Monday, August 31, 2009

Princess Louisa Inlet

The dock near Chatterbox Falls.
Aug 11... Salty and I hike up to the "Trapper's Cabin" in the morning. It took almost an hour and a half to get up the rough, wet, vertical trail. No switch-backs on this trail, just straight up the rocky face of the mountain where tree roots extend themselves out across the smooth surfaces as if intentionally to give a good foothold. The old cabin has deteriorated badly but the waterfall flowing next to it was awe inspiring. Had an incredible view of Princess Louisa Inlet 2500 feet below.
AUG 10... It rained starting at 01:00 am, and all of the falls were totally transformed into raging torrents of pounding water. It was as if God dumped a gigantic bucket of water on the top of the mountains and it found every possible way to make a downward flowing geyser. Totally inspiring.
AUG 9... Chatterbox Falls
Rounding the corner to the head of the bay... Pictures can't do justice to these mile high cliffs and numerous, wonderous waterfalls.
AUG 9... Looking back on Malibu Rapids, entering Princess Louisa Inlet.


Into The Fjords

AUG 9... Approaching Malibu Rapids. We have to time our passage for slack tide as currents can run as fast as 9 knots in the rapids. No problem!
AUG 9... the clouds eventually broke up as we headed further inland.
AUG 9... Annie helps us pass the time by reading to us.
AUG 9... We have to motor 40 miles up the beautiful inlets and fjords on the way to Chatterbox Falls.


Crossing The Straits of Georgia and Beyond

AUG 8... Pender Harbor- The last of civilization we will see until the 16th!
AUG 8... Crossing the Straits of Georgia- 25 knots of wind in open water with beam seas. A great sail, although there were some nauseous girls in the morning, soon they were enjoying the sweeping seas as much as Disneyland.


Aug 5-15 Into Canada And The Transit North

AUG 7... Fun at the farmer's market in Nanaimo. (Our anchorage and Newcastle Island in the background)
AUG 6... The Dinghy Dock Pub... We have a great parking spot! (Pearl in background)
AUG 6... Newcastle Island near Nanaimo


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Rough Start

Working on Lehman (better known as Lehla, the other woman) with a little help.
Fun at the dock in Friday Harbor.
The evening dog walk.
Shari's happy to make it through the pea soup fog bank.

Aug 3... Our troubles return. We planned to sail to Roche Harbor but were delayed by a bank of fog covering the south end of Shaw Island. Since we knew the fog cleared within a few miles of our anchorage, we decided to use gps, radar, and dead reckoning to manage our way around the southern edge of Shaw Island. Having run the engine for the 2 days prior gave us renewed confidence and we departed and navigated clear of the fog with no problems. The wind finally settled into a light southerly and we decided it was time to fly our asymmetric spinnaker to take advantage of our tailwind. After getting it rigged, we were just about to let it fly, when the stomach sinking sound of our engine slowly dying convinced us to forget about the labor intensive spinnaker. We quickly unfurled the jib, and I ran below to diagnose our problem. Just like 2 days prior, the primary fuel filter was full of air. WTF??? Everything looked normal with no leaks showing. I bled the system in minutes and soon had the engine running "normal" again. We motor-sailed on, still planning to stop a Roche Harbor. As we approached Spieden Channel forty minutes later, the engine died again. We now accept that we will be better off in Friday Harbor (more maintenance facilities and supplies available), so we turn around, raise the mainsail, and beat toward Friday Harbor, while I go below and bleed the fuel system again. Since we are sailing nicely, we decide not to keep the engine running, and to save it for any tight spots we might find ourselves in. Knowing that the engine was simply unreliable and that trying to dock a 50 foot boat under sail alone was unrealistic in current infested Friday Harbor, we called Vessel Assist to meet us and tow us into the dock.
While at the dock, I find that the drain nipple assembly on my primary Racor filter has a very small crack that didn't let fuel out, but did let air in. A quick way to stop a diesel engine. I actually had a spare from an old generator Racor, I replace the drain assembly and the problem was fixed. That's not the end of the story.
I decide, to be safe, we will run the engine in gear for a few hours while tied to the dock, then check over the whole system. The engine was purring nicely, and the propeller wash did not seem to be disturbing the 54 foot sailboat parked behind us, so Shari and the girls went into town while I stayed to watch over everything. 20 minutes later, while sitting in the cockpit, something unusual draws my attention from behind the boat. I turn to see the bow of the 54 foot Irwin behind us being pushed away from the dock and it's bowline is coming untied from the dock. I realize that my prop wash is what is pushing it, and quickly shift our transmission to neutral and jump down to the dock, running to grab the bowline of the Irwin just as it came lose from the dock. I re secure the line and looked to see if anyone was watching my dock olympics. All clear. The owners of the Irwin are gone, so I double check their other lines and go back to Pearl to continue the engine run up. All goes well... for now. But this day is not over yet.
When the girls return, we decide to go out to dinner and celebrate successfully fixing our engine at no mechanical cost.
When we return later that evening, I notice that the Irwin behind us has turned completely around, parked with it's transom facing ours. The owner comes out to greet us as we are boarding our boat. The sheepish look on his face tells me that this is not just a social call. It turns out that, while we were gone, they had returned to their boat, and, not liking the noise the wavelets were making on the hull under their aft stateroom, decided to turn the boat around. I believe I mentioned something about currents in Friday Harbor. While trying to repark, the current carried this 54 foot sailboat right into our starboard quarter (right rear), smashing a stanchion, and scratching the fiberglass gelcoat down the side. Crap! He was vary polite, offered to pay for all repairs, and we ended up visiting and sharing stories the rest of the evening.
We spent two nights in Friday Harbor decompressing and getting confidence back to head north into Canada. I am happy to say that this was the end of our troubles for a very long time (see La Conner) and Pearl performed wonderfully for the remainder of the trip.

Aug 2... After spending the night in Port Ludlow, we made an uneventful and fairly calm passage across the Straits of Juan De Fuca and anchored in Indian Cove on Shaw Island and enjoyed "beach" time.

Aug 1... We had a bit of a rough start to our extended cruise while leaving Seattle's Shilshole Marina. We said goodbye to our friends there and were backing out of the slip into a gusty breeze. Just as we were about to turn into the wind, our engine slowly lost power and died. My panicked attempts at starting it again would only result in sputtering and quitting. Now we were faced with a wind that was going to quickly blow us into the boats parked near our previous parking spot. Our friends on the dock reacted quickly by climbing into dinghies and rendering us aid by grabbing lines and guiding our crippled boat to the fueling dock directly across the alley. They did an outstanding job getting us moored and I owe them all a great deal of thanks. They, like nearly all sailors, humbly insisted that there was nothing to it, no thanks were needed, and to pay it forward. You can bet on it.
It turned out that air had somehow filled one of my Racor fuel filters and quickly killed the engine. The only explanation I could think of was that I had not properly bled the system of air after changing fuel filters a few days before. (I was wrong, this problem turned out to be much more insidious and would come back to haunt us in the next few days.) I bled the system of air, test ran the engine in gear for some time, and off we went on our adventure.
Visiting friends at Shilshole in Seattle. Redneck hottub.
Salty thinks he's a lap dog... the girls don't seem to mind.
Leaving Olympia on July 20th... Won't be back until September!