Sunday, December 19, 2010

Spirit is back in Anacortes

After nearly two months in Lake Union, Spirit is now safely moored at her home port, Anacortes Marina.

We are now on the 4th ECM for the Cummins main engine, and hope the problems with the ECM, wiring harnesses and other engine controls have been put to rest. Most of the other warranty work was accomplished, as well as most of the planned upgrades to make both fishing and cruising more enjoyable. We are ready to head back to SE Alaska in April or May, 2011.

The trip back from Selene Yacht Service was interesting due to the high winds, floating debris in the water, and an errant log boom in the Swinomish Channel. John and Kay Scott accompanied us as we tried to make a silent departure in the dark from the dock in Lake Union. The rain and gusty wind arrived just as we cast off the lines, a foretaste of winds to come. We were almost successful in the quiet departure, but needed a little bit of bow thruster to safely depart. We hoped all the nearby live-aboard residents were already awake when we nudged Spirit away from the slip and headed for the locks. We even beat out most of the rowing shells that practice in the lake and canal every morning, but there were already a few out between the Fremont and Ballard bridges, with their red and white strobe lights showing their position. Our intention was to get to the locks well before 0800 so that we would not get trapped in the 0800-0900 dead time.

It was a good plan, arriving at 0730, but we did not count on having the small locks closed for maintenance, so we tied up in the waiting area and then were told over the PA system that we would lock though the large locks at 0830 or later. However, in just a few minutes the lock attendants changed their minds and flooded the large locks and let us in, the only boat. The locking thru maneuver was uneventful; the engine ran fine, our first real test of the latest ECM.

All the rain we had the last few days had created a lot of overflow runoff in the locks, and the current as we exited was turbulent, but in just a few minutes we passed under the railroad bridge and out into Puget Sound. It was now daylight and we were greeted by a solid wall of whitecaps as far as we could see. However, the wind was behind us, so the seas and wind actually helped push us speedily north. The winds continued to increase, until we had gusts of 40 knots off Edmonds, and the stabilizers were working hard in the quartering seas. About 1000 we enjoyed a delicious breakfast dish of corned beef, eggs, potatoes and cheese prepared by Kay Scott as we relaxed with our cups of coffee. It was very nice being warm, dry and stable given the wind, rain and seas.

Spirit was virtually the only small boat in sight as we continued past Everett, Langley, the west side of Camano Island and started to head into Skagit Bay. We the saw our friends, Jim and Cheryl Matheson coming south in SEA JAY, their 65 foot Pacific Mariner. Jim warned us about the debris in Skagit Bay from the river floodwaters, so it was time for a close lookout. Sure enough, there was a lot of debris in the brown floodwater runoff from the Skagit River. As we made the turn into the Swinomish Channel, we were blocked by a tug trying to regain control of a log boom that had broken loose. After negotiating on the VHF radio, we managed to squeeze by in the narrow channel. The Selene 58 "Rhapsody", headed the other direction, was not so lucky and had to wait some time to get by the log boom. After passing the tug, the debris lessened, the current pushed us swiftly north up the Swinomish Slough, and we then dodged numerous crab pots in the channel as we headed for Anacortes Marina where we docked just after 1500.

We averaged 8.6 knots as we headed north, and all systems operated well. We now have 4554 nautical miles on the log since May 1, and a total of 820.1 hours on the main engine since new, with total miles now over 6000 nautical miles since delivery in July 2009.