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.