To the Boatyard

This morning it was time to head over to Philbrooks Boatyard in Sidney, BC for some planned refit work. We brought the boat here last year and were really pleased with their capabilities and level of service, so we are back again for more.

Yesterday was a beautiful blue sky day in Anacortes, but this morning was shrouded in fog. It was a great opportunity to test out our new Furuno Digital radar, which can overlay a radar image on top of a chart on our PC based navigation system… but that is the topic for a different (overdue) post.

Crossing Rosario Strait and finally emerging from the fog.

As I approached Thatcher Pass, the fog began to clear. You can just begin to make out land in the photo above.

Thatcher Pass.

Then the sun came out, making it a very pleasant 33 mile cruise over to Sidney. Philbrooks gave me a slip assignment just inside the breakwater of Van Isle Marina.

A beautiful afternoon in Sidney, BC

The tall building on the left side of the image is the Phibrooks boat shed, and they have a marine railway for hauling boats out of the water. It is a cradle on tracks that goes underwater, and you drive the boat up on it.

The marine railway

Here is a photo of the cradle. Tomorrow they will roll it down the tracks and we will bring Miss Miranda up onto it to begin work which includes (in no particular order):

  • Bottom and running gear, anti-fouling paint as needed
  • Install a new Sarca Excel anchor to replace our drag-prone CQR.
  • Major electrical system upgrade that includes replacing our house batteries with Firefly Carbon foam batteries, adding chargers, and installing solar panels. This will allow us to stay at anchor indefinitely.
  • Reupholster the salon settee. After nearly 20 years, the cushions and fabric are shot, and Philbrooks did a terrific job on the pilot house settee last year.
  • Install an Iridium GO satellite messenger. This will allow us to receive weather data from Predictwind at sea, and also supports (very slow) email access and voice calls.
  • Scheduled maintenance for almost all major systems, including main engine, wing engine, generator, stabilizers, hydronic heating system, watermaker and autopilot/steering.

It’s a good thing that the condo renovations are (almost) complete, since the boat, our home for the past two months, will be at Philbrooks for all of April. The plan is to have the work done by May 1st, when we will pick up the boat and head down to Seattle for the Opening Day of the boating season.

A fitting end to the day

Hydraulics, fluid dynamics and wine

This week we went to Santa Rosa California to spend two days at a training class learning about our hydraulic stabilizers and bow thrusters. The stabilizers are very important features that make our boat easier to handle and more comfortable in rough seas. They won’t save our lives, but they will make us less likely to want to die from seasickness.

A fin – one of a pair that are attached to the hull. Their hydraulic powered motors react to waves hitting the boat to reduce roll.
A tube with a thruster – we have one of these in the bow of our boat – huge assist for docking in wind!

The company ABT Trac holds these classes at their US based manufacturing company in California. The most amazing thing we learned was how service oriented ABT is – they have all the original drawings of our specific boat installation from 20 years ago, and we can call them at any time for help. We got the entire history of parts replacement and service for the life of our boat from the previous two owners. Now we are ready to do what’s required before we set sail on our voyage. We were truly impressed with ABT’s commitment to quality and reliability, and to their highly skilled long-standing staff.

The machine shop and one of the machines that builds the parts.

Our instructor Eric was hilarious – I wish my Physics professor in college had Eric’s enthusiasm and excitement for fluid dynamics – I would not have struggled nearly as much! “Hydraulics is like baseball – everything goes back to home plate. “

In addition to learning the principles of hydraulic systems, we also got hands on mechanical experience taking the system apart to fix problems that are rare but COULD happen. Larry now thinks I am in charge of all maintenance.

I learned a lot doing it myself. Including the importance of LOTS of oilsorb towels available at all times.
The left side is the assembled motor for the stabilizer, the right side is the one I disassembled.

We’ve ordered the list of spare parts that would be hard to get in Mexico. Now I just need to review where everything is on our own boat so I know what to look for when and if anything stops working.

Jordan Estate Winery

In Sonoma County, if you are studying fluids you must study wine. We spent an enjoyable day with two tastings – Jordan Winery and Ramey. Perfect on a dreary rainy and chilly day in California.

Biking Around Anacortes

A beautiful spring day in Anacortes.  Time to dust off the bike and do some exploring.  We had head about the Tommy Thompson trail (https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/tommy-thompson-trail), and have seen where it crosses Fidalgo Bay while driving into town.  Today I decided to go find it.

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I rode in from Skline on SR 20… not many options here, and the shouldder is pretty decent.  I went to see if the local bike shop was open (it wasn’t) and then across to “R” Avenue.  The trail is a paved, multi-use path that runs beside it.  It winds through the boat yards on the way out of town and then out and across the bay.

I rode a little way towards March point.  This is a photo looking back across the Bay to Anacortes.  On the right is a trailer park owned by the refinery for recreational use by employees.

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This is looking back at the trestle across the bay.

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Finally, a shot from the trestle looking north up the Bay towards Anacortes and Cap Sante Marina.

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Our Land Base

The dock that Miss Miranda lives at is accompanied by a one bedroom condo. This is our land base for the foreseeable future. Miranda will have a place while we are away, and this will be a touchdown spot for us in between voyages.

For the past 3 years we’ve rented it out and not set foot in it. When we reentered in December, it was obvious it needed a LOT of work. It’s 40 years old and not much had been done in all those years. Remember 1970s avocado green and orange? We first decided to do the kitchen, paint and refloor and replace all the appliances. Along the way we decided might as well do the whole thing – a bathroom refresh is still in the works.

The old condo – you can’t see the 1970s orange flowered floor tiles in the kitchen!

Of course, as all remodels do, it’s taken twice as long as planned. To be fair, that’s partly because all the snow delayed the delivery of the kitchen cabinets by two weeks.

Yesterday, all the protective covering was removed and the new condo revealed!

Now we can clean the dust off and the movers will pull up with our stuff from storage on Monday morning. I am having a bit of a panic that we haven’t downsized our stuff enough! I’ve also realized that after nearly 2 months on the boat, there is not much I have missed from our stuff.

I can’t wait to enjoy the view through our newly revealed windows while sitting on the couch enjoying a cocktail.

Miss Miranda is right outside the window on the left.

Deception Pass

February was a snowy and frigid month, but we did have a weekend that was good for getting outside. We decided to get our boat chores done one Saturday morning and then explore Deception Pass State Park. We have passed under the Deception Pass bridge which connects the Straight of Juan de Fuca to Skagit Bay many times, but had never seen it by land.

Going through by boat can be hairy if you don’t time the currents right. When the tide is coming in or going out the currents can get up to several knots. It’s a tight passage with lots of rocks and lots of boats wanting to go in both directions, so we always time it for slack current to make it a non-event.

On Saturday we came by car, and walked over the bridge. This turned out to be much scarier than I expected! I wanted to take a picture looking directly down from the bridge, but my stomach wouldn’t allow me to. So here is a shot from the bridge looking out and Larry pointing down. Neither of us could actually look down.

Looking back toward Saratoga Passage
Looking out to the Straight of Juan de Fuca

It’s a long way down!