It is two years this week since we bought Roxia in Mackay Australia. The last three months have been the final leg of the journey to return to our home base of Washington State. The major projects will begin but first let’s recap the final stage.
This stage was the stage of the visitor. For three months we had guests on board nearly every day. Who was the best guest? That question will never be answered unless we are talking to you then of course you were our favorite. Here is a glimpse of our trip: All the great photos are credited to Emmy Baker.
As we finished our provisioning for Alaska (now underway) I started checking up on friends via Marine Traffic. This is a great app to follow people and their boats. I looked at vessels I track and there was one I didn’t recognize. The James Stirling. It is a 36m by 8m Inland Passenger Ship. I didn’t remember adding that so I clicked on the vessel. To my surprise it was Roxia! Wait, What!? There were four pictures of Roxia and three pictures of a large steel passenger ship. It had my MMSI and Call Sign. Looking in more detail it said the name was reported by AIS as Roxia and the vessel type was Recreational Craft. I was not able to change it or remove the pictures.
I have spent the last two weeks trying to correct the information with Marine Traffic. It is partially fixed. You can now search “Roxia” or “James Stirling” and get to us. We still show as an Inland Passenger vessel so our icon is blue instead of purple/pink. If you are using real AIS via VHF and are nearby we show up correctly.
How weird is all of this? Should I expect more room or higher maintenance with my new vessel?
There are many places when cruising where it is difficult to take the dogs ashore. Our spoiled dogs need a place that is “just so” to do their business. We have tried the small potty patch and it worked for a short time with our 9# dog but the 80# dog just wasn’t doing it. I decided to try again.
This time I bought a 4′ by 14′ foot section of turf from Costco. I cut it in half and laid it out on the swim platform. If we left it out without washing it off I can only image the smell of stale dog pee. I NEED a raw water wash down for the pad. I purchased a Marco wash down pump package. I have used the Marco pumps for years and really like these gear drive variable pumps. They make transfer pumps, domestic water pumps and this one came as a kit with hose and spray nozzle.I had a spare shutoff valve in my sea chest so the only difficulty was running the hose through the lazerette into the bustle. I was fortunate enough that Roxia was prewired for a cord retrieval. On the panel was an extra breaker labeled for the cord so I knew it must be in the bustle because that’s where I have seen cords on the N62. Success! 24 volts and appropriately sized wire. How lucky was that. I used my Weld Mount kit to epoxy four 8-32 studs inside the bustle. This kit is great to have so you never have to drill holes. I have 8-32, 10-32 and -20 studs plus other tie downs for various wire ties and straps.
The last item was to install a bulkhead fitting for the water hose attachment. Somewhere in my parts supply I found a flush fitting that I have had for 10 years. After install I found a small leak so I can’t leave the pump powered up. The pressure switch makes the pump cycle a bit. It will work for now but I think I will replace with a quarter turn valve.
Both dogs used the pad while we were anchored and I just washed everything down and leave the turf rolled up when not needed.
Because of a generous loan from Kevin and Alison Jeffries I was able to test the Torqeedo 1003 electric outboard motor. I have an inexpensive 7.5′ roll up inflatable boat that I used as a test boat. What I found was a little surprising to me.
I did not expect “Mr. T” to have as much power as it did. I ran it fast and slow for about 30 minutes and put it through it’s paces. I docked it and approached the boat and swim platform to simulate being on the hook.
The Pros: Powerful, quiet and simple are the selling points but you never know. It is definitely true. The motor is easy to put on the transom of the dinghy because it is so light with the battery off. You can easily hold it in place with one hand and tighten the clamps with the other. It looks like the handles can be lined up and locked like most small outboards. The battery slips easily in place and locks with a special pin. I think if I was leaving the boat on shore I might run a bicycle cable through the battery handle and lock it to the boat as a precaution. The motor tilts easily like a normal outboard and locks in place so you can drag the boat up the beach. I didn’t see the lock down on the other side until after the first time I tested reverse. It was just like when I was a little kid again and the prop popped up out of the water. It was a little embarrassing with the Dockmaster watching. Surprisingly I was able to get the little 7.5′ boat on plane when I leaned forward in the boat. That was a shock.
The Cons: Care must be taken when connecting the cables not to cross thread the plastic fittings. The tiller and throttle were very stiff. If this wasn’t a borrowed motor I probably would have tried a few modifications to make these easier. The throttle was similar to the early electric shift controls on boats with a slight delay. Initially I had a tendency to click the throttle out of the detent and keep turning until the motor started going. By the time the prop was engaged it jumped forward (or reverse). After a few near water landings I learned to turn and wait. It starts out so slow that you have better maneuverability than a gas motor when placed in gear. Same thing for the stiffness of turning the motor. It is so tight when you want to make small adjustments the stiffness makes you over correct. There is a collar that looks like it could be adjusted. The last con is interesting that Torqeedo didn’t think of it. The tiller arm easily lifts up and down like most outboards but if you lift it all the way up it comes out. There is no stop that I found to have it up but not held in place. It’s minor but I wanted to lift it up out of the way and have it secure. I worried that I would lift the tiller and have it hang by the two cables.
Final thoughts: All in all I loved it. Mr. T could easily power a larger tender. The boat I have has a flat bottom and would have benefited from a keel. Even the inflatable type keel in some small boats would have helped. I used 8% of the battery during 30 minutes I was running it. The charger is the size of a computer adapter rated at 2.0 amps. It took an hour or so to top off. The charger draws so little it can recharge the unit from our house batteries and inverter overnight. With a little throttle modification kids (or grandkids!) can run the dinghy for a long period of time. Maybe all day. The next test would be to run it a lot and row home if necessary.
A BIG THANK YOU to Kevin and Alison!
I do not have a fancy chain counter for my windlass. If you ever anchor you need to know how much rode you have out to insure you have proper scope for holding power but not too much. In general more is better for holding but may not be a good idea for other reasons. If you have too much rode out, you might swing into other boats at an anchorage or go aground when the tide goes out by swinging closer to shore. I used to mark my chain with paint. I would lay all the chain out on the ground and paint the chain for about 12″ inside a cardboard box. The problem with paint is that it wears off and the chain has to be dry to repaint. Repainting usually involves taking all the chain out again after it is dry. I decided to try a new method with zip ties. The chain doesn’t twist in the gypsy so I figure the zip ties will last a long time if I put them on top where they won’t rub. I have been using the same color code for years and replicated it with zip ties. I ordered colored zip ties that are red, white and blue. I can keep extra zip ties in my front locker and replace when they break when the chain is wet or dry. The big test will be after anchoring during our three month Alaska trip this summer.
I mark every 25′ with white, every 50′ with blue and every 100′ with red. I put two ties per link on three consecutive vertical links.
No project is complete without finding another problem. After all the chain was out and sitting on the bottom of the bay in my slip, I found the bottom of the anchor locker full of water. There is a false bottom to the locker creating a flat surface to keep the chain from jamming into the small triangle. I lifted the false bottom of the anchor locker and found the drain full of mud probably from years of use and no cleaning. I tried a plunger and running a wire down the pipe. I pumped out all the water and scooped out the mud so I could disassemble the hoses in the bilge. I removed the hose (with a bucket handy) at the check valve after closing the thru-hull. The hose was draining but nothing was passing the check valve. The type of valve on the line was a spring loaded piston type rather than a swing type used on our sinks so I couldn’t just push the valve open. I removed the check valve and took it into my engine room work bench. When I finally got the valve dissasembled I found the piston completely frozen. The screw holding the rubber seal had also broken. I cleaned and buffed all the parts with the scotchbrite side of my bench grinder. I lubed the piston and reassembled and it worked great. Fortunately, when I went into the newly organized Roxia Hardware Store I found the right size screw.
Necessity is the mother of invention Have you ever put your hand in a drawer on a moving boat to get a knife and reached where you shouldn’t? Yeah me too. We decided knives in a drawer were a bad idea. I didn’t want to have a knife block on the counter so I designed one that I could put on the wall and still be safe. I had visions of a knife thrower on a moving boat if the knives came out while underway. I had some teak and walnut scraps around my shop and thought I would see what would turn out. I should have taken pictures while I was working but wasn’t sure it would turn out or if we would even use it. Here is what happened.
Since I was cutting up a bunch of scrap I figured I would make new storage for my router bits. I used the wood from a wine box to make the frame and some walnut scraps from a house that was being torn down. I call myself a high end dumpster diver looking for wood. The great reclaimer.
This project started out as a basic engine room clean up and ended up a construction project. We had so many things stacked on the workbench and sides that there was nowhere to work. I looked for a tool box to store everything but I couldn’t find anything that fit the space. I used a simple design that was flexible enough for all the spaces.
I made three separate cabinets, one for tools, one for nuts and bolts and the last one is for small spare parts. This should give me back most of the workbench on the port side and a workplace on the Starboard side. Below are a few photos from the build. The drawers are 1.5″, 3″ or 4.5″ height. The bottom of the drawer is also the slide and fits into the dado slots. The slots are spaced at 1.5″ so every drawer can fit anywhere in the box.
I sorted all the screws I have collected for the last 15 years and organized the drawers.
Roxia hardware store is open for business!
Fall Update for Roxia
It has been a busy fall of learning for this Roxia Cap. I attended Bob Senter’s Captain’s and Hands On classes for Northern Lights Generators and Lugger engines in Seattle, WA. I also attended the ABT/TRAC hydraulics class in Rohnert Park, CA. The classes were well attended by Nordhavn owners which was fun. Bob Senter said only one thing can stop a Nordhavn from cruising and that is a grandchild. Well, guess what? We are having our first! A granddaughter due in March.
Our new cruising plans will take us on shorter trips and probably only as far north as Southeast Alaska. Any “not to be missed” locations you can recommend will be great to know. The rest of the time will involve getting around to a few upgrades I have been wanting to do and replacing hoses before they need it. I will build some tool storage units for the engine room to finally clean the area up. I have never liked using the engine room to pile up storage and spares so I have been organizing slowly but now I will finish up.
Emmy has been getting decorations completed (are they ever really?) and Roxia feels like an old friend now. We have enjoyed having friends take short trips with us now that we are based in Sidney BC which is closer to our home near Seattle.
One project I finally finished is the pilot seat post extension. As a vertically challenged individual I had to remove the Compass in front of the helm seat in order to see the deck. I had some old weathered teak after one of our customer’s backed his swim platform into something so that’s what I used. I love to repurpose old wood and benefit from it’s experience.
I shorted the “wedge” holding the compass by about half an inch and removed the half inch shim between the wood and compass. I think it was there so the compass did not hit the original MFD’s. The compass is back in place about an inch lower. I love my new view.
I also decided to return all the staterooms to 120 volt outlets from the 240 volt Australian outlets. It was pretty straightforward and allowed me to return the electric panel and patch panel back to original. I kept the 240 volt GFI breakers and outlets in case I want to change back. I left the salon with Australian voltage because the previous owners had replaced the TV, Receiver and BluRay in Australia. The TV allows dual voltage but the receiver and BluRay do not. The BluRay player also has Australia geographic zone and will not play most US disks. The zone can be changed on the BluRay but my next project is to build a new equipment storage that matches the Nordhavn interior woodworking.That’s enough for now. Cheers and happy Cruising.
The last stretch of the trip took us two weeks but we packed in quite a bit. Cruising up the coast of California, Oregon and Washington can be nasty and we wanted to avoid as much of the rough stuff as we could. We looked at windy.com every day and also L-36.com used by most of the fishermen in Oregon. Compared to the weather we had from Cabo to Ensenada this was like a lake…well maybe not quite. The three eventful places north of Sausalito are: Cape Mendocino, Cape Blanco and the Columbia River. But really all the bars we have to cross because we were hop-scotching our way up the coast have to be considered thoughtfully. These are our stops: Bodega Bay, Fort Bragg, Humbolt Bay, Crescent City, Brookings, Bandon, Coos Bay, Newport, Astoria, Victoria and Sidney.
We had very foggy conditions between Sausalito and Newport Oregon and much of the time we had only 200-300 yards visibility. When I was a kid only very large boats or commercial guys could afford radar but in this day and age even small boats enjoy the technology. We have a Simrad Halo digital radar which allows us to have two ranges displayed and a 10kW radar which seems to look through rain a little bit better than the Halo. In fog or night I usually have half of one display showing a 12nm view and half of another screen with a 1.5nm view or closer as we get close to other objects. I feel fortunate todays technology makes these situations much safer.
Speaking of safety, lets talk about crossing bars on the coast of Oregon (and Washington but not this trip). Going into a harbor with a river bar is usually harder than going out. This is because the swell from the ocean is pushing the stern trying to make it broach. Going out you tend to ride up the wave into the air but reducing power at the right time will keep you from crashing down. The best time to cross a bar is high water with slack current. More depth is better and at slack you only have to deal with the speed of the swell. The worst time to cross a bar is at low water and max ebb current. The ebb current combines with the speed of the river and stacks the incoming swell into a breaking wave. When you hop from different harbors or bays along the coast you have to time the bar you are leaving and the bar you are entering. I worry more about going in than coming out so that is the critical time. There was only one bad crossing as we travelled the coast and that was compounded by two mistakes that I made.
We crossed the Bar and Bandon (Coquille River Bar) at low (high) slack. Surprisingly this was not the mistake. The pacific coast has a high-high, a low-high, and a low-low and high-low. The high-low was nearly the same as the low-high so we had good depth. The weather was calm and the bar was open to all traffic at our time and I confirmed with the Coast Guard on VHF-16. The two mistakes were slowing down and increasing the sensitivity of the stabilizers. All the single engine trawler captains are cringing now. Slowing down decreased the effectiveness of the rudder because there would be less thrust from the prop. Increasing the stabilizers actually counters what the rudder is doing. The the stabilizers try to level the boat they turn the fins in the direction that makes it want to steer the wrong way. Needless to say I will never make that mistake again. We had a 4’ breaking wave between the two jetties. I had to work my tail off to keep us going the right way.
There doesn’t seem to be the abundance of sea life north of Sausalito as we found south to Mexico but we did see Humpback whales, Sunfish a few Orcas and one shark. It looked like a Blue Shark but it was all by itself. While we were in Bandon Oregon Emmy’s brother and sister-in-law came for a visit and spent the night. Steve and I drove up to Bandon Dunes to have a little putting contest. Not much of a contest since Roxia doesn’t have a putting green. Emmy and Jeanie got in some much needed Retail Therapy. In Newport Oregon Emmy’s dad and middle sister drove out for the day. We had time to go visit the two lighthouses near Newport. I finally learned where the expression “Sleep tight” came from. There was a bed in the light keepers house with ropes stretch across the bed frame to hold the mattress. The ropes had to be tightened from time to time to keep the mattress from sagging. So now you know…
The next stop was Astoria Oregon. We purchased Roxia in Australia nearly a year ago and have not yet paid sales tax in Washington. Our plan has been to cruise BC and Alaska for the next year or two. I spoke with the Washington Department of Revenue and they said as a Washington resident we would owe tax upon our first entry in the state. An entry is triggered by a stay in a marina, anchoring in a bay, or rafting along side another vessel in Washington waters. We decided to bypass Washington on this trip by making a non-stop run from Astoria Oregon to Victoria BC. This is only a 215 nm run so it would take about 25 hours. Emmy decided not to make the overnight trip so I enlisted the help of my brother and two friends. I had been watching the weather and two days after my brother retired looked to be a perfect window to make the transit. Brad, John and Eric arrive Astoria around 2pm, shopped for a few groceries, swapped drivers on the rental car with Emmy and we departed Astoria Marina at 4:30 pm. High Slack was scheduled for 7pm and we would arrive approximately 6pm and would have a little flood current as we left. Perfect!
We had long rollers as we went out which were very nice. As we made the turn we had calm seas within an hour of leaving the Columbia River (“The Graveyard of the Pacific”). I had been following the weather but this was unexpected none the less. We had 5’ swells on 20 seconds, no wind and unlimited visibility. As we changed watches my brother woke up and said he thought we had stopped because it was so smooth. Brad and Eric teamed up to take both watches before my 2am to 5am shift and to let John get some needed rest after waking up at 1am that morning to get to Astoria. The Johnman relieved me at 5am and I stayed in the pilothouse to nap and help when needed. John took on chef duties and prepared some great meals for the crew. We made great time to Victoria with the good weather and averaged 8.6 knots for the trip.
As we headed for the entrance to Victoria we were tracking the Holland America lines ship Eurodam which was catching up to us quickly. They radioed us and asked us to maintain course and speed because they were going to make a hard turn and cross our stern and head for the North Cruise terminal in Victoria. In order to dock at the North terminal they would have to cross our path again. I asked if they would like me to slow down after their cross an wait for them to go in front of us. They said that would be great if we were willing to wait for them. At that point I did have the right-of-way as they were overtaking but was more than happy to let them go ahead. It was cool to watch them from so close!
It was Symphony Splash in Victoria so it was difficult to find a spot in Victoria Harbour. Fortunately for us we are over 65’ and the Victoria International Marina just opened on the north side of the harbour which only allows boats 65’ and over. It was nearly empty and totally first class. We all slept well and had a lazy morning in Victoria. With a couple extra days before the three had to fly home we made a quick trip to Montague Harbour to anchor for the night then headed to Van Isle Marina in Sidney BC. Enjoy the pictures. Many of them are courtesy of Eric Clark, photographer extraordinaire and Astoria-Sidney Crew member.
After Monterey we headed north to Sausalito. We had very little wind so the seas were rolly but no complaints from this captain. It was a long day but we saw at least 30 Humpback whales over the 90 miles so it was worth it. We saw them cruise then dive deep to show there tail. We saw many whales breach and also lay on their sides just slapping the water with their fins. I haven’t figured out why they like to do that. Maybe they have an itch? Or are they calling their friends and family.
Going under the golden gate was great as always when it is clear. This is relative in the summer when fog is the norm. We could see both ends of the “Gate” but not quite the tops of the two towers. The current was running at 2.5 knots on a flood so we enjoyed light speed of 11.8 knots over ground. I thought about putting on my collar for fear of whiplash…We spent a week at Schoonmaker Marina. We got together with Bill Godwin a childhood friend and shared a delicious meal at Poggio a tasty Italian restaurant across from the passenger ferry terminal in Sausalito. The next day we had dinner with new Nordhavn 60 owners Brad & Kelly Drury. They brought two extra bicycles and gave us a bike tour around Mill Valley. What a treat for us!
The traveling Big Top “Flynn Creek Circus” happened to be in town and was walking distance from the marina. We attended the R-rated version so the humor was a little raunchy and the costumes a little skimpier than their standard show but the acrobatics were amazing. We saw knife throwing, juggling, pole acrobatics, rope climbing and one of the best slack line artists in the world. They also had a trampoline wall that was spectacular. This type of event ranks high on my list of things to do and I admire the conditioning of these incredible athletes.
Emmy spent a couple hours photographing the colorful houseboats while I spent the time in the SF Bay Model Museum. The model was built beginning in 1953 to understand the tides and tributaries of SF Bay. Now it is all done with computer modeling but this was state of art when built. Funding first came after the proposal to put two dams in SF Bay. One dam would be south of the Bay Bridge and the second would have been north of the Richmond Bridge. The idea called the “Reber Plan” was to keep the saltwater from mixing with the freshwater coming into the bay thus creating two large freshwater reservoirs providing drinking water for Bay Area residents. This model helped to determine all of the potential outcomes of this proposal.
We spent another day taking the ferry from Sausalito to SF and walking the waterfront. We visited friends condo overlooking the Bay Bridge and walked to Fisherman’s Wharf. After all the days in small places, Emmy and I decided Fisherman’s Wharf was way to much humanity for us.
We left Sausalito to catch some good weather heading north and were rewarded by a clear day leaving the Bay. Thanks for the memories!