Saturday, July 6, 2013

All tied up

We’re in a tiny little bay on an unnamed island in Copeland Island Marine Park.  We got up very early – over strenuous protests from my crew who has gone back to bed to recover from her early morning travails.  I wanted to catch the high tide for the exit from Roscoe Bay and that meant either 5:00 AM or 4:30 PM local time.  The problem with the afternoon departure was that we had never been to this spot where we are now tied up.  So we didn’t know what to expect and we didn’t even know if it would be open or if we would be able to fit ourselves in assuming no one else was here.  So we set an early alarm and were crossing the shallow bits at 5:45 boat time this morning.


Then we had a pleasant 2 hour trip south to the Copeland Islands.  When we arrived we scouted out a couple of potential spots and finally settled on this tiny little indent on the west side of an unnamed island.  We anchored close to high tide and since then I’ve been nervously watching the water disappear from underneath us.  We now look perilously close to the rocks behind us but I think we’re actually OK.  As the tide goes out we also look alarmingly close to the bottom of the ocean.  In order to ensure that we’re OK I built me an extremely accurate depth measuring device. (EADMD).  Some of you might mistake it for a random plumbing fitting tied onto the end of a short piece of line but you’d be wrong – it is so much more than that.


According to my EADMD we have roughly 8 feet at the transom and we are now approaching the low for the next three days.  We need about 4.5 feet at the bow and a little less at the transom so that should give us 4 feet clear under the keel.  I guess that’s OK.  The tradeoff would be to move into deeper water which would make me feel more secure but that would allow less anchor scope which would make me feel less secure.  The problem is that the effect of anchoring scope is not immediately obvious whereas water depth changes by the minute and shows immediately on the depth sounder.  We’ve got about 225 feet of chain out in about 12 feet of water.  Add in the roughly 8 feet from the waterline to the foredeck for a total of 20 feet and that 225 feet translates into better than 10:1 scope.  7:1 is considered conservative and lots of times we’re on 5:1 or less so we should be OK.  The problem is that at high tide that 20 feet turns into 30 feet or even a little more and that in turn drops the scope to maybe 7:1.  We’re relatively exposed to the NW winds here so I’d like to have as much scope as possible.  The theory of anchor scope is that you want as much length as possible so you are lifting the anchor as little as possible.  You want to pull, not lift, on the anchor.

Anchoring was a bit of an adventure because the bay is too narrow to swing more than about 90 degrees.  That’s no problem once we get the shore tie line in place. (because at that point we don’t swing at all)  However once we got the anchor set the wind was trying to swing us 180 degrees to where we needed to put the shore tie line and it was blowing pretty good.  If we got past about 90 or 100 degrees we were going to end up on a reef.  I had to swing the boat against the anchor a couple of times before we got everything lined up for a quick dinghy run to shore.  We got a single line in place and then used the dinghy like a pusher tug to get sort of lined up and start getting the line tight.  Then we got a 2nd line ashore and ran it back to the boat.  Its much easier to leave if the shore line just loops around something on shore and comes back to the boat.  That way we don’t have to launch and retrieve the dinghy to bring in the shore tie.  Once we got one line looped back to the boat we still weren’t happy with our location so we ran a second line ashore and back to the boat.  Now we’re firmly planted in a 3 point stance between the anchor on a long scope and two widely spread shore tie lines.

Once we’ve sat here for half a day I’ll be a lot more confident about going ashore or taking the kayaks to explore the islands.  Marilyn spotted this area on the way north and thought it looked like a great spot to explore in the kayaks.  So far everything we have seen makes me think she was right. 


After we went through a complete tide cycle we got some confidence in our location and took off in the kayaks to circumnavigate this little island that we’re anchored next to.  Its a long way around under pedal power but we made it home again.


My solar installation has been doing a great job now that we get to see the sun for more than a couple of hours per week. 


That’s the Trimetric state of charge meter showing 15.3 amps going into the batteries but what it doesn’t show is that we have a pretty heavy fixed load on the inverter all the time.  When the sun shines we make solar power but we also use a lot more power for refrigeration.  Our deep freeze isn’t hyper-efficient so it runs a lot of the time as well as the apartment sized fridge.  Not to mention computers, TVs, radios, etc.


That’s the charge controller at roughly the same time I took the picture of the Trimetric so somewhere we’re burning up roughly 16 amps at 12 volts out of the 31.8 amps total that the panels were producing at that moment.  I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the controller but when I’m in the engine room and think about it I sometimes check it.  I’ve never seen it over 40 amps but it gets close some times.  We’ve got 690 nominal watts of solar – 35 amps at 12 volts is 420 watts – 40 amps would be 480 watts.  And I guess its really at 13.2 or 13.5 volts when we’re charging so the numbers are a little higher.  So that’s roughly 70% of theoretical capacity.  I think that’s pretty damn good – probably better than I expected by quite a bit.

On a typical day now we don’t start the generator until its time to make dinner.  We’ll make breakfast, many many cups of coffee and at least one pot of tea in the morning.  Then we’ll run the genset long enough to make dinner – maybe 1/2 an hour and usually about the same amount of time late in the afternoon to make supper.  Its 8:00 now and the batteries are still at 96%.  They’ll be in the mid 80’s by morning after we watch a movie for a couple of hours this evening.  In the past we would have had to run the generator a minimum of 3 hours per day and often longer to get to the end of the day with that much charge left. 

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