Shakedown Cruise

As August comes to a close, we are now frantically reassembling all essential stuff so that we can at least get away and be independent of shore for 10 days.  The lovely, shiny rebuilt engine is back “in the hole” rewired and replumbed.  The diesel purrs like a satisfied kitten!   Meticulous shaft alignment has eliminated a lot of vibration.

Karin in her usual, highly organized mode made lists of everything which we meticulously and systematically ticked off, item by item.  Several loads were transported down to Arabella including the new bunk cushions, salon cushions, flares and safety equipment, food, clothing, toiletries etc etc

The big day arrived (Friday 5th September) and after work we scurried down to the marina and cast off at about 6:30pm. Knowing that dark would be upon us soon we set anchor in Cadboro Bay for the night, plenty scope of heavy chain, and slept like logs.  It seems hard to believe that finally we will have 10 days to thoroughly test all systems and put Arabella through her sailing paces.

On the second night we anchored in Princess Cove on the south side of Portland Island, third night in Montague Harbour on Galiano Island.

The adventure started on day 4 !!  Without much wind and with a small adverse current we decided it was prudent to motor through narrow Active Pass rather than sail. About a third way through the engine died!  Can’t say we we not expecting it though, because we were trying to run the starboard tank dry. It was obviously dry!  We switched over the isolation valves to port tank, but the engine would not start. The temporary fuel starvation would require the engine fuel supply system to be bled, not very complicated, but potentially time consuming as it would be a first on Arabella.

Suddenly everything was kicked up a notch or two!  BC Ferries were approaching from opposite ends of the pass. As is their custom, they would pass port to port about half way through ….. right where we were “dead in the water”.

We worked quickly and efficiently and hoisted the mainsail and unfurled the genoa, thankful for a slight breeze that gave us enough “way” to move out of the path of the two mammoth ships bearing down on us.  We continued to make progress under sail only and eventually emerged into the open waters of Georgia Strait and headed north with about 10 knots of wind on our port quarter.An exciting juncture for me was to finally shake out the Monitor Self Steering rig to see how well it works. It does!!  What pleasure to watch the Monitor strut its thing in an uncanny way. In the open waters of the strait we sailed from Active Pass to Porlier Pass ( 13 nautical miles) without touching the wheel. This gave me time to go down below, bleed the fuel system and fiddle with the engine while Karin was able to sit and read in the cockpit whilst keeping watch.  Some bubbles did bleed, and the engine started with the first turn of the key.944566_427556070691967_1223185228_nThe wind started to get fluky and almost died, so rather than motor all the way to Nanaimo which was our planned destination, we decided to go back into the Gulf Islands through Porlier Pass.  Initially I got quite excited because despite the water boiling out against us we seemed to be making some progress. It was not to be. Half way through we must have lost our “eddy” and suddenly all 15 tons of Arabella was spat out like driftwood and we were back where we started half an hour ago. I decided to sail back and forth or hove-to to wait out the turn of the tide.  In so doing I got bored and decided to “challenge” the current to see if another back-eddy could be

Karin retrieving crab trap
Karin retrieving crab trap

found. Soon I got excited again as we were making excellent progress under sail only against the waning current, but this time we “hit another wall” and were sailing at 5 knots through the water but making no progress ahead at all. In desperation to “beat the current” we fired up the diesel and managed to motor-sail through successfully. In Trincomali Channel the wind piped up to 15 knots and we sailed all the way to Telegraph Harbour on Thetis Island where we topped up the diesel tanks. This was the first time since leaving Seattle more than a year ago, so a quick calculation using elapsed hours on the engine revealed a consumption of 2.6L per hour, a bit better than expected.

crab cleaningWe made our way into Ladysmith for the evening where we met some friends there instead of Nanaimo for dinner. The next few days merged into relaxation supreme with nice sailing in the middle of the day, and each afternoon we dropped the anchor in remote coves. Our favorite was Selby Cove on the north-west side of Provost Island. Very quiet and perfectly private …. just as we like it.

All things told, our shakedown cruise did what it was supposed to do, which was create a new work-list of things to do on Arabella:

  • house batteries are at the end of their life. Need replacing, probably with AGM’s.
  • refrigeration needs to be upgraded
  • hot-water heater needs replacing because the engine heat exchange module seems totally plugged. Cold showers were bracing!  Brrrrrrrr!!
  • water pressure is inexplicably low in both hot and cold lines. That means there could be a flow restriction between the tanks and the pump or further along the feed lines.
  • mainsail traveler-car needs to be re-engineered to properly secure the upwind rigs.
  • anchor chain needs to be marked with colour codes so we know how much chain is out.
  • anchor shackle needs to be replaced with a more compact type so it will feed easily through the bow roller.
  • winches need some serious servicing.
  • control lines for the Monitor servo-vane to the helm need replacing – too old and too stiff

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