Monday, May 5, 2014

This is a much nicer place

The waterfall at Lowe Inlet was scenic but other than that the place has nothing to recommend it and I can’t imagine why we would ever go back.  The current coming off the waterfall runs about 3 knots which is cute because it keeps the boat aligned pointing at the falls.  However the wind also appears to blow constantly up the inlet and it gusts so that it makes the boat veer wildly.  When the boat veers in the current it heels wickedly and inevitably eventually drags the anchor – we dragged three times in two days and ended up with 500 feet of chain out.  We were planning to stay there until this morning but when Marilyn got up yesterday she said “why don’t we just leave?” and I couldn’t get us underway fast enough. 

We only moved about 20 miles closer to Prince Rupert but what a difference that made!  Yesterday we anchored in a little cove off the east side of the Grenville Channel.  I think its called “Kumealon” Inlet – howeverthehell you might pronounce that.  We’ve been calling it Come Along Bay. 


That’s the view out toward Grenville Channel this morning.  I happened to hear a rumble through the water and grabbed the camera in time to catch a shot of a large NOAA vessel steaming by.  We’re just far enough out of the channel that we don’t get any wake but can still watch boats going by – if we happen to look up at the right moment.  No whales or bears so far which is a bit of a downer but there was a big old eagle keeping an eye on us last night.


I think the bottom is rocky here.  There’s sand and gravel all around the bay so we hoped for a good bottom but it felt like rock when we pulled back on the anchor.  That likely means that either it won’t hold worth a damn or the anchor will be so badly wedged that we will never get it back onboard.  We’ll know tomorrow morning when we try to lift it.  There wasn’t much wind last night so it didn’t get any real test.  We’ve abandoned our expensive anchor alarm that I bought a few years ago in favour of the cutely named “Drag Queen” android app.  It appears to work really well, as long as I remember to push the button when we drop the anchor. 

That caveat applies to any anchor alarm – you need to remember to mark the spot where you drop the anchor.  If you forget to do that and end up marking the spot where the boat stops moving then the alarm isn’t real useful because of simple geometry.  If you imagine the anchor at the centre of a circle then you can legitimately end up at any point on the circumference of the circle with the radius of the circle being determined by how much anchor chain you have out.  If you mark the centre of the circle on your anchor alarm then you should never be further than the radius of the circle away from the mark which means you can set the radius as a safety distance in your anchor alarm.  However, if you forget to mark the centre and end up marking a point on the circumference then you could be as far as the diameter away from the marked spot and still not have dragged the anchor.  From the standpoint of getting a warning about when your anchor is dragging that’s twice the error (because the diameter of a circle is twice the radius). 

Of course its never quite that simple because, even if you do remember to set the centre of the circle on the alarm, the anchor never just falls neatly to the bottom of the ocean and grabs instantly without moving at all.  In the real world you are moving in some direction when you push the button and the anchor needs to fall through the water, land on the bottom, get oriented to dig in and then drag a bit once it does hook up.  On top of that the GPS position accuracy moves around a little or a lot, depending on how good the satellite constellation happens to be.  Typically with 200 feet of chain out we can set our alarm for 200 to 250 feet without having the alarm going off constantly.  We can often set the alarm for the same distance as the chain we have out because the chain actually forms the hypotenuse of a triangle defined by the boat, the anchor and a point on the surface vertically above the anchor.  That means we are always horizontally closer to the anchor than the length of chain we have out.  I like to set it a little on the tight side because I prefer to have the alarm wake me up rather than the sound of the boat grinding on the rocks.  So far we have been woken several times by the anchor alarm and exactly never by the boat grinding on the rocks.  We hope to maintain that situation.

10:00 boat time and we’re almost at the point where the solar power gets ahead of the inverter loads.  I cooked breakfast on the inverter so I haven’t started the generator yet – the batteries are still at 74%.  If Marilyn sleeps another half an hour the solar will probably carry us through to supper. 

I had another bout of my continuing generator adventures starting in Bishop Bay.  The run solenoid will hold itself in just fine but I still haven’t got the points that control the pull in coils working reliably.  I had it off in Hartley Bay, cleaned the points and tried to bend everything into better alignment.  So far it has been working but I hold my breath every time I go to start it.  I can always go below and start it manually but its much more convenient to start it from the cabin.  I’ve got one spare solenoid on the prairies but that’s not much use so I bought another one on ebay thinking that the vendor would work with me to ship it to Ketchikan.  The vendor turned out to be an absolute tit so the solenoid is now travelling by slow mail to Regina.  Once it arrives at our UPS box in Regina – assuming that is before we get back there – I can have Ahmed ship it to meet us somewhere if it turns out that we absolutely need it.

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