Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dawn Drama, Voltmeters, and finally making our Way.

The departure from Seattle didn't go quite as planned. We slipped quietly out of Elliot Bay but within a mile or two our main navigation computer powered off and we were down to Navnet2. And we discovered that all AC power was off. Then that the inverter had died. And it was cold, rainy, windy, and dark. After a fruitless twenty minutes of investigation in the lazarette (the inverter's lair) it was time for an executive decision - turn around and head back into the marina. After some research we activated the inverter bypass breakers and hooked the AC directly to the generator. A little bit later in the morning Dan at Emerald Harbor Marine quickly diagnosed that it was probably the 275amp fuse on the DC supply to the inverter. I had checked it but visually there are no indications that it had blown but a few minutes with the voltmeter (after a Phillips screwdriver probably the most used tool on board) verified that the fuse had gone. Once the fuse was replaced everything powered up back to normal.

It was clear that Saturday was a write off so there was really only one thing to do and that was to head out for lunch. Paul at the Market Arms ( will look after you and serve up Elysian IPA and great fish and chips. Not to mention watching footie/rugger on the telly (Old World expressions, sorry). After a leisurely lunch, a long walk, and the statutory stop at the bar at Palisades, Susie and I had plenty of time to reflect on our abortive start to the day and to figure out "what went wrong". In brief, definitely OE. Oh yes, operator error. One important area to pay careful attention to on your boat is power management, and I have not yet fully understood the parameters within which the inverter wants to operate. Looking back at our departure this morning we just had too many space heaters on causing overload to the inverter and it just didn't want to play. On this occasion the main fuse blew and on another occasion the inverter just went on strike. I have been unfairly expecting somewhat more than the 4000 watts that the inverter is capable of putting out and I will just have to be more careful, it is the space heaters that are the problem. It will just have to warm up in the PNW! But at least it has all been a learning experience and we now know more about the back-up system using the inverter bypass.

So now Sunday morning we left on the tide at 0500 and started our run north. We later learned that the wind and tide combination had made the Eastern Entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca very uncomfortable the previous day. But our trip was very calm and we were carried on a tide of 3 or 4 knots at times. We were in Anacortes by midday and we topped off the tanks. Last Mango carries some 2,300 gallons and since our last refueling (also at Anacortes nine months ago) we had used only 900 gallons. I had bought diesel treatment Stanadyne in bulk in Seattle so that came in very useful. Soon we were on our way to Roche Harbor where we made rendezvous with John and Debbie Marshall on Serendipity. A couple of sisterships at the visitor dock and a very sociable evening and a leisurely team breakfast the next morning at the Lime Kiln Cafe. Roche Harbor is a wonderful last-stopping point in the San Juans before crossing into Canada. Very protected, the harbor and anchorage are a pretty resort containing the Haro Hotel, named after the nearly Haro Strait which took its name in 1790 from the pilot assisting Spanish explorers who were researching and charting the region.

Monday lunchtime we cleared out of the US again with Officer Tarantino. He has always been very courteous and helpful since we need to bear in mind the non-visa waiver issues affecting entry to the US on private yachts. In an hour or more we were across the Haro Strait and close to Port Sidney and the Canadian Customs dock; before entering the marina we went through our pre-docking procedures and discovered that we had a problem with the thusters. 20 knots of wind, a single-screw boat, the Customs Dock to manouevre and then a reverse-in starboard tie in a tight slip. Not my idea of fun, so we headed out to sea for a few minutes to find out what was going on. There are four helm stations on my Nordhavn 55 and strangely enough only the stern helm station was fully operational. Well, so be it, in an hour or so we were cleared in to Canada and then snug in our slip. The following day we were round at Philbrooks Boatyard ( and Tom led a marathon voltmeter session to find the gremlin in the bow thruster controls. Took a while too, but it was cornered and dealt with. Pesky relay switching device deep in the system.

Hopefully closing the chapter on maintenance and troubleshooting, the voltmeter is back in the toolbox. Ever the optimist. Wednesday we pressed north. Another very quiet flat sea run. Passing by the cliffs near the Indian Reserve on Valdes Island we saw a large number of American Bald Eagles, must have been around 20 in all, including fledglings from last year. The photos were a little distant so we will have to wait until a later post to get some close up shots. By late afternoon Last Mango was safely tied up in her Degnen Bay haven and we had a day or two's rest (does preparing the boat for visitors count as a rest?) including a tasty supper out with friends at a live music evening (Amber Hanley singing a wonderful Eva Cassidy selection at

We have now crossed the Strait of Georgia and are in Coal Harbour, Vancouver. We are awaiting the arrival of our visitors this evening.........the youngsters. We are still working on that list of things to do; the particular kind of boat list to which there are always things to add! Tomorrow we will head off for our two week cruise with the family. I am expecting that the guest bloggers will take over and report the travels from their own perspectives, we might learn something!

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