Monday, July 27, 2015

Jarrell Cove

The weather this weekend was a far cry from what we had last weekend.  Highs in the low 70's with rain showers were forecast.  We decided to head South and decide where to go on our way.  We were thinking of either Hope Island Marine Park, or Jarrell Cove Marine Park

We got a late start out of Gig Harbor, partly because we just do that, and partly because Gig Harbors Thunderbird Fleet #1 was holding a series of races in the harbor.  I learned to sail here in Gig Harbor, the home of the Thunderbird and used to see large fleets of them race in the Harbor.  It was very nice to see over a dozen boats once again racing by the birthplace of this wonderful boat.

We finally got out of the harbor and headed South.  Unfortunately, the wind was headed North.  We eventually were able to put up the main and do some motorsailing as we got through the Narrows.  Eventually, the wind was holding fair for the course so we decided to continue South through Nisqually Reach instead of through Balch Passage as we usually do.  This route is a little longer, but it kept the wind fair longer.

As turned NW towards Case Inlet, the wind freshened.  Still motorsailing to smooth out the gusts and wind shifts we were making over 7 knots.  At this point we decided to continue heading North and go to Jarrell Cove around the Northern tip of Harstene Island.  This took us past McMicken Island, where we stayed last weekend in entirely different weather.

The whole trip we were surprised by how few boats we saw.  Maybe it was the suddenly typical wet and cool summer weather that kept folks away, or maybe everyone was cruising Northern waters but the Sound seemed empty.  We did pass and wave at Steve Franklin who was headed North in his Cataline400, "Platypus".  It was going aboard "Platypus" that first convinced my wife and I that a Catalina 400 would be the "perfect" boat for us.

Jarrell Cove was likewise empty.  We had been here a few years ago and it was a very crowded little anchorage.  This weekend, we had our pick of the 10 or so State Park mooring buoys.  Other than the wildlife, it was a very quiet night.

The next morning the weather had turned a bit more ominous.  As we were leaving Jarrell Cove we could see rain ahead.  We were hit with a few thundershowers and no usable wind for the motor back to Gig Harbor.  At least here in the PNW, when the weather is poor, we have interesting clouds to look at.

Monday, July 20, 2015

McMicken Island

Well, it has been a very, VERY long time since I updated this.  Life has gotten in the way of sailing unfortunately.  A couple weddings over the past couple years, family commitments, professional activities, and then the demands of my own practice have kept us off the boat more than we would like.

This summer was going to change that.  I had taken two weeks off from work and we were going to head north towards Desolation Sound.  We were super excited about the trip and the time away.  Unfortunately, the last week of school one of my wife's students accidentally ran into her knocking her to the floor.  My wife ended up with a break in the distal end of her radius.  The orthopedist ruled that she wouldn't be able to make the trip this summer since some of the stern-tie anchoring takes two people to manage the boat.  Maybe if we had been there before and I had more experience with that terrain it would have been different, but for now the trip is delayed once again.

However, this last weekend we did get a chance to get out.  We have had an unusually hot and dry spring and summer here in the PNW.  With weekend temps predicted to hit 90 degrees, I thought of what might be a nice spot to go for a quick overnight, McMicken Island Marine State Park .

We had anchored overnight here a couple years ago and I really enjoyed it.  McMicken is a small, 11.5 acre, island in Case inlet that is is connected to Harstene Island by a drying spit at a very low tide.  Behind McMicken there is a very shallow, wide basin of a cove which makes for a great anchorage since Hastene Island shelters you from the prevailing southerlies. Not that there was any wind this weekend however.  As usual in Pugets Sound, when we have nice weather, we don't have wind.

Saturday afternoon there was a 15' tide change at McMicken.  With low water in Gig Harbor at around 1:30pm, we decided to leave as close to low slack as possible and catch the current south through the Narrows.  Just an hour before we left the house my daughter and son-in-law called an invited themselves along as well.  We scrambled to get some more food and then headed for the boat.

With the current running South it took us about 4 hours to get to McMicken even with a fuel stop at Zittel's Marina at Johnson Point.  (An indication of how little we have been able to get on the boat over the past year is that it had been 14 months since we last filled up with fuel.)

When we got to McMicken all the mooring buoys on the back side of the island were taken.  We anchored in about 20 feet of water with a nice view of Mt Rainier peeking over the trees of the island.

With the very hot weather, the shallow cove, and the large tide change we did something that we hardly ever do in Puget Sound.  We went swimming!  The waters of Puget Sound stay right around 50 degrees F year round except in certain places under certain very unusual conditions.  This summer is one of those unusual conditions.  I don't like cold water and normally when I jump in the Sound I am just as quickly jumping back out again.  This time, I swam around for 20 minutes and convinced the rest of the family to join me.

We took off the next morning to catch the outgoing tied and get back home before the 90 temps made our PNW brains bake.  A very nice quick escape, not much over 24 hours but a nice time with the family and a chance to enjoy South Puget Sound.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Up the mast

We found out a couple weekends ago that our Anchor light on the masthead wasn't working.  Figuring that it was a bad bulb, I decided to go up the mast for a look.  Given that we normally have to do things shorthanded, I got an ATN Mastclimber to make the accent.

The climber worked very well.  I got my Mom to go along with me and then my daughter decided to tag along as well.  I used the spinnaker halyard as the climbing line and the boom lift as a safety line.  My mom tailed the slack on the boom lift as I went up.

It actually worked well, although I did have one problem.  I had fastened the Spinnaker halyard to the base of the mast before climbing.  However, once my 215 pounds put tension on the halyard it stretched, leaving too much slack in the line below me to easily slide the ascenders up the line.  My Mom (age 77 btw) put a winch on the halyard and was able to raise me up about 6 inches to remove the slack.  That made it a lot easier.

I got to the top and found that the bulb looked good but I wasn't getting any power to it.  While I was up there, I took a few photos, then came down again.

The ATN Mastclimber worked great.  If an old, fat, out of shape guy like me with a bum knee can do it, most anyone can.  I will admit to a few sore muscles over the next couple days however.

This is the view from the top.
Legacy's stern from the Masthead
Legacy's bow from the Masthead

View of my Marina from the top.
Murphy's Landing

Panorama's of Gig Harbor.  There is some wide angle distortion of course, the Harbor really isn't shaped that way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Replacing aft Wilcox-Crittendon Head

I have been very unhappy with the WC Headmate toilets that came with the 2005 C400. Frankly, they are a piece of junk. I wanted to replace them with a better designed unit, but didn't want to have to do a lot of changes to the existing plumbing. Two reasons for this, I'm lazy and my wife doesn't like extra holes in the boat.

After doing a lot of research and making a general pest of myself asking questions on the C400 International Association website and the C400 Yahoo group list, I settled on the Raritan PHC. The PHC uses the same pump as the Raritan PHII, but with a compact "marine" bowl. When Defender had them on sale for $199, I jumped at it and bought one.

First, I'd like to offer a lot of thanks to Tom Sokoloski of Juniper. He replaced his WC Headmates with Raritan PHII's and provided a lot of suggestions and advice.

Parts Needed:
  • Raritan PHC Head
  • 1 - 5/16 x 1.5" Stainless Steel Lag screw
  • 1 SS washer
  • 1 SS locking washer
  • epoxy and thickener
  • Life-Calk
  • Super Lube
  • 2 SS hose clamps for 3/4" ID hose
  • 1 90 degree elbow for 3/4" ID hose

The first step is to remove the existing head. This is just a matter of making sure the sea cock is closed then disconnecting the hoses to the toilet. Try to be careful of the hoses as you disconnect them because you will reuse the hoses and you don't want to distort the hoses. Applying a bit of heat with a hair dryer can help get the hoses off the ribbed fittings. Then, unscrew the three stainless steal lag screws that attach the head to the raised pedestal. Hang on to these screws and their washers as you will reuse them. Having a container to catch the raw water from the hoses can help reduce the mess.

Here is what it looks like when you get the head removed.

You can see the three holes from the Headmate mounts. The PHC has four mounting points. I reused the farthest forward mounting hole from the Headmate for the PHC. That means that I only had to drill three additional holes instead of four, and only had to fill two of the old holes.

I brought the PHC in and test fitted in place.

Note the lag screw that I placed for test fitting. That is the hole that will be kept. With the PHC in place, I connected the waste hose temporarily.

The arrow is pointing to the elbow that leaves the head. From Raritan, this elbow is pointing down. The two bolts have to be loosened and the elbow rotated to point to the waste hose that comes out of the wall. With that hose in place and the mounting slot placed against the one bolt forward, I marked the position of the other three slots. Then I took off the waste hose and removed the head.

Here you can see the marks for the new holes. I've already filled the two unused holes with thickened epoxy. The arrow is pointing to one of the hole positions that is very close to an existing hole. This is one of the reasons I used the epoxy and simply didn't fill them with Life-Calk. I wanted that new hole to have a sturdy support around it. By the way, you will need another SS lag screw. A smart person would have taken one of the existing screws to the hardware store and simply matched it. I, on the other hand, forgot to do that and had to select a lag screw from memory. I picked a 5/16 x 2" screw. I was close, it should have been 1 1/2". You also need a washer and lock washer.

Drill the holes in the marked locations using a brad point drill, and counter sink them. I made a really stupid error at this point. If you notice, the mounting points are slots, not holes in the base of the PHC. I drilled the holes at the inside edge of the slots. This meant that when I mounted the toilet I didn't have enough room for the washer at one of the screws. It also meant that I wasn't able to get a socket around the head of both the forward and aft screw at the pump housing and so had to screw them in using an open end wrench. I was muttering to myself the entire time. See below. Use Life-Calk or equivalent in the holes to seal them.

After mounting, it is just a matter of making the hose connections. Using some Super Lube on on the hose connections makes it a lot easier to get the hoses on. When the PHC came from Raritan, it had a hose connected from the back of the pump to the back of the bowl. This is fine for above the waterline installations, but for below the waterline installations, Raritan wants an a vented loop. Fortunately, Catalina had already provided one for the head I just removed. I removed the Raritan hose from the pump to the bowl and simply connected the hoses that I had disconnected from the Headmate.

The raw water intake hose doesn't reach the pump comfortably. The Headmade had the raw water intake located in the back of the pump and the PHC has it in the front. I copied what Tom Sokoloski had done, and using a 90 elbow and 2" of hose I cut from the piece of Raritan hose I had removed from the toilet, I fashioned this.

Then it was just a matter of opening the raw water sea cock and testing for leaks. It was at this point that I found I had a large leak at the back of the pump where the flushing water goes out to the vented loop. The end of the hose had been distorted somewhat as I removed it from the Headmate and it wasn't sealing well. I simply cut off 3/4" of the end of the hose and reconnected it and it solved the problem. Before I do something like this again however, I'm going to buy a hose cutter. The OEM hoses are really tough to cut with a knife.

This is what it looks like installed. You can see the one old hole that is visible. I may get some gelcoat from Catalina to clean that up a bit.

Another option to consider is that Raritan sells just the PHC Lower Base Assembly as a separate item. The Headmate bowl will bolt directly on this. The PHC LBA can be purchased for about $220 which makes it much less expensive than the normal PHC unit. I chose to buy the whole unit since Defender had such a good price, but otherwise would have gotten just the LBA. You can put either a "household" size bowl or a compact “marine” bowl such as the WC Headmate’s. Also, the PHII can be used instead. The reason I didn't is that the PHII base molding would have overhung the toilet pedestal

I couldn't be happier. The pump of the PHC (The same as the PHII) works so much better than the Headmate and seems a much more sensible design.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Family Visit

At the end of July, we were fortunate to have my wife's sister and her family come up for a visit from Southern California. My brother-in-law likes to sail but hasn't had much chance and hasn't seen Legacy before. We took the opportunity to take their family out for a little sail. We decided to just run down to Wollochet Bay (yeah, it is a favorite) and give the kids a chance to play at the TYC Outstation. We didn't have a lot of wind, but we did have some opportunity to sail.

Here is my brother-in-law at the wheel as we are leaving Gig Harbor. I think he is enjoying himself.

My sister-in-law, while not as excited seems to be having a good time.

My nephew liked it. It took quite a while for him to get over the trauma of having to put on a life-jacket. He complained as only a 2 year-old can, but he dealt with it eventually.

Legacy at the dock in Wollochet. The TYC dock was almost full but there was a spot at the end of the dock for us. Of course, there is was only a few inches of water under her keel, but fortunately the tide was coming in.

The kids had a great time on the dry playing in the shade. The one with the freckles is my daughter.

Once the tide was slack, we headed back to Gig Harbor on the ebb. We all had a great time and the family promised to come back next year to maybe spend a night or two on Legacy with us. My niece got adventuresome on the way home, even if we didn't have any wind.

July 4th

Kids Summer work schedules being what they are, it was tough getting folks together for the 4th. We decided to just take Legacy down to the TYC outstation at Wollochet Bay. Wollochet is a small bay in South Puget Sound that is nice and protected. Unfortunately, on nice days it is also filled with idiots that either don't know, or don't care about the no-wake zone law in Pierce County.

It is a nice place to hang out for the 4th as the small bay is surrounded with homes owned by folks with more money than sense. They spend huge sums of money each year on their own personal fireworks displays. Great for those of us who just like to watch.

I had to go to work the next day, so I went home that night leaving the family on Legacy. The next day after work, I came out and my wife and I took Legacy back to Gig Harbor. It was nice to finally have some decent Summer weather (at least by PNW standards).

Friday, June 3, 2011

AutoProp Install (Finally)

Back when I first had Legacy hauled for the survey, I was struck by how much that big three-blade prop would affect sailing performance. It was then that I decided on some type of feathering prop. I agonized over the decision and wrote two blog posts, Decisions, decisions verse 1- Propeller, and Autoprop it is back in August of last year. Well, I did get the Autoprop but received it too late to have it installed while the boat was out of the water. I finally got around to getting it done this weekend.

My Mom and I took the boat over to Gig Harbor Marina to be hauled and have them install the prop. Gig Harbor Marina has the only Travelift and haul-out facility in Gig Harbor. It is a lot more convenient than taking the boat into Tacoma to have it hauled and my experience with them there at Gig Harbor Marina was excellent. The staff is friendly and helpful and seem very knowledgeable. Installing the Autoprop isn't a hard job, but I decided that since I don't have a prop puller, I'd let them do it. While the boat was out of the water, I had them wash down the hull and replace all the zincs. I have a diver that takes care of that for me, but since it was out it was easy.

The install went well. We did need to grind away some of the prop strut to give adequate clearance for the prop. Fortunately, a Catalina 400 owner who also has an Autoprop on the Catalina400 Yahoo group had mentioned the potential problem with clearing the strut. If he hadn't mentioned it, I'm not sure if either me or the installer would have noticed it. If you look at the photos you can see that the prop could have hit strut as it was changing from forward to reverse. A few minutes with a grinder and that problem was taken care of.

Here is a close up of where the prop would hit the strut.

After a couple minutes with a grinder, this is what it looked like.

Another, closer shot.

After waiting four hours for the tide to come in to give us enough water under the Travelift (it was a -2 tide today) we dropped Legacy back in the water.

With the standard 3-blade prop, 2500rpm would give us 6.1 knots on flat water with no wind. After the Autoprop was installed, we went out sailing on a beautiful day. Temperatures were in the 70's, we had 15 knots of wind, and it was bright and clear. (Those of you not from the PNW have no idea how unusual this is. We almost never get the combination of wind, sun, and warm temperatures. We are lucky if we get two out of the three.) Anyway with a 15 knot headwind and a light chop, 2500rpm now gave us 6.9 knots. More importantly, 2000-2200 rpm, which is a very comfortable power level for the Yanmar, gave a respectable 6.4 knots.

Reverse performance was better but it didn't eliminate the prop walk in reverse. This still means that getting in and out of our slip is going to continue to be a challenge depending on wind and tide.

Anyway, after just a short time I'm happy with it. Time will tell of course. Given the typical light winds we have here, I'm looking forward to seeing how it improves motor sailing performance.