Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sailing with Alan

I took my friend Alan out for a trip this weekend, out to Lummi Island for a night. We saw some eagles trying to pick up a dead bird off the water, I think it might have been a Western Grebe, and cooked a nice meal on shore in the evening as well. It picked up in the night and was blowing pretty darn good Sunday, so we crossed Bellingham Bay with a reefed main and small jib, and dropped down to just a small jib for a little while of it. After poking around in Chuckanut bay for a little while, I finally went ashore at Chuckanut island, which I've seen all my life and never gone to. It has a nice shell beach, so I got my camera out and took some shots of my NuCanoe.
We put up the Genoa for a downwind run from Chuckanut Bay to Fairhaven, and ended up hitting 8.8 knots going down a wave, my speed record for the last couple months. We were pretty overpowered, so I rolled up the jib after that and we went on with the smaller jib. It was a nice little trip. Also, the wind vane performed wonderfully, and I am really pleased with how its working. Alan named the vane "La'fawnduh" so I guess that's what I'll call (her) now.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Today was a nice day for testing things out, so I took the boat out and sailed with the wind vane under a bunch of conditions. There's a video of the vane steering the boat with just the Genoa up, and I also tried it out with the smaller jib, and with the main and Genoa and Main and jib.
With the spinnaker, I think its harder for the wind vane to control the boat, but I'm working on getting it to do the trick. So, hopefully I'll have an automated boat soon. It sure is nice when I don't have to hold the tiller, and I can just wander around the boat and let the vane steer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bullet Bit

And what a bad taste it is. I gave away the hard earned greenbacks for both my Nucanoe and then, gasp.... for some maps on my GPS. Good old Garmin. Gretta just grabs the bucks from my pocket. So, for the coast of Washington, Oregon and California and most of Mexico, I have dropped something like 250 bucks.
And now its on my little gps unit that I will bring out to the boat and hopefully it will guide me to a wonderful time down the coast. Here we go!
Some pictures of the boat with Nucanoe attached...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Longer days

Daylight Savings time is starting tomorrow, and I'm excited about the fact that the days are getting longer and longer. Here are some shots of sunset a couple days ago.
Pertaining to the boat:
I am right now making a second dodger, which will replace the first at some point, probably when the first one dies. The first one also doesn't quite fit as perfectly as I would like, so thats another reason to make this new one. I'm waiting on my gps card reader to get here, then I'll see if I've solved the problem of connecting to the gps. Basically I'm going to take the card out, connect to it, and load all the maps I need on there, and then put the card back in.
In a couple weeks I'll be taking the boat out for a trip around here, to test out my self steering systems over longer distances. I'm not as happy with the wind vane as I would like to be, but it does a decent job, I just need to be able to set it better.
I'm also going to make a system where I can use my autopilot to connect to the wind vane and then it will be much stronger. And I need to try that out in waves, because I will run into waves for sure later on.

Monday, March 8, 2010


So here are some shots of the rack, as it is now. I might add more re-enforcements later on, but its pretty sturdy. Oh, and the elbows and T-joints are made by Manfrotto, so they are excellent marine grade/camera stand quality components, and I expect them to turn bright orange with corrosion very soon. The aluminum tube is probably 7075 T6 aluminum, which everyone advertises as aircraft grade. They use it a lot on the fuselage of the 737 and 777, and also on the wings, because it is very strong and stiff and light. It is also just about the worst aluminum for corrosion. So I might have nice white deposits all over this orange rusting thing quite soon. It was free, so that's what counts, right?
I intend to use this not only for the solar panels that I have on it right now, but also I'll put surfboards
tied up to the bottom of it. I put the speakers up on the vertical posts and they sound even better than they did before, and I can add a cockpit cover that will attach to the dodger and to the front edge of the rack and will work out great I am sure.
Another problem I think I might have solved is how to collect water from rain at sea...
I could make a cockpit cover that has a collection funnel in it, then run tubing from there to the tank...?
Who knows. Next is to make a few more fishing rod holders and to add a bracket that will allow my autopilot to control my wind vane.
I also looked at a Nucanoe today, which I might get. Its 10 ft long and about 3 ft or 4 ft wide, and can hold a bunch of stuff, but has a low freeboard. It fits on deck nicely, and is totally sealed, so it will float forever. Kind of heavy, though.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Garmin (oh how I hate paying you money)

It is true that Garmin makes great products, but I am again finding myself reluctant to fork over the hundred dollars per map area that they require. If anyone has any ideas as to how to get my GPSMap 276C updated with charts of the california, washington, oregon, and some of mexico coastlines, I would love ideas, short of paying them the 300 bucks they want for those areas.
I also have a problem with the USB connector. Its corroded, from being out in salt water environment, so I can't connect it to my computer and transfer the charts easily. Damn electronics. I can pay $160 to Garmin and they will fix it, but its pretty pricey, and it doesn't get me any maps.
Oh well.
In other news, I've been taking the boat out sailing with some of my friends, and its behaving well. The roller furling sail is the best one so far, I can sail it very high into the wind (so high that I was able to track down and overtake a Pacific Seacraft 27 on friday afternoon) and the boat is reasonably fast with all sail up. Today I went out and put up a rack on the back of the boat, so it attaches to the rail and goes up 6 ft over the back of the boat, and I mounted the solar panels to it. Now I have more space in the back of the boat, and a place to put my surfboards up and out of the way. I am also going to make a cover for the cockpit that will attach to this rack and to the dodger. I didn't bring my camera, but I'll get pictures of it soon and then you'll know what this is all about.
My list of projects is getting smaller, but I am going to put my swim ladder back on the boat, but on the side. Before it was on the very back of the boat, and I took it off to put on the extra rudder. But if I want to go swimming, I'll want this ladder.
I'm going to make a storm jib, or make another reef point in my main.
I need to fix the leaks from my windows.
I want to have a sea anchor.
I'd like to make some sort of rain collection system, and route it to my water tanks.
I have some engine work to do (which is a big job)
and I need to clean the bottom.
Then I'm ready to go, pretty much.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Its on

So I just heard from the cruise boat company, and I didn't get the job.... Which means that I am going to be taking my boat (Altair) down the coast! I'll be heading out from Bellingham early May, and working my way down the coast to LA, and possibly into Baja somewhere. Who knows how fast I'll be going, so I may get further than that. So! All who are in the area that I'll be going past be alerted! You should find some time to come out sailing with me!
Today I also re-installed the roller furler on the bowsprit, and finished the foot pump installation for fresh water, so now I have fresh water pumped with my feet. The pump is the little black round thing on the floor in front of the cabinet. You can see my sink barely above, with the spigots for salt water (in copper) and fresh water (in black and silver) up on top.
I also put in another "down" stay on the bowsprit, so its super tough now. I've broken it off twice before, and I don't intend to do it again, especially not out in the pacific somewhere.
I'll figure out more of a plan in a little bit and let you know when I'll be where (approximately). But I am coming!
Also to come is engine work, I'll have to do that soon, and I will have to haul the boat out or beach her to redo the engine shaft seal (which has been leaking) and to put some new bottom paint on. (all this I should have done when I was hauled out in Juneau, I know) I am also working on making a new Dodger and a new ultra-small storm sail. When I do this work, I'll be sure to post pictures.