Boatbuilding Blog

November 30, 2010

Our First Winter Trip on the Sound

Filed under: Overnight Trips — tomlarkin @ 4:40 pm

We were pretty nervous, leaving the locks during a Small Craft Advisory, but the winds were pretty mild, only about 10 knots from the south. The waves weren’t bad, mostly under two feet. We discussed where we could abort to if the weather got worse, but it stayed the same all the way across to Kingston, ten miles across the Sound. We pulled into the marina just after dark. After tying up, I plugged in the shore power and fired up our little 110 volt heater. We walked up to town and had an excellent Italian dinner.  In the morning we borrowed the tiny electric car from the Port and drove at 25 miles per hour around town, stopping to buy some paperbacks and a few groceries.
Keyport electric car, and Meryll

Around noon we chugged out of Appletree Cove and followed the coast south to Port Madison and nervously went through the narrow, shallow entrance into Miller Bay to look for ducks. Mostly, we just saw lots of large houses all in a row. The water along the shore was dredged to 11 feet, but shoaled to just a few feet away from the docks.
Miller Bay houses

Took a short break on the long pier at Suquamish where I wandered around and Meryll took a nap. The tiny town has a few restaurants, a bar, a motorcycle shop, and Chief Seattle’s grave.
Coot at Suquamish

Southwest through Agate Passage (one of my favorite place names) and up the narrow winding channel past Keyport into Liberty Bay. I dropped Meryll off on a pier in the early dusk and she took the short video below. Poulsbo is at the north end of the bay and there were still a few transient slips still available when we arrived just after nightfall.

Liberty Bay at dusk

Another nice Italian dinner and a short walk around the town and back to the boat as the docks became icy. We ran the heater all night and were warm and cozy. We left the LED Christmas lights on for most of the trip, plugged into shore power at the dock, and into the little inverter while we cruised..
Coot Christmas lights at Poulsbo

I took a couple 110 volt lights on the trip as an antidote to the darkness that falls at 5 PM this time of year. It was good to have the extra brightness aboard.
Coot Lights

Sunday morning broke very cold. We found a nice bakery for breakfast then motored to Keyport where we walked to the Undersea Warfare Museum. Noon saw us heading home after a short detour to look at the fancy homes in Port Madison. Here are some Cormorants along the Ship Canal.
Pelagic Cormorants roosting

And a dramatic sunset to light the way back to Kenmore.
Sunset looking West

Sunset over Kirkland

A very pleasant trip, with an easy itinerary chosen to test winter camping in the Coot. The weather was dryer than advertised, but cold and breezy with occasional showers. We stayed comfortable by running the propane heater almost constantly for the three days. Staying at marinas let us use the electric heater and 110 volt lights through the long nights. The total distance was just 70 miles in three days. We’ll do more of this!

Trip Map

November 26, 2010

Lead Ballast

Filed under: Maintenance — tomlarkin @ 8:24 am

I’ve had 300 pounds of sand in the bow for the last few months. Before that, she floated almost six inches higher forward than designed, and it always bothered me.  I shopped around for lead to replace the sand, and found a guy near Gig Harbor that sold lead at less than half the price the local companies wanted ($.80 per pound vs. $1.80).  It was a fun trip to the country to pick it up.

So, here’s 300 pounds of lead next to 300 pounds of sand.  The lead is just a bit more compact. The bars are small enough to fit beneath the forward sole, out of the way.

Thanksgiving Snow

Filed under: Wildlife — tomlarkin @ 5:25 am

And this is under covered moorage…



And some pretty lights.

Short Video

Filed under: Day Trips — tomlarkin @ 4:39 am

I took this on the way to work last week. It’s on Lake Washington heading south. You can see Rainier in the distance, and Sand Point to the right. Gordon Bok on the stereo.


November 9, 2010

A Quick Overnight Trip

Filed under: Overnight Trips — tomlarkin @ 1:46 pm

We took the Coot out for a quick overnighter on Saturday night. We got a late start and motored around looking at birds until dusk. It was calm, with a light rain. The marine forecast said we might get south winds at 15 miles per hour overnight. I didn’t feel like going all the way down the lake to the protected moorage at Andrew Bay so I anchored in Juanita Bay, which is wide open to the south. We stern anchor because the pilothouse is so far forward that the boat sails back and forth wildly if we bow-anchor. We anchored near the center of the bay, quite a ways from shore, and let out a lot of line – about a scope of 7: 1. The first few hours were nice – we listened to music and read and watched the lights come on in the houses around the bay.

Around 8PM the breeze came up from the south. Within an hour it was blowing about 15 or 20 MPH and the waves were building in the three and a half mile fetch from the floating bridge.  The stern would raise up on the waves and slam down on the next with a loud noise and making the whole boat tremble. I wasn’t too worried. The boat is solidly built, especially the round stern, but it was pretty uncomfortable. We dozed fitfully until past midnight, with me getting up and checking for movement every half hour or so.

Then the wind got louder, making a wailing sound and the motion of the boat got a lot more extreme as the waves built up short and steep as they entered the shallow bay. Whitecaps rushed past in the dark. We got up and put on clothes and discussed what to do. After an hour of this we realized we were dragging and the decision to raise anchor and leave was taken out of our hands.

Meryll started the motor and I put on the foul-weather gear and went out aft. The anchor line was bar-tight and I waited for a tiny pause to unhook the line from the stern bollard. The boat wheeled around to face into the wind. I went forward and crouched behind the bulwarks as the boat pitched up and down.  Meryll powered forward on my hand signals as I pulled in the anchor line hand over hand.  I pulled up 15 feet of the 20 feet of chain attached to the anchor. And then I couldn’t raise it any more. Looking over the edge I saw a huge ragged black mass, at least four feet in diameter. Our dragging anchor had brought up a couple hundred pounds of weed from the bottom. I couldn’t shake it loose and it was too heavy to lift. Acting as a sea anchor, it kept Meryll from being able to point into the wind. Every time the bow fell off, she ran the boat in a tight 360 degree loop, and into the wind again and tried to make another few feet of gain against the wind. The lee shore got slowly closer as this continued.

I grabbed the boat pole and stood on the bow like Ahab, stabbing the dark mass again and again, breaking off chunks of weed that flew away into the dark. After a very long time of this I tried again to lift the anchor, and with a burst of adrenaline dragged the thing up and over the bow. The green slippery pile completely filled the bow area.

We revved up the motor and, rocking and twisting in the waves, motored out of the bay, across the lake to Pontiac Bay and, finally, tied illegally to a dock in the quiet cove on the lee of Sand Point. We crawled into bed and fell asleep instantly. In the morning the whole boat was littered with scraps of seaweed.

All of this happened just two miles from our house. We probably wouldn’t have even noticed the wind in the trees at home.  I don’t know how big the waves were or how fast the wind blew. I’m guessing by the Beaufort descriptions that it was a sustained Force 6 ‘Strong Breeze’ (25-31MPH) , occasionally gusting to Force 7 ‘Near Gale’ force (32-38 MPH). The lesson to be gained is something I already knew – don’t anchor in a place that’s likely to become a dangerous trap if a storm comes up.

On the other hand, the boat worked perfectly. I felt reasonably safe on deck even as the boat pitched below me. The outboard didn’t cavitate as we went over the waves, and the boat handled well once the anchor was up. We left the propane heater on all night and the cabin stayed dry and warm throughout. Our communication was good. We had enough time to discuss what we planned to do and prepare for the weather. I wore Gore-Tex gloves, rubber boots, rain bibs, and a good parka when I went out. It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re cold and wet.


November 6, 2010

Thursday’s Commute

Filed under: Day Trips — tomlarkin @ 11:49 am

Up at o-dark early and jump into the truck. Halloween lights are still up on the porch.

Down the hill. Three miles from the house to the marina.

First stop – Tully’s – for black coffee and a maple bar.

Just getting light at the marina. The float planes are already taxiing out for their daily trips around the Sound.

Turn on the power, warm up the motor.

Start the heater. Untie the lines.

Head out slowly to keep the wake down and not scare the Coots and Widgeons.

Goodbye to Kenmore. Eight miles to Carillon Point, straight south down the lake at eight miles per hour.

Watch the sun come up over the hills, waking the sleepers. Sunshine in November?

The hills catch the daylight minute by minute. Rainier dominates the south.

I finish my coffee as I pull into Carillon Point. Tie up, turn everything off, and walk up the steps toward the bus stop.

The light is just reaching the trees here, below the hill. The gilded tips of the carillons catch the first rays.

Up to the street, just in time to catch the 230 to Bellevue Transit Center.

Walk a block to the Bravern, where I work.

Elevator to the 21st floor.  Another cup of coffee, and down the hall to my office.

Work until dusk, and repeat the whole process in reverse.

Tied up and shut down back in the marina. Time to drive home.

Just another day at the office.