Leaving the dock for an extended voyage is always challenging. Groceries must be bought and stored, spare parts must be inventoried, and systems must be checked. Even though we do this every year, things don’t always work according to plan.

Note: Some destination information at the end of this article.

My original plan was to leave the dock on Wednesday, May 29. I’ll be on the water for the next 3 months. I began preparing for the trip in January when my 30′ Tollycraft Sea Raven went into the shop for its annual service. All systems checked out and preparations continued.

During a family trip on Easter weekend, the boat ran great. But after 30 minutes of running, I lost propulsion on the port engine. The boat slowed so quickly that it felt like I had run aground, yet the water was 90′ deep.

Sea Raven

My 30′ Tollycraft Sea Raven.

The engine was running but the prop was not delivering any thrust. Shifting into and out of gear resulted in a slight grinding noise. I shut down the port engine and continued to our nearby destination on the starboard engine, wondering if the repairs would involve the transmission. Last summer I had struck a rock with the prop while exploring a narrow passage in northern B.C. Don’t worry, Hopetown Passage, near Mackenzie Sound, now has the appropriate warnings in the 2013 Waggoner Guide. After this incident, the prop was replaced and the shaft checked, and I was keeping an eye on the port side just in case.

Upon closer investigation the mechanics determined the transmission was fine, but the key on shaft was broken and the shaft would have to be replaced. Once the boat was hauled out, we could see the broken shaft had allowed the prop to ride up and damage the strut and the prop. Repair costs were mounting, and it was time to call the insurance company. A few days went by, but this all occurred in April. With a May 29 planned departure I figured I had plenty of time.

The insurance company decided to call in a surveyor. A few days went by. The surveyor needed another few days to complete his report, and then the insurance company needed a week to process the report and come to a determination. All of this was completed a week and a half before the departure date.

Not all was lost during this process. While on the hard I painted the bottom of the boat and attended to other boat repairs. After the insurance company approval, the parts arrived quickly. The North Harbor Diesel crew was able to get the boat ready and launched by the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.

Originally I had planned a one-week shakedown cruise in Puget Sound to survey marinas and meet with customers. This would serve as an extensive sea trial. But with time running short, my sea trial was instead a blustery Sunday afternoon. The propulsion system performed beautifully, and I found no vibration or fluid leakage. But the autopilot was reverting to standby and displaying an error message, and the depth sounder was only occasionally providing a reading. With one workday to go before my planned departure, my schedule seemed a bit too ambitious.

It was time to change plans. Due to the flight schedule for one of my crew, my new departure target is Sunday, June 2. This compresses my schedule and requires skipping some planned stops in the San Juan and Gulf Islands.

On May 30th the autopilot was still not working. Brian Hennessey, of Anacortes Marine Electronics, and I did a thorough, end-to-end troubleshooting and determined the pump motor was intermittent. How did we know? When the pump would not work, a rap with a wrench on the housing got it working! This was after checking the controller and other items in the autopilot system. Intermittent problems are a certainly pain to troubleshoot.

We then located a used pump and installed it. As I finish this, we are testing to see if it all works properly. The boat will be fueled today, hopefully final loading will happen tomorrow, and I’ll be off on Sunday.

Waggoner correspondents have been providing a steady stream of comments as they head north.

Cruising Updates:

The San Juan islands marinas have been busy hosting their spring rendezvous and reported good business during Canada’s Victoria Day and the US Memorial Day holiday weekends. All the resorts are up and running with no major changes.

South Puget Sound marinas are up and running. The brand new Children’s Museum in the middle of the Swantown Marina in Olympia is a hit with the young crewmembers.

Mill Bay Marina opened last year after being destroyed several years ago in a wind storm. There is nothing like new wide docks and facilities to attract visiting boats. The big news is the Bridgemans Bistro opened for business with a gourmet chef. Take a look at their website for a sample menu, it looks inviting. If you stop in, send us your impressions.

Otter Bay Marina: Dinner events are planned starting on June 1st. On June 15, stop by Otter Bay Marina for Lobster and Steak night – $45.95. Prawns and Beef Tenderloin – $38.95 on June 22 with a Hawaiian Big Roast on June 29th for $31.95. See the entire Otter Bay Marina Summer dinner events at http://www.otterbaymarina.ca/events.html.

Ganges: Correspondents Bruce and Margaret Evertz report that MOBY’s pub is under new ownership and we are told it will be open on June 15th. It will be exciting to see what changes will emerge this season at MOBY’s.

Pierre’s Echo Bay Lodge and Marina: As always, Pierre has been busy this winter. The Dining Room has been finished out and looks fantastic. The big news is Pierre completed the purchase of Windsong Village docks and facilities just across from the main marina area. Now there is more moorage and we are told new float homes in the community. The summer schedule is posted starting with a Survival Seminar by Nikki on June 28th. The pig roasts start the next day on Saturday, June 29th. $20 for adults and kids under 12 are free. This is a pot luck dinner and you can bring your own beverages. Pierre’s has other events on other nights of the week too. Happy Hour every day to join together and meet your fellow cruisers. It is great fun and highly recommended as you cruise through the Broughtons. Here is Pierre’s summer schedule: http://www.pierresbay.com/summer_schedule.html.

Port McNeill Fuel Dock: Steve Jackman and his crew are already busy with customers stopping on the way to northern B.C. and southeast Alaska. Once again Steve is putting on the Poker Run, together with Pierre’s Bay, Lagoon Cove, Jennis Bay, Shawl Bay and Sullivan Bay marinas. Ask at any of the participating marinas for your entry.

Steve did mention that the Sportsman’s Steakhouse had a fire and will not re-open until August. There are plenty of other good restaurants to visit in Port McNeill though.

To make up for the loss of dining and to highlight the Seven Hills Golf and Country Club, the Port McNeill Fuel Dock is offering 9&Dine on Thursday afternoons and evenings. For $75 they provide transportation from the marina to the golf course and back, rentals, a round of 9 holes of golf and a $25 credit for the restaurant.

The marina is also offering in-berth fueling for customer convenience.

Marina Manager Steve Jackman told us, “…besides that, we offer lots of smiles and fun, courtesy vehicles, provisioning services and long stay boat watch programs”.
We have left our boat at the marina under Steve’s watchful eye for as long as 2 weeks when we needed to attend to business back home. It is a great convenience to leave your boat, fly a few hours home, and come back two weeks later, ready to cruise again.

Inside Passage:

May brought beautiful weather to the Inside Passage. Peter and Glenda Geerlofs are heading north on their Diesel Duck named Seaductress. They reported calm seas all the way up to Foggy Bay, AK. See their blog of the trip and their continuing passage in Southeast Alaska at http://seaducktress.blogspot.com. Peter’s photography will have you wanting to head north this season.

We’ll have more cruising reports in each edition of Waggoner eNews and on our website. Founding Editor Bob Hale will be cruising on his 37’ Tollycraft Surprise for much of June and July. Managing Editor Sam Landsman is taking his 22’ C-Dory Retriever around Vancouver Island beginning next week. And I’ll be cruising to Ketchikan and back in my 30′ Tollycraft Sea Raven. Say hi if you see us along the way!


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