Sunday, March 6, 2011

Friends, Pine Needles & Gabriola Pass

Hi All

The last couple of months in Panama have been so busy with family and friends visiting. Panama is a very popular destination and we have had a continual stream of friends coming either for a vacation or checking out second home suitability or retirement location. Susie’s granddaughter Ellie also came with Spenser and his girlfriend and we packed as much as we could into their stay. We also had cruiser visitors, both of whom have Nordhavn 55s – no coincidence there then! Anyway we left Panama on Wednesday and now we are back on board Last Mango!

Kevin and Robert had done a wonderful job of looking after Last Mango over the past four months and she was in great shape. I had written a brief for them and also a customized walk through check-list to try and anticipate any problems. To winterize the boat we had run down our diesel, gasoline(dinghy) and water tanks in the first instance. I paralleled all the batteries (thrusters, main and wing starters, and the house bank) so that all batteries would charge together otherwise the starter and thruster batteries would probably discharge. Charging would be by the inverter in the first instance, the 100A Victron as back up, followed by the Mastervolt charger in the last resort. On board we were running two dehumidifiers (on a timer), a couple of small space heaters, and just one small chest freezer; everything else was turned off. The sea water here is unlikely to freeze so it is rather like leaving your boat in a cold bath; the sea water will actually keep the boat slightly warmer than the air temperature (usually only just above freezing here in the winter) and so freezing inside is unlikely. The main danger is that there is a undetected power outage and a loss of shore power which will cause a battery run-down; fortunately we had no such issues. The other problem is usually dampness; but inside everything remained remarkably dry with no condensation. However there are three small but persistent leaks of water into the engine room and lazarette; probably rain water from a leaking deck drain. Trying to find and fix these is on the maintenance list.

It has taken us a couple of days to get everything organized and checked over. Yesterday we cleared up four months of pine needles and used nearly a gallon of SuperClean washing the boat. We had the usual distractions of (a) a pair of eagles (b) the odd seal (c) the kingfisher (d) the otters, who clearly have regarded our swim step as their territory over the winter and were curious as to who we were. Today we went out for a sea trial; it was a stunningly beautiful day with no wind and we ran Gabriola Pass at slack and then back nearly an hour later. It was a new moon yesterday and in the pass the current was already strong; today it increased from slack to 5.4 knots in only two and a half hours.

And now the adventure begins, well, at least the planning and preparation for the adventure begins. The weather tomorrow and Monday is looking good so we are heading for Seattle and our scheduled maintenance and haul out. The plan tomorrow is a four hour passage to Sidney to clear out of Canada Customs and Immigration and then a crossing to the San Juans and clearing into the US at either Roche or Friday Harbor. If the weather holds then on Monday we will have a nine or ten hour passage to Seattle, the timing looks good from a tidal point of view and we should have the tide with us through Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound. We need to migrate our internet and phone from Rogers to AT&T and also to move back onto the US boat notification system. Back in November I booked us into Emerald Harbor Marine to Hatton Marine for our scheduled maintenance visit; we probably will spend at least a couple of weeks  getting through the list of jobs. Engine, generator, wing engine, water maker, windlass, stabilizers, hydraulics, propane sensor system, life raft, and much more …………… at the start of the cruising season and particularly before heading to Alaska it is going to be important to be in the best shape possible. And there is some new kit in the mix too.

If you would like to follow our trip live while we are under way, you should be able to find Last Mango on We are on Pacific Time. The short term program is: Seattle for maintenance and things (maybe even a visit to the microbrewery………..); spending some time in Washington working our way North from Seattle to Anacortes for fuel and quilting supplies(yes!); the essential stop in Gabriola for R&R; picking up VIP passengers in Vancouver 9 April; heading North towards Alaska on 10 April.

Best wishes

David and Susie
Nordhavn 5508 “Last Mango”

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