Saturday, May 31, 2014
First day on the boat with guests. A family of 10 had chartered the boat I was driving. We have a young captain who generally drives one of our other boats that needed to get some time on this boat. The naturalist was a young lady who I've worked with a lot. I did some crew training before the guests arrived. Oh, and with charters, they are usually not on time... today was no different.
Having lived by an appointment book most of my adult life, I have to let it go when the guests aren't on time... as long as they have chartered the boat, they are paying for the time. Everyone seemed nice as we boarded them (20 minutes after our scheduled departure time); I did a friendly safety and orientation talk and we shoved off.
There was a good whale report when I came into work: J-Pod has come back into the area. Last time they did that, a couple weeks ago, they were only here for a day. There have been some transient Orcas to fill the void. I was delighted that they decided to come back in on my first day!
We had to run almost an hour to get to the leaders in the group. Reports were coming in that put whales along a 10 mile stretch, in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass. I decided to take us north to intercept the leaders, hoping that the timing would work to be able to see the others, as well, as they moved north. Having a fast boat gives us options.
Since we left the harbor a half hour after most of the other boats, I was delighted to find that we were able to position ourselves in line with the leaders (the Orca leaders); there were about 8 other boats on the scene. As we got close, we saw a sailboat run right up on them - a very big NO-NO...
We were able to identify the whales we were seeing as member of J-Pod... and a couple from L-Pod!
The boat above is our other Friday Harbor boat. You can see that they have a much bigger crowd aboard. We saw some familiar faces... um, dorsal fins... Onyx, Big Mike, and Blackberry stood out in the crowd. Training another captain, I didn't have a lot of time to take photos.
One beautiful, fully out of the water breach - of course, I didn't have my camera out, as I was positioning the boat. It was a great viewing!
Coming back, I took the scenic route: through John's Pass and around the Cactus Islands; the guests were able to see some seals, hauled out on the rocks and playing in the water, and bald eagles. Once around O'Neil Island for a pair of eagles in flight, then back to Friday Harbor... a wonderful way to start my season.
I brought the boat to the slip, thanked our guests, helped them off, then took off again to allow the other captain some helm time bringing the boat in.
Bringing the boat to our dock is an interesting situation: between the Washington State Ferry and the Victoria Clipper... past our slip, then a 270º turn to position the boat where we can back in. After watching me do it, I talked the other captain through several "touch and goes"... then took the helm back for an end to our day on the water.
I couldn't wait to get back to our boat to tell Joan about my day. Adding to the delight: she has a pasta dinner on the stove. This is a very good day!
Joan worked around our boat again today (she doesn't start until next week). Some folks think living on the boat is austere. The space is compact, but we have the amenities we need. While shopping today, Joan picked up some flowers...
The plastic "vase" attaches to one of our rear cabin windows - no issue with it tipping over if the boat rocks. ;-) We got this idea from our friends, Roger and Janet, seeing it onboard their C-Dory TomCat. It's a nice homey touch.
We have the next few days off. Tomorrow, I am planning to ride along on a trip - friends of ours from home are visiting the area, and tomorrow is their day at Friday Harbor. They were wanting to be on a boat I was driving, but this is better for me - I'll actually get to spend some time with them.
Tonight, we are dining in the cockpit, with the cabin door open... able to watch TV through that open door.
Yeah, all the amenities. :-)
Friday, May 30, 2014
Crew training on the smaller boat today - 3 people overboard, an incapacitated captain, and two fires onboard... yep, that qualifies as a pretty bad day. The idea is for none of this to happen, but we have to be prepared. The training went well.
More boat cleaning - top to bottom. The owner let me do it. I say, "let," because the deep cleaning is usually done by first mates. This boat was grubby, with a capital GRUB. I started the day out cleaning, took a break for crew training, some maintenance, ran the boat some more, then spent most of the afternoon cleaning. You could eat off of that boat right now. You're probably thinking: "Sure, Jim, I bet it's 'guy clean'." No, this is anybody clean.
It was an absolutely beautiful day in the San Juans - clear blue sky and temps warm enough that I was a sweat-ball, wearing a turtleneck.
Joan finished up rebedding the hatch on our boat. She did laundry. She topped off our fresh water tank. She grocery shopped... at both stores here. Cleaned and vacuumed our boat. And, she rode along with me on this afternoon's shakedown. What a champ.
Little Izzy was in charge of being cute and looking out the window. In between naps. Again.
So, while you were hard at work on the whale watch boat, was Joan lounging around, taking it easy?
If you were thinking that, you don't know Joan... when I can get her to relax, she is still thinking about whatever chores need to be done. No, while I was messing with a boat at work, she was hard at it on our boat. She took on a task solo that we talked about doing together: the caulking around the large hatch in our cockpit was showing its age. She dug out where necessary, cleaned up all around with acetone, and started rebedding with 4200...
That's what I came home to yesterday. To say I was impressed is an understatment... no, not that she went after the work - the fact that she didn't have a bit of 4200 anywhere except where it belongs. If I work with 4200 or 5200, I am going to have it in my hair, on my pants, under my pants (seriously, how does that happen??), and on every surface in a 10 foot radius. (Boat people will relate.) She was clean... the work area was clean. I am impressed.
A beautiful start to the day today: clear blue sky, abundant sunshine. I have some crew training, safety drills, and boat cleaning on my agenda for the day. Joan will be finishing up her work on Wild Blue. Izzy will probably be napping. Cats have it made. ;-)
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Our other boat went out with a good passenger load today. The boat I usually drive hasn't been driven since the Coast Guard inspection in March... she was looking a bit grubby. I'll do some deep cleaning on her tomorrow - today was about going through all the systems on the boat and giving her a shake-down on the water.
Off to work...
I didn't have to wear the company clothes today, since I would be crawling all over the boat, slithering around the engine compartment, checking the bilges, and running her with no passengers.
At the dock...
It took me a couple hours to check through all our safety equipment and go through the engine. I fired her up - she immediately roared to life. It's a Cat diesel, and it does have a bit of a roar. When it was time to shove off from the dock, I had a familiar first mate: the Blonde. Her job is in the office, but she doesn't start there until next week... I know she knows the boat and we can work together.
I listened to other boats in the fleet, on their way to a whale sighting. I was told to run the boat as long as I wanted, and shake it down thoroughly. I considered running to the whales, but decided to find some lumpy water (yes, intentionally) to make sure nothing gets stirred up in the fuel tanks when we have guests onboard.
The first mate brought lunch for us, so we were able to dine at the helm while running. She started the trip sitting beside the helm seat...
Yes, jackets - it gets brisk in the wind at this helm. There is a windshield on the front, but in a crosswind, you can feel the chill. Before long, she stood to get a better view...
The view forward...
And, looking off the stern, from the helm...
The now required selfie...
Captain Jim at the helm...
I checked out all the electronics onboard, then had Joan take the helm while I went down to check the engine and bilges... all looking good. Who's driving the boat?
Back to the dock, I gave Joan a quick refresher course on docking procedures on this boat. She stepped off the boat with the stern line in hand, and we tied off. My Honey left, and I spent an hour or so scrubbing the deck... getting the surface grub off. Tomorrow, the boat will get a good deep cleaning.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
A calm start to the morning...
The water looks like glass. We went to the operations center and officially checked in this morning. Yep. Gainfully employed... for the summer. Remember when you were a kid and you had to get a summer job? I don't feel like a kid, but...
We stopped at West Marine and Ace Hardware on the way back to the boat. It's a small West Marine, but the Ace Hardware is amazing - they have a little bit of everything. We were looking for some seam sealer and waterproofing for our cockpit canvas... West Marine didn't have it, but Ace did. And, the young lady at the front check-out knew right where it was.
A stop in at the canvas shop here at the marina - two pieces out, one more in. We are having them put a new long strip of Velcro on one piece - helps to keep the cockpit weather-tight.
While Joan put some waterproofing on the Sunbrella, I took a walk down to the commercial docks where our boats are located. Met with some staff I knew and some I didn't. I took a few minutes to look around the boat I usually drive. She hasn't been out yet this season; I will be going over her the next couple days. The owner said to, "Take it for a good ride - around the island, up to Stuart - make sure everything is in good shape." I'll take Joan with me as first mate when I'm ready to run the boat, in a day or two.
During our discussion with the owner, he mentioned something about us being able to have fun with our "two days off each week."
"Huh-uh! That's three days off each week, remember?"
We'll continue to remind him. ;-)
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
You really shouldn't go without for a long period of time.
Today was more "settling in," but my top of the to-do list was getting the scooters out. We made a trip out to the company's operation center to touch base. Then, grocery shopping; it will be nice to cook in for a change.
We took a couple pieces of our canvas to the local canvas shop for some re-stitching. Lunch at a small taco place, where we saw Colleen, our friend and the former owner of the company where we are working. It was really nice to catch up.
And then, finally, off to the storage area to get the scoots out of the cargo trailer. It seems like it has been a very long time since we've been able to ride... and I have been reminded of that every time we move the trailer.
Of course, the beautiful sunny day the weather weasels promised turned out to be mostly cloudy and cooler than forecast. Didn't matter, we were ready for some scootin'. San Juan Island is all two-lane roads, with a highest speed limit of 45 mph... anything bigger than these scoots here is overkill. The road winds through the interior hills and valleys, with everything a lush green. Crossing one valley, there were 4 eagles soaring overhead; other places where you could see protected coves and open water through the trees. Past an alpaca ranchette, a lavender farm, and a winery... it really is a beautiful island.
With no destination in mind, we drove west. We rode through Roche Harbor, a resort area on the other side of the island from where we are staying. One of the boats I drive is based out of Roche. The scooter is going to be great here - there is close in motorcycle/scooter/bicycle parking; I have to park the truck a long walk away. A couple views at Roche Harbor...
Yep, we're wearing jackets. The air was cool and crisp, temp in the upper 50s to low 60s - a bit cooler than we're used to. The forecast I saw last night for today said sunny, 0% chance of precip. Checking weather this morning, that went to: mix of sun and clouds, 20% chance of precip. With a 1 in 5 chance, we did manage to find a few raindrops on our ride.
A great curvy road back to Friday Harbor. We topped off the fuel tanks before putting the scoots away... no way to check miles per gallon, since I did put a little bit of gas in them from the gas can for the dinghy before we left home. Back to the marina, where there is dedicated motorcycle/scooter parking...
That will be nice. While I would rather park the scoots in the trailer, the management won't let us have the cargo trailer in the permit parking. On the bright side, we shouldn't have a concern about all the parking spots being full with the scoots. We are really looking forward to a fun experience with the scooters this summer!
Monday, May 26, 2014
When you are living in a marina, you spend some time dock walkin'. No, not looking at other boats, just going to and from.
The weather weasels were predicting rain all day today. We had a big day planned: laundry and a trip to the "other" store. While doing laundry, we ran into our Wyoming friends, Jay and Jo-Lee...
You can tell by the shadows that the weather weasels missed the call again - sunny and lovely out.
The laundromat offers plenty of social interaction. ;-) We visited long after the clothes were done. When we parted company, Joan and I took clothes back to the boat, then decided it was past lunch time. Since we were planning to take the truck to the grocery store, we decided to eat at Tia's Tacos for lunch. It was a good plan, but Tia didn't get the memo - they weren't open. New plan: the Deli. No place to park. New plan: Hungry Clam (our breakfast place)... a place to park right in front and a good bacon cheeseburger for me and a rubin for Joan. Then, off to the store. Apparently, the grocery store and Tia's planned their day off together - they were closed, too.
Then, an e-mail from the boss: "Can you start a bit early and get a boat ready for the weekend? Oh, and take a trip on Saturday?" It's only a couple days early - sure.
Back to the boat. Little Izzy was sitting in the window, looking particularly content...
"Isabella, do you want to go for a walk?"
"Umm... not really."
"It's quiet on the docks - this is a good time."
"Do I have a choice?"
So, here we are, walking the dock...
"Oh, that water looks cold"...
"Seriously. That water looks really cold. You know there's stuff that lives in that cold water, right?"
Just a short walk - "We're back"...
Notice the diffused shadows - yep, overcast again. I shouldn't say it, but no precip. Still, a very nice day. :-)
Sunday, May 25, 2014
The weather weasels were originally calling for rain all weekend. Yesterday was gorgeous... well, a bit cool for this southern boy, but it was mostly sunny - no rain. We still needed jackets when out and about. Today started out overcast. We went out for a late lunch and got rained on walking back to the boat. 70% chance of precip tomorrow, too. The rainy weather doesn't help those in the tourism businesses on a holiday weekend.
But, on Tuesday, we are supposed to get a whole day of sunshine! Yes, one in a row! I'm planning to do some scooting!
In the meantime, we swapped some stuff around and are pretty well settled in with the boat. I may try to get a short nap in yet this afternoon.
Yeah, that's my idea of what to do on a rainy day. ;-)
Saturday, May 24, 2014
I know you're thinking, "Must be Jim." Funny. Real funny.
You may have heard me in the past, singing the praises of the Smart Plug. It is the attachment on the boat where you connect your 30 amp electric cable. Definitely an improvement from the old fashioned 3 prong twist connector.
Well, this morning, we were watching satellite TV, had the water heater on, and Joan plugged in her electric curlers. A short time later, the power went out. Not the click of a GFCI socket or the snap of a breaker popping. First thing I did was check the GFCI - it wouldn't reset. I went out to the electric pedestal on the dock... nothing popped there. I tried plugging into a different pedestal... no juice to the boat. Turning on the main breaker on the boat, we were getting power, but nothing was being distributed within the boat. I was getting a "reversed polarity" light. I checked the wiring at the electrical busses and didn't see anything out of place. We determined it must be the GFCI socket; we drove up to the home supply place here and bought a new one.
Fixing anything like this is just like replacing the wall sockets in your house... except standing on your head. Stuff like this in a boat is never in a convenient place. It took some grunting and swearing, but I replaced the GFCI... still no power. I decided I better get someone involved who knows more about this stuff than I do. I called Friday Harbor Marine; the owner answered and said, "I'm at the marina - I'll be right over."
Unlike most service situations, he was actually here in a few minutes. We talked about what I had done, and he asked, "Did you check your power cable?"
"No, I got a Smart Plug from you guys last year - I thought they were bullet-proof."
He put a meter on the Smart Plug end and wasn't getting continuity on the neutral. He wiggled the probe around a bit... and got a decent reading. "Nope, this looks OK." I plugged the cord back in, and we had power!
"Bingo - it is something to do with the power cable!" He opened up the Smart Plug and we were both surprised to see that it was fried. It looked like it had arced from the neutral to the ground. He said, "Well, I've never seen this before."
My first thought was: "This will be an easy resolution." My second thought was, "These Smart Plugs aren't cheap, and they are supposed to be the ultimate plug-in solution." He went back to the shop to get another Smart Plug. While he was gone, I took apart the Smart connection at the boat to make sure the wiring there was OK... yep, all was fine. The arcing was limited to the plug...
With a new plug installed, power was restored!
We were supposed to meet our friends George and Carolyn at 11:30 for lunch. We had to push that back to 12:30 while waiting for Mike to come back from the shop with the plug. It was 12:45 before we were done. I apologized to George and Carolyn for the delay, but they understood our situation.
Lunch was good, with a nice view of the ferry docks and harbor, and fun conversation. Joan and Carolyn did a little shopping while George and I trailed along and traded stories.
Back to the boat, we checked the power - all is good.
Little Izzy has comfortably settled in...
Those "tucked front legs" on that lower shot are a giveway that she is content.
Joan and I still have a bit more shuffling of stuff to finish our move-in.
Friday, May 23, 2014
We had a late lunch yesterday at the Chinese place; breakfast this morning at the Hungry Clam... that's everything I wanted to do in Friday Harbor. Let's go!
Quite a change from the same area yesterday.
A rainy day today when we walked to the Hungry Clam. Well, the weather weasels on the Seattle TV stations have many different terms for it... rain, showers, mist, etc. Coming from the Tropical Trip, it's all RAIN to me. And they're predicting more of the same for the next 7 days.
We left Friday Harbor on the 11:15 ferry!
Views from the ferry on the way to "America"...
No, we're not leaving for good - we just have to go back to get the truck and trailer (scoots). Foggy and rainy going back. We were hoping to grab a cab, get the truck, and get back for the next ferry in two hours. I am so silly - it is the Friday of a holiday weekend... EVERYBODY is going to the San Juan Islands. After collecting our $264 for the truck and trailer (same price as if we were a semi), the nice lady in the booth told us we wouldn't be on the next ferry... we will be on the next ferry after the next ferry...and an additional 2 hour wait. Bumper to bumper with cars full of Griswald families, screaming kids, barking dogs, and people saying, "What was that announcement?"
On the bright side: "Look - it's a sun break!"
On the not so bright side, there is a Suburu next to us full of theater majors singing show tunes. Badly. A family with whiny kids walked by: "Why do we have to wait for the ferry?? I'm bored!" The mother responded with, "We're going to the beach! It'll be fun." A beach in the San Juans - these people have never been to South Padre Island. ;-)
Just before we were able to get on the ferry, the sun came out... blue sky! Views from the ferry going the other way, in sunshine...
The ferry was packed, both cars and walk-ons...
No place for us to park in the permit parking at the marina. Of course. A holiday weekend... I shoulda left the truck until next week.
(Edited to add photos)
Thursday, May 22, 2014
We weren't on a schedule this morning; breakfast, then we checked out of the inn. There was one more full dock cart worth of stuff that came out of the room we have been in the past 6 days.
The cockpit before...
Joan was ready to start organizing...
The cockpit after...
Wild Blue, loaded and ready to head out...
Mother Nature granted us a gorgeous day for the trip to Friday Harbor; we're supposed to get some rain by Friday and lasting for 4 or 5 days... but today - beautiful!
Rosario Strait was as calm as I've ever seen it... Izzy came out of the v-berth for a while to check things out...
Of course, on any trip from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, you are likely to encounter a Washington State Ferry or two...
We checked all the electronics and ran the engine at different speeds along the way...
I got that feeling of anticipation as we neared Friday Harbor...
We entered the harbor; as we made our way into the marina, Joan went out on deck to get lines and fenders ready. Then, into our slip...
Welcome to Friday Harbor!
We plugged into power, put on some water, fed Izzy, and headed towards town for lunch. Part way up the dock, we ran into our Wyoming friends, Jay and Jo-Lee... and visited for the better part of an hour. After lunch, we swung by the waterfront to see the little place that will be the office this summer...
It is the yellow one in the middle. There was no one in the office, so we have no idea how it will be used or whether Joan will be there or at the office at the shop a couple miles inland. We have a week before we have to check in, so we'll find out in due time.
On our way back to the boat, we ran into another C-Dory friend, George (from Canada)... and more visiting. We weren't able to get to Friday Harbor for the gathering they had last weekend, so it was nice to catch up with friends.
Back at the boat, we went to work on the satellite TV set up. Our receiver and cube are different from last year. We are going to try a different placement for the cube (on top of the boat) to keep from losing the signal when people stand in front of the cube, trying to figure out what it is. Joan hung the receiver (keeps it from banging around as the boat moves)...
We strapped the new cube (a Tailgater, but the same premise as the previous VuQube) on to a platform I made for the dinghy seat...
Two concerns with that up there: keeping it there when the wind blows, and: will it hold the signal as we move around the boat? Well, the first concern was: can it even get a signal? This is a newer generation receiver and cube, capable of multiple satellites and HD signal... I didn't know if it would be more susceptible to movement.
Low and behold, it works! We have satellite TV in the boat again. We had to go to the new receiver because the company that provided us with east and west coast feeds of the networks via satellite shut down. Dish offers "local networks," depending on your location. We are able to get the local channels out of Seattle via Dish. We both miss our east/west coast feeds... we could watch the Tonight Show at 8:30 here via the east coast feed - that's a goner. But, we are happy to have the 4 major networks.
When we are cruising with the boat, TV isn't a big deal. But, when you are in one place for most of the season, it is nice to make the boat as "home-like" as possible. And, this is home for the summer.