Sunday, November 11, 2012

Summer 2012 Wyoming, Columbia River and San Juans

At my last posting, Arcadia II was finally out of California after being delivered to Astoria. When it arrived, Will and I were travelling to meet Phyllis and head into the mountans of Wyoming for a grand camping reunion of my branch of the family tree. Phyllis and I, all three of my kids, 6 grandkids, two great-grandkids, along with  one daughter-in law and her parents, one granddaugher-in-law, my first wife, 4 really good friends and several dogs all camped in the Gros Ventre mountains, as we have done before. Its not hard to get there, but not many go. Nobody but us came anywhere near our campsite.

Here are Phyl and I, along with all my direct progeny resting after the long climb to what we call the "Shining Place". It has a truly stupendous view of the Gros Ventre, Teton, Absaroka, Wyoming, Salt River and Wind River mountain ranges that always brings a tear to this old man's eyes.

On July 15th, I finally got to Astoria, and Arcadia II. On the 16th, my brother, Paul, and his friend, Irene , arrived. Her son, a longshorman from Seattle, was working nearby and joined us for a shore dinner.

On the 17th, we moved over to the fuel dock and topped off the fuel tanks. That put us nicely on an incoming tide and we were ready to head up the Columbia River. This was the very first time, since we bought Arcadia II, that we have actually gotten to use her. Heretofore, she's just been the proverbial "hole in the water", into which much money has been poured. It was a great feeling to be underway under my own command again. We finished that day by tying up to the public dock at Ranier, OR. The float lies parallel to the river current and I'm afraid I made a somewhat less than graceful upstream approach. Fortunately, there wasn't anyone around to see me have to go back around after the bow got away from us.

Ranier is a nice little town. We assumed that we could find a local supermarket within a short walk, so hadn't done any shopping for the galley before we left Astoria. That proved to be a flawed assumption. After a lot of walking, we found what looked like a supermarket, but proved to be some sort of overstock outlet that had a lot of stuff, but none of what we needed. We did find a nice enough restaurant, so we decided on a shore dinner. More walking led us to a gas station/convenience store in which we found enough for breakfast the next day.

On the 18th, we continued up the Columbia to Portland. The railroad bridge was down. I really didn't know what my air draft was and it looked like it would be a tight fit, but since we were travelling upstream, I approached it slowly while Paul watched the outriggers and antennae. At the last moment, it became obvious to him that the outriggers wouldn't clear the bridge in their stowed position. I backed off and went downstream to deploy the outriggers. The next attempt, he could see that the mast would clear well enough, but the radio antennae might drag a bit. We went on through, without laying them down. No damage was done, but with a lot of noise, we showered the boat with a lot of rust and stuff from the underside of the bridge. We finished the day by tying up at Tomahawk Bay Marina in Portland.

On the 19th, we continued up the river, on a very nice day, through the very scenic Columbia River Gorge to Bonneville Dam. River flow was high, so the current was strong and there was a good deal of turbulence in the water. The autopilot could barely hold course and progress was slow. When we contacted the lockmaster, he advised us it would be an hour before he could lock us up, and directed us to a float in the channel below the lock. After a nice dinner, the lock opened for us and we went through without incident, heading up to our intended evening stop at Hood River. By the time we got there is was well past dark and there was a heavy rain. We never actually left the boat that evening.

On the 20th, we locked back down through Bonneville Dam, without incident. A few words are in order about the locking process. The Corps of Engineers makes this process go very smoothly for pleasure boaters, which they do not mix with the commercial barge traffic.  You simply call ahead to the lockmaster as soon as you are within low power radio range to find out when he will lock pleasure boats through, (You can also use your cell phone. The numbers for all the locks are in the common chart book that everyone uses.) At the appointed time, the lockmaster will direct you to enter the lock and tell you which position in the lock to go to. At each station, there is a bollard in a vertical channel in the lock wall. The bollards rise and fall with the water level in  the lock. You just drop a loose loop of your breast line over the bollard and fend off by hand to keep your boat parallel to the lock wall, far enough off that your fenders don't have to drag on it. There is very little turbulence.

Once clear of Bonneville, we headed back to Tomahawk Bay. Going downstream was much more pleasant than coming up. The current was with us, so it was faster, of course. More important, we moved so much more quickly through the turbulent spots that they had little effect on our course. The autopilot maintained course with ease, making for an altogether enjoyable passage.

At one point, I had considered going on up river, perhaps as far as Lewiston, Idaho. However, this exploratory jaunt up to Hood River, and the drive-by look at the scenery that Willy and I did earlier, convinced me that such a trip on Arcadia II would be more arduous than fun. Accordinly, I decided to take a more permanent slip in Tomahawk Bay and just cruise the lower river for the time we had left. On the 21st, we rented a car at the nearby Portland airport and drove back to Astoria to get my own car while Paul and Irene could drive one vehicle back before they left for California.

After Paul and Irene left, I started in on my "to do" list. As we travelled, it was apparent that the main engine alternator was not charging the batteries. I took it ashore to be rebuilt, while I did routine things like changing oil in all the engines, pickling the watermaker and varnishing the gratifyingly small amount of teak this boat has exposed to the weather.

On the 26th, an old submarine shipmate, Warren Coughlin, and his wife Edye came aboard. We got underway for Government Island that evening. Once again, I blew an upstream tie to the float there and had to go around. This time, of course, there was a whole yacht club there to see it. After meeting a lot of nice folks on the float, we had a nice dinner aboard.

On the 27th, we shoved off and made the short run up the Columbia River Gorge before we returned to Tomahawk bay.

I continued getting the boat ready for the next passage until the afternoon of the 29th of July. At that point, I got in my car and drove to Bellingham to make arrangements for a haulout at SeaView North Boatyard. I left my car there and flew home from Bellingham on the 30th.

I didn't return until August 16th. In my absence, a new Sleep Number bed for the master stateroom had arrived and I installed it. The next day, my stalwart offshore travelling companion, Rudy Prendiz, arrived. On the way back from the airport, we stopped at a supermarket for last minute provisions for the passage up to Bellingham.

On the 18th, we left Tomahawk Bay and went back to Astoria, fueled up and had a nice shore dinner.

On the 19th, we timed our departure over the Columbia River bar at high slack and set an offshore course North on a lovely afternoon.

We rounded Cape Flattery the morning of the 20th of August, after an extraordinarily pleasant passage. That evening, we tied up at Port Angeles and had a lovely shore dinner with another good friend from my Navy years, Gailard Kunkle, and his wife, Carol.

On the 21st, Rudy and I again got underway, making a leisurely passage through the San Juan Islands to Roche Harbor, on San Juan Island, arriving in time to deploy the dinghy and attend their nightly "Colors"at sundown before a nice shore dinner there.

The next morning, we moved the boat around San Juan Island to Friday Harbor and spent the day playing shore tourist and shopping for LED navigation light bulbs. On the 23rd, we moved on to Bellingham and tied to SeaView North Shipyard's courtesy dock.

On the 24th, Rudy Prendiz left and our next door neighbors, Dave and Barb Drummond arrived on the same plane that Rudy took home. We stopped at a grocery store on the way back from thee airport, then departed for the San Juan Islands. We anchored in Blind Bay on Lopez Island that evening.

On the 25th, after Dave and Barb motored around Blind Bay andd over to Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, we moved back over to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, again in time for Colors and yet another nice meal ashore. The  next day, the 26th, was devoted to sightseeing around the harbor. Dave and Barb took a van tour over to Friday Harbor and back while I stayed aboard and enjoyed quiet time at anchor until they returned. We stowed the dinghy and got underway late that afternoon, arriving back at SeaView North after midnight.

On the 27th, Dave and Barb left for home and I made final arrangements for the haulout the next day.

Arcadia II was "on the hard" from the 28th of August until the 14th of September.

During that period we:
  • Pressure washed and recoated the bottom with ablative anti-fouling paint.
  • Scraped and grit blasted the two keel coolers, then coated them with Propspeed
  • Removed and sent the main propellor to a shop for comprehensive servicing and polishing.
  • Replaced the polymer stops in the Gori wing engine propellor and polished it.
  • Replaced the hose "boot" between the hull shaft log and the packing gland for the main shaft.
  • Inspected the main and wing shaft cutless bearings
  • Replaceed the main shaft packing.
  • Checked the main shaft for runout.
  • Replaced the main engine rear seal and the entire torque spider between the flywheel and transmission.
  • Checked main engine valve lash.
  • Inspected the Naiad fin shaft bearings and replaced the outboard seals.
  • Replaced the wind instruments masthead sender wheelhouse ST 60 receiver.
  • Removed, rebuilt and reinstalled the Hurricane Heater.
  • Replaced all zinc anodes.
  • Replaced the masthead light with LED.
  • Replaced spreader lights.
  • Replaced the anchor windlass motor with a new on. Placed the "McGiver" repaired orginal in spares.
We put Arcadia II back in the water on August 14th at 14:00. My good friend John Heller arrived as we were tying to the float. By 17:30, in-water checkout was complete and we got underway for a leisurely trip to Port Angeles, via the San Juan Islands. We anchored in Blind Cove in the dark.

On the 15th, we moved on to Roche Harbor, launched the dinghy and went ashore. Dinner at McMillins, as always, was excellent.

On the 16th, we completed the passage across Juan de Fuca strait and tied up at our pre-arranged slip in the marina by noon. I borrowed Gailard's truck and took John Heller to SeaTac and his plane home that evening. I spent the next day retrieving my car from Bellingham.

My intent was to leave Arcadia II in the Port Angeles marina for the winter. I thought I understood the state of Washington's rules witth respect to use taxes. My research was flawed, however. After I got there I learned that boats with only USCG documentation and no State registration or boats owned by a corporation are ineligible for the one year exclusion from Use Tax that I expected to obtain. That would have meant that all the complexity and expense we had faced to prevent being liable for California Use Tax would have been simply replaced by an even higher tariff in Washington if we stayed in that state for longer than two months.

I stayed in Port Angeles only long enough to finally get the main engine alternator and regulator recommissioned and to replace the fuel booster pump on the Hurricane heater. On the 18th of September, we topped off the fuel tanks and did a short coastal cruise to check everything out.

On the 22nd of September, Gailard Kunkle and I left Port Angeles and took the boat to Van Isle Marina in Sydney on Vancouver Island. I took the ferry back on the 24th, retrieved my car in Port Angeles and drove back to California. Arcadia II can remain in Canada, without tax for 6 months.

Sometime before the middle of March, we'll move the boat back to Bellingham and wait until the weather allows us to head up to Alaska. I'm a long way from a commitment, but I'm beginning to explore the possibility of making a West to East transit of the fabled NW Passage across the Arctic.

The idea would be to be in Kodiak early in July. If the polar ice conditions already look promising at that time, and if weather in the Bering Sea permits, we'd move on around Alaska's north coast, cross through the NW passage above Canada to Greenland, then go down to the St. Lawrence and up to the Great Lakes to Chicago, then take the Chicago and Illinois Rivers to the Mississippi. If all went well, we'd come out on the Gulf of Mexico after hurrican season. After that. . .I dunno, yet.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

July 16, 2012 - We are finally free to use Arcadia II

Way back in April, I proudly reported that we'd bought Arcadia II. I haven't posted anything since because, until very recently, we have not been able to use her.

We bought the boat for use in the Pacific Northwest and don't expect to bring her back to California, thus, we do not have to pay CA Use Tax, (sales tax). However, we had to comply with some very stringent rules to demontrate that we didn't actually "use" the boat in California.

Immediately after the offshore delivery was consummated, she was brought back to the exact same slip in Alameda that she was in before, and placed in the care and custody of a boat repair service affiliated with the Seller's Broker. She was never moved again until we had done all the things I thought we needed to do to get her ready for an offshore voyage and we had a weather window long enough for a safe voyage North.

We accomplished a lot in that repair period, including:

o Replacing all the batteries on the boat with new Lifeline AGMs. This boat has 6 - 4Ds in the house bank, another 4D for the main engine starter and a 2D for the wing and genset starter.

o Acquisition and installation of a dinghy, that we consider the primary lifeboat. There was none included in the sale. I had it made up in Anaheim, (Achilles RIB, Control Console and 20 HP motor), then bought a trailer and took it up to Alameda. Then I sold the trailer.

o Acquisition and installation of a life raft. We bought one second-hand that was out of date, then had it serviced. By the way, if you consider the acquistion cost, servicing cost and the cost of driving to and fro, I think we'd have been way better off to buy a new one).

o Acquisition and installation of adequate personal life jackets, and man overboard recovery equipment  to exceed USCG requirements.

o Servicing the outdated EPIRB, by the manufacturer and acquisition of a new backup PLB.

o Replacing the outdated and, to me user unfriendly, Raymarine chartplotter with the Nobeltec system that worked well for us in the Pacific Northwest on Arcadia I.

o  Installation of a new AIS, this time the full Class A commercial vessel version. On Arcadia I, we learned that the very ships we wanted to be able to see us, were filtering out the Class B systems commonly used by yachts. We could see them, but they weren't even looking for us.

o  Re-rigging the paravanes. The previous owner reportedly had little trouble with the Naiad hydraulic stablizers and had apparently used the system only to provide a boom to launch the dinghy with and the outriggers to deploy at-anchor flopper stoppers. We upgraded the chains and re-rigged everything so we can use the paravanes and do all of that, as well.

o Pre-rigging a manual steering system that makes emergency tiller usable. If you read our previous post about losing steering in the Sulu Sea, you'll understand. It's not pretty,  but it got Arcadia I safely to port.

o Installing an oilless compressor and hookah diving rig to enable inspecting the bottom, and clearing nets and traps that may foul the propeller, stabilizers or steering equipment. We needed this rig several times on Arcadia I, and I wouldn't go out without one.

o Pre-rigging a drogue and sea anchor to enable safely riding through heavy weather. We never actually had to deploy either on Arcadia I. However, when heavy weather and seas are coming from astern it can be really difficult to steer and control the speed of boats like ours.  The first "downhill" trip from Puget Sound, I probably would have deployed a drogue if I'd had one aboard. I know another Nordie making that trip that streamed everthing he had for warps and, at one point, actually used a small rerigerator as a drogue to improve his control.

o Replacing outdated USCG-minimum flares and signaling equipment with those that meet the much higher SOLAS standards .

o Installation of an XM radio weather monitoring system that shows current weather conditions on the Nobeltec screens.

o Repair of inoperative anchor windlass motor.

o Restoring the windshield wipers to operability.

We also spent a lot of time learning the systems aboard the boat and fixing myriad "irritation" items.

To make it doubly clear to the California taxing authorites that we did not use the boat until it left the State, we hired a professional delivery service to provide two captains to bring it to Astoria, Oregon. It wasn't until the first of June that they felt they had a wide enough weather window to make it. We pressed the repair service to finish up the last few items on their list. Care and custody of the, (we thought), now-ready for sea Arcadia II was transferred from the repair service to the delivery service on June 2nd. On June 3rd, they got underway with the tide and headed for Astoria.

When we did the pre-purchase survey, we had the boat hauled. She was pretty heavily encrusted with marine growth, so I had her hull pressure washed and the metal parts scraped clean. Since she'd been for sale for some time, we all thought that the growth we saw was the result of not having been clean for a long period of time. Frankly, it never occurred to me that it would grow back as quickly as it did.

By the time the delivery captains got to Bodega Bay, however, it was apparent to them that the boat could not make enough speed, without overheating the engine, to get to safe harbor outside California before the weather turned foul again. They pulled into Bodega Bay on June 4th and I flew there to meet them and help troubleshoot the problem(s).

We went over the engine cooling system with a fine toothed comb and did, indeed, discover that one of the two thermostats on the main engine had failed and wouldn't open. I didn't believe that fully explained the symptoms, so I decided to change the coolant to ally any concern that it might have gelled in the keel cooler, although we had no evidence to suggest that it had. The next day, we found a diver willing to inspect the bottom and discovered the real problem. The propellor and keel cooler, along with all the other metal parts below the water line were even more heavily fouled by barnacles than they had been at the time of the survey haulout. The engine had to work really hard to swing the encrusted prop, the effort returned much less than normal speed, and the keel cooler couldn't transfer the resultant heat away from the engine.

After we found yet another diver willing to clean off the marine growth, and we had replaced the thermostat and engine coolant, a sea trial demonstrated that the problem was resolved on June 7th. Unfortunately, by then, the weather and sea condtions between Bodega Bay and Astoria had deteriorated badly and onward travel had to wait for another weather window.

It was two weeks before the weather and sea forecast was favorable enough to start again. The delivery captains came back aboard on June 20th and Arcadia II left the morning of the 21st. The trip to Astoria was without incident. She arrived there on the 24th of June.

We couldn't be in Astoria to meet Arcadia II when she arrived. By that time, we were at a long-planned family reunion campout in Wyoming. It was July 16th before I actually got there. The plan is to cruise the Columbia River while we get to know the boat a little better before we take her to sea, ourselves. After that, we hope to get some time aboard in the San Juan Islands this fall before the 2012 season ends. Next year, we plan to get back to our beloved SE Alaska.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 5, 2012 We're back! We now own Arcadia II

On April 5th, two hired captains took Williwaw outside San Francisco bay and took pictures of themselves with a change of command handshake showing the GPS picture and the morning newspaper. This act completed our purchase of the Nordhavn 47 we now call Arcadia II. She is a truly lovely little ship that Phyllis and I intend to share many adventures aboard with our family and friends.

Phyllis and I truly loved the two summers we spent cruising B.C. and Alaska. After we sold Arcadia I we realized that our retirement dream was to have another boat in the Pacific Northwest. We had intended to wait until Phyl could spend more time aboard before we bought another boat, but we started looking at Nordhavn listings, more as dreamers than buyers. However, when we got aboard Williwaw, she felt too "right" to pass up.

She's a much larger boat than our beloved Arcadia I, providing much more spacious accomodations for our friends.

As I get older and stiffer, I found that the crawl-around engine room of  the Nordhavn 46 was difficult for me to work in. The Nordhavn 47 doesn't have that problem. This is a truly walk-around engine room.

Arcadia II is now in a slip in Alameda. There are some important, but relatively minor repairs and modifications needed before she's ready for sea. As soon as she's ready, and we get a decent weather window, we plan to take her to Puget Sound. We'll make more postings to this blog as things progress.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Final Passage - September 2011

My good friend, and seasoned sailor, David Tees joined me on September 6th in Palau. When David agreed to make the next passage, we both thought we were going to make a relatively leisurely cruise to Noumea, New Caledonia, with stops in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. However, when Bruce Harris made an acceptable offer to buy Acadia I, it became necessary to change our destination to Singapore. David graciously agreed to the change.

We stayed a couple of extra days in Koror to give David a chance to see something of Palau before we took off. It is truly a beautiful place.

We hired one of Neco Marine's boats to cruise around the Rock Islands, doing a bit of snorkeling. David is an active scuba diver that has seen a lot of places. I think he'd tell you that this is one of the best.
One of the sights I took David to see was the Republic of Palau Capitol building.

These buildings, as you can see, are truly splendid. They are not quite as big as their US counterparts but close. Paradoxically, these buildings are nearly deserted most of the time because they are located many miles from any sizeable population center. You have to really want to go here.

There is a delicious irony here that we both appreciated. The total population of the Republic of Palau is only 20,000 people. I used to live in a small town in Wyoming about the same size. Its as if the city government of Rock Springs housed themselves in such an edifice, but located it in the sagebrush desert 30 miles North of town. It would probably have caused the same furor in Palau as it would have in Wyoming, but the Palauans didn't have to pay for it. This wonderment was paid for primarily by US taxpayers!! You may remember that these Islands were part of a US Protectorate after WWII. When the US wanted to stop "protecting" them, leaving them as an independent country,  this was part of the cost of disengagement.

We topped off our tanks, cleared out of the port and got underway by noon on the 9th of September. The trip between Palau and Surigao Strait in the Phillippines was uneventful in reasonably calm seas. We got there on the 13th. Some of you may note that this is not the shortest route across the Phillippines. We could have saved quite a few miles if we'd stayed South of Mindanao. The problem with that is that we'd have had to pass through the Sulu Archipelago, an area our insurance company identified as having high piracy risk and wouldn't cover us there.

The Bohol Sea, also known as Leyte Gulf of WWII fame, was a bit rough for most of the day it took to cross it. We entered the Sulu Sea from the East late on the afternoon of the 14th of September and conditions began to improve considerably.

By the afternoon of the 15th, it was a beautiful calm day. . .fortunately.

In the middle of this otherwise lovely day, we got a "steering response failure" alarm from the autopilot. When we put the autopilot in standby and tried to steer manually, nothing happened. Those of you familiar with Arcadia I know that almost everthing needed for safe passage has redundancy. For steering, there are two autopilots, each with their own pumps, plus the manual wheel. Unfotunately, all three of these devices only pump oil to the one steering ram that's attached to the rudder. This one ram, was held together by 4 threaded stainless steel rods. Note in the picture below that there are no such rods on the ram. All of them had broken at the thread roots where they screwed into the gimbal end,  rendering all hydraulic steering mechanisms inoperative!

Not to be daunted, David jumped down into the lazarette and removed the offending ram. It was quickly apparent that we couldn't repair it aboard. Together we dragged out the emergency tiller and, within a few minutes, came up with an elegant steering system using some bungee cords and the storm staysail sheet tackle.

We could actually steer from the wheelhouse, sitting in the helm chair, no less.

We were pretty proud of ourselves, back underway and under control in less than an hour. However, we couldn't steer as straignt a course as the autopilot. Besides, it's hard work and neither of us like that much, anymore. It was a very long way to our next planned port, Miri, Malaysia. Puerto Princesa on Palawan was only 150 miles away, so we set course for there.

As we entered the bay at Puerto Princesa in the early evening of the 16th, we saw a likely anchorage among some local fishing boats,.dropped the hook and went to bed early.

The next morning we rigged down the dinghy and Dave took me ashore with the steering ram and ship's documents. I caught a trike taxi and set out first to clear into the port.

While I was looking for the Port Captain's office, I found myself at the gatehouse of the local Phillippine Coast Guard station. When I explained our situation, the duty team decided that I was a vessel in distress and took it upon themselves to get me back to seaworthy condition. They assigned a seaman to take me to a good machine shop on his motorcycle. The shop had 4 new stainless rods threaded in the time it took me to get a haircut and buy some hydraulic oil. The seaman then loaded me up and set out to take me back to the boat. That turned out be be a bit of a project. I knew what the place we were anchored looked like from seaward, but not the name of it, of course. My description must have sounded like another place he knew, so he took me there but Arcadia I was nowhere to be seen. I had a handheld VHS, but that only resulted in a classic "who's on first" routine between David and me. By the time we figured out where we had to go, it was raining cats and dogs. When the whole comedy was over, the day was shot. Nonetheless, we installed the repaired ram, filled and vented the system and were seaworthy again before we went to bed.

There's an embarrassing sequel to the steering event. After we got to Singapore, and were cleaning the boat for Bruce Harris' arrival, we discovered, under the spare paravanes. . .you guessed it. There was a brand new, complete and beautifully preserved spare steering ram that I didn't know, or had forgotten was there. The first owner of the boat, Dave Chambers, had done a great job of assuring redundancy. Oh, well. It made an adventure out of an otherwise relatively uneventful trip. I think we enjoyed Palawan more than we would have Borneo, anyway. 

The next morning, Saturday, we moved Arcadia I farther into the bay to the Abanico Yacht Club that the coast guard said was there. We received an extraordinarily warm welcome and were invited to join them in their weekly, sumptuous, buffet. they also had a good internet connection. That afternoon we went sightseeing in Puerto Princesa. I'd been here before, on Mandy, but hadn't actually gone ashore. This time, we hailed the first trike, that came along and just pointed forward to see what we might.

Trikes are the Phillippine equivalent to the tuk-tuks of Indonesia and Thailand. They are a fanciful combination of a 100cc motorcycle married to a big sidecar. They are everywhere. You just hail the first empty one that comes along for cheap transportation to wherever you want to go.

Palawan is a delightful place! There was pork in every restaurant, lots of churches and we saw no mosques. As Americans, we were probably safer here than many places in California. While we were out, we met a trike driver we could communicate with, so we hired him as our guide for the next day. We asked him to book a van to take us across the island.

The next morning, we got in the van, and set out. Great scenery on winding, but generally good, roads.

We stopped to take a tour of the "Underground River". Pretty impressive. There were a lot of other tourists, but the whole thing was managed well enough that it felt like a personalized tour. The underground cavern was, indeed, impressive.

We somewhat reluctantly left Puerto Princesa early on September 20th. Seas were lively enough that we set the paravanes in the water. Weather Bob was watching the storm that later became the first of three typhoons to hit Luzon. He advised that it was tracking too far North to have any significant impact on our passage onward to Singapore. Since we were then almost 10º North lattitude and Singapore is at 1º15' North our exposure to tropical storms would diminish rapidly as we travelled.. We passed from the Sulu Sea into the South China Sea at Cape Melville on September 21st. Bob indicated that the tropical storm was intensifying but would remain too far North to be of concern. He did warn us that the South China Sea weather was unsettled enough that we could expect some local squalls.

Weather Bob's prediction proved to be all too true. The squalls were, indeed, localized. None lasted more than an hour or so. However, there was rarely more than a few hours between them. Many of these squalls were pretty violent, with heavy rain and winds up to 65 knots. Because of the breaks between them, the seas never got organized or built to any great height. Nonetheless, the ride was pretty miserable from Cape Melville until just before we got to Singapore.

We timed our arrival at Horsburgh Lighthouse, on the East end of Singapore Strait, for first light on September 28th. This is the start of the vessel separation scheme that is sort of a super beltway for large ships coming and going from Singapore. Vessels less than 20 meters in length, like us, have no rights within it. Thus, we needed to cross over to the North side of the separation scheme to get into the normal fairway where other vessels weren't specifically empowered to run us down. For an 8 knot boat, this is a hair rasing experience. There were literally dozens of ships in each lane. All travelling at about 16 knots, with only a small space between them. It took us more than an hour to find an opening wide enough to make it across the Westbound lanes and another hour to find another to get the rest of the way across!

Once on the inside of the traffic separation scheme, the number of ships  coming, going, or at anchor is unbelievable. The Ch 16 radio traffic is completely undsciplined and non stop. We finally shut off the AIS because it was a huge distraction, providing almost no useful information. Apparently no one bothers to shift their AIS to report "at anchor", so we couldn't filter the anchored ships from the real threats.
 As you can see, radar has the same problem.

Daunting as it was, I wouldn't have missed the opportunity to circle around Singapore. It is truly the crossroads for the world's shipping traffic. We didn't actually count the number of ships we saw, underway, docked and at anchor, but it was thousands. I'll never be intimidated by Long Beach/LA again.

We finally wound our way into the Johor Strait and got to Raffles Marina at 3:45 PM. We had called ahead to the marina on VHF 77, and a Customs & Immigration guy met us in the marina office at 4:00 PM and we were cleared in by 4:30 PM. You gotta love Singapore for efficiency.

We spent the next couple of days resting up, and playing tourist around Singapore. It was David's first time in this truly fascinating city. It's not like any other place that I know.  If you expect to see much of the old, exotic SE Asia, you'll be disappointed. It's a very modern, landscaped and manicured city. Public trnsportation works like no where else in the world that I've been. There are no slums, just an overwhelming number of high rise apartment buildings. The business districts are showcases for high rise architecture that boggle the mind. Having said all that, neither Dave nor I took any pictures of the city. You'll just have to google it to see.

Between sightseeing trips, we undertook to clean up the boat. I hired a great crew of 4 boat boys to do the outside, while David and I put the inside in order. David left for home after 3 days and I got out the dustrags, vacuum cleaner and carpet scrubber to get Arcadia I ready to meet the buyer.

On the 6th his surveyor arrived, a great husband and wife team, just in time to help me move her onto the slings for a quick haulout. The hull was in excellent condition, with only a pressure wash needed to get rid of the little bit of slime on the botom and moss at the waterline. The buyer was concerned about osmosis and hull blisters, so the surveyor tapped about with vigor, finding nothing. We changed the zincs on the bow thruster and were back in the water within an hour. After a short sea trial, we tied back up to our slip.

The next day, the surveyors looked into everything and asked a lot of questions. I thought they were remarkably thorough. While they seemed to miss nothing, they also made it clear that they understood that we'd just completed a long passage and they had expected to find even more issues than they did.

The following day Bruce Harris arrived. I gave him a quick tour of the boat, then left him with the surveyors to be debriefed by them. I came back after a couple of hours. Bruce stood up and said "the surveyors love your boat, we've got a deal". We shook hands and the deal was done. Jeff Merrill, PAE's brokerage agent from Dana Point, flew to Singapore to participate in the final negotiations. He arrived  a couple of hours later, in time to buy dinner.

The next day, Monday, October 9th, Jeff and I had a great time taking Bruce on a familiarization cruise in Johor Straits. He was a quick study on boat handling, but was drinking from a fire hose when it came to learning the various systems aboard. Bruce had to leave that evening, but Jeff and I had both booked our returned flights on Wednesday. We spent our time writing operating procedures for Bruce when he came back to take Arcadia I to her new home.


So, he bittersweet moment that we've always known must come has arrived. This passage, from Palau to Singapore, will be the last one I''ll take aboard Arcadia I, at least the last one as her owner. We've treasured the opportunity to share our experience aboard with so many good friends and our family.

We've all loved this stout little ship that carried us in such comfort and safety on so many adventures. We know that she is ready to carry her new owner, Bruce Harris, on many more. We hope he enjoys her as much as we did.

After we left Singapore, the transaction completed without a hitch. Before the end of October Bruce and his crew arrived in Singapore for the passage to Arcadia I's new home port. They reportedly had a fine passage and look none the worse for wear after they got there. That's Bruce on the right.

Here she is in her new home port, Langkawi, Malaysia.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ensenada to Palau May to July 2011

To recap the period since the last update: 

We completed our passage from Ensenada to Palau without any significant problems with the boat and with no particularly daunting winds or seas. We made three stops, at Honolulu, Majuro and Pohnpei before reaching Palau. We didn't find the hoped-for steady "trade wind" conditions until we were almost to the Marshall Islands. However, after the first two days, the wind and seas were almost always abeam or  abaft it. Seas were pretty "lumpy" and confused for the first two days from Mexico and again for the first couple of days after Hawaii. However, they didn't exceed 6 ft, or so, for any appreciable length of time over the whole passage.

A trans-Pacific passage is a significant project for any mariner. We all know that even with a really seaworthy vessel and the most meticulous preparation and planning, God, and the fearsome forces of His creation, sometimes challenges seamanship. I'd like to believe, and certainly hope, that I'm prepared to meet such challenges when they arise. However, I feel mightily blessed to have faced no such conditions on this whole passage. For all of you that have supported me with your prayers, I thank you!

Ensenada to Hawaii

We completed the formalities to clear the port in Ensenda mid-day on the 4th of May. After refueling and clearing our account at Marina Coral, Dean Philpott and I got underway for Honolulu by 19:30. By 21:30 we had cleared Todos Santos Island and were on a rhumb line course for Diamond Head. We never had any reason to change that course until we got there, 2,300 miles and 15 days later.

By starting from Ensenada, we were far enough South to avoid most of the effects of the gale force conditions that prevailed at Pt. Conception that day. Nonetheless, things were a bit "lumpy" for the first couple of days. The hoped for Northeasterly trade winds, that can provide a nice 15 kt wind and current on the starboard quarter on this trip, never materialized. The wind and seas stayed pretty much on our starboard beam the whole way.

As you might expect, we didn't take a lot of pictures of the scenery. After the first 24 hours, we never even saw another vessel until we were within a day of Oahu. The sunrises and sunsets were often spectactular, though.

During most days, we trolled fishing gear. Every few days, we'd be rewarded with some fresh fish. Here's a wallet-size mahi mahi that Dean caught. It was devoured almost before it stopped wiggling. Yum!.

Before this trip, I'd only seen pictures of short-billed spearfish on posters showing billfish in fishing tackle stores. Here's one in the flesh. We normally release any billfish we catch, but his one was too badly injured to survive, so we vacuum packed and froze it. I've eaten marlin and haven't been impressed. However, this spearfish was delicious. The taste and texture reminded me of Wahoo. (Lest you think it really is a wahoo, this fish had a mouth like a marlin. . . no teeth.)

It doesn't take much to entertain me on a long voyage. Here I am roasting coffee from green beans during a calm period. Dean didn't care much for the result. I guess there's no accounting for some people's taste, (nor smell, for that matter.)

Waikiki was, of course, a welcome sight. We rounded Diamond head just after sunrise May 19th.

We started calling for a slip as soon as we had cell coverage but were unable to reach some of the more promising marinas. We decided to pull into Ala Wai fuel dock, more in hope of advice than from a dedsire to immediately fuel up. As we pulled into Ala Wai boat basin, the boat on the first dock in front of us was Shaka, a Nordhavn 57 owned by our friends Johann and LaurieRegular followers of this blog may remember that we cruised down the Inside Passage with them last summer. Small world!

We took a chance that the Waikiki Yacht club would forgive the transgression and tied up to an open spot on the end tie directly behind Shaka and went to the office. They not only forgave us, they let us stay. Great location! Right across the street from Ala Moana shopping center and adjacent to Waikiki beach.

Because our last port of call was Mexico, we called Homeland Security. They had an inspection team aboard within a couple of hours and we were officially back in the country. This leg of the trip was finally over!
Hawaii to Majuro

The day afer our arrival in Honolulu, Phyl flew over from home. We'd each been on Oahu in the late '60s, but hadn't had an opportunity to play tourist there since. We spent the short time we had on a a driving tour of the island, revisiting old haunts, enjoying sights we'd enjoyed so long ago.

Scott Johnston joined us as Phyl left for the mainland. For a couple of days, Scott, Dean and I mixed sightseeing with peparations for the next leg.

Early on the 26th we moved over to a dock in the Kewalo basin where we met a truckload of fuel I'd bought the day before, (a lot cheaper than buying from the fuel dock). We took on 867 gallons to bring our total onboard fuel inventory up to a total of 1100 gallons in preparation for our passage to Majuro.

By the way, data gained on this trip indicate that the recoverable fuel capacity of the permanent tanks is actually 940 gallons, a greater value than I reported in my last posting.

After moving back to our slip, we completed formalities to clear the USA, (necessary get our "Zarpe" required for entry into the Marshall Islands), and picked up the last of our provisions in preparation of departure that evening. Shaka  and her crew, shown below with Laurie who'll join them there, left that evening for Tahiti, a few hours ahead of us.

Dean took the car to the airport and flew off to his daughter's high school graduation. Scott Johnston and I cleared our account at the Waikiki Yacht Club, with heartfelt thanks for their hospitality, and got underway by 20:30 on Thursday the 26th of May.

Only a small deviation in the straight rhumb line course to Majuro was necessary to avoid passing closer to Johnston Atoll than is allowed. We didn't have any interest in landing there, anyway. This particular atoll was an air base during WWII and later. It is now a "wildlife refuge", although it is better known as the place that the USA destroyed it's chemical and biologicial weapons inventory.

Things got a bit lumpy almost as soon as we heft Honolulu. The seas weren't particulary high, just confused enough to keep us in constant, irregular, motion. This condition lasted until we were well West of the whole island chain. After that, we kept the paravane stabilizers stowed nearly all the daylight hours. At night, without the horizon to provide a reference to the eyes, any rolling motion seems to be amplified. Most of the way on this leg, we put the paravanes in the water during the night.

Fishing was spotty, we'd go a couple of days without a hit, then we'd get several. Scott did all the catching, and cooking. I just cleaned it and help eat it.

Scott actually caught quite a few fish on this passage, including a couple of striped marlins, another spearfish, and a respectable black marlin that I estimated to be in the 300 lb range, all of which we released.

If you're wondering why there are no more pictures of these fish, please imagine how it is with only two of us aboard. With  him on the rod and me managing the boat to keep him from either getting spooled or tangled in the paravane rigging. Then, when he finally gets the fish alongside, he's still got to hold the rod tip up, while I'm wrestling with the fish to get the hooks out and complete the release. There just aren't enough hands free to take pictures. Here's a wahoo he caught, though. We ate it promptly.

We arrived at the entrance to the Majuro reef passage at daybreak on Friday June 10th. After 10 days without seeing a single boat or ship, we were pleased to see a very large long range purse seiner going across the reef just ahead of us.

As we approached the port, we called for the Port Captain on the VHF radio. As one of the cruiser's guidebooks had led us to expect, no one answered. We picked an empty mooring ball  next to several good-sized private boats and tied up.

One  of the founders of the local yacht club, a group of cruisers that apparently stopped here several years ago and just never left, came alongside in his dinghy. He gave is a lot of good information about how to complete the entry formalities. He also told us where to get fuel and the location of moorings inside the reef but at other islands more scenic than here.

Three taxi rides later, we were cleared into the port, encountering only very pleasant people at each of the agencies we had to check in with.

Majuro atoll isn't exactly a scenic tourist destination. The harbor is filled with Chinese factory ships and very large long range tuna trawlers. The shoreline near the anchorage is littered with derelict vessels in some state of scrapping.

The crowded town consists of one main road that crosses and connects three islands. There are a few places where islands widen out enough to accomodate parallel roads, filled with a third-world mix of houses. However, such a description doesn't do justice to all the very nice people we met This the commercial center for this part of the Pacific. As a practical matter, we found everything we needed while we were there.

On Friday night, we moved Arcadia I to an anchorage a few miles away at another island around the reef, Enemanet. The moorings were apparently installed by the Yacht Club with funds provided by some sort of US Government grant. Ashore was a very nice little beach park that local folks reach by water taxi. To make it even more interesting, for divers at least, there is a small ship, an airplane and a helicopter that have been sunk in the mooring area. Scott found them all as he snorkeled over to the beach to check out the local talent.

Scott Patulski arrived late Sunday night, rounding out the crew for the trip to Pohnpei.

On Monday, after checking two other sources, we found a fuel broker that would deliver a truckload of fuel to the commercial dock for $4.77/gal. At the appointed 4 pm, we tied up to the dock, paid our $4.00 bunkering fee to the Port Authority and started fueling through an enormous nozzle, the only one they had. It tooks us nearly 4 hours, using only gravity, to trickle about 700 gallons of fuel into our tanks. I say about because we actually topped all the tanks before we'd  emptied the truck and the truck didn't have a meter, (nor any intent to refund the value of the fuel we didn't take).

Majuro to Pohnpei

The next day, we picked up some last minute provisions and cleared out of the port, 4 taxi rides this time. We got underway about 16:00, Tuesday the 14th of June, but a sudden, fierce, afternoon squall kicked up inside the reef as we started toward the passage out. We didn't want to navigate through the reef in gale force wind and blinding rain, so we decided to stop again at the Enemanet mooring, where we had spent the previous weekend, and wait out the blow. By the time we got tied up and made dinner, the weather had abated and we decided to go for it.

The passage through the reef was a bit like a Cecil B DeMille rendition of the parting of the seas, with breakers on either side of us as we passed through. We didn't want to have the paravanes out as we crossed the reef, so we negotiated it taking 30º rolls until we were well clear of the reef. Even after we passed through, it remained pretty lumpy while we ran alongside of the reef for several miles until we'd cleared the northernmost islands of the atoll, About half way along, there was a wreck visible on the reef. That skipper obviously thought these islands were not part of the Majuro atoll. He made his turn too early and ran up on the reef he'd just passed through, an altogether too easy mistake to make.

Once we cleared the Majuro atoll, the trip to Pohnpei, about 780 nm, was essentially uneventful, with generally improving weather and sea conditions. We kept the paravanes in the water during the whole passage in consideration of Scott Patulski's recently installed artificial knee. Since the wind was astern and only 8-10 kts, we had too little apparent wind to provide enough ventilation for comfort, so we ran the generator most of the time, as well.

We made landfall at Pohnpei on the morning of June 20th. Passage through the reef was uneventful. We tried to raise the Port Captain, but got no answer. Thinking this would be like Majuro, we started to head for the yacht anchorage when we were hailed by the Port Authorities and directed to tie alongside the government dock. That was about 07:00.

Customs represntatives came aboard shortly and were miffed that we hadn't obtained advance clearance. I showed them the print I'd made of the FSM website, that said we could either do it in advance or apply immediately upon arrival. They acknowledged that it could be done that way, but that "it would take time". It did! Immigration, Port Police and Health officials came and went before noon, but at 15:00 Customs still hadn't reappeared. Scott Johnston, used one of the Police phones to call to remind them we were still awaiting their clearance. We finally cleared the government dock at 16:00 and moved to the yacht anchorage area.

On the way in, it had became apparent to us that the passage from the government dock to the anchorage was, to say the least, tricky. (I had actually contacted a coral head with Arcadia I's keel, albeit lightly, just before we turned back to the government dock).

During our long wait, one of the local yachtsmen pulled alongside with a Marshallese that he introduced simply as "Robinson", who offered to guide us to the moorings when we got our clearance. I don't know what Robinson's cue was, but he magically appeared in his dingly at exactly the right time and we followed him to a mooring float. For the rest of our stay, whenever we needed Robinson, he simply appeared.

Pohnpei is a lush and scenic tropical island, the largest in the Federated States of Micronesia. The first evening, we took a quick taxi tour around the town of Kolonia and had a nice shore dinner in a restaurant with a marvelous view. The nest morning, we rented a car. With Robinson as tour guide, we went to all the places that tourists go, (not many of which were in evidence, by the way).

The most memorable sight was the ruins of the ancient city of Nan Madol. It's one of those mysteries of the islands that has largely defied explanation. I could fill this blog sheet with what I've read about it, but you can read for yourself by googling "Nan Madol". The most succinct description I found is on Wikipedia at We got there by driving half way around the island, paying $3 dollars apiece at the local chief's house, driving another mile or so, paying another $3 apiece at a private home, then walking about a mile on a rustic trail back through the mangroves. After paying the last tariff, we had the place completely to ourselves. That's Robinson and me, after wading across one of the many shallow channels within the sizeable complex that make up the ruins of  a once sizeable city.

Nan Madol's structures were built from the large hexagonal basalt stones behind Scott J and I. They obviously didn't come from anywhere close this location. We did see some "Devil's Tower" type geological features on the island that could have been their source, but they were a long way off, across pretty forbidding terrain. Local legend has it that they were "flown" here from someplace else on the island by magic. Science and archaeology reportedly haven't provided any better explanation.

Pohnpei was a brief stop for us. Scott Patulski is flying from Pohnpei to meet his wife, Kristine. The two of them are going to rendezvous and meet us in Palau with Phyllis on the 1st of July.

While were clearing in, we'd made an appointment for outward clearance for Scott Johnston and I to take the boat onward to Palau.
At 12:30 on June 21st,  the appointed time, we pulled up at the government dock. Before I could get back from the Port Captain's office, the Customs inspector was aboard. Immigration came aboard after only a short delay to stamp our passports. We were clear and underway by 16:30.

The leg from Pohnpei to Palau was completed under almost ideal conditions. We never once put the paravanes in the water, as the little bit of swell was from astern. We wanted to arrive the morning of July 1, and we left Pohnpei with 867 gallons of fuel, so we kept our speed up to about 7 kts. We did have to run the generator much of the time, as there was seldom enough apparent wind to ventilate the boat enough for comfortable  sleep.

Scott did keep us in fresh fish most of the way. Here's one of several wahoo that he caught.

As you can see, we also were treated to some glorious sunsets.

We made landfall at Palau at daylight on July 1st, completing the 1400 nm crossing in 9 very pleasant days. We were just off the government dock when we were hailed by Chippper Tellei, NECO Marine's Manager, who had all the arrangments made for entry formalities into Palau.

When the formalities were completed, we moved the short distance over to the NECO Marina and our dock there. On arrivall there, we had an opportunity to share some time with my friend Shallum Etpison before he left, that night, for a month-long family vacation. Followers of the blog may remember that I was a member of the crew that brought his Grand Banks Europa, Mandy, from Singapore to here about a year ago. It was my exposure to his extraordinary hospitality, and the wonders of Palau on that trip, that led to it being the destination for this transoceanic adventure on Arcadia I.

Phyllis, along with Scott and Kris Patulski arrived the same day we did. Scott Johnston kept his residence on the boat for the next 10 days. The Patulskis and Phyl and I moved ashore into resort accomodations for the next week During the first week, we simply played tourist in this lovely archipelago. We made several delightful snorkel and surface sightseeing trips on NECOs boats. This picture is taken at the "Milky Way". It's sort of a rite of passage for tourists to stop here, cover themselves with white diatoms off the bottom and have a group picture taken, looking like ghosts. I think it serves the same purpose as donning silly hats for a New Year's Eve party.

 The undewater scenery is truly extraordinary here, but if you google "Dive Palau" and select "Images", you can see a ton of pictures taken by far better-equipped and more talented underwater photographers than we are. What we can tell you is that you have to really go there to believe it.

For me, the most memorable, and sobering, excursion was to the Peliliu battlfield. This was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. Peleliu island is about only about 14 square miles of terrain; during the three months of fighting, the casualty rate worked out at just under 1,000 men killed per square mile of island. Close to 1,800 American servicemen died; of the 11,000 Japanese soldiers defending the island, only 202 were captured alive. The recent HBO miniseries The Pacific gives a fascinating and realistic depiction of how it was, from the perspective of a marine private named Eugene Sledge.

After a wonderful two week vacation in Palau I flew home with Phyllis for some much needed time with family and our businesses.

The next adventure is not far off, though.  As I write this, I've been home for a while, gathering charts and parts for the next adventure. My friend and long-time business associate, David Tees, has agreed to share his extensive sailing experience and join me on the passage from Palau to Noumea, with intermediate stops in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. I plan to leave here on the 28th of August. David will join me a week later and we'll set off. Good wishes and prayers are always appreicated.


For those off  you that might want to know about fuel consumption and other mundane details of the passaget:
  • We had the paravane stabilizers in the water:
    • about 2/3 of the time between Mexico and Majuro and;
    •  all of the time between Majuro and Pohnpei;
    • not at all after Pohnpei
  • We ran the generator to only to cool off the boat when it rained and we had to close up the deck hatches and doors, or, if the "apparent" wind was too light to provide good enough ventilation for comfortable sleep even with them open. We made water and did the laundry when the generator was running for air conditioning. We didn't keep a good log of generator hours from the start or while in port, but the total "underway" generator run time for the whole passage was about 200 hours. We approximate our average generator fuel consumption at 1/2 gallon/hour.
  • We refueled twice, once in Hawaii and again in Majuro. We reached every port with substantially more fuel than the deck fuel tanks held when filled. Thus, the passage could have been accomplished without them. However: they didn't cause any noticeable change in vessel stability; they didn't cost very much to install; and they provided the option to make a weather-related detour if it had been necessary. I'm glad we had them.
  • The distance travelled was 5,156 nm (Great circle course distance, although we navigated by rhumb line.
  • Our average speed over the bottom was 6.04 kts.
  • We burned a total of 1,791 gallons of fuel for an average fuel consumption of 2.88 nm/gallon.
Some have asked, "why a rhumb lines and not a great circle courses"? The simple answer is that there isn't much difference between the two when travelling on a predominately easterly or westerly course. Without getting into the spherical geometry of the question, suffice it to say that the mileage saved by a great circle route is caused by the convergence of longitude meridians as latitude changes. There is significant value in navigating a great circle route between, say, Dutch Harbor and Hawaii because there is a large N-S component of the course. However, between Ensenada and Honolulu the course is so nearly due West that the difference between a rhumb line and great circle is only a few nautical miles. Between each of the other ports of call, the difference in latitude was even less significant.

Since we've had Arcadia I we've experienced more than a few malfunctions with chartplotters and autopilots. I like to have both my chartplotters to be set on exactly the same course, with the inactive chartplotter "shadowing" the active one exactly with only a few feet of cross track error difference between them.. This allows the helmsan to instantly switch control of the autopilot to the standby chartplotter, without a "bump" in course, if the active one misbehaved.  Since each of the chartplotters calculates the intermediate way points on a great circle route slightly differently, the cross track error between the two chartplotter courses on a great circle route is too great to allow this. Lest I be beset upon by a blizzard of emails or comments about this, let me tell you that I do know how to accomplish the same thing by several other means. This was the simplest approach.