What's in her name?

What's in her name (Salish Aire)?

from her new home the Salish Sea

Aire as in a melody of song.

Salish + Aire = The melody of the Salish Sea.

Salish Sea:
In the late 1700's Captain George Vancouver wandered around the waters of what are now known as British Columbia, Canada and Washington State, USA. He did the usual 1700's explorer thing and put names he chose on everything he saw. The names stuck and are recognized and used to this day.

New lines were added to Captain Vancouver's charts in 1872 (after a near war with Great Britain over a pig) which made waters on one side of the line Canadian and those on the other side of the line American.

It wasn't until 1988 (officiated in 2009) that someone finally realized that fish and various critters, (to say nothing of the water itself) were never involved in the boundary treaties and really ignored them completely. (This is best illustrated by the problems that Homeland Security has with Canadian Canada Geese and American Canadian Geese - it seems they refuse to carry passports and have been known to poop on the head of any border patrol person who tries to challenge their right to cross the border when and where they choose!) In reality the waters from Olympia to the well up the East side of Vancouver Island are pretty much one ecosystem.

The Coast Salish are the indigenous peoples who live in southwest British Columbia and northwest Washington state along the Salish Sea and share a common linguistic and cultural origin. The Salish Sea is named in honor of the earliest recorded peoples who plied her waters and learned to live in harmony with her.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

From the Salish Sea to San Diego

October 6, 2018

As I start to write this we are within a few hours of San Diego California.  This means that (excluding the Bering Sea) we have traversed pretty much the entire west coast of the United States and Canada from the northernmost point of College Fjord Alaska south over the past couple of months.  I think we can start to say we have gained some serious “cruisers’ points” along the way. Our longest non-stop run was 625 nm from Astoria Oregon to San Francisco California which included 3 nights at sea. We have now earned our 10,000 nm banner from Nordhavn (which was presented to us by the company CEO at their head office in Dana Point California).  Our worst sea conditions have been 25 kn winds off the stern with 8-10 ft confused seas.  Our worst event has been a log collision that led to serious damage of our port stabilizer fin. On the flip side the 15 minutes or so when about 100 dolphins, 30 seals, and 3 whales had a party around our boat was magical.

Our current plan is to stay in San Diego Bay until the end of a very active Eastern Pacific hurricane season.  While there we need to get some final paperwork done in preparation for taking the boat (and Jarvis) to Mexico. Since we are not planning to be part of any of the cruisers’ rallies that head to Baha about the same time as we will be leaving we hope to gather information about what to expect as we head south and to start making contacts with other cruisers heading the same direction (a process that is started in Puget Sound and has gained momentum as we’ve moved south until we met a sailboat family and another Nordhavn couple on the same dock as us in Dana Point headed the same direction.

At the end of our last notes we mentioned our plans to fly back to visit our daughter and her family at their home in Ontario Canada (we had visited with her husband much more recently as he was our extra crew member crossing the Gulf of Alaska from east to west but it’s been a long draught since we’ve visited the whole family).  So we headed back, all three of us since we have decided it’s often cheaper  pay $100 each way for Jarvis that it is to pay for a kennel and I (Norman) don’t worry about how he is doing.  It turns out that he is a perfect passenger as he walks on his leash through the airport, passes through security on his own when called, waits in his open kennel at the gate, and then sleeps under the seat for the duration of the flight.  When we left our grandson told Clarice he was sorry to see Jarvis leave but didn’t mention us, his grandparents.  I guess we know where we are in the children’s’ eyes!
Jarvis waiting for his flight to be called at the airport

Jarvis making sure Clarice and the kids play fair from his perch on the hassock 

We had never been to our daughter’s house, a bit north of Niagara Falls, in warm weather.  We really had a lovely time in the mid-west villages and forests.  Jarvis had children to run with, lots of trails to walk his people on, and a back yard with trees, grass and sun all to himself.  It was a very enjoyable week and passed quickly before we returned and made our final preparations to head south.

Requisite family photo in front of the falls 
Niagara Falls
Family in front of museum in Toronto 
Henri aflight

Paul and Carter checking out the falls

Historic mill on the Niagara Escarpment

Where else can you get a carousel ride for a Canadian nickle?

With a cooperative weather window we headed out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angelas for our first over-night run at sea with just the two of us on the day of our 42nd wedding anniversay.  At the end of the run was the “Graveyard of the Pacific”, better known as the Columbia River Bar.  When one of the continent’s mightiest rivers combines its flow with trillions of gallons of tidal outflow and then pushes it against waves that have gathered strength unimpeded from the eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean, the result can be some of the most challenging waters on the planet.  To a great extent the violence has been calmed by controlling the outflow and the shallowness of the bar with jetties and dredging. We consulted all of the guidebooks and internet resources we could find and then called by brother who lives and fishes at the mouth of The River.  The consensus was that we should cross the bar in mild weather on a slack or flood tide.  We timed our arrival based on the tide and we ended up having a very pleasant time passing another of the sea monsters that have concerned us for years.

Mouth of the Columbia River looking upstream

Moored under the Astoria Bridge

We shortened our stay in Astoria (and sadly missed visiting with our son and his family) as there was a weather window open but it would get skunky going into San Francisco if we didn’t get under way.  One of our concerns had been that we had delayed a bit longer than we should have and the Pacific High Pressure area that typically builds in the summer months and moderates the weather along in the North Pacific was starting to break down and fall storms were starting to move west.  We had some long talks with an owner of a sister boat to ours who, along with his wife, had done many boat deliveries along the coast.  His recommendation was that we get about 50 miles off-shore where we wouldn’t have to worry about crab pots and flotsam in the water and would be in the major shipping lanes if we got into trouble.  He also agreed that my reading of the weather maps was likely correct and that if we left sooner rather than later we would be able to get into the protection of San Francisco Bay ahead of a building minor storm.

This would be our longest ocean passage to date with just the two of us (and Jarvis) on board.  We predicted a day with winds off our bow of about 10 knots followed by a calm day and then following winds building to as high as 20 knots before we entered The Bay.  We really hit our predictions dead on.  The calm day in the middle was great as we caught up on rest and showers.  We also started seeing small to huge pods of dolphins on a regular basis.  We had purchased a hand line tuna rig at my brother’s suggestion in Astoria and shortly after putting it in the water pulled in about a 20 # tuna.  Clarice tried her new fish cutting board and we had fresh tuna steaks for dinner and lots of tuna in the freezer. The last day the waves were off our stern but were large enough to make the going uncomfortable. 


We find that if we launch our paravane “fish” when the movement of the boat is uncomfortable that having them in addition to our hydraulic stabilizers really helps.  The first time on the trip that we had them out I missed seeing a log about 1 ft in diameter by 15 ft long that we hit pretty hard with the starboard hydraulic fin and then it got caught in the paravane rigging for a short time. We checked the boat and didn’t find any signs of significant damage and so we continued on our way.  We hit a second larger log with the port side stabilizer fin when we were in the heaviest weather.  It was quickly apparent that we had lost use of the fin and on close inspection we had the tiniest weep of sea water coming in around the fin housing.  We shut down the hydraulic system and put the locking pin in the starboard fin (the port fin was jammed just out of position so the pin could not be set).  We sent telepathic thanks to the previous owners of the boat who had installed the paravane system as a redundancy for just such an emergency. We didn’t have cellular coverage at that point so we sent out a satellite message to the delivery captain friend asking about options for an emergency haul-out of the boat.  We also sent out an email via our high-frequency radio.  Our last action was to radio the coast guard and ask if there was a haul-out facility any closer than San Francisco as we were still about 10 hours out to which they replied there was no closer option.  We gradually convinced ourselves that we were not in danger of catastrophic failure and looked at our best options to continue. 

We head away from log #2

We had originally planned to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge on a favorable morning tide when we had daylight but had gotten a bit ahead of schedule.  With the prospect of a nighttime passage through a challenging entrance channel when we were already exhausted and with uncomfortable seas we looked for a closer safe harbor.  We noted on the chart that Point Reyes stuck out at just the right angle to block the wind and waves from the angle they were coming from.  The guidebooks and chart indicated it should be an easy anchorage (after Alaska – many more places now qualify as “easy anchorages”) so finally about 1 AM we dropped anchor onto a sand bottom and let out lots of chain so we had litter concern that the boat would move during the rest of the night.  We both slept very soundly for 4 hours so we felt well rested when the alarm woke us up at 5 AM so we could ride the incoming tide under the famous Golden Gate Bridge (and mark passing under the bridge off my personal bucket list).  We had previously arranged to dock at tiny marina on Treasure Island and were glad that we had the harbormaster on the phone as we entered Clipper Harbor so he could guide us via the deepest water to get to the dock. Jarvis was beside himself he was so excited to get his paws onto ground that didn’t move and we were happy to have a chance to catch up on badly needed sleep after we stretched our stiff legs. We looked back and joked that after being directed to take a far off-shore route so we wouldn’t have to worry about things like logs we had seen exactly two items of concern, both after we had hit them.

Alcatraz Island and Prison

The Golden Gate beckons 
Alcatraz in the distance as we get ready to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge

The Treasure Island Marina is badly in need of renewal and the staff were worried that our 60,000# boat might further damage their docks.  The marina is in Clipper Cove which is a recommended anchorage so we moved off the dock and set the anchor for our stay in San Francisco. I dove the boat after it was anchored and found that the first log had removed a small (6 inch) fin that is designed to keep kelp from getting caught on the main stabilizer fin on the starboard side.  The damage was minimal in that it had pulled the screws out of our hull but since they didn’t come close to penetrating through the hull there was no danger of leaks. The port side was very confusing.  I confirmed that the fin would not go into its neutral centered position and noted that at the top of the housing I could tell it had moved outward about 1/8 inch based on how the paint looked.  I took photos of everything and called every expert I could think of and pondered a lot. One expert (as in he had installed the fin systems for 40 years) looked at the photos I had emailed him and talked to me at length about what had happened and what I saw.  He was convinced that the fin was not jammed but rather the hydraulic system was damaged (in the end, it was a bit of both).  After I disengaged the hydraulic ram from the torque arm that turns the fin and had Clarice start the engine (which turns the hydraulic pump) it was quickly obvious that our hydraulic cylinder had broken when the ram came popping out of the assembly.  I also found that the torque arm had been bent down just enough to rub against the assembly housing and was jamming the works.  Before we left San Francisco we had arranged for parts to be mailed to our next stop in Dana Point California, had tightened the hold down bolts which stopped the leak, had dove and put an underwater putty around the top of the assembly where it entered the boat to protect the non-stainless metal that was in contact with salt water, and finally had ground a bit of metal off where the parts were rubbing so that the fin could be pinned in its neutral position. We were also directed to buy some hydraulic hose plugs to plug the hoses to the damaged cylinder so that the still functioning starboard fin could operate solo and were assured it would work quite well (which it did) until full repairs were made

access to work on mechanism for port fin

New (black) cylinder next to original (grey) cylinder

Once we had a plan in place for the stabilizer fin issue we took time to enjoy Clipper Cove and San Francisco.  Clipper Cove is between natural Yerba Buena Island and man-made Treasure Island.  Back in one of the San Francisco boom times it was felt that good times deserved a celebration so they dreamed up an international exposition.  About the same time the first Bay Bridge was nearing completion and would use Yerba Buena Island as a point along its route (it lands on one side of the island, tunnels through the island and then a second section of the bridge completes the route).  Finally, Pan American World Airways needed an airport for its sea planes as they were preparing for their famous China Clipper service across the Pacific from San Francisco to Hong Kong. This all came together in 1939 when the Golden Gate International Exposition opened its doors on newly minted Treasure Island  ( Click for: Newsreel of the 1939 exposition )

(By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22499167 )
New Bay Bridge from Clipper Cove Anchorage

 So we were anchored on one of the most famous aircraft runways in the history of aviation, next to two huge hangers where Pan Am worked on its fleet, and got our anchorage permit (free) from and office in the original administration building from the world’s fair (the last 3 standing buildings).  I had to muse a bit that we seem to have some strange connection with the flying boats.  When we were in Sitka we often took a short cut when we walked to the grocery store through a Turnaround Skateboard Park.  The parking area for the park was a strange circular concrete drive that looked like it had been part of a boat ramp at one time.  It wasn’t until I was looking at some old photos adorning the walls of the Sitka Airport that I recognized the circle under a passenger seaplane being readied to be sent back down the ramp of the first Sitka Airport.  Later we were moored in Juneau Alaska and had lunch at a small cafĂ© in the Auke Bay parking lot.  I got to looking at all of the Pan Am photos on the walls and finally realized that the building was the original Pan Am terminal for the Seattle to Juneau seaplane route.  Hmmmm, I wonder where we will find our next bit of Pan American World Airways history.

(Source: Google Earth) Circle in the center is the original Sitka Airport
 (Skate park is under the roof at the bottom left of the turnaround circle)
CeGetting to downtown SF from Clipper Cove was easy as city busses ran every 20 minutes.  We would take our dingy over to the marina where we had paid a small fee for daily access to the locked facility and then walk 1 block to the bus stop.  We rode the cable cars (fare has gone from 10 cents on our first visit to the city before we were married to $7 now and the service and suffered considerably), and found the electric trolley cars to be one of the most efficient ways to travel to and from the tourist areas.  We took the ferry out to Alcatraz Island and toured the prison where I found the foundations laid down during the Civil War era to be fascinating. In the end we found the city to loud, noisy, expensive and not particularly friendly.  This was a fun place to visit but we were ready to move on.

Cable car
Alcatraz cell blocks

looking towards Alcatraz wharf

Civil War era construction Alcatraz

Civil war construction on the lower levels Alcatraz

staff housing Alcatraz

From San Francisco we headed to the Channel Islands.  Clarice’s personal sea monster was Point Conception where the warm waters from the south meet the cooler waters from the north and can be rather unpleasant.  It was.  We planned to get into a cove on one of the northernmost islands before dusk but arrived too late.  The chart showed lots of rocks and the water was snotty.   The chart showed a cove on the next island south that looked like it would be better protected.  We called the coast guard who was able to ask someone with local knowledge about the cove.  We were assured that with the current weather conditions (officially small craft warnings with wind and waves from the north) we were likely to find the cove to be a safe harbor for the night.  We pulled in next to a 200 ft NOAA ocean research ship that assured us by radio that there were no rocks or other boats to worry about.  They did advise that they had dropped a second anchor because of the strength of the wind coming over the island (we compensated by letting out lots of “Alaska proven” anchor chain).
The next day we anchored next to Santa Cruz Island and headed ashore with Jarvis in the dingy.  On arrival at the beach we were told by the National Park personell that dogs were not welcome on or off a leash.  Poor Jarvis had his mind set on getting his paws on land for the first time in 2 days – he was pretty upset to be taken back to the boat.  We were both tired and cranky but I appreciated the issue a bit more when I spotted one of the indigenous , kitty cat sized Santa Cruz foxes near the dock and knew that Jarvis would not be able to keep quiet around his smaller cousin.

Santa Cruz Fox

To compensate Jarvis we headed to the mainland the next day and took a mooring ball in Redondo Beach where we found plenty of places to walk him (he even got to play on the sand beach one evening before we realized that he wasn’t welcome there).  Redondo Beach is quite the tourist haven reminding us of our stay in Ocean City New Jersey when are kids were quite small. There are lots of dedicated bike trails and we rode for miles along the beach. The local paddle board, kayak, and paddle boat concessions do a lot of business partially thanks to a raft dedicated to the use of seals and sea lions.  We were on the path from the dock to the (VERY noisy) marine mammal float and so Jarvis spent his days barking with wild abandon at human powered craft as they passed by our mooring.
They added a day to Lobster Fest (Oct 1) and gave a special deal if you bought 2....

....so we bought 2.

Birds on the breakwater behind our mooring ball.

Marine mammal barge and tourist in a paddle boat
Pelicans on the inner breakwater (there were hundreds of them!)

After leaving Redondo Beach we made a short run to Dana Point where Nordhavn company headquarters are located. Several years ago I read Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana and found the book about his journey which began in 1835 to be fascinating.  Books of sailing ships of the era were pretty much all written by the ships officers who never ventured below deck.  Dana was the exception as he was college educated (eventually becoming a lawyer specializing in defending seafarers) but was losing his vision and fresh air was the recommended treatment.  He chose to sign on as a seaman aboard a trading ship headed to California.  In the beginning, as a greenhorn, he was given a berth near the rudder (in steerage) but eventually earned his place before (in front of) the mast (which was wet and much more uncomfortable but an honor none-the-less).  In California they traded off the goods they had carried with them and then collected cow hides from the local ranches which were tossed off the cliffs onto the beach to save carrying them down the hill.  Once they were ready to leave they loaded their ship the Pilgrim until the timbers literally were swollen with the load.  They headed out to Magellan’s Strait in June which put them in the strait in the middle of the southern winter.  As I recall it took them a month with ice covered rigging (and the loss of one of the eight crew members overboard) to get through the strait.  By the time they got north to the Caribbean one the of the remaining crew members was in quarantine with scurvy (which was dreaded and believed to be contagious).  A local brought a load of onions to the boat in a dugout canoe and they were amazed at how good they tasted raw (background: scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C in the diet, onions are a great source of vitamin C) and how quickly the crew member was cured of scurvy “by the warm air” and back at his post.  Dana Point is where the ship loaded the hides and is named in honor of the author.

A replica of the Pilgrim

Richard Henry Dana
Cliffs where the skins were thrown to the waiting crews below

On arrival in Dana Point we walked over to the Nordhavn office and collected our stabilizer parts which had been mailed there for us. The parts took about 10 hours of work but are now installed and seem to be working well.  The silver lining in all of this is we knew we had one of the early boats with “undersized” cylinders and hydraulic pump.  The cylinders we had were long out of production and even with new shaft seals one of them always leaked a tinsy bit of oil. In summary this has long been a project on our priority list but as they were working the way they were and would cost about $2500 to upgrade the swap had remained at the bottom of the priorities.  With a broken shaft they moved to the top of the list and I’m convinced are now moving the fins more effectively than in the past.

We arrived in Dana Point on a Tuesday and had been told we were invited to a pizza lunch so we could meet the staff.  Nordhavn is one of the most customer focused companies we have ever encountered.  We may have one of the lowest value boats with their brand name on it but they treated us royally.  While there we were awarded our 10,000 mile banner and given logo shirts and jackets.  (A bit of foreshadowing here: we were also told that a great honor among Nordhavns may be coming our way.)

Dan Streech of Nordhavn presents us with our 10,000 nm pennant
(photo credit: Nordhavn/PAE)

We are now approaching San Diego Harbor where we expect to lay for the rest of the month. So I will sign off and get ready to prepare for landing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Returning to the Salish Sea

August 28, 2018

Oh dear, I’ve gotten way behind in my notes so I’ll try to do some speed writing to catch up.  Let’s see, our last notes indicated we were waiting for our son-in-law, Paul to join us in Seward so we would have a third person for our first planned 3 day crossing.  The plan was that as soon as we saw a good weather window forecast after his arrival then we would head out across the Gulf of Alaska.  Initially we had planned to head directly from Seward to Ketchikan where there is an airport served by Alaska Airlines  so we could get Paul onto a plane back to his home in Ontario, Canada.  We figured the distance would require travelling  5 days straight before landfall.  Then we did some refiguring and realized that if we made landfall in Sitka (to the north of Ketchikan) we would make landfall in 3 days, get a good rest, get to see our friends in our new “hometown” and still get to Ketchikan with only a few hours of extra travel time. 

Paul arrived in Anchorage at a bit past midnight and our very good friend Bruce picked him up and let him catch a few winks on the couch before taking him to the Alaska Railroad station for a ride to Seward.  He reported that after he had napped for a bit on the train that the scenery was pretty impressive along the spine of the Kenai Peninsula.  He arrived in Seward on schedule at 11:05 AM and we fed him some fish and chips and gave him the news that there would be no further rest for the wicked as we had a favorable forecast and the boat was ready.  So by 3 PM we had departed the western gulf heading back to Southeast Alaska.

Paul got a quick orientation to boat procedures including trying on his assigned immersion suit.

A couple of geography notes:

  1.          Initially I put a starting point on our electronic chart just outside of Resurrection Bay and an ending point just below Mt Edgecomb outside of Sitka and let the chart draw a line between the two (actually it drew a curve as at that latitude it doesn’t take much distance before a great circle route curve is shorter than a straight line).  Remember back to the story shortly after we had arrived in Alaska where we were reminded of the importance of zooming in on a route before accepting it (recall a photo of a 75 ft yacht high on the rocks), I decided to follow my own “silly” rule and recheck the route in a closer zoom, even though it went through a very empty stretch of very deep water – well almost…. Middleton Island sits on the edge of the continental shelf about one-fourth of the way across the Gulf and low-and-behold our lubber line passed right through the island.  After reading the fascinating history of the island as a NORAD radar station, I moved the line a bit south into deep water.
  2.           As we were exiting Resurrection Bay I noted that if we hadn’t made a sharp turn to port we would have eventually come very close to the big island of Hawaii. Later that day I made contact with a ham radio operator in Maui and he asked why we hadn’t chosen to come visit to which I replied that without a full load of fuel we might will end up floating around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Then there would be the matter of a daughter with a bit of a temper being told that her husband got to Hawaii without her.)

We did pull into Sitka harbor late afternoon 3 days later after a pretty non-eventful trip.  The water wasn’t bad until about the final 24 hours when it got somewhat choppy coming off the stern but the boat was fine and no sea-sickness on this run! We were monitored along the way by fellow ham operators especially Darlene who kind of a boater’s godmother to all ham operator / boaters in Alaska.  When we arrived in Sitka it wasn’t long before we were talking with another boater who on learning our names told us that Darlene had given them the task of making sure we arrived safely.

During our time in Sitka we filled out our stores of perishables and met up with as many friends as possible.  We were able to visit St Peter’s by the Sea and visit with our friends there before we headed out.  Since Paul had expressed that he would rather stay aboard than fly home from Sitka, we chose to anchor for a night at one of our favorite places, Goddard Hot Springs.

Paul tries out an Alaska hot springs with us

At this point I’ll add a side story about the equipment set that caused us concern:

Radar fun

Salish Aire came to us with 2 radar units, an older Raytheon (CRT screen era) likely original to the boat and a state-of-the-art when it was installed Furuno that was added by the Goldbergs in 2005. When we purchased the boat we assumed that the Raytheon radar was likely at the end of its service life and had even gone as far as selecting a successor to it.  On the other hand it worked well and the old CRT screen was very easy to read so we decided to hang on to it until it failed. Furuno company is famous for their factory support of even the older devices so we have planned to upgrade and repair that radar as long as possible.

Ron Goldberg installing the main radar in 2006 when it was state-of-the-art
Photo credit: Nancy Goldberg

The biggest frustration with the Furuno system was that while the chart-plotter/radar display screen functioned as designed, the chart cards for it were becoming very difficult (and expensive) to find even on the used market so when we learned that the next grade version of the chart-plotter would plug directly into our current system but could handle much wider area and much more available SD cards we set out to find one.  We did find a used one by putting our need on the Nordhavn Owners Group list and figured that the savings in chart card cost alone would pay for it in short order.  When it arrived we realized that it probably needed a new internal clock battery and that I needed to install the ARPA (radar target tracking) board and video board from our old chart-plotter as it didn’t have these extra capabilities.  After two tries (and a few unkind thoughts about the person who designed the battery to be soldered in) all of the connections were happy and the new chart-plotter/radar display booted up and actually demonstrated some really nice upgraded software and graphics features we had not expected.

With the new chart-plotter/radar display installed we headed for our first-ever 3 day continuous run across the Gulf of Alaska.  On the way we noted that the Furuno radar was really only effective to about 7 miles.  A bit of research indicated this was likely due to an aging magnetron.  But alas; We had an extra magnetron on-board from another Nordhavn owner who had upgraded his system and generously donated his “radar guts” to our spares supply.  But no-joy: Apparently the spare was in worse shape than the original.  We did notice that the old magnetron needed to be rebooted periodically which made us nervous except for the happy knowledge that we always had the Raytheon as a backup which was really important as we still had about 750 nm to go in notoriously foggy waters before arriving back in Seattle. …..Then the Raytheon just quit – burned a fuse (and the replacement fuse). Now it was time to be very concerned.

Happily as we headed to Ketchikan we were able to contact a dealer in Petersburg who had a compatible magnetron on his shelf. He put it in the mail and with only a partial day delay we were able to install it and be on our way.  It is now clear to us that the magnetron has likely been failing since we’ve owned the boat but since we usually operate in closed waters it had never been clear to us that we had a problem. In the end we have a much nicer chart-plotter/radar display and a fully functioning primary radar (and a new Furuno mini radar waiting for us in Seattle to replace the Raytheon as our backup system).

Fog ahead makes a radar a necessity 

Our run from Sitka to Ketchikan was otherwise uneventful and once we saw Paul fly off and the radar repaired we continued our sprint south.  We reentered Canada in Prince Rupert and then stopped at the villages of Hartley Bay and Klemtu and by August 1st we were back in the protected water behind Vancouver Island.

In the Big House Klemtu village BC

As we headed further south Clarice couldn’t understand why I was getting irritable – she didn’t know that I was about to face a personal demon.  On our previous three trips up and down Vancouver Island we had always taken the slower, safer route which avoids Johnston Strait and Seymour Narrows.  For years I had read about the perils of this heavily travelled route and, frankly, I had let the guidebooks freak me out.

Vipond, A. & Kelly W.; Best anchorages of the Inside Passage. 2006 P-194: The steamships have been replaced by cruise ships, but under the control of that great gatekeeper, Seymour Narrows.  Even the leviathan liners are very careful about timeing their transit for slack water at this pass, with is one of the most formidable on our coast with currents reaching 16 knots. …”Everything hinges on Seymour Narros, It tells us how fast to go from Sitka  all the way down the Inside Passage,” Captain Ympa Ercka of a Holland America Line cruise ship confirmed.  Asked about other hair-raising passes or navigational hazards of the coast, Ercka shook his head: “There is only Seymour Narrows. Nothing compares.”

Seymour Narrows is at the south end of Johnstone Strait where if the tide is moving one way and the wind racing the other, waves can rapidly build to challenging heights. The way for a small boat to traverse this route is to carefully plan to ride the tide to Seymour Narrows and then pass through them at slack.  The evening before our passage we worked our way south against the start of a northbound tide and were quickly reminded of the power we would face as our speed over water was maxing out at 9 knots but we were only making about 3.5 knots toward the marina where we planned to spend the night.  We checked and rechecked the weather forecast to confirm that while the winds were likely to pick up they should be off our stern and with the tide.  We calculated our travel times to The Narrows several times until we were fairly satisfied we had a plan (then we radioed a passing commercial tug and barge and rechecked with the experienced captain). 

Our goal was to reach The Narrows for an 11 AM slack tide after riding the flood south as the waters where from Campbell River north come from the north end of Vancouver Island.  We left our moorage at 4 AM as planned and immediately felt the current add speed to our boat.  The last of the night and early dawn were beautiful and seeing the stars that had been lost for several months in the Land of the Midnight Sun was a treat.  The current increased and before we knew it we were at the entrance to Seymour Narrows 2 hours ahead of schedule.  Our backup plan was to sit in one of the coves at to the north of the narrows should we arrive too early and we were making plans to do so when we had the opportunity to watch a commercial fishing boat with basically the same hull shape as us transit the narrows with little trouble.  So we went for it and watched our over ground speed (we plan on about 7 knots) creep up to a record 13.5 knots.  We passed over some upwelling water and minor whirlpools but nothing as bad as we have experienced in the past in other tidal rapids.  Before we knew it we watched Campbell River pass behind us.  Just to add to the fun we slowed a bit as the water coming from the south end of Vancouver Island started to ebb southward and we were off again.  By the end of the day we had travelled 84 NM in record time and my personal sea monster was tamed forever.

Sunrise in Johnstone Strait 
Sunrise in Johnstone Strait

We had talked about moving around a fair amount in Puget Sound using reciprocal moorage privileges and state park docks to save money but in the end we ended up at the guest docks in our old home marina in Everett.  Since we have access to Clarice’s dad’s car here, and friends to help out when we need it as well as being familiar with the area’s resources in the way of grocery stores, marine stores and such it has worked out well.

We did follow our plan to haul out in Port Townsend.  The boat was pressure washed and blocked by noon on Friday and by that evening Clarice had the port side sanded and I had the keel cooler drained and removed.  Saturday our brother-in-law Darrel came to help and the starboard side was sanded and the first layer of paint applied while I cleaned the keel cooler and started to separate the propeller shaft from the transmission.  Sunday our longtime friend Grant came to help and the second coat of paint was applied and Clarice and Grant reassembled the keel cooler and put it back in place.

A dirty boat fresh from 2 years at sea

Sanding a bit to help the paint adhere better

Guard dog Jarvis atop his kennel making sure Darrell is safe
Darrell and Clarice finish prepping the prop for 

Three cheers the paint is on

Salish Aire returns to the sea with a pretty blue bottom

We try to make sure that if there is a big project that needs doing while the boat is out of the water that we plan it along with the biannual bottom paint job.  This year it was replacing a rubber hose called a shaft log that provides a seal between the hull and the packing gland that seals around the prop shaft.  We had been warned that changing the shaft log was not a huge job but getting the prop shaft loose from the transmission so it could be changed was likely to be very difficult – it was.  I think I took about 16 hours using every trick I knew to break the shaft loose from the collar that mates it to the transmission including using a breaker bar on a puller of sorts, a torch, banging with a hammer, and more than a few choice words.  The only position I could be in and work on the project involved jamming my right foot next to the transmission and bending my left leg over the top of the bilge area.  With my total lack of flexibility this led to cramps for days afterwards. It wasn’t until Monday morning that the shaft came free and it only took about another hour to change the hose and then one final hour to reassemble the shaft to the transmission (with lots of Never Seize to hopefully make it easier to take apart next time (hopefully when someone else owns the boat)).

The original shaft log hose to be removed
These bolts were tightened to the max in order to get the collar (left side of the photo) to let go
The new shaft log finally in place and ready for sea

We finished our final small projects on Tuesday and were able to have the boat lowered back into the water early Wednesday a day ahead of schedule.  We then headed to Oak Harbor marina, known for cheaper fuel prices, for the night and added 500 gallons of diesel the next morning. (We expect to get a warning letter from the coast guard as we had about one half gallon go out of our fuel vent into Puget Sound which is a big no no – frustrating as we are very careful when we fuel to avoid that mistake.)

After arriving back in Everett and retrieving Clarice’s dad’s car we have been busy with provisioning, family get-togethers, doctor visits, and final cleaning and prepping projects on the boat.

Gregory family picnic at Point Defiance in Tacoma

One of our projects was to do our twice a year wet check of the bilge pump system.  The system should  work thusly: Step 1 the water is about 2 inches deep and the regular bilge pump activates and empties it.  Step 2 the water reaches about 4 inches deep and a loud alarm sounds.  Step 3 the water reaches about 10 inches deep (still only about 1/4 of the capacity of the deep bilge section) and a really big pump kicks in.  The test went well except the alarm didn't sound because the tiny switch to silence it was in the "silence" position in the pilot house and had gone un-noticed.  Had this been a real leak event that would have been a BIG problem.  The solution was to take out the tiny, easily hit, switch and change it for a key switch so we think this problem will be much less likely to recur. 

Now it takes a key to silence the bilge alarm

 We will be off to Ontario to visit our daughter and her family in two days then when we return we plan to take a day to add fresh veggies and if Neptune and the weather gods agree we will be off for Mexico.

We are asked, "What was your favorite thing about Alaska?" Our favorite memories are 1) The beauty and people of Sitka.  Wintering there was one of the best decisions we made.  It truly became a second home to us. 2) and 3) The amazing scenery of Misty Fjords National Monument and Kenai Fjords National Park. Will we go back - a definite maybe but there is a lot of world yet to see.

With that we will leave some of our parting photos as we headed back to the Salish Sea.

We will miss our friends the sea otters

Leaving Resurrection Bay

Shear cliffs of Taz Basin on Granite Island
Taz Basin

Seal rookery in Taz Basin
Sunset with forest fire smoke

The only whale we observed breaching