Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 19, 2016

August 17th, Bamfield to Victoria

Heavy Fog, Low Visibility
Jon was up before 5 AM and made our morning mochas in the dim dawn light. I finally managed to tumble out of bed and was still getting things put away as Jon slipped the lines at 5:55AM. We marveled at the armada of fishing boats of all shapes and sized that flanked Anomaly as we exited the Bamfield Harbour. Jon raised the sails immediately, but we outrun the wind.

By 6:50 we rounded Cape Beale and entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Visibility poor.

9:25AM- we added more layers of clothing. 1.4kts Trus Wind Speed (TWS), 6’swell, 6.6kts through the water, Speed Over Ground (SOG) 5-7 kts depending where on the swell the boat is. Visibility varied from 1 mile to 100 feet. Still motoring as the wind in on our stern and we can motor faster than the apparent wind.

I saw one swimming sea lion. Then at 12:10 there was a huge exhale as a humpback whale surface just off our starboard side. He was so close I could smell his stinky fish breath. We evidently startled him as he showed his flukes and did not resurface.

The swell continues, but the period is long, so we are both able to move about below and prepare our lunches. At 1:47 we had covered almost 40 miles with an ETA (at 6.5 kts average) of 7:49pm which is an improvement of our expected 9pm arrival. The low visibility is mind-numbing; I don’t know how Jon keeps his eyes open, but he’s thinking he might soon see the huge log boom shown on radar just in front of us. It is a little comforting to know we are also broadcasting AIS.

Conditions improved by 3:45 when the fog clears. We can see land on both sides (Why isn’t Neah Bay a port of entry?) At 1013 engine hours, TWS 12kts, SOG 9.5kts with boat speed (BS)7.3 knots. Motoring with sail assist.

By 5:46 PM, we have a favorable current: BS=7.7 kts, SOG=14 kts, TWS 16kts and we are sailing! ETA improved to 6:12pm.

At 6:11 we drop the mail sail to prepare to enter Victoria Harbour. It is crowded with kayaks and boats of all kinds and we must slow quite a bit to keep from colliding with someone. We had an assigned slip at the Inner Harbour Wharf docks, but it looked like there was already a small boat in our spot, so we called in and they found us a spot on the Causeway. By 7:30, we are safely nestled under the Empress Hotel.

Then Jon starts talking non-stop to someone who wants to know all about Anomaly. Argh! We finally walk over to Steamship Grill for a light supper at 8:30.  On the way back we caught the end of street performer Akron the Bizarre again.

Sailing, Bamfield to Victoria

Departing Bamfield

Jon at the helm in heavy fog

Sailing, Victoria

Victoria outer harbour

Sailing, Victoria

VIctoria Inner Harbour is really hopping!


Passing Race Rocks indicated we were close


Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 19, 2016

Engine Trouble, IV

Part IV

After thinking awhile, there remained the possibility that the sensor was not bad and we had a very odd intermittent low oil pressure problem. The switch seemed to work once removed when manually cycled and though suspect could not be proven the culprit. Since I had removed the low oil pressure warning switch and disconnected the wires, there would now be no warning of the event.

I was reminded while looking through the engine installation manual that the MDI electronics supplied with the engine included an Auxiliary Warning input, the example use given was a high bilge water alarm. It required only a switch closure to ground, and my reinstated combination sensor had just such a switch. They were made for each other and I wired them together. Now I had an independent warning of low pressure. We sailed and motored to Bamfield the next day with no issues.

The following day would be a test, 90 miles from Bamfield to Victoria which needed to be done with some speed, or miss the tide at Race Rocks. With very little wind and dense fog, we motor sailed most of the way without any engine problems.

A new oil pressure switch is on order, Volvo wants about $80 for this $10 switch. I am looking into a way to keep a real oil pressure monitoring method but so far have not found a convenient way.

Sailing, engine, indicator switch

The suspect oil pressure indicator

Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 19, 2016

Engine Trouble, Part III

From the captain:

After motoring for 4 hours between Tofino and Ucluelet (gale warnings, NW 25-35 knots resulting in an actual 2-4 knots SE and dense fog) with no problems, I thought we were in the clear. From Ucluelet, we were going to the Broken Island chain, an archipelago in Barkley Sound. The distance was only about 12 miles, fog and very light wind. Just out of Ucluelet harbor I throttled down to clear the prop of some suspected seaweed, and the “low oil pressure” alarm sounded again. I immediately shut the engine down and investigated, again finding nothing observable amiss. I restarted, and no alarms, we proceeded slowly to our anchorage between Turtle and Dodd islands.

With the prospect of little wind forecast for the long day through the San Juan De Fuca strait, and no harbors of refuge there, I located a Volvo Penta mechanic in Ucluelet. There is cell phone coverage in Barkley Sound. Yes, he works on these engines, but no, he can’t possibly look at it until at least next week. All I needed to do (to begin with, anyway) was measure the actual oil pressure. This would tell me if the pressure indicating switch or associated electronics were faulty, or something more serious. Well, he could sell me a gage, but could not help otherwise. At this point I remembered that there was at one time, a pressure sending unit that was removed from the engine when it was converted from the A rev (all analog instrumentation and control) to the C rev (all Canbus controlled). And it might still be on board.

A search of likely storage spots uncovered it. While I had no gage to read the sensor, these are simple affairs, changing resistance with changing pressure. The Volvo service manual revealed a test procedure which illuminated its calibration. I had an ohmmeter. I began by trying to test the existing switch, supposed to close below 0.15 Bars pressure. It seemed to always be open, engine running or not, though occasionally I got some low resistance readings as the engine shut down. It appeared to be flakey. I will not question here the wisdom of specifying a switch which closes with low oil pressure, but someone should – a fault in the wiring will read always good. Replacing the switch with the pressure sender, I tried again, and got a different set of strange readings. With the engine stopped, I measured 10 ohms between the terminals as expected, but running it went open circuit rather than the maximum of 130 ohms.

The repair manual described a version of the pressure sensor that did not look exactly like the one I had. In another bit of documentation, there was an oblique reference to the ‘optional combined sensor and switch’, a little reverse engineering proved that this is what I had. One terminal to ground is the idiot light switch, the other terminal to ground is the pressure reading. With no pressure, the switch terminal is grounded and the reading between them looks like the other type of sensor as there is continuity through ground. Any pressure above 0.15 Bars opens the switch. Measuring the resistance of the sensor while running indicated 86 ohms to ground, this converted to 4 Bars by the sensor test, or 400 KPa, within the engine spec of 150 – 500 Kilo Pascals while running. So the oil pressure is good after all. Probably, the pressure switch is bad (jumping the terminals on the cable reliably produces a low pressure warning, so the electronics are probably good). The switch probably has been bad for some time. Due to the choice of a normally open switch, you would never know it.

We are swinging to anchor, there is one other boat in the bay some distance away. Two groups of kayakers have paddled past, the fog moves onto on off of the islands to the southwest but we are in the sun. Should I return to Ucluelet and try to get a replacement oil pressure switch? Not having it means if something really goes wrong I will not know. But it has probably not worked for some time anyway. I’m going to pour myself another iced tea and sit in the cockpit and think about that.

Sailing, engines, Jon

Captain Jon with his head in the engine compartment

Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 18, 2016

August 16th- Joe’s Bay to Bamfield


We slept in this morning listening to the thick fog drip onto the deck. There were only 2 other boats in the secluded bay.

We had to make a decision today when Jon discovered the winds were predicted to come from the wrong direction on the day we intended to travel the long 90 mile leg to Victoria. We might have to motor or tack against winds from the east. If we left tomorrow, we still had a chance of a downwind sail.

Neither of us wanted to sail directly into the wind, so we had to decide whether to stay out in the Broken Islands one more night as planned, or to continue into Bamfield. We eventually compromised and had lunch and lazed a few hours in a lovely bay off Effingham Island before continuing on to Bamfield.

We were glad we chose to visit Bamfield. The West side is as charming as advertised and has a fun boardwalk from the public dock to the store and Coast Guard station. We enjoyed walking the boardwalk and visiting the little store which had a surprising stock of fresh vegetables and some ice cream.

Bamfield is the western terminus of the Pacific Rim Trail which was originally constructed to aid shipwreck victims.

We tried to get to bed early, but didn’t sleep well anticipating the long trip tomorrow. At an expected average of 6kts, the 90 miles will take 15 hours, meaning a 6am departure will get us to Victoria at 9 in the evening.

Sailing, Broken Islands

One other boat at Effingham Bay

Sailing, Bamfield

Walking the Bamfield West boardwalk

Sailing, Bamfield West

Anomaly at Bamfield West Municiple dock

Sailing, Bamfield

View towards Bamfield East

Sailing, Bamfield

Bamfield West Municiple dock

Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 18, 2016

August 18th note

Just a note to say that we made it to Victoria in 12 hours yesterday, much better than our 15 hour expected transit time.  More on that later; we are enjoying the black current scones and lunch sandwiches in Murchie’s today.

Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 18, 2016

August 15th- Plein Air Painting Challenges

Most artists will tell you that gaining experience plein air painting is essential. They insist that experiencing the light when painting out of doors is unmatched. However, I think painting from a boat at anchor is even more challenging. One’s point of reference is always changing even in the most still conditions as the boat gently sways in the currents and tides. And today, my subject went from full sun to thick fog then back to sun again. Quite a challenge!

Sailing, anchorage, Joes Bay

My art reference, from Joes Bay

Sailing, art, painting

The same view 30 minutes later


Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 18, 2016

August 15th- Ucluelet to the Broken Islands

Drifting Fog
I decided to start some laundry before heading for the Grey Whale Deli. It turned out the washer was free and the dryers took quarters which was nice; usually the only useful change is the $1 Looney. The deli was surprisingly crowded. Jon was able to get the weather forecasts on their WIFI and I finished up the laundry for an 11:15 departure.

We both thought the engine sounded clunky, so Jon throttled back to clear a possible fouled prop but unfortunately, there went the LOW OIL PRESSURE alarm again. So we floated around for a while while Jon searched for anything wrong in vain. He cautiously got us going again, and we made it to our planned destination in the Broken Islands, Joes Bay off Turtle Island.

After lunch, Jon spent the rest of the afternoon trying different things and eventually convincing himself that the problem is a faulty pressure indicator. At one point, he even called a mechanic back in Ucluelet to ask if he could look at our engine, but the fellow said he was booked for a week. He did offer to sell Jon a real oil pressure gauge, and we were all set to go get it until Jon rigged up something else and decided it wasn’t necessary. (Hoping to get another post from Jon with the details)

The Broken Islands are supposed to be the most popular area on Vancouver Islands West coast, but I just think people don’t get north as much. I could see how kayackers would enjoy the easy access to explore all the little islands, but I was disappointed in the lack of wildlife. In Nuchatlizt Marine Park we saw eagles, otters, seals, a bear and even a whale. Here I saw 1 eagle and some crows. It was pretty but dull compared to the North. Maybe we are just here in the wrong conditions; the fog keeps drifting in and out.

sailing, Ucluelet laundry

Sailing is doing laundry in exotic places


The busy and well-run Small Craft Harbour in Ucluelet 


Waterways of the Broken Islands

Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 18, 2016

August 14th- Tofino to Ucluelet

Heavy Fog
We pushed off from the 4th Street Marina around 8:15. The fuel dock in town was full of boats just sitting there, so Jon decided to get fuel at our next stop.

No photo opportunities in the thick fog. Periodically, it looked like it might lift, but then it closed in again. Jon even got out our awful noisemaker. I think it sounds more like a sick heron, but he said technically we’re supposed to make a noise every so often (every 2 minutes? Not sure since no one does this). The ancient murrelets were unimpressed. No wind to sail in and I thought the waves were more closely spaced. It certainly took me longer to get used to land again later that day.

Around mid-day we thought we might hear a fog horn and finally saw the buoy. The unnamed lighthouse at Ucluclet Inlet was almost invisible as were the little fishing boats we saw once in awhile. Fortunately, by the time we approached the docks the fog lifted. We peeled off our foul weather gear in the sun at Eagle marine where two sets of hands eased us on and off the fuel float. I totally flubbed throwing the lines to them- I haven’t had much practice this trip since usually no one is around- but they were good-natured about it.

We continued on to the Small Craft Harbour where 3 bald screeching bald eagles and another helpful dock hand helped Anomaly into D dock and apparently the only spot available. This large Marina looks to be a long way from town, but it’s not much further on foot than other options because of the way the land curves around. We were investigating the little shops and restaurants by 2:30.

Grey Whale Deli near the Marina makes a good mocha, but I recommend trying to get to Zoe’s Bakery. It looked wonderful, but we arrived at 2:55 and they closed at 3 Sunday for a staff function; not to reopen until Tuesday ;-( It looked like there was a big empty sheet where some killer cinnamon buns formerly sat. Piña is also interesting- a clothing store where they print their own designs here in Ucluelet. I also admired the watercolors in Relecting art consignment store.

In a class of its own was the stationery store; don’t remember the name but it’s just above the aquarium. It was absolutely packed with STUFF. There were the normal T’s and trinkets for tourists, but I really liked the fingerless faux deerskin gloves lined with fur. I would have bought some if they’d been large enough. They had art supplies and some beautiful leather bound journals to use them on. And they had things I’d never seen before like a pink “earaser” shaped like an ear with a reference to Vincent Van Gogh. I could have poked around in there longer, but the fragrances from the gift soaps were making Jon grumpy.

If we had a longer stay here, I would walk some sections of the Pacific Rim trail. They advertise little shelters or Artist Perches, where you can sit and stormwatch. Sounds great for plain air working.

My feet really started to hurt so we returned to the boat for an afternoon of reading. The fog closed in again and it dripped all night.

Sailing, Tofino, fog

Departing Tofino in the Fog

Sailing, fog, Ucluelet

(No) visibilibity coming into Ucluelet

Sailing, Ucluelet

Fog clears inside the Ucluelet inlet- the Aquarium

Sailing, Ucluelet

Jon relaxing in Ucluelet

Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 18, 2016

August 13th- Tofino by Boat

If you’re going to Tofino by boat, I would check for more recent information. Both our Dreamspeaker and Waggoners guides said to go to 4th street Marina. It wasn’t great. It does have a nice location near downtown, but it looked and felt like a homeless encampment. Anomaly felt very out of place there. Plus, charter and private boats alike went racing by at all hours of the day with no regard to the wake rocking the boats in the Marina (It did calm down at night a bit)

I recommend looking into the marina further east of town. The little local paper advertised a “new ownership BBQ” to be held the 14th, tomorrow, so I’m guessing it could be much nicer. 4th street had a great location right near the town and we only had a few days to visit, so it sufficed for our purposes.

For food, we really liked the FishDaddy. There are some really nice restaurants in Tofino, but the line at Schooner was very long, and the smoked salmon pasta at Sea Shanty was very rich. The Fish Daddy was just a take-out window with lots of seafood including very good grilled salmon burgers. They had a pirate theme, and when you left something in the tip jar they all yelled Tips Ahoy!

Tofino, sailing, coffee

Rhino Coffee- Anns favorite for mochas


Sunset from 4th Street Marina

Posted by: yachtanomaly | August 15, 2016

Engine Trouble- Part II

One of the things mentioned to me by all the pundits of diesel-dum, is that the reason the turbo seized was that I was not working it hard enough. You have to work a diesel hard, they like it – that is the belief (though there are many reasons not to believe). On a boat, the only way to work an engine hard is to run it at high RPM. There are no gears and you can’t drive it up a hill. I do not want to run the engine at high RPM all the time, the noise and fuel consumption go up geometrically. But at least run it hard for a few minutes periodically I was told. So we began to do this, every few days running it faster for a few minutes.

Approaching Tofino, it seemed like a good time so I ran at 2500 rpm (close to 8 knots speed) for 10 minutes. Just as the 10 minutes was nearly over, alarms went off and the indication was “low oil pressure”. This is not a good thing. I shut the engine off immediately, and we drifted to the side of the channel. Low oil pressure can be caused by several things, the worst being a spun bearing, requiring a major rebuild. Or it could be low oil level, or oil thinned by heat or contamination, or whipped into foam. I checked the oil level, it was at the middle of the dipstick as it had been all trip. There were some bubbles on the dipstick which could be an indication of foaming – perhaps. The engine compartment also seemed very warm, I had never checked this “running hard” because I never ran it hard before. So – there was enough oil, perhaps it was too hot, perhaps it was foamed, or perhaps the oil pressure reading was false? Or was the engine destroyed?
I turned on the engine room blower to cool it down, fetched the IR heat gun from below, and removed the engine compartment side cover. There was just 3 knots of wind from aft, enough to steer the boat down the edge of the mudflat we were next to. The oil filter and pan measured at about 195 degrees, this makes sense as that is the temperature the engine always runs. In short there appeared to be nothing wrong. After allowing it to cool for a few minutes, I restarted the engine, which idled normally and no alarms or other noises. Put in gear, it seemed to drive the boat the same as always. We motored into Tofino.

Further investigation revealed nothing at all. The oil seemed normal in viscosity and color, there was no indication of anything amiss. I began to suspect that the engine compartment had gotten hot enough to cause problems. At the only hardware store in Tofino, I found an indoor/outdoor thermometer and placed the outdoor sensor (which is wireless) in the engine compartment directly above the engine. I had never measured this, only stuck my head in the door to confirm that it is a little warm in there, but an engine compartment is going to be warm. We motored to Ucluelet with 2 – 4 knots SE wind (forecast 20 – 30 NW – but that is another story). At our normal motoring speed, the temperature slowly climbed to 118 degrees – that is warm, but not too warm? But this day was 65 degrees, not 85 like yesterday, and the engine putting out only 20 HP, not perhaps 50 “running it hard”, and therefore less than half the heat. A conclusion from this is that the compartment probably should have a ventilating fan to supplement the vents that it does have. Definitely if it is going to be “run hard”.

There remains no good explanation for the warning and shut down. One theory is that the oil pressure is sensed by an electronic box mounted on the engine, this result is sent via the NMEA 2000 network to the chart plotters and other instrument displays, which sound the alarm. The maximum temperature for this box is specified to be 158 degrees, could it have gotten too hot and alarmed in error? We had “run it hard” several times this summer already, though not perhaps quite as long or on so hot a day. Hot electronics will cool off and work again, a destroyed engine does not self repair. Foamed oil might recover, contaminated oil will not.
Just another mystery to contemplate in the paradise of sailboat cruising.

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