Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Cold Feet?

We tend to get a lot of attention when visiting marinas. First and foremost they are simply drawn to the slick lines and traditional styling of our Dana 24. After confirming their suspicions as to the make of our fine little boat, they always want to know what breed of dog is BJ. But it's as they walk away that we catch a curious glance at our choice of boat name.

Some ask but most don't.

I decided to tell the story after our first stay in a boat yard for some work. When Cold Feet was finally paroled, Rowland, the manager at Seaview West had to ask "why Cold Feet?"

I chuckled at the question as I gave him the short answer - Ginny's feet are FREEZING - 365 days a year.

The real answer is a bit more involved. Once we had an accepted offer we started on the difficult task of naming our first boat. With our background we made this a full on planning effort, complete with a huge white board and enhanced by wine. We had several possible themes to choose from, the Army brought us together, we were both Army Signal officers, we love to travel, we love dogs - ours are part of the family and spoiled rotten, and we were married while learning how to sail in the BVI. Plus we like to drink wine... or just drink....

We started brainstorming names on the white board and drinking wine... Or rather drinking then brainstorming. It wasn't long before the whole white board was filled. We covered every possible theme with random names...

- Four Paws
- Breaking Squelch
- ...

While they all fit the various themes none really struck us. So we independently rank ordered our top 10 then compared lists - if a name made it on both of our top 10s it immediately made the short list. Low and behold from the bottom corner of the white board, a last minute add, Cold Feet made the short list.

The more we thought about it, the more we realized - that's us.

First I had cold feet with our relationship, in fact it took me seven, yes seven, years to see the light and propose to Ginny. I'd like to share blame with the Army for keeping us apart for several of those years but in the end I had Cold Feet.

Fast forward a few years and we both had cold feet about buying our first boat. While in Iraq in 2008 - 2009 cruising Yacht World became my daily escape. Once back at home I convinced Ginny to go to Seacraft Yacht Sales, they had a Flicka and a Dana 24 on their docks in Seattle. Once aboard the Dana we were sold, unfortunately the one we were standing on was just sold and way out of our budget. Two days later a new Dana hit Yacht World, outside of the budget but within reach. We contacted Max at Seacraft Yacht Sales, he was familiar with the boat, it was a great deal and we should make an offer immediately. As we looked at each other we knew it was shut up or put up time. As the list of unknowns continued to build our feet grew colder. Finally Ginny said "we're young - we'll figure it out". We jumped into boat ownership - Cold Feet and all.

So it started with my cold feet, then we both had cold feet and Ginny's feet are always cold - it was the perfect boat name for us.

Just in case you were wondering about BJ - we have no idea, he's a pound rescue from Arizona.

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16 JUL 2011 - Mackaye Harbor and heading back to Port Townsend

It's about time I finish the blog entries from our July trip... Just slightly overdue. We left Fisherman's Bay mid afternoon for a short jaunt though Cattle Pass and on to Mackaye Harbor. We played with the sails a bit until the light wind just flat died out... We fired up Duke and hit Cattle Pass at exactly slack tide, the water was smooth as glass... Not the 10 knot surfing fun we had two weeks earlier.

Once safely anchored for the night we headed to shore with the puppies, throwing out the crab trap along the way. We were rewarded the next morning with a whopping 7 inch keeper.

The trip south to Port Townsend was an uneventful motor sail but fitting that we end the trip with running Duke to the finish line. Once near the Point Wilson Light we had to dodge three cruise ships and fog. Then sprint to the finish line in front of a ferry.

All in all it was a great first trip aboard Cold Feet - engine trouble and all. In Dave Letterman style we made a top ten list of what we learned... Cue Jimmy Buffet music...

Top 10 things we learned on our first cruise aboard Cold Feet

10. BJ is a star in the marinas
9. We have learned much but still have much more to learn
8. What ever can go wrong - will go wrong (GPS went out on day 1 and never returned).
7. Light wind sails are a must (Lucky saved the day)
6. Ginny would make a terrible cast-away ("there's that F'in house again")
5. We're wine-a-holics (the Lopez Island dry rose rocks)
4. The $124 BoatUS membership is worth it - don't skimp with the $24 membership
3. We've been neglecting maintenance
2. We don't know crap about diesel engines
1. We like it.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

14 JUL 2011 - Fisherman's Bay and the Lopez Winery

The return to vacation. We slept until 10:00, had coffee and pastries at a bakery in town, sampled every kind of wine we could and wandered the quaint streets for a few hours while trying to figure out the "elephant revival"???

Kevin passed on the elephant revival in favor of a nap

The water was incredibly still when we pulled into Fisherman's Bay

It was great - we closed out the day with a dip in the hot tub and a shower.

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Location:Lopez Island, WA

13 JUL 2011 - The DUKE is back!!!!

Testing went exceptionally well and after 2 hours we felt confident to slip the dock lines and head out. Duke ran like a champ!! We ran him until we got out of Boundary Bay then hoisted the sails and headed southwest.

By noon we made the decision to press for Fisherman's Bay on Lopez Island - 40 miles from Blaine. We would have to motor sail a chunk of the way to make it before sunset. If we made it we could spend Thursday exploring, napping and visiting the Lopez Island Winery. Duke ran for seven hours with no problems. In fact he sounds better than he ever has and we've learned a valuable lesson about preventive maintenance.

Ginny made sure we stayed clear of a Costco freighter

The Patos Island light house

I think we missed dinner time...

Naturally it started to rain... So we donned the foulies

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Location:Lopez Island, WA

12 JUL 2011 - Fakecation

No rest for the weary - we had to get up and moving early if we had any hope of fixing Duke and heading south in time to make it work on Monday. Blaine is about as far north as you can go without passports and doggie shot records.

We took the same approach - Ginny the brains and Kevin the brawn. I thought we learned quite a bit on Sucia, it was a drop in the bucket compared to everything we discovered about Duke while in Blaine. This time we disassembled the head exchanger, removed the core, tested the thermostat and removed the exhaust manifold and mixing elbows.

I spent much of the day hanging upside down...

We quickly discovered that we don't have a spares kit on board and we're going to need some parts. No problem the guide books said there was maintenance facilities on site here... but no Yanmar dealer and no parts - crap.

Ginny found a dealer in Bellingham and called to enquire about parts. While on the phone, Wayne from Tri-County Diesel started troubleshooting, with his help he diagnosed our problem and gave us common spots to check. We spent the next couple of hours looking for a garage that could clean the heat exchanger, though everyone seemed to think that wasn't the problem and chipping carbon build up out of the mixing elbow and exhaust system. Wayne called back later with the gaskets and o-rings we needed on hand - we just had to get them. As it turns out he lives near Blaine and out of sheer kindness offered to deliver the parts. At 6:00 pm Wayne pulled into the Blaine Marina, we couldn't thank him enough and sent him off with our last three cold Sam Adams. It was the least we could do.

Poor Duke...

By 10:00 pm the Duke was back together, would have been sooner but I dropped a nut that took an hour to find. Testing would have to wait until morning. Cross your fingers...

Ginny finally saw a whale...

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Location:Blaine, WA

11 JUL 2011 - Lucky to the rescue

There is something seriously wrong with getting up at 0430 on your vacation. On the positive side it was beautiful. Heading out at sunrise was pretty awesome, we had a great view of Mount Baker, fresh coffee and positive thoughts. On top of all that the Duke was delivering!! Granted we were only moving at 1000 rpms but he wasn't overheating and we were making headway. After an hour I got a little over confident... the winds were still light and I wanted to make a little more headway so we throttled up to 1500 rpms. 5 minutes later Duke over heated.

The day started with such promise...

We spent the next ... several hours (though they felt like days) fighting for forward progress. We'd find a small patch of wind or run Duke for a few minutes and make a 1/4 or so mile forward then the current would drift us 1/2 mile back.

It was bad. We tried everything... even rowing and pulling with the P-Wagon - both were dumb ideas that failed miserably but we were desperate. If we could just get some wind... but nope, any wind we did get didn't last and we eventually drifted back to a now familiar spot between a certain house on Orcas Island and the southern side of Matia Island. Ginny was losing her mind - she focused on that house and it quickly became the bane of our existence by which all forward progress, or lack thereof, was measured.

Ginny's favorite house...

Even Sadie couldn't take it anymore.

By 1:00 we had made a grand total of 4 nautical miles of forward progress on a day where we had to cover 19 miles to get to Bellingham. By 2:00 we were ready to admit defeat... with the forecasted wind never materializing how much would it cost to be towed to safety? We made the call but just for an estimate... HOLY $&^% $2,000. My awesome wife said absolutely not - we will wait for wind... I don't care if we drift, anchor or have to sail at night - we are not paying that much for a tow. That made me very happy, I wasn't keen on just drifting but I also didn't want to be towed in... especially in a sailboat - we should be able to make this work.

So... now that we had some time on our hands ... what should we do. Then I remembered we have a spinnaker! We've never flown it, we don't know how... this seemed like the perfect time to try and figure it out.

It took a bit but we got that kite full of wind and Cold Feet started to move!! That house got smaller and smaller which made Ginny happy and the rocky coast of Matia Island got smaller and smaller which made Kevin happy. Our spinnaker, which is actually a spindrifter, has a dragon design on it from two owners ago. Ginny and I contemplated having the center panels replaced with our foot design some day. But not anymore - with the amount of forward progress we were making Ginny promptly named him Lucky, he is now a permanent part of the team. We did have a slight problem though ... the wind was blowing us north and Bellingham was to the south. Well... what's north that can help us... Blaine, Washington. Then Blaine it is.

We even got to see Canada...

It took several hours... several long hours; but we made it to Blaine under sail with Lucky doing to the bulk of the work. Duke came through at the end when we couldn't sail anymore and got us safely to a dock without overheating.

We were pretty proud of ourselves. Though we contemplated calling for a tow and even got an estimate- in the end we decided to handle it ourselves and made it safely to a marina. At 10:30 after a long, long day Cold Feet was safely tied off in a marina. The captains were exhausted and the first mates were ready for some doggie business. They must have sensed our apprehension - refusing to eat in the morning and barely drinking water throughout the day they quietly slept throughout the day to let us focus on the tasks at hand. It seemed when our frustration started to mount they would quickly distract us with chest rub and head scratching requests and once the frustration abated they would return to their nap.

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Location:Blaine, WA

9-10 JUL 2011 - It's never the easiest fix

After some coffee and breakfast, Ginny took the dogs ashore while I tried to figure out what was making the Duke overheat. I opened the engine compartments and realized... I don't know very much about engines and started to question my decision to attempt some repairs while floating in a remote state park. It looked like the v-belts were pretty loose and therefor probably weren't pushing enough water through to keep Duke cool... yep I'm sure that's it. I made some adjustments and ran him for 25 minutes at 2000 rpms with no alarms - sweet!! I jumped in the kayak and met Ginny and the dogs on the water. We spent the day hiking the island and letting the dogs swim after tennis balls.

Sadie catching an afternoon nap after hiking and swimming.

BJ was so tired he passed out before reaching his bowl!!

Ginny making dinner in our spacious galley...

And brownies!!!

The next day we decided to head south east around Orcas Island and stop at Olga, WA for lunch and spend the night in West Bay. 20 minutes into our trip Duke taught me a valuable lesson as the engine overheating alarm sounded - it's never that easy. Crap. Out came the sails and back to Fossil Bay we drifted.

Today we tried a new tactic - Ginny was the brains armed with the engine manual, a marine diesel for dummies book and an iPad, Kevin was the muscle armed with a multitude of tools and a hodgepodge of spare parts from previous owners. Together we learned all about Duke's cooling system. We removed the raw water pump and replaced the impeller, changed both v-belts, pulled the thermostat and checked the mixing elbow. We couldn't find a problem... that's not good.... After putting Duke back together we crossed our fingers and fired him up... and he overheated.

So this is the raw water pump... Where does that impeller thingy go...

Our safe haven in Fossil Bay.

Fossil Bay

Now what. Where do we go for help. After studying the weather, currents and tides we decided to head for Bellingham or Anacortes for some mechanical help. But we'd have to leave by 0530 in order for the currents to help us. We'll make it....

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Location:Sucia Island, WA

8 JUL 2011 - a Three Hour Tour and the Duke is born

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a faithful ship ... How hard would it be, we will leave Shallow Bay, motor around Sucia island to the other side and after picking up a mooring ball spend the day ashore. Easy peasy.... except nothing can be that easy. Less than 20 minutes outside of Shallow Bay the engine overheated... we spent the next 6+ hours battling between light winds, strong currents and engine alarms.

So how did all this start... after spending several days at Roche Harbor and seeing all of San Juan Island we decided to make the jump to Sucia Island. We chose Shallow Bay based on the cruising guides touting it's warm waters, spectacular sunsets and mellow atmosphere. Unfortunately we failed to heed the weather and spent a very rough night rocking and rolling through 2 - 4 foot waves while we enjoyed a very nice sunset. After sunset we took the first mates ashore for some business and to give the captains a break on solid ground for a bit. It was then that we saw the southern side of Sucia, Echo Bay - it was still as bath water. Well that's just injury to insult. As we battled waves back to Cold Feet we chalked this up to another lesson learned and some good experience.

The next morning was calm and peaceful, just as the guide books had promised but the forecast called for another round of southwesterly winds that we were not going to stick around for. So we headed out, deciding to motor around to the south side and anchor in Echo Bay. 20 minutes into our trek the engine alarms started.

It was during this 6+ hour battle that we named our engine Duke. We tried everything and were able to get him to run for a bit but never longer than 20 or so minutes at 1000 rpms. So we would use him when we had to and catch wind when we could. At then end of the night he came through just after we jibed into Fossil Bay and lost the wind, hanging on long enough to get us to a mooring ball.

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Location:Sucia Island, WA

Saturday, July 9, 2011

4th of July with a Duck on the Deck...

Happy 4th of July (belated but we were thinking of you). Our departure on Saturday (2 July) from Port Townsend went off without a hitch. We were tired after a long Friday (Kevin completed his 12 mile ruck that morning) but we were anxious to set sail and start the boat bum trial run. In typical fashion our GPS went out half way across the Strait of Juan de Fuca - great. Still haven't fixed it yet but we are narrowing the list of potential problems.

Our first night was in Griffin bay just off the shore of American Camp. After surfing through Cattle Pass at 10kts we anchored with no issues and settled in for an early night... though we still didn't know where to go on Sunday, we were down to 3 possibles.

Sunday morning came with good wind and a favorable current. We decided on Roche Harbor for 4th of July having read that folks book a year out for marina slips. We arrived to a packed harbor, hundreds of boats, big boats... boats so big they're not boats. We saw one with a helicopter on the back (and watched it take off and land). Anchoring was tough, we had cold feet naturally but we were able to find a spot. The fireworks were great, our bow proved to be one of the best seats.

The marina cleared out on the 5th like a baseball stadium in the 8th when the Red Sox are up by a dozen. We decided to head in for a night, pump out the head, charge the batteries and give the P-Wagon a rest. We ended up staying Tuesday and Wednesday night... seemed the most relaxing. We had a massage, took naps, toured the island by scooter car and witnessed colors up close. Every night at sunset the activity at Roche Harbor halts for colors, the nightly ritual of lowering the marina flags, complete with retreat and taps.

The marina's mobile pump out station.

Planes have the right of way.

British Camp

This was a family run farm/ B&B, they had the best ice-cream sandwiches.

We saw lamas.

It's a lavender farm - 20 acres of lavender.

Ginny driving he scoot car -lookout everybody!!!!

Ginny and I are enjoying having no schedule and any schedule/route/itinerary is subject to change early and often. Like today when during mid sail we decided Sucia Island was the place to be... we'll see what happens tomorrow.

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Location:Roche Harbor, WA