Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I had forgotten how much work it is to move onto the boat

We made the process worse by having storage units in both Seattle and Anacortes. It's amazing how fast we accumulate stuff - when we moved up here five years ago, our possessions fit in the boat and a single storage unit. Of course then we moved ashore and went to Ikea where we bought an apartment's worth of stuff that we've spent the past five years slowly upgrading. Somewhere in there, we moved from a two bedroom apartment in Bellevue to a one bedroom apartment in Seattle. The result is a bunch of post Ikea stuff (much of it in storage) that we don't want to get rid of.

As of today, we're out of the storage unit in Anacortes. Art spent a couple of days up there earlier organizing, taking the ancient containers of methyl ethyl bad shit (some of which, I'm embarrassed to say, date from our time in Alameda - yes, we moved old cans of paint thinner and lighter fluid with us when we came to Seattle*) to the Skagit County hazmat disposal site, and disassembling the bakers racks (those chromed wire shelves you can get at Costco) of which we've somehow accumulated six. This morning we drove up there and picked up a one-way U-Haul. Thanks to all the work Art did in advance, we had the truck packed up in a little over an hour. I drove the car back, taking the scenic route through La Conner as my Skagit Valley farewell tour. After quick stop at the boat to take some stuff out of the car so that Art would actually have somewhere to sit when we dropped of the truck, we headed down to the place where we're storing all of our stuff while we're in Mexico.

Originally we were going to bring all of that stuff to the apartment and then pay the movers to take it to storage*. At some point last week, a little lightbulb went off and we realized that we could, wonder of wonders, through the amazing technology called the telephone, call the movers and see if we could just drop it off at their storage facility ourselves. Which we did. Cheaper and easier. I like that.

Next week = movers, which, of course, means the remainder of this week = packing.

Seaview is definitely redeeming itself - the watermaker works, and although there's still some sort of leak at the mast, the Spartite is quite possibly not the problem (which, in addition to perhaps not being the yard's fault, might be a bigger problem than we thought, but la la la la la I'm not going to think about that right now...). The owner was positively mortified about the packing gland. The guy they've sent to do most of the work is great, really seems to know his stuff, and funnily, is married to a woman we've met a couple of times who goes to the same Spanish teacher we do.

Our autopilot, unfortunately, appears to have bitten the dust. As a) it's 20 years old and b) we've rarely used it, this isn't terribly surprising. However, neither of us wants to go down the coast without a method of steering the boat that doesn't require actually standing at the wheel. It was also pointed out to us that even if we were to manage to revive it, if it died again, the likelihood of finding parts to repair a circa 1989 B&G Helmstar 740 are somewhere between slim and nil. The good news is that the hydraulic ram (the part that moves the rudder), which would be fairly spendy to replace, appears to be OK - meaning we'll just need to replace the brain. What was I thinking? Of course we needed to replace the ram too - on further inspection, it was unsalvageable.

The status on our SSB is still unknown. We're going to have it bench tested to see if the problems we're having are operator error (quite likely) or there's something wrong with the set (also likely, as this is another circa 1989 piece of equipment).

If you've read this far, you may be wondering if our retirement has turned into a bleak and unending ordeal of uninterrupted toil. Not likely! We went over to Blake Island and hung out for a few days at the end of last week, which was lovely, unseasonably warm, and a great introduction to cruising around Seattle. Also, we signed up (#13) for the Baha Ha-ha, which makes everything feel a little more real and all the schlepping we've been doing totally worth it.

* What can I say? Sometimes we are idiots.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

It's been a really crappy couple of days for the cats...

... and not so great for us, either, although we are very, very glad to finally have our boat back. Friday morning, we arrived in Bellingham, supposedly needing only to get briefed on the operation of the watermaker and new fridge, to find the boat swarming with boatyard workers. Thus, the cats spent Friday shut in the forepeak to keep them from "helping" (or escaping). This was not good. We'd been assured that all the work would be complete by Tuesday, and that the yard would take the boat out for a sea trial sometime between then and Friday. Obviously, that hadn't happened.

The jib was still sitting in its bag on the foredeck, where we'd left it last Sunday. The hydraulic system was still not hooked up, so the rig wasn't tuned. Nothing (lights, radar, new wind instruments) on the mast worked. Basically, the boat was exactly as we'd left it the prior weekend. Pissed doesn't really adequately describe our reaction to this state of affairs. By late that afternoon, the hydraulics were hooked up, the rig was tuned, and the jib was back on. After the yard told us all was good with the mast, Art tried the radar. It still didn't work. A call to Furuno tech support suggested that the problem was the video cable. An attempt was made to solder it. It worked until the housing was put back on, then stopped. A second attempt was successful - hopefully the fix will last - I'm a little nervous about it, honestly. The watermaker apparently works, sort of, but its electronics aren't talking to each other as they should, so that's going to have to be addressed by the branch of the yard down here in Seattle and/or the manufacturer in Eugene, OR. After everyone had left for the day, it started to rain, which was when we discovered that the Spartite around the mast partners isn't. Grrrr. Testing is apparently not Seaview's strong point.

We let the very annoyed cats out of the forepeak, ate dinner and went to bed. We needed to get up early the next morning to catch the ebb out of Bellingham to carry us to Port Townsend, where we planned to stop for the night.

We cast off from the yard at about 7:30 Saturday morning. So far so good. About 20 minutes out, Art suggested that it would probably be a good idea to check the packing gland. That, along with our entire stern tube/cutlass bearing assembly had been completely rebuilt. You can see where this is going, can't you? I went down to look at the gland, and there are two nuts spinning merrily away on the end of one of the bolts that hold the entire assembly together. If you don't have a boat, you probably don't know that had this particular item come apart, we'd have had a large hole in our boat about 2' below the waterline. This is, most assuredly, not a good thing. In fact, it is a very bad, potentially boat sinking thing. Art was able to get the thing properly assembled while I sailed around in circles with the engine in neutral. Did I mention that it was raining?

Things really couldn't get any worse from there, and they did, in fact improve quite a bit.

The ebb was really picking up by the time we got going again, and we went bombing down Bellingham Channel and Rosario Strait at about 10 knots over the ground. The wind was straight on the nose, so we were motoring. The cats, who hate the engine, disappeared into whatever dark and small parts of the boat they cram themselves into whenever we turn on the noisy thing. We were at or above 10 knots for a couple of hours, and covered a lot more ground than we had expected, finding ourselves at the head of Admiralty Inlet at noon. This is more than 40 miles from Bellingham, and if we were going to stop as planned in Port Townsend, this is where we would turn west and head in. However, knocking off at noon when we were only 45 miles from our destination seemed, well, stupid, especially as it had gotten sunny and on the edge of almost warm as the day went on. We figured we might as well just keep going to Seattle. This really annoyed the cats - the last couple of hours of the trip, Maggie would yell at us any time either of us went below, and would stand on the top step of the companionway yelling through the drop boards when we weren't. She was ticked, and had things to tell us. For an 8 pound cat, she's pretty damn loud.

We pulled into our new slip in Elliot Bay Marina at 6:30, completely beat, but really glad to be home. We averaged over 8 knots for the whole trip, which is really amazing - our usual speed is just north of 6. No one had any energy to make dinner, so we foraged. Even I didn't manage to stay up past 10:30.

This morning, we were both moving very slowly. Tomorrow, we'll take the train back to Bellingham to retrieve our car. I suspect we'll also be giving the yard an earful.