Sunday, July 31, 2011

Snoring, Burping, or Farting - and Cost of Cruising.

We filled the fuel and water tanks while in Anacortes and that brought back the gurgling in the sinks.  See, with all The Stuff we now carry on Viking Star she sits a couple of inches lower than the design point.  So the sink drains that used to be just above the water line now dip into the water when we rock.  This causes a bit of air to be pushed in and out of the sink.  A stopper on the forward head takes care of that one, the galley sink however tends to Burp if the strainers are not in, Snore if they are, and Fart if there is some water in the sink as well.

We like Snoring.

How this leads into the topic of Costs, not sure.  Perhaps it was the $700 Fuel bill.  Whatever the path, costs is a good topic and one that seems to be a bit taboo in proper company.  I will say we have learned a lot from folks who have posted their actual costs, with a great site being SV Third Day (see our profile for blogs we follow).  They take care in tracking cost.  In a perhaps less rigorous vein, here is an estimate of what it costs to go Cruising on Viking Star.

1st:  Initial outlay.  Here I really have to estimate.  I used to keep detailed records, but my pocket calculator died several years back and I lost all that information.  So, I will have to make a guess--likely close +/- $10,000.   We purchased Viking Star for $22,000, have added perhaps $30,000 in materials and equipment over the years, and paid out about $7,000 in professional fees.  So, as she sits we have about $60,000 invested. This does NOT include moorage (about $4,000/year for covered moorage), nor any compensation for our labor.  It does however get us a well fitted-out boat capable of safely taking us anywhere in the world we wish, and with a good level of comfort.

Looking back, and given the current state of the economy, one could purchase a like vessel -without the work- for the mid to upper $200,000's.  MUCH less for a capable sail boat (not sure why - but it is true), or much less for a power boat that does not share the efficiency and sea capabilities of Viking Star.  But we have enjoyed her over the years and I sure do know it inside and out!

Monthly costs:  For July these break down as:
   Maintenance:    $1,267
   Fuel:                 $1,195
   Moorage:            $190
   Groceries:           $633
   Dining Out:         $244
   Personal:            $299
   Insurance:          $314
   Communication: $140
   Total:             $4,282

Wow, a LONG way from our $2-3,000/mo goal.  However, some comments:
  1. We hauled out.  The Maintenance group includes the Haul Out fee as well as a hotel for a few days.
  2. We also did last minute stocking.  Most the rest of the Maintenance goes to that, as well as almost 1/2 the Grocery
  3. Kristi has some Alone Time in Seattle while I was off in Chicago.  'Personal' reflects that (not that I complaining about the results!)
  4. Moorage 90% reflects the time I was in Chicago as well.
  5. Insurance reflects Health Insurance - a bare bones 'Catastrophic' plan - and I will leave my Soap Box in the corner for now.
  6. Communication reflects monthly Cell Phone voice and data access for Consulting Job.

We did a LOT of motoring.  84 hours in July alone! And a good part of that was at a pace much faster than we usually travel; most notably the long run from Grays Harbor to Neah Bay - 1550/1600 RPMs vs our normal 1400. That largely accounts for the high fuel usage.  I hope to not see a Diesel Dock for several more months. (We took on fuel twice in July: once in Ilwaco to top off the tanks from last year's fueling, and then again yesterday in Anacortes.)

On Fuel usage overall -  history has shown us we average 1.5 GPH at our normal cruising speed of 1400 RPMs / 6.5kts/hr.  Looking at the last fill up, we used 182 Gallons after topping off in Ilwaco and ran for 84 hours.  Backing out 11 Gallons for the time on the Hurricane heater, and perhaps another for the generator we end up with an average of 2 Gallons / hour.  Perhaps we are still in the ball park, as that run from Grays Harbor specs out at 2.2 GPH.  Plus we are carrying a bit more of The Stuff than when the 1st RPM/Fuel burn curves were set.

Will be interesting to see how these costs change over the next few months.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

While the Young People Were Visiting...

We left the Destruction Pass State Park on Sunday the 24th and went through the Swinomish Channel north toward Anacortes WA.  On the shore of this very narrow, man-made channel we found a doe and her twins.

  We had called ahead to the harbormaster and found the slip we could use for a few hours, to pick up our friends and make a trip to the hardware store.  After all was loaded we made our way to nearby Cypress Island.  The first night was gorgeous, and we spotted this classic boat dropping crab pots, with Mt Baker in the background.

The next morning we listened to the weather report, which said gale winds were to be expected beginning at 11.  Since our plan HAD been to head for the northern Boundary Islands of Matia, Sucia and Patos, all three rather remote and exposed, we decided we would just wait out the weather where we were.  The wind and rain began right on schedule, and ended the same around 4 PM.  Winds were sustained at 20 mph with gusts to 30.  It has been four years since we had all been together, so the time was spent catching up and getting reacquainted.

The next day we arrived at Sucia (Matia was 'full') and were lucky enough to get space on the dock!  Fellow boaters told of their previous day's two-hour trip that took 5 hours and tossed them alot and all aboard were stricken with sea-sickness.  This confirmed our decision to stay at Cypress!

Viking Star IS at the dock in Fossil Bay, Sucia Island, but YOU might have trouble spotting her.

Fox Cove, Sucia Island at sunset, Mushroom Rock at center

A baby seal took  an early morning nap very near the ramp, though I DID use the zoom

Sleepy Eyes

From Sucia, we went to Stuart Island, setting the anchor in Prevost Harbor.  This was our BIG activity day with a round-trip hike of six miles.  We visited the Stuart Island School and Museum, and the Turnpoint Lighthouse and keeper's quarters, again with an excellent museum.  We were hoping to see orca whales at some point, but have not been so lucky this trip.

Craig lost three teeth this week, and a fourth is loose.  I told him he was the 'gappiest' kid I know!

Turnpoint Lighthouse, Stuart Island, from land

The Young family gets cozy in Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island

Turnpoint Lighthouse, from sea

A schooner we have seen several times

From Stuart Island we went to Roche Harbor, dropping two crab pots outside the entrance to the harbor.  After 'cheeseburgers in paradise' to celebrate Tim's birthday, ice cream for dessert, and a stop at the store, we were on our way back to check the pots.  The first had seven, but all either females or juveniles.  The second had a keeper!

THIS is the keeper!

We hoped to land at Jones Island to hike and visit the deer, but the North Cove was full and we didn't care to try the South Cove with southerly winds.  On we went to Blind Bay on Shaw Island, again dropping the crab pots before picking up a state park mooring buoy for the night.  An overnight soak yielded four more keepers, more than enough for our Friday night dinner for the seafood eaters (I had a chicken-mango sausage, thank you).

We spent our last night with the Youngs again at Cypress Island, this time off Pelican Beach.  It is a bit roll-y with the summer boat traffic, but we all seem to tolerate it well.

We made it to Anacortes before noon where our friends loaned us their vehicle for reprovisioning and a trip to the marine store.  Thank you Tim, Marla, and Craig, for a great week!

After a pump-out and refueling, we are again at Pelican Beach.  We looked at Eagle Harbor on the way, but it was quite crowded, maybe twice as many boats as when we were having the weather.  As we arrived at Pelican Beach and began debating the best spot for anchoring, a boat left the buoy that was closest to us!  Wow!  We may stay here for two nights, resting and discussing plans for the next month or so.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A 'School' of Sailboats

Though they look kind of like butterfly wings moving across the water, butterflies move too randomly for this metaphor.  And what do you call a group of butterflies?  These little sailboats look more like a school of fish.

I have enjoyed watching these classes numerous times over the last three days on Eagle Harbour at Bainbridge Island.  It was fitting that they be heading out to class as we departed.

So teeny, they hold a single person.  They move mostly in unison as they follow the wind.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I'm kinda bored today.  I've been to two different coffee shops (decaf at the second), finished a book, started another, and of course, spent time on facebook.  I took a couple of photos...


I'm excited for tomorrow!  I'm getting my hair done.  Not only will I be beautiful, but I will be walking nearly 3 miles for the round trip.  (No, that is not sarcasm.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Completion of a Circle

How Romantic!  Riding a ferry to Seattle, through the fog....

Look!  There's the marina where I first found Viking Star!  No, not on the right where all the sailboats are.  There. Where the big sailboat and the trawler are...

It took eleven years to complete, but Viking Star has completed a circle.  When Al purchased her, he had it brought by water through the Puget Sound to Olympia, where it went by truck to Kalama, and was put into the Columbia River.  And if you have been following this blog for the past two weeks you know that we recently 'went down river and turned right', came down the Strait of Juan de Fuca, into the Puget Sound, and are now in Bainbridge Island, Viking Star's home before Al met her and fell in love.

Her homeport used to be Juneau Alaska, and hopefully we will be able to 'bring her home' there someday too.

But this morning, Al has work to do!  He is on the way to Chicago for business.  We set the alarm early, got some breakfast at the Pegasus coffee shop (EXCELLENT COFFEE!!!), and we walked to the ferry dock.  I decided that I would ride along and see him onto the train to Sea-Tac.  The train arrives as we get off the escalator, a hurried kiss, and he is on the way.

I have a mission!  I want to try on jeans, and I want to visit the Pike Place Market.  I found Macy's and happily paid for a pair of size 8 jeans!  I don't think I've been this small since before we were married!  (AND  I could actually zip a size 6, but it caused quite a bulge above the waistband......yet.)

LOL.  Let's celebrate with donuts!

Other sights:

There was a border of walrus gargoyles I found interesting 

The fog has burned off, and the sun has burned my face

I got my favorite drink at the Original Starbucks!

The Space Needle 

Sunday, July 17, 2011


It is Sunday morning, and we pour our coffee into our 'Sunday Best' mugs, ones that are extra special to us.  Mine is white with red hearts on it and we received it in our welcome basket at a bed and breakfast we stayed at on our honeymoom.  Al's was hand-painted by his daughter Christine, a gift for this year's Father's Day.

I am missing the fellowship of my church friends this morning, and say a special Hello to those who I know follow the blog.

I am missing the weekly check-in with a group of Vancouver friends and our Sunday morning Tea.

I am hoping that there will be a nice little church we will enjoy next winter in Friday Harbor.

I thought there were no churches at Mystery Bay.  But as we left, we note the many seagulls gathered on the point.  I said 'It's Sunday morning!  Maybe it's Bird Church!'  Down a bit further, the seals are lining up on the beach, forming another congregation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I'll Take Glossy

My favorite water is what I call 'glassy'. Absolutely flat, so that it reflects objects like a mirror.

If I can't have glassy, I will take 'glossy'.  Small undulations may be present, but the water is still smooth and shiny.  Glossy water means there is very little wind.

Yesterday on the way to Mystery Bay, Al and I shared two different views.  Turns out we were looking at opposite sides of the boat.

Here is my view:

I was thinking to myself 'Wow!' It's so light and soft looking, with the horizon blurred by fog, you can barely see the transition from water to sky.  We are floating!  This must be what Heaven is like!'

Just as I complete that thought, Al says 'Wow! It's so dark and ominous, it looks like a movie set and there should be scary music playing!'

I laughed, because it was SO completely the opposite of what I had been thinking. And then I saw that Al was looking to the other side of the boat, and I had to agree that what he said matched THAT view...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Perfect Day

After another quick trip to the grocery store for a dozen eggs and some chocolate, we got underway at noon, just in time for Al to take a work call and make some money!  Here he is slaving away in the hold....err, the little office nest he created in the v-berth.

He set up the course on the chart plotter ahead of time so that all I really had to do was pay attention, and make small adjustments at appropriate times.  Other boats can make me a little nervous, and my heart sped up once or twice, but I managed just fine until Al emerged to take over.  I brought us past Dungeness and towards Sequim Bay.

Always vigilant for numerous crab pots, sometimes birds can confuse us.  You can hear us occasionally say 'Another bird pot!'  Unlike driving down a highway when you hope the birds will fly away before you hit them, birds here as often as not just dive and disappear!

Al took over and took us through the tricky part into the bay, past the John Wayne Marina, and up to Schoolhouse Point where we are now tied to a mooring buoy at the Sequim Bay Marine State Park.

We first landed at the dock, filled out our registration, then took our books and walked up the hill to a shelter house where we read for a pleasant hour, listening to birds and the rain.

It's now dinner time on Sequim Bay, but the life and death drama happening all around us is fascinating!  We pulled away from the dock to tie to a mooring buoy--the water is deeper out here, and there will be a minus-tide in the morning.  As Al leaned over the rail to grab the ring, we heard a large fish jump.  We had also observed many small fry jumping near the dock, so small that we couldn't really see the fish, just the rings from their jumps on the water.

Suddenly, I hear a sound like a handful of pebbles thrown forcefully into the water, but I see it is a cloud of inch-long fish jumping clear of the water, AND the large fish that follows them!  A salmon!

Now as I write, there is a gang of seals that have come into the bay, and they are feeding on the salmon.  The circle of life.

A perfect day!  A little work to make a little money, a little sun, a little rain, a little walk, a little relaxation, and a little drama.  Steak and sweet potatoes for dinner, and a little piece of dark chocolate.  Mmmmm.

And at the end, a rainbow.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Start With a Smile

Yesterday, the happiest moment of the day!  Heading out again.  The water is calm, the sun is shining.  I thought it would be fun to take a picture of the two of us, partly to show how skinny we are becoming.

'We'll go to Port Angeles, stop and go get groceries, then go on to Sequim Bay for the night, maybe stay there a couple of nights.'  It's 50 miles to Port Angeles, and 20 miles further to Sequim.  Al's phone call was two hours later on the schedule than I thought.  We didn't leave Neah Bay until noon.  

About 4:00 I realize, we are only just over half way to Port Angeles.  We have been travelling with the wind and making fairly good time, but now the winds have come up, which means the waves are bigger too, and the tide is turning to ebb.  It's getting kind of uncomfortable on this huge body of water called the Strait of Juan de Fuca (13.5 miles across!)  We are now making 5 knots over ground--it will take another 4 hours to Port Angeles.  

We give up on Sequim, and even think we won't get groceries until morning.  Viking Star likes to roll quite a bit, but a couple of swells jerk us so that the water pitcher falls off the counter.  We had relaxed, a bit, on the everything off the counter rule.  Nothing broken, but water on the cork floor is pretty slippery.  Wipe up what you can and stay off it.

I'm pretty grumpy.  It starts to rain.  I'm tired.  I'm hungry.  It's getting dark.  I put on my rain gear and head onto the deck as we approach the pier, and I can't open the door.  And I break a nail.  And Al wonders why I am 'pissy'.

We DID get groceries, walking the 4 blocks to a Safeway.  I look forward to a spinach and mushroom scramble for breakfast.  A SALAD and curry chicken pita sandwich for lunch.  Steak for dinner?  

We listened to the weather report this morning, and remember when traveling previously in the San Juans, it is advisable to get to where you want to go early in the day.  Winds pick up in the afternoons, and it can become uncomfortable quickly.  There is a small craft advisory for this afternoon (we were on the Strait in one yesterday).  It is supposed to be nicer tomorrow, so we will stay here for another day.  

Yay!  Get off the boat, walk a bit!  Stretch the calf muscle (yeah, just one) that has been all tight and crampy. Start the day with a smile, and hope it ends with another one this time.

Monday, July 11, 2011


It was a REALLY long day.

But in one day of running, I exceeded the number of hours I had spent on the ocean previously, INCLUDING the day before.  I have been on two short whale-watching trips on CALM waters, and I was aboard Viking Star on her virgin voyage across the Columbia River Bar several years ago.

Saturday we crossed once again, and we don't intend to bring the boat back in for several more years.

The bar forecast said waves 2-4 feet, and once again, we felt that the forecasters vastly under-reported, though technically the roughest stuff was past the bar.  I was quite anxious beforehand, and this continued for several hours, until we turned north, and the waves settled a bit as afternoon approached.  Conversation was difficult, mainly because I was concentrating so hard on taking calming breaths and consciously relaxing my muscles.  I knew I couldn't maintain this level of anxiety, it was exhausting.  It WAS rather fascinating to watch the six-foot swells heaving up before you, though.  There were white caps everywhere on the 2-4 foot wind waves, on top of the swells.

The ten hours it took to get from Ilwaco to Grays Harbor tired us both out.

But the forecast for Sunday sounded beautiful!  Swells were only to be 1 to 2 feet, every 15 seconds--nearly flat!  And turning to come from the southwest in the afternoon--YAY!  A 'push' up the coast!

Al set his alarm for 2:45 AM, but awoke at 2:30.  He had thought I would be able to stay in bed and sleep some more. Right.  By 3:00, the engine was running and we were pulling away from the dock.  It was VERY dark.  It was scary.  Al turned off the chart plotter because the light was too bright, ruining his night vision.  He steered back to the ocean using the GPS and radar.

We were still motoring westward an hour and a half later when at first light Al says 'There's something big and black straight ahead!  Oh!  It's a whale!'  I saw it just as it disappeared below the water.  Half an hour later we had another siting, and then we both simultaneously saw whales on either side of the boat.  Later, I saw two tails lift and dive.

It WAS a gorgeous day.  Just very long.  It was 20 hours underway before we anchored in Neah Bay, 'just around the corner' after entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

5 AM, sunrise over the Olympic Mountains

Tatoosh Island welcomes us to the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Canada has some 'purple mountain majesty' too!  Vancouver Island

Sunset.  But we have another hour to go to our anchorage.

In the Boat Yard

This is what happens to stainless steel after 5 years in fresh water!  It would be even worse in salt water, hence the replacement with bronze.
Why did Al drill a HOLE in perfectly good boat?!  Actually he drilled  THREE holes, and he installed a grounding plate for the SSB radio.

Fresh paint!

A simple project that took lots of time.  We removed the 450 feet of anchor chain, and added  300 feet of 1' line to the end before reloading it all.  The most  IMPORTANT step--attach it to the boat!

The yard was really busy!  They were even double-stacking.

The finest in boatyard attire!  Al has been 'saving' two sets of clothing and  these shoes for this project.  He, and I, really enjoyed tossing them in the garbage!

Back into the water!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Last night when we left the boat yard I couldn't decide if it was a 'heavy fog' or a 'light mist', but it continued through the night, or even rained, because there was a puddle where I have to sit to get back onto/off of the boat.

Here are some early morning visitors:

By the time I got the camera out, the fourth one had laid down in his corner.  Another visitor trotted through the yard this was a doe, a deer, a female deer.  

So I actually helped with a couple of projects today.  Al wanted to move the boot strip up an inch or so, so I attempted to help with the taping.  He kept saying 'Don't let it wobble!' and I wanted to say 'I can't stop the wind!'  It took awhile, but finally he was happy.  We will see how it looks when we remove it!

And I helped to remove the stainless steel screws in a through-hull with bronze.  Al may follow-up with the story and pictures about that.  But here is my view during this project:

It's a bit unnerving to be sitting under the hull!

Speaking of unnerving!  It is SO strange to move about on board at the moment.  For the past 10 years, the only time I have been on Viking Star is when it's been on the water.  Okay, I stepped on ONCE when it was in dry dock before, but that was a floating dry dock, so there was still some motion.  It is just plain weird to move about the cabin expecting those shifts, and now it DOESN'T move, so it feels like it HAS.  

We are scheduled to be put back in the water at 4 PM tomorrow.  Al did a coat of white paint above the boot stripe this morning.  It needs 24 hours to dry before the second coat, which needs 4 hours drying before it is 'tack free', giving us JUST enough time to do the second coat tomorrow morning.  The bottom paint is less of an issue, with only three hours needed between coats.  Two coats need to go on.  A third if we have enough paint and time.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are We Spoiled Or What?!

We have commented quite a few times in the past 48 hours that Ilwaco is a sad little town.  It appears to have been hit hard by the economic downturn, as evidenced by the numerous empty store fronts on the few streets.

And you've heard of towns where 'they roll up the streets' at 9 PM?  Well, in Iwaco, on a Tuesday night at least, it happens at 7 PM!  Al had been ready to knock off working at about 5, but the marine surveyor arrived about that time.  (We need a new insurance policy now that we are liveaboards, and have to pass inspection first.)  Well, by the time they finished up, and Al got cleaned up, it was 7.  And wouldn't you know.....all five resaurants on the waterfront were closed!  Even the bar that stays open later had already turned off their grill for the night. We decided that we would go to the grocery store and get something to nuke in our motel room.

Should I back up?  The boat is out of the water, and we can't use the sink since it can't drain to the water now.  Can't use the shower either for the same reason.  I guess we CAN use the head, but need to pour rinse water, instead of drawing it from the river/ocean.  SO we have a motel room, with a kitchenette (microwave and mini-fridge).  It can be done, but it is quite difficult to prepare meals when you can't wash your hands, or rinse things.  We finally figured how to do dishes at the boat--use a dish pan, pour into a bucket when done, find a bathroom drain somewhere, carrying the pail over the rail and down the ladder.  Not the most fun, but you do what you have to.

Back to the story.  On our way to the grocery store, we saw the Sea Hag, a bar with a sign out front that said 'Food.  Burgers.'  So we stepped inside and asked if they could make us a couple of burgers and he said 'Sure!'  One more non-diet meal, but we are still losing weight, so I guess it's okay now and then.

But what REALLY made this town SAD was that for quite awhile we couldn't find a decent cup of coffee!  Our motel had an in-room pot, but that was merely acceptable as a wake-me-up.  Don's Portside Cafe had a decent breakfast (though a bit high-priced, we thought), but we found the coffee there to be undrinkable, even after doctoring with cream and sugar, which we don't normally do.

But then we found the Olde Towne Espresso and Trading Post and they saved us.  And the sign out front that said 'Good  Coffee Sold Here' did not lie.

I think we will become good friends with this shop in our days here.  And that looks like it will be longer than we hoped.  Our first hope was to be back in the water on Friday.  But this morning Al found a spot of rot on the hull that he wants to take care of, and a couple of seams to be re-corked.  Not totally unexpected, but we were hoping for a simple bottom paint job.  That means we now hope to be back in the water on Monday, and cross the bar on Tuesday morning,

IF Al can figure out how to take a work call from the ocean....He has work calls scheduled every day next week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Viking Star Goes Flying!

First, drive into a narrow space.

Place straps strategically below the hull.

And lift gently.  Al and I were still aboard until we reached this point.  I NEVER thought I would leave Viking Star by climbing off the bow over the anchor, but that is what we did!

The lift continues.  Al anxiously watches his baby in her swing.

She is then driven forward onto the wash-down pad.

And the slime is washed away.

Then she is driven through the yard....

to our work station.

Blocks are placed beneath the keel.

And stands prop her up.

Ready for the work to begin!

High and dry

We hope to be finished by Friday, but Al has a few work calls lined up for the week also.  Since the boat yard folks don't work on the weekend, if we can't be in the water Friday afternoon, we will be staying until Monday.  

We decided not to stay on the boat while on the yard.  We would not be able to use the shower, toilet, or sink on the boat--quite inconvenient for living.  There is a little motel just a block away that has tv, microwave and coffeepot.  The fridge and freezer still run on our batteries, though we may be getting a power hook-up.  I don't know.