Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013 - Gulf Islands, Canada (Part 1)

Merry Christmas from Canada!

We are spending the holidays exploring the Canadian Gulf Islands.  Now, we've spent years roaming these waters during the crowded summer months, but never during the middle of winter.  We are hoping to visit a new place or two, locations that are generally so crowded during the busy cruising season that we have always passed right by them.

We had planned to leave on Friday December 20 at about noon when school got out, but several inches of snow closed school for the day and the wind kicked up to about 30 knots.  Cindy and Kevin wanted to play in the snow at home and were not too interested in being couped up inside the boat missing the white fun.  So, we decided to stay at home Friday and leave Saturday morning instead.

We hit the fuel dock on our way out and chatted with Tony (now working part-time at the fuel dock since his retirement as an on-air personality on THE prominent AM talk radio station in Seattle) about our destinations.  One place we hope to visit is Wallace Island.  Tony has been there before and mentioned that he left a memento in the the cruisers cabin. 

It was cold outside as we motored a long day from La Conner to the customs clearance station at Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island, BC.  After we cleared customs we had time to drop anchor nearby and settle in before dark.

Anchored in Bedwell Harbor, BC 

Kathy out for a row in the light rain just before dark.
Kevin and Cindy both enjoy reading, anytime, anywhere!
We got up early Sunday morning to do some motoring in the dark before sunrise.  It's always good to practice before you have to do it in an emergency.  We learned that our new exterior lighting needs a little tweaking, and also that a few interior lighting issues exist that make forward visibility less than perfect.

Motoring out of Bedwell Harbor in the dark.

Two of our new "Night Lights".  they are bright, but it takes a lot of candlepower
to illuminate the water to any level of usefulness.  We aren't there yet.

Sunday was a pretty short day of motoring heading to Wallace Island.  This is a place that we poke our bow into every summer, but it is always packed full of boats so we have never opted to spend any time there.  Well, things are quite different during the winter.  We were able to actually get right on the dock which makes shore access so much easier than when you anchor out and have to dinghy to shore.

At the dock - Wallace Island Provincial Marine Park.

Cindy "exploring" the rocky shoreline of Wallace Island

The old cruisers cabin.  Decorated with thousands of items from previous
boating visitors to this wonderful island.

The beautiful north end of Wallace Island
We ended up spending a few days here.  This is a nice island with a good trail system that goes from one end of the island to the other.  We walked most of the trails and very much enjoyed our time here.  Oh, we found Tony's memento which he left here years ago, when they were here with Gary and Ellie on Tangywasser (also from Shelter Bay, and friends of ours).

Tony (aka Big T?) left his mark here 6 years prior to our visit.

The north end of wonderful Wallace Island.

There are a lot of interesting stops during a hike along the main trail.

Kevin gets ready to test the home-made slingshot.  Perfect slingshot stick
courtesy of the Wallace Island trail.
We departed Wallace Island around noon on Christmas Eve day.  We are headed to Annette Inlet, which has been a mandatory stop for us every summer.  We really enjoy this bay in the summer.  It is well protected from all weather.  It is not very crowded.  It is fun to kayak, and it's also a great place to turn the kids loose on the sailboat, or the kayaks.  We also swim here during the warmer summer conditions.  This time we had the entire bay all to ourselves!  Wow, this would never happen during the summer.

We left the anchor light on so that Santa could find out boat.  We hung our stockings over the "fireplace" with care, and then watched a movie together on our new lounger.  The settee in the salon can now convert to a bed, or a great place to lounge and watch a movie.
Zappa takes a Christmas nap.

Putting our presents "under" the tree.  Christmas Eve.

The stockings hung above the "fireplace"

No, our kitty Zappa was not one of the Christmas presents.
Try to tell him that though  :-)

Getting ready to watch a movie on the new salon lounger.
Christmas Eve.  Will Santa find us.....?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3, 2013 - boat project updates

It's been a while since I posted anything about the progress being made on the boat over the past months.  We got to enjoy our new Naiad stabilizers this summer, but I must report that it was a VERY calm summer with virtually no wind, and therefore no waves to really test them out.  In our limited experience so far with them, we feel that they are going to be a great addition; they really do eliminate almost all of the side-to-side roll in rough water.

First I'll show you the galley.  In the galley, we have replaced the old energy hungry home refrigerator with two modern 12 volt marine units.  These use less than 1/10th the energy consumed by the home unit, and we can turn one off when we don't have large capacity needs, further improving the energy consumption.
Two marine refrigerators have replaced an old home refer.
New "raised dot" high-traction floor.  Spill proof and durable.

New convection microwave and gas cooktop.  No need to start the generator to
cook something on the stove.  Also, nice new tile backsplash to complete the update.

New wood wall to enclose the refer and provide a
natural end to the counter top.

New tile back splash and the new cooktop and microwave.
In the salon we have created a new "U-shaped" settee, and we are just now completing a new bookshelf with storage cabinets underneath.  First the settee.  This is where we will be spending a great deal of time.  We eat here, play games here, do homework, work on projects and do crafts here.  We also watch movies here, and just hang out with other boating friends.  It's our living room, dining room, movie room, school house, and our play room (rec room?).  The table top is temporary and will be replaced with something more durable than particle board.  It can be lowered and a cushion placed on top so it becomes a spare bed, or a great place to lounge and watch a movie.

Here is our new settee.  This space had two chairs and a table in it when we
bought the boat.  This is a much better use of space, at least for us.
 On the other side of the salon we have taken a completely non-utilized space and created a 7' long bookshelf, as well as 7' of storage cabinets underneath.  This was very much needed, as books and magazines completely obliterated our counter tops.  We have regained our counter top space.  A side benefit is that there is less to worry about flying about when the water gets rough, because the items in the bookshelf are not going anywhere thanks to the "sea rail".

Excuse the mess, the kids were decorating for Christmas last time out.
The surround sound receiver and satellite TV receiver are built into
the cabinet in the corner..  New outlets and switches on the aft wall.

One section of the new bookshelf and storage cabinet.  This was just a
solid wall before with a big empty cavity behind it.  We gained a LOT of
usable storage with this change.  Cabinet doors not yet made for the cabinets.
The stairway that leads to the sleeping quarters and both heads (bathrooms) previously had carpet on it.  If you've ever been on a boat with carpeted stairs you know that they can be dangerous.  Never wear socks on a boat with carpeted stairs!  One big wave while negotiating the steps can lead to a dangerous fall.  Each of us has had at least one "slip and slide" event on these steps.  So, the carpet had to go.  We replaced the carpet with the same "raised dot" flooring we used in the galley, and under the settee, but in a different color.  I have seen this exact flooring on multi-million $$$ yachts, so I figured it was a "safe choice" for our boat.

The steep winding stairs that lead below.  Now
much safer with the high-traction raised-dot flooring.

New wood faces for each step, and the new raised
dot flooring.  Very high traction, and it will last for
decades, unlike carpet.

Once you get down those stairs you find both sleeping quarters, which we have completely rearranged to meet our needs.  In the master stateroom, we now have a true walk-around queen bed.  This is quite a luxury on a boat.

A walk-around queen bed.  No crawling over your spouse just
to get into, or out of bed.  Plus it's much easier to make the bed.

On the other side of the room we have created a bunk bed that converts to a couch.  The upper bunk folds down and becomes the back of the couch.  It will be great when we have guests, since we can accommodate quite few more overnight guests than we could when we bought the boat.

The bunk bed that converts to a couch.  Right now it's become
a storage unit for excess remodeling supplies!  New carpet.
In the forward stateroom, the V-berth, we have completely changed the sleeping arrangements.  When we bought the boat it could sleep two people, on the same level.  We gutted this room, insulated the side walls, and rebuilt it in a totally new and unique configuration.  I have to say, I've never seen a V-berth like this before.  It will now sleep four people, comfortably.  We also picked up some extra storage space in new cubbies, which will be great for the kids to store their "stuff".  This is our kids room, and they love it!

New 3-level V-berth.  This is a unique room, and
it will sleep 4 people.  With two people it seems huge.
Also new carpet.

The "cave".  Our kids love this space. It is like a little fort, and it has a great
storage cubby for their things too.

View from the upper bunk.  The large bed on the right is big enough for
two adults, if needed.  
On the outside of the boat the radar mast has been reinstalled after being quite extensively modified.  We added two more mounts, one for a second radar, and the other for a satellite dish.  We also moved the forward navigation light to the mast, as well as a new weather station sensor.  The anchor light is up top.  We have installed a new hi-tech H.I.D. remote control search light to replace the old HUGE (and not very bright) unit that was mounted on the front of the flybridge.  There are also a few deck lights mounted on the mast.  All of the mast lighting is of the brand new modern LED variety.

The radar mast, and some new antennas on the side
of the flybridge.  New red and green navigation lights
on the side of the flybridge (LED of course).

Radar mast from the rear.  

Radar mast from the front.  Lots of new equipment has been installed here.
And finally out back, we have a new swimstep (larger than the old one) and we have mounted our rowing/sailing dinghy here.  We also have two swim ladders installed under the swimstep that disappear when not in use.  One of them can be deployed with the dinghy in its cradle, making it much quicker to get someone back onboard should they unintentionally fall overboard..  The swimstep is fiberglass and will be maintenance free.  The swimstep mounted dinghy that can be deployed very quickly in an emergency if needed.  The big dinghy up top has been repositioned to free up a lot more open space on the boat deck.

Larger swimstep.  Dinghy quickly deployed in an emergency.
I still have a long list of projects, from watermaker installation, anchor stabilizers built and installed, solar panels, new boat deck railings, a teak TV enclosure, new corian countertops and sinks in the both heads.  I want to move the house battery bank in the engine room, as well as install better engine room lighting and more storage shelves for spare parts.  I also plan to install a new high output alternator on the starboard engine and reconfigure the overall charging system.  Oh, and I'd like to remodel the pilothouse dash to accommodate all of our new electronics and engine gauges.  The projects never end, but, it is a boat after all.

I'll update this again in a few months after more has been done.

Happy Holidays!!!!!!!