Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I didn’t take many pictures at Trawlerfest, which is where we’ve been for most of the last week.  We went last year in San Diego but the Anacortes version is a lot bigger event.  They’re not shy about charging for the privilege of attending but we’re glad we went and we’ll go back another year.  A good measure of how much fun we had is the fact that I hardly took a picture and never wrote a word.  We were just having way too much fun.

There’s a lot of crossover between the converted bus community and the trawler world.  Not that bus owners necessarily end up as boat owners, let alone trawler types but the attitudes and approach to life are similar.  Delfin, the converted steel Romsdahl trawler in the picture above is a good example of a labour of love that far exceeds both the finish and the seaworthiness of any production boat anywhere.   She holds 2500 gallons of fuel, is finished in several exotic hardwoods that I had never even heard of much less seen and is one of the hardiest ocean crossers I have ever seen.

We renewed acquaintances with some of the same people that we saw in San Diego last winter and made some new contacts.  Of course we spent time with Chuck and Gail, former Gray Hawk owners.  And we took a new Krogen owner out for a boat ride to La Conner on a miserably rainy Sunday.  He and his wife are working on their boat on the hard in Anacortes.  They were onboard Saturday night and we agreed that if it was raining on Sunday then we would take them to La Conner (if the sun had been shining they would have been working on their boat).  On Sunday it was absolutely pissing rain all day but unfortunately only George could join us because Sue was nursing a sick dog. 

Yesterday, Monday, we left Anacortes around noon headed for Reid Harbor which is the little marine park just north of the entrance to Roche Harbor.  As we approached Wasp Passage we were passed by one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s fast RIBs.  It went buzzing off into the distance and disappeared up a channel.  Then a few minutes later it came zooming back out of that channel and passed us at high speed on the starboard but immediately rounded our stern and came up alongside to port.  We had been warned by many people that we would certainly be boarded by USCG at some point and we were. 

We talked out the open cabin door and they told me that they wanted me to stay in gear but pull back to idle.  When I did that they eased up alongside until they were touching the side of Gray Hawk.  Marilyn opened the rail for them and they boarded while we were still underway.  Three of them came aboard – a coastie and coastie-trainee and a border guard- they call them Homeland Security but they’re border guards.  It was all very polite and civilized although I’m sure that could have changed in a heartbeat if they thought it was necessary.  From our standpoint it was just another boating adventure so we went along with the program and enjoyed the interaction.  When we were all done apparently one of them thanked Marilyn for our “cooperativeness and pleasant nature”.  I didn’t know we had a choice.

Last night we anchored in Reid Harbor.  It felt like home because we’ve been there or on the other side in Prevost Harbor every time we have passed by on Gray Hawk. 

We had to take two runs at it to get our new anchor to set.  I don’t know what happened the first time but it just wouldn’t set.  The roll bar is supposed to flop it over and prevent that from happening but it wasn’t working yesterday so we pulled it up, moved over a bit and took another pull.  That time it set solidly and I was able to power up to be sure that it had dug in.  Not long after we got it set we had some vicious winds blow in and I think one of the gusts actually rolled the anchor out but it must have reset almost immediately because we didn’t move from that spot all night.  This morning when it came time to pull it the winch wouldn’t spring the anchor out of the bottom.  We pulled up over the anchor and the winch stalled with the chain straight down.  I waited a minute or so, tried the winch again and it pulled maybe another 8 inches of chain and then stalled again.  A couple of tries like that still hadn’t freed the anchor so I put the engines in gear alternately and it popped out immediately.  When we got it to the surface it was still full of really heavy mud.  In fact we had so much mud on it that we brought two live clams to the surface. 

I sat through an anchoring seminar at Trawlerfest that was presented by the US Power Squadron.  It was pretty light duty but the questions at the end of it prompted some discussion that was useful and after the seminar I walked back to lunch with Dennis Umstot.  He and his wife have cruised extensively in the Pacific Northwest as well as the Baltic and have crossed the Atlantic under their own power so I have a lot of respect for his opinion.  His advice on anchors was that if your windlass will lift it then its not too big. 

One of the questions at the end of the seminar was about setting the anchor and how hard you should pull on it to check whether or not it was set.  The Power Squadron guy clearly didn’t do much (any??) anchoring and he was really fudging his answers to the point where Dennis finally stepped in.  His answer was that unless you could power up the engines after you set the anchor then you weren’t anchored.  He went on to say that in his opinion well over half the boats in Cap Sante marina were under-equipped in the anchor department.  I don’t think we’re in that category anymore and I sure slept good last night.

Marilyn on the other hand didn’t sleep so well.  At some point during the night she heard some splashing at her head and then became aware that someone or some thing had boarded the boat.  I dunno why the hell she didn’t wake me at that point but she didn’t.  Instead she and the 4-legged idiot went out on-deck – with a flashlight - to investigate the boarding.  By the time they got there the swim grid was empty but she said it had a big wet spot on one side so likely we were boarded by an otter or maybe a seal.

We went way out of the way on the trip to Anacortes in the hope that a passage down the west side of San Juan island would let us view some of the elusive whales.  No luck.  I’m beginning to think that whales are like sunshine in BC – much talked about but seldom seen.

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