Surfing swells with copious instrumentation

Fantastic Father’s Day weekend aboard with dad. We returned to Mannion Bay on Bowen—in fact, the same anonymous float Sarena and I tied up to the previous weekend! A decent anchorage, though there’s a substantial amount of wind and ferry wash out in the northern end of the bay. The shallow SW anchorage is highly recommended if you can get there early enough.

Despite leaving late on Saturday, we had terrific wind coming out of the bay—upwards of 20kts. I am proud to report this number, as we have a working anemometer and instrument to give us this data! We spent the previous week getting our ducks in order moving the autopilot head over to the steering post, and rigging the i70 and SeaTalkng network in its stead. It all worked! In the morning on Bowen, I wired over the existing depth transducer over to the new network, to feed into the new instrument. I think I got it right, though I remain curious about what all those other wires in the transducer cable do!

Sweet sweet initialization screen

Our good friends on Arabesque were there to meet us on the bay. We visited aboard and finally got to show dad Dylan and Sarah’s beautiful rig. Meeting them outside of the creek has been a long time coming! Here’s to many fun meetings and raftups to come. We remain proud (and slightly jealous) that they’ve moved aboard during the summer.

We had similar wind coming back from the island: utterly quiet until we approached passage island, then WHAM! 22 knots and rising from the north-west. We had a little too much sail out, but a flattened mail and reefed big genoa sent us surfing down 5 foot swells, topping 8kts and higher over ground. Fabulous.

Nary a flinch fighting the helm downwind

The big genoa needs to come off for a little repair—a slight pocket rip appearing near the top—but the smaller jib will serve us just fine in the weeks to come, anticipating similar weather.

False creek, sandwiches, wires

Knowing we had some commitments during the weekend, we opted to spend Friday evening and Saturday aboard IG in False Creek. So we gathered some foodstuffs at faithful Panne Rizzo, and arrived soon after work on Friday. We pulled poor old rubber ducky out of its dry berth, expecting possible catastrophic failure of our old tender. But it wasn't too bad! The hypalon hull is fairly tanned, having been stored hull-up, but there weren't any noticeable breaches. The only real hamstring is its wooden transom, which is literally rotting apart. Nonetheless, we flipped and washed her out, and set her afloat. Good enough.

We spent an hour or so reading and drinking mocktails, and then shoved off. We opted for a spot near the Cambie side of the creek, near to the more permanent-looking liveaboard/parked boats. The anchor and rode ran out nicely. I hooked up our new and improved anchor snubber, using a hook that dad fir nicely for our chain gauge. Took quite a bit of re-adjustment to get sufficient tension off and to balance the snub line so that neither side was chafing the bow, but it ended up taking the load neatly off the windlass, instead bearing it equally on each of our bow cleats. Oh, for an anchor cleat ahead of the windlass! I can't imagine what the previous owner did all those years.

Snubbed to perfection

Two disadvantages of our mooring, one permanent, the other not. First: parking near the bridge entails that you’re sitting in the middle of False Creek Ferry traffic, which runs dawn to dusk, more or less. Second: despite choosing a neighbour craft that looked sufficiently derelict, turned out that a trio of goth kids were occupying the foredeck for the evening, replete with a sound system. And Nirvana. So much Nirvana. I don't have anything against Nirvana per se, but I would argue that it isn't suited for boat music. Far from it. Then again, had I the forethought to take my buddies on the boat during my metal teens...I don't know. Might have been a reputation-building experience.

Unfazed, Sarena launched the tender for the south ferry dock, and picked up Chael and Robyn to join us for the evening. They brought beers and ciders, and—graciously—clean water, untainted by our plastic holding tank. The latter has a taste.

We hung out and criticized Nirvana for a few hours, until the sun went down and the sparkling city lights came up. Sarena took out friends back, and we turned in, finally with enough pillows aboard. Slept fairly well with little noise except the ferries in the morning. We stretched a temporary cardboard cover over the forward hatch to keep the early morning light off of the foredeck, which kept us happily sleeping a little later.

A slow, sunny, beautiful morning. We brewed coffee, read in the morning sunlight, and counted our blessings. I felt pretty good during the whole period, hardly feeling sick from eating. Hooray!

Around midday, we opted to pick up anchor and go for a sail. We've actually done precious little sailing on IG just the two of us. Lacking anemometer data as yet, I cheek-checked the wind and opted for a flattening reef on the main and the full spread of genoa. Turned out to be a fine amount of sail; heeled nicely while close-hauled, while not over-powered. I reckon we might even have put enough pressure on our hull to engender a little ablation; I detected a subtle rise in hull-speed as we sailed. Well past Siwash Rock, we turned back towards Burrard, flattening out on a broad reach, and speeding along most smoothly in a freshening breeze. Snacked away on our final supply of panne rizzo food1 as we took her back in to the slip, having afternoon haircuts and airport pickups to attend to.

Sunday was a work day, and we convened with pop just after noon, following a quick reconnaissance mission in the North Shore for Sufjan Stevens tickets. We began with some personal projects: Sarena, rigging the hammock (!) and patching the cockpit cushions; dad testing a repair on our leaky galley pump (sadly unsuccessful); me cleaning the switch on one of the vee berth lights. I also finally demystified the priming of our “Bosch Bomb” water heater. True enough to Previous Owner’s original recommendations, if I unscrewed the primer nut all the way—instead of just loosening—a little gas tooted out, after which the pilot burner lit just fine. I might add that the heater didn't actually appear to turn on when pumping water from the hot side, but at least the damn pilot was on. We had previously observed it to be somewhat flakey at outset.

Anyway, all minds soon turned attention to beginning to demystify the spaghetti forest of instrument and transducer wiring, in anticipation of getting the i70 functional. Dad and Sarena spent several hours tugging wires back and forth, labeling existing connections and pulling out a few redundant ones. I spent my time reading over the documentation of the various components of the instrument bundle, and drawing up a wiring diagram to suit our rig.

Long story short, we need to establish a backbone. This will be done with SeaTalkng, the newest flavour of Raymarine coms, albeit with some translation necessary if we want to patch in the Garmin GPS. The latter will be the real challenge: while I'm certain that the Garmin speaks NMEA—the lingua franca of digital marine equipment—its connection cable matches no flavour of NMEA, nor seatalk. The thing to do would be to get the NMEA wires out of the Garmin wiring harness and patch it into a translator interface to get it to talk to the SeaTalkng backbone.

That's going to be the rub, and as I imply in my schematic, we might relegate that phase to a later juncture. Though it would certainly be lovely if the i70 got GPS coords, not to mention speed over ground, and all sorts of embarrassing information like cross-tack error.

We shall see. In the meantime: next step is to fit our shiny new pod mount to a suitable spot on the steering binnacle, and extend the wires necessary for the bare-bones-backbone that will enable moving the autopilot to the binnacle and the i70 to the autopilot hole.

1 Panne Rizzo, in the heart of Kits, is a delightful gluten-free bakery that's been there before it was cool. As well as traditional baked goods, they have a variety of savoury items like sandwiches and crepes. Our only complaint is that all their sandwiches essentially amount to the same: mayo, anonymous cheese, cold cuts, lettuce. This matters to us that, being currently restricted to a Gluten Free Extreme diet, and the proximity of the shop, we're going to be eating a lot of their chow! We hope they branch out a little.

Howdy, World

Island Girl has been ours for just over year, but looking over friends’ sailing blogs has compelled us to start a working blog of our dear love and floating money-hole, HMS Island Girl. I begin this entry in the hope that we break the usual record of sailing blogs: posting more than once. Well, I find myself needing to keep busy as I work to buck this sticky gut issue of mine, and what better way to write about my favourite home away from home.

I’ll dispense with the usual introductions and descriptions, and enter that info in a dedicated page.

Fast forward, instead, to the rapidly approaching summer of 2015. IG had her bottom completely stripped and re-done by George of G-Yachts last year. After that substantial cost and effort, we were eager to get her started for our second season.

As if we expected to spend less money, of course. Back in January, I trepidatiously set foot in the Vancouver boat show, expecting to invest in a modest anemometer system, as IG came to us lacking one entirely.

But now that I think of it…

The thing is, we also lack a tri-data instrument, or anything to show our depth data, other than our mid-aughties Garmin plotter. The latter swings out on an arm into the companionway, which my shipmates loathe to squirm around on their way out of the cabin. Fair enough, but I like to have depth in easy sight, cautious skipper that I am.

The up-sell

Then I saw Raymarine’s new line of products. Ooooh, bitmapped colour screens with configurable displays! Just the thing—why use a slew of dedicated instrument panels when you can route all the information you want through a custom display. And it came in a package of suited transducers for less than the cost of buying separate display units and/or instrument panels.

Language barriers

Not so simple, of course. The i70 speaks digital NMEA 2000 (I barely understand what this is, as yet). But in fact, not even the supplied transducers send digital signals. That’s ok; the package came with essentially a DAC for the transducers, but we weren’t ready to haul-out again this year to install a new depth sounder. We wanted to use our existing unit. Plus that anemometer rig needed to go up the mast…

So we got the venerable Steve Whyte to come check us out, and see if he could run the wire down from the masthead unit to the base of the mast conduit.

Wishful thinking

There was some sort of blockage that prevented the wire running down the conduit past the masthead. Steve told us the only way to run it past would be to haul the damn mast off.


Meanwhile the sale of the i70 had long become final. We considered a few options:

  1. Trade up for a wireless system (back to dedicated displays)
  2. Use the Burrard crane to haul the mast ourselves (yipe!)
  3. Wait it out a year.

After much deliberation, the crew elected to just get ‘er done. Being that the Burrard crane was a little short for IG’s tall rig (a disappointment for dad; a relief for son), we decided to head back to our friends at Lynnewood, where Steve would use their crane to haul out. Sarena and I had some friends over for drinks on a Friday night, and we broke the vee berth bedding out of its winter seal to camp out at the marina. This was a frustrating challenge for me: after some mishaps on previous trips that ended up being a precursor to my current gut trouble, it was as if my sensitive innards sensed the return to a floating home, and got proper distressed. Oh well; I slept eventually despite a marina full of banging halyards. Next morning, dad hopped on board and we took her out for a few hours in the bay, waiting for a favourable tide to take us under the two bridges.

It was at the .5 mile point west of the Second Narrows bridge that dad mused that our aforementioned tall rig probably wouldn’t make it under the rail bridge. Oh, right. Old Velocitas didn’t have that problem. Happily we still had internet, and quickly figured out how to radio in to lift the bridge (channel 12, yall!). We curled around past Deep Cove and dropped a hook in busy Bedwell bay—clearly others had the same plan to take advantage of the warming weather! Happily, the anchor rode paid out nicely despite previous attempts. I think that grinding the 300 feet of line and chain back in by the windlass allowed the rode to coil naturally, creating little resistance on the way out past the capstan, despite that I suspect the drive shaft remains slightly misaligned from past adventures.

Our neighbour was a sleek ~45 foot cruiser with a shining back hull and apparently a centre and aft cockpit. Much self-conscious spying was done through the windows below deck. We had a good supper, and I slept like a log. We had jury-rigged our first pass at an anchor snubber after enduring many years of noisy rode popping across the bow roller—especially so on IG with an unprotected metal roller shaft (another project that needs doing).

Next morning we caught the tide back under the bridge and slipped into Lynnwood, exactly 24 hours before Steve & team were to show up. We spent the morning pulling the running rigging off the deck, removing the sails, and finally disconnecting the boom. We left the boat clean and tidy, deck devoid of rigging and a boom on the gangway, swaddled in sail cover.

No boom! De-boomed and ready for transport

Steve showed up bright and early next morning, and went to work on the most painless procedure I’ve ever seen. Amazing what happens when an olympic sailor/rigger goes at a contained project. They cut out the old boot at the deck, cut the wires at the stepping, loosened the shrouds and then the stays, put the crane line around the spreaders, and lifted her out like a toothpick from a cake. No worries. Protip: prior to lifting, they knocked out the wooden blocks around the mast at the deck fitting, and numbered them with a sharpie to make the re-stepping simple.

Up it goes...

They worked on the rig for about half a day, clearing the blockage at the spreaders (an awkward 90 degree turn of wires), running a new coaxial for the VHF, replacing a halyard shiv, rescuing our primary jib halyard from the very top of the mast (the agent of that mishap has yet to be identified), changing light bulbs, and putting slippery end-caps on the spreaders. Dad and I milled about, looking at other boats for ideas about instrument pods and bow rollers, and trying to monitor the work without getting in the way. A difficult manoeuvre.

Just a powerboat now

After waiting for the Lynnewood yard crane to finish a hose-down and change a spare-tire, they plunked the mast back in, with nary a scrape. Beautiful. The wood supports went back in as numbered. Steve put a new rubber boot at the deck fitting, and caulked and taped it down. They re-tensioned the standing rigging by their expert standards, and that was a neat thing to observe. They put more tension on the forward and mid shrouds than the aft, creating a gentle pull forward. I really don’t know how much play we can get with our adjustable backstay given our rod rigging and the roller foil on our forestay; I think their tensioning will give us the optimal balance for most conditions. Finally, Steve went up the mast like a olympic-class monkey and put back our sensitive masthead instruments. That was interesting to see: Steve used the standing rigging as hand- and footholds and bodily hauled himself up, entailing that his mate basically only needed to keep tension on his bosun’s chair. A much more controlled ascent than what I usually do: going up the mast sitting prostrate in our elderly little seat, letting the wind and deck rake bonk me back and forth around the shrouds. Easy to watch; hard to imitate.

Down it goes...

Done deal!

Steve owes us a couple new turnbuckle parts, as some of them are corroded (another protip: don’t wrap your turnbuckles; they’ll just get water trapped inside the wrap. Just get the cotter pins nice and bent so you don’t snag your trousers). We revved up and sped out of Lynnewood just as the tide was turning in our favour.

Despite the tide, I was disappointed to note that we seemed severely under-powered, barely breaking 5 knots with the tide at about 1800 rpm. I am certain we can do a lot better than that; I clearly recall being delighted last year that we could clear 6 knots under similar engine thrust, regardless of the tide. Hmmm. I didn’t even notice this drag the previous day, though perhaps I was distracted. I remain suspicious that we hooked some crud on our keel or rudder during the trip to Lynnewood. Despite that it’s been only nearly a year since we were hauled out and had the bottom redone. George recommended ablative paint, and this should have kept the mollusks off through the year, though admittedly IG had a curtailed season last year and may have not had the opportunity to ablate sufficiently. Well, at the first mooring in relatively clean water, some of us will put a wetsuit on and have a look below the water-line. That drop in speed vexes me; despite her creature comforts, IG is a bat out of hell, under all points of sail and particularly with her over-powered engine. Not that we intend to spend our time on her under power, but after a few final seasons on Velocitas with an under-serviced engine and an ever-increasing fouling on her paint-caked bottom, I was looking forward to spending time on a zippy new craft.

The following weekend, we re-attached the boom, re-ran and adjusted some blocks on the running rigging, cleaned deck, put back the teak cockpit sole, and a host of other preparatory tweaks. Dad and I even got in an evening sail, and she performed admirably in the light evening breeze, though the drag is still detectable.

A hugely productive day, and now our anemometer is ready to be connected to the i70 instrument. For this, we needed a wiring guy, and our recommends are being slow to respond. However, we want to take this opportunity to switch out the autohelm instrument to the steering binnacle, which will leave a hole that ought to accommodate the i70 perfectly. So we just ordered a single-unit pod mount from the states, which ought to arrive sooner than an electrician will respond to us. In the meantime, we will see for ourselves about getting a wire into the binnacle tubing.

Dad also put a couple more varnish coats on the outside teak—all is looking golden and smooth. Excellent.

A finely finished taffrail A finely finished taffrail

So strike one project from the list, and consider the many more:

  1. Complete i70 install and wiring.
  2. Strengthen the bow roller and get the anchor and rode off of the bare bolt.
  3. Repair and re-install our leaky galley foot pump.
  4. Clean the bottom and make her fast again.

And so the season begins…

The season beginneth

May was in capital form this year, and we managed to pull the tarps off permanently soon after we got back from Maui in April.

Teak was stripped and polished, anchor rode was tested and freshly labelled, and we even managed a lovely raft-up with our dear friends on Arabesque in the creek.

Here's to much more to come.

Anchor rode! Nice to know how long it actually is!

Anchor rode! MEMORIZE THIS

A swell raftup Evening lamplight on Arabesque


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