Cruising 2017 has begun
30 May 2017 | Photo is Meyers Chuck, north of Ketchikan AK
The MV DavidEllis 2017 cruising season is well underway. 9May we -- Dorothy and I, Rusty & Rascal and guest crew Sue and Clancy, made our way out of Lake Union into Puget Sound via 3 lifting bridges and and the Ballard-Chittenden Locks (which are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year). After overnighting at Shilshole Marina, we headed north to LaConner, once again to raft up to Ben & Hillary's tug Susan H.
We washed away the winter's dirt, mold and algae from the deck in the pouring rain and after two nights and a couple projects advanced, moved over to Anacortes for 725 gallons of fuel. Actually, we were shooting for 750 (as this marina is currently offering a big price break at 750) but couldn't get that last 25 gallons into the 5 keel tanks. The kid running the fuel dock took pity and gave us the discount anyway.
The following morning, DE was northbound, out of US and into Canadian waters, bound for Nanaimo. From Nanaimo to Ketchikan, it was a reverse trip to our run down the Inside Passage last September -- Nanaimo > Campbell River > Port Neville > Port McNeill > crossed Queen Charlotte Sound to Pruth Bay > Bella Bella /Shearwater via the 'jungle cruise' among islets west of the main channel > Bottleneck > Lowe > Prince Rupert > crossed Dixon Entrance and re-entered US waters, Ketchikan -- but with much more sunshine than last September. Whoopee!
One of our many boat projects needing doing, was to get under the boat and scrub the zincs. DE has a total of 21 zincs -- sacrificial anodes -- which provide electrolysis protection to our steel hull, bronze prop, stainless prop shaft and other submerged metal. But zinc metal develops an oxide coating in freshwater, nullifying their function. DE sat in freshwater all winter, and it is/was past time to take a wire brush down under and scrub them clean. So finally, with a couple days required waiting for weather in Prince Rupert, I decided to get it done.
But here's the thing: I gained about 25 pounds this winter (too much lying on the couch, eating bon-bons and binge-ing on Netflix); and my wetsuit was really too tight even before that, so I hauled out my dry suit (which I haven't worn in 10 years) because it is more forgiving re: size. Between my increased girth, and the thick dry suit underwear, my old free-diving weight belt would not go completely around me and I had to join two of them to make a workable weight-belt. (No I'm not twice as big around! Just bigger than one belt; they're good natural rubber belts and I didn't want to cut one, so joined two.). Besides rebuilding a weight-belt system, I needed to add an inflator hose connection (for the dry suit) to the second stage hookah regulator and despite Clancy's help, by the time I had the compressor and hoses set-up, wheelhouse roof ladder down on the boarding ladder so I could get in and out of the water; dry suit, weights and regulator harness on; lanyard for the wire brush, gloves, mask and fins ready, I was exhausted! It turns out that each of the three hoods I have aboard are way too tight around the neck over the top of the double-layer dry suit neck seal... shit! I thought, all this effort, I don't want to just quit, maybe I could last long enough without a hood, to clean the prop hub zinc and the two hull zincs closest to the prop.
Not a chance, within 30 seconds of going under, my head was in a vise. I could barely see or think. I took a swipe or two at the hub zinc and realized I was not going to be able to do this. I won't bother to detail the hassle of trying to get my fins off to climb the ladder out (the dry suit underwear was so tight I couldn't bend), but I did manage to get out, strip off my gear, sit in the shower and contemplate the complete obliteration of my former status as a "prominent frogman". I hate being old, banged-up and out of shape!
The following morning, after determining Prince Rupert apparently does not include a dive shop where one might get a properly-fitting hood, I cut down one of my hoods to where it was a cap with a chin strap and tried again. I left the zipper down on the dry underwear, hoping for a bit more flexibility (not so much). But, again with Clancy's help dressing and managing air hoses on deck, I did manage to scrub all the zincs clean and took a scotch-pad to the algae at the waterline. It may not have been the most miserable dive I ever made -- after all there were no dead bodies, or body parts, to deal with and I was hanging in open water, rather than plowing through bottom mud* -- but the only thing making it less miserable was that I did get the job done.
From Ketchikan, with Sue and Clancy's visit coming to an end, we made a series of short runs, stopping overnight at Meyers Chuck and Thom's Place before arriving in Wrangell, SE AK. Local person, Cassie, is still bringing out cinnamon rolls to boaters at Meyers Chuck, in the morning.
We've got a full summer of cruising with family and friends. We're looking forward to visiting with other cruising friends and SE AK locals with whom we've become acquainted. Now that we're here in SE, we're seeing boats and people we know from the cruising and commercial fishing communities. Whales, dolphin, bears, otters and eagles are all waiting for us too.
* if this reference to muddy bottoms and dead bodies is confusing to the reader, for many, many years I did body-recovery diving for Sonoma County Sheriff.
Great aerial video of Hong Kong
22 February 2017
Readers of this blog may recall that we took delivery of MV DavidEllis in Hong Kong, September '06 after being built by Seahorse Marine, Dou Men, CN. Besides several extended periods living aboard in Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, south side HK Island, we've stayed in HK many, many days and weeks from our first visit in January of '04 until as recently as last April ('16). When you think of HK, no doubt you think of the iconic high rises of Central the and crowded street scenes frequently seen in movies. But our experience of HK, thanks to our wonderful friends there, looks much more like this video (it appears you must cut and paste the link to see the video):
29 August 2016 | on-the-hard, Wrangell
photo is Portage Bay, north of Petersburg
Hello boys and girls, it seems I have not posted here since completing the run south last November. Lots has happened since then, the short version being:
-lots of winter boat work
-winter holidays with family and friends in Sonoma County
-World Rugby Sevens in Las Vegas, Vancouver BC and Hong Kong
-visits with friends in Hong Kong, China and Macau
-more boat work
-cruising BC > SE Alaska since mid June
And now, here we are on the hard again in Wrangell. Warning, for those who are tech-phobes, the remainder of this post will be full of boat mechanic jargon. Along with this blog, I have posted photos of the work on my Facebook page: DavidEllis Nagle Boat.
Last winter two of our Diesel Duck sister ships, both newer and with less miles/hours than DE, replaced their propeller shafts due to anaerobic corrosion (meaning the stainless steel drive shaft, between gearbox/transmission and propeller, which lives inside the shaft log -- a seawater-filled tube between the engine room and the aft end of the boat where the propeller shaft emerges -- has not gotten enough oxygen).
We have disassembled portions of DE's drive line previously, but have not examined the whole shaft since taking possession 10 years ago. So we scheduled a lift out at Wrangell before heading south, back to Seattle. It took four people -- Dorothy, me, our frequent crew Wade and GGB "Stitches" significant other Eric, working all day (and a fifth, local welder / mechanic Ray, for a few hours) to remove the shaft. In order to get to the shaft, we first had to deconstruct significant portions of the engine room, drive line and steering locker.
Having removed the shaft, a cursory examination showed the beginnings of anaerobic corrosion; not to the degree seen in the photos from our sister-ship and we could've gotten another year or so out of it, but with the effort required to remove the shaft, it just didn't make sense to me to re-install it and do it all again next year. We're here on the hard; the shaft is out; let's deal with it. So discussions began about what to do, leading to: noting that the taper of the tail end of the shaft is not a US standard, meaning if we were to damage the prop sufficiently to need to replace it, we could not get a replacement prop with the proper taper, without providing the shaft also to whomever was going to do the work. Not real convenient if one does their cruising in say, Alaska.
After determining that the new shaft should be a proper US standard taper, it became necessary to determine if the prop hub can be re-bored to accommodate the change in taper. In the course of doing this, and checking the prop size v. shaft size tables, it appears our shaft size 1-3/4" is undersized for our 30" diameter prop, which leads to the question, what now? I am aware that several boats after DE, the builder up sized the shafts, so maybe further indication that DE's is undersize. At the same time we have 10 years of trouble-free operation as far as the drive-line is concerned, including a Pacific crossing, a greater than 90deg knockdown in the Aleutians, and several periods of significant, high RPM operation in rough water.
One possible option is the possibility, since we are replacing the shaft, to upgrade to a larger shaft, IF there exists a cutlass bearing that will accommodate a larger prop shaft within the existing shaft log. The cutlass bearing is a tube which bears the weight of the shaft/prop as the shaft exits the shaft log at the back of the keel, in front of the rudder. It turns out there is. Our current cutlass 1-3/4 ID X 2-5/8 OD can be replaced by a 2" ID X 2-5/8 OD. Great!
This leads to another consideration: at the engine end of our existing prop shaft, we have a thrust bearing and jack shaft behind the gear box / reduction gear / transmission. Connecting these to the new 2" shaft will require turning down the forward end of the new shaft in 2 steps, both greater than a 1/4" off the end of the shaft to accommodate the thrust bearing sleeve and the jack shaft universal yoke. I'm told the meatier shaft is more significant at the prop end than the gearbox end, but still it seems counter-intuitive to get a bigger/stronger shaft only to reduce the size of it. Could we get a new, larger t-bearing and J-shaft? I suppose so, but there's another option. Last winter our sister-ship Shearwater had significant work done including eliminating the t-bearing and J-shaft, replacing them with a straight shaft to the gearbox, a design found in most workboats in this area. The t-bearing, J-shaft and soft engine mounts design is frequently used by high end yachts to eliminate noise and vibration. But, they also introduce greater complexity and need for maintenance. What to do? After conversations and correspondence with knowledgeable people here, David C on Shearwater, and the shop in Pt Townsend who did David's work, I've decided to go with the new, heavier shaft -- 2" Aquamet 22 -- all the way to the gearbox, without the t-bearing and J-shaft. I am hanging onto the parts though. After all this is put back together, we'll do the 1000 mile run back down to Seattle, a good test/break-in for the new stuff and if it's not working out we can re-install the old gear, after some lathe work on the end of the new shaft.
And yes, the prop now needs to be re-bored to accommodate the new 2" standard shaft taper. So we built a shipping box up off a small pallet, and flew the prop down to Seattle where a prop shop will do the work and also tune the blades. There has always been a bit of "singing" going on from one blade at certain rpms, but recently that's grown to a whole chorus, which is not quite in harmony.
And now that all that is in motion, the next step was to replace with new, the inserts in the 'soft' engine mounts, which are 10 years old and can be seen to be flattened and cracked. I did check on the mount manufacturers website to determine that what we have is intended to handle our engine/gearbox with a straight-thru prop shaft pushing on the gearbox and the tables, North American distributor and Australian manufacturer all agreed that the mounts we currently have are properly specced for the engine without the need for a t-bearing. Great!
Changing out the inserts was a 2-day job. We removed the hatch over the engine which is the wheelhouse floor (this has not been out since we took delivery of the boat 10 years ago); placed a steel beam longitudinally across the hole and using a chain hoist lifted first one end of the engine, then the other, removing and rebuilding one mount at a time. 3 of the 4 original inserts were not only flattened but also really torn up / shredded. I wonder if the knockdown we had in '09 in the Aleutians, might be responsible, since the engine would've been hanging there in space. Anyway, despite a bit of learning curve, the core replacement of the mounts went well with lots of help from Wade and Dorothy.
And now, it's very late Sunday night. The barge from Seattle which should have our new shaft is in and the forklifts are running around the boatyard making it next to impossible to sleep. We'll work at installing the new shaft the next couple days and hope we can get the prop back as soon as possible. Everything has to be put back together to the point we can put DE back in the water and run the engine in order to be able to align the new shaft. If all goes well, and so far it has, we should be underway in another week.