Over this past winter and into late spring we've had several projects underway. The thing about boat projects is that nothing ever happens fast. The actual work may take 2-3 days, but the amount of "down time" will often stretch into weeks! And if a haul-out is required and skilled marine technicians for the job...well, good luck even finding a yard that can fit you in. After talking to various boatyards in our region and being turned away time and again, I have finally found a small, independent yard that manages to squeeze me in from time to time. (I'm not eager to share, but if you're seriously in need of a boatyard with expertise in hydraulics, fiberglass and mechanical, drop me an email.)
So what's on the list of repairs and upgrades for the Kika? Last year we installed a Bayview articulating rudder to improve close quarters maneuvering. The new rudder works great, but a side effect is that these modified rudders create extra torque on the steering system, making for a steering wheel that feels "heavy". So this February, we swapped out the original factory cylinder and replaced it with a larger diameter ram to help lighten the otherwise "heavy" feel at the helm. It helped a little, but not much. Probably next winter we'll install a 12VDC power-assisted pump to convert the manual hydraulic steering into a kind of power steering system. At the same time we pulled the helm pump after finding hydraulic fluid seeping and sent it off to Seatech Marine in San Diego to be rebuilt.
Other projects include; a built-in bench to replace the "Ma" and "Pa" recliners that came with the boat. We did try several easy chairs from high end furniture stores, but none looked right in our boat. For us, the solution was to find someone to build a custom piece that matched the existing woodcraft. It took a while, but I finally a found a local cabinet shop who was willing to do the work. December and January were slow months for them so they agreed to take it on. This project longer than expected, but we’re delighted with the outcome.
The photos above are components of our new water maker. In the classified section of TrawlerForum I found a nearly new Cruise RO 40 gph system for sale near our home on Whidbey Island, so after meeting the seller and checking for damage, we pulled it from his boat and hauled the parts to my boat a few miles up the road. Everything is going in nicely and hopefully it will be commissioned in the coming week. The water maker will get plenty of use this summer while cruising the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, and certainly during our planned Alaska trip in 2020.
Finally, a last minute upgrade for MV Kika is this stainless steel davit for carrying our dinghy. Made to order for us by Tanner Manufacturing in Bellingham, it was priced at half that of similar units and they delivered it to the boatyard in just three weeks time. For the observant eye, you may have noticed that the davit is offset to port by six inches or so. We did this intentionally because by offsetting it we found that we could retain access to the transom boarding gate, even when the dinghy is hanging in place. These photos show the crew measuring and fitting the davit, followed by thru-bolting the lower brackets to the swim platform, then wiring in the Warn winch with 100 amp breaker. The winch came with a wireless remote and we added a fixed toggle switch that lifts and lowers the davit. When underway, the davit and dinghy get secured to pad-eyes mounted to the transom, each with a large backing plate. The winch cable is attached to the center pad-eye and two adjustable turnbuckles secure both davit and dinghy to the transom.
Lucky me! When my friend RP invited me to join him for a week of cruising near La Paz, Mexico, I jumped at the opportunity. A few years earlier I helped deliver his boat, a 40 foot Willard trawler, from Port Angeles, WA to San Francisco. That was a 5-day/night offshore trip down the west coast in windy conditions. So, what a delight to spend a week in the sun, while at home temperatures plunged into the 20's and snow blanketed on our island homestead.
Getting to the boat was a journey in itself -- waking at 3:30AM to catch the shuttle to the airport, then taking two separate Alaska Air flights to reach Los Cabos International airport. From there it was a 3-hour bus ride from Cabo on the Pacific side, across the rugged Sierra de la Laguna mountains to the port city of La Paz on the Gulf side, where I caught a taxi from the bus depot to the marina, finally arriving to the boat at 9PM -- in all, it was a 17-hour travel day!
October through April are the primo months for cruising this area; daytime temperatures are in the 70's and low 80's, then cool to the mid-060's at night. Prevailing winds are from the NW, but occasional southerlies and an unpredictable breeze called El Coromuel can create confusing seas on the Gulf and rolly anchorages along Baja's eastern shore. These so-called Coromuels, which originate 200 miles away on the Mexican mainland, can make anchoring a challenge; if you choose a cozy bay with protection from the prevailing WNW winds, you're leaving yourself exposed to the Coromuel when it blows into open west facing bays. During our week on the water we had only one bad night, when a playful breeze danced into our anchorage at O Dark Thirty and kept us rolling in our bunks until sun rise. Fortunately, MV Lilliana is equipped with a large Rocna anchor and all-chain rode, which kept us securely dug into the bay's sandy bottom. After a sleepless night, we finally caught some shut eye when the breeze died out with the new day.
On May 18, 2018 we were blessed with this little bundle of joy named August McCoy. Our 4th grand child born to mom, Lauren and our son, Evan. They will be awesome parents. Life is full of ups and downs, and soon after little "Augie" brought joy into our world, we learned that I had a medical problem that required immediate attention -- doctors found a small tumor in my right tonsil, requiring a tonsillectomy (ouch!); followed by a seven week regimen of radiation treatments to destroy cancer cells remaining after the surgery. This was not good news for summer boating, but there was no arguing that my health had to come first. Fortunately, I was able to line up a couple of month-long charters with experienced skippers, both of whom had chartered our boats in the past. So while the Kika was away having fun on the Salish Sea, I was figuratively "dry docked" for all the summer. Finally, in early October, one month after the last treatment and following a head-to-toe PET scan, doctors declared me to be 100% cancer free! Though I was (and still am) experiencing unpleasant side effects, it was agreed that I was "good enough" to go boating again.
So off we went! It was typical fall weather for the PNW, sunny with blustery afternoon winds and cool evenings. Still, we were happy as clams to get away. Instead of our usual northbound route to the San Juans and Gulf Islands of nearby British Columbia, we opted to play it safe and make it a "staycation" cruise to destinations in and around the South Sound. After departing Anacortes, WA, we spent our first night at the Edmunds city marina, where I had my first taste of restaurant food after months of mostly protein shakes. After a celebratory toast, the Caption n' Cook were a happy crew!
Our next stop was Bell Harbor Marina on Elliott Bay, situated at the foot of downtown Seattle. The weather was perfect -- sunny and warm during our four night stay, ideal for exploring the historic Pike Place Market and to do shopping for some new clothes since I'd shed 20 pounds.
After our shopping spree and dinner on board with old friends, it was time to move on into the south sound. By then the weather had changed; instead of sun and clear skies, we ran into lingering fog and much cooler weather. But it was comfy and warm on the good ship Kika.
...into which you pour money." Well, I won't argue that one because the hole I'm looking through here is the opening in Kika's hull where a new hydraulic stabilizer system will get installed. The decision to add roll stabilizers to our Selene was a big one for us. The cost is considerable, but the Admirals take on this big expenditure is that by adding stabilizers, we'll be increasing the value of our boat, while enjoying added comfort and safety on the water. So, better to spend the money now instead of two or three years down the road.
But before getting started on this project, the yard (Latitude Marine Services, La Conner) had to first remove the rolling chocks that had been amended to the hull by Delta Marine for the previous owner. The purpose the chokes or "bilge keels" as sometimes called, is to reduce roll in a beam sea by breaking the harmonic cycle of recurring waves and ocean swells. Rolling chokes can help reduce the roll but are no match for computer controlled active fin stabilizers.
Here, work has started on opening the hull for the stabilizer shafts to pass through from inside the engine room. A custom mold was made to create a solid 3-inch thick fiberglass "pad" unto which the Keypower stabilizer components will be fitted and bolted down. (http://www.kobelt.com/products/keypower). Additionally, these pads provide torsional reinforcement to the hull by reducing flex and absorbing new stresses on the hull being created by the large 7.5 square foot fins as they move in a seaway. Lou, the yard's fiberglass man will attach the pads to the interior hull by using new-age aircraft adhesive, then the mechanics will bolt together (like a sandwich) the stainless steel collars. The idea is for the Keypower dual-cylinder actuators to "float" on these collars while the fiberglass pads absorb the forces the forces produced by the fins.
Below are pictures of the main components of the Keypower-Kobelt stabilizer system; they include: hydraulic pump (here, mounted to our vessel's Twin Disk gear), control valves, hydraulic fluid reservoir tank, starboard and portside actuators, and the large heat exchanger that will cool the hydraulic fluid as it's pumped through the system. Two key components missing here is the digital control box (the stabilizer's brain) and a remote panel that will be mounted above the helm station in the pilothouse.
Pictured below, is one of the two large 7.5 sf. stabilizer fins that will rotate to commands processed in the digital controller. The controller anticipates how the boat will react to sea conditions and signals the actuators to rotate the fins in response to the ever changing sea state, creating positive and negative pressure around the fins that provide lift to counteract opposing forces while underway.
As if this project wasn't enough of a challenge, we decided to take advantage of the estimated 4-6-week haul-out to replace the original rudder with a specially fabricated articulating rudder. On our previous boat we had one of these amazing rudders, so it was an easy decision to have BEI build one for the Selene too. These rudders enable the skipper of a single engine trawler to perform close-quarters maneuvers that would be near impossible to make with a traditional rudder. By "thrusting" prop wash against the articulating flap on trailing edge of the rudder, it is possible to turn the boat in it's own length by pivoting the vessel off the stern without actually making way. Seeing is believing!
Soon after Kika was "splashed" we went for a short sea trial to make sure the new equipment was operating as expected. Thankfully, all the hydraulics associated with the Keypower roll stabilizer system did their job, and we had no leaking hoses! There wasn't much wind during our sea trail so hard to say how effective the stabilizers are, but we'll know soon enough. Unfortunately, the new rudder did have problems -- though maneuvering in our tight marina was greatly enhanced, the negative effect was a very "heavy" (hard to turn) wheel when turning hard to port or starboard at cruising speed. One solution is to add a power-assist pump to the hydraulic steering system, but that will require time and study to get right. The simple solution is to adjust the articulating wing on the rudder, reducing torque on the steering wheel by moving the pivot pin from position #2 to a less forceful, position #1. Oh! and our shipwright, Jake, made these nifty "line cutters" that he attached to the hull (picture bottom right). Their purpose is to protect the stabilizer fins and shafts from stray nets or rope that could catch on them.
Because we live on an island in the rainy Pacific Northwest, we've taken to traveling south for the winter, and sometimes not returning to the homestead until April, just in time to begin spring commissioning for the summer boating season. In past years we traveled in a small diesel motorhome, criss-crossing the USA, traversing the Baja Peninsula and the Sea of Cortez...and always stopping for weeks (or months!) along the California Central Coast. But when we bought the new boat, we decided to sell the motorhome, so this winter we rented a condo by the beach in the seaside village of Carpinteria, located ten miles south of Santa Barbara...and just a mile from Montecito. Yes, THAT Montecito, where on January 9 mud slides destroyed homes and took the lives of 20 residents.
Early that evening it started to rain hard, a real down pour; then in the middle of the night we were startled awake when our phones blared alerts warning of flooded roads and rivers. We went back to sleep and didn't learn about the horrific consequences until later that morning. By then the CHP had closed the coast highway. With all the ramps in or out of town closed off, we were totally stranded for the duration.
As someone who was born and lived much of his life in Southern California, the mudslides came as no surprise. Just weeks before, vast wild fires swept this region, leaving bare hillsides and burnt out neighborhoods. In this part of the state, if there are big fires, for certain there will be mud and debris flows when the rains come. It's the natural cycle --
I took these pictures in the days following the slides...woody debris from the fires washed down the mountains into the rivers and valleys, which soon overflowed their banks and flooded through the hillside neighborhoods of Montecito. Houses where swept off foundations, along with cars and everything else all the way out to sea where ocean tides and crashing waves dumped it all back onto the beach.
Being stranded in town for a week was one thing, but when the caravan of trucks and bulldozers rumbled into our quiet neighborhood and lined up to dump the tons of mud being scrapped off the roads and dug from clogged rivers...it became clear that the all the dirt, dust and noise was just beginning. As (bad) luck would have it, our patio was located right next to the county's staging area for all this work. So much for our winter getaway!
But wait! There's more to this sad story of disaster! Going back to December 17, when we left our island property, we stopped for the night in Tacoma to visit our son and daughter-in-law before continuing south. After a nice pre-Christmas dinner out we checked into a swanky downtown hotel. (Such sexy lighting!)
Early the next morning we packed up and departed Tacoma, taking I-5 South--our route to the Bay Area where we'd spend Christmas with the grandkids. But soon after getting on the freeway, traffic began slowing, then finally came to a complete stop. We could hear sirens in the distance but no signs of trouble ahead. We followed the cars in front as everyone worked their way to the nearest off-ramp. As we were exiting, Gwen gets a text message from friends in British Columba, asking if we're OK? Yes, of course we replied. Then Craig tells us that an Amtrack passenger train has just derailed and landed on the freeway! (Craig and Jan saw the news alert on Canadian TV and knew we were driving south on I-5.)
This tragedy occurred on the first day of our anticipated winter vacation...and just twenty minutes before we ourselves would have driven below the freeway overpass where the train hurled off it's tracks at a speed of 80 MPH. The detour that followed would take us nine-hours to cover a distance of 13 miles before getting back on the freeway! Considering the calamities to come in California, do you think we should have just stayed home?
It's been eight months since we purchased our new trawler, and if you've read any of my earlier posts, you know that we've invested a lot of labor and expense correcting deferred maintenance and upgrading and adding new equipment. Now with all that work done, we should be "good to go"!
Our route for this 6-week trip will take us to mostly familiar destinations -- we want to use all of Kika's systems in cruising mode and hopefully not end up with too much of a "re-do" list. The route we took began with customs check-in at Bedwell Harbour, then on to Saltspring Island were we anchored in Ganges Harbour. Unfortunately, later that night we experienced high-winds requiring an anchor watch. Thankfully the ground tackle earned it's keep and held us in place. Check!
August 26 - Departing Ganges, our next stop was supposed to be the port city of Nanaimo, but we missed slack water at Dodd Narrows and so had to squeeze into Pirates Cove for the night. The next morning, with the wind still up, we went on to Nanaimo where we tied up for a few days waiting for the Straits to settle down. When the wind dropped to 15 knots, we crossed over to Egmont in Jervis Inlet; there, we rendezvoused with Michael on MV Candor, a Willard 40 like our previous trawler called Northstar. The BC fires were still burning and darkening the sky with smoke and ashes, so rather than continue on to Princess Louisa, we stayed over in Egmont and hiked the trail out to see the notorious Skookumchuck Rapids, famous for treacherous whirlpools and overfalls six-feet deep and where tidal currents can run to 13 knots!
September 4-8 | After our visit with Michael, we departed Egmont traveling in opposite directions...Michael going south to his homeport on Bainbridge Island, and us, northward to Desolation Sound. Again we ran into high winds along the Malaspina Strait and decided to duck into Powell River were we found moorage at Westview Marina. The next day we had lunch at a favorite restaurant, Costa del Sol (costadelsollatincuisine.com). With high-wind warnings still in effect along the straits, the transient docks soon filled up with cruisers coming in to wait out the weather. After three days tied to the dock, we finally departed and turned northward for Desolation Sound. Hopefully we'll find better weather and a place to anchor in the popular Prideaux Haven Marine Park.
September 8-14 | Lucky us! Upon arriving at marine park and navigating the narrow entrance into the bay we found a great spot to drop the anchor. From the pilothouse we had a picture perfect view of the coast mountain range to the east and the parade of boats arriving and departing through the bay's skinny entrance. But best of all, the weather was near perfect -- warm and sunny afternoons with a light afternoon breeze -- and dead calm overnight. We slept like angels!
Ever changing weather is a primary consideration when making decision about when and where to go next. Sure, you can choose to ignore a forecast and take your chances, but after 25 years of boating in the PNW we know our comfort zone; as a general rule, if the wind is at 15 knots or less we'll go. Wind at 15 and rising, we stay. Over the years we've owned four very different vessels; starting with a classic 1941 Monk cruiser, a diesel houseboat, a full displacement Willard trawler, and now this 66,000 lb Selene. Yet this simple rule has worked equally well when operating each of these very different vessels. In addition to the weather, boating in our region is complicated by strong currents and big tidal changes. For example, running south on the Strait of Georgia with wind and current on the stern can be a delight, even with strong wind. But that same trip, with a southerly breeze of only 10 knots blowing against a fast moving current in the opposite direction, can make for one miserable ride!
September 14-16 | Pender Harbour - is a favorite stop-over for us. Located on B.C's Sunshine Coast, the village of Pender Harbour is a popular vacation place for mainland visitors and a busy departure point for vessels crossing the Strait of Georgia. If space allows, we'll tie up on the government dock; if not, then we're happy to anchor off Maderia Park or in nearby Garden Bay. With two grocery stores, a pharmacy, liquor store, a book store, numerous cafes and restaurants in the village, Pender Harbour always makes for a delightful place to visit and stock up on groceries, booze and boat supplies.
In decades past, Pender Harbour was home to commercial fishermen who worked these waters in small trollers fishing for salmon and other local fish. This history is captured in the the book, "Fishing With John" by Edith Iglauer, who came to this remote coastal community from New York as a freelance writer. Iglauer spent more than four years on fisherman John Daly's forty-one foot troller, the FV Morekelp. In time they fell in love, married and lived in Garden Bay until John's death. In matters of love, it's said that opposites attract, but Daly was more than an unschooled fisherman, he was an impassioned fisherman who papered the walls of his wheel house with the words of poets and the great philosophers. After John's sudden death on the dance floor, Edith stayed on in Garden Bay where in 2017 she turned 100 years of age.
Part of Pender Harbour's appeal are the many bays and quiet waterway that make up this historic and picturesque community -- perfect for dinghy rides on warm summer afternoons!
September 16-18 | Ladysmith - We departed Pender Harbour on Saturday, September 16 and crossed the Strait of Georgia on calm seas. Our goal was to make slack water at Dodd Narrows by 1412 hours. This time we sailed on through, no problem. Our next stop was the attractive community of Ladysmith, just 90 minutes beyond Dodd Narrows. We spent a lazy Sunday there and departed Monday morning with a forecast of high wind (again!) for that afternoon. So we hurried on to Saltspring Island and arrived at the Kanaka docks in Ganges just as the afternoon winds picked up. This time, instead of anchoring in the busy harbour, we decided to try our luck on the government docks -- and lucky us (again) we found a primo space on the Kanaka docks, just steps from the village center.
September 18-22 | Salt Spring Island - Ganges is famous for the huge Saturday Outdoor Market where you'll find everything from craft and art works to clothes, musical instruments, tools, flowers, nuts and local entertainers. The market attracts visitors from as far away as Vancouver and Victoria, but on Thursdays, the park is taken over by local growers who bring seasonal organic produce, fruit and home baked pastries and breads. And like the big Saturday Market, this smaller event is also a great place for people watching.
September 22-24 | Roche Harbor Resort is a busy U.S. Customs check-in point for boaters returning home from Canada. Because Gwen and I have Nexus cards, we have the privilege of checking in by cell phone -- so convenient!
Roche Harbor Resort and Marina is a very special place, with it's excellent restaurants and cafes, and where helpful young staff will take your lines at arrival. The resort is home to a wonderful outdoor sculpture garden that's always a delight to walk. No other marina in the PNW can match the "yachty" vibe of RHR, which for us is reminiscent of New England seaside resorts. Each evening at sunset the serene atmosphere is punctuated by a flag ceremony when the U.S. and Canadian flags are lowered by a color guard of young staffers. After the flags are ceremonially folded and put away, a loud cannon salute signals the day's end.
September 22-24 | Rosario Resort - The distance from Roche to our marina in Anacortes is only a 3-4 hour cruise, but since we're in no hurry, we decided to visit Rosario Resort located along Eastsound on Orcas Island. So close to home yet we've never stopped here in the past, so this was our first visit to the recently renovated marina and it's historic hotel. We liked what what we saw and will return again for a "winter getaway".
September 26-October 2 | We waited for the morning fog to lift before departing Rosario for Anacortes. It was a pleasant 2 hour cruise back to our marina, where neither of us was ready to end the trip. So we enjoyed another few days onboard, just hanging out at our marina were we gave Kika a good washing and later dropped off the outboard for serving. This new motor yacht is so comfortable we could easily live on board year round :-))
We're Richard and Gwen (aka, Captain n' Cook), active boaters since moving to Seattle from Los Angeles in the early 90s. In that time we've owned several interesting vessels, but this blog will record our adventures on MV Kika, a Selene 47 Ocean Trawler.