Sunday, September 19, 2010

Decompression and Reflections

The past four months have been filled with so many memories of people we have met, places we have seen and activities we have done that sorting out what we would do again and what was most memorable will take some time. To help us on that mental journey, we have decided to use one of the web publishing services to turn our blog into a book, amplified with more text and photos than we included on the blog itself. The book development process should help us clarify our thoughts.

However, one fact is certain. We want to go north again next year to explore new places and spend more time in our favorite places.

We realized that we need to make some changes to Spirit to make fishing, crabbing and prawning easier. Among these changes is the addition of a trolling valve to the main engine transmission to permit slowing the idle speed of Spirit down to below 2 knots, the addition of line pullers for prawn and crab pots, the addition of downrigger mounts on Spirit, and the addition of a cleaning table on the swim step. We also need a longer telephoto lens for the camera to get better wildlife shots. We are going to add additional bug screens to the flybridge enclosure to make it more useable. Often the temperature was too warm without the panels open, but then the bugs were too voracious. We are also going to add a much longer and stronger stern tie line. We need at least 600 feet. We also need a longer floating tow line for the tender, for those rare times that we choose to tow.

We also need a more robust communications suite due to the scarcity of internet connections. We are looking at options including both SSB and satellite phones.

We do not need to provision the boat as extensively with food, but more extensively with spare parts. We are really going to beef up our "damage control" spares after reading about the sinking of a Selene 47 in July near Ketchikan following a grounding/anchoring incident. We already had soft plugs for through hulls and covers for the engine room air intakes, but will add a real "fothering" blanket with lines and are considering a portable dewatering pump since the bilge pumps could be out of the water if the boat has any significant heel angle. We are also going to beef up our "ditching" bag contents.

The current border crossing policies of both Canada and the US make provisioning the boat more difficult in knowing what meats, vegetables, dairy and fruits will be accepted by either country. The real impact is the cost and quality of the items purchased at remote locations in Canada. Alcohol quantities are well known, the main impacts are cost and selection. The British Columbia liquor taxes make the cost 2-3 times Washington State, which are high themselves. We were told by US Customs and Border Protection that they would begin enforcing collection of Washington State excise taxes on alcohol in excess of the duty free limit for those vessels that they physically inspect.

Some facts:

Total distance travelled since May 1, 2010 – 4288 nautical miles, including the Roche Harbor Yacht Club cruise to Port Townsend on Labor Day weekend. Total miles since delivery – 5700.

Total fuel consumed, all sources (main engine, generator, heating system) – 3070 gallons

Main engine hours – 543 – two oil changes

Generator hours – 359 – three oil changes

Kabola Heater Hours – system on for more than 100 days

Average speed over ground – 7.8 knots

Maximum Wind Speed encountered – 52.7 knots in Peril Strait

Minimum water depth under keel – 2.3 feet in El Capitan Passage

Number of nights at anchor – 60, there would have been more except for the throttle issue.

We have unloaded the summer equipment into a storage locker at the marina. This includes the crab and shrimp pots, the stern line reel, fishing equipment, extra ice chests, kayaks and other miscellaneous equipment. We did not realize just how much "stuff" we had, and the volume of stuff, even if the weight is not that much.

We have settled into Anacortes Marina life, lazy mornings, maintenance and cleaning (there is always something that needs doing), visiting with friends, sampling the variety of "happy hour" choices in Anacortes and moving excess clothing and food back to our home in Bellevue.

Visiting with our friends in Anacortes has been bittersweet, as many leave for warmer climates during the winter and they are gradually winterizing their boats and departing. Some boats, like our previous sailboat "Spirit", now named "Dilligaf", have headed out Juan de Fuca straits and turned left, planning on being gone to the South Pacific and further for 3-10 years. They are loosely following "Panta Rhei" and "Ponderosa", who left a few days before them. We saw all three boats several times while in SE Alaska. Dilligaf plans on wintering in Mexico and then heading for the Marquesas next April. They are really living the dream!

We plan on bringing "Spirit" south to Lake Union for warranty work and upgrades the second week of October and spending most of our time in Bellevue, except for shorter trips when the weather permits, until next spring.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The cruise ends, but the story is not over!

September 1, 2010

The marina was still when we awoke and prepared to get underway for the final day of the 2010 Spirit Voyage. The heavy rain from the night before had stopped and the skies were clearing as we disconnected shore power and untied the lines for the final push to Anacortes shortly before 7 AM. The weather report from Environment Canada was favorable, the gale warnings were lifted and the Halibut Bank Buoy (about 12 miles north of our projected course) showed 10 knot winds and 2 foot seas.

We should have known better. Conditions in the Straits of Georgia can be wildly different just a few miles apart.

As we headed out of English Bay past Spanish Bank, the wind continued to increase, and the seas followed. We noticed that there was a small sailboat hard aground on Spanish Bank as we passed. The skies were clear, but instead of 10 knot winds, we were soon in 27 knot winds and seas big enough that we could hardly see where we were going due to the spray. We tried altering course to the South, but the roll motion in the quartering seas was scary, even with stabilizers. The best course we could make would take us to somewhere between Gabriola and Porlier Passes in the Gulf Islands, where we hoped for a lee from the brisk westerly winds. We did not pick up the lee shore until about 4 miles from Gabriola Pass, but were then able to head south to Porlier Pass, which we hit just at slack water. Once inside, we had calm seas and light winds as we headed south through the Gulf Islands, down Trincomali Channel and finally passing Bedwell Harbor.

We had intended to clear customs at Anacortes, and we had plenty of time, so we just headed across the international boundary, lowering the Canadian Flag for the first time since the 4th of August as we crossed the boundary about 1325 in the afternoon. The weather continued clear and calm as we headed past Stuart Island, down San Juan Channel, through Harney Channel, across Blakely Sound, through Thatcher Pass, across Rosario Strait, up Guemes Channel and into Cap Sante Marina to clear US Customs.

We arrived at Cap Sante Marina at 1710, during dinner hour, but by 1830 we had not only finished the formalities, but were back in our slip at Anacortes Marina, where we were greeted by Suzanne and Gary Patton (37 Nordic Tug "General"). After a quick rinse to remove some of the salt, we spent time reconnecting on our mutual adventures in the Broughton's this year before calling it a night.

Our guest for the past month, John Duvall, reluctantly packed his bags and headed back to his boat "Sabbatical" to get ready to re-enter the working world in the morning.

We are preparing for the diesel mechanic to look at the throttle problem in the morning.

After 124 days, we have 4,228 miles on the log. There are lots more statistics, observations and pictures about our cruise, but that is why the 2010 Spirit Voyage is not yet over!

Stay Tuned In!