Showing posts with label Sail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sail. Show all posts


Lake Washington Water Level

We went out for a short sail for about an hour out on the lake. We hadn't been on the water or visited the boat for almost two weeks, having been out of town. As we got to the boat, we noticed that it was riding much lower in the water, with the fenders almost too low to protect the boat from the dock. This is due to the annual lowering of the lake level.

Lake Washington is fresh water, but has two locks that exit into Puget Sound. Some time next season, we expect to venture out through those locks in the boat. The Army Corps of Engineers controls the locks and flood gate, which also controls the water level in the lake. During the winter, they normally lower the water level about two feet from the level they keep it at during the summer.

Lake Washington Water Levels
Lake Washington Water Levels

The extra water during the summer serves several purposes. The lake drains about 8 million gallons of fresh water every time they use the large lock. The water also serves the fish ladder that allows salmon to traverse the locks. During the winter, the lower level keeps down erosion on the shores, as well as allowing repairs to docks and other lakeside fixtures. We had a choice of another docking space, but when we took into account the lower water level in October, it was just too shallow.

In just the last three days, the Corps has let water through the flood gate to lower the lake level by about three inches. That is a huge amount of fresh water from a 26 mile long lake. I'll bet the people experiencing the drought in California wish they could acquire some of that!

Round turn and two half-hitches.
Round turn and two half-hitches.

After pulling back in, we adjusted all of the fenders to ride a few inches higher to put them between the boat and the dock.

Tip: To tie a fender to a life-line, you will want to use a "round turn and two half-hitches.". The picture shows this knot. This is one of the essential knots to know.

We will be pulling the boat out for the winter soon, but we still have a few good days of sailing left.


Sailing in Stronger Winds

Sail boarder on Lake Washington

We went out for a sail in somewhat stronger winds than we had before. Although it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, there were very few boats on the lake, not even power boats. There were, however, quite a few sail boarders. With the winds gusting past 10 knots, the sail boarders were almost literally flying over the water.

A San Juan 27 came by at one point, heading north up the lake.

Righting a capsized hobie cat 1

Righting a capsized hobie cat 2

Righting a capsized hobie cat 3

Righting a capsized hobie cat 1
Righting a capsized catamaran

A catamaran was planing at top speed. It tried to make a sharp tack at speed. As we watched, it rose on one pontoon and seemed frozen there for what seemed like a minute, before finally capsizing, tossing the three occupants into the water. We took these photos as they righted it and went back to having fun.

We got our boat up to 6 mph (5+ knots), about 2 mph faster than we had gone before. We managed to keep our speed up through most of our tacks.


Sailing in the Shadow of Mount Rainier

We went out for a short sail with friends of our children. Each got a turn at the helm.

Sailing in the shadow of Mount Rainier
Sailing in the shadow of Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier was visible, or as we say in the Seattle area, "the mountain was out." On many days, there are clouds and you can't see the mountain. There are many other mountains in the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges visible from Seattle, but everyone knows you mean Mount Rainier when you say "the mountain."

Mount Rainier is the fifth tallest mountain in the continental United States, and is the 21th most prominent mountain in the world. This makes it dominate the skyline in the Seattle area when the mountain is out.


Dead in the Water

We tried to go out for a Labor Day sail. We got out and hoisted the sail, but there was no wind. It would sometimes kick up a little gust for a few seconds, but then back to nothing. There was a fair amount of wave action on the water, but it was not coming from the wind.

As we were attempting to hoist the mainsail, we managed to snag it and we had to repair a rip. Fortunately, we keep sail tape in the toolbox.

We dropped sail and motored up to the North end of the lake to pick up Greg's parents, hoping the wind would pick up. After bringing them aboard, we headed back into the lake under motor. We raised the sails, but there just was not any wind. There is a name for a sailboat with no wind: a raft.

The motor safety interlock.

We decided to drop sail again and motor back. We ran into another problem...the motor would not start. The pull rope seemed to be jammed. No wind and no motor!

We popped the cover off the motor and took a look, which is when Sandi realized that there is a safety interlock that keeps from pulling the rope while the throttle is not fully at idle. The throttle was cranked up just enough to trigger the interlock. Just twisting the handle back to idle caused the problem to go away.

We kind of have an eclectic set of knowledge. Sandi sailed quite a bit, even sailing Catalina 22s a long time ago, but none of the boats she sailed had motors. The rest of the crew has limited boating knowledge, so we are still making a lot of small mistakes. We still do little things like sitting on the port jib lead when trying to pull on the starboard lead; the jib does not move much! Or forgetting to cleat the mainsail halyard after bringing the sails down, which allowed the slack halyard to get snagged on the mast steaming light. As we all get more experienced, we should reduce the number of these problems.

We dropped the parents off again and motored all the way back to the dock. A very frustrating day for sailing.


Intercepting the Lady Washington

The Lady Washington
The Lady Washington

In the morning, we drove out and took a tour of the Lady Washington, docked for the last couple of days at Carrilon Point, Kirkland. The Lady Washington is a two-masted brig tall ship with a home port of Grays Harbor, Washington. She is best known as by an alternate name, the HMS Interceptor from the movie the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. In the film, Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, steals her. We will now have to go back and watch the movie again to see how they hid the EPIRB, the radar antenna, and other modern sailing requirements.

The rigging on tall ships is spectacular. There are six miles of line just to manage all the standing and running rigging.

Mock battle between the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain
Mock battle between the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain

After the tour, we went for a sail in our own boat. Soon after we headed out, the Lady Washington and another tall ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain, sailed out for a classic ship battle on Lake Washington. They circled and fired cannon at each other. Although we started off sailing, as frequently happens, the wind was coming from the direction we wanted to we had to tack. Just once it would be nice to have a nice broad reach in the direction we want to go!

By about 3 p.m. we dropped sail and motored the rest of the way toward the ships. Shortly after we got to them, the wind dropped to a dead calm. We tried raising sail again, but the wind gods were taking a nap. The tall ships eventually had to fire up their engines to make their way back to port. As was explained to us on the tour earlier, they are 18th century ships that have to make 21st century they have engines.

With no wind, we motored our way back to our own moorage.


Checking Out the NOAA Ship Fairweather

The NOAA Fairweather Hydrographic Survey Vessel
The NOAA Fairweather Hydrographic Survey Vessel

We went out for another quick sail in the evening. As we launched, we noticed that there was a newly arrived very large ship docked at the NOAA Western Regional Center at Sand Point. We decided to sail over and check it out.

The ship turned out to be the Fairweather, a 231 foot 1800 ton Hydrographic Survey Vessel. Its home port is in Ketchikan, Alaska, and its primary mission is to survey the waters in Alaska.

The Flying Js and Lasers from Sail Sand Point were out in force, and we maneuvered our way through them as we headed back north. We arrived back at the dock at dusk.


Brunch at Beach House Bar & Grill

Great Blue Heron guarding Fantasia
Great Blue Heron guarding Fantasia

We picked up Greg's parents for a sail and brunch. We arrived at Fantasia to find it guarded by a Great Blue Heron. It reluctantly decided that its services were no longer needed when we started putting stuff on the boat.

We headed out to sea about 9 a.m. Our normal routine is that Greg first drops the swing keel, then mans the outboard, keeping the boat headed directly into the wind. Sandi removes the sail cover and gear ties holding the sail. Conner then hoists the mainsail. Sandi then takes her place back at the tiller and after getting turned to catch the wind, unfurls the jib.

We then sailed south toward Kirkland. However, the winds were light, so we were still quite some distance away with our 11 a.m. brunch reservation coming up. We dropped the mainsail again, furled the jib, and motored the rest of the way. We tied up to the Beach House Bar & Grill's dock and headed in for brunch. We had our fill of breakfast burrito, pecan french toast, pancakes, and beachhouse scramble, all very good.

Fantasia tied up to the Beach House Bar & Grill dock
Fantasia tied up to the Beach House Bar & Grill dock

We then headed back out and took a leisurely sail north going back and forth across the lake. At one point we paralleled a Catalina 27, which unfortunately didn't have any easily visible name or sail number. I'm sure we were a pretty sight from the shore.

The weather got to the high 70s. The winds were light in the morning, but picked up a bit in the afternoon. A beautiful day for sailing.

We pulled back into the dock about 4:30 p.m. We've got the docking routine down. We tied up in a new way though, as there is now a fourth point to tie up to. This recently got repaired, giving us this new option. The fourth line keeps Fantasia away from the dock, which lessens the wear and tear on both the boat and the dock caused by the boat wakes and the wind bouncing the boat around. We need the keel up as our moorage is fairly shallow in places. Without the keel down, the boat rocks quite a bit in the elements.

The Dock Edge 3/8-7/16-Inch Snubbers that we bought are working out great. The snubbers take up the tension when the boat rocks rather than yanking on the cleats on the dock or boat. The rubber expands and contracts, giving a gentle play on the line as the boat moves. When you put the snubber on the docking line, it should be placed as close to the boat side of the line as you can. Our lines have a pre-spliced loop at the end, and the splice is too thick to go through the snubber, so we have to place the snubber just a little further down the line after the splice.

Greg worked some more on the wiring up the new panel. We finally figured out that the wiring diagram in the Catalina 22 Owner's Manual does not match the wiring on Fantasia. On Fantasia, the return is a black wire, and the steaming light is a white wire, whereas these are reversed in the Catalina manual diagram. We are not sure if we have the original wiring that is just odd or if it has been changed by one of the previous owners.

The steaming light on the mast is either burned out, or there is a bad or corroded connection somewhere. If the bulb is burned out, we will replace it in the off season when the mast is down. We do not expect to be motoring after dark between now and then.

The West Marine six circuit electrical panel is a fine replacement for the Catalina original panel. It is much cleaner with positive and negative bars built in. When we get all the wiring perfect, we'll write up a page on the complete upgrade.

We confirmed that the VHF radio works. As we suspected might happen, the two entries of a MMSI into the radio had already been exhausted, so it will need to be shipped back to Standard Horizon for a reset. The FCC does not allow end users of VHF radios to make multiple changes of MMSI numbers. This prevents the glutting of the MMSI database with tons of obsolete information. It also prevents malicious attacks on the DSC automated Mayday system.


Another Quick Sail

Fantasia at sunset
Fantasia at sunset

We went out for another quick sail in the evening. Almost the same route as last time, except this time the wind was coming from the northeast, so the direction we had to tack was different.

We used the running lights on the way in at dusk.


Out for a Quick Sail

We went out for a quick sail. The nice thing about having the boat docked about seven minutes from the house is that we can just run down and hop on the boat and take her out for an hour or two.

Getting out from the dock was easy today. We just backed her out with Greg on the dock and then brought her around. Greg then hopped on board. Why was it so hard before?

Sail Map 2014-08-20
Route of our sail, starting from the South

Our new boat hook arrived today: Five Oceans Telescopic Aluminum Boat Hook. This hook paid for itself when the main sail halyard got wrapped on the steaming light on the mast and the hook got it off. It performs the job, and the price is good.

While out, we practiced tacking, trying to make it smooth and keep the speed up. The wind was coming from the South this time, which is where we headed.

We also practiced a man-overboard drill. Sandi tossed a fender in the water and we tried to go back and get it. It took a few tries as we circled about it, but finally we got close enough and hooked it with the boat hook.

While we were out, Greg worked on the wiring up the new panel. It's not right yet, but we at least verified that the running lights and the interior lights work. We are not sure about the steaming light yet. It may be that the bulb is burned out, or something may still be wrong with the wiring. Also the VHF radio isn't connected right yet.

We pulled right into the dock. No problems at all.

Greg tried a new app on his Windows phone. Using Bing Health and Fitness, he turned on the mapping of where we went after we were underway. The map shows our route.


Sailing North toward St. Edwards Park

Map of Lake Washington
Lake Washington (from USGS sources)

In the morning, we hit up West Marine for more stuff. We got another type II auto inflating life vest, a chart for Lake Washington, a 50' dock line, and a new electrical panel. More on the electrical panel on an upcoming post.

The chart for Lake Washington is nice to have, but Lake Washington is pretty easy to navigate. Unless it is completely fogged in (which is rare and we'd be unlikely to be out), there is never a time when you can't see the shore. There are good landmarks on the shore. The lake is about 26 miles long and about one to four miles wide. Carved by glaciers, the depth is predictable, and it is about 200' deep at the center. There are few obstructions and navigation markers in the water. Still, it's good to have a chart. The boat came with one for Puget Sound which probably we will not use this season.

>[?There are various obstacles that won't appear on a chart. There are frequent sea-planes taking off or landing on the North part of the lake. There are the typical power boats and jet skis. The power boats are frequently towing inflatables, and less frequently water skiers. Kayaks, sail boarders, paddle boarders, and the occasional swimmer are frequent. There are a relatively small number of sail boats out on the water. The sail boats on Lake Washington are Lasers and Flying Js (mostly rented at Sail Sand Point across the lake from our moorage), a few Hobie Cats, and a smaller number of larger boats up to about 40 footers. Most sail boats larger than about 40' would be on Puget Sound, not on the lake.

We went out for a sail, leaving about 2 p.m. Heading out from the dock was better than yesterday's sail, but we again tried to point out to sea too soon and came close to the hydraulic boat lift. We should back all the way into the lake under motor before turning around.

We sailed North toward St. Edwards park, tacking across the lake at a leisurely pace. The wind was good at about 6 knots, and the weather low 80s and clear. After when we turned around we sailed downwind at about 3 mph back to the dock.

Coming back in was much easier this time, with one exception. After dropping Greg off at the end of the dock, Sandi motored around and started pulling in. Suddenly the boat came to a stop. DOH! Have to winch in the swing keel. The draft with the keel down is 5', but the water is shallower than that near the dock. The bottom is sand and small rocks so no damage done. With the keel up, the draft on a Catalina 22 is 2'. After lifting the keel, docking was easy, especially compared to the day before.

We're starting to get the hang of this.


Sailing South Toward 520 Bridge

We went out for a sail, the first time leaving our new moorage. Our moorage is a little tricky. We have a swimming platform, a hydraulic boat lift, and the remains of a pier to avoid. The water is relatively shallow. This was a learning experience on guiding the boat with a line from the dock while motoring out, trying to avoid all the obstacles. This is also hard to do when the wave action and boat wakes are working against the boat.

We finally got out and sailed downwind almost to the 520 bridge. Winds were light. Temperature about 82°F. On Lake Washington, the winds usually come from the North, so if we head South, we need to tack back. The winds picked up as we neared our point where we decided to head back. We had beautiful conditions for sailing, lightly healed over.

Our backstay was a little loose, so we tightened that up and checked it with the tension meter. This helped with the management of the furling jib.

Coming back in was difficult. We pulled in to the end of the dock and dropped Greg off with some lines. We then tried to avoid all the obstacles coming back in. We did not do it right and had great difficulty and needed several attempts. We learned it's better to just motor in, without lines until the last minute, finally guiding it into place. It, however, was entertaining to the people on the shore when we struggled to manage a boat.

We finally got in and tied up without any damage to the boat or dock, so we considered that a success. All in all a fine day of sailing surrounded by a few embarrassing moments near the dock.


New Mast Raising System and Finally at Moorage

Fantasia at moorage after sunset

In the morning, we built the new mast raising system. It not only has the gin pole, but a mast stepper in the aft of the boat so that it can be raised without having to do a lot of lifting. Using the boom pulley, it should take tugging on a line to get the mast up in position ready to be put into the mast step.

The mast stepper raises the mast high enough so it rests without touching the cabin sliding door. The roller allows sliding back with little effort. We need to make a few tweaks to move it just a little further aft in the cockpit so that we don't have to lift the shroud spreaders over the mast stepper supports when moving it into position to put the mast pin in place. As soon as we have all the bugs worked out, we will post complete plans with parts list and pictures and everything.

Building all this, with measurements, trips to McLendons for hardware, Home Depot for wood, and adventures with power tools took a good part of the day.

When everything was in place, it just took about a minute to crank the mast upright. We then had to launch on a crowded boat launch. All the power boats were trying to come in from the weekend as we were trying to launch. This was our second successful launch, and we are learning a little each time. This time was mostly smooth. From arriving at the boat launch to motoring away took 1.5 hours with just two people. Better than the five hours last time with four people. We are sure we can get it under an hour with a little more practice.

We then motored to our moorage, about four miles away. We got there just before sunset, which was good because we still don't have working lights (more on that on a future post). We put out a bunch of fenders and tied up. Greg snapped the picture as the last of the light was fading and we walked away from the dock.


Back on Land

After another fabulous day, we pulled her out.


She Floats! Putting the Catalina 22 in the Water

First launch was a success! The day was not without its share of hiccups, which we've been warned is standard operating procedure, but it was a great day nonetheless.

Not only was it our first attempt at launching our new-to-us boat, it was our first attempt at launching any boat...Ever. We were of course a little nervous. We had gone over all the things we'd need to do the night before and made lists. We got up super early, dragging ourselves and the kids out of bed, excited by the prospect of a fun day out on the water, a new adventure for us all. We were blissfully unaware of all the things we didn't yet know!

Once the trailer was hooked up to the car, we drove down to the boat ramp, arriving before 6:30am, to make sure we'd be able to get our choice of parking spots from which to step the mast. Trailering the boat with our Caravan is pretty much right on the limit of what it can handle, but as the trip is less than 3 miles from house to boat ramp, it's very doable. Backed in, wheels chocked, ladder set up and cabin open. We set about the task of raising the mast. With the mast propped up and walked back, the mast bolt went in without any trouble. We started hooking up the gin pole, but soon realized we couldn't get the jib halyard to budge. With the mast head now well out of reach from the boat or the ground, we scratched our heads for a bit before realizing the 2 inch strap securing the gin pole to the mast had been accidentally wrapped around the jib halyard as well, underneath the mast and out of sight!

With the jib halyard freed, the mast went up relatively easily, alternately cranking, then stopping a couple of times mid-raise to free shrouds that were determined to get caught on each and every protruding cleat, cam or bolt on the deck. With our mast raising system, only the two forward shrouds and the rolling furler jib (which incorporates the forestay) have to be removed and reconnected/retensioned. We'd decided that for our first run, we'd just get the boat off the trailer and motor over to a nearby public dock and hang out, and tie up for the night in another nearby marina's guest moorage. With the mast up and secure, we started loading the rest of the things we'd need for our day out. Water, check. PFDs, check. Lines, check. Keel raised, check. Gas can.......gas can......DOH! We drove off this morning without loading the gas can, kind of a must-have for motoring. We quickly unhooked the trailer from the van and Greg drove back home to get the gas can.

While waiting for Greg to return, a very nice and curious guy named Charlie came over and asked me about how we went about raising our mast. Charlie it turns out also has a Catalina 22, in the water just a few houses away from the boat launch. I showed Charlie the pieces of our mast-raising system, explained the mechanics of it and gave him my email address to send him a link to the construction details. Little did I know that just a little while later, Charlie was going to be my guardian angel! be continued

Fantasia under sail
Fantasia under sail, with a Kenmore Air seaplane taking off and kayakers