Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Port Angeles Diversion

Half way up the Strait of Juan de Fuca we have diverted to Port Angeles for an unscheduled engineering stop.

Backing up a little on the story, on Monday morning we set off from Gabriola at 0600, first light. The weather had changed significantly and we were heading into over 20 knots of South wind. It was a Small Craft Advisory all day (Last Mango is not a "small craft" - Ed) and further up the Strait of Georgia there was even a gale warning. The seas were fairly flat but wind streaked. We had an easy passage into US waters and went into the routine changeover from Rogers to AT&T (for our internet and telephone) and swapping the courtesy flags. The weather actually got worse and worse and at the Friday Harbor customs dock yours truly was soaked by the driving rain. But our day was brightened straight away when the familiar figure of Officer Tarantino stepped out of the CBP shed, looked at us and immediately said "It's the Panamanians!". Since we already had our cruising licence (issued in Alaska) and already had our visa waiver stamp (from Seattle on Friday) there was, unbelievably, no paperwork at all. Knock me down with a feather. Just the usual questions, like do we have any of that Cuban rum Sir? Er, no. And we didn't have any peppers or tomatoes to cut open either. Ten minutes later we were on our way to Anacortes dodging the San Juan ferries, which I think actually have a location round some headland or other where they multiply in secret. On the way to Anacortes we wandered into a procession of Grand Banks who were obviously on a rally. In line, all with AIS on, faithfully following their leader. I stepped on the revs and rather unfairly did my 10 minute WOT (Wide Open Throttle) routine just before Anacortes and smartly tied up at the fuel dock while they all circled hopefully. Just to answer your question, yes, a GB will always need fuel. But what they didn't know is that I had not fueled up since Alaska! And that I still had over a thousand gallons in my tanks! But I am afraid that they did have to wait while I loaded up another 1,250 gallons. And the price..........had gone down by nearly half a dollar since April, so that was a good surprise. That fuel dock is the second busiest, apparently, in the United Sates, does a massive turnover of fuel. So it is (a) fresh and (b) cheaper than other places ($3.50 per gallon). While we were fuelling our crew member arrived - good timing to assist with docking in our slip in the marina since the wind had increased even more. Ben Lee is our crew - a very bright engineering graduate with a lot of hands on Nordhavn experience; in between advanced college courses at present.

This morning we started off on our 86 mile course to Neah Bay; the weather had flattened out totally and things were looking settled at least for the first part of the trip. But, at the first engine room check - carried out every two hours while under way - we immediately noticed a leak of hydraulic fluid from the stabilizer manifold. There have been the occasional drips here before but this is different; it is a persistent leak. After some inspection and observation we checked out the manuals available on the internet, and then called the TRAC service contacts to discuss the problem. The consensus was that the low pressure monitor was probably compromised or ruptured inside, and that what is now a small leak could easily worsen and become a massive leak as the system runs under 1,200 pounds of pressure. Not taking any action is not an option; the part needs to be replaced. It is really a question of whether we do this now, Neah Bay, somewhere on the Oregon Coast, or San Francisco. Having looked at the weather report for the Cape Mendocino Buoy, round which we need to pass in a few days, I want to be able to rely on my stabilizer system! So we have ordered the parts (thank you to Ernie Romeo from Trac for his most helpful assistance) and diverted to Port Angeles to await the Fedex delivery hopefully tomorrow.

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