29 August 2016 | on-the-hard, Wrangell
19 November 2015 | almost there
11 November 2015 | Shearwater - Bella Bella, BC
10 November 2015 | photo is approaching Bottleneck Inlet
01 November 2015 | Wrangell, Alaska
17 September 2015 | Juneau to Petersburg
19 July 2015 | Wrangell > Petersburg > Tracy Arm > Juneau
28 June 2015 | Wrangell, AK (still on the hard)
03 March 2015 | Ketchikan
05 February 2015 | Wrangell, AK
13 August 2014 | photo is Redoubt Bay fish weir, south end Sitka Sound
13 August 2014 | Anders and daughter Ditte at Redoubt Bay
13 August 2014 | Lovely Ms D Checks State of Charge on New Batts
13 August 2014 | photo is DE and In Your Dreams, Goleta Cove, west coast Krusof Island
13 August 2014 | photo is MV Honu at St Lazaria Island with Aussie on-board
03 July 2014 | Wrangell, Anan, Petersburg, Tracey Arm, Juneau
26 June 2014 | Subic Bay Yacht Club, Luzon Philippine Islands, February '08
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.
19 November 2015 | almost there
Day 17: Port Neville, Seymour Narrows, to Campbell River
Before getting into Day 17s run, I'd like to share some thoughts on Inside Passage dock ramps. The first thing to know is that the tidal height differences -- high tide to low -- are significantly larger than those on the outside coast; two times or more larger. 18-20 foot changes in 6 hours are not uncommon in SE Alaska and a real factor in deciding where and how to anchor the boat. For example, a nice 40' anchorage with a rock in it 25' deep at high tide, will be touching the bottom of DE (with 6' draft) at low tide.
But I didn't bring this up, to talk about anchoring; I want to talk about dock ramps -- a simple structure, connecting the land ashore to the floating dock where the boats are tied. On a very high tide, the ramp may be nearly level. Somewhere back in the blog is a photo taken at Seahorse Marine, on the Pearl River in DouMen, China, just after a typhoon, where the storm surge flood brought the river so high that in the boat tied to the finishing dock, we are looking down at the shore. The dock is actually floating higher than the shore and the angle between dock and shore has been reversed. But that situation was an exception. The everyday reality of going to shore, or coming back to the boat is that from one tide to another the angle of the ramp increases and decreases from nearly level to very steep. How steep depends entirely on how long the ramp is.
In order to "see" this you may need to draw it, but for any given height difference (between shore and dock) the shorter the ramp, the steeper the angle between land and float. Make the ramp longer, and the angle between the floating dock and shore will be less steep.
In practical everyday usage, it would be nice to schedule having to haul a couple of stuffed duffle bags of laundry up the ramp at high tide (when there's very little incline) or bring groceries back to the boat, with gallon jugs of water, a case of beer or other cruising supplies when the ramp is not so steep that a dock cart can get out of control going down the ramp. The reality is, you get what you get as life, human life at least, is not scheduled around the height of the tides.
One other factor about ramps before getting into the story -- ramp surface. Most new ramps are constructed of metal -- aluminum or galvanized steel -- and the walking surface may be some kind of patterned rubber or painted-on non-skid. Some ramps have very aggressive metal teeth that unless completely iced are nearly impossible to slip on -- the dogs hate these as you might imagine; they pick their way up or down such a ramp, one paw at a time, a grim, fixed expression on their face, and in my mind, I can hear them planning how they're going to get even with me, should they actually survive going to the shore and back to the boat on this m@&$#r-f*^€£ing ramp! Meyers Chuck has such a ramp, as does Baronoff Warm Springs (I think). In 2009 when we arrived in Dutch Harbor to clear US Customs, coming from Hong Kong, not only was the ramp of this type but the entire 1000 foot float. Little puppy Rusty took two steps, looked up at me with wide-eyed shock, horror and disbelief that I would torture him in this way and refused to take another step. I had to carry him the several hundred yards to shore and back.
Most other ramps are not nearly so aggressive as the expanded steel teeth, in their anti-slip methods; many have ladders/steps built into the ramp floor, off to one side for when the tide makes the ramp especially steep and/or slippery from weather.
But then there are the older wood-decked ramps. Have I mentioned it rains a lot up here? And when wood stays wet much of the time it grows algae and other scummy coatings which are -- you guessed it -- slippery! Add to that, nearly freezing temps and we arrive at the story I wanted to tell you. Is anyone still with me?
Port Neville is an old place, which is not really a place anymore. Years ago there was a general store and a post office here (the post office actually still functioned on a limited basis until closing about 5 years ago. Dorothy had one of the last card/letters franked there, when we stopped at the end of one cruising season.) The old dock, ramp and pier are still functional, but dated, and the ramp is somewhat shorter than a newer one might be, given the height change in tides here. The photo above shows Rusty headed down the ramp at about a 30 degree angle, not unusual for low tide anywhere. And you can see the ladder structure, to the left, on the wood deck of the ramp.
The night of 15 Nov, the day we arrived at Port Neville, the tide tables tell me the low tide was minus 1 meter (yes Bunky, that's a meter, not feet, the rest of the world measures stuff in meters, get used to it) at 2200 hrs on a new moon, making the total high-to-low tidal difference 5.6 meters (okay you pathetic putz, I'll do the math for you, that's an 18.4 foot difference!) and the ramp, when Dot and I took the Rs to shore for p&p, was at least a 60 degree incline! The only way we could get up it was a slow careful climb up the ladder side of the ramp, Rusty behind me on lead, Rascal behind Dorothy. Both the dogs tried climbing the ramp without the ladder and could not, even though they're four-pawed, maintain traction. We came back down, much the same way, facing into the ramp, climbing down the ladder, keeping each dog in front of us on the ladder.
The night of the 16 Nov, our second at Port Neville, the tide table says the low tide was at 2300 hrs and was even lower at -1.1 meter. It wasn't quite that late though when we took the dogs to shore and the ramp was more like 45 degrees than the boggling 60 of the night before. Dot and I still used the ladder, but the dogs, with their greater traction struggled up the slick ramp. On returning to the boat, I didn't want the boys to use the slick side of the ramp and tried to keep them on the ladder, but they were off lead, and Rascal waits for nothing and no one and went off the ladder onto the flat surface. From my point of view on the ladder above him, Rascal slid on his butt the 30 or so feet to the float. Wade, who happened to be on DE's deck, says the boy went down stiff-legged on all fours. Either way, I wish I could've seen his face; but his body language made it clear that his slide-for-life wasn't what the little Rascal expected. We checked his paws for slivers, and I was grateful he hadn't caught a leg in the vertical structure at the side of the ramp. Absent injury, it was pretty funny. The following morning, Day 17, going to shore off lead, Rascal ran up to the ramp, stopped, looked... and moved over to the ladder side before heading up to the beach.
and so, back to Day 17: we had an easy start with relatively flat water and light wind from aft. The wind built though, up to the forecast 35 knots, and that against current made for rough surface waters. We had it pretty easy, just bouncing around a bit. The few vessels we same coming up the channel, with the current mind you, were entirely enveloped in spray every 30 seconds or so. Certainly not the most comfortable boat ride.
That running against the current thing meant for us, doing less than 2 knots at times (at 1900 rpm) in Race Passage. Through the day's passage, we were on, off and on again for making the 1600 slack through Seymour Narrows. We did finally run through without drama, just past sunset and about 45 minutes after slack. For their own amusement, the gods littered the last couple miles of approach to the narrows with logs, trees, stumps, sticks and deadheads.
And then, pretty much anti climatically, we were back in civilization, with structures and lights all along the shoreline. We nosed into one of the harbors at Campbell River, tying up at the transient dock with a bright red pub sign shining down upon us from shore.
Day 18: another 0430 wake-up and pre-dawn departure. What marked this day was the hours long, 180 degrees of brilliant orange, pink and red dawn. Light winds from aft and smooth waters marked the run down to Nanaimo. And to cap off the day, just before entering the harbor proper, we had a pod of humpbacks breaching less than a mile away.
We tied up at G dock, directly in front of the wharfinger's office, downtown Nanaimo, about 1600 hrs. People we saw on the promenade and on the street were all noticeably dressed far more fashionably than the SE Alaska chic of sweatpants and Extra-Tufs (boots) that we've become accustomed to. The marina slips here, as they were in Campbell River, were mainly filled with sailboats and power yachts, rather than the fishboats and workboats which with we feel comfortable. The ever-lovely Ms Nagle made a bee-line for a yarn shop the wharfinger recklessly mentioned to her (I shall have to deal with him later), and the boys did the usual in a greenway along the waterfront.
Day 19: after a very fine breakfast bagel from a shop just off the waterfront, we departed Nanaimo amid a brisk (forecast) breeze from the north, brilliant sunshine and suicidal seaplanes. It was enough to cause me to check my rules of the road and seaplanes do not have precedence over power vessels! Has no one explained the "lug nut rule" to these guys? An hour out of Nanaimo is Dodd Narrows a short but quite narrow passage which requires awareness of tide state and opposing traffic. In our case, the tug Inlet Ranger was just entering the other side of the passage towing a log boom. After an exchange on the radio, DE made circles outside for 20 minutes while the tug and its load came through. A working anachronism, most people have never and will never see. The wait was well worth it. A short while later, we paralleled another tug and log boom. In this case the majority of the tow was white with birds hitching a ride on the tow.
Approximately 1400, MV DavidEllis crossed back into US waters. Lots of boat and ship traffic in these waters: Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender doing some kind of exercise with a 47' Motor Life Boat and a AS Dauphine Helo. But the capper at the boundary was a mob of marine mammal (as opposed to helo) dolphin rushing to ride our bow wave.
We should be clearing Customs at Friday Harbor in the next hour. I'm going to close this out and will finish up after we make it to Seattle.
16 November 2015
After 3 days and 4 nights hunkered down in Shearwater, MV DavidEllis and crew are ready to roll on down the road. Weather reports for the Queen Charlotte Sound opening suggest a lull coming up Saturday 14th and possibly Sunday, before ramping up again with storm force winds and big seas. So this morning we are moving down to Pruth Bay, Calvert Island. There we'll be poised to get across the QCS opening. Once south of the south tip of Calvert, we'll be exposed to the Pacific wind/wave from this system that's been beating things up, for about 5-6 hours until we can get shelter south of the north end of Vancouver Island.
The run down to Pruth was uneventful. We left Shearwater early (in the dark again) so that if by chance we got an opening today (Friday) to make the QCS crossing, we could. It became apparent though, from the peeks through various channels at the outside waters, that it was literally roaring out there and we would not be crossing today.
We've stopped at Pruth Bay most of the north/south runs we've done between Seattle and SE AK. It's a beautiful, sheltered, easy in/out bay with a real gem -- the beach on the west side. What was once a fishing lodge is now a research institute -- http://www.hakai.org -- and there's a half-mile or so trail thru to the beach. The folks at Hakai have always been very nice about using their dock for our dinghy and walking thru to the beach and this time was no exception. I had a conversation with the caretaker who said the winds the last couple days (while we were in Shearwater) were 81kts at the dock (inside the bay) and 115kts up at the lookout on the hill (fully exposed to the west coast)... Yikes!
We walked out to the beach; well actually between the just passed high tide and storm surge, there was no beach. Just howling wind and sets of waves running over the top of each other. That would be fore-shadowing for our crossing...
Back to DE; cleaned up on leftovers for dinner and watched a few episodes of the series we've been watching -- West Wing and The Wire -- then early to bed for a 0430 wake-up.
Dinghy Rs to the beach for a quick p&p, then hoist and secure skiff and outboard before lifting anchor and crawling out of the anchorage towards Fitzhugh Passage which opens into the top of Queen Charlotte Sound. We can see the amber loom of a high pressure sodium light from a vessel traveling north in Fitzhugh, meaning that someone crossed QCS in the night... a good sign.
It's still a couple of hours until we run out of Fitzhugh into QCS; time for dawn to slowly reveal what we've been peering at with radar and plotters; time to listen to the computer voice from Environment Canada run through the station and buoy reports and forecast for our passage and time to dig info out of the Sirius satellite weather system feeding into the chart plotter. Digesting all this information, it appears there are still very large -- 7-8 meter -- swells offshore (created by the big low pressure system encompassing all of the Gulf of Alaska, but for the route across QCS we are taking, these appear to be reduced to a "moderate westerly swell" according to reporting stations. Winds have reduced significantly to a tolerable SE 15-25. The easterly component is a disappointment as it will not be hidden from us as we come into the shelter of the north end of Vancouver Island, but is forecast to shift northerly in the early afternoon which is good. Wind waves (entirely separate from the "moderate swell" already mentioned) are reported as 2-3 foot. So, looking good.
So good that I left Wade and John to handle things in the pilot house and went below to catch up on some sleep. I could tell we'd moved into the Sound, out of the protection of Calvert Island when things started rocking, but went back to sleep until the motion became distinctly uncomfortable.
I went up to the wheelhouse and what a sight; such a confused sea! At least two big (3-4 meter) swell sets from different directions; one on our starboard beam. Is this the "moderate west swell" described in the station reports? Overlaying the competing swells were local wind seas, also from multiple directions, currently still SE and the forecast shift to the north never happened. All this motion had DE lurching one way and another, like a punch-drunk fighter being slapped around by a powerful opponent. The starboard paravane fish was in the water to help with the beam swell but instead of surging along beside the boat, the fish was trailing behind in its track due to having picked up a load of kelp and therefore of no real effectiveness (other than to slow our speed). And that was the other thing, in addition to the confused surface water, an obstacle course was laid on, made up of logs, chunks, trees, wads of kelp (some so large they deserved a zip code). Running the boat here wasn't a matter of bracing in til it was over. Instead, at least two pairs of eyes were required to spot obstruction ahead in the churned up sea and somehow avoid one thing without running into another. Too much fun!
At least one thing we could do to get a bit of stability back and that was to throw the port side fish in the water and clear the kelp from the starboard -- easier said than done. But after a bit of exercise on deck while lying ahull in that mess, we had the kelp cleared and were again underway southbound across QCS, with as much dignity as we could muster.
Eventually we made it into Christie Passage, protected by Balaklava Island where we pulled the pvane fish, then continuing down Goletus Channel passing Port Hardy and finally docking at Port McNeil. Along the way we were treated to a long, lovely sunset, first with pink, blue and lavender pastels then all possible shades of gold.
P&p ashore for the boys, then up to a pub for the two-legged crew. No cooking or dishwashing tonight.
Up at a reasonable hour and departing Port McNeil in squally sunshine with rainbows, we continued south into Johnstone Strait past Telegraph Cove and Robson Bight -- storied locations for Orca watching -- toward Port Neville. A largely uneventful passage despite wind opposing current and the, by now, familiar floating obstacle course.
A pleasant overnight tied to the dock at Port Neville although the nighttime visit to shore with the dogs involved a climb up the ramp at 60degrees due to the 15' tidal drop.
The plan was to run the 40 miles or so down to Seymour Narrows to catch the flood slack, before continuing on to Campbell River before stopping. Because I was pre-occupied with getting the thrust-bearing greased, I did not listen to the weather until we were underway and a couple miles out of our anchorage. Uh oh. The strong wind we were currently experiencing, on the nose, is forecast to increase to 45 knots! Well crap; this isn't going to work. The next possible harbor, Kelsey Bay, just a couple of miles down the channel, is unprotected from the SE wind according to the Coast Pilot. So we hung a 180 and headed back to Port Neville where we are now tied up, out of the wind. No hope of making it to the workboat show in Seattle 18-20 November now, but that's all part of the deal. Semper Gumbi.