2022-04-29

The Voyage South

We began our adventure travelling south toward are new slip in Kenmore. Our slip became available on May First, so although we could be faster we decided to take advantage of our time. We headed down the west side of Whidbey Island and across the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This area can be extremely rough if the conditions are not good, but on this day, the weather was perfect. The water was glassy. The boat was running well.

The worst seas we saw the entire trip

We pulled into Tyee Yacht Club's virtual outstation at Port Hadlock. It's called a virtual outstation because there are no dedicated docks for the club, but they will do their best to fit you in. We got a slip on their newly refurbished dock. They have done a great job upgrading the docks. New LED lighting, new power stations, and a pump-out at every two slips. Using our club membership, the cost was free!

The next morning we headed down to Tyee West Outstation at Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island. We joined 20 other boats for the 75th anniversary of the club. We rafted to another boat for the night and joined the pot luck that night.

Headed through the small lock

The next morning we headed off toward our dock. We have to come in through the Hiram Chittenden locks into the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Our friends that we were tied to at the outstation were right in front of us. After getting through the locks, we had the privilege of screwing up all of Seattle traffic as we made them open four of the bridges as we move through the canal. On the 22, the only bridge we needed opened was the Fremont bridge, and even then, it's only by inches. With the 320, we need them all open as most have 45 feet of clearance, and our mast is 50 feet with the antenna.

Raising the bridges

We finally got to our dock, only to find it still occupied. We tied up in temporary space and made a few calls to the after hours number for the harbormaster. Some people eventually came out and moved the boat and we could pull into our slip for the next year. The advantage of this slip is that it is five minutes from our house, so coming down and working on the boat is easy and we can go out for evening sales easily.

The weather window was just perfect, which was really good because we were sailing on a schedule. You never want to be sailing on a schedule! The weather sucked before and it sucked after, but we had three days of sunshine and calm seas.

2022-04-24

Dripless Shaft Seal Installation

We began our trip moving the boat from Anacortes to Kenmore. The first step, though, was to take the boat out for some upgrades. We motored from Cap Sante Marina to Skyline Marine Center on the other side of the peninsula. It's only about 4 miles on land, but about 12 nm by sea. It took us about two hours. We backed into a dock using our new docking skills, then got hauled our and placed on the hard at their DYI yard. There, Fathom Marine installed our new dripless shaft seal.

Boats of this generation come with a packing gland. This is the material that keeps water coming into the boat around the propeller shaft where it enters the boat. Except a packing gland has to let some water into the boat, because it also acts as the lubricant, keeping the shaft from overheating. This puts a constant amount of water in the bilge. This means the boat always has moisture in it, which leads to mildew and other problems if not controlled. A dripless shaft seal uses a different mechanism for lubrication, meaning that no water needs to enter the boat from the shaft. They are not terribly expensive, but there is the labor and the boat must be hauled out.


While doing our docking training, we noticed the transmission was having quite a bit of trouble going into gear. Eventually, we discovered that the idle was set too low for our Perkins engine. The correct idle was buried in the Perkins manual. When bumped up to 1000 RPM everything worked just fine. This is faster than most engines, but the transmission just does not work at a slower idle.

Adding our new boat logos

While the boat was hauled out, we took the opportunity to lubricate all of the thru-hole valves. We also removed the remaining boat name, home port, and Washington State ID number. Our boat is Coast Guard Documented now, so should no longer have those numbers on the bow. We then added the new boat name and home port.

The boat was then dropped back in the water. We took advantage of our reciprocal moorage with Flounder Bay Yacht Club to stay there at Skyline for two nights, while we got all our ducks in a row for the voyage south.

2022-04-17

Docking and Maneuvering Training

We decided we needed some additional training on docking. On the 22, docking is not terribly difficult. Greg could stop the boat just by holding the bow pulpit or stanchion. But with the 320, trying to stop a 11,700 pound boat under diesel power just doesn't work the same way.

Shearwater University is a US Sailing instructional group run out of Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. Their slip for Ardenna, their sail boat, was only about 40 feet from our slip. We ran into them several times while doing work on our boat. They do training on your boat, if you like. So we contracted to have Mark go out with us and give us some docking and maneuvering training. The night before, we had them help us get the boat turned around and moved to an easier slip to get into and out of.


The morning of our training we went to Fisheries Supply and West Marine and bought two Shaefer mid rail cleats and two 5/8" 35' docking lines (later adding two more). The mid rail cleats slide onto the 1.25" tracks, which takes no effort at all to install. Although the cleats were expensive, when you factor in time to install permanent cleats, they were cheap.

Shearwater teaches a single line docking technique. It's pretty slick. It's designed for having one pilot and one crew. It needs to be modified a bit for different conditions, depending on the wind direction and whether launching forward or toward the aft, and which side your prop walk takes you. For launching, essentially the scheme is to have the engine push against a single spring line at midship that is looped around the cleat and back to the mid rail cleat. Then all the other lines can be removed. With the wheel turned, that one line will pull the boat into the dock. The mate comes on board. The boat can then be put into neutral, the spring line untied, the boat put into gear, the spring line unlooped from the dock and you are underway.

Coming in, the mate goes onto the dock with the spring line. It is looped around a cleat but not locked. When the boat is at the right place on dock, it is placed into neutral. The spring line is locked. The wheel is turned and placed in gear at idle speed. The boat sucks right into dock and held in place by the single spring line. Now at leisure the entire boat can be made secure with forward and stern lines. Then the engine is shut off.

Docking with these techniques is so much less stressful. We put it to use immediately and with just a little practice it is working very well. There is only one step in docking and launching that has to be timed well, which is getting the spring line on and off the cleat. The rest can be done at leisure. Nobody is jumping on to a boat that is leaving the dock, which is much safer.

2022-04-02

Out for a Test Sail

We took the 320 out for a test sail from Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. The dock we were on is tricky, as it is in a narrow channel that is affected by the tides and there were other boats on the parallel dock. Still, Sandi took her out smoothly. We got her out in the bay. After testing motoring for a bit, we noticed the transmission was not quite reacting the way we'd like, being stiff and not wanting to go into gear. We brought out the jib, and shut the motor off. On the first tack, the jib knocked one of the spreader boots off, which landed on deck. Our rigger had said they were old, but thought they'd last the season. The spreader boot acts as a cap on the end of the spreader that keeps the sail from getting snagged and ripping. It's kind of important to have.

Underway for the first time since the sea trial

We decided not to bring the main out, partly because we had the Dutchman system only partly connected. We still needed the backstay for that, which we had on order. The Dutchman is an interesting alternative to lazy jacks. There is a filament that is threaded through the sail that goes from the bottom to the back stay fastened from a halyard at the top of the mast to the end of the boom. The filament attaches at two places on the backstay. When the sail is dropped, it flakes itself on the filaments. This Dutchman was original to the boat, but the filaments were broken and the backstay was nowhere to be found on the boat. We had taken the sail into Doyle sails in Seattle. They replaced the filaments, as well as adding a second reefing point and replacing the slugs that hold the sail to the mast. Four of the slugs were broken when we bought the boat, but they all needed to be replaced.

After being out for a short time, Sandi expertly piloted her back into our dock.

In the next several days, our rigger, Kent Morrow of North Sound Rigging, went up the mast and replaced all of the spreader boots. He also replaced all of the lifelines that were at end of life.

2022-04-01

Boat Maintenance

We took our Catalina 320, currently named Skål, out for our first time away from the dock since the sea trial. We will get to that in another post, but we've been busy for the last six weeks. We have had engine maintenance, sail maintenance, and other general work to get her ready to go. Our first issue was getting her insured. We went back to BoatUS, who has been our insurance company on Fantasia. They looked at the survey that had been done, picked what seems like an arbitrary four things that had to be fixed before they would insure the boat. Not only did we have to fix them, but we had to have our surveyor come back out and verify they were fixed. So we did.

Out of the things on the survey, they decided that we had to replace the exhaust hose, fix the bilge pump hose, stop a really minor deck leak of the port mid-ship stanchion, and put some chafe guard on some engine water hoses. Other things like a dead carbon monoxide detector didn't matter to them, which I'll come back to in a bit. The exhaust hose was at end of life, but really didn't need replacing before insuring the boat. But fine. We got 20 feet of exhaust hose (we needed maybe 12) and replaced it. We rebedded the stanchion, which was relatively easy except getting access to the nuts inside the boat was tricky. The chafe guard on the hoses took minutes to fix. The bilge pump hose had a minor split that needed repair, which we did. We would have got to all of these, but probably with a different priority if the underwriters hadn't chosen the priority for us. We could have chosen a different insurance company, but we were going to fix them anyway.

The mainsail was missing four of the slugs that hold it to the mast. So we took it in to Doyle Sails and had them fix that, as well as add a second reefing point on the sail. We also had the Dutchman system on the sail repaired as the filaments were broken. The gate that allows you to remove the mailsail from the mast was installed with non-stainless screws, which had rusted and caused their heads to break off. We had to drill them out and re-tap them. Do not use hardware that isn't stainless on a sailboat!

The Perkins M30 engine the boat comes with was running rough, so we had Darrel at Fathom Marine Services do some overdue maintenance. The M30 has a notorious problem that the exhaust elbow part gets clogged with carbonization. Sure enough, it was bad enough that the part had to be scrapped and a new one ordered from England and expedited out. (If you have an M30, get the elbow checked!) We got all the fluids changed, the timing on the engine fixed, and the idle changed, replaced the impeller, etc.

We had Kent from North Sound Rigging come out and do a rigging inspection. He mainly noted that our standing rigging and lifelines are at end of life. You are supposed to replace the standing rigging every ten years, and ours are 28 years old. Still, there was nothing that looked terribly wrong, so we are scheduling that for this fall. The lifelines, though, will get replaced earlier. He also noted that the shroud boots needed replacing, two cam cleats on the traveller was dead (we had already noted that and replaced them with new Harken cleats before he gave us the report), and a few other items. Basically we need standard rigging maintenance, but nothing that said don't sail.

We could have had the rigging inspection required before buying the boat, but we didn't feel that anything he would have to say would change what we decided on the boat, just what items were on the list.

We replaced a bunch of outdated or dead safety stuff on the boat. The flares were from the 1990s. The fire extinguishers were old, too, and certainly don't meet the new Coast Guard specs that come into play this month. We replaced those. We replaced the dead carbon monoxide detector in the salon with a new Kidde smoke and carbon monoxide detector. We added a second one to the aft cabin where there had never been one. We replaced the dead GFCI AC sockets. Why weren't these things weren't important to the underwriters?

We replaced all of the interior incandescent lights with new LED lights that are both brighter and use less battery. We added labels to the electrical panel We added a wire tie to the macerator to make it so it can't be opened in the Salish Sea. We fixed the handle on the head door. We replaced the wing nuts on the battery terminals with regular nuts, and found one of the battery terminals had cracked, so replaced that. We topped off the water in the batteries. We added Froli bed springs to the bed in the aft cabin. We replaced the cover to where the emergency tiller attaches because the handle was broken.

As noted on the survey, the drain on the propane locker was clogged. This is important because it is the exit point from the boat if the propane tank leaks. You don't want propane on a boat because it tends to go boom! Except you need propane on a boat to run the stove. So you isolate it and make sure that any leaks go overboard rather than sinking into the bilge where a spark causes bad things to happen. A clogged hose leaves propane on the boat. We replaced that hose (43" of 1" hose), also finding that there was a screen placed at the end of the hose to keep bugs out that had been completely clogged with debris. We removed that screen.

We have an Ardic diesel heater on the boat. The unit is in the starboard aft lazerette. This pumps out a ton of heat. Unfortunately, there seems to be a leak in the exhaust, because it caused the brand new carbon monoxide detector to go off at 1 a.m. If we hadn't installed that in the aft cabin, it literally could have killed Sandi. We have since added a third carbon monoxide detector in the lazerette next to the heater. If there is one thing the underwriters should have insisted on was new detectors. We haven't fixed the heater yet, but we aren't running it until we do. Since we are at the marina, we are using an electric heater for now.

None of these things are surprising on a boat. Every boat has a list like this, even brand new boats. (We use Microsoft To Do to maintain our lists, which allows modifying them from any device.) We just are doing all of this stuff at once rather than stretching it out. We learned so much doing work on Fantasia, our Catalina 22, that prepared us for taking on this boat.

2022-03-01

History of Our Catalina 320

Catalina Yachts of Woodland Hills California, started building Catalina 320s for the 1993 model year. Through 2008, they build over 1165 of them. In 2008, they discontinued the model and replaced it with the Catalina 315. The Catalina 320 International Organization has a history of the changes over the year and a pretty complete list of current owners with their names and home ports. From various records that came with the boat, in the closing documents, and a few other places, we have been able to find the history of the boat.

Our Catalina 320, hull #87 was built in October of 1993, as a 1994 model year for WeatherMark, Inc. a Catalina dealer in Buford Georgia. The builder's certificate was issued February 8, 1994. It was purchased by a couple on March 15, 1994 and named Rader's Folly II. Unfortunately, the husband of the couple passed away soon after and the boat was put up for sale.

On August 16, 1994, Rear Admiral Ronald P. Morse of the U.S. Navy Dental Corp bought the boat, which closed by September 17th. The boat was renamed Skål, the Scandinavian toast that means "cheers". The Coast Guard records can't do non-standard letters, so they show the name as SKAL. Admiral Morse sailed her on Chesapeake Bay. When Admiral Morse retired from the Navy in 1995, he moved to the Seattle area and had her trucked across the country.

On August 18, 1997, Skål was sold again, but retained the same name, to a couple in Washington State. Then the records get a little less clear. It appears the one of the owners died in February of 2007 and the boat was transfered again to a couple in Friday Harbor. The boat had a title issued by the State of Washington on December 5, 2008.

On January 16, 2022, we took a look at Skål at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. We had actually seen Skål in August when we made our San Juans trip on Fantasia and stopped at Cap Sante. There had been a pending offer from a couple from Hawaii that fell through. After looking at all the systems, we made an offer that evening, which was accepted. The sale closed on February 18, 2022. And that is how we became the fifth owner of Catalina 320 Hull #87.

2022-02-18

New Boat! This site is now the Catalina 320 Yacht's Log

Today, we received title on our new boat.

After 7 years of sailing our beloved Catalina 22', Fantasia, primarily in Lake Washington and Seattle's Puget Sound area, we ventured north to the beautiful San Juan Islands last August for the first time for a weeklong sailing adventure. 'Cruising' like this is a very different experience from our day sails and evening sunset cruises. We decided pretty quickly that although we love our little Catalina 22' swing keel, we really needed a little more cabin space in which to spend days or even weeks anchored out exploring the waters of Puget sound and the greater Salish Sea. The nature of our work has changed, as it has for so many of us, in the past couple of years, and we now work primarily remotely. With this new level of freedom, we began to entertain the idea of working from on board a boat, still in the same general area, but not limited to our home offices. We began thinking about what our next boat would be, and agreed that another Catalina in the 32'-36' range would be a good fit for us and our current needs. We started keeping a watch on the boats coming up for sale in the area and eventually found one that we were both happy with, a 1994 Catalina 320, that we had actually seen last August during our San Juans trip! Originally christened 'Rader's Folly II', she's been known as 'Skål' since Admiral Ronald P. Morse purchased her in Norfolk, VA., in September of 1994. We deliberated, even agonized, over her name quite a bit and ultimately decided that the name 'Skål' wasn't a good fit for us. Her name will be changing once again, but that will be revealed another day.

We are not selling Fantasia, our Catalina 22. We have poured so much time, effort, and money into her that we feel that selling her is just a waste. She can sit on the trailer in the driveway until we find a new home for her, perhaps with one of our young adult kids once they are ready to take her on for creating their own sailing memories.

Purchasing a Catalina 320 was an entirely different experience from purchasing our Catalina 22. With a small trailer sailor, you're likely to purchase with a walk around, a handshake, signing some paperwork and handing over some cash at a dining table. This purchase was much more like a home purchase with seller and buyer's brokers, a formal written offer, sale contingencies, a written offer acceptance, formal inspections (in boat terms, these are the survey, haul out, and sea trial), and an escrow/title company in the middle of it all. If financing your purchase, you'd also have a bank and loan documents wrapped into the process as well. As Skål was moored about a 90 minute drive from us in Anacortes, WA., we met with our buyer's broker to look at another local Catalina 320 which was already under contract, just to be able to sit on board to confirm if the size and layout 'felt' right for us. A couple of days later, we made the drive up to see Skål and spent the next few hours crawling all over her, peeking in every locker and bilge space. Overall, she was in pretty good shape for a 28 year old boat, but had plenty of opportunity for us to make her our own with some TLC and a new list of boat projects. We've joked at times that it's possible we're as addicted to sailboat projects as we are to sailing itself. But I think it's just that we get such a sense of accomplishment and pride in ownership from the maintenance and upgrade projects we take on.

So what's on the agenda for us and the new boat now?

First up we have a few critical maintenance items to take care of. We pulled the main sail off the boat and sent it off to a sail loft to have all the slugs replaced. Four of them, we knew from our initial inspection, were already broken, and the others were likely also brittle and headed towards failure. Best to just have them all done and not have to worry about them. We decided to have a 2nd reef point added to the main and to also have her Dutchman flaking system filaments replaced. This will make dropping the sail much easier to manage for us at a fraction of the cost of adding a new stack pack.

Inside, our surveyor had noticed evidence of a small freshwater deck leak from one of the stanchions. Rebedding that is a priority before it can do any damage to the deck or the interior. Next up, installing some new smoke and CO detectors, fire extinguishers, and replacing a couple of non-working interior lights. We'll also be replacing two aging engine hoses and a leaky bilge hose. The other 50+ items already on our to-do list are relatively minor things like cleaning the Magma grill, updating labels on the electrical panel, replacing wire nuts with proper electical connectors, calibrating the knotmeter (which disagreed with our GPS devices during our sea trial), fixing/replacing a cam cleat, and servicing the winches. We're super excited to be embarking on a new journey with new things to learn.

2021-09-12

Servicing the Arco 6 Winches

Our Catalina 22 came with Arco 6 winches. Once a year your winches should be cleaned and maintained. Our haven't been serviced since we got the boat seven years ago and who knows how long before that, so it was well past time. While ours are Arco 6, the info below applies to virtually any single speed winches, for example Lewmar winches.

Arco 6 Winch

A sailboat winch is actually a relatively simple device. It is essentially a ratcheted drum that only turns clockwise. It provides mechanical advantage when pulling on lines. If more advantage is needed, a winch handle can be attached to the top which makes a bigger lever giving more mechanical advantage.

The winch works by having a cast outer drum that has serrations on the inner side, and an inner main shaft that the upper part turns. Set into the inner main shaft are a set of pawls. The pawls are pivoting metal blocks that are moved by springs. The springs push the pawls into the serrations in the drum. Because the pawls are mounted at an angle, as long at the winch is turned clockwise, the serrations will push the pawls out of the way. But if the winch tries to turn counter-clockwise, the pawls will be pushed by the springs into the serrations and stop the winch from moving.

To service the winch, I followed the directions on this web site:  https://m17-375.com/2010/04/12/winch-maintenance-arco-6-style-winch/. Another web site worth looking at is the Stingy Sailor's. Also Emily & Clark's Adventure has a nice video on winch maintenance for a two-speed winch. The basic idea is you open the winch, clean out any gunk that has accumulated, replace any spring that are no longer working, grease it all back up, and put it back together. If you are working over water, it is highly recommended to make a box that goes around the winch to keep any parts from jumping into the water.

Winch Box

I started by removing the spring ring at the top that holds the winch together with two small flat blade screwdrivers. I noticed that there were springs that were sticking out, obviously not right. After removing these springs with needle nose pliers, I proceeded to remove the pawls. There are two levels to the winch: lower pawls that are attached to the part of the shaft that doesn't spin, and upper pawls that are attached to the part that does spin. On the Arco 6, there are a total of four pawls, but on a bigger winch there may be more. There are two half disks that fit between the upper pawls and the lower pawls. With the outer shell removed, these simply slide out.

The winch is designed to be serviced.There is a small indent in the upper part of the winch. By spinning the indent above the lower pawls, they can be slid up and removed. This then makes the upper pawls removable. By sliding them into the space where the lower pawls were, they can then be removed the same way. To remove the pawls, they must be pushed in, or the angle won't be right. After removing the pawls, all the parts should be cleaned in a solvent like turpentine or mineral spirits. Then the whole thing should be put back together.

Items needed to service winch,
plus lots and lots of paper towels.

And that is where we ran into the first hitch. The springs on the Arco 6 were mangled and wouldn't stay on the pawls. These springs and pawls were not designed well, with little loops of spring that go over the ends of the pawls to hold them in place but pop out easily. I couldn't find replacement springs of the same design. However, the pawls of the Arco 6 can be replaced with Lewmar small winch pawls. The Lewmar pawls are a little shorter, but work just fine. The springs mount in the middle rather than the ends. Unfortunately, the kit comes with six pawls, so it will take two kits to service both winches, leaving four extra pawls. After replacing the pawls with the new pawls, the springs can be serviced in the future for almost nothing (I found one place that sells them for 15 cents each), and extra springs come with the Lewmar pawls.

Pawl from the Arco 6.

I greased the movable parts and parts that come into contact with each other with Harken winch grease. The tube says to not grease the pawls. After reversing the disassembly procedure with the new pawls, the winch went back together nicely and give very nice satisfying clicks when rotating.

Cleaned winch with Lewmar pawls

2021-08-30

List of Essential Tools and Supplies for a Boat

Having worked on our boat for the last seven years, we have found that there are some essential tools that you will need to have on your boat. We created a page with the list and links to where you can buy these items. You can find it here: https://www.yachtslog.com/p/essential-tools-and-supplies-for-boat.html

2021-08-28

A Trip to the San Juans

We have wanted to take our little boat up to the San Juan islands for years. Having spent exactly one night on the boat before, this was a pretty big step for us. Our friends Boris and Mayli were planning a trip up there for late August, and asked if we wanted to join them. There was so much to do to get ready.

Besides provisioning the boat, we needed a dinghy. We bought one very cheap dinghy from Craigslist. It had leaks that we wouldn't be able to repair in time. So we bought another dinghy, a West Marine RU-250, along with a Mercury Marine 2.5 hp outboard. To inflate it, we got a electric air pump and EXP Pro 48 Lithium Ion battery pack. (The battery pack is useful for a lot of things.) To tow it, we rigged a harness that distributes the pull between the rings on the front with New England Ropes Dinghy Tow Rope.

Our RU-250 and Mercury Marine outboard.

We also needed a way to charge the batteries while at anchor. We bought a gas-powered generator. It provides a 20 amp socket that our shore power cable plugs directly into. And speaking of anchors, our little 8 pound Danforth wasn't going to keep us feeling comfortable, so we bought a Rocna 10 (10 kg, 22 lbs) anchor, 22 feet of chain, 250 feet of 3/8" line and a swivel. We also got an anchor ball. We got a radar reflector, just in case we ran into fog, so we wouldn't get run down in our tiny boat (fortunately, no fog on the trip).

Headed out, towing the dinghy.

We got everything on the boat. It got to be 2 p.m. August 22nd 2021. We debated whether it was too late to head out, but we had a schedule to meet (always a problem on a boat)! Left dock and headed out. We arrived at Langley (South Whidbey Harbor) on Whidbey Island around dusk.

We used to VHF to call into Langley for a slip, but there was no answer. The telephone number said to call on the VHF. However, coming into the marina there was a sign on a slip saying "open", so we pulled right in and tied up. We paid at the box, and got the bathroom code number from another mariner. All good! We were entertained by the seals on the dock all night that would bark at us if we passed too close, but wouldn't budge.

The next morning, we headed out. We tried to put up sails, but there wasn't enough wind, and resorted back to motoring. Up through the Swinomish channel, past La Conner, and into Anacortes Cap Sante Marina. Called on the VHF and they assigned us a 50' slip for our Catalina 22. Not sure if they misheard our LOA! It was entertaining to be next to boats that probably have cleats that cost more than our boat.

The next morning we headed out. Crossing through Guemes channel with a strong tide in our favor, we hit 9.6 knots, I think a record for a Catalina 22! We crossed Rosario Strait with no problems, around the north end of Lopez Island, and into Friday Harbor marina on San Juan island. Soon after arriving, Boris and Mayli pulled in as well.

Proof that a Catalina 22 can go 9.6 knots.

The next morning, we got showers at the Marina, refueled the five gallons of gas we'd used since the start of the trip, and headed out to Westcott Bay near the English camp of the Pig War. We sailed a bit on the way, which was gloriously good sailing. In Westcott Bay, we anchored for the first time ever! Dropped the Rocna anchor, tied the rode to the forward cleat, put it in reverse and done. That evening we set the anchor alarm and it didn't budge. Boris sent up the drone, and caught this footage of us at anchor.

Fantasia at Westcott Bay (those are seat cushions drying on top)

We took our dinghy for a nice test ride out to the English Camp. In 1859, the United States and England had a cold war on San Juan island contesting the border between the U.S. and Canada. Both claimed the San Juan islands. Eventually, a decision was made by a neutral third party that the San Juan islands were owned by the United States and the hostilities ended with the only casualty of the war being a pig, thus the name "The Pig War".

The next day Sandi cooked pancakes on the deck for breakfast. In the afternoon, we took the dinghy around to Roche Harbor, visiting the town and the sculpture park.

Mayli at the sculpture park.

The next morning, we topped off the batteries with the generator, and headed back to Anacortes, passing between Orcas Island and Shaw Island. It was pouring rain at times. As we crossed Rosario Strait, Greg checked the bilge and discovered water, which was disconcerting as we have never had any real water in the bilge. Water seemed to be seeping in aft of the keel trough. We got to Cap Sante Marina and Greg raced over to West Marine to get some epoxy before they closed. After laying down some epoxy which slowed the ingress, we debated what to do, as sailing for another day or two with an unknown source of water seemed inadvisable.

After thinking about it, we decided to have Connie come up and get Sandi, go down and get the trailer, and bring it back. Greg stayed with boat overnight during which the water leak seem to subside. The next morning, Sandi drove up with the trailer along with Devon and Taylor. We moved the boat over to the boat lift and took down the mast. The guys at the lift took the boat out and dropped it on the trailer. And we drove it back to Kenmore. Thus ending our trip.

While this ended on a downbeat, we considered this trip a success!

Fantasia safely parked at the end of the trip.
Our route. (Open Street Maps)

2021-06-29

Marine Vexillology: Flags on U.S. Pleasure Boats

Vexillology is the study of flags. There are different rules for different countries. These rules have been established over hundreds of years. This post distills vexillology as it applies to U.S. pleasure boats (and mainly sail boats).

Some terminology: vessels wear flags, people fly flags. Flags have two dimensions, called the fly (width) and the hoist (height). The hoist is also the point closest to the flagpole, and the fly the point furthest away from the flagpole.

What Flags Can I Fly?

  1. U.S. Ensign

    The U.S. Ensign

    The U.S. Ensign, commonly called the U.S. Flag, has the highest precedence. It is placed in the most important location on the boat. The design of the ensign is laid out in Title 4 of the U.S. Code Chapter 1.

    Most U.S. Ensigns have the wrong proportions, because the hoist to fly 10:19 ratio in the code causes the flags to wear out faster than a more commonly available 2:3 or 3:5 ratio. Finding 10:19 ratio U.S. Ensigns is difficult. This calculator will give you the correct other dimensions, if one is specified.

    The size of the ensign is based on the size of the boat, with the fly sized at one inch per foot LOA (length overall) of the boat, rounded up to the next commercially available size. Thus a Catalina 22 should have an ensign with a 22" fly, and 24" fly ensigns are available (although not with a 10:19 ratio—opportunity for someone). Other flags on the boat should be 1/2" for each foot of the tallest mast over the water line (30' to 15" for the Catalina 22), or 5/8" per foot LOA for power boats. A flag pole should generally be at least twice the hoist of the ensign.

  2. U.S. Yacht Ensign

    The U.S. Yacht Ensign is worn interchangeable with the U.S. Ensign while sailing in U.S. waters. One or the other should be worn, but not both. It has no meaning outside of U.S. national waters, so if traveling internationally must be replaced by the U.S. Ensign.

    U.S. Yacht Ensign

    The U.S. Yacht ensign originally meant that the vessel was traveling from U.S. port to U.S. port and did not need to clear customs. Carrying goods that required U.S. customs while wearing this flag was considered smuggling. Since pleasure yachts typically did not have goods to declare, they also started wearing this flag. The flag has a 2:3 ratio.

  3. State Flag

    The State Flag is optional, but if worn, it has lower precedence than the U.S. Ensign. Some states, such as Washington, have codes on wearing flags on vessels.

    Washington State Flag

    The Washington State flag has a 5:8 ratio, but other states may have other ratios.

  4. Courtesy Ensign

    When visiting another country, the civil ensign of the other country is displayed, generally on the starboard spreader. The civil ensign may not be the same as the national ensign of a country.

    The Canadian Civil Ensign
  5. Yacht Club Burgee

    A yacht club burgee can be worn at a bow staff, but is generally flown from the starboard spreader on a sail boat. If the state flag is worn on the spreader, it can be flown below the state flag or moved to the port spreader. It generally has the form of a pennant.

    Edmonds Yacht Club Burgee
  6. Organizational Ensign

    Organizational ensigns are from groups such as the United States Power Squadrons or Coast Guard Auxiliary.

    The U.S. Power Squadrons Ensign.
  7. Private Signal

    A private signal is a flag that identifies a person on board. It generally has a swallow tail.

    Examples of Private Signals
  8. Other Flags

    There are other flags that are worn on occasion. The quarantine flag on entering a new country, regatta flags, man overboard flag, owner absent flag, etc.

Where Do I Fly Them?

There are six places that you can fly a flag (shown below in descending order of precedence). The rules that apply on land, where the U.S. Ensign is placed physically higher than other flags, do not apply to marine vessels. Flags should be placed at the place of highest precedence to which they are entitled to be worn. For example, a burgee or private signal is never flown at the stern. On the other hand, if a courtesy flag is worn on the starboard spreader, the burgee could be moved to the port spreader.

  1. Gaff

    The gaff is the pole that comes off the mast on gaff rigged boats. Unless you have some very unusual rigging, this doesn't apply to most sloops or power boats. However, to simulate this location, a flag may also be worn no more than 2/3rd of the way up the back stay on a sail boat.

    Flag at the Gaff.
    (Modified from a photo by Susan Davis CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Flagstaff on Stern

    This is a pole attached to the stern of the boat. It can be centered, or offset, usually to the starboard, if necessary.

    The Schooner Zodiac with U.S. Ensign Worn on Stern
    The Schooner Zodiac with U.S. Ensign Worn on Stern
  3. Bow Staff

    This is a pole attached the the bow of the boat. On most sail boats this would interfere with the foresails, so this mostly applies to power boats.

    Flag on Bow Staff

  4. Starboard Yardarm or Spreader

    If there is more than one spreader on a side, then it is flown from the lowest one. There may be more than one halyard on the spreader, in which case the outermost one has higher precedence.

  5. Port Yardarm or Spreader

  6. Masthead

    The truck of the mast is the top (technically the ball at the top of the mast). If there are more than one mast, it is flown from the forward mast. On many sailing vessels, wearing a flag here interferes with sails, antennas, and anchor lights, but a pig stick can be used when at anchor.

When and How Are Flags Flown?

The U.S. Ensign or U.S. Yacht Ensign is typically raised at 8 a.m. or when the boat is first boarded. It is lowered at sunset. If other flags are raised or lowered at the same time, the U.S Ensign is raised first and lowered last. The U.S. Ensign should be raised quickly and lowered ceremoniously. If you are leaving a vessel, and do not expect to return before sunset, then the Ensign should be lowered before you leave.

State flags and courtesy flags are generally raised and lowered at the same time as the U.S. ensign. Yacht club burgees are generally worn day and night. Personal signals may also be worn day and night, however, they should not be worn when the person is not on board.

Additional Reference

If you are starting out, a good place to start is this page from the U.S. Power Squadron. They also offer a 37 page booklet ($15 including shipping) that is the definitive reference on flags on boats.

2021-06-13

Origo 3000 Alcohol Stove

Dometic Origo 3000 Alcohol Stove

We purchased a Dometic Origo 3000 alcohol stove from someone on Craigslist. This stove is a drop-in replacement for the Kenyon 126 stove that came with the boat. We had decided to buy this stove a couple of years ago, but never quite got around to it. When we went in to buy one, we discovered it had been discontinued, and there really wasn't anything else on the market to replace it. The story is that California discontinued selling denatured alcohol on January 1, 2019, so Dometic discontinued the entire line of alcohol stoves. These can be found used, but are increasingly difficult to find.

You might be thinking propane, but propane needs special storage on a boat to keep it from blowing up because it is heavier than air. Many propane tanks have leaked, filling the bilge with propane gas, then a spark blows up the entire boat. Alcohol is much safer.

The stove fits neatly on the pull-out galley on the 1969-1985 Catalina 22s. The one-burner version is necessary to fit later Catalina 22s that have a galley.

2021-06-06

LED Lights in the V-Berth

We are doing more stuff recommended by the Stingy Sailor. On his site, he had a project to install LED strip lights in the V-Berth. I ordered the parts. The dimmer switch literally came on the slow boat from China, so took almost a month to arrive.

It was an easy install. Just wired in to the cabin lights circuit and stuck up the LED lights. One 16' roll of the lights only leaves a few inches left when covering the entire V-Berth edge. The only issue that we had was because of the construction of our boat, the little trough on the starboard side was not as accessible as the port side, so the lights were a little more exposed. This is a cheap and easy upgrade and makes the dark forward part of the cabin much nicer.

2021-06-01

Outboard Motor Stand

We built a stand for our old outboard. We used the plans linked from the Stingy Sailor web site by D. Hayes Jr., with some modifications. The motor we wanted to put on the stand is a long shaft Johnson Sailmaster, so the uprights on the plans were too short and we needed to make them longer. We also wanted to be able to get a trash can under to motor on the stand for testing, as an outboard motor flusher doesn't work with the design of the Johnson motor. Otherwise the plans worked well.

We used scrap lumber that we had lying around. We just had to buy four casters at $6.29 a piece and a box of 2.5" deck screws at $10.25, and sixteen 5/16x1" lag screws at $0.31 each for a total of $40.37 plus tax. It took about five hours, but we aren't really fast at this kind of stuff and more experienced carpenters could probably do it in less than half the time.

Read the plans carefully, as it isn't clear from the parts list that some of the angled cuts need to be on the 4" side of the 2x4 and some need to be on the 2" side. We did that wrong on a couple of pieces and had to re-cut. It was obvious in retrospect, but at the time it was a "doh!" moment.

Most of the work was done with miter saw, but there is one piece that we needed an 8° angle on a 24" rip cut, so used the table saw. All of this work could also have been done using just a saber saw, or even a jig saw, although it would have been slower. Other than that, it just needed an electric drill, and used a socket wrench to put on the castors. This is not precision carpentry, so junk wood and bad tolerances are allowed.

2021-05-24

Engine Cut Off Switch (ECOS) Requirement

As of April 1st, 2021, a new law went into effect regarding Engine Cut Off Switch (ECOS) on boats. So what is an ECOS? It is that lanyard that probably came with your outboard if it was made any time recently. It attaches to the helms-person and the motor. In general, it looks something like this:

They also make electronic ones that you attach to you or your PFD that will kill the motor if you fall in the water or get separated from the boat, but all the ones I saw were pretty expensive and really designed for bigger boats where the crew might not notice that someone went overboard.

Here is how the actual law reads:

SEC. 8316. ENGINE CUT-OFF SWITCHES; USE REQUIREMENT.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 4312 of title 46, United States Code, is amended—
 (1) by redesignating subsections (b), (c), and (d) as subsections (c), (d), and (e), respectively;
     and
 (2) by inserting after subsection (a) the following:
  ``(b) USE REQUIREMENT.—
   ``(1) IN GENERAL.—An individual operating a covered recreational vessel shall use an engine
         cut-off switch link while operating on plane or above displacement speed.
   ``(2) EXCEPTIONS.—The requirement under paragraph (1) shall not apply if—
    ``(A) the main helm of the covered vessel is installed within an enclosed cabin; or
    ``(B) the vessel does not have an engine cut-off switch and is not required to have one under
        subsection (a).’’.
 (b) CIVIL PENALTY.—Section 4311 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by—
  (1) redesignating subsections (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g) as subsections (d), (e), (f), (g),
      and (h), respectively; and
  (2) inserting after subsection (b) the following:
   ``(c) A person violating section 4312(b) of this title is liable to the United States Government
       for a civil penalty of not more than—
    ``(1) $100 for the first offense;
    ``(2) $250 for the second offense; and
    ``(3) $500 for any subsequent offense.’’.
 (c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made in subsections (a) and (b) shall take effect 90 days after
     the date of the enactment of this section, unless the Commandant, prior to the date that is 90
     days after the date of the enactment of this section, determines that the use requirement
     enacted in subsection (a) would not promote recreational boating safety.

I'm not a lawyer but after parsing through a bunch of the law and various other sites on this, here is my understanding of what this means for our Catalina 22. It doesn't apply to boats 26 feet or longer or if the helm is enclosed in a cabin. That doesn't rule out the Catalina 22. The critical passage in there for the Catalina 22 is "while operating on plane or above displacement speed". In general, sailboats just don't get on plane (okay, some of those America's Cup ones do, but we aren't talking about low-flying wind-powered airplanes). It also doesn't apply if your boat or motor didn't come with an ECOS (ours did). Here is what the Coast Guard FAQ says about being "on plane": "Sailing vessels are generally not capable of getting 'on plane' because of their displacement hull, whereas a ski boat, bass boat or runabout can usually achieve planing with little effort."

What does "or above displacement speed" mean? Well, the displacement speed provided by this formula:

The LWL is the Length at Water Line in feet. On a 1985 Catalina 22, the LWL is 19'4" or 19.33 feet, so the displacement speed is 5.93 knots. So this rule could apply if we are under motor moving faster than 5.93 knots, which theoretically could happen if we are moving at full speed with a tide in our favor. If your boat has a ECOS (which are required on all new boats and motors) and you are under motor moving faster than 5.93 knots (for a Catalina 22), you should have that ECOS attached to both you and the switch. This is pretty infrequent, so just make sure you have the cord nearby.

The more likely place that a sailor will run into trouble with the rule is on their dinghy. Some dinghies definitely can get on plane, and that's where you can get into trouble for not having a ECOS.

In general, besides the rules, just don't be stupid about it. Use one where a kill switch makes sense. Your chances of getting stopped by the Coast Guard are low. The most likely place you will run into trouble is if you fall into the water and your boat smashes into something else or comes around and runs you over. Then they will likely fine you on top of your other problems. These rules are there to codify common sense, which some boaters just don't seem to have.

2021-05-22

Lazerette Gas Springs

After the 400th time the lazerette lids have fallen on us, we decided to get the kit that the Stingy Sailor sells for adding gas springs to the lazerettes for the Catalina 22. These make it so you need to keep the lazerettes down rather than trying to keep them up. They are a little on the expensive side for what they are, but the kit works with all the parts, and there are reasonably good instructions.

It took maybe two hours to install. Just some advice: although the instructions say to start on the port lazerette, I would start on the starboard side. You use the port lazerette more often so if you make any mistakes it should be on the lazerette you use less frequently. When you place the bracket inside the lazerette, place it back as far as it will go into the corner. At least that is what worked on our 1985 Catalina 22. We had to re-drill the holes to move it back further when it wouldn't close. Also, we subtracted 1/4" (10.25" instead of 10.5") to the distance from the back wall for the location of the top bracket from what was in the instructions when we did the second lazerette.

We get a smile each time we open the lazerettes now as they aren't falling as we get the gas tank out and other stuff.

With the springs, it is important that your latches for holding the lazerette shut are secure while under sail. You don't want the lazerettes popping open at the wrong moment (such as if you turtle the boat), as they now default to open rather than defaulting to shut.

2021-04-16

Settling in to the New Marina

We got our boat in the water again. Launching was a breeze since the Edmonds Marina doesn't have a boat ramp. Instead they do all their launches with a sling. You pull up in your trailer, disconnect all of the tie downs and in a few minutes you are in the water. From there, we tied up and raised the mast. All for $22 (the off-season price), billed to your marina monthly bill. Here is the video of the launch.

This is so much easier than doing a trailer launch. Then an hour or so to get the mast raised and then a short motor over to our slip.

2021-04-01

What Happened Between 2017 and 2021

It's been quite a while since our last post...but there are reasons!

We finished the 2017 season, and pulled out. We launched again for the 2018 season. Then after a few sails, Greg and Sandi spent a month traveling around Europe. Germany, Italy, Greece, Italy again, and back through another part of Germany.

After we got back, we went out to go for a sail. As we were getting ready, Greg grabbed the lifeline to pull the boat into the dock, and instead of coming in, the boat tipped. WTF? And then we figured out what happened: the keel cable had snapped during the most recent wind storm. You know, that thing we kept saying we needed to replace. Fortunately, we were docked above sand and the 550 pound keel rather than continuing unabated, smashed down into the sand. We were incredibly lucky, because if the water were any deeper, the keel likely would have continued and probably sunk the boat as it smashed into all kinds of fiberglass. The lake water level was lower at that point, too, which saved us.

So we had a friend with scuba gear come out and thread the new keel cable that we'd had sitting on our shelf up through the volcano and back onto the winch and attach it to the keel. Back in operation! Well, no. Because, it turns out that 550 pounds of cast iron in free fall has a tremendous amount of force, and it bent the keel locking pin (part 15 in the drawing). This means that we ran into problems with raising and lowering the keel. We did manage to get the keel up, but with difficulty and could not lock it with the pin. We pulled the boat out shortly thereafter for the season. 2019 came and went with no repairs and no sailing due to a large home renovation project.

2020 came, and with it came the pandemic. We scheduled to get the boat down to CSR Marine to get the repairs done, but the trailer lights didn't work. It took us a while to debug that our ground wire had snapped. We finally got that fixed and the boat to CSR, but by the time they finished, the 2020 season was done. It was kind of too bad, because sailing is one of the few things you can do during a pandemic, and there were many days where we said, "it really would be nice to go sailing."

CSR Marine is expensive, but we felt that they did good work. They actually came in under their initial bid. They took off the keel. They cut out the old locking pin (15) and fiberglassed in a new locking strap (16). Since they had the keel off, we got a lot of other keel maintenance done. We replaced all the keel raising hardware, a new keel winch (1), tube around the volcano (5), the brass turning ball (7), the pivot the keel goes through (13), the pivot pin (14), installed the centering kit so the keel no longer thunks. The pin put a big gouge in the side of the keel, so the keel was ground down to the metal and refinished with a better profile. New bottom paint. Added a zinc to the keel, which it never had before. And had them wax the hull. All this work cost more than what we initially paid for the boat, but we kind of feel we got a new boat out of it. The only parts in the picture above that didn't get replaced were 8 (the volcano itself), 9 (the keel eye bolt which looked fine), 11 (the keel, which got refinished), and 12 (the keel shoe casting, which looked fine).

Also, around this time, our hosts providing our dock on Lake Washington sold their house and moved to Arizona. (Thank you for those years there, John and Barbara!) So we got on the waiting list to get a slip at the Port of Edmonds Marina 25 minutes from our house. In March 2021, we got a call from the marina that they had a slip for us. We signed the paperwork and as of April 1st, we had a slip. We weren't quite ready to get a boat into it but the slip was waiting for us.

What we learned: Don't put off replacing the keel cable. It is possibly the weakest link in the entire Catalina 22 design.

2017-06-24

Fantasia in for the Season

We put Fantasia in for the season. We got off to a late start this year, due a long, cold, wet rainy season, and to the Captain being in Belize doing archaeology for a few weeks. Getting her launched is becoming routine, although it still takes way too long.

After launching, Fantasia got motored to the dock and tied up. It takes a while to get all the lines adjusted right, and we seem to be short a snubber.

2016-08-13

Trip to Blake Island

Sail track for Blake Island trip.

Since buying Fantasia, our Catalina 22, in the summer of 2014, we've spent the majority of our sailing time in the northern part of Lake Washington, close to moorage with the safety and comfort of protected waters. Since we didn't have a functional steaming light, we never stayed out beyond dusk and just focused on having fun close to home and learning how to take care of our boat and operate safely around other craft. This season, many of the upgrades we chose to work on were those that would enable us to be on the water after dark, whether sailing, steaming or anchored, and to begin visiting other nearby locations in Puget Sound.

We went out on our first overnight trip on Fantasia. We chose a relatively close location, Blake Island, as our first destination. There were many firsts on this trip; our first time through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (a.k.a. Ballard Locks), our first sail in Puget Sound, our first overnight stay at a State Park marina, and our first overnight stay on the boat. It was a chance to really test all our new electrical upgrades, both AC and DC. The chart plotter enabled us to accurately determine where we were in relation to shipping and ferry lanes.

We headed out on Saturday morning, pulling away from the dock about 9:40 AM. headed towards the locks under motor. We wanted to get to the locks as early as possible, as we'd heard many stories about how busy the locks get on a nice day and the long the wait to get through them. Although we had been as far as Lake Union twice before, this was our first time continuing beyond it.

Along the way, there are seven bridges that we need to pass under, but given our mast height, we only are concerned about the Fremont Bridge. The clearances on all of the other bridges at the center are well beyond our masthead at 29.1 feet (plus our VHF antenna) above water level. However, the Fremont Bridge, at only 30' is a concern for a Catalina 22 with antenna and anchor light. The water level in the lakes varies up to two feet throughout the summer boating season, so we can pass under this bridge when water levels are exceptionally low. We passed under slowly, but the very tip of our (flexible) VHF whip antenna brushed the bottom of the bridge in one spot. At higher water level, we could not have made it. Due to this low clearance, the Fremont Bridge opens on average of 35 times per day making it one of the most frequently opened bridges in the United States. On the way back, we decided it was better to have the bridge opened for us.

The Fremont and George Washington Memorial bridges after
we motored past them on the way to the locks.

Bridges from East to West. Refer to NOAA chart 18447 for more information on bridge heights and other information.

Montlake Bridge
University Bridge
Ship Canal (I-5) Bridge (fixed)
George Washington Memorial (Aurora) Bridge (fixed)
Fremont Bridge
Ballard Bridge
Burlington Northern RR Bridge

We arrived at the Ballard Locks at 11:40am, behind a half dozen or so other boats jockeying for position to get into the currently loading large lock. There are two continuously operating locks, one large and one small. We decided to get in line for the small lock, which had just closed with a full load of boats heading out, rather than hope to get a spot in the currently loading large lock. We tied up to the waiting area on the north side. The small lock turned out to be the better choice, especially for a first time through the locks.

Tied up waiting to go through the small
lock.

With fewer boats to load, tie, untie and unload, the small lock cycles through much quicker than the large lock. In the small lock, the tie down points are on floats that move with the boats and the water level, so tying up and managing lines is much easier in the small lock. Going through the large lock, you must have two 50' lines with eyes and must play out or take in the lines as the water level changes, whereas with the small lock, 25' lines will suffice, and they do not have to be managed while the water level changes.

We had to wait about 35 minutes for one full cycle of the locks in each direction. While waiting for the lock, we were entertained by jumping salmon, which had recently exited the fish ladder, and a very mischievous seal who had also decided it would be fun to travel through the locks along with the boats. Finally it was our turn to load.  It took about 15 minutes to get through the lock, including getting tied up and cycling the lock. Kudos to the locks staff; they gave friendly direction throughout the process making it a relatively stress free experience.

In the small lock, waiting for it to cycle.

We motored the remaining way out of the ship canal. By 12:40 we were away from land and out in beautiful Puget Sound. There is a lot more space on Puget Sound than Lake Washington, so although there are many boats around, they aren't likely to be passing nearly as closely, or nearly as frequently as the do on the lake. There is a lot of room to maneuver, and most of the boaters take advantage of that fact.

One of the most surprising things about being out on Puget Sound was how little we were impacted by wake. In the confines of Lake Washington, on any nice boating day, the surface of the lake gets worked up into a frenzy from all of the power boats and jet skis. This is not the case in Puget Sound. The wakes are few, mainly generated by the occasional ferry or container ship passing and those provided mainly a gentle rolling lift and fall.

Using our new chart plotter, we determined our desired heading and raised sail. The wind was blowing from the North-Northeast, perfect for a run South towards Blake Island. Winds were very light, but thankfully the current was with us. We ran southwards wing and wing for a while, then decided to furl the Genoa and raise the asymmetrical spinnaker.  As we made our way south, the Seattle skyline came into view. Ferries bustled back and forth, moving cars and people from the mainland to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton and back. Container ships came and went, as did various tugboats. Three cruise ships could be seen on the Seattle waterfront, preparing to head for Alaska. The winds were light, and we only traveled between two and four knots.

Blake Island to the port, gennaker flying, ferry ahead.

While sailing, we had the VHF radio working for the first time with the new wiring and antenna. We listened in as three separate boats called the Coast Guard for help. One had run out of fuel in Puget Sound somewhere. Two others were also disabled, near Anacortes  and Camino Island. We hope to never need that kind of help.

We arrived at Blake Island simultaneously with two other sailboats at about 4:30 PM. We all dropped sail and jockeyed to get into the dredged passage to the docks, having to make way for the Argosy Good Times II to come out. We got in first and found that they had 30' of dock space left...just enough for one Catalina 22. The boats behind us had to settle for mooring buoys that surround the island, which actually would have been problematic for us since we do not have a dinghy. There is a couple that acts as volunteers running the harbor, helping to tie up, and giving the rundown on how things work.

Moorage at Blake Island is $0.70 a foot, plus $6 for shore power, per day. You pay at a pay station on shore. There are bathrooms with running water. Hot showers are available for $0.50 for three minutes by getting tokens from a machine at the ranger station. The ranger station also has a store that is open for three hours a day for essentials such as sodas and snacks. We checked on the Tillicum Village evening performance, but it was full. (More on this in a bit.) After thinking on it a bit, we decided to see the show on Sunday and leave in the afternoon.

Seattle from Blake Island,
the entrance to the moorage in the foreground.

Blake Island is a 475 acre state park, and the only access is by boat. There are tour boats from Bremerton and Seattle that come out for the Tillicum Village performances, that can also be used as a ferry. Otherwise, the only way to the island is by private boat. It is wooded, with hiking trails. There are three areas to camp on the island. Raccoons abound, and they are aggressive about getting into food. No food must be left accessible on deck or in unprotected areas. If you are moored away from the dock, beware that the raccoons can swim and still get to any unprotected food. There are also deer on the island, but they are not nearly as aggressive.

We settled in for the evening, putting a new 8'x10' tarp over the boom for shade, as well as the pop-top curtain. The curtain (which is actually made of vinyl) encloses the cabin with the pop-top up, giving more head room when docked, as well as gives a zipper opening instead of needing to put in the crib boards when closed up. It also gives shelf space next to the mast below the pop-top, but inside the pop-top that allows repositioning some of the stuff that is not needed.We hooked up to shore power, using our AC wiring. This allowed us to recharge the batteries consumed by the interior lights, recharging devices, VHF, and chart plotter.

Blake Island trail.

We made reservations for the Sunday performance at Tillicum Village, then went for a short walk across the North of the island. There are well tended wide trails, under a Douglass fir canopy. You can see Mount Baker to the North, Seattle to the Northeast, the Olympics to the West. Mount Rainier is to the East of the island. After the walk, we sat in the cabin and played cards until bed time. Taylor decided to sleep in the cockpit, which she later regretted, since it got cold. The wind kicked up during the night, but was still by morning.

During the night, the tide had fallen. Two small power boats that had tied up to the shore were left high and dry on the beach. They eventually were pushed back into the water. We were reminded to keep in mind the tides for future trips, which we do not worry about in the lake.

Fantasia tied up to the left, the family in the center, and note
boats to the right.
The same boat the next morning.

In the morning, we ate breakfast on the boat, and went for a short walk on the East side of the island. There are wonderful views of Seattle and Mount Rainier. We made the boat ready to head home. We paid for another day of moorage (but not power), as check out time is 1 PM, and the Tillicum Village performance concluded about 2 PM.

Tillicum Village is a Native American long house where they cook salmon using traditional techniques around open fires. Meals are from a buffet, with shared tables. After lunch, there was Native American dancing performance on stage. Greg had seen the performance here many years ago, but it has changed since then. The performance now combines live dancing with AV going on a large screen behind the performers. This requires fewer people, but it worked. In 2009, Argosy  acquired the rights to Tillicum Village, so were no longer just providing the transportation to the island. It is a little on the expensive side for what they provide, but it is worth seeing once, especially if you have visitors from outside the Pacific Northwest. The food was good.

U.S.S. John C. Stennis near Bainbridge Island
headed to Bremerton.
This won't fit in my bath tub.

After the performance, we headed out. Winds were still light, but a hair stronger than the day before. The winds were still coming from the North, so we had to tack to get back toward the locks. We had to dodge a few ferries cutting between Seattle and Bremerton, and a few cruise ships were in the distance headed off to Alaska. But then Sandi said, "That's an aircraft carrier headed our way." Sandi had been in the Navy for 10 years, so knew an aircraft carrier when she saw one even from a long way off. Sure enough, coming South was a Nimitz class carrier, headed toward its home port in Bremerton.

The U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN 74), a 103,300 ton, nuclear powered supercarrier, was quite a sight as it steamed past us to the West. When you look at at a carrier like this on profile, especially from the stern, it does not look like the thing should be able to float. The tower, perched far out on one side makes it look like it should simply tip over. At one point, we had the aircraft carrier passing to our West, three cruise ships passing us from the East, headed north, and two ferries passing between Seattle and Bainbridge Island.

In the small lock headed in.
Stern view of the Stennis.

We dropped sail and made our way back through the locks without incident. As we approached the Fremont Bridge, we decided that we really need to have the bridge raised and gave the long-short signal with our air horn. The bridge attendant had us wait for a while, before raising the bridge. A terrific sense of power sets in as we mess up all the driver's commutes! We motored home and arrived just after sunset, using our new LED navigation lights for the first time. Waves in the lake were actually pretty heavy, as we had water splashing over our bow.

Raising the Fremont Bridge.

It was about as perfect a weekend as we could have hoped for, and the perfect trial for getting out of the lake and venturing forth. For next season, we will have to plan a more extensive trip in the San Juans.