Friday, October 28, 2005

We are in Friday Harbour, WA today. We had a lovely sail over yesterday. We fooled around with the wind vane and it actually worked, we did quite well sailing up wind, but when we tried to vary our course we ran into some difficulties. It is very sensitive and will take time and careful, watchful sailing to figure it out. It all has to do with balancing your boat with the sails and getting it to sail itself and then adjusting the wind vane, or maybe to adjusting the wind vane and then setting the sails to the vane, we aren't quite sure at the moment and OF COURSE, Barry and I have different ideas about how to go about doing that.

It turned really blustery on the way into Friday Harbour yesterday and they are predicting small craft warnings to gales for the next couple of days so we should be able to get places, if Barry allows me to put up the sails!!!!

It is overcast but the temperature is still a very comfortable 50 degrees. I can't even convert into Farenheit anymore, all I know is that it isn't bad. I had a toque on and my big mitts at the wheel yesterday. Our weather cloths have kept the cockpit warmer but when you have to stand up to see what is happening infront of you, you are up above the dodger and the wind gets at you. It's like sailing in Yellowknife at the end of August, not terribly warm but not entirely uncomfortable either.

We found out how to get Internet on our boat so we bit the bullet and bought a WIFI card, which has a small antena attached and subscribed to a company that provides this service. The card apparently boosts the built in wireless capacities that the computer already has. It is a U.S. company that has stations all around the Gulf Islands and the Pacific Northwest, it is called Broadband Express. You can also buy an antenna that can be put on your mast so that you can receive a signal when you are further away. There is a station very close to our home slip so we are hoping to get away with not purchasing the bigger, more expensive attenna. YEAH, no more driving down to the Travelodge and hunkering down inside the car, illegally using their wireless service. It was getting dicey anyways, not hooking up very well and taking as long as 10 minutes to get from one message to another.

We have no returned to Sidney after our sail. I did this entry in Friday Harbour, so will upload it and put in some pics from our trip and fill you in on the details of our trip later.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It has been getting progressively cooler at nights and we only have a lowly little electric heater to keep us warm. It has been doing the job just fine, but only while we are hooked up to shore power. We need another heat source. We have a diesel heater on board, which apparently are skookum, when they work, but we have not been able to get this beast to light.

It has a separate 5 gallon tank and somewhere between the tank and the furnace/heater there seems to be a leak. The furnace is mounted on a surface which is above the cabin floor and there is an opening which is about 7 inches high and 15 inches wide below it. When lying on the floor peering in the hole you can see diesel dripping down the side of the boat, you can reach the connections through holes on each side but you can’t see anything, so I thought I would try to see what I could see, kind of like the bear going over the mountain.

I got my head in the hole and then figured out I couldn’t get my shoulders through the hole, but by twisting about I could get one arm in and worm my way a little further in my quest to see what was going on with the tank and it’s connections. Well as soon as my massive chest got close to the opening, I could squirm no further, and I could not see what was leaking. All of a sudden I heard this exclamation from Barry, he had taken a picture and I started laughing, my chest started heaving and my ribs were compressed even more.

We used Barry’s nifty new pump to suck out the entire tank and there have been no more little pools of diesel under the heater/furnace, thank goodness, although the stupid, useless thing still doesn’t work. I cleaned it out the other day and Barry has ordered a new fuel filter, but even if we do get it to light, what are we going to do about the leaky tank. YIKES!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

We got the propane line installed. The stupid old line had three joins in it, so it was a good thing we got a professional to do it. He tested our propane sniffers and said he didn't think they were working. SO, that means we had a propane line with three joins in it and nothing to detect leaks, enough to make you throw up your hands and say "just shoot me". We now have to figure out how to take out the detectors and have them tested. I tried to follow the lines from the dectectors back to where they hooked up ( so we wouldn't have to cut the lines) and got as far as the engine area and then they disappeared into the nether regions below the floor boards. We left that job for another day and went up to Arbutus Ridge to check or snail mail and have supper with Barry's Mom.
We sailed down to Victoria yesterday and went to a Bluewater Cruising meeting. That was our first sight of the Straits of Juan De Fuca, there was a lot of water out there!!!! There was a couple that had been on a 9 year cruise around the world that did a slide presentation. They had some marvelous stories to tell and some great pictures. There was also a guy that stood up and talked about the education classes that they are going to have this winter. There is going to be one on sail repair, fiberglasing, and electricity. We plan to go to all of them. There is also a group called fleet 2006 which consists of everyone who is planning on leaving next year and the year after. They get together and decide as a group what kind of things they want to do over the winter and how often they want to meet. This should be another good source of info and helpful hints on where to find out what we need to know and who we should be talking to. I am really looking forward to cramming my brain full of boating knowledge. We know how to sail, we just have to figure out how to be able to repair our boat without it costing us an arm and a leg everytime something goes wrong and having the confidence to be able to say I CAN FIX this, and it is going to work and I know what I am doing.

Monday, October 17, 2005

This is our wind vane and I am holding one of the weather cloths. We got these two items from the former owner a couple of weeks ago. We attached the wind vane while we were on the hard, much easier than doing it while balancing on a dinghy in the water. 'I had to repair the weather cloths, seams were going and some of the gromets need replacing. They are now repaired and on the boat, HORRAY.
We hooked up the wind vane lines last week and then went out on the weekend to see if it would work. We think we got it hooked up right, by looking at the pictures and reading the manual that came with it. Every wind vane is mounted on each boat differently because of how the steering and the stern is designed. Fortunately the wind vane had been hooked up before, and we just had to figure out how to attach the lines. This involved me stuffing myself in the aft lazerette with Barry in the cockpit pushing the lines through to me and then put them around pulleys and leading them back through a hole in the stern so they could be attached to the wind vane. Barry got in the dinghy and we stuffed lines into the aluminum tubes so they could attach to the vane. ANYWAY, we tried it out. You have to make sure your boat is balanced with the sails when you set the vane, fortunately Cat's-Paw IV seems to sail itself and track quite nicely so there was no problem getting it balanced, then we engaged the wind vane. True to our natures, I thought the wind vane was working beautifully, the boat sailed for about 10 minutes on track. Barry thought the boat was doing it all by itself and the wind vane wasn't doing anything. We then tried other things, but the wind did not co-operate ( it was suggested that when you are learning you should sail in 10 - 15 knots) so we packed it in and went back to the slip.
We are having the propane line repaired today. A whole new line has to be put in from the propane locker to the stove. The former owner when he put in a new stove, he put an addition on the existing propane line, which is a definite no-no. We decided since it was propane and the insurance might be void if we did the work ourselves,, to get a professional to do it, besides I have an irrational fear of propane and would not feel comfortable unless it was done properly.
Barry installed a new clutch for our main sheet yesterday. This involved taking the ceiling off the aft cabin, no easy task. You have to take out wooden plugs to get at the screws and after much hammering and digging around with screwdrivers and whatnot we got to the screws and got the ceiling off. Barry then went and had an aluminum backing plate made for the clutch and we placed it in a good position on the cabin top and bolted it down. We were quite pleased with ourselves that we had managed the job, without paying anyone to help. We had a drink to celebrate that night. We went to raise the main the next day and low and behold the $#^%$*) clutch didn't work, shit, had we bought the wrong kind??? Well, we had a look at it and sure enough it was on BACKWARDS!!!! Back to the drawing board, at least we hadn't gotten around to putting the wooden plugs back in the ceiling. Barry turned it around no problem and now it works beautifully. Don't you just love learning how to fix stuff!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a lovely time with a bunch of Bluewater Cruisers this weekend. We sailed about 20 miles as the crow flies on Sat. to get to the rendezvous. We spent the weekend swapping stories and getting to know some of the other people that belong to the BCA. They have three categories of sailors, dreamers, doers and doners. We are in the dreamer’s category at the moment and we met both of the other types this weekend. One couple were on a 18 month hiatus on dry land, their boat is in Denmark and they will return after she gets to plant her garden next summer, she was so happy to be able to do that. A couple of the doners had tales to tell, one fellow expounded on his adventure, living through a hurricane in Fiji in the 80’s aboard his boat!!! The other couple told of rescuing 4 Fijians stranded at sea for 6 days in a motorboat. The rescuers became local heroes and had a party and luau given in their honor. We got some tips on how to look after our floor and what might work on getting our spinnaker pole, which is seized on to the fittings on the deck, off.

You will notice that there are no tales of woe about Cat’s-Paw IV on this trip. She behaved beautifully and we were told that we had gotten a good boat by several sailors. They knew the boat; they just hadn’t met us before!!!

We had fun, we made some connections, and we learned a few things. Wowee, I think that was what this was supposed to be about. The picture is of the boat building contest that took place. Our boat is not the beautiful one with the gorgeous leaves, but the rather very rustic looking on next to it. Our boat did finish the race, but since the boats were all tossed off the dock at the same time they clumped, and there was a three way tie for third place, so there was a re-race. Our mast started sagging and the sails got wet and so we brought up the rear in the second race, but we did finish.

I hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving Day and that you had some good food and good company.

Here are a couple of pictures for you hardcore boat nuts. Barry wanted you to see our awesome skeg hung rudder and on the right is our new depth sounder thru hull. Yes it actually does stick out that much!!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

This blog is for those of you interested in our boat repairs. We have it out of the water on the hard (as we boaters like to say), it is up on stands that keep it upright when on the land. These stands do not belong to us they are the boatyard's property and you pay to have your boat hauled out and they set it up on the stands and then you pay by the day that your boat is in the yard having work done on it.
We have had a new depth sounder installed, so now we will be able to breathe a little easier when we go into strange anchorages and just have a chart to go by (although I did remember that we had bought a portable depth sounder and for the last while at an achorage we have been going up to the bow and taking readings on the depth as we get close to where we want to anchor, that was a little less hairy). They have fixed all of the big blisters that the surveyor had identified and now we await bottom paint. The guy said it would just take him two hours to paint the bottom so we figured we would just go ahead and pay him and get it done properly.
Barry and I have been struggling to attach the Monitor Wind Vane that came with the boat. The former owner did not keep it on the boat because he was afraid it might get bumped at the slip. It is pretty close quarters in there and if you are not careful you can quite easily run into someone. I haven't managed to run into anyone yet, but after my first quite successful dockings, my last two have been rather ugly. The slip next to us is empty now and for some reason I am not quite judging the distance and my trajectory very well, I haven't damaged anything but IT WAS UGLY!!!
Anyway back to the Monitor Wind Vane, where it is attached to the boat it's pretty hard to reach and I (being relatively tiny, compared to Barry and much more flexible) get to stuff my aging body into tiny spaces to try and put nuts on bolts. We all know how mechanical I am, but believe it or not after Graeme, my potential son-in-law, told me I just had to remember that doing up was clockwise and undoing was counter clockwise, I managed to thread 16 nuts on the correct way without trying to do it backwards once. Do you think that means I am cured??? Back to the wind vane, it is all attached now except for two bolts that need to be replaced on the outside because the thread were either too long or too short. NOW we just have to figure out how the damn thing works. It has more ropes and pulleys than any piece of machinery is meant to and to top it all off, no two boats are set up the same to we have to try and figure out how the previous owner set up this one. Fun and Games.
We are hoping to have the boat back in the water by Friday so we can attend a Bluewater Cruising get together for Thanksgiving. If we don't get in we will have a lovely dinner with Barry's Mom, that is where we are staying until the boat is back in the water. It sure is nice to have somewhere to go when we need to, a warm, friendly house with a bathtub, I don't know where we would go if we couldn't stay here!!!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

We are in Bedwell Harbour on Pender Island at a cruising get together. We finally made it to one, yeah. We have met lots of very nice folks. This weekend was organized by the Victoria Cruising Club which is a power boat club that has been running for 50 years. They invited along the members of the yahct club that we belong to, so we decided to attend.
The resort is only about 10 nautical miles from our slip so we sailed over on Saturday afternoon, after Barry did his 50 hour oil change on the motor. The oil change went well, we learned how we should do it better next time and so far there is no oil spewing from the engine so he must have done it correctly. Just after we arrived there was a cocktail hour appetizer party and everyone just mixed and mingled and chatted for the rest of the evening. We were admiring another boat on the way back to Cat's-Paw and the folks inside invited us aboard and we had a lovely chat with them. They had a J30 and the fellow is a very keen racer, so we swapped tales most of the evening.
This morning they had coffee and cake out for breakfast and people wandered by and visited over coffee. It was super to meet this bunch and hopefully we can make some connections with a few couples. It's great to hear everyone's stories about how they got involved in boating and what they are up to. The resort it gorgeous. We went ashore this morning and wandered around. There is a pool available for us to use once we'd paid our moorage and there was a lovely internet area on the third floor of the main building. We didn't look around too much more but it will definitely be worth coming back for further visits.