Monday, May 11, 2015

Troubles with raw water strainer

Your raw water strainer is an essential and easily ignore part of your engine systems. I don't think I've ever done a post on it over all these years because there is really nothing to say. Unless you break it, like I did! Of course you have to drain and clean them once in a while, and many a boater has encountered engine problems due to a blocked strainer that deprived their cooling system of water. But aside from that, there are no moving parts, and should not be any trouble.

Unless, like me, you manage to snap the little plastic drain plug off in the hole. Yes. I had removed the plug to drain the water, and when tightening the little bugger back in the handle snapped off from the shaft, leaving the threaded shaft in the hole. Damn it. Luckily it allowed only a small dribble of a leak so we were able to continue our trip last time out. I put some tape over it and it wasn't a problem.

New plug ready to install
But nothing bugs me more than knowing I have a leak or problem like this. I can't let it go in my mind, nor should I! So I ordered the new plug from Groco, which looks like an improved and stronger design, and when we went back this time I installed it.

However, as many of you know, it is not easy to get a screw out of something if it has no head. I went ahead and drilled a small hole through the center of the plastic in order to give me something to purchase. I did not have an easy out on the boat, or I would have used it. Instead, I took a small flat screwdriver and managed to get enough purchase to reverse the broken piece back out of the hole. Really, the only thing that allowed this to work is that it is a plastic screw in a plastic hole. If it had been metal or corroded metal, I would have had to get an easy out.

Put it all back together with new Orings and she should be good for another 10 years. One note, the screws that bolt the plastic tank to the bronze top on mine were rusted. I cleaned them off and coated them with ACF 50 this time and wish I had done that before. They were a little tough to remove.

Clark Island a new favorite

As we explore our new local waters around Anacortes we are delighted to come across new favorite places. Cypress Island is quite magnificent, and I've chosen not to write much about it as it remains the wildest of the islands. This time we decided to explore yet another new place I had passed by with the boys on our Sucia a few weeks ago.

Clark Island beach on east side
I had never even heard of Clark Island, which lies just east of Orcas. It is clearly a local haunt for people from Bellingham or Lummi. We fought the ebb for a long way getting there on Saturday and enjoyed the lovely views along the way. The east side of Guemes is quite beautiful, and of course Vendovi and Lummi are rugged gems. Eventually, you end up at Clark Island. With neutral current it is about a 3 hour trip.

There is a bight on the east side that has mooring balls and a few places to anchor. We dropped anchor in about 40' of water and enjoyed a fantastic few days of exploring this great place. The beach on the east side was filled with people camping who had kayaked over from Lummi or in one case, rowed a giant skin frame canoe over as one large group. This group was young, with kids, and has been doing this trip for 14 years on this weekend, I'm told. The skin frame vessel fits 15 or so people, and is apparently quite stout.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sucia weekend with my boys

My wife was going to be busy on Saturday with a workshop, and it had been too long since I had taken Aeolus out for an adventure, so I grabbed the boys and took off for a weekend of fun. Since I work in Seattle, it works well to have the boys get on the ferry from Bainbridge and for me to pick them up on the other side on a Friday night. That is just what we did.

I still hadn't decided where we were going to go, and the forecast was for warm sunny weather. So when we woke up on Saturday morning I took a poll of my conscience preferences and decided on Sucia. Sucia is such a zoo during nice weather that it was a bit risky to go there, but I was in the mood for a long trip, to go far, to see new things, and yet didn't have time to get to Tumbo.

So we struck out for Sucia. It was a motoring trip all the way there. We were going against a strong ebb so I took back channels and found eddies. We probably averaged a SOG of 4.5-5, which was not bad given the current. And it is such a gorgeous trip.

For people who have lived and traveled so much in the Western San Juans, it is quite novel to explore the Easter areas. Cypress is stunning, and Vendovi is a little gem. Lummi is staggering in the south, and then Orcas looms. It is certainly far more rugged, and even prettier, than the haunts around Shaw and San Juan. And Mt. Baker towers over so closely, you feel like you can touch the glaciers.
Lummi Island while heading toward Sucia

We went into Fossil Bay and had a fantastic evening. It is 21 miles to Sucia from Anacortes, and it took us about 5 hours or so. Once we had grabbed a ball, we took the walk over to Echo Bay and enjoyed some fantastic time sunning on the beach and playing around.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cypress Island trip in February was wonderful

Back in February we took our first trip to Cypress Island. It is wonderfully close to Anacortes. And unlike every other place we have gone, I have chosen not to describe this island and it's many wonderful attributes. It is a fairly wild place. Large and rugged. One can experience some wilderness there, despite it having all been logged before. So my only reason for posting this here is to say that Cypress Island is well worth your exploration!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Stormy MLK weekend at Stuart Island-Mantus never budges

The forecasts were calling for gale winds on the weekend but with closer study you could see that they weren't expected to hit until Saturday night and be done by Sunday night. Perfect for a three day escape to the hurricane hole anchorage of Reid Harbor on Stuart Island.
On our way

We had wanted to go to Tumbo, as followers of this blog know how much we love that spot, but the anchorage there is too exposed to the N and NW to risk an imprecise gale forecast.

Plus, it had been a few months since we had been at Stuart and we all felt the need to return. As usual, people stayed away by the millions! I've been in Reid Harbor in July and counted over 100 boats. Plus an additional 50+ in Prevost Harbor on the other side. But if you go between October and about May, you will likely have it to yourself, or close enough to not matter.

The voyage from Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes to Stuart is really scenic, and diverse. Last time we saw the baby Orca before it was even in the news! This was our second trip of this sort since moving Aeolus to Anacortes from Friday Harbor. It has felt like a great choice. You cross Rosario Strait on the way and this body of water can be quite rough in a strong NW or SE blow. I've crossed it on the ferry when there was about 35 knots SE and I'd say the waves were 4-5 feet. No safety concern for a Gulf 32 but unpleasant.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas aboard Aeolus, Orcas, and Jones Island

We are just returned from a special trip aboard the good ship Aeolus. Given some other travel plans and expenses associated with such, we decided not to do a traditional home Christmas this year as we fly out early tomorrow morning on the 26th. Instead, and since we are traveling to the Megalopolis of Los Angeles, we decided to get aboard Aeolus and make a special voyage to Jones Island for a wild bit of festivities.

It was wonderful.

We left Anacortes and our new slip at Cap Sante at 9:30 on the 24th. It was calm, and remarkably sunny. The journey out Guemes Channel is heavily tidal, and strong enough to be a significant help or hindrance. It ebbs going West and floods East. We had some help this morning with the ebb and then rode the eddies up the Cypress shoreline before hopping across toward Obstruction Pass. As we approached Blakely, eagle eyed Amy spotted a dorsal fin and sure enough, we had Orcas off the port side! A large adult, probably female, and a young calf. They were about 200 yards away and were having some fun, including a few leaps out of the water! What a spectacle. We took it as an omen for our first trip from Anacortes to Jones. It seems we always see special wildlife on any new trip.
Gorgeous clouding on Cypress Island


Monday, December 22, 2014

Reconnassaince yields discovery

The boys and I made the now easier trip to Aeolus this weekend for no particular reason other than my internal clock telling me it had been too long and the always present nagging desire in my gut to be on the boat, away, in the wilds. There were things to clean, things to fix, as always, but it was also just a chance to get away with my sons and enjoy the high quality time the boat provides.

When we got to Anacortes it was not yet as windy as had been forecast. As is often the case, the forecast was off by time or magnitude. Tough stuff to get right. I'm OK with that. The predicted 35 knot winds were a meek 10 until late in the day. So we got there during fairly calm conditions. I noticed right away that there was a problem.

Despite how complex our boats are, or houses, for that matter, we develop a very clear mental image of what "normal" looks like. It's uncanny. And unconscious. On Aeolus, I noticed a line laying in a place that it shouldn't. Then, I noticed that it had a frayed end. Then, I looked up and saw that my jib halyard wasn't there, and then gazing higher still, saw the remains of the halyard still hanging a few feet below the top of the mast.

"Well, crap!", the good father says.