Took the Boat Out for the Winter

Having saved our boat from disaster the day before, we decided we needed to take the boat out for the winter as soon as possible before another wind storm hit. Since there was no severe wind today, Sandi took the day off work and we brought it out.

The backup motor.

We staged our towing vehicle and trailer at the boat ramp, then went down to where the boat was and cast off. The water the day before had been 4' waves. Today the water was as flat as the heart monitor on a corpse. We decided we were not even going to try to sail. Instead we just motored up to the boat ramp.

We experienced some motor trouble as it has been cutting out at low speeds. As we got near shore, the motored died and we actually paddled in the last twenty feet. The boat ramp was nearly deserted, so we felt no pressure as we maneuvered the boat onto the trailer using just lines, and using the boat hook as a boat pole.

We then brought the mast down with our mast raising system. After securing everything, we hauled the boat to its winter storage spot. Examining the boat out of the water, we verified that there had been no damage from the day before.

Thus concludes our first season sailing Fantasia. We will have more adventures doing maintenance during the off season, but we will not be in the water again until spring of next year.


Boat Disaster Narrowly Avoided

We narrowly avoided seriously damaging the boat in a wind storm this weekend. As first-time boat owners, we were attentive and worried about our new boat with the first couple of gusty days in the 30+ mph range, but became more comfortable as we'd weathered each wind or rainstorm without any issues.

From October through about March each year, Western Washington periodically experiences severe wind storms. These storms generally have little or no precipitation, but the wind speeds can be very high. Normally, these heavy winds blow down from the north as a front pushes through, and the geography of the lake provides a natural breakwater that protects our moorage. But in this weekend's windstorm, the high winds were driving the waves from the south, bearing down on our boat with the full force of every wave. Just to the south of us, Hunts Point measured gusts as high as 51 mph. Further south, in Oregon, they measured gusts as high as 94 mph from the same storm. These hurricane force winds knocked down lots of trees in our area and there were power outages throughout the city.

On Sunday morning, the winds had died down quite a lot, but they were still blowing pretty strong across Lake Washington with winds still coming from the south. We went down to our dock to see the boat, not because we were worried about how it had weathered the storm, but to show a friend who was visiting our lovely Fantasia. As we headed down towards the dock, from a distance, we could tell things were not normal. We could see the mast swaying side to side, more than ever before. Once we could see the dock and the boat, it became clear why. There were swells about 4 feet tossing the boat around continuously and the starboard aft line had snapped, allowing the aft of the boat to swing out away from the dock with every wave.

The combination of up and down motion of the boat from the large waves, along with the intense stretching from the force of the waves, had caused the aft mooring line to wear against the cleat. While the line snubbers helped, they weren't enough to absorb all the force from these strong waves. This created a situation where our lines were rubbing up/down and being stretched across rough metal cleats. The starboard aft line was shredded, rubbed through until it finally snapped. The starboard bow line had held, but just barely. It was worn about 2/3 of the way through. I don't think it would have survived another hour.

If that starboard bow line had snapped too, the boat would have been held just by the downwind lines on the port side of the boat. From the port bow, we tie off to a concrete post which is situated about five feet aft of our bow. When launching and docking, we have to pivot the boat around this post since there is also a hydraulic boat lift directly to the port and aft of where we tie up. If the starboard bow line had also snapped, each incoming wave would have been smashing Fantasia up against that concrete post. The fiberglass hull would have been severely damaged and it is quite possible the boat may have sunk right there.

Needless to say, we were very lucky that we went down to have a look at the boat early Sunday morning. After some frantic scrambling, we managed to re-secure the boat while it was still being tossed around violently. We attached some new moorage lines. Greg tied the remaining good part of the bow line, with the snubber attached, to a much thicker line with a sheet bend. A sheet bend is a great knot for joining two lines together especially when they are different thicknesses. There are other knots that may have worked well too, but we had very little good line left on the section with the snubber.

Examining the boat as best we could in those conditions, we could detect no damage. The wave action made it impossible to even attempt to get the boat away from the dock, so we secured her the best we could with a few much heavier lines. We reviewed the weather forecast and decided not to push our luck. With more heavy winds predicted for Tuesday and our seasonal rains in full swing, Monday would be the day that we would pull Fantasia out of the water and trailer her for the winter.

Wind storms like this one do happen regularly here in the Pacific Northwest throughout the fall and winter and sometimes they can be wicked. In 1979, a wind storm hit the Hood Canal region to the west of us with sustained winds of 85 mph and gusts estimated at 120 mph. The floating bridge on Hood Canal sank in the storm, and Douglas firs, 3' thick, snapped like popsicle sticks. Fall and winter weather in the Pacific Northwest can be a challenging environment for any moored boat.

Valuable lessons learned:

  1. Not all windstorms are created equal. Take into account the effects of geography, wind direction and how much protection from wave action your moorage provides.
  2. While your mooring lines may be sufficiently rated for the boat you have, they may not be nearly enough for the weather you might need to endure.
  3. We either need to have well protected moorage, behind a good breakwater or we need to take the boat out of the water before fall/winter weather sets in (no more waiting for one last sunny day).
  4. Not all cleats are created equal. Some are very smooth, but others are rough to provide more friction for stability. That friction can bite you if it damages your lines in heavy weather.
Tip: Slice a section of rubber garden hose and wrap it around your docking line anywhere there may be a friction point, like a cleat or edge of a dock. It will protect your lines and is cheaper to replace than good quality docking lines.


Cheap Wind Direction Indicator

Yarn tied to the shroud.

We went out for a sail. Nothing too different from many other times we have been out on the lake this season.

When sailing, it is useful to know what direction the wind is coming from. You can add expensive wind indicators to the top of the mast. We have plans to do that some time. Until then, we have a really cheap and easy way of finding the wind direction that works pretty well.

We acquired a skein of yarn, that had both blue and red at different points on the length. We cut off about 10 inches of each color and tied them to the rear shrouds about six feet off the deck. We put the red one on the port side and the blue on the starboard, to match the colors of the tell-tails the jib. You do not really need two different colors, but we like the correspondence.

Now we can just look at the yarn to tell the wind direction. It is useful to have more than one, because occasionally one will get stuck to the shroud for a little while.

Boating Safety Equipment

Every boat in Washington State is required to have certain safety equipment aboard. For boats in our size category, this is the equipment we need on board.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

We require that everyone aboard wear a Personal Flotation Device (life preserver to landlubbers) at all times above deck. If the person is in the cabin, we require that they keep one handy, but not necessarily on, unless the person is 12 years old or younger, in which case they need to keep it on at all times. Washington State's law is actually less strict than this, and merely requires that everyone have a PFD at hand.

All of our life vests are Type II Near-Shore Life Jackets. We have two that use CO2 canisters that inflate upon immersion in water. These are more comfortable than other types. We will be acquiring two more of these by next season so that all crew members will have them.

We also have a Type IV horseshoe throwable PFD on a bracket on the port side railing. We have a 100' of light floating line attached to it.

Visual Distress Signals

Washington State WAC 352-60-040 follows the US Coast Guard regulations. They require that you have a Visual Distress Signal available for daylight and another for night time. For daylight, you can have an approved Distress Signal for Boats Orange Flag or various kinds of flares. For night time, you can have an approved Electric Distress Light for Boats, or various kinds of flares. Some flares can act as both daytime and nighttime Visual Distress Signals.

ACR DistresSOS 1842 Electric Distress Light

Here is the drawback to flares: They are expensive and they have to be replaced every 42 months. To meet the minimum requirements, you can get by with just a Distress Sign for Boats Orange Flag and the Electric Distress Light for Boats. However, oddly as it seems, nobody seems to be making a Coast Guard approved Electric Distress Light for Boats any more. This seems like a business opportunity for someone! ACR Electronics made the Coast Guard approved DistresSOS (product 1842), but it is no longer being made. Other lights do not have the Coast Guard approval, so will not meet the state requirement. I bought one of the ACR lights on Ebay used for about $30 plus shipping.

The flag is orange and has a square and a circle in black.

Flares come in various forms. If you get them to act as both day and night Visual Distress Signals, there are a couple of types that will qualify. You will need three in total, although you can mix and match what kinds you have on board.

Hand-Held Red Flare Signals (160.021)
Parachute Red Flare Signals (160.024)
Hand-Held Rocket Propelled Parachute Red Flare Signals (160.036)
Red Aerial Pyrotechnic Flares (160.066)

The critical label that makes this the only approved Electric Distress Signal

Although flares came with our boat, they expired in the early 1990s, so are not legal. The Coast Guard regulations require they be replaced within 42 months from the date of manufacture. We will replace all of our flares by next season, but with the light and the flag on board, we do not necessarily need to replace them at the Coast Guard's replacement rate.

Fire Extinguisher

We have a Type B fire extinguisher on board. This is required by Washington State law.

Air Horn

We have a hand operated air horn. This must be loud enough to be heard for half a mile.


Seattle Rainfall

Sailboat with spinnaker flying

We went out for a sail, taking Greg's parents. It was a beautiful day, and there were more sailboats on the lake than power boats, many with their spinnakers out. We were briefly entertained when one sailboat lost control of the spinnaker lines as they tried to raise it and they struggled for a while trying to reclaim their spinnaker as it flew about.

These beautiful days are going to become more infrequent here soon. The Seattle area is well known for its rainfall, but much of the rest of the country thinks that means frequent thunderstorms and heavy rain. It is not like that at all.

Here is a Seattle joke: A guy visits Seattle and stays at a hotel. He comes out of the hotel the first day and it is raining. The second day it is raining. The third day it is raining. He sees a kid on the street and says, "Hey, kid, does it ever stop raining around here?" The kid replies, "How should I know, I'm only five!"

Another Seattle joke: We do have a summer in Seattle. Last year it was on a Wednesday.

Temperate rainforests in North America
(from Karl Udo, cropped, GFDL)

These jokes are something of an exaggeration, of course. Seattle falls within the Pacific temperate rain forests ecoregion. This rain forest extends from Northern California, all the way to Alaska. In a rain forest, there are really only two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season.

In Seattle, the wet season begins some time in September or October and ends about May or June. During the rainy season, we have as many as 19 days a month with measurable rainfall. There are many other days with no rain, but no sun either, being clouded over the whole day. Thunderstorms are infrequent, and even when we get them, they are usually short and unspectacular.

During the dry season, there is still measurable rain, but tapers down to only about five days a month. People here complain that Californians come up here for a vacation during the dry season, see how nice it is, and move here. Then it starts raining and they gripe for the entire rainy season.

We recently watched a TV series called "The Killing" that is set in Seattle. It is obvious to any Seattlite that the writers and producers are not from here. It is actually filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, not Seattle. However, Vancouver has almost exactly the same weather patterns as Seattle, so that does not explain the rain in the show. The first sign of non-Seattle production is they have a guy carrying an umbrella. We just do not do that.

Seattle's rain is typically more like the mist machines in the lines at Disney World. It gets you a little damp, but it evaporates almost immediately. The amount in inches is negligible. However, in The Killing, it is obvious that they film using rain machines, because the rain comes down like it does in Florida: heavy. There are exceptions in Seattle where the skies open up, but it is infrequent. In Seattle, you are more likely to wear a lined rain coat than carry an umbrella.

Average high and low temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

You need the lining for warmth. Seattle has an average temperature of 76°F during August, the hottest month of the year. We get little snow, though, because the average temperature during the December through February, the coldest months, is 36°F. The coldest days usually do not have snow because clouds trap in heat, and you need clouds for snow. We get this equilibrium where it might snow, but the clouds hold in enough heat to bring the temperature above freezing, so it just rains.

When it does snow, Seattle is frightening. Since it happens infrequently here, drivers do not know how to drive in it. The first thing they do is jam on the brakes and slide into the thing in front of them, rather than pumping the brakes and steering. The city shuts down with 2" of snow, as nobody can get to or from work with the freeways jammed with accidents. At one particular intersection at the bottom of a hill, in one hour during a snow storm, Greg witnessed 17 accidents.

In a typical year, we might get one week above 90°F and one week below 32°F. The hot is actually more of a problem than the cold. Everyone has heat, but most houses, including ours, have no air conditioning. When it is above 90°F, it is miserable. We have an air conditioner for the hottest room in the house, but no central air.

During the rainy season, we may go days without seeing the sun. This causes problems for some people. They get Seasonal Affected Disorder, which is a kind of depression induced by the lack of sunshine. The lack of sunshine from the clouds is compounded by the fact that we are at about 47° latitude. This causes the sun to set at about 4:10 p.m. on December 5th. On the other hand, it does give us very long days during the summer dry season. You can still hit a tennis ball without lights after 9:30 p.m.

All of this makes for perfect sailing conditions in the dry season, and miserable conditions in the rainy season. We are starting to make plans to pull the boat out some time in the upcoming weeks.


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.


Using the Loos Tension Gauge

After raising the mast, you need to adjust the tension on the shrouds. The Catalina 22 Manual has some rough guidelines for setting the tension, but the best way is to use a Loos Tension Gauge. This tension gauge requires no batteries and gives you a precise reading of the tension on the shrouds.

It is very important to get the tension right. If you do not, you could potentially break the mast in a heavy wind. See this video on what happens when you lose a shroud.

The instructions that came inside the box with the gauge are not very well written. It is difficult to make sense of them and read the gauge correctly. There are some better instructions on the outside of the box. Here are some new instructions written in plain English.

Check the shroud cable diameter
Hook the tension gauge around the shroud
Pull back the lanyard until the metal end is
lined up with the black line, then read
the scale next to the shroud. It reads 22, which
is 180 pounds and the turnbuckle needs to
be tightened.
  1. Determine the thickness of the shrouds. There are little indentations on the side of the gauge that help you do this, and that is all they are used for. Look on the underside for the captions. On our Catalina 22, the shrouds are 1/8" thick.
  2. Hook the bottom of the gauge around the shroud.
  3. Pull back on the string until the arrow at the top of the gauge is at the black line. Don't overextend it or you can damage the gauge.
  4. Read the scale where the center of the shroud crosses it.
  5. Compare the scale number to the chart on the side of the gauge (reproduced below). That is the tension on the shroud in pounds.
Shroud Width
Scale 3/32" 1/8" 5/32"
5 80
10 110
15 150 120
20 200 160
22 230 180
24 250 200
26 280 220
28 310 240
30 350 260
32 400 300 200
34 470 340 240
36 580 390 280
38 750 450 320
40 550 360
42 700 420
44 950 520
45 600
46 700
47 800
48 950

The tension you should use varies, but start by setting all the shrouds to an equal tension. For 1/8" shrouds on a Catalina 22, use about 250 pounds (the scale should read about 29). As you get more experienced, you can play with the tension to find what is right for your boat.


The Yacht Log Book

We have a written log, in addition to this web site. We went with the Yacht Log designed by Kenneth Mahler and published by Mystic Seaport Museum. A hard-bound book establishes that no pages have been added or removed. This book has columns for the kind of information that we want to keep and the title is very close to the domain name of our site.

We have anyone coming on board sign the guests page in the log. We adopted the policy Mahler suggests:

Experience dictates a simple rule regarding who should sign the guest page: if they are aboard for more than fifteen minutes, guests should be asked to sign the log, and they need do so only once a season. This excuses the brief visitor and avoids multiple signatures of the frequent visitor.

The bottom of each log page lists who was actually aboard that day. We have also adopted the policy that the first entry of each log entry lists the dates since the last entry in the log and appears similar to this:

At Dock. Wednesday 8/27 through Saturday 8/30 no activity.
We then proceed into the current day's activity. This means that every day is accounted for in the log. When the log page is recorded the captain signs the page at the bottom. As Chapman's Piloting says
This authenticated record may be needed in connection with an insurance claim, a law suit, or other investigation. If a boat owner can state under oath that it is his practice to keep a daily log and then present a signed entry for the day in question, he has gone a long way toward legally establishing the situation as seen by him. Be sure that you never make erasures in a log—if you need to correct an item, rule out the old material without making it illegible, and then write in the correct entry if there is space, or make reference to where it will be found elsewhere in the log. Initial the correction and add the date if it is made on a later day.

If you have any suggestions for maintaining a log, please add them to the comments below.


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 sail...so 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 schedules...so they have engines.

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


The History of Fantasia, Our Catalina 22

Map of Woodland Hills, California
Woodland Hills, California, former location of the Catalina Factory

There were some records that came with the ex-Impulse when we bought her. The records are the Hull ID number, applications for radio licenses, Washington State registrations, and the record of the purchase of the motor. From those records and some Internet searches, we can partially reconstruct the history of the boat.

The boat now named Fantasia was built in January of 1985 at the Catalina plant in Woodland Hills, California. Fantasia was one of the last built "original style" Catalina 22s. (The full history of the Catalina 22 can be found here.)

Map of Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie, between Lake Superior and Lake Huron
Map © OpenStreetMap contributors

By December of 1986 the boat was owned by an officer in the Coast Guard, stationed at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. From there is easy access to both Lake Superior and Lake Huron. We don't know if he was the original owner or not, but it seems likely. He was transferred to Seattle in 1987 and brought the boat out with him. The boat has remained in possession of Seattle area owners since then. In 1989 he sold the boat, probably because he was being transferred to the East Coast.

Owner #2 owned her for about 20 years. She bought the outboard motor new in 1990 from a place in Thorne Bay, Alaska. We don't know if the ex-Impulse was sailed up to Thorne Bay, but it is a possibility. You can't get to Thorne Bay by land. There is some indication that Owner #2 raced some. In 2009, she sold the boat.

Map of Thorne Bay, Alaska
Thorne Bay, Alaska
Map © OpenStreetMap contributors

Owner #3 owned the boat for about two years. In 2011, he sold the boat to the next owner.

Owner #4 owned her for about three years. He sold it to us in June of 2014. He kept it moored at a buoy in a protected bay in the salt water off Whidbey Island during the sailing season, and on a trailer in the off season.

The story owner #4 told us was that he was in the market for a boat. In 2009, he saw Impulse for sale and decided to buy it. However, he had to get approval from his wife, which he got. When he came back to make the purchase, he found it was already sold. Two years later, he was on Lake Union, when he saw a very nice Catalina 22 for sale. It was the same boat! He bought it.

His sailing partner was his son, who acquired a job in California. With his sailing partner gone, and his wife not a big sailing fan, he decided to sell it. And that is how we became the fifth owners of the ex-Impulse, now named Fantasia.


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.