Monthly: June 2009

26 Jun


Blackwatch Fleet Entry 4


The truck may be dead, and my spirits were really low, but Pammie tells me, "You better go."
Sometimes, if you DO wait until the very last minute, things work out.  Delta airlines, arriving in Oklahoma City at 10:05 Friday morning.  Harry, Blackwatch #69, has offered to pick me up at the airport, and we’ll get his mast stepped first thing.

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25 Jun


The Log of “Dauntless” Entry 13


Checking in tonight from Port Sydney, Canada.
Yesterday we had a great day at Maple Bay Marina. The staff there made us feel so welcome. Right off the bat, Jesse at the fuel dock helped us out and told us how he’d been waiting for us to arrive. Then, after moving from the fuel dock to the slip, Carol, the Manager of the marina came down to the boat to meet us. As we walked up the dock and up to the restaurant area, they had even made a sign proclaiming "Welcome Montgomery Owners’ Sailboat Group"!  Wow, how cool is that. Wagoner’s Cruising Guide proclaims that Maple Bay Marina has probably the cleanest and best maintained facilities for cruiser’s in the Gulf Islands. What we found confirms that. Add to that the friendliness of the staff and this place is a "must stop" to add to your itinerary if you ever come up here. Bald eagles soar over this place all the time. We saw three!

Picturesque Maple Bay Marina

At the back of the marina are floating houses…now that’s living!!

Dauntless and Sea Cutter tied up with the floating houses in the background 

We ate dinner as a group at the Marina Restaurant and tried to get to bed "early" as we were planning an 8:00am departure in order to catch the ebbing current to help drive us to Port Sydney.
Last night Jo and I got to see the luminescence in the water. Late at night, after dark, if you disturb the water in any way , it lights up in a brilliant green glow from all the little microscopic life in the water emitting  light when stimulated. It was really cool to see.
This morning, what we have been pretty much avoiding, finally caught up with us. We  awoke to the sound of rain on the cabin top. Steady rain. I checked our weather radar that is part of our Garmin unit and it was obvious that there was not waiting it out. It was raining, it was going to continue raining for some time, and it was going to start raining harder soon. Out came the foulies. Everyone bundled up and we slipped out dock lines at 8 for Port Sydney. Currents and tides are a huge concern up here and we wanted to take full advantage of the ebbing tide , especially since we had some narrows to get though.The narrows are where the currents get the strongest and we sure wanted to be going the same direction and not fighting  the currents through them.

Larry goes over the harbor layout of Port Sydney with crews that had not been there before just before departing

Tom and Della motor through pouring rain…notice their dog "Booji" peaking out of the green garbage bag/rain coat.

John and Julie on the M23
Dreamtime motoring along  in the rain with low clouds hanging in the hills


Bosun, who rode most of the way in the cabin, checking to make sure that things are being handled correctly in the cockpit.

We took John’s Passage on the way to Port Sydney. It is a pretty narrow passage. Navigating through it was a little interesting. The currents had us pushing through there at speeds approaching 8 knots and getting pushed all over the place. The currents not only were causing our heading to veer one way and then the other, but they even caused the boat to rock quite a bit as the keel moved from one direction of current to another. It took a  lot of rudder and power to keep the boat positioned in the center channel of the narrow passage.
Oddly enough, not long after arriving at Sydney, the rain stopped and changed to scattered showers. We spent the day cruising around town checking the place out.

Port of Sydney Offices

Seaside walk and park at the top of the marina docks, looking towards Sydney Spit.

John and Julie’s M23

Beautiful flower pots at the top of every piling. Dauntless in her slip

Another GREAT marina with super friendly folks. The town is a bustling little nautical town. A few of us spent an hour in a boat parts consignment store that you could probably find parts for any possible project on which you  might be working. Everyone took time to get all there gear dried out after the long wet motoring passage.  Another group dinner tonight at a local greek restaurant that is a favorite of Gary’s, and now it’s time to wind down the day and get ready to head back to U.S. waters tomorrow. In the morning we plan to head to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island, weather permitting. It’s blowing pretty hard tonight. We’ll have to see how the Haro Straight looks in the morning.
So that’s it for now.
We’ll check in from Roche (hopefully tomorrow)
Sean, Jo, and Bosun
Montgomery Group
M23 "Dauntless"

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24 Jun


Blackwatch Fleet Entry 3


Well… that’s a year of my life I’ll never get back.
First out of the chute, no brakes on the trailer, well, that’s not exactly right, no brake LIGHTS on the truck, which means there is no electrical signal to the trailer brakes.  The brakes all worked just fine, but I’m not driving 1060 miles manually engaging the trailer brakes, and then the small matter of lights might be a problem as well… Turned around and went back to the barn.
Checked everything I could think of and eventually discovered that the brake light switch took a dump on me.  When was the last time anyone has actually had the switch fail??
Down to the auto parts shop, 36 bucks and WAIT for the delivery guy to fetch the piece (made for 25 cents in China no doubt) from the warehouse… I get the part at like 3:00 pm.
Back home, test the switch; It works, get it installed and adjusted.  Verify that the lights and trailer brakes actually work.  Load Pammie back in the truck and away we go.  It’s 3:30pm.
OK, we’re only six hours behind schedule, but what the heck.  Nothing else can go wrong, right?
OK, it’s hot has the dickens up here today, and we get maybe 40 miles in and the air conditioner dies!  OK, inconvenient, but we roll down the windows and catch some breeze.
It’s gonna be a HOT trip, it’s something like 110 degrees in Oklahoma right now, but maybe when we get there we have a few days and we can get it fixed for the return trip.
What’s next???  Oh, nothing really, just a transmission overtemp indicator, follow soon thereafter by a "Service Engine Soon" lamp blazing on the dash.  We haven’t made it a hundred miles.  Stop in Mansfield OH and catch a shop at ten miutes to closing time.  We chck things out and come up with a blown fuse on the A/C fan control, but it’s still pumping hot air.  The trans overtemp light goes out, I reset the Check Engine light and we staart heading back to the interstate.  Before we make it to the interchange the overtemp is back on, and I give up.  We turned North and headed back home.
‘lil Bit is back in the drive, and I’m not sure what I’m gonna do next.  But I’m thinking the OKC trip is pretty well out of the question right now.  Damn shame.

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24 Jun


The Log of “Dauntless” Entry 13


Checking in from Maple Bay Marina this afternoon. Looks like we’ve got somewhere around 120 nautical miles under the keels so far. Eight boats remain in the fleet, 3 M23s and 5 M17s. Everyone else has had to go back to reality already. Luckily, for the rest of us, we get to continue to play for a while longer.
Our sail from Ganges to Montague Harbor had some decent wind. It was a short sail but fun nonetheless.

John and Julie onboard the M23 Dream Time sailing to Montague Harbor.

Montague proved to be another stunningly beautiful stop. When we arrived the Government Dock at the marine park was already full. Most of our fleet was grabbing mooring balls. We elected to grab a slip at the Montague Marina right next door. Right about the time we secured a slip, dock space at the Govt Dock became available but since we already had secured the marina slip we decided to stay.
Luckily for me we just missed having a major/minor tragedy. The marina had assigned us a slip over the radio and indicated that it was a starboard side tie, bow in. We usually tow the dinghy off the starboard stern cleat. As we’ve done so many times before, ‘Jo helped me move the dinghy over to the Port side and shorten its lead so it’d be close in to the boat while maneuvering in the marina. As we approached the dock the wind as setting us off. My usual tactic to handle that is to carry a little more speed into the dock, approaching it at a fairly steep angle. I use the outboard with the steering lock released and as we approach the dock I turn the outboard hard over to the side the dock is on and use reverse to slow the boat as well as to pull the stern to the dock at the same time. It seems to work well for me, with a little practice you can get the boat to come to a complete stop at the same time it is parallel to the dock and if you do it right your mate can leisurely just step across with a line.  Well, I did it, and it worked…kind of. But, just after I hit reverse and started pulling the stern around the motor came to an abrupt stop. My inattention to details allowed the dinghy bridle to get caught by the prop. Fortunately we had the dock made and the motor was still going fairly low rpm before it caught the webbing. Once we were secure I sheepishly went back to look at what damage I had caused. Surely the webbing was trash, maybe the prop…did it get the dinghy itself???  I was Super lucky on all counts. After unwrapping 2 full wraps from between the prop hub and lower unit case…no damage…to anything!  Dodged a bullet there!

So you want fresh crab?…How bout buying it right off the boat?!

Jo and I spent a quiet afternoon on the boat at the marina. Later, while Jo caught up on some reading and relaxing, Bosun and I hiked over to the Government Dock where some of the Monty group had gotten dock space. After dinner, the three of us got in the dingy and motored over to say hi to the other crew that were out on the mooring balls. Some of the crew took the famous "school bus" to the pub on the interior of the island. The big thing on the bus is that they play, and everyone sings, Fats Domino’s "Blueberry Hill" all the way to the pub. They reported having a great time.

Life aboard…

Sunset at Montague Marina

Negative Tide = Steep ramps!

In the morning we moved over to the Govt Dock which was now open and the whole group gathered before heading out for Conover Cove on Wallace Island. The tides right now are huge with negative Low Tides making for some VERY steep ramps and thin water.

Gary, Sean and Bosun just before leaving Montague Harbor

Monty Fleet (8 boats now) gathered and ready to head out for Wallace Island

After a brief skippers meeting the fleet set out for Conover Cove on Wallace Island. Now wind to speak of this morning. We motored all the way. Arriving at Conover we found, just as the cruising guides promised, thin water at low tide. Fortunately, there was just enough water to get the 23s through the entrance although it was a bit sketchy. A couple 17s that took routes slightly to the right or left of what we did reported touching bottom. As for us, we pulled the rudder up halfway and pussy-footed our way through at about a half of a knot with the sounder reporting as shallow as 4 feet. It was worth it. Conover was a snug little anchorage with a Government Dock that had enough space, JUST, for the whole crew. All 8 boats were able to tie up.


We got everyone tied up to the dock, otherwise this cove requires short scope anchoring with stern lines to be run ashore.

There is an abandoned house on the island that visiting cruisers leave signs indicating their visit. Most signs are carved on driftwood, of which there is an abundance on these islands. Some are VERY creative. We found the one left by the Montgomery Group that visited in ’06.

Visiting Cruisers’ signs

Every island has had great hiking. Conover was no exception. The scenery is hard to describe. This is the southern most point of the island looking out over the waters we had just sailed to get there.

For the first time this trip we had a fairly early start planned for the next morning in order to make best use of the tides/currents to get us to Maple Bay.  Most crews ate an early dinner and then hit the sack in preparation for Tues morning.

Eldor and Dorothy cooking aboard Motu-iti.

So , now I need to go out and hike around here (Maple Bay) and get some pics.  We had a windless trip here. saw lots of seals, big tugboats with huge barges, and a few bald eagles. Tomorrow morning we’re heading to the town of Sydney. Should be able to check in from there.

 Jo drivin’ us to Maple Bay this morning.

Weather has been great (except light wind lately). Maybe rain tomorrow. We’ll check in from Sydney.
—Sean, ‘Jo, and Bosun

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