Oh Canada!

 

We’ve been together for a year, and Rubi and I are on our first international trip.

Day 1-2

We left Friday Harbor a bit later than planned due to a pile of errands that….well, piled up. There was no wind, so we motored up San Juan Channel then through Spieden Channel to take advantage of the current. Just outside Friday Harbor there was a debris field that seemed to be everywhere. There were logs, planks, and what looked like someone’s door. Despite a close look out, I had a minor collision or two with something unseen, so I was on high alert. It wasn’t quite the vision I had in mind.

There are a couple of markers between Roche and the west end of Spieden that you would do well to heed. The chart shows kelp, and Holy Moly was there kelp! I’m not a good distance guesser, but I would say at least a football field of kelp extended from the marker toward Spieden. After that it was a pretty easy course to the west end of Stuart Island, round Turn Point Light House, then north to South Pender.

I had prepared myself thoroughly for my first boating customs stop, and was a bit nervous. As I came into Bedwell Harbor I was a bit confused about the customs dock. There was a large sign pointing to the customs dock, but a smaller sign on the end saying not to dock on the inside of that dock. The other dock had red and white paint which said STAY AWAY to me (it was the float plane dock). I was rigged for starboard, and the ‘outside’ of the dock would have required a U-Turn very, very close to shore. Against my better judgement, I went to the inside of the dock and discovered why you shouldn’t dock there. There is nothing to tie to…nothing! Nada! No cleat, no bar, nothing!  I kicked the bow off and jumped back aboard with my lines and did a slow doughnut to reassess, grateful there wasn’t a wind issue.

About that time,  my friends who had taken the ferry to North Pender and hitch hiked down to Bedwell Harbour, showed up at the dock and waved. Wanting to avoid an international incident, they stayed out of the customs area. Yes, I went to the red and white area on the other side behind a power boat and hoped for the best. I went to the phones as directed and it was the easiest customs check in of my life. OK, it was my first boat customs, but I have been to a few places. The phone rang to some distant place and a polite but bored customs agent answered. I was prepared to declare my extra alcohol and she stopped me saying “is it just boat bar stuff?”. Um, yes. Then I had to declare Logan and asked if she needed his rabies tag number. “No, just have it with you, are you ready to write down your clearance number?” Um, yes. Thank you.

My friends hopped aboard and we went to our assigned slip in Poet’s Cove Marina and I prescribed the pub STAT. Backpacks were stowed and Logan was fed and watered. John, Lisa and I were then also fed and watered, then headed back to the boat. The plan was to sail them up to Otter Bay to catch the ferry the next day. That evening the wind arrived in spades.

The radio was predicting gale force winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca south of us, and in the Strait of Georgia to the east of us. Halyards were clanging in the protected marina. I made the decision not to go, and it appeared I was not alone because very few boats left.  Our plight wasn’t too terrible because we took advantage of the pool and hot tub. My fate was even better, because after my friends took the shuttle to the ferry, I had a massage, some time in the steam cave and another hot tub visit. An early birthday present to myself!

Poet’s Cove resort shuts down for the most part September 30. The marina is still open, and the spa will take advanced appointments, but don’t expect much else. There are two pools and hot tubs for guests, and the steam cave and another hot tub for spa customers. There are laundry and showers as well. The marina has water, electric and fuel. There is no boat washing here in the islands in general because of limited resources, but Rubi and I are used to going awhile between showers.

We’ll be back!

 

DIY Drama -Big Hole in the Boat With a Storm Coming

Being a boat owner without unlimited funds usually means learning to do many of the repairs yourself. As a brand new boat owner with no experience in this area, I have been chipping away at tackling things I have never done before. I started with my very first oil change, and with instructions, a hand pump and 2 hours, I managed it without incident. A few small woodworking projects  and installing blinds ensued, but nothing very exciting.

 

Weepy Barometer with Old Water Staining

Weepy Barometer with Old Water Staining

Since our first big rain, several months after I bought the boat, I have known there were leaks on the starboard side. I usually found them coming from the headliner above the shelf behind the settee.  Three stubborn dribbles continued to occur with heavy rain, or water over the bow. Once I even saw water dripping from the screw hole in the barometer which is mounted above the other leaks, making me realize my problem was higher up.  I naively applied Captain Tolley’s Creeping Crack Cure to everything I thought suspicious. I re-caulked the toe rail with no effect. I had the mast boot replaced, which stopped the dripping into the head, but the starboard leaks remained. The base plates on the shrouds were re-bedded when the rigging was tuned and I hoped for the best. Just in case, I re-bedded the Charlie Noble, having seen water from there in a windy rainstorm. A scorching dry summer in Seattle didn’t allow me to test the changes for some time.

 

In early August we finally had some rain. Not the typical plant mister rain, but real rain. The three little rivers on starboard showed up on queue. The barometer cried. The chimney was dry, but it wasn’t a windy day. BUT! a new clue appeared. Drops of water came from one of the screws of the forward starboard aluminum window frame. BINGO!

Corrosion from the Leak

Corrosion from the Leak

 

I had never re-bedded a window before, and I didn’t have the slightest idea what the internal anatomy of a window frame looked like. However, I had a friend that had just done this project on his boat and he emailed me detailed instructions. I bought what I was told was needed, and he even stopped by to make sure it was the same type of frame and prodded me to take the inner frame off to get a better idea.

 

 

Gap in the Sealant

Gap in the Sealant

Not only did it become more clear how the windows were mounted, and that this should be a doable project for me, but it was very clear there was daylight coming through the forward edge of the caulking and it was an obvious leak source.  It was also obvious that whoever had cut the hole for the window did not have the steadiest of hands. The cuts were undulating and erratic, and at one point the inner frame barely covered the cut.

 

 

Slow Process of Prying the Window Loose

Slow Process of Prying the Window Loose

My first job was cutting through the bedding compound from the inside, then going outside and trying to lightly pry the frame from the compound and the boat, millimeters at a time with two flathead screwdrivers. The top and forward edge (leaky side) came loose easily. The aft and bottom took forever. I was starting to sense the frame coming out as I could hear the bedding letting go slowly. I had a vision of a small victory dance on the dock with the window in hand.

 

 

CRACK!

CRACK!

Then I heard another sound.  CRACK might be the sound of victory on some circles (lumberjacks, chiropractors, gladiators), but it was not a good sound for me.  Yes, I cracked the glass at the one area that the wood pinched the frame inside. I got the frame out, cleaned it up, cleaned the old compound off the boat, and taped plastic inside and out. It was a weekend, and apparently no glass places were open. The drama was starting, because I was leaving (with the boat) for over a month in 15 days (10 business days), and most glass companies had shorter workdays than I did, so getting the glass there and back would be a challenge. I did research, left messages, called friends, went on rushed lunchtime field trips, only to be told “at least two weeks”.

 

I was starting to panic, but with some footwork help from my friend John, a place was found that could do the job based on the photos I texted him of the glass and the frame. It happened to be one of the places I called Saturday, but hadn’t yet returned my call. They gave an estimate based on the photos and size, and quoted a twenty four hour turn around. I drove the frame there on Wednesday (my day off), but wasn’t sure how I was going to get it back again in time since they were closed on weekends.  John agreed to take possession on Thursday, and the plan was to install Saturday. Then we got the forecast.

Summer Storm

Summer Storm

 

The storm was coming early Saturday, and it looked ugly. Rain and 25-35 knots of wind. It was great news for our wildfires, but bad news for a boat with a big old hole. I didn’t think the plastic on the inside and the shower curtain taped on the outside were going to make the grade. I was worried. John came through again and he and Lisa brought the new window around the time I finished work.

 

The job went faster with three pairs of hands. I grinded a bit off the areas that pinched and re-cleaned the surface. The window was dry fitted and the inside from secured lightly while the outside surface was taped off. The window came back out and the portion of the frame that fits against the hull was given a healthy bead of 3M 4000 UV. As John fitted the frame back in, I started re-attaching the screws on the inside frame loosely until they were all in, then tightening them all a little at a time like putting a tire back on. Finally after the screws were all tight, we got to work scraping off the excess sealant and cleaning any mess with denatured alcohol. Once that was finished, the tape came off, and the job was done.

Taping to Avoid a Mess

Taping to Avoid a Mess

Applying the Sealant

Applying the Sealant

Putting the Frame Together

Putting the Frame Together

At about 5 am the following morning, what was described as the strongest summer storm in Northwest history hit. Gusts of 40-50 mph were recorded.  It is being called a mid-latitude cyclone. Read more.

 

I awoke at 8am to a text…”how’s the window?”  Honestly I was afraid to find out, but the bilge pump hadn’t come on so I figured it couldn’t be too bad.  I crawled from the V-berth and inspected the window frame-dry. The three rivers that ran down the wall beneath it-dry. The barometer-weeping like a willow. Oh well, three out of four is pretty good in my opinion. The barometer leak will wait for another day. I have a few leads and a lot of work, but at least I didn’t have a huge hole in my boat during the biggest summer storm in Northwest history!

There's a Big Hole in my Boat!

There’s a Big Hole in my Boat!

Photo Credits: Lisa Mize – Sunrise Photography by Lisa

As seen in ThreeSheetsNW.