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 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.

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August 3, 2010

Tacoma & Gig Harbor

Filed under: Overnight Trips — tomlarkin @ 10:43 am

Our first overnight trip on the salt water. We left at seven Thursday evening. We timed the trip to arrive at Blake Island after moonrise to help navigate the narrow channel into the harbor. The trip through the locks was uneventful, with just one other boat. The lock tenders asked us a lot of questions about the Coot. Watching Seattle glide by in the dark was pretty wonderful. We got the last spot in the Blake harbor and called it a day.
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The morning dawned foggy and chilly. We cooked an omelet and walked around until the day warmed up and the fog lifted, and headed for Tacoma. I figured out I can steer and drag my foot in the water at the same time.
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We stopped at Des Moines and ate lunch at Wally’s Chowder House. Decent food and interesting décor. Then on to Tacoma. We stayed at the Foss Seaport moorage overnight, where we saw this beautiful thing in the display:
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Here’s an oar tip guard made of brass from a different display:
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We taped yellow paper over the windows for privacy because we don’t have curtains yet:
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Interesting ships in the harbor, with Rainier in the background:
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And a delightfully rusty little tug:
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Chihuly glass sculpture:
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Union Station:
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Mandatory tugboat-in-the-sunset picture:
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Tacoma has some very weird places. A little faux-town in a warehouse:
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On the way to Gig Harbor in the morning…
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…my manager Jared was on the beach with his family and took this picture as we motored past:
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Our days of anonymous boating are over, I guess Smile

It was a glorious evening at anchor in the harbor:
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Meryll got a chill and went below to do a little Linux-y stuff by red night light.
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We found a lovely little bakery in the morning and I ate their last two cinnamon rolls. We headed back via Blake Island again, hugging the West side of Colvos Passage to better see the homes and birds. We went through the large locks and had to be against the edge, which was kind of scary. We had two boats rafted to us, and had a hard time keeping the boat against the lock wall. The tire fenders took a lot of abuse against the rough wall as we went up.

We were gone from the house almost exactly three days.  It was a pretty amazing little trip.

Navigation:
We used OpenCPN navigation software running on my netbook, and it worked great. I had the vector charts installed and they were a lot more usable than the raster charts because you can zoom in closer without losing clarity.  Here’s the approach to Blake Island showing our tracks coming and going:
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Here’s what it looks like in night mode. It looks too dark here, but was just right in the dark:
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The whole trip was about 100 miles We burned about 20 gallons of gas..
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July 26, 2010

Homebuilt Boat Show

Filed under: Overnight Trips — tomlarkin @ 12:01 pm

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July 10, 2010

Fourth (& Fifth) of July

Filed under: Overnight Trips — tomlarkin @ 9:59 am

We picked up Eric & Tammy at Ivar’s Salmon House and anchored at the South end of Lake Union for the fireworks. It was just us and about 1000 other boats. The afternoon started out rainy, and then turned cool and breezy. The Coot swings back and forth at anchor, scaring us and anyone with the temerity to anchor in the vicinity. Eric and I stood guard all evening with the boat pole to keep us from having a bump in the night.  When we dropped Tammy & Eric at Ivar’s afterwards I got permission from the manager to tie up at their dock for the night – so we did!

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The fireworks were pretty.
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Monday was a holiday. We woke at the dock and motored to Ballard for breakfast and then through the locks to the salt water. Our first lock transit in the new boat! It went well.  We went across the Sound to Kingston, about an hour from Shilshole. The sun came out and we saw some Dall’s Porpoises, which look like tiny Orca whales. We tied up at the guest dock (2 hours free), and wandered around the pretty little town. We ended up at a nice bar with a view deck. Inside the bar they were playing bingo. Pizza and beer, and then back home the same way, getting into the slip after dark.
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A million tiny herrings (?) wound through the harbor in Kingston.
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Behind the bar was one of the biggest Madrona trees we’ve ever seen.
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The view from the bar, with the downtown Seattle buildings in the distance.
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July 8, 2010

Evening Anchoring – July 3

Filed under: Overnight Trips — tomlarkin @ 1:53 pm

We took the Coot out to watch the sunset and to try out the little inflatable kayak.

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Meryll is pointing at an eagle passing by.
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