My summer sailing trip.


Things that went wrong:

Pre Trip: On the way to pick up the boat I leave a duffel bag of equipment in the ferry parking lot. The bag contained some very rank clothing, two snow pickets! and my bivi sack!!

Day 1: I made it to Port Townsend in excellent time and am anchored off of downtown waiting for my crew, Patricia, to arrive. In the late afternoon I decide to work on the engine. I want to see if adjusting the point gap will make it run smoother at idle. So I open up the front of the engine and even take off the fly wheel. While I'm working, I keep looking around to see if Patricia has arrived. Each time I look out it _seems_ that I'm further away from shore. When I pass the outer pier there is no doubt: the anchor is dragging. I hop back below and put the engine back together as quick as ever I can. But when I try to start it ... nothing.

I'm picking up speed as I enter deeper water. No time to find out what I did wrong. I pull up the anchor then raise the main sail. It does not go smoothly and I'm a ways out before I start sailing. Slowly I tack back into shore against a strong offshore wind and re-anchor. The boat ends up 30 yards upwind of one of those large ferry dock piers, nothing to do about that now, back to the engine. Fly wheel off again .. keep checking the pier .. key way was miss aligned .. keep checking the pier .. get it on right .. the pier is gone! It's in front of the boat and receding quickly. Quick, start the engine. Starts .. runs weekly .. dies. Dern.

Retrieve the anchor, up with the main sail and tack back into shore. This time I re-anchor very close in. Someone is waiving to me from shore..Patricia is here. Hop below and adjust the points. Engine starts and runs. I put it in reverse and test the anchor. Finally seems to be holding. I have to row into pick up Patricia but I'm very reluctant to leave the boat. If it starts to drag again and gets into deep water I'm not sure I'll be able to catch it. How embarrassing it would be to sprint across Port Townsend Bay chasing my boat. When I get to shore I find that it's not Patricia at all, some one else come down to meet some other boat!

What an ordeal! At least the engine is working better.

Day 4: The engine was very balky last night while anchoring so I decide to adjust the carburation before heading out of Nanaimo. While I'm down there I notice a drip coming from the water pump. Ah hah! This is the source of the water leak that has plagued me these past 6 months. I take the pump apart, cut a new paper gasket, and reassemble. I've managed to turn the drip into steady stream. Back apart..there was more here than I thought..new gaskets..back together. Still a stream. So I pull the exhaust manifold off to better come at the pump. This lets me see that the rubber seal on the pump drive shaft is worn and that is where the water is escaping. Nothing for it but a new seal. I order the part from Massachusetts and pay for overnight delivery. Nothing to do now but wait.

Day 5: Thinking I'll get some exercise while stuck in port I rouse out my running shoes from under the V-berth. While I'm down there I notice a thick brown liquid with a bad smell. Oh No! The holding tank is LEAKING! Suddenly a tank to hold human waste until it can be pumped out for shore disposal seems like a very, very dumb idea. I spend the rest of the morning pumping out the bilge, flushing with fresh water, then washing with soap and bleach. The holding tank goes into the dumpster and I switch the plumbing to direct discharge.

In the afternoon I call UPS to see about my package. It's in Vancouver on a Customs Hold. I neglected to assign a deputy. No one asked me to assign a deputy. What it means is one more day.

Day 6: The part arrives at 3 pm. I slap it in, reassemble the engine and start it up. Success ... no leak. And the water pump seems to work. We are out of there, motor sailing N to Lesquati island in the early evening, making good time. I go below, notice a new burnt smell. Then Patricia asks if the engine should be producing this much smoke. Now the engine is OVER HEATING! I shut it off and head back to Nanaimo under sail.

Day 7: Patricia catches the 7 am bus south. I don't blame her, I suggested it. I examine the engine and can find no damage. Further, I can find no fault with the water pump. What I do find is the spark is weak. The little spark plug connector is faulty. I open it up with a hack saw and bridge the faulty resistor with a wire, tape it up, and try the engine. I think this may have fixed rough idle. So, at 11 am I head north again. But out in the straight the seas are more that I want to deal with and I'm again forced to turn back. I'm motor sailing back in at 6 knots when suddenly the boat stops. I look back to see the dinghy up side down, 2 ft under water (it's an inflatable!). The wind must have flipped it over. I right it and find that one of the towing eyes got pulled off. I return to Nanaimo and anchor out.

Day 9: I leave my power drill to re-charge in the Comox marina's locked laundry room. Three hours latter it's gone. I find it inconceivable that someone would pick up a drill that they know is not theirs and take it with them! Aside from the outrage, the theft of the drill is a major inconvenience. The engine is accessed through a hatch in the cockpit floor and the hatch is secured to the floor by 20 large screws. My drill had been doing heavy duty loosening and tightening those screws once or twice a day. Now I must hand tighten.

Day 11: Steve and I tie up in a small cove with bow and stern lines to trees on shore. After I shut off the engine I look down in the cabin to see 6 inches of water! I tell Steve to hurry back, the boat is sinking and I may need his help. I expect to find that some hose has come off and simply needs to be reconnected. But it's the engine again. One of the sacrificial zinc plugs in the cylinder head has corroded through and is leaking water. I seal it with a large washer and plenty of epoxy.

Day 12: The other zinc plug gives way. Sealed with a medium washer and epoxy. Latter, in port, I resupply on epoxy.

Day 16: While sailing to Alert Bay, the furthest point reached on my trip, the auto pilot breaks. My first reaction is that I want to strangle someone at the Navico Corporation. (Now, after some time has passed I still want to strangle someone at the Navico Corporation.) For the rest of the trip I have to hand steer the boat. This is hard duity.

Day 23: Back in Desolation sound Chip, Julie, and I are playing around in the dinghy (no leaks yet). I flip the dinghy over and my nice mask and snorkel sink in 40 ft of water. Not even sure where it sank, I dive down to see if I can recover it. At 20 ft I see a white blur and reach out for it. It a Jelly Fish! Yuck Yuck Yuck. There is little chance of recovering the mask without having a mask.

Day 26: This is the second day of beating into heavy winds and waves making my way south in the straight of Georgia. Usually the winds blow from the N and one can expect a good down wind sail on the way home. I am not so fortunate and am getting beat up by 25 knot winds and 6 to 8 ft waves. My Mom is impressed by how the boat is taking the seas and says she's not at all scared. Me, I'm waiting for the mast to fall off. A good stiff sail in heavy conditions is always more fun on some one else's boat.

Day 28: Motoring back to home port of Kingston I notice some unaccounted water in the cabin. I know where to look. One of the repaired zinc plugs is leaking again. I push on.

Whew

Boat Time.

Boat time is different than city time. It's similar to trail time, but nothing like climbing time. I measure time by where I am, not by the clock. I have an image of the whole trip route and know when I am in the trip by where I am on that line. Even though I have to know the day and date every day I look in the tide tables, I never really know what day it is, just where I am and where I'm heading.

The Home Button.

I'm unimpressed by the new Loran I bought. It always been right about where I am ... my complaint is how it tells me. I don't like the user interface. One of the features that particularly annoys me is the "Home" button. Press it and the Loran will tell you how far and which way to Home. There are not many buttons on the Loran and I'm sure the Home button could have been put to better use. Besides, I can do the same thing with about 3 button presses. Then, in the last week of the trip I find myself using the Home button more and more. I push it then look at how far from home I am. It starts at 200 miles and decreases as I slowly drive the boat south. The Home button is not a navigational aid - it's intended for the home sick mariner.

The Food Chain.

One thing is clear: to be a small fish is to be a meal. Seals eat small fish, ducks eat small fish, eagles eat small fish, and big fish eat small fish. Orcas eat fish and seals and eagles eat most other birds. Suddenly, I very much appreciate being on the top of the food chain.

I'm specially interested in how eagles and other birds interact. If I were a bird I sure would not choose to live here, there are eagles all over up here, I must see 20 or 30 a day. Yet many birds do live here and will fly right past eagles perched in a tree. Do the little birds not see the eagle or some how know the eagle had just eaten a fish and won't be hunting any more. Or are the little birds just unaware that death is perched up in the tree and could swoop out any moment.

This get me to thinking about what life would be like for people if we had to constantly watch for really really large birds which may swoop down from the sky any moment. Being outside would feel entirely different. Most of us would be a lot more alert, if not nervous. The others, a meal. My boat would probably have a large metal cage over the cockpit to keep us safe while sailing. We would get used to the sudden demise of friends: "Did you hear about Joe? He was taken last week. I saw the whole think, it was horrible."

There were predators that ate people: Lions and Tigers and Bears! Now most of them are dead. I think if you give guns to the small birds they would go and shoot the eagles. Certainly the crows and gull would.

One of the books I read on the trip was by a Canadian mountaineer. In the 60's, while on a climbing trip to Kenya he toured the Savana. On the tour they saw a young boy walking about 200 ft from some lions. Alarmed, the climber asked the guide if they boy were in danger. The guide replied "Oh no, as you see, the boy is downwind of the lions."

An eagle just flew past the boat while Richard were sitting in the cockpit eating dinner. It's now perched in a tree not far from here. If Richard and I were little birds we'd be down in the cabin looking out the window saying "Is it still out there?" while our dinner got cold in the cockpit.

Dragging Anchor.

Twenty some nights at anchor has deeply ingrained the worry of dragging anchor in the middle of the night. I sleep very deeply on the boat. Frequently I wake up disoriented and confused about where I am but also deeply afraid that I'm not where I should be. I pop my head out the forward hatch, look around and orientate myself.

Up to a week after the trip I'll find that I've gotten up in the middle of the night, half asleep, and am looking out the window at cars and bushes below trying to determine if I'm dragging. As I wake up I realize that I am on the top floor of a large brick building and it is not going anyplace. I go back to bed.

Next Summer.

Next Summer I'm going hiking. Sailing has too much equipment to worry about.



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Page last modified:  Jul 09 08:51 2010  by  Tom Unger