In the last installment, we had recently woken up to a windy morning at Sucia Island State Park, Echo Bay. It was QUITE windy in fact.
The girls were still in bed so while coffee brewed down below we decided to sail off the mooring.. Yes, that’s right, put up the sails, untie from the mooring, and head out of the bay. Being the secret cowards we are however, we also started the engine, just in case we couldn’t quite get our 22,000 wind machine to go where we wanted to (or more accurately to not go where there were other boats). The nearby boats were awake also and it seemed that sitting in your cockpit with a cup of coffee watching a crew attempt to smoothly sail off a mooring buoy was the thing to do.
With the main out, boat pointed into the wind, we untied and let the boat sort of slide backwards a bit, then let the main sheet out a ways, turned the rudder and caught the wind and started to head up. Pulling out the genoa powered us up and we found a slot through the moored boats and locked in. When the boat locked in we were suddenly doing 7+kts with a pretty healthy heel going, and we cleared out of Echo Bay in a matter of a couple minutes. As we rounded Sucia and turned west the wind averaged 15kts with gusts over 20. We had a slight reef in the main and genoa and eventually reefed a bit more as average winds (true) climbed closer to 20kts and gusted to 28+kts. For pretty much the entire length of our run from Sucia, around the west side of Orcas, down between Lopez and San Juan Island, and into Friday Harbor we had the same wind conditions. 18-19kts average, gusting to 28. Mobert moved like a freight train! We averaged over 9kts boat speed and handily cleared 10kts periodically as we headed south.
Since we were actually sailing, we didn’t have time to charge the batteries with the engine, so we ran the genset for a while. As before, the temperature gauge was higher than normal, a bit higher than the night before (about 180F) and steadily climbed up to 185F before I gave in and shut it down. According to Northern Lights you don’t have to worry until it’s over 205F but clearly something was wrong and there was no point in pushing it.
After playing with the inhaul/outhaul (in-mast furling main sail) a bit as well as the genoa furler, we balanced the helm for the sustained wind. When a gust would hit we’d round up a bit but not too bad. Toward the end of the run I sat over the companionway and actively manned the mainsheet, one foot on the electric primary winch button and two hands on the sheet. When a gust hit, I’d let the sheet out a bit, and after it passed I’d hit the button to sheet it back in. Doing this completely eliminated the rounding up and kept the helm balanced.
Then I had an epiphany… and no it wasn’t that actively sheeting in and out for gusts makes a difference, that part was pretty obvious. One of the issues we have had with Mobert since we got her was that every once in a while (or every few minutes depending on the day) the AIS would freak out and alarm on the chart plotter.
Then it would clear the alarm and come back again later all on its own. While on this run to Friday Harbor, this problem was occurring and the beeping lined up completely with the use of the primary winch. Every time I hit the button, the chart plotter would alarm. Turns out the primary winch (which draws >100Amps when it’s spinning), combined with batteries that are partially discharged, causes so much voltage drop on
the house bank that the electronics were freaking out. With engine or genset running, the issue isn’t there because the charger or alternator keeps the batteries up and provides some extra juice. Okay, so battery bank improvements will be another item on the list.
We sailed in to Friday Harbor, avoiding the ferry of course and secured an end-tie space on the guest dock of the marina.
We took the girls up to town to walk around and see the shops, got hot cocoa and lattes at Crowes Nest Coffee Shoppe, had a little happy hour snack at Blue Water Bar and Grill, and meanwhile the rest of the crew disassembled the vberth to access the genset. The genset issue was immediately apparent. It appears that the water strainer has not been checked in quite a long time. It’s not just that it was full, but the contents had clearly been in there for a while.
So we cleaned out the strainer, double checked the strainer on the engine (which was clear) and put it all back together. The genset ran perfect, the exhaust was quiet again, with no smell, and the temp stayed at just about 160F as before. Another problem resolved in the field.
Feeling pretty good, and it being a Blue Friday and all, we BBQ’d our flank steak,
pulled out some wine, and got dinner ready. Since we have a Tivo Stream back at home, and a Verizon 4G LTE hotspot onboard, we set up and watched the Seahawks game on my iPad in the cockpit during dinner. After the game we retired feeling elated that we finally had a good sailing day.