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 We bought one second-hand that was out of date, then had it serviced.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o Servicing the outdated EPIRB, by the manufacturer and acquisition of a new backup PLB.

o Replacing the outdated and, to me user unfriendly, Raymarine chartplotter with the Nobeltec system that worked well for us in the Pacific Northwest on Arcadia I.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