Too Big to Keep

Change in plans….during one of our engine room checks, Jeff discovers a leak on our generator circulation pump. It’s nothing serious but   Piston and Rudder, the local marine dealer in Petersburg,  has a pump in stock so that is our new destination. Mike, the owner, is gracious enough to work us in to his busy schedule to […]

Seattle Arrival

We arrived into Seattle, Washington from Bend, Oregon exactly four weeks after we departed Charleston on our cross-country drive. The 328-mile (538 km) drive from Bend brought our total driving distance to 5,157 miles (8,299 km) across 14 states (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon and…

Road Trip to Seattle: Bend, Oregon

Bend, Oregon is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, with river-rafting, hiking, world-class climbing, and hundreds of miles of mountain-biking trails. And that’s just in the summer. Bend also is close to some of the best skiing in Oregon at the Mt Bachelor ski resort. The town also is home to more than 22 breweries, and…

Out with the Old, in with the New

2019-Cruise-308xOur current practice is to have our bottom cleaned and recoated with anti-fouling paint every two years.  We tend to start a list of other things we want worked on or done at the next haulout as soon as we splash back into the water from the current haul out.

In the 2019 haulout we identified upgrading our house bank of batteries (the source of our electricity when we are not on shore power or running the generator) but upgraded the alternator charging our house bank instead.  We nursed our batteries through the 2020 and 2021 cruising seasons but couldn’t put off an upgrade any longer.  Fortunately, battery technology progressed during the intervening two years.  While still expensive, the cost of the lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries were getting to the point that on a per usable kilowatt-hour basis, the lithium batteries were cost competitive with traditional lead batteries.  2021-08-035xThe demonstrated reliability of lithium batteries was also becoming apparent, as well (thank you, first adopters).

One of our criteria was that it had to work with our existing charging system and not require a redesign of the electrical system.  It also had to fit in the space of our old battery bank, four 8D AGM batteries that weight 160 pounds each).  We ended up with ten smaller batteries that weighed 37 pounds each).  The listed amp-hour capacity of the new battery bank is 500 Ah at 24V which is not too dissimilar then the 540 Ah capacity of the old batteries. The real difference is that lithium batteries can be depleted almost completely without harming them while a lead battery ought not be depleted below half its capacity if you want it to last very long.  We expect we’ll be able to 2021-08-036xregularly use 80% of the lithium battery bank capacity, 400 Ah while our old battery bank had aged to the point that even getting to the 50% point would only give us 200 Ah.

The other advantage of lithium batteries are their ability to charge rapidly which we tested during our sea trials (below). At our normal cruising RPM, we are able to charge at about 150 amps until the batteries are nearly fully charged. While charging with our generator using the existing charger/inverter and the new standalone charger we are able to also charge at 150 amps until nearly fully charged.  While lead batteries can accept a high charge rate until the 80% level, past that at which the rate diminishes depressingly as you approach 100%. 

Out with the New, in with the Old

One thing we also changed while hauled out were our anodes (they protect the metal parts of the boat from galvanic corrosion by offering up a “sacrificial” metal anode). In 2019, we switched from zinc anodes to aluminum anodes.  Aluminum is less toxic to marine life than zinc.  Aluminum is also more reactive than zinc which, apparently, turned out to be a problem for us.

2021-08-008xAs we hung in the slings of the travel-lift after being pulled from the water, the amount of “hard growth” (barnacles and mussels) on our boat was impressive and far greater than normal. In particular the growth on the anodes themselves was an issue. The best explanation offered was the greater reactivity of the aluminum meant the individual anodes were “working” less to supply the necessary galvanic protection. A zinc anode while working will sluff 2021-08-010xmaterial.  Barnacles prefer not to make their home on a surface that is disappearing under them.  The aluminum anodes were apparently not losing as much material and allowed the hard growth to build.

When protecting a boat from galvanic corrosion, a calculation is done (or ought to be done) to determine the approximate location and size of the anodes.  Since our boat had come with zinc anodes we decided that perhaps the switch to aluminum was a failed chemistry experiment. We decided to switch back.

Sea Trials in the San Juans

We splashed back in the water on Tuesday, 8/24, did some testing at the dock then did a quick sea trial in Port Townsend Bay to make sure there were no issues with the preventive maintenance done on the engine.  We stayed the night at the dock to clean things up and put things back after two weeks in the boatyard. The next morning, we left with the ebb out of Admiralty Inlet. Our goal for the next two weeks to was spend most of our time at anchor, using the boat normally, watching the battery deplete than periodically recharging them with the genset.

2021-08-059xWe spent the first three nights at Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island, the next three nights in Garrison Bay on San Juan Island, followed by three nights in Echo Bay on Sucia Island, two nights in Fisherman’s Bay on Lopez Island, and two nights in Griffin Bay on San Juan Island.  We had a great time as all of the anchorages offered shore access for us to stretch our legs.  Our last night in the San Juans was Mackaye Harbor on Lopez Island where we visited David and Rachel, owners of the Diesel Duck Shearwater.. From there we crossed back across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend to have a couple of items addressed for which the parts hadn’t be available before our departure two week earlier.

The next morning, Thursday, 9/9, we scooted through the Port Townsend Canal near Port Hadlock, then down Puget Sound back to the Queen City YC outstation dock in Eagle Harbor where we have winter moorage and finished off our 2021 cruising season.

Krogen Rendezvous Part two: Bear Mama Drama

Our adventure begins shortly after launching the dinghies and  leaving the protected anchorage of Windfall Harbor for our three mile trip to the Pack Creek Bear Preserve. It’s flat calm in our anchorage but as we continue north, the seas and wind build dramatically. We spot several brown bears along the shoreline but dare not stop […]

Road Trip to Seattle: Oregon Coast

The beautiful and diverse Oregon coast has long been a special place for us. As a child, James lived in Eugene, Oregon and made many family trips to the coast. And many years later, it was where we took our took our first vacation together back in 1983. From Crescent City, CA we traveled north…

Road Trip to Seattle: Northern California Coast

Northern California is home to forests of magnificent coastal redwoods, the world’s largest trees. Several parks protect these giants, including Redwood National and State parks, with 139,000 acres (560 km sq) of forest, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park, containing the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods. A highlight of the area is Avenue of the…

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE LOCKDOWN TUNNEL

Great to see the days are finally starting to stretch out a bit and it’s now light from about 0630 until about 1815.

Although official Spring started on 1 September, true astronomical Spring occurs with the Vernal Equinox on 23 September while Daylight Saving commences a few days later on 26 September – bring it on!

Good to see NZ except Auckland going to Level 2 giving the impression the Government is committed to returning us to normality as soon as safely possible. Dare we hope that next week Auckland will go to Level 3 and a week later Level 1? Roll on the Level 2 day so we can get back out on the water and enjoy Spring! The on water boat show due to take place early October has been canceled – another casualty of the lock down which will disappoint the boating community.

As we all know there are no qualifications needed in NZ to skipper a boat used for leisure. Personally I’ve never thought this is a good thing and that skippers of boats over a certain size – say 10 metres LOA or thereabouts should require some qualification, such as a Boatmaster CertificateNowadays there is a noticeablyincreasing trend towards much larger power boats and it’s not unusual to see newer vessels in the 20-25 metre range. Unlike displacement vessels, planing vessels of this length put up sizable wakes, particularly at slow planing speeds and we’ve noticed some skippers seem oblivious to this and the mayhem they cause at anchorages for example in the Rakino Channel. I was in contact with Maritime NZ recently who confirmed there is no requirement for any skipper qualification regardless of the vessel’s size if used for leisure. I must admit to finding this surprising as it means that somebody with no boating experience could potentially buy and skipper a 25 metre vessel and while it’s safe to assume most would act responsibly there will always be some that don’t.

We’ve started making our post lock down cruising plans including another trip to the Kawau area, another to the Coromandel Peninsula, Mercury Islands and Mercury Bay plus a trip of several weeks duration to Northland and the Far North. Before we finalise timing we have to await a confirmed installation date for our new deck crane, hoping to have it plus our new RHIB by early-mid November. Even thinking about this gets us excited.

I also have a new writing brief for the annual Pacific PassageMaker magazine due out early next year – an article on what tools, spare parts and chandlery the well equipped coastal cruising vessel should carry. I’ve started researching this, finding it a very interesting subject and already adding a few items to my Rapport shopping list.

2nd Annual Krogen Rendezvous at Pack Creek

Entering Seymour Canal, we see Pacific Sapphire on our AIS eight miles ahead.  Spirit Journey is  heading north up Stevens Passage 10 miles away.  We are all bound for Windfall Harbor for the 2nd annual Krogen Mini  Rendezvous. Last year there were three of us.  Our number has grown this year to five Krogens.  Voyager and Ptarmigan arrive the second day.  Windfall Harbor is […]

Road Trip to Seattle: Feather River Canyon

For our route from Reno to the Pacific Coast, we took the lesser-traveled Highway 70 along the historic Feather River Canyon route of the Union Pacific Railroad. This trip includes unique and dramatic early 20th-century railway architecture, such as the Williams Loop, where the track loops back over itself in a 1-mile descending turn, and…