Sunday, March 10, 2013

Back in Vancouver

I’m back in my favorite anchorage in front of BC Place.

IMG_6583 I need to go back to the prairies but its still so damn cold out there and I wanted to test out my new solar panels so this seemed like an easy choice.  I’ve got a friend that is coming out here for a board meeting early next week.  His visit provided a convenient excuse for a return trip to Vancouver. 

Along the way I stopped in a Plumper Cove on Keats Island, another regular stop for us. 

IMG_6575 The weather wasn’t very co-operative for testing out solar panels.   Currie, one of our dockmates at Cow Bay, told me that only an idiot would install solar panels in BC.  Between the sun being low on the horizon and constantly obscured by clouds he’s likely right on the idiot comment.  I did get a really good test day yesterday – lots of sunshine all day and I ran the generator for less than an hour total.  Even with that limited genset runtime I woke up this morning to 82% state of charge on the batteries.  That’s the real test – where do the batteries end up after running the furnace all night.  Anything over 75% is great.  Right now I’m under solid gray overcast and the panels are not keeping up with the furnace and the fridge but they’re not losing a bunch of ground either.  I briefly ran the gennie while I was making breakfast and I’m sitting at 92% SOC right now (10:00 AM). 


That’s fog hanging in Howe Sound as I left Plumper Cove on Friday.  Its pretty cool how it will hang down low in the channels but also pretty scary when you disappear into it. 


Really scary when you consider that these guys are out there with you and they travel at 20-25 kts.  There was one of them coming up on my port side as I approached that fog bank Friday but fortunately as we got closer to it the fog slowly dissipated. 

I stopped in Mannion Bay for a couple of hours to visit our friend Bruce and then came on into False Creek Friday afternoon.  Yesterday (Saturday) was just a glorious sunny day.  I put the dinghy in the water – it started on the third pull – and motored down to Granville Island.  When you anchor here you need to complete an anchoring permit and turn in your registration so I did that and then I just wandered around Granville enjoying the sunshine.  There was a mob of locals out enjoying the spring weather but the dinghy dock was wide open. 

I think our dinghy motor is the best outboard I have ever owned.  I haven’t had good luck with outboards so maybe it was just my turn but this one keeps getting better.  When I bought it I thought “Oh yeah, here we go again”.  My first outboard was a worn out Johnson that I bought from an old fisherman employee.  I put it on my little plywood Steve Redmond design Bluegill skiff.  It was reliably unreliable and we came back to the dock using the oars more than once.  The next outboard was a Johnson/Evinrude 3 cylinder of about 55 HP that came with a 14 foot runabout we bought from some distant acquaintances.  It also came with JB weld patches on the crankcase but it ran more or less reliably once we got it started.  Pat Smith and I pulled the cylinders off once and discovered that one of the pistons was missing its skirting.  I don’t recall what we did but I expect we put it back together and I sold it.

Starting it was always an adventure.  Once I replaced some ignition coils under the flywheel and forgot to tighten the flywheel nut.  We started it up at the Narrows at Waskesiu, made an ice cream run down the lake with the kids after supper and when I idled it down at the breakwater it started to run like crap and eventually died.  We had to get a ride home to the Narrows with the ranger.  Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up suddenly when I remembered that I hadn’t tightened the flywheel nut.  Fortunately when I pulled the cover the next morning the nut was still there and a couple of turns with a wrench had us back on the water.  My most recent outboard, prior to the antique black Merc we have now, was a CCC (cheapo chinese crap) knockoff of a Yamaha 4 HP.  It was brand new and  pretty well as reliably unreliable as my first Johnson.

When we bought the new-to-us antique Merc it was a major pain to start, it didn’t rev up and it absolutely wouldn’t idle.  Kind of par for the course for me and outboards but definitely not a pleasant experience.   My first move was to dump some kind of weasel piss in the gas tank - “injector cleaner” I think.  I also checked with the local outboard guru in Cow Bay but I think my antique Merc was beneath him, he clearly wasn’t interested.  Hope springs eternal and I thought it might just be my imagination but it seemed to me that the weasel piss was helping.  It seemed like every time I started the motor it was a little better.  The last time I was over here in Vancouver was the first time the motor revved out far enough to get the dinghy up on plane.  At the same time it started idling reliably.  This time it started from cold on the third pull, idled perfectly and generally ran like other people’s outboards do.  I think its to the point where SWMBO could count on starting it and that’s a first for outboards in our lives.


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