Radar, Toilets, Diving & Bow Platforms

What a busy week. It started when Jim kindly presented me with a new T-Shirt to mark my enrolment into the NBA world. I shall wear it proudly in San Francisco.

A committed fan. (Thanks god I don’t have to buy all the strips)
Jim doing some beer research on board the Vancouver research ship.

I also got to help Jim and Marty haul out the University of Vancouver’s fishing research vessel. It was going up on ‘the ways’, and as I should be doing the same, anytime in the last three weeks 🙁 I was able to get a feel for what was involved. This ship takes students out to do surveys on fish stocks, and other things I expect. Marty is a professor from the Uni and it was funny seeing him crawling under the boat applying antifoul, not the usual university research type of work.

The boat cradle I will probably go in.
One of the Prawn boats docked up now the prawn/shrimp season has closed.

Next up, while varnishing and chatting to Graeme about diving on the hull, I mentioned I had decided to do a scuba course in Mexico when we get there. Graeme, who dives but has just given up, offered to sell me his kit for a very decent price. I popped up to his house later that day, he has amazing views over the bay and strait, and we struck a deal. I am now the new owner of a lot of scuba gear I have no idea how to connect together and use. Hopefully it will all come clear in a few months time. Also the boat will be more stable now with the ballast weights for the diving belt, which must weight at least a ton.

The weather hasn’t been great this week, a bit cooler and overcast mostly. We had very strong winds for a few days but the rain we had has been welcome. A fire started over on the main island by the highway and could have got nasty, but the services got it under control.
One morning it was so grim I decided I could only do indoor jobs, so next on the list was to service the head (Toilet). It wasn’t faulty, but it has worked without attention for over two years, so to try to repeat that success, I thought I should clean out the pipes, which block up with calcium, and replace all the rubber seals and valves.

A lot easier to clean behind the toilet with it missing.
I tried a few alternate locations for the toilet
Handy for the kitchen roll
but nothing struck me as better
Perhaps it’s best back in the little room.

Last week I had delivered the template and old bow platform to Greg, a local carpenter to see if he could fabricate a new piece for me, by joining together 4 planks of cedar. I was amazed when he turned up less than 24 hours later with a basic platform, less the cutouts. He wanted to test it for size, and after spending an hour here trimming it to fit into the steel bow frame, he left to cut out the holes and reinforce it at the front.

The basic platform made from 4 planks of red cedar

Greg returned the next day with the cut-outs done, and a very smart looking platform.

I have decided to varnish this as it will protect the cedar in its exposed location at the bow. Above you can see it already looking golden with just one 50% varnish/ 50% thinner coat. It’s going to look great. I need to transfer the rollers from the old platform across this week.

The Radar.
It took a while and a few phone calls, but eventually Tom from the Ways was able to collect my new Furuno radar from Port Hardy over on the big Island.
Radar units don’t come with a mounting bracket, probably because you have a different one, depending if it’s going on a sailboat mast, a rear pole or a cabin top. Consequently you have to fork out a few hundred pounds for the bracket. I had a bracket for the old radar that was fitted to my mast and was very strong. To remove it and then poke a load more holes in my mast, beside weakening the mast, and being dangerous to attempt while swinging in a harness meant I would build an adapter of sorts to make the new radar fit the old mount. I was easily able to bring the old mount down with the old radar scanner and I made a sketch below of how I might join the old and new.

The two horizontal strips are 1/4″ Aluminium bars with holes for the new radar.

I was able to get Ken at Tarkanan to slice me off two lengths of aluminum which I then shaped and drilled to fit the old bracket.

The whole affair bolted together far better than I had imagined as is very strong.

The protruding bolts have been cut back so there’s less for anything to snag or chafe on
Ready to be mounted onto the mast part of the bracket.

A word of caution, if you want to use your feet instead of a vice for holding the metal still while you drill, I suggest you wear strong shoes. I noticed that socks on their own are no match for a spinning drill that skids off the metal into your foot. Fortunately my foot escaped unscarred, but now wants autonomy and independence from the rest of my body, in particular my brain. I just so happened to have a spare sock from the last laundry trip that I can now put to good use.

I’m posting this earlier than usual as I’m suffering from a bit of a cold and don’t feel up to climbing the mast, which is the next job, so I’m staying in catching up on paperwork!

Paul Collister

Up the Raptors (We the North)

As a lifelong Raptors fan, it was great to be in their home country and watch them romp to the finals of the NBA championship and defeat the Golden State Warriors in a final comprising of six games, played between toronto and Oakland SF . We were going to be clearing in at Oakland when we go south to San Francisco, but given that this is the first time a non American team has won the NBA finals, we might clear in at Astoria now.
Seriously, Ivana, Jim’s wife is a big fan of NBA and kindly invited me along to the second of potentially 7 games, Jim cooked pizza for the first game and we all sat there cheering the team along. By the end of the first game, I had a basic grasp of the rules of basketball. The rules around fouling makes the UK soccer offside rule look quite simple. The raptors had the warriors on the run for most of the matches. I was invited to the subsequent matches and Jim cooked up Nachos, then Burgers, Ivana produced pies and ice cream, it was all jolly pleasant. By the end of the 6th match they were neck and neck, all the way. with just 0.7 seconds left on the clock, and with the raptors leading by one point and about to claim the title, the warriors called a timeout. Of course they didn’t have any timeouts left and so that caused a technical foul which gave the Raptors a chance to score two more points, but this also meant a few more seconds got added to the clock, giving the warriors a chance to get 3 points should they get possession after a missed shot at the basket. I expect you are ahead of me here on this, anyway it was all pointless, the Raptors scored from the foul and the hooter went and history was made.

Sue and Andy had watched the previous match down the pub, which is now open every night. I met the barman, Vincent, who comes here every summer for 6 months from Waterford Ireland. I told him we used to keep Stardust on the river in Dungarvin, which is close to Waterford, and he knew the exact spot, as he lives just a few miles away. Sointula keeps on amazing me with chance meetings like this. Sue and Andy met up with John (from the Hamble) the engineer who helped me with my water pump. It turns out that John and Andy have had very similar lives in the world of engineering.
A few days ago John introduced me to a different Andy who lives just around the corner and is another brilliant guy, and we had both built the same 80186 computer with wire wrap technology, back in the early 80’s. He was telling me how he struggled with his automatic wire wrap tool, I was stunned, I explained I didn’t realise there was an automatic tool as I did all mine with a manual tool, oh how we laughed, it was along the lines of the python sketch, ‘lived in a cardboard box, you were lucky, we couldn’t afford no boxes’

Sue and Andy

Sue and andy have been great hosts, providing dinner for me on a several occasions, Doug arrived a week ago and made friends with them and myself and he invited us all over to his for fresh prawns and pasta, so between all of these guys and Jim/Ivana I haven’t been able to eat any of the food I have onboard.

Prawns & Pasta on Doug’s boat

Doug is a lovely guy, with lots of knowledge and experience, he has raced big yachts around the world and has lived in Hong Kong for the last 15 years, he is married to a Chinese lady from Vancouver and given all that is going on these days with Huawei and Hong Kong he has been fascinating to chat with. I have tried to help him solve some of his NMEA data problems on his boat, but he ended up fixing them without me. He’s quite an inspiration for a man in his eighties.

Jim invited me out for a sail with some of his friends, we had heard of humpback whale sightings just a few miles away near Stubb Island in the Johnstone strait so headed of to check it out on Saturday. We didn’t see any but did see puffins, purpoises, dolphins and seals. On the way back, we did a sail-by past the waterfront of Alert Bay, the mostly first Nations settlement on Cormorant Island. They have been cleaning up the waterfront since Kathy and I visited it in 2018, and it’s looking great.

Alert Bay totem poles

Alert Bay waterfront
Alert Bay

We had left early and I was worried we might get back after the shops had closed and I rushed to see Victor the Chilean baker when we tied up at 17:00. He told me he had sold all the loaves, then thoughtfully said ‘wait’ a few seconds later he said, they probably won’t come so you can have this loaf, and I got somebody else’s reserved loaf. With that small gesture I felt like I had finally arrived, acceptance into the community 😉 , at least by the baker. I presume there is one member of the community who now wants me to leave.
I have learnt a lot about the local community, people have confided the secrets of a remote island world, but I won’t give anything away here, just think ‘Whiskey Galore and Wicker man’. nuff said

A Mink out hunting by our boat

There is an old fishing boat in the harbour that has been decaying away, it was beyond repair and just lately the boat has been pumping oil into the harbour whenever the bilge pump went off, which was quite often. The owner was requested to remove the boat and he decided to give it to a local who in return for hauling it out got the engine and a few other useful parts for free. I watched as it was hauled out on a trailer off to the knackers yard.

Off to the boat crematorium 🙁
Very sad
Fishing boat on the road (Above the old lifeboat in the distance)

It’s good that the boat is no longer polluting the harbour, but sad that it’s going to be chopped up and burnt shortly.

Wispy morning fog

Jim introduced me to a local guy who has a sawmill on the Island. He is providing me with some Red Cedar planking from which I can build a new bow platform for the boat. As you can see from the pic below the old one is a bit smashed up. This happened on our trip to Japan when the bow crashed down heavily into a wave that was rising up in front of us. The old platform was weak and splintered into several pieces. I couldn’t get teak in Japan, and can’t get it here, but I liked the idea of taking some cedar grown here on the island away with me. I don’t know how well it will fare, it won’t be as good as the teak, but it will be better than what I have now. It’s high quality cedar and a lot of the boats here use it in their construction so we shall have to see.

Old Bow Platform
The bowsprit without the platform, handy for varnishing now.

I made a template out of cardboard to help build the new one. I’m hoping to do better with wood than cardboard in getting the right shape 🙁

Platform template

What with all of the dining and sporty activity I didn’t get much varnishing done, I have managed four coats on the port side, but the weather hasn’t cooperated, with rain every other day for a week now.
Today I managed to connect with Sue and Andy via SSB, they are heading south to the Sea of Cortez, and were on the far side of Vancouver Island in Sea Otter Cove, somewhere we will be by mid August. We couldn’t connect on 2 MHz, but did quite well on the 4 MHz Band.

My new radar still hasn’t turned up and the call to haul out at the ways hasn’t arrived yet. I leave for the UK in two weeks time so I’m a little worried that everything is going to happen at once at the last minute leaving no time for errors. Oh well, fingers crossed. I expect all will be completed by the time I post the next blog.

Paul Collister.

Busy Busy Busy & Port side to

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks because things were pretty boring for a while, but it’s hotted up the last few days.
I had several goes at varnishing the starboard side of the brightwork, but rain/humidity and blistering sun at various times scuppered my efforts. I had managed to get 6 coats of varnish on and it was looking great, I decided to sand to a very smooth surface ( 1000 grit) and put the final coat on. I had almost finished this when unexpectedly the heavens opened and trashed a lot of my work. In the end I got away with everything except for the cap rail. A light rub down and a re-coating should sort that.
Next I planned to swing the boat around to face the other way, but first I had to fix the engine temp gauge and a few other minor engine jobs. I also finished off the locker tops. This was the start of my main three disasters of the week. I had bought some gelcoat to see if I could touch up some of the gouges we got on the passage over. Gelcoat is basically polyester resin coloured white. It’s not easy to mix a small amount as the ratios between the resin and the catalyst and huge, and I think I had a few tablespoons of resin which needed a few drops of the MEK catalyst. I ended up with too much gelcoat, I was only experimenting at this point to see if I could mix it and keep it workable long enough to fill the gouges, however it soon became apparent that the gelcoat was pure brilliant white and my boat isn’t anything like white, even when cleaned. I spread some gelcoat over a bit of card to get a feel for working it with a spatula, I should have had about 30 mins before it went off. I also filled a hole in the cockpit well you can’t really see. Now what could possibly go wrong, well the wind got up, the card covered in gelcoat started flying around the cockpit, me jumping around trying to catch it, and in the process getting my knee in the new gelcoat in the cockpit, didn’t help. End result was gelcoat on the teak, all over my clothes and in my hair. Also three days later it still hadn’t gone off, so was still a major hazard. It’s hardened now!
Onto the next simple job (Disaster number two), some of the screws I had used to fix the piano hinge to the seat locker top were too long and were sticking out under the locker top. I decided to get my power grinder out, and grind them off so they would hurt anyone in the future. All I can say is there’s more to grinding than meets the eye. For a while I had a very well ground boat surrounding very pointy screws. At least I now have a place to use some of the gelcoat. I’m so often reminded of the episode of father ted when he is up all night removing the little bump in the car that’s first prize in the raffle, and in knocking the bump out he ends up eventually with nothing but bumps.
Enough maintenance for now, let’s get back to the varnishing, feel reasonably safe there.

So I waited until the following morning when it was dead calm, and with Jim onboard to assist, I reversed out of the harbour, I was quite nervous doing this, it’s been a while since I have helmed this boat, I wasn’t sure how fouled the hull & prop were, and the boat doesn’t like reversing to start with, it was about 4 boat lengths to get out, with just a few foot either side of clearance between other boats. Anyway I impressed myself by doing it without any issue, slow and steady, keeping the engine in neutral most of the time seemed to reduce the prop walk a lot. Also the bow thruster helped keep the boat lined up. Spinning the boat around I reversed back into the berth without issue and I was able to tie up port side to. Now I can do all the varnish work on this side.

Before I got stuck in I decided to have a bike ride and explore the long coastal road called Kaleva Rd. this is a long run on the Eastern end of the southern side of the island. The are lots of homes along the route and plenty of quirky sights as you can see below.

I have started looking into information about the Sea of Cortez, it looks fantastic, I’m getting excited about exploring the coast there.

A few days ago I spotted a Halberg Rassey yacht arrive, thinking this might be a European boat, I wandered over to their pontoon and spotted the Red ensign flying. After chatting with Sue & Andy on board, I learn they are Brits from Portsmouth, they have sailed here from the UK and arrived in Sointula from Japan, before that visiting Alaska, Borneo, Tioman, Anambas, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. They had been in most of the same ports as us and knew a lot of the people we had met. In one case we must have only missed them by a few weeks. So we have had a good natter, it’s been really interesting, especially as they have already done the South Pacific and so I can pick up a lot of info from them. Andy & Sue will be leaving soon and making their way down to the sea of cortez, arriving before us, but there’s a good chance we might see them there too. Next year they will leave Mexico and turn left back into the Atlantic whereas we will turn right and into the South Pacific.

Andy had a problem with his stern gear, in particular the bracket that houses his cutless bearing was damaged, and so he decided to haul out at the ways, just as I have decided to do. I went around to take pictures for him and to learn the ropes (no pun intended).

Here the three trolleys are in the water awaiting their boats
andy & sue arrive and tie to the big trolley
This is the wire from the trolley to the winch house
inside the winch house, Tom is overseeing the haulout and managing the winch.
Very slowly, the trolley is dragged out of the water
almost there, except the keel is too far aft, so it goes back in for a second attempt
Finally she’s out and ready for the work to begin. It’s only held in place by gravity!!

I have now bought a replacement radar, I went for the wireless furuno, which uses an ipad/iphone for displaying the radar output. This cost less than £1000 which is not bad as the wired ones tend to start around £1500 but require a display unit as well, which adds another £1000 and then your getting into all sort of connectivity issues. Another big factor for me is that I have the 12v at the mast already from the old radar so I don’t need to try and feed a new cable through the mast. I’m just waiting for it to arrive, we are saving on postage by waiting for someone who is passing through to collect it from Port Hardy and drop it off on this island.

Tonight I went with Andy & Sue to a concert in the athletic hall up the road. It was guitar and flute, most of the music was Spanish (Flamenco style) and South American performed by the Azuline Duo. It was wonderful, a great setting, lovely acoustics and a lovely appreciative audience

The Athletic hall on the left, vancouver Island in the distance

Today I stripped off all the varnish on the port side, tomorrow is sanding and sealing, then varnish, varnish and more varnishing all week. The hope is that I can haul out next week and get the bottom done. I fitted a new accumulator tank for the water and a new water pump for the deck wash this week, so all in all the boat’s pretty good right now.
It does seem though that I’m going to have to replace the hoses for the cockpit drains, as my third and final cock up this week was kicking over a bottle of Acetone in the cockpit well and not twigging what the smell was before half a litre had dripped onto the cockpit sole,removing a large chunk of gelcoat, before running of down the drains. This is a major pain, the hoses aren’t leaking yet, but acetone may or may not have damaged them, it depends what chemicals are used in the hose construction, and it may be that they will fail at some point, maybe tonight or maybe next year or maybe never. The thing is, when they fail, the boat will flood and probably sink. It’s not a bad idea to change them anyway, they are quite old.

Paul Collister