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.