June 19, 2010, Sucia Island, WA
Today I wake up excited to share coffee with good friends but also sad to see this day come. Today will be the last time for a long time that I will have with my dear friend Shari aboard our home, Andiamo III. Though we will see each other again in August for a day or two, this will be the last time our homes will be so close.
Shari has lived aboard their boat Pearl (not The Pearl, and definitely not The Black Pear, just Pearl) for four years. She, like me, has 2 children and has been there to share in all my trials and my victories. She is a strong Christian mother and wife and we have so many values and interests in common that I feel she is a sister and always will be dear to me.
So after coffee today, Shari and I will have one more workout together. We will hike around Sucia Island to Ewing Cove. The thing about running or hiking with my sister is it's not only good for your body but it's good for your soul. You get to talk about the things on your heart and mind and when you are done you feel like you are truly renewed and ready for another day.
This hike is going to be a long one since it has to last me until Shari and her family come join us again on the water....wherever that may be.
Until then, I will miss "My Sista from another Mista", but our journeys will cross soon.. I pray for this transition to be easy on us both, and I pray for those of you reading this to have a friendship like Shari's and mine.
June 19, 2010, Sucia Island, WA
So we spent the last two nights in Friday Harbor. The boat sat on the breakwater the first night and then in the San Juan Island Yacht Club reciprocal slip last night. Both nights we slept at our friend Susan's house which looks out over the harbor. She has lived here for almost 20 years.
We saw the new Karate Kid movie last night and it was pretty good. Tami and I are still fans of the original movie but the kids like the new one better. They say the original is too "old school" for them. However, they are still big fans of the soundtrack with "Eye of the Tiger" being one of their favorite! The new one is a bit strange in the fact that it is called "Karate Kid" but emphasizes Kung Fu as the martial art of choice. Also, the actors are much younger (pre-teen). The movie shows 12 year olds kissing! What is this world coming to? Nonetheless, Will Smith's kid does a good job. Jackie Chan is getting old and China is pretty cool. We all had a nice time. Susan even snuck some popcorn over to the kids without us seeing. Afterwards, we went for icecream and went back to Susan's house.
Today, we enjoyed breakfast with Susan and helped her clean up the house. Then we pushed away from the dock and motored up to Sucia Island to join our friends from Pearl. Bob has to go back to work on the 22nd so they have to head home tomorrow. We are now sitting on the anchor in Echo Bay getting ready to join them for dinner. The weather is absolutely gorgeous and the sun and breeze are keeping our batteries topped off. We love free power!
We still have the haul out scheduled for next Tuesday, so we plan to sit here at Sucia until then. Hopefully, we can relax and get some routine maintenance taken care of. We still have lots to do. Sucia Island has to be one of our favorite places to visit. Pictures to follow!
June 16, 2010, Friday Harbor, WA
The Non-plan plan
Life is easy when you don't have a plan! You're never late, you're never early, you never show up to the wrong party,
We must apologize to our small fan base for not blogging the past couple of days. First of all, we've been busy and the cell service in the islands is a bit sporadic. Since we last wrote, we spent the night tied to the breakwater dock at Friday Harbor. We had a great dinner with our friends on Pearl (Bob and Shari and their kids Sydney and Annie) and enjoyed some good icecream with the kids on the waterfront. The next morning (Monday) we spent some time with our friend Susan and made some phone calls regarding repairs for the boat.
We hired a diver to take a look at the prop and drive shaft and get his opinion on the damage. Further inspection of the engine and drive train revealed that the engine had been pulled aft on its motor mounts because of the wedge effect of the line wrapping tightly around the drive shaft. We thought the engine could just rock back forward on its mounts, but realized it couldn't because the mounting bolts had actually been bent....UGH! The engine still cranks, and the transmission still goes into gear. The drive shaft still turns, and the propeller still pushes the boat through the water. However, there is some vibration and the shaft and propeller are sitting about an inch and a half farther aft then they should be. We are not sure if any damage has been done to the transmission, cutlass bearing or shaft seal, so we are going to have to haul the boat out of the water. New engine mounts have been ordered as well.
Since we had to wait on parts anyway, we decided to take our crippled boat cruising. No sense in sitting there feeling sorry for ourselves! Our friends from Pearl left the dock earlier in the day on Monday and sailed up to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. We decided that it would be better to join them than to throw a pity party in Friday Harbor and hemorrhage all our money away while waiting for parts to show up. So, we pushed away from the dock late in the afternoon and sailed all the way up to Reid Harbor. We had a great sail and even got the spinnaker to fly for a few minutes. If we didn't mention it earlier, it was the furling line to our headsail that had fallen overboard and wrapped around the shaft. So, needless to say it was gone and there was no way for us to furl and unfurl our jib. However, we were able to rig a new one and get the jib in and out safely. We arrived at Reid Harbor around 2000 and found a nice place to anchor. After setting the anchor and getting the boat settled down, we relaxed to a nice dinner.
Yesterday, we conducted some boat maintenance in the morning then joined our friends, the Buelts, from Pearl for a nice long hike to the Turn Point Lighthouse. The rain that doused us earlier in the morning had subsided and the sun was making its way out. Everyone including the kids and the dogs had a great day. We hiked about 5 miles and enjoyed a great picnic lunch at Turn Point overlooking Haro Strait and across into Canada. It was wonderful. Yesterday evening found us enjoying a great dinner of chicken kabobs and veggies hot off the grill with the Buelts. The breaze was light and the boats were swinging gently on their anchors. We enjoyed each other's company late into the night. We are going to miss these great friends dearly when we finally part ways in a few short weeks. Leaving the ones you love has to be one of the hardest parts about leaving.
Today is Christian's birthday. He is 9 years old. The girls from Pearl put together a small scavenger hunt for him on shore. After finding several clues, he came to the infamous "butt tree" and found a brand new yo-yo from Sydney and Annie. The kids really enjoyed that. Standby for a blog from the kids explaining the "butt tree"!
Later in the day, we weighed anchor and made our way back to Friday Harbor for our dreaded boat repairs - updates to follow on this. We are praying that it doesn't cost us all of our cruising money! It has been another beautiful day in the San Juan Islands. We are so excited to be together and on the water. In spite of it all, we have had some fantastic weather and great sailing. We look forward to every day and are excited to see what tomorrow brings....other than the shipyard repair bill, of course.
The past couple of days: Friday Harbor to Reid Harbor to Friday Harbor - 20 miles
See you tomorrow!
June 14, 2010, Friday Harbor, WA
Yesterday's blog said something about "leaving is the hardest part about leaving" (I think I'm paraphrasing here). Well, we thought so too...until today. Actually the hardest part about leaving is all the difficulties that come your way on day #2 after bragging about how good day #1 was.
So, day #2 found us weighing anchor from Port Ludlow around 0700. We motored out of the harbor and joined the outgoing tide in Admiralty Inlet. We had good weather and the wind was shifting nicely to the west so we decided to raise some sail. The weather forecast for the Straits of Juan De Fuca was a bit "sporty" with a west wind around 20-25 knots and 3-5 foot seas - nothing too extreme for our heavy-weather boat...or so we thought.
First of all, it will always be our goal to be honest in our blog. We want to share our experiences, our success, our failures, our good times, and our bad. We want the readers to share in our cruising adventure without being mislead into thinking the cruising life is always a bowl of cherries. Well, the truth is, it's not always sunny, it's not always calm, the wind is not always at your back, the seas are not always following, and the sailing is not always smooth. There are BAD days! But you know what? As long as the good days continue to outnumber the bad ones, it makes it all worthwhile. So this is our first BAD day of our adventure.
So there we were, riding the ebbing tide out of Admiralty Inlet, rounding Point Wilson and setting a course for San Juan Island, a short 25 miles across the infamous straits. Now you must understand that this was not our first Strait crossing. We have done it several times before and don't take it lightly. Boats and crews have been lost because of poor judgment or lack of respect for this powerful body of water. We were confident in our ability and the condition of the boat. Anyway, back to the story....Point Wilson is famous for its tide rips and confused, steep seas. Although we steered well clear, we still experienced the full force of enormous, confused seas and a stiff 30 knot breeze off the port bow. Although we were sailing under a reefed main and staysail, the engine was still running and helping drive through the rough water. We bounced and bounced, buried the bow a few times in the on-coming waves, took water over the boat and into the cockpit, and dislodged almost every item we had stored so neatly down below. It was rough!
At some point, we felt the engine change noise and a vibration developed accompanied by a strange smell of burning rubber. Fortunately, we were making good way under sail so we kept our course and shut the engine down. After some investigation, we realized a stray line from the deck had fallen into the water and had become wrapped around the drive shaft and propeller. After so many revolutions, the friction caused the line to melt and wedge itself between the propeller and the cutlass bearing causing the drive shaft to back out about an inch. Well, this caused a couple other problems, but the major one being our dripless shaft seal was no longer dripless and we were taking on water. We had some decisions to make and some damage control to accomplish...quickly!
The waves were still huge, and the wind was still howling at close to 30 knots, but we were still making good way towards San Juan Island. We didn't know how much longer the engine and drive train would support us so we left it alone for the time being and continued to sail. Fortunately, our big new bilge pump was more than able to keep up with the incoming water so we didn't have any real emergency. We pressed on. Our plan was to continue sailing northwest up Haro Strait and then turn east to run downwind for Friday Harbor. Unfortunately, the wind was slowly shifting to the north which would have made it difficult for us to make any headway up Haro Strait under sail. After checking the tide charts and currents, we turned and made a run for Cattle Pass. In the end, this was the right decision. We sailed smoothly through the pass and up into San Juan Channel. Once we were back into deep, calm water away from any major hazards, the wind died and we began drifting. We quickly took advantage of this opportunity and donned scuba gear and knife to see if we could unfoul the prop. Boy, that water is cold! After about half an hour in the cold water, I was able to clean up some of the mess, but there was still a big blob of melted rope wrapped around the shaft and jammed up into the cutlass bearing.
No sooner had I re-boarded the boat and dried off, the wind picked up nicely and pushed us along our route to the entrance to Friday Harbor. Our friends from Pearl sailed up to meet us and offered any assistance should we need it. We cranked the engine and ran it through the gears. All seamed well and we motored safely to the dock. A detailed inspection later helped curb the leak at the shaft seal so the need for an urgent haulout was curtailed. Nonetheless, damage has still been done, the shaft is riding about an inch aft of where it should be, our zinc is missing off the prop and it all needs to be repaired, so we'll see what tomorrow brings.
In the end, we all made it safely to the dock. We joined our good friends Bob and Shari from Pearl for dinner and later walked the kids and dogs to the ice cream shop. Even our good friend Susan (the first owner of Andiamo III) came down to join us.
So now the boat is a mess but not sinking. We are exhausted but safe and warm. We learned a lot, used our heads, and think we handled the situation as best we could. The boat sailed great in the heavy weather and the Lord looked after us once again as He always does. The wind and waves stopped when we needed them to and then picked back up again at just the right time. It has been a good end to a bad day. See you tomorrow.
PS: Sorry there are no pictures today, my film crew was too busy holding on and throwing up to grab the camera.
The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude! - Bob Bitchin
Today: Port Ludlow to Friday Harbor - 40nm
Log: 105 miles
June 12, 2010, Port Ludlow, WA
Rumor has it that it's bad luck to depart for a voyage on a Friday. That's why we waited until today;)
The kid's last day of school was on Thursday and I finished clearing out of Fort Lewis the same day. With all the administrative business complete, we still had a list of "to do's" a mile long. So, Friday was spent running errands together as a family. We drove to Seattle to pick up our broken refrigerator, some more LED lights, and a couple of scuba tanks. We then had to clear out my office and get all that junk into our storage shed. Spare parts had to be loaded on to the boat and put away. Laundry had to be done. And the list goes on and on.
As scheduled, the crew of Andiamo III departed Swantown Marina for the last time this morning at 0700. After some hugs and goodbyes from a few close friends, and a quick stop at the pump out, we blew the air horn to wake up our friends Chuck and Wendy and to tell the marina "goodbye" one last time. Our new Andiamo III pirate flag, made for us by our friend Kristen, flew proudly from the starboard halyard.
The weather was beautiful and the boat was operating smoothly. We caught the ebbing tide and made great time northward. The kid's both took turns at the helm and stood a couple short 30-minute watches each. We slipped under the Narrows bridge after only three and a half hours underway and rode the outgoing tide all the way up past Seattle. Even after the tide swung, we were still making good time. Our plan was to take advantage of the good weather and make it as far as we could while we had daylight - Port Townsend would be our destination, a short 90 miles or so from Olympia. As fate would have it, we felt the full force of the flood tide after rounding Point No Point where our speed plummeted to a mere 3 knots. It was at the same time that we began discussing dinner and our plans for the remainder of the evening. Tami tried to fire the stove only to realize we were out of propane. After some quick thinking on our part, we changed course and made a beeline for Port Ludlow. The marina actually fills propane tanks and stays open until 2000 on the weekends. What a relief! When we arrived, the marina was full but the fuel dock was wide open. After a quick trip ashore, we shoved off from the dock and motored slowly through one of the best anchorages in the Puget Sound. As the sun hung low in the sky, we set the anchor in a calm 45 feet of water. What a great place this is! The sun is now setting and the breeze is blowing softly. Dinner was magnificent and we cannot wait until tomorrow. Our plan will be to depart early, catching the outgoing tide once again, and shoot across the Straits of Juan De Fuca to join our friends from Pearl on Stuart Island.
We did it. We are on our way. It's been said that leaving is the hardest part. Part of that is definitely true. We are saying goodbye to some of the closest friends we have ever had, but we know we will see them again some day. We love Olympia and don't really want to leave; however, we feel that this adventure is something our family must do - for many reasons, some very tangible and others yet to be discovered.
Today: Olympia, WA to Port Ludlow, WA - 65nm
April 30, 2010, Somewhere in Afghanistan
I should really post an entire blog dedicated to the installation and setup of our new alternative energy system aboard Andiamo; however, I'll have to do it another time. This blog is just a quick note about my kids new addiction - the amp meter! In short, we recently installed a new wind generator and about 300 watts of solar power. Before leaving, I had just enough time to connect the wind gen and the big dodger mounted solar panel. Thanks to the guys at e-marine in florida, we were able to install a great custom panel that contols and monitors our wind and solar equipment. The panel includes the solar controller, a dedicated display for the incoming sun juice, a set of circuit breakers for the wind gen and solar panels, a dedicated amp meter for the wind gen and the run/stop switch. Its a great little setup and tells you in an instant how much you are "sticking it to the man" by getting free energy from the wind and sun.
Anway, to make a short story really long, I connected the solar panel at 4pm under overcast skies and rain in the Pacific Northwest. BAM! 2 amps incoming baby! I was thrilled. Later that night, Tami woke me at 0130 and told me the wind gen was working it's butt off so I went to check on it. Sure enough, 6 amps incoming from the fresh breeze outside. I was stoked! So, to get to my point...After I left on Wednesday, Tami sent me a report of sunny skies from Olympia. She introduced the kids to the amp meters and told them what the numbers meant, how higher numbers were good when they were going INTO the batteries and that the more sun and wind we got, the more they could charge their Nintendos and watch TV. That's all it took for them. They were both glued to the amp meter shouting out numbers like stock brokers on the trading floor. "I saw 8.1" "I just saw 7" "wow, it just went to 9"!!! They were so excited. It was like we had just given them crack and they wanted more!
It may not seem like much, but if you can get your kids excited about 12 volt battery system management, then you are really getting serious about cruising. Now, since we had to mount the monitoring panel near the floor of Christians room, we can just ask the kids to give us a status update. Pretty soon, they will be giving me a full report of something like: "12 amps of sun, 6 amps of wind, batteries at 98%, refrigerator is running, nothing else is on, all systems GO, hoist the main....etc. etc." One can only hope.
So, as soon as I can, I'll get a full post together with pictures and all discussing our wind and solar install and some lessons learned.