Saturday, September 10, 2011

Not at the dock

Out for a last minute overnight - south side of Saddlebag Island. It's been years since our last visit.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

And we are home.

401.4 nautical miles
82.3 hours on the engine

More later.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Well, I've always wondered about Ganges on Saltspring Island. So we are here, at Ganges Marina, because the harbor didn't look as appealing as it sounds in the guide books. The marina is on the funky side, but the wifi works!

We might head for home tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nanaimo Redux

Yet again on a buoy in Marks Bay, Newcastle Island, Nanaimo, with dinner at the Dinghy Dock. Environment Canada and I are going to have words about their Strait of Georgia forecasts. At least the buoy fee collector carries lots of loonies - far more valuable than gold to cruisers needing a hot shower!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tribune Bay, Hornby Island

The closest thing to the Caribbean in the Northwest. Awesome beach.

Toward Nanaimo (again) tomorrow - WX forecast pretty much demands returning home via the 'inside'.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sandy Island Marine Park

Just south of Comox BC. Another long day of motoring.


Fingers Crossed for Sailing Weather

Calling for NW winds, in just the direction we want to go. If we get home early, that won't be so bad. I will have meant that we actually sailed!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Still here

Migraine morning meant no southing today. While I craved quiet, stillness and dark, the NW wind waves bashed LC against the dock and brought back bright sun. I feel better now, the wind has settled for a bit, so I've tossed in a couple loads of laundry. Could probably make it home without the laundry, but I've learned not to pass up convenient facilities! And I sit overlooking this while I wait…


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Heriot Bay

Three nights on the hook at Octopus Islands, and we've run back to civilization. From my perspective, I need a shower. And in the two solid days of rain, the 'sun showers' on deck, have only gotten colder. It usually doesn't take much sun to heat up them up, as one side of the bladder is black for maximum solar absorption, but we haven't seen any sun. And frankly, I'm not feeling enough like a hard core cruiser to stand on deck in the rain and soap up!

We've also gone through a bit of diesel since Lund. Mostly running the heater, but we haven't raised a sail since Pendrell Sound, so any miles we're making are under power.

No cell service here, but slow WiFi is better than no WiFi. Dinner reservations at 6:30, so no cooking or dishes tonight.

Off to find enough loonies for a long hot shower!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Octopus Islands Marine Park: 6/30/2011 11:13 PM UTC

Position of S/V Learning Curve

Local time is: 6/30/2011 @ 4:13 PM PDT

LAT: 50°16.77'N
LON: 125°13.77'W

Octopus Islands Marine Park

Well, as plans often change unexpectedly, we are not in Thurston Bay, where we had planned to be last light. As currents and winds were favorable upon leaving Dent Island Lodge, we decided to go all the way, counter clockwise, to Octopus Islands Marine Park. This is what constitutes the "long way" from Dent Island. A shorter way would have been through the "hole in the wall" but, the way tides were, would could not have traversed the multiple rapids in time.

So here we are. Been here a number of times before. Always a nice place. Even when raining (as it is now).

Today we met Clark and Nina aboard their homebuilt 40 foot trimaran Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. Always nice to meet others who have built their own boat. It gives inspiration to those of us with a similar project (wait, what did he say?).

The dogs really need a walk ashore. I am not sure the rain is going to let up. We might have to walk them anyways.

We will be here at least another day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Relapse? Regression? Fell Off The Wagon?

After seven days "off the grid" with no access to power, hot showers, laundry services and the internet, we succumbed to the psiren sounds of Dent Island Lodge. A fancy joint with all of the above amenities and more.  Including a very good (and pricey) restaurant.

We were getting low on clean clothes, tired of cooking and doing dishes. Besides, the boat needed water.

Oh did I mention they have a 24 hour hot tub?


Monday, June 27, 2011

Dent Island

Just arrived


Now for a shower, a fancy dinner, and some serious laundry!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pendrell Sound: 6/27/2011 2:40 PM UTC

Position of S/V Learning Curve

Local time is: 6/27/2011 @ 7:40 AM PDT

LAT: 50°16.39'N
LON: 124°43.69'W

Leaving this? Really?


Beautiful day in Prideaux, but we're going around the corner to Pendrell Sound, a new stop for us. Rumor has it that fishing will be attempted along the way…

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Position Report: 6/25/2011 6:05 PM UTC

Position of S/V Learning Curve

2 POB (Persons onboard)
2 DOB (Dogs onboard)

Local time is: 6/25/2011 @ 11:05 AM PDT

LAT: 50°08.66'N
LON: 124°40.80'W

This is an automated posting via WinLink/AirMail

Friday, June 24, 2011

To Prideaux Haven


Left Jedediah in the rain early this morning. Have been motoring all day, and a few more hours to go. Lund Hotel's ATM wouldn't process either of our debit cards for two different banks, so we're not exactly flush with CDN$. Will anchor in Prideaux tonight, we've bee there before. Hope the rainshowers are finished with us for a bit.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stern Ties Are Always a Fire Drill

This afternoon we dropped anchor in Deep Bay on Jedediah Island after an uneventful motorsail from Nanaimo. This is a compact deep water cove with steep rock walls lining the shore. There are about five boats here and in order to efficiently pack boats within, all boats need a stern tie. On shore, there are a number of chains with rings embedded into the rock to help with the stern tie. Of course, when you are trying to wedge yourself, stern first, in between two boats with a little breeze, it is always a challenge: set your anchor, back down on it, while keeping stern in hoping the breeze does not blow you into an adjacent boat, all while the other crew rows the dinghy to run the stern line ashore through the ring. We were successful after the second try.

We have been here before. The island has a number of recently abandoned ranches and homesteads, which are in relatively good condition. The island is host to a population of goats, though I am not sure they are wild. We will be taking the dogs ashore tomorrow and no doubt they will be excited about the goats.

Tonight will be a test of the HF communications system. As there is no cell coverage for the iPhone, or piratable WiFi node, this blog post will be via WinLink email. Attached will be a graphic of the chart which I hope makes it into the post.

At Jedediah Island

Arrived last night, will probably move on tomorrow, somewhere to the northwest, depending on weather,

...from a tiny keyboard

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Solstice at Nanaimo

Solstice at Nanaimo

Successfully troubleshooting issues with the HF radio, a motoring slog up Trincomali Channel, a grumpy harbormaster at Nanaimo Port Authority (countered by a helpful marine store employee and a bluntly amusing fuel dock manager), hot showers at Newcastle, and dinner at the Dinghy Dock on a warm evening - I guess this is summer!

Off towards Jedediah Island or Lasqueti tomorrow.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Montague Harbor, Galiano Island

We motorsailed from Sucia to Montague Harbor where we cleared Canadian customs. This is a big marine provincial park with lots of mooring buoys. Last we were here, the place was packed with locals. It is a bit quiet today. We went ashore where a small cafe and grocery are located near the government dock and found they closed at 5pm. Only place was open was the Humming Bird Pub a few miles up the road. We could have caught their free "hippie" bus that takes customers to and from the pub, but we had the dogs with us (though I am sure they would be welcome).

The trip here was fairly uneventful. Besides trying to re-aquaint myself with the quirks of the marine electronics, everything pretty much worked.

Tomorrow we head for Nanaimo where we hope to pick up a couple cruising guides to replace the ones we accidentally left at home. Maybe get a new fuel filter for the diesel cabin heater that seems to be getting clogged. I am in denial of this as I dont care to get dirty with diesel so soon after the recent engine maintenance.

[caption id="attachment_232" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="One of the hazards one finds navigating the Gulf Islands"][/caption]

Sucia at Sucia

Arrived at Sucia Island late last night. We made good time motoring, but 20+ nautical miles takes some time at 5 knots, and we weren't off the dock until 5 PM. Snagged a buoy in Fossil Bay, fired up the diesel heater, Rob made a late dinner, and we all crashed.

It's challenging for us to fit 3 weeks of provisions and gear in 28'. I mean, I know many have circumnavigated in smaller boats, and they probably weren't supporting two dogs, two computers, six radio transceivers, and a Coke Zero Vanilla addict. But they also didn't have Kindles, smartphones
and electronic charting either.


Yeah, she's named for the island. We've encountered other canine Sucias over the years. She'll be 10 soon, where does the time go?

Heading into the BC Gulf Islands today. After we clear customs, we'll figure out a destination. Posts by cell data henceforth, so some posts might be a bit terse.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

$200 Paint Job

That is the difference when buying a replacement water pump online versus the local Yanmar authorized dealer. The OEM pump is really one of the common swedish made Johnson Pump brand. But of course there is markup when buying through a Yanmar Dealer. Pump on the left from your Yanmar Dealer will cost about $400. The pump on the right, sans paint job, will run about $200. The pumps are identical in every other aspect. How about them intertubes?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yanmar 3GM Raw Water Pump... in need of a rebuild. With just a week before departure of course!

Symptom: water leaks from pump housing, near the impeller shaft, when engine is running (we already tried replacing impeller and o-ring to no avail).

Not really a big deal, and it would not sink the boat. However, knowing about it is like an annoying sliver of wood, not in your finger, but in your brain.

Initial disassembly of the pump reveals some rusted bearings. We only have one spare lip seal, but it appears this pump has at least three. I think it will be easier to overnight a replacement pump and leave this one for a proper rebuild after the trip.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Dry weekend

The weather was dry, and so was the keel.

Saturday Rob contorted himself into the engine room to pull the shaft from the coupler. This was a long process, requiring nuts, bolts, hammers, a crowbar, and a fair amount of cursing.

I was on hand to supply tools, retrieve bits fallen below the engine, and assist as needed. Not much I could really do to help. Although I did fix the engine room light (it only needed a bulb) and started cleaning parts of the hull with AwlCare. The stern quarter, which has seen a bit of sooty diesel exhaust, cleaned up nicely.

After a couple of hours, removal of some exhaust hose,  only one trip to the hardware store, and not too much bloodshed, the shaft and coupler were apart. Success! So Rob went ahead and took off the exhaust elbows, which I've been wanting to inspect.  Then he switched to sanding the rub rails, and I removed the PSS shaft seal. Since the shaft can now be wiggled fore and aft a few inches, I cleaned the area of the shaft tucked between the cutless bearing and the Max-Prop - it's a lot easier with a little more elbow room.

Having located the missing PSS maintenance kit (in the garage, imagine that) I got ready to put on the new PSS bellows. Only to find that the new bellows was not the right size. That was a setback.  No way to get a proper bellows until Monday. Sigh.  Varnishing for the day complete, we headed for home for the evening.

On Sunday the exhaust elbows were slowly separated, requiring much use of the bench vise, penetrating oil, and large pipe wrenches. Definitely not something that could be done easily on the boat. Rubrails got another 'hot' coat of varnish. Lower part of hull and bootstripe were cleaned/protected with AwlCare.  I painted the coupler. Monday will be a parts sourcing day - get the correct bellows, an exhaust elbow and gasket, pipe insulation, and boil out the exhaust fittings.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Haul out day

Learning Curve is on the hard tonight, not more than a few hundred yards from her normal wet berth. Even after so many years, I'm still nervous about haul outs and launches. So it was a tense morning, although the lovely weather was much appreciated!

Turns out the speed transducer was just fouled, rather than broken. Good news, as a compatible replacement from UK-based Stowe Marine was 135 GBP shipped (ouch). Still needs a bit more scraping, but the paddlewheel turns, and a signal is getting though to the display.

I got the Max-Prop disassembled and partially de-greased. Then removed the coupler-transmission bolts and loosened up the PSS seal's collar and hose clamps. The coupler is free of transmission, and tomorrow comes the fun of removing the shaft from the coupler.

If only I could remember where I 'safely tucked away' the PSS maintenance kit that I ordered a few weeks ago!

[caption id="attachment_188" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="PSS shaft seal and shaft coupler"][/caption]

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Haul Out Day!

LC comes out of the water for bottom paint and maintenance today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Out and back

Quick overnight to Cypress Head, a DNR park not far away. I'm very happy we got the boat off the dock. One pump failed, and frankly it's a pump I'd much rather have go bad now. In a few weeks, we won't be so close to shoreside facilities and a pump out station!

The dogs had fun, and as of tonight, might almost as exhausted as the people...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Injectors... Happy Engine...

Got the rebuilt diesel injectors from the shop last week. Turns out all three of them had a very poor spray pattern (it was a dribble instead of a fine atomized mist). After re-installing the injectors and bleeding the fuel system, to engine fired right up and runs much more smoothly. The engine had been tough to start over the past few years (especially cold) and I had thought it was just the "nature of the beast". Now I am thinking the hard starting was due to the injectors. I also think the black soot on the transom that appears after long hours of motoring may have been due to the injectors. We'll see how things work this summer.

[caption id="attachment_174" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Rebuilt Diesel Injector for Yanmar 3GM"][/caption]

More maintenance done this session:

  • engine oil/filter change

  • transmission oil change

  • raw water impeller change

  • valve adjustment

  • coolant change

  • new fuel tank sender

Which pretty much completes all the engine tasks for this upcoming trip. Hard to believe the engine has 900 hours on it. Seems we just installed it new yesterday (actually 12 years ago).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Angry Birds



Splat is not what you want to hear as you are applying varnish.

Note to local avian population - please make your 'deposits' elsewhere, or food, nesting, and bathing facilities will no longer be offered at this location.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Yesterday the cabin front and starboard cabin side received varnish. That's now two coats for the vertical panels, and four for the patched upper and lower trims. Starboard and port aft trim rings were sanded and got their first coat of varnish. Lots more to do.

I just wish I had the knack of varnishing vertical panels. Trim I can do, but the expanses of teak tend to suffer. It helped a lot to varnish earlier in the day - Tuesday was a bit of a disaster, late in the day and in the wind.

She is named Learning Curve ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Delivery wagon

[caption id="attachment_162" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Chuckanut Drive"][/caption]It counts as boat work if the saddlebags contain freshly rebuilt injectors. Really!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Overdue Engine Maintenance has Begun: Valve Adjustment, Injector Removal

The boat's Yanmar 3GM engine has been long overdue for some maintenance. Beside the standard oil and coolant change, a valve adjustment and injector test has been needed.

[caption id="attachment_148" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Yanmar 3GM Diesel Engine"][/caption]

Valve Adjustment

Not having done a valve adjustment or injector removal, I was somewhat apprehensive about doing this. I was fully expecting to make multiple trips between the marina, the garage and the auto parts store, to fetch more tools as I discovered what was necessary. Turns out I only made one trip to the garage and the parts store. Also, I was expecting this would take all day, but I was done in just a couple hours. Despite the cramped engine room quarters, working on the Yanmar 3GM was relatively easy.

[caption id="attachment_149" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Checking valve clearance with feeler a gauge"][/caption]

The valve adjustment was no different than doing a similar job on my motorcycle. Rockers and pushrods, adjusted with screws and stop-nuts. The procedure generally goes like this

  • Remove valve cover

  • The crank turns counter-clockwise (as you face the front of the engine). Pistons are, front to back, numbered 1,2 and 3.

  • Turn the crankshaft until piston #1 is TDC (you have to look at the rear of the engine to find the marker in the transmission bell housing. Luckily, the previous mechanic marked the piston TDCs on the front pulley, making it really easy. I suggest doing the same if you have a similar engine.)

  • Valve clearances are checked with feeler gauges when the engine is cold. Both intake and exhaust valves, on the same piston, are checked at the same time. Insert the feeler gauge between the rocker and end of the valve stem. An oily feeler gauge should freely move with just a little bit of drag. If you cant insert the feeler, the valve needs to be loosened. If the feeler inserts easily and moves such that it could easily fall out, the valve needs to be tightened.

  • To loosen or tighten the valve, loosen the stop nut with a 12mm wrench. With a flathead screwdriver, loosen (or tighten) the screw. You can do this with the feeler sitting in between.

  • Check it again after the stop nut is tightened. Chances are, tightening the nut also tightened the clearance. In which case, loosen it a bit and do it again.

  • Check the valves in the following piston order: 1 - 3 - 2. Once #1 is checked, rotate the crank counter-clockwise 240 degrees to #3. Once #3 is check, rotate another 240 degrees to #2.

  • Replace valve cover and you are done.

Injector Removal

Injector removal is pretty easy. Cleanliness is of utmost importance. Blow out any dust or dirt  from the cylinder head, around the injectors, with a can compressed air. Once removed be careful, to keep the injectors from touching anything. The nozzles can be easily damaged resulting in an injector rebuild/replacement (more $$$). The important thing is to NOT mixup  parts from each cylinder as they are removed. Keep a baggie for parts from each cylinder so the same parts can be put back into the same cylinder. Generally it goes like this...

  • remove the fuel return rail (the single steel piping connecting the tops of each injector)

  • loosen the flare fittings of the fuel feed piping to each injector (be sure and loosen the male flare fitting, NOT the female flare that is threaded into the injector housing.

  • loosen the two nuts of the bracket holding in the injector. Remove the nuts and bracket. Do this for each injector.

  • Now, each injector should be removable, by hand, with little effort. Be careful not to bang the nozzle end on any bits when removing.

  • Stuff a small rag into the injector port to keep dust and dirt out.

[caption id="attachment_150" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Injector Port, after injector removed."][/caption]

The injectors will be sent off to a shop for pop-testing.

[caption id="attachment_151" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Injectors and parts individually bagged by cylinder"][/caption]

Now, go have a piece of cake.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Portlight trim removal

Completed starboard side and aft port side. Thankfully Dolphinite is easy to remove. Will be easier to varnish off the boat. Cabin front and hatch got a full coat of varnish today. Windy. I need to remember that the cabin front wet edge must be horizontal…

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Preparing the Toys... er... Gadgets... um.. Tools

Big trip coming up in a few weeks. Time to revisit the electronics installation. The amateur VHF/UHF radio's channel memory has been way out of date. Many of the repeaters I had programmed in there no longer exist, or have since changed some parameters. Problem is, there is no "definitive source" of updated information. You can search the internet, but even then you can find conflicting information for any one repeater as some of the info on the web can be as much as ten years old. The best bet is to determine if the repeater is run by an amateur radio club (they often are) and then try and find the club's website for the most up to date information.

The computer control/programming features of modern radios make updating frequencies a snap. Much easier than entering it through the control head. However, the quality of the shareware written software can be, um, "marginal". But it is better than nothing.

I filled the VHF/UHF radio's memories with repeaters ranging from the San Juan Islands, through Vancouver BC, up to Southeast Alaska. Also, repeaters along the Juan de Fuca Strait. Also added FRS, GMRS, and marine VHF frequencies for monitoring.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A reasonable weather day

Scraped and sanded lifting areas on starboard cabin side and cabin front.

Starboard stereo/radio speaker is out. There's still honey dripping from the starboard settee.

Possible otter deterrent: spring boat away from finger, which is working for the Cape Dory a few slips down. We'd have to find a way to emulate midship cleats...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Maintenance day

Today was the first day in a long time we've been on LC together.

A small amount of otter poop was quickly removed. I washed the exterior, including the hull while Rob installed a new fuel tank sending unit. Note to selves: empty is now a reserve equal to probably 25% of the total tank. Climbed into the v-berth to clean up winter's (aka last summer's) mess, had a little mildew to remove. Spent some time searching for newly missing keys to no avail. Lent new down-the-dock neighbor Nancy a corkscrew, I guess we really only have one on board these days.

Discovered that the trail of water below the stove was not water. No, it was honey. Yes, honey. From a six pound container that had sprung a leak. Turns out both Rob and I thought it was a water leak, and have ignored it for ahem, let's just say ... some time. Ick. Clean up required removing the contents of both starboard settee compartments. Which lead to some sorting of the food stored therein. Quite a bit came home, some went straight to the trash (including almost 5 pounds of no-longer-powdered Gatorade). And yes, we probably didn't need all the duplicate condiments and tomato paste, let alone two types of sugar and flour.

Rob got the PC updated to XP SP3, as well as ran the engine. I got a little compulsive and Plexus'd the forward dodger isinglass. Looks much better.

It's varnish time. Help me out, Mother Nature!