RUDDER FIXED

It’s been a full-on sort of day and I feel tired at the end of it – but importantly ‘we got the job done’.  The rudder is good.

Bushing fresh from Machine Shop
Bushing fresh from Machine Shop

At midday Truce was lifted out the water and half an hour later I had the rudder unshipped and hung off.  The bottom bushing was worn and causing the play in the rudder.  Thankfully everything was intact and no damage or wear on the metal parts at all.  I decided to have a new bush machined up and installed.  By four thirty in the afternoon the new bushing had arrived from the machine shop and was fitted.  Shortly after the rudder was back in place.  The bushing is tight and the rudder hard to turn – I expect as the miles go by it will free up a bit.

Rudder Unshipped and Hung Off
Rudder Unshipped and Hung Off

By five in the afternoon I was back in the water and tied up alongside the dock.  I really admire the can-do attitude of the American guys when it comes to engineering solutions.  I had the same experience in Wrangell last year when the shaft strut was cracked.  Within a few hours, a great engineered solution found and executed.  Thank you, Toledo boatyard, especially Asia and Ted for a great job.

In the early evening I took a walk into town.  Toledo is quite a small place, it looks like everybody knows everybody.  Tuesday evening and not much going on.  The main street is an attractive historic place that would be good to visit in warmer weather.

City Hall Toledo. Photo Ray Penson jpg
City Hall Toledo. Photo Ray Penson jpg

This evening I will have a good feed on board and get some rest ready for tomorrow.  In the morning I will take the tide down the Yaquina River to Newport and hopefully be able to head out over the Bar towards San Francisco.  I have a special date in San Francisco so need to get moving south.

Main Street Toledo. Photo Ray Penson jpg
Main Street Toledo. Photo Ray Penson jpg

LINGERING IN WRANGELL

This morning I decided to stay a couple of extra days in Wrangell.  It’s a friendly little place so it’s no chore to linger a while longer.  I also want to get a couple of stainless bits made up for the boat for an autopilot modification I want to try out.  The handy engineer guy here is very good, I don’t expect to get better elsewhere so it makes sense to get the job done here.

Wrangell Harbour at low water. Photo Ray Penson
Wrangell Harbour at low water. Photo Ray Penson

Today in have been trying my hand at fairing in the shaft strut using epoxy filler.  I am not the most skilful in this sector, the result so far looks very amateurish.  I am hoping that by tomorrow the filler will have set rock hard to allow me to sand it into a fairer hydrodynamic shape.

This afternoon I managed to get some fresh lemon from a lady selling organic produce.  Part of it is now floating around in a rum and coke – got to get vitamins somehow.

I went for a walk around town, literally around the outside of the town.  People kept stopping their trucks asking if I wanted a lift.  I have noticed that people don’t tend to walk to places in Alaska.  Some of the houses here have well-kept gardens, you don’t see much of that in Alaska, at least not the parts I have been to.

I am scheduling to launch Truce back into the water on Wednesday morning.  The plan is then to resume the voyage southward down the inside passage and stop off at Anan Creak to see bears catching and feeding on Salmon.  One of the guys here told me there are so many salmon running up the stream that both Brown and Black bears come to fish at the same place.

Anan Bears here I come.

PETROGLYPH HUNTING

I had an easy day today and went exploring.  It was pretty quiet, its Sunday after all.  There are a lot of churches here, ten in total I think.
This morning I had planned to stock up on some provisions and fresh food.  However, the grocery stores are shut on Sunday in Wrangell.  Never mind I will do it tomorrow.

Petroglyph Beach Wrangell
Petroglyph Beach Wrangell
In the afternoon I walked to a place called Petroglyph Beach.  Where I found Petroglyphs on the beach, surprise!  At first I couldn’t see any but after seeing the first one others became apparent.  Some, or perhaps most of the better ones have been removed by treasure hunters.

Most of the petroglyphs on the beach are quite eroded by the tidal action of the sea.  It seems no one really knows who carved the shapes in the stones or why they did it.  Some are thought to date back as far as 10,000 years ago.  It must have been quite an effort to carve shapes into stone without proper tools.  The question is why are Petroglyph’s found all around the world with similar designs and patterns.

Tonight I will retire to Rayme’s bar.  There is a big game on at Wriggley field, Cubs vs Mariners.  One of the locals was impressed that I knew about Wriggley field.  I didn’t tell him the knowledge was gained from watching the film Blues Brothers.

TRUCE ANTIFOUL COMPLETE

Another early start and full day in the shipyard.  The body was a bit stiff this morning and it took a while to up to full speed.   Wonderful weather for painting, nice cloud cover, not too hot and no rain.  By four this afternoon the antifouling was complete, just the patches to touch up when she comes off the blocks.

Truce antifouled and ready for the waterI also fitted a new seawater inlet pipe, a coastguard approved thing with a wire core.  It was a bastard to get fitted, I had to curse loudly and get really angry before it would bend to shape.  I hope I don’t have to take it off in a hurry.

The stern gland has been dripping a bit too frequently so I replaced the flax packing this morning.  A simple job but the stern gland is a bit tricky to access.  Next time it needs doing I will look out for a midget or contortionist to assist.

After such good progress today I don’t have much work to do tomorrow.  Wrangell is a nice little place and I will do the tourist thing.  Now I am off for a shower and a beer or two

TRUCE, HAULED OUT

The rain woke me up at five this morning, it was pouring cats and dogs.  So funny there is a water shortage in Wrangell.

I took Truce around to the travel lift and got hauled out.  The hull fouling was pretty surprising, lots of crustaceans stuck limpet style to the hull.  Apparently the spat for these creatures is released in late June and they go crazy, clinging and invading anything in the water.  I pressure washed for an hour and got most of the critters off.  Then it was onto the stand and out with the scrapper to finish off.

Truce on the hard in Wrangell
Truce on the hard in Wrangell

I was interested to check the stern gear as I suspected the stern bearing was worn.  Sometimes in cross currents and tide rips there is a knocking noise.  On inspection the bearing looked fine, no play and shaft turning easily.  I had earlier checked the engine mounts and they were OK.  What could it be?  As I was cleaning paint off the shaft strut I noticed some pitting.

Fouling on Hull
Fouling on Hull

Further cleaning and a close look revealed what looked like a crack in the strut.  The application of a bit of brute force showed the strut was flexing at the crack.  This explains the occasional knocking and is now a big problem looking for a solution.    The strut is a bronze casting, not easy to fix. Like Kay in Men in Black I will have to eat pie and wait for a solution to appear.  I suppose I should be thankful I found it now.

Crack on prop strut
Crack on prop strut

After nine days of no sun – sunshine.  For a couple of hours at midday we had bright sunshine, everything dried up and it was warm.  Beautiful.  By six in the evening we are back to overcast and drizzle.  The forecast for the weekend is optimistic, good news for me doing antifouling.  I can’t find pie in Wrangell so will try and get a strut fix inspiration for a strut fix from beer at Rayme’s bar.

MAINTAINANCE DAY IN WRANGELL

Last night I sampled the night life of Wrangell. Friendly people and extreme casual dress code.  I was intent on Pizza but the topping options were too difficult so I opted for Halibut and chips instead, a good choice.

This morning the newscaster on the local radio forecast a ninety percent of rain.  A pretty sure bet really and its rained on and off all day.  Not a glimpse of sun today, its now nine days since I have seen the sun. The weather systems are just not moving at the moment, low over the Gulf of Alaska is just stuck.

Today I caught up with some maintenance, changed the oil and fuel filters on the engine and refilled Yanmar with fresh oil.  I had to bleed the fuel system on the engine after changing the filter, something I don’t like doing, the bleed screws are so delicate and easy to break.

Tomorrow Truce will be lifted onto the hard for a wash down and antifoul.  The travel lift was broken but the guys fixed it today.  We are all ready, this afternoon I hired a pressure washer for the wash down.  After a week of rain, I need a break in the weather for the antifouling painting.

The Bear Fest starts in Wrangell today.   I went into town to see what was happening – nothing.  Maybe this evening there will be some action.  They have a chef flying up from Seattle to demonstrate how to cook salmon.  I hope it’s not another version of the deep fat fryer that everything seems to be subjected to in Alaska.

SPECTACULAR WRANGELL NARROWS

A four thirty start this morning to transit Wrangell Narrows.  As I cast off from Petersburg it was wet, raining, overcast and misty.  The morning has a nice feel to it, very tranquil and the smell of wood smoke from fires on the shore carried across the water.  The rain, mist and cloud lasted all day.  Petersburg is a noisy place, the fish processing works make a din and there are boats coming and going at all hours.

Fishing Lodge on Wrangell Narrows
Fishing Lodge on Wrangell Narrows

Shortly after setting off and going down the channel I noticed that there was very little cooling water coming out of Yanmars back end.  The engine was getting hot and I needed to stop and find the problem.  I quickly ducked out the channel, found a spot to anchor and shut down the engine.  When I opened the seawater strainer and found some weed inside – but not enough to stop the cooling water flowing.  Oh no I thought, I need to change the pump impeller, not a major job but it would take long enough for me to miss the tide.  Time to put the kettle on, have a cup of tea and keep calm.

Visit by a Hummingbird
Visit by a Hummingbird

I then had another look and pushed my finger down the inlet pipe from the sea valve.  It was blocked solid with rubbery weed.  The impeller was OK!  I was unable to hook the weed out from the top so removed the pipe from the seacock (having a wooden bung handy just in case).  The weed still didn’t want to come out, I needed a wire coat hanger, a wonderful versatile tool.  Well, no wire coat hangers on board so I improvised with a variety of kitchen utensils and removed the weed.  Thirty-eight minutes later we were under way again and Mr. Yanmar running happy and cool.

Wrangell Narrows is a spectacular waterway.  This morning the rain and low cloud reduced visibility so I could only see the banks either side.  There is a road leading down the east side from Petersburg and good looking houses are dotted along the shoreline.  I would love to do this transit on a clear sunny day, the scenery must be spectacular with the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop.

Downtown Wrangell during a non rain moment
Downtown Wrangell during a non rain moment

By nine I had popped out the southern end of Wrangell Narrows into Sumner Strait.  I tried sailing but squalls and wind shifts made life difficult and I was actually going backwards at one stage.  The wind eventually shifted to ahead as usual, only about ten knots so I motored.  I had intended to anchor overnight and arrive in Wrangell on Wednesday.  But on account of the miserable weather I decided to push on to Wrangell direct.  Might as well be in the pub if it’s raining.

By four in the afternoon I was tied up in Wrangell and checking in with Boarder Protection.  The harbourmaster advised me not to wash down the boat as there is a water shortage in town!  Well the reservoirs are full but the water processing plant struggles to keep up with the demands of the fish plants.

I have just had a shower and am fit for human company again.  Next on the agenda is the Marine Bar and a pizza.  Status quo, still raining and no sun today.  Total voyage distance 223.5 miles.

ARRIVED PETERSBURG

My third night at Portage Bay was peaceful, the wind died down late last night and I was able to get a good night’s sleep.  The sun tried to break through the clouds today but didn’t succeed.  I could detect a bit of warmth and my solar panel registered a one-amp charge briefly.  It’s no wonder the population of Alaska is so small, I mean who wants to live in a place where the sun doesn’t shine for a whole week in summer.

Petersburg, Alaska
Petersburg, Alaska

I sailed out of Portage Bay on the last of the ebb tide.  On the east shore, by a disused logging camp I saw a Black Bear.  This is the second time I have seen bears around disused buildings, maybe there is some attraction for them once the humans have departed.  I suppose a disused hut may be a decent substitute for a cave in winter.

In Frederick Sound I saw icebergs again and some more Orca’s, what magnificent creatures they are.  There was plenty of boat traffic towards Petersburg, fishing boats, recreational fishers, ferries and tour excursion boats.  In Petersburg I refuelled, the current alongside the fuel dock is wicked, Truce is now topped up for the next part of the voyage.

Tomorrow I will head down Wrangell Narrows, it’s a twenty-mile channel and quite narrow in places.  Interestingly the tide meets in the middle, the trick is to use the last of the flood to the midpoint and then ride the ebb down the other side.  After Wrangell narrows I will be heading over the Wrangell town.

Truce is booked to be lifted out the water in Wrangell on Thursday.  The hull is dirty and needs cleaning and a new coating of antifouling paint.  Hopefully when complete she will have her speed back and won’t be using so much diesel pushing an undersea garden through the water.  The growth on the hull has built up very quickly since visiting Glacier Bay, maybe there is something in the water causing rapid growth.  Total voyage distance 182.2 miles.
Image credit:setsaildotcom

GOODBYE STEPHENS PASSAGE

Entrance Island proved to be a perfectly protected little cove, no wind or sea came in, I had a relaxing night and a chat with my neighbours from the American yacht.  This morning I sailed at four to catch the tide down the remainder of Stephens Passage and into Frederick Sound.  There was a small craft advisory issued for south easterly winds, yes on the nose.  I figured that if I got away early I could get to Portage Bay before the wind got too bad in the afternoon.

The day started out overcast and grey with rain and cold.  I am back in thermals again and have had my oilskins on all day.  The weather stayed the same, just got more wind thrown in.  I made good time down Stevens Passage and hit the wind coming towards me in Frederick Sound.  A long tack down to the south side of the sound helped gain some ground, but progress towards my destination was slow and wet.  Eventually the tide picked up and I was able to make the entrance to Portage Bay just after noon.

I saw the Humpback Whales again and more Orca’s.  The Humpbacks were supposed to have been hunted to near extinction but now they seem to be everywhere, incredible.

The anchorage at Portage Bay is open to the south between the hills and a good breeze is coming through whipping up the waves.  Happily, the bottom is mud and I don’t have to listen to the anchor chain rumbling across the rocks.  All is well on board, the fire is burning, it’s nice and warm and snug in the cabin.

My next destinations are Petersburg and Wrangell.  I am looking forward to getting ashore to do the tourist thing.  The forecast is for the same wind again tomorrow, on the nose 25 knots.  If that’s the case I may have a day off.  Total voyage distance 157.7 miles.