Monday, January 17, 2011

Summer Trip Planning - Olympia to Friday Harbor

A friend sent me an Email saying, "Hey want to go to the San Juans the last week of July?" This started me thinking about summer cruising. I took the suggestion to heart and the first thing I did was analyze the currents. I can't start a trip on a Friday - superstition and bad luck you know - or so they say. So the trip would have to start on Saturday, July 23. So I looked at currents for the Tacoma Narrows.

Hmm? There's a 2.5 knot flood at about 9:15 AM. That means I would be fighting the current all the way from about Johnson Point to Kingston. Yes, I know the current always flows N in Colvos but I still wouldn't be getting the "pull" that I want. My average speed instead of 6+ knots would be about 4.5 knots or less. Then the next day to continue the cruise up Admiralty Inlet I would be fighting the current again. Nope, July 23 is not going to work for a trip up the Sound. What about next Saturday, July 30? Or the previous Saturday, July 16? Lets take a peek at the currents...

Wow, what a difference a week makes. For Saturday, July 16, there's a 4+ knot ebb just past 10 AM. And for Saturday, July 30, there's a 3.8 knot ebb at about 9 AM. I'm going to select July 16th because it is about an hour later which will last me longer for the next day when I cruise up Admiralty Inlet (weather permitting). And, if the ebb is that strong I will get one heck of a "downhill" run from both Olympia to Kingston and from Kingston to Point Wilson by Port Townsend. If I time it right I will hit slack at about Smith Island and ride the flood down San Juan Channel right into Friday Harbor. Weee-oooo what a ride. I did the same thing on last year's trip from Kingston to Friday Harbor. Rode a big ebb current up Admiralty Inlet out into the Strait, and then rode a big flood through Cattle Pass, San Juan Channel and right into Friday Harbor. Traveled 53.1 nm in just over 7 hours and averaged 7.4 knots! Here's a log entry from last year, "The ebb pulled us along very nicely, at times we were making 10+ knots, most of the time we were doing over 9+ knots."

Now the crew and others don't always understand this current stuff. How can I present it in a way that they'll understand? I'll analyze the trip from Kingston to Friday Harbor if we did it on Sunday, July 17 versus Sunday, July 24.

I'll point out if we left Kingston Cove Marina at approximately the same time, on Sunday, July 17 we would arrive Friday Harbor at just past 3 PM. That's a respectable time to have a nap, a cocktail and snacks before dinner, and have a relaxing dinner. Whereas if we cruised up a week later we would not arrive Friday Harbor until almost 7 PM, be late for dinner, stressed because of 3 or more hours of cruising, and be tired. The difference between cruising a week later is over a 3.6 hours! Wait, there's more... cruising time equals fuel used and wear and tear. The difference in fuel cost alone would be $32 or more! (2 gph x 3.6 hrs x $4.5o/gal. diesel) So, picking the right time to make a cruise is important in not only time, but cost too. I think this will work to convince the crew.

I will also have to work on convincing them about mid July versus end of July. I will mention the following points:
  • More people and crowds at anchorages and marinas;
  • More daylight (days are longer in July than in August) to do things; and,
  • August is generally known as "fogust" and they hate cruising in the fog.

Hmm? Now I got to think more about, "How far N?" and "What destinations?"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Happy New Year

We've had a lot of rain recently. Although it's not raining at the moment. In the past couple of days we've had more than an inch of rain. Its the 14th of January and monthly rainfall totals are over 3.6 inches. As I walk down the dock I notice the water in the marina looks like coffee with cream. There's small little clumps of foam moving northward at about 1 knot. These bits of foam are left overs from the outfall from the Deschutes River entering the sound about a mile south. I check the lines and notice that the boat is definitely pulling at the mooring lines in the direction of the current. I pull back the boat and re-tie the lines.

I've got a new neighbor - a big behemoth of powerboat. Its an older wooden powerboat. I can tell its wood because of a bunch of little dry rot spots right below the gunnel. The owner is aboard and frantically trying to cover his boat up with a blue tarp. Unfortunately he's taken over the finger pier with containers of junk. Hmm? A autopilot binnacle, some bits of frayed canvas, wiring, and other boating stuff. I move them over to his side of the finger pier so I can easily get on and off my boat. He doesn't notice, or pretends not to notice? I sigh and think another neighbor. I board the MV Independence and notice that I still have a view looking N and NE - good.

Another neighbor from a Grand Banks 32 down the dock knocks and says "hello." I welcome him aboard. He's new to boating. He tells me of an adventure of running out of fuel right in the middle of Rich Passage. Oh my. As he tells me of his adventure I gently tap the wood on the MV Indenpendence hoping that this never happens to me. We compare fuel systems and engines between our boats and then filled with this new information he departs. As he departs and I say "good-bye" my neighbor appears and we go through some introductions. He's Joe and he's tied up next to me because he got evicted from the boat house he was using. My GB32 friend tell's him that I'm the "patriarch of the dock." I simply smile and say, "Yep, I guess. Been here for over 20 years. Welcome." That's the end of the conversation.

I thought I'd now have time to do my weekly reflection but another set of boating neighbors appear. Oooh, they bring me a gift - a bottle of Pyrat rum. I gladly welcome them aboard. I say, "Why the rum?" He replies, "I've left you several times the little brass tag that comes with the bottle of rum on your door handle. So this time I thought I will leave you the bottle." (I got to remember to leave the little brass tag from this bottle on his boat.) I offer to open the rum, but he's quick to offer a shot of Irish whiskey. Wow, gift liquor and more free booze. We fill the little brass ration cups with a tot of whiskey, heft a toast to friends, health, and a good new year. We then spend about an hour talking of retirement, work, music, and exchanging memorable Farside cartoons. After awhile I bid them adieu. My new bottle of Pyrat rum does not fit within in my liquor locker. Hmm?

I do have a few moments of reflection and wonder how fate arranges some days that are filled with neighbors and conversation while other days are quiet. Not sure how that happens. I run through a few routine checks on the boat. I notice the following:

  • The pole holder I had mounted had become "dismounted" and was now laying on the deck.
  • The line that holds my radar reflector had parted.
  • There's quite a mess of digested mussel shell bits all over my deck. What a mess.
  • There's quite a bit of water in the bilge and it needs pumping. I don't notice any leaks and hope it is from the rain.
  • I need to empty my "fuel filter drip container."

I made sure to update the log since I had come down a couple of times previously and started the boat to ensure everything is "ok." The engine started fine each and every time, even once when it was quite cold out.

Oh, as I leave I notice my neighbor had repositioned the two containers of junk once again to interfere with my side of the finger pier. I contemplated sending them to Davey Jones locker, but the joviality of the evening keeps me from being so cruel. I merely reposition them back to his side of the finger pier. I'm sure when I return again later I will find something else.

Stats: running time (idling in place in gear) ~60 minutes, ending engine hours 6078.5.