroke Nissan outboard had not been started in probably 11 years. It just sat on a crossmember in the barn since we sold our first boat. About the only thing I did right the last time I used it was to run it with the fuel valve shut so it would run dry, leaving no fuel in the carburetor. Of course, I have since read that that's not really necessary with today's fuels. But, come to think of it, the gas in the outboard's integral tank could hardly be considered "today's fuels".

Anyway, starry-eyed optimist that I am, I just clamped the little motor to our stern rail figuring it would probably work when we needed it. Okay, maybe I was just a wee bit in denial, but a guy's got to have hope doesn't he?

So today, it being uncommonly calm in the late morning, we decided to strap the Nissan to the Portabote and see if she'd run. The motor is really nice to handle because it's very small and light and easy to get on and off the mothership. Once clamped to the dinghy's stern I checked the gas tank. Amazing! There's still some kind of liquid in there. We've also carted around a little 1-gallon gas can with mixed outboard gas in it (remember, this is a 2-stroke engine that has oil mixed with the gas). Although it's possible that we occasionally used the contents of this can for either the chainsaw or the weedeater, I don't think we did. We had a different can dedicated to those uses. If that's the case, then the quart or so of gas remaining in the can is also at least 11 years old. The proper thing to do would be to pour out whatever gas remained in the outboard as well as the old gas in the can, and then start with nice new fresh gas. But really, when you live on a boat, where the heck are you supposed to get rid of old gas? For that matter, when you live ashore, where are you supposed to get rid of old gas?

So, I did what any denizen of denial would do, I filled up the outboard's tank with the old gas. So now I have a 2-stroke outboard that hasn't even been cranked over in 11-odd years filled with some kind of gas/oil mixture that is very unlikely no longer the same mixture it once was. The vent cap on the gas can had broken some years ago and gas has undoubtedly been evaporating ever since. Does the oil and gas evaporate at the same rate? Who knows?

So, set the choke, set the throttle, make sure the fuel valve is open and the vent on the fuel tank is as well. Grab the pull cord and give a yank. Nothing, but at least it turned over and wasn't completely frozen up. Give it another yank. Still nothing. But what can you expect? Heck the lines from the tank to the carburetor as well as the carb itself are all dry. It might take a few yanks before fuel even reaches the carburetor. Give it a few more yanks. Nothing. Not even a cough. Double-check the choke. Yank. Yank. Yank. Yank. Yank. Nothing. Suffice it to say that this went on for awhile before there was finally a little cough that indicated the possibility of life. A bunch more yanks and she suddenly roared to life amid a cloud of blue smoke.

Oh, there's one other thing you should know about this motor. When I got it, either West Marine didn't have the other model in stock or I opted to save a couple bucks. But, the one I bought was the model WITHOUT NEUTRAL! That's right, once the motor starts, you're going somewhere and you're going there right now.

Fortunately I was still tied off to Siempre Sabado but with a bow painter only. So, while I'm trying to finesse the choke, the dinghy is dancing around bouncing off the mothership's hull. This, of course, made it difficult to concentrate on the matter at hand and the motor would die time and again. I finally tied off a stern line so we'd stay put and concentrated on getting the Nissan running right.

The upshot to using the old gas was that I could never open the choke all the way without the motor dying. After finally accepting this, I just left the choke about halfway open. The outboard seemed to like that. After we sat there idling for a good 10 minutes or so without dying, we decided it was time to take a ride. So we loaded up the life jackets, seat cushions, computer (just in case we happened to come across a wifi connection - we didn't) , and our packs and the grocery list just in case we made it all the way upriver to Toledo. Then we locked up Siempre Sabado, boarded the dinghy, untied our lines and were on our way

The rest of the trip is a non-story. The motor ran great. I was able to ease the choke a little closer to open after maybe 15 minutes of running. We motored about a mile upriver to the little marina where our friend Charlie is restoring his Alajuela 38. Charlie was there so we stopped and visited and got to see the progress he's made on the boat. He offered us a ride into town for groceries and, after at first refusing, I got a look at the chart and realized we had a little further to go than we had just come, so, on second thought, happily accepted his offer. We drove in to Toledo and got some groceries and checked out where the library (for wifi) is for a later visit.

Once we returned to the marina we figured we'd better head home since we'd be fighting the tidal current and the wind going back. After a few (okay, maybe a few more than a few) yanks, the Nissan roared to life and we were on our way. Of course she died once we'd gone 100 yards or so but she came back to life quickly. She then brought us back home against wind and tide, quite nicely. I think maybe we'll go for another ride tomorrow.

About the Portabote/3.5 Hp Nissan combination: This is the first time we've used the motor on the Portabote and it motors like a dream. Cruises right along. It's rating plate says that it's supposed to have no larger than a 2 hp motor. Weight-wise, the 3.5 is the same motor as the 2.0. It's just been bored out or something to provide more pep in the same package. But we cruised along about as fast as we wanted to and the motor was barely above the idle setting. I'm not sure how much gas we could give it before we buried the transom but there's still a lot of reserve horsepower available in case the current gets stronger or the winds more intense. So far we're quite happy with our dingy/motor selection.

Caution: I do not advise treating your outboard the way I've treated mine. It's wrong and irresponsible. Anyone who treats machinery like that deserves whatever they get. And I've got a big ol' grin plastered on my face.

7/18/2010 - Itchin' to be movin' on

Time to get this show on the road. Sitting at anchor in the Yaquina River is all very nice but it's not getting us any closer to Mexico. We feel pretty removed from things up here. Oh, we have our NOAA weather reports on the VHF and the weatherfaxes via the SSB, but the internet has so much more to offer in the way of weather-watching. So, we're going to spend one more day here at anchor and then cruise back to the transient docks at Newport's South Beach Marina. There we'll be able to do the laundry, take showers, and have internet access to have a better handle on when we can set sail. An added bonus will be that there may be other cruisers on the transient dock who can give us a better handle on what conditions we want for shoving off. But mainly, we'll be closer to the action and the"gate" so to speak.

7/17/2010 Learning stuff at anchor

This little layover is turning into a nice opportunity to check some stuff out.

The first thing is the solar panels. So far we are really happy with our setup. We have two 80 watt panels and they have had no trouble replacing the amp-hours we use from our battery bank every day. Granted, we haven't done any SSB boradcasting and we haven't run the watermaker at anchor yet. But we've used pretty much everything else that we would normally use at anchor, including the watt-gobbling incandescent anchor light and our refrigerator, and yet our battery bank is always topped off by mid-afternoon. As we change out some of our lights (anchor, running, nav station) with LEDs we should be in even better shape. Our living area is already LED-equipped.

We were both feeling a little grungy today and decided that washing our hair would help. We'd left the solar shower out on deck but, even though the sun's been shining brightly, the wind stole the heat away from the shower bag almost as fast as the sun could warm it. So, we boiled up a pot of water on the stove and added it to the bag. Came out just the right temperature. We donned our swimming suits and washed our hair while sitting on the cabin top. One bag of water (maybe 3 gallons max) was plenty for both of us to get a thorough hair-scrubbing and rinsing. We both felt much better afterwards.

Although I haven't had any luck transmitting e-mails from our SSB radio, I was able to connect to the National Weather Service's weather radiofacsimile service via SSB. I actually downloaded a couple of satellite images of the eastern and northeastern Pacific this evening. Later tonight I'll download some 96-hour predictions about winds and waves, etc. Not sure yet what will be useful to us so we're just getting a sample of everything to help us decide. The computer-SSB-Airmail system is really pretty darn cool. In Airmail (a free application for doing e-mail, weatherfaxes, etc), I open the "Get Fax" module. With the computer plugged in to the SSB, I can pick my station (in this case Pt. Reyes, CA), choose an appropriate frequency and then, with a click of a button the computer dials the SSB to the right frequency and correct upper or lower sideband. Then, upon hearing a fax alert signal, it starts recording the incoming fax and saves it for me in my inbox. It's all very cool and a little bit magic.

We're also learning a little bit about the composting toilet although I'm not sure what yet. All I know is that it kinda stinks a bit right now. But I have faith that that'll go away.

Lulu is continuing to practice tatting so she can make cool little covers for our portholes that will make seeing in difficult but not obstruct the view from inside much at all. Turns out it's not near as easy as it looks.

Haven't listened to the weather yet today so not sure when we might be leaving.

7/17/2010 - Lights out!

Siempre Sabado has had an electrical mystery for quite awhile. I'm not sure exactly when we first noticed it but we're pretty sure it was before I made any modifications to the electrical system. Here's what happens. We'll be sitting at the table doing crosswords or something. The light over the table is on and maybe one other light. One of us gets up to go to the head and, when we turn the light in the head on, all the lights go out. Doesn't have to be the light in the head. It could be any light on board. And, it turns out it doesn't even have to be a light. It could happen when we turn the heater on. And, nothing else needs to be on when the power goes out. Well, in reality something is always on. The composting toilet exhaust fan doesn't have a switch so it's always on. And the stereo, even though it appears off is always on to some degree.

It's definitely not a case of circuit overload as the lights are LEDs and the fan in the composter is a little computer muffin fan.

So, how do we get the lights back on? Well, generally we start randomly flipping switches on lights. Then we go to the breaker panel and flip a few breakers on and off. Usually nothing much happens at first. But on the second of third try (or sometimes the first) turning on something like the spreader lights will result in the whole system coming back up. But not necessarily. The lights eventually come back on as a result of some action on our part, usually flipping a breaker that we've already flipped again, but the time the lights are off seems to be getting longer.

When the lights go out, so does the stereo and the heater. And guess what? They're all on different breakers. And guess what else? the VHF radio never goes out and, although it's on it's own breaker, that breaker shares a common buss with the others.

My experience with electrical anomalies in 12VDC systems often ends up with a faulty ground being the source of the problem. In this case, the lights are on one ground buss bar and the heater and VHF are on another. So no commonality there.

Now, I've had quite a bit of experience troubleshooting electrical circuits. However, one of the basic needs for successful troubleshooting is to be able to run tests while the problem is present. Unfortunately, in this case, by the time I get some alternate lighting and my multimeter, the lights are back on again.

So, today I spent several hours diagraming the electrical system. I learned a few things, cleaned a couple things up, and established a good record for use in future troubleshooting but I didn't turn up any likely culprits.

So, if anyone has any ideas about what can inconsistently cause an electrical failure on some of the circuits on a panel but not on others and then cause the circuits to remain off for varying lengths of time before coming back on as a result of a seemingly unrelated action, or perhaps no action at all other than waiting and then repeat itself in an hour or maybe not again for a week or two in spite of the fact that we do things pretty much the same everyday, please feel free to chime in. I've had enough electrical experience to know that there's some concrete answer. I just haven't found it yet.

7/16/2010 - Still anchored in Blind Slough

Listening to the weather channel last night, it sounded like Monday might be promising for getting on our way. But listening tonight it didn't sound as good. So we'll just continue to bide our time. As soon as we have a pretty clear idea of when we're going, we'll head to Newport and spend a couple days tied to the transient dock. That'll give us time to do our laundry, get any groceries we think we still need, take on fuel for the engine as well as gas for the generator and outboard, take showers, empty the garbage, and be poised right at the bridge to scoot out as soon as conditions look good. Sitting here at anchor in the warm sunshine, it seems funny to be waiting for good weather. But, the hot temperatures they're getting inland are one cause of the big winds as cool ocean air rushes in to fill the void left by the warm rising inland air.

Today, Lulu scrubbed the entire topsides. After cleaning she deoxidized and waxed the topside fiberglass. Looks really good but now her back is killing her.

I worked on electrical issues. I decided to remove the ACR (automatic charging relay) from my system. It was probably doing what it was supposed to but it wasn't doing what I wanted it to. So I simplified things. The solar panels now recharge the house bank only; the engine alternator now charges the starting battery only and the 120VAC charger charges both with it's dual output. Ultimately I want the alternator to charge the house bank as well but I'm not sure of how I want to do that. The house bank and the starting battery are quite different animals and have different charging needs so I don't want to just parallel them.

Both computers, both cell phones and our toothbrush needed charging today. The used inverter I bought many moons ago didn't work when I tried it out. So, today I fired up the Honda EU2000i generator and charged up all the AC devices as well as the boat's batteries. The boat batteries didn't need much because the solar panels have been working great on the house bank and the staring battery has no load on it except when starting the engine. It took 2 hours to recharge the computers. Now we're good for a few more days. This is kind of a stupid way to do it. I'm going to have to break down and get a permanently-installed AC inverter so that I can recharge the AC stuff off the batteries which the solar panels can then bring back up to snuff.

After dinner (macaroni & cheese - NOT the boxed kind! and green beans) we took a little row in the dinghy to get a couple pictures of Siempre Sabado at anchor.

Here's hoping for a lessening of the winds off the coast.

7/15/2010 - Life on the hook

I got up once during the night to check on our anchor light. We're using a portable one with it's own 6V lantern battery rather than the one at the top of the mast. Haven't changed that one to LED bulbs yet so it might be a bit of an energy hog. And since there's no traffic here at night anyway, our portable anchor light combined with 5 WalMart solar-powered garden lights is plenty.

When I got up again about 8:30 I checked the water depth. I knew that low tide in Newport was at 9:30-ish and in Toledo was at 10:40-ish. We still had a good 3-1/2 feet under our keel so we were OK. By the time it was actually low tide, we had about 2 feet but, since the tides for the next few days, at least, will not be as low, we'll be fine right where we are.

It was pretty breezy yesterday evening and we figure maybe it would always be that way here. But this morning, it was nice and still. I sat outside with my book and my cup of coffee while I waited for Lulu to get up. The sun was beating down on my back and it felt SO good. After I finished my coffee, Lulu sat in the sun while I cooked spuds and eggs for breakfast. Spuds and eggs; now we know we're home for sure.

After breakfast, we assembled and launched the dinghy (10' Portabote). This is only the second time we've assembled it on board and it only took us maybe 15 minutes. Not too bad. When I'm stowing it I wish we still had our little Walker Bay 8 because it would stow upside down on the foredeck (although it would be on top of the life raft - maybe not such a good idea) and no assembly was needed. But once the Portbote is assembled and I look at how much room it has, I forget all about the Walker Bay.

Once that was done, it was a bit too breezy (read "cold out in the wind") for Lulu to do the deck and cabin top washing she'd planned. Instead we came below and she tried her hand at tatting and I proceeded to write blogs. It's quite comfortable with the hatch wide open since the dodger is blocking the breeze.

Hopefully the wind will ease a bit later and we can get a dinghy ride in.

7/14/2010 - It begins

(note: this was written on the 15th so there might be a few mismatched tenses. Try not to be confused)

Okay, we're headed the wrong way but at least we're out on the water and waiting for our weather window to head the right direction.

After paying our bill, which was just about what we expected it to be ($858 in case you're keeping score), we left the boatyard at about 3:45 PM. As planned, we headed upriver to an anchorage that a fellow Westsailor had told us about a couple years ago. So tonight we're anchored in Blind Slough on the Yaquina River at 44°34.44'N x 123°57.88'W. See if you can find us on Google Earth. We're anchored in about 13' of water (at the present tide state anyway) with about 60' of scope using our new Rocna anchor. The first spot we chose ended up being a wee bit close to the channel so we moved further away albeit into slightly shallower water. The Rocna grabbed into the mud bottom and held fast. Later in the evening when the current from the ebbing tide combined with the Yaquina River's regular current was really whipping along, it was quite clear that the anchor was holding us nice and tight.

The anchoring went smooth as silk. This is thanks in part to these:

If you're a boater you already know that anchoring can be very stressful. Not as bad as docking, but still. The main stress comes from the fact that one person is on the foredeck deploying the anchor while the other person is about as far away as he/she can get on the boat, back in the cockpit running the engine. Typically, the anchorer tells the helmsman what to do: where to go to drop the anchor, when to let the boat drift to a stop, when to back down on the anchor, how much power to give, which direction to back up, when to cut the engine, etc. The big problem is that the anchorer is usually facing forward because that's where his focus is. The helmsman is trying to hear him over the sound of the engine. The fact that he's not facing her when he talks just makes it harder to hear. So, he raises his voice. This can be interpreted as irritation which puts the helmsman on edge which puts the anchorer on edge, etc. This is bad enough on a 28' boat. IMagine if we were working on a 43' boat! Enter these little 2-way headsets. Yesterday was the first time we've tried them out and they worked great. The mic is voice-activated so there are no buttons to push. Just talk in a normal tone of voice. Everything proceeds nice and calm. Sure, we might look a little dorky:

But we'd look a lot dorkier in a yelling match.

Although Steve Webster, the owner of Riverbend Boat Yard, makes staying there pretty easy (provides us with a key to the locked-after-hours restrooms), clean, hot, free showers, shore power included in the price, etc), life on board in the yard is still less than ideal. For one thing, we can't use our sinks. They normally drain overboard. Well, since we're not in the water, we'd just be running our dirty dishwater across our nice new bottom paint to puddle up under the boat. So, we tended to do no-cook, minimal clean-up meals: granola in paper bowls for breakfast, sandwiches on paper plates for lunch or dinner, maybe some chips and salsa, again in a paper bowl. And, while this was all good, we were still longing for something cooked. So, now that we're back to normal, Lulu asked what I wanted for dinner. Took me about 1 second to decide on pizza. So, awhile later we sat in the cockpit eating fresh, hot pizza and enjoying the solitude that comes with anchoring.

So, we're back on our own little island. We're composting our poop and making our own electricity from solar power:

About a jillion stars out tonight. We're livin' the dream.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

7/14/2010 - May be going dark for awhile

At about 3:00 this afternoon, we'll go back in the water. Then we're going to sail upstream a few miles and drop the hook outside the channel. We'll spend a few very relaxing days at anchor, getting used to living off the grid and waiting for weather.

Speaking of weather, it's not looking good for this week. There are Small Craft Advisories along the Oregon coast at least through Friday and there are gale warnings down around Crescent City, CA. No way are we going to start our cruising life by beating ourselves and our boat up and scaring the crap out of ourselves in the process. Our plan has always been to wait for good weather and we're starting that right now. So, we'll be at anchor for at least a few days.

While at anchor, it's unlikely that we'll have internet access unless I happen to pick up an errant wifi signal somewhere. We may have cell service but who knows? So, the upshot is that you probably won't hear from us for a few days at least. Don't worry about us, we're just chillin' on the hook. We'll be sleeping in late and staying up late and enjoying the quiet and the starry sky and the solitude.

Until later...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

7/13/2010 - Day 8 in the yard

Well, we did it. Got the last coat of bottom paint on, touched up a few places, Lulu waxed the hull, and we got all our stuff loaded back aboard. We even got our Westsail 28 decals on. Tonight we'll fill our water tank and then stow the hose and then all that's left tomorrow is to unplug and stow the extension cord that is supplying shore power. Well, that and go up to the office and pay the bill. But really, how much can it be? (gulp)

Our friend Charley, who's restoring his Alajuela 38 up river, stopped by. We told him that we would be anchoring out tomorrow night but, if the weather took awhile to change we may need to find somewhere to tie up for a week or two. He said that there might be space at the dock he's tied to. It's a funky little spot that we've always loved. the boats that are tied up there are all interesting. I think they can accommodate all of about a dozen boats. Well, he went back and checked with the owner, Ralph, and the upshot is that we're welcome there if we need it. Nice to have a fall back option.

So, anyway, tomorrow afternoon we go back in the water. We'll head upriver a little less than a mile to an anchoring area that another Westsailor told us about. Then we'll just drop the hook and wait for our weather to make the great escape.

And how will we get our weather forecasts while at anchor? Well, the primary source will be the VHF radio. The National Weather Service broadcasts continuous weather forecasts from here down to Pt. St. George (Crescent City, CA). They actually go further south than that, but that's what we can get here. I'm also going to try to get the weatherfax broadcast from Pt. Reyes Station, CA which is sent out twice a day. Even though I haven't had any luck transmiting with my SSB radio, it receives just fine. So, I should be able to receive the weatherfax if I'm tuned in at the right time. We'll see.

So, anyway, I'll probably send an e-mail out tomorrow early afternoon. After that, it could be a few days until you hear from us again. Just depends on whether the SSB transmit works and/or whether or not we want to take the computer for a dinghy ride from the anchorage back here to the boatyard to check in. But either way, we'll be anchored out in the Yaquina River this time tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

6/12/2010 - Day 7 in the yard

Got the first coat of anti-fouling bottom paint on the hull today. Lulu got the 3rd and final coat of green paint on the bulwarks. Then we pulled all the masking tape except along the boot top and she touched up green pant and Cetol wherever it needed it. She also cleaned the unpainted part of the hull. Ol' Siempre Sabado is starting to look her proud old self again.

We're opting to stay in the yard one more day. We'll relaunch on Wednesday instead of tomorrow. The bottom paint wants a minimum of 6 hours between coats, but preferably paint it on between 9 AM and 4 PM lest the dew or other condensation screw it up. Then it wants a minimum of 16 hours before relaunch. So, since the ocean weather is not behaving anyway, we figured another $24 for another lay day vs. messing up a very expensive bottom job was a reasonable trade-off.

My other job today was to organize and inventory the lazarette. For the non-swabs, the lazarette is to the boat what the trunk is to the car. Want to know what you can put in a lazarette? Now remember as you read this list that this is on a double-ended boat. Not one with one of those big wide transoms.

2 folding sawhorses
the old forestay
the old inner forestay
2 folding sand chairs
1 garden sprayer
1 empty gallon jug
barrel pump
roll of window screen material
shore power cord
5/8" ID plastic hose (about 6')
1/2" ID plastic hose (about 6')
3/4" ID rubber hose (about 5')
Lots and lots (and lots and lots) of spare lengths of line from 5/16" to 5/8" in lengths from 12' to 40'
old jib sheets w/snap shackles
yo-yo (hand line reel for fishing)
inflatable 2-man kayak with foot pump and paddles
oil changing hose and pump
grease gun
galvanized bucket
paint stirrer (for use with a drill)
2 large funnels
Baja fuel filter
lunch hook (20 lb. Danforth anchor)
lunch hook rode (200')
garden hose
bag of stuff to make baggywrinkle out of

Oh yeah, two of the house batteries are housed down there as well. Almost forgot about them since they're in a battery box and I don't take them out of the lazarette unless I really need to (they're beaucoup heavy).

Sunday, July 11, 2010

7/11/2010 - Yard day 6

As I said yesterday, today was a total skate day. We got up at a reasonable hour, for a Sunday, had breakfast and got to work. First we put another coat of green paint on the bulwarks. Originally we only planned to do 2 coats but we both agreed that one more coat would be better. Still a few thin spots.

After that, Lulu got out her screwdriver and proceeded to do the maintenance on the seacocks under the head sink and the galley sink.

After she got the one in the head done, we were saved from further labor by a visit from my folks. We drove in to Newport and met up with my uncle Felty and his SO Delores, my uncle Norman and aunt Marci as well as my cousin Brian, his wife Susie and their kids. We all had lunch at the Sandbar & Grill and then back to the boat to show everyone around.

After everyone left, Lulu finished doing the maintenance on the seacocks in the galley and I loaded the anchors back on he bowsprit. Then we walked down to the Mad Dog for beer and popcorn. Now we're home and hunkering in for the evening.

One question that keeps coming up is "When are you leaving?" I'm assuming that this isn't meant in the vein of "how can I miss you if you won't go away?" and is rather asked in earnest.

Unlike land travel, we need to pay a LOT more attention to the weather before we shove off. Can't just pick a date and go. Well, you could but we'd rather be safe. So, after we're put back in the water on Tuesday, we'll be watching for a promising weather window to head out to sea. What constitutes "promising" for us? Well, winds of 5-15 knots with the occasional gust to 20 and seas less than 10' high, projected to last for 3-4 days would be very nice. Currently the Oregon coast is looking at winds greater than 20 knots and small craft advisories. Further south it gets mellower but we have to get there first. So, Tuesday afternoon we'll head upriver a little bit and drop the anchor. Then we'll watch the weather and, when conditions meet our criteria, we'll shove off. We may be at anchor only a couple days or we could be there a couple weeks (although we hope not). One thing we're NOT going to do is start off our cruising life by heading out in crappy weather just to make it somewhere at a pre-set time.

Here are a few of the resources we use:

Marine Forecast for Latitude 44.64°N and Longitude 124.23°W

Coastal Waters Forecast for Coastal waters from Cascade Head to Florence OR out 10 nm (PZZ255)
Coastal Waters Forecast for Coastal waters from Cape Blanco OR to Pt. St. George CA out 10 nm (PZZ356)
Coastal Waters Forecast for Coastal waters from Pt. St. George to Cape Mendocino CA out 10 nm (PZZ450)
Coastal Waters Forecast for Coastal waters from Cape Mendocino to Pt. Arena CA out 10 nm (PZZ455)
Coastal Waters Forecast for Coastal Waters from Point Arena to Point Reyes California out to 10 nm (PZZ540)

How will we check these sites when anchored? Good question. Stay tuned for details.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

7/10/2010 - Day 5 in the yard

The more things change, the more they remain the same. After 5 days in the yard we look almost like we did when we got here. Our big job today was to remove all the green paint on the bulwarks, prep the surface like we should have last year, and then repaint the bulwarks green again.

It all went quite smoothly. We snagged some scaffolding from the fishing boat next door which went back in the water about noon. The first chore was to mask off the wood that we had just refinished. On the caprail, masking tape was enough. But for the wood under the bulwark we needed masking tape and strips of wax paper to make sure no run-off marred out pretty teak. Then, Lulu used a chemical stripper to remove the bulk of the paint. I followed with the sander loaded up with 220 grit to remove whatever she left behind. Then we both attacked the surface with Scotch-Brite pads followed by a washdown with Comet cleanser. After rinsing, we rubbed everything down with denatured alcohol, added a little masking tape that I had forgotten earlier, and commenced painting.

Between doing the starboard side and then the port side, Lulu got a ride to town with our friends Jay and Judy to get a few groceries and to top off our propane tank. By the time she got back I was just starting to paint the port side. A half hour later I was done.

Besides painting, I also managed to change the tiny little fuel filter on the diesel engine. A few days ago I mentioned how the engine lost RPMs several times on our way up here from Newport. The other night I woke up with the sudden realization that I hadn't changed that filter since Anacortes. Didn't really need to since we were using such a small pore size on the filter upstream. However, after all the problems we had with fuel filters coming down the coast, it's reasonable to believe that the little Westerbeke filter needed changing too. I also changed the pencil zinc on the engine's heat exchanger.

I've mentioned zincs several times over the last couple of days. It occurs to me that not everyone who reads this blog is a boater and may not be hip to the concept of zincs. Here's the deal as far as I understand it. Nitpickers are welcome to get their information somewhere else.

When two different (dissimilar) metals are in contact with each other in the presence of an electrolyte, they can act as a battery. So, in the case of the prop: the prop is bronze and the shaft is stainless steel. These metals, being different, are dissimilar. Salt water conducts electricity, therefore it is an electrolyte. Now, if we have someplace for the current produced by this alliance to go, such as a ground wire to the shore power cord, we have a battery and a flow of electricity. No big deal except that the electricity produced is caused by one of the metals (the less "noble") losing electrons. Since stainless steel is more noble than bronze, my prop would be giving up electrons. Eventually, no prop. Even non-boaters can recognize that this is not a good thing. What to do? Well, if we throw a third metal into the mix, say one that is WAY less noble than the others, it would lose it's electrons instead of my prop. Zinc just happens to be such a metal. So, to protect the stuff we want to keep, we install sacrificial zincs in various places on the boat where dissimilar metals come in contact with sea water. Places like the prop shaft, the refrigerator's keel cooler, and the engine's heat exchanger. So there ya go.

Weather was beautiful today. A wee bit windy a couple of times but mostly great. After we knocked off we started to walk down to the Mad Dog but our friend Charley who is restoring his Ingrid 38 a little further upriver, stopped and gave us a ride. Had a couple beers and a kielbasa, reconnected with one of the bartenders who we befriended last year (Joanne) and then walked back to the boat in beautiful t-shirt weather.

Tomorrow will be a totally skate day. One final coat of green paint on the bulwarks, remove the tape and service 3 seacocks ( the valves between us and the deep blue sea). The seacocks are for salt water to the galley sink, galley sink drain and bathroom sink drain. Whenever we're out of the water it's a good idea to inspect and lube them.

Monday we'll do our bottom paint. Don't want to paint ablative paint (the kind that sloughs off as you go through the water) on too much before it's going to get wet. Tuesday we'll load all the deck-stowed crap gear back aboard and go back in the water Tuesday afternoon about 3-ish.

Hasta mañana...

Here's a shot of what our cockpit looks like when we're in the yard:

Friday, July 9, 2010

7/9/2010 - Day 4 in the yard

Had a pretty productive day today although we also had a minor setback.

Woke up at a reasonable hour today in spite of doing a little partying with our friends Peri & Rich yesterday evening.

Today, after applying coat 3 of the black boot top paint, I peeled the masking tape off. It waas beautiful. A nice razor-sharp line.

And no, we're not going to leave a white stripe between the boot top and the bottom paint. The blue anti-fouling paint will come right up to the boot stripe. After I finished the boot, I helped Lulu get a final coat of Cetol on the woodwork. Then we peeled the blue tape off. This is where our setback came in. The tape just peeled the green bulwark tape right off, leaving the ugly brown gel coat showing.

This was totally our own fault as last year when we painted the green on, all we did for prep was to wash and scuff up the gel coat a bit. So, tomorrow, we'll strip the green off and then go through the whole prep ritual that I wrote about a couple days ago. Sort of a drag but at least this time we'll know it's been done right. And it only sets us back a day so no biggie.

Once all the brush-wielding jobs were finished, I replaced zincs, cleaned the prop, and repaired the old depth sounder transducer (see yesterday's entry).

Meanwhile, Lulu fabricated leather wear patches for the boom gallows:

And the bowsprit where the hoop on our new Rocna anchor rubs the wood:

And here's a little shot of boat yard diversity. An old wood power pleasure boat, a cruising sailboat, and a commercial fishing boat. All coexisting peacefully. It's like ebony and ivory, la la la lala la la lala la...

Obviously I got a little too much sun today.

Our current timetable, such as it is:
Tuesday, July 13, back in the water
Wednesday, July 14, earliest possible date to leave Newport
Sunday, July 18, arrive Eureka?
Saturday, July 24, arrive Bodega Bay?
Tuesday July 27, arrive at the Martina California Marina?

Obviously these are just rough estimates.

Hasta mañana.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

7/8/2010 - Day 3 in the yard

Short day today because our friend Peri from Newport and her husband Rich offered to take us out to dinner at 4:00. Darn! Have to knock off early.

I got coat 2 on the boot top. It looks pretty good but I think I'll give it one more for good measure. Lulu and I got a second coat of Cetol on all the woodwork. I also got the PortVisors installed on the saloon ports.

They're designed to let us have some ventilation even when it's raining as long as it's not raining sideways. We've had these since December but have been waiting for the right weather to install them. The adhesive wants moderate 70-ish temperatures. Looked like today wouldn't be the day when we got up. Fog and cool. But as the day wore on it got way nicer than yesterday. Today we got the sun without the cold wind, at least so far.

Tomorrow we'll put the last coat of Cetol on, the last coat of boot top paint, change out the prop shaft zinc:

And the Frigoboat keel cooler zincs:

And, I need to use some Super Mend epoxy paste to seal up the old depth sounder transducer leveling block. Not sure what happened to it, but I noticed bare wood when I was inspecting the bottom. Must have happened very recently as the wood isn't aged at all.

One of these days, I'll have someone remove the transducer and the thru-hulls that we no longer use and then close up the holes with fiberglass. This is a job I'm not that confident of doing. Think I'll watch someone else do it first.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

7/7/2010 - Day 2 in the yard

If you're smart you'll go out and buy as much 3M stock as you can. I think they've actually had to put on a second shift to try to keep up with my demand for blue tape. You may have to click on the picture to see the full-size version in order to get a true appreciation of how many miles of tape we've used:

My job today was to finish the prep work for painting the new boot top, then paint it. And, if I had time left over, help Lulu with masking and varnishing.

Prep work for painting over gel coat went like this:
1.) Apply a de-waxing agent. Unlikely that there's any wax left on our boat after all these years but it doesn't hurt to be safe.
2.) Using a Scotch-Brite (3M again) pad, scrub the gel coat to create a bunch of microscopic abrasions for the paint to cling to.
3.) Wash the area down with water and cleanser (Ajax, Clorox, Bon Ami, etc.). This cleans and further scratches the surface a little more.
4.) Hose the area down.
5.) Once dry, wipe down with denatured alcohol to remove anything still clinging on.
6.) Paint.

I got the first coat of boot top black applied. Need one more tomorrow for full coverage.

Meanwhile, Lulu was applying a coat of Cetol Natural Teak finish to all the woodwork outside. This after applying a few miles of blue tape herself. She got everything from the stern to where she is in this picture done. We'll hit the rest tomorrow.

We actually broke for lunch today and, since it's getting windy and we're both a little out of steam, we knocked off at about 5:00. As soon as Lulu gets back from the shower we're going to walk down to the Mad Dog Tavern (a little less than a mile away) for a cold beer and some popcorn. Then we'll come home for dinner. So far we've just been eating sandwiches and they've been tasting really good. And no dirty dishes to clean up. Which is good because we can't use our sinks in the yard since they'd just drain on to the ground. So we'd have to schlep our dirty dishes over to the bathroom to wash them. We did that last time we were here but we've learned since then.

By the way, our Frigoboat keel-cooled refrigerator continues to work quite nicely even when we're not in the water. I check the keel cooler occasionally to see if it's getting too warm but so far it's hardly ever even been warm, much less too warm. You just can't beat a deal like that even with a big ol' stick.

Oh yeah, and it didn't get even to close to as hot as they promised today. Maybe low 70s. Bit of a breeze too. I was pretty comfortable in shorts and t-shirt all day but Lulu needed long sleeves and pant legs. Of course, she was working up on deck where the breeze was while I was mostly down on the ground pretty protected.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

7/6/2010 - Day 1 in the yard

It's gonna get uglier before it gets pretty. We got up at the crack of dawn today, about 7:15, because they were scheduled to wash down our boat at about 8:15. We were just finishing breakfast when they started.

Once that was done, we got to work. First we had to clear off the decks of all the accumulation. So, we put the dinghy together and stowed all the various deck stuff inside and then tarped it over. Fortunately, they're not calling for any rain for at least a week.

Then Lulu got busy roughing up all the miles of brightwork so that we can give it another coat or two of Cetol Natural Teak.

My day was spent getting rid of the old green boot top which wasn't sticking to the gel coat very well. This is part of preparation for painting new bottom paint a bit further up the sides. I think it'll be about 2" higher than the existing boot top (primer-colored strip in the picture). Then we'll paint a new black boot top above that.

Prep work is such a drag but it's really necessary if you want the paint to stick for the long haul.

We certainly can't complain about the weather. It was bright and sunny and warm. Just a little breeze. Supposed to be as good or better all week.

PS: cell service is terrible here in the yard in case you've been trying to get hold of us.

We finally knocked off work about 7:00 PM (no lunch break) and just finished showering. Now it's time for something to eat and a little brew to wash it down. We earned it today.

Monday, July 5, 2010

7/5/2010 - Home, Home In The Slings

Well we made it to Riverbend and we're now all hauled out. This being a holiday and it being 7:30 PM when we hauled, the owner, Steve, opted to leave us hanging overnight. Tomorrow his guys will pressure wash the bottom and then set us up on blocks somewhere.

And, yes, we are still living on the old girl while in the slings. Can't even tell the difference other than we don't move to the wind as much, if at all, and we're sitting on a 4 degree list to port. Otherwise, it's just another day at home on the boat.

Looking at the bottom, it looks like the anti-fouling paint we used (the $225/gallon stuff) is doing a really good job. It's made so that, as you move through the water, a little bit of paint sloughs off, taking with it whatever little creatures were able to handle growing on the high-copper-content paint. We've done precious little traveling through the water in the last year since we painted but still, all that's grown was a slime layer. You can see on the rudder how the wash of water from the prop cleaned it right off.

You can even see where the slings rubbing on the hull wiped the slime off:

Should be pretty easy to pressure wash off what's left. Now, the boot strip (the layer of green paint right above the bottom paint) is another story. It's just regular topside enamel and it's got little barnacles, some kind of sea lettuce, and other assorted critters growing. So, when we repaint the bottom, we'll bring the line up about 2" above the top of the current boot stripe. Then we'll paint another boot stripe but this time we'll use paint that is specifically formulated (supposedly) for that purpose. Unfortunately, this paint only comes in a limited array of colors so our new boot stripe will be black.

Getting underway from the marina was quite stressful. We had a strong NNW wind blowing us into our slip and over towards our slip neighbor on our port (leeward) side. I measured the wind at a pretty steady 11-13 knots with gusts to about 20 knots. If we untied our lines, we would be shoved against our neighbor and our bow would be pressed up against the dock. If we did manage to start backing up without these issues, as soon as we stuck our butt out of the slip, the wind would probably whip us around and smack us in to the stern of our neighbor. What to do?

We finally decided that, since it was Monday afternoon and most of the weekend boats had left, we would be pretty safe to run a warp (noun, basically means a long line which can be used for moving the boat or slowing it down when running before a storm, as opposed to the verb "warp" which means to move the boat around using the warps) across the fairway to the dock opposite and to windward of us. Then we could tie this line off to our stern and, if kept taut, it should keep us from whipping around.

The first problem was getting the line across the fairway. The fairway is about 60' across. I had made a heaving line with a monkey's fist end but it was really just for practice and wasn't very long or very heavy. But we tried it anyway. I tied the end to a small line to use as a messenger and went over to the windward dock to try my hand at heaving. Well, either it was just too far or the monkey's fist was way too light, or I completely suck at heaving because the closest I got was about 2/3 of the way across. After several tries, I finally switched to plan B which I had just then thought of. I got a plastic, air-filled fender from the boat, tied the messenger to it, heaved it as far as I could (which was at least as far as the heaving line went) and then let the prevailing wind chop float it close enough for Lulu to grab it with a boat hook.

Lulu stationed herself on the windward dock and pulled the warp across with the messenger. The plan was to back across and tie up to the windward dock. Then, when we were ready to leave we could just put her in forward, scoot around the end of the dock, and off we'd go. Sounds pretty easy.

The trouble was that, with Lulu on the other dock, I had the boat to myself. The engine was all warmed up and I was ready to go. Untie the bow line. Oops, the bow is now swinging over to kiss the neighbor. Retie the bow line and untie the forward spring line. Oops again, now the bow is doing the same as above and sticking the bow sprit across the dock at the same time. Okay, let's see what happens if we just untie the stern line. Well, crap! Now the stern wants to get up close and personal with the neighbor. So I have 3 lines to untie, and the engine to run and I can't get the engine to hold us on station so that I can untie the lines. OMG, what's a swabby to do?

Well, like Blanche Dubois, I chose to rely on the kindness of strangers. A fellow dockmate was walking down the dock, saw my plight and offered his services. With him on the bow line, the spring line undone, and me holding the doubled sternline (doubled meaning that it went from my stern cleat, around the cleat on the dock and back to my hand), we were able to motor out of th slip under control. Lulu kept the warp tight and soon I was tied alongside the dock to windward of our slip. This sounds much easier than it was. I went through several gyrations before finally arriving at the plan that worked.

Although our original intent was to start early and get tied up and then wait until it was time to leave to make our haulout appointment, after all this screwing around, it was NOW time to leave. Getting away from the dock would be easier than the previous maneuver but we still needed some line handlers. So Lulu rounded up our friend Jay and his friend James to lend a couple of hands. This time it went pretty smoothly. With Lulu on board, first we let off the stern line. As expected and planned for, this caused our stern to swing to port. But since there was no one there to hit, this just put us in a good position to pull straight ahead. Then, while moving forward slowly, James released the spring line. As we continued to move forward, Jay finessed the bow line to keep us near to, but not against the dock. We basically pivoted around the point and, when the line was released, we were in a perfect position to head down the fairway and out of the marina. Many, many thanks to all three of our helpers. Jay, in particular, seemed to have a firm grasp on what to do.

The trip went pretty uneventfully except for the engine inexplicably losing RPMs every so often. I was always able to just ease off on the throttle for a couple of seconds and then go back to my previous setting. Not sure what that's about. We, of course, got to Riverbend ahead of schedule so we just took a slow cruise on up the river a couple miles and then doubled back. Got to the yard right on time and slid in to the slings just as pretty as you please, thank you very much.

And now, here we are.