GETTING READY TO HEAD SOUTH AGAIN - The more I get done - the more there is to do!!

We will be taking Mirador south to San Diego during early September '10 and then on to Mexico in the winter.  I thought I would write a little bit about what it takes to get a really well equipped and maintained boat ready to head off on a 1400 mile NE Pacific voyage.  The initial list I started with in early August is at the bottom of this page: Go to the initial list


I sailed Mirador 33 NM up to Kingston, Washington on August 12 where I was joined by Martin and Sandy.  Martin and I worked together all over the US and Canada during the 1980s and '90s.  Martin and Sandy left Puget Sound in July 1999 aboard their Columbia 38 - Mystique.  They spent five years sailing thru Mexico, Central America, the Panama Canal, Columbia and the US southeast.   They then sailed to Bermuda and on to the Mediterranean Sea.  They lived aboard Mystique in eastern Spain, Sicily, SW Italy, the Adriatic, and for the last two years in Marmaris, Turkey.

The three of us spent eight days sailing  300 miles north thru the San Juan Islands and then south thru the Swinnomish Slough, La Conner, and Saratoga Pass back to Edmonds, Washington where they are visiting relatives.   During the trip Martin and I discovered many additional items that needed to be attended to prior to leaving for San Diego. 

My brother Jim arrived from Florida at 1 AM August 25.  Jim is a very experienced cruiser and has helped install most of the equipment on Mirador.  As of beer time on the 25th - Jim thinks we'll still be working on stuff next week.  I am still hoping to depart by August 31 at the latest - some good weather is forecast for the Washington and Oregon coastal waters, out to 100 NM, during September 1 - 5.  It is 160 NM (three easy days) out to Cape Flattery, the NW tip of Washington, but it requires a 90 mile westbound transit of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.  This time of year - the West wind blows 15 - 25 knots thru the straights about five days a week and makes for an uncomfortable westbound trip.   It is best to wait for a period of no wind or east wind.


Saturday evening - August 28 - everything is done and all we need to do is put groceries on the boat.  We'll do that Sunday and leave early Monday morning, August 30.

Here is a list of the new items I added in the last couple of days and their status as of 9 PM Sunday, August 29:

32. Figure out why water tank dial is not reading properly (3/4=Full & Empty=1/4??) - the old float was water logged - the new float is too tall and prevents the arm from coming all the way up.  The new float needed to be relocated on the pivoting arm so it did not hit the top of the tank.   Now the dial reads F with 1/2" air left in the tank and it reads E with 1.5" water (12 gallons) left in the tank. 

33. Carabiners for heavy duty gype preventers are badly corroded and locked shut - haven't used this system in 11 years - will continue to just use the "rubber band" method

34. Harken Batt cars on main are installed upside down - done - the universal joint on each batt car needed to be rotated 180 - now the main goes up and down very easily and fits under the sailcover.

35. Need large canvas bag to secure Portebote dinghy seats when disassembled - folded the Portebote and lashed to starboard (windward headed south on the US Pacific coast) lifeline stanchions.  The wood transom and biggest wood seat fit inside.  Other two plastic seats and oars will live in the lazerette - now that all the old junk is cleared out of it!

36. New Davis radar reflector needs permanent mount on spreader - brother Jim found a cool way to mount it on a halyard so it won't abrade the halyard - which has happened twice

37. Fill 2nd propane tank - done - problem was it was almost new and the first refill did not purge the inert gas - the propane guy spent 15 minutes working on it and charged me nothing!

38. Get more 20 micron filter elements for watermaker (Puget Sound plankton clog them every 15 hours run time) - found two more - no one carries them anymore - also found two more in huge storage under owners bed

39. Get more 5 micron filter elements for water maker (just in case) - found two more - no one carries them anymore - also found two more in huge storage under owners bed

40. Put fishing tackle back on board - will do this last - reports of lot's of Tuna just 15 - 30 miles off Washington and Oregon coast

41. Get all the Pacific NW cruising guides off the boat - done

42. Put paper charts and sailing directions for US west coast back on board - done

43. Put life raft on board - done

44. Put sea anchor and all it's line and chain on board - done - where to stow it - empty a lot of useless crap out of the lazerette and now everything fits in out of the way.

45. Find Dorade covers (don't want that 50 degree ocean air in the boat!) - found them right where there were supposed to be!

46. Figure out why bow washdown pump is so weird!  It runs perfectly when connected to power in the cockpit.  When connected to 12V power in the anchor locker it will not run and pulls the voltage on the power circuit down to 0V.  The Fluke DVM reads 13.5V between the + and - terminals when the pump is not attached.  The +/- power leads are 12 gauge 3' long connected to 00 cable directly to the windlass circuit breaker. 

47. Update insurance to provide coverage from Cape Flattery to Mexican border - out 200 miles (BOAT/US has no limit on distance off shore) - took two days to get new endorsement but BOAT/US reduced the premium $78 because our new home port will be San Diego - lower risk than Puget Sound

48. Find and reserve a marina slip in San Diego - SunRoad in San Diego Show me the SunRoad home page - still waiting to receive confirmation from Sun Road after paying them $50 for application and credit check and waiting three days.   After two more phone calls on Saturday morning, the 28th, they finally confirmed our slip for sometime after September 18. 

49. Replace spreader lights - starboard was already burned out - port side burned out while testing it - port light is working - starboard seems to have bad connection in wiring at spreader

50.  Figure out why cockpit 12V socket quit working while testing cockpit flood light - removed corrosion on back of terminals - they should always be dry

51. Installed cockpit flood light on underside of solar panel arch - done

52. Take Portebote apart and secure hull, seats, transom - done - see 35 above

53. Buy more fuel filters (will have 4 onboard after changing them) and oil filters (will have three on board - along with 3 gallons fresh Delo 400) - done - then found two more fuel filters in lazerettte

54. Register EPIRB - done

55. Figure out why XM antenna is only working part time - can not make it work - moved it - checked lead - no antenna signal at XM receiver.  Jim checked entire antenna wire run and found no problems - now the XM has been working perfectly all day.

56. Replace burned out steaming light on mast - wasn't burned out - corrosion on connections in housing

57. Change diesel oil and filter - done

58. Change fuel filters - no need - not pulling any extra vacuum and each has only 100 hours on it

59. Top off fluid in transmission - done

60. Clean algae pre-filter for watermaker - done

61. Clear raw water filter for Yanmar - done

62. Clean and lube fittings on downwind pole - done

63. Remove broken shackle on topping lift for downwind pole - -done     

64. Remove lines from sheet stoppers and clean stopper mechanisms - done

65. Remove all halyards and sheets and miscellaneous other lines and soak them and then wash them in fresh water - done

66. Wash and clean all sheaves - done

Things to do before leaving for San Diego - STATUS of original items - 9 PM August 27, 2010

 Here is a list of items, in no particular order of importance,  that needed attention - I started this list in June 2010. 

1. Make a new man overpole pole - I'm going to build my own out of a crab pot float, 1/2" PVC pipe, lead shot, and a orange flag - total cost $20 compared to $149 for a Forespar

2. Fix or replace the inoperative Forespare floating strobe that attaches to the life buoy - Forespar says no repair is possible - it is a sealed unit so I need to buy a new one ($120) or figure out how to use a smaller personal strobe.

3. Repair the corroded ground plane for the HAM radio - Decided running the copper ground foil thru the bilge was futile - it corrodes way to fast.  Installed it on the ceiling of the engine room and then down to the aluminum tanks - can now transmit on all frequencies with an     SWR of less than 1.5 (that is very good for a boat) - took 12 hours of very frustrating labor to clean the old mess and install the new.

4. Install new firmware for the Pactor-IIpro TNC (HAM email hardware) - Took a few hours but I finally remembered how to install Pactor firmware using Airmail.  I was pleased to discover that I had already paid the ~$225 to SCS (Pactor-IIpro manufacturer) to purchase the Pactor III license for even higher speed data transfer. 

5. Update the Airmail software (HAM e-mail and weather fax software) - Done - Can not say enough good things about Airmail and Winlink - it is astounding what the developers and support personal have done.  The system is comprehensive, easy to use, and very useful.  I can't imagine cruising without Airmail and Winlink.  AND it is FREE!!  - but you do need a HAM license

6. Build a new very low power 12V Intel ATOM based PC -  I can build a very powerful dual process 1.66GHz PC powered directly off 12V that uses less than 10 watts (less than ONE amp) - wait till I get to San Didgo     

7. Test and certify the Winslow life raft - Our 4-man Winslow Offshore liferaft was tested and repacked in 2008 - that is good enough for me!

8. Purchase and install new jack lines - Marine retailers want $63 for ONE 30' jackline - it is just cheap 1" webbing with loops sewn in the ends - guess I'll make my own!   Using AmSteel 3/16" line - 9600# SWL

10. Re-learn how to use Airmail Software Spent two days anchored in Gig Harbor relearning how to use all the software

11. Get updated Pt Reyes (NMC) weather fax schedule  Got it off the net then downloaded it thru my Winlink account and HAM radio

12. Test HAM radio - talk to S Pacific, Atlantic Ham operators - contact SeaFarers net - Can now send/receive HAM e-mail at 3500 characters/minute & talked to HAMS in Indiana, Mexico, Hawaii, New Zealand. Checked in the Pacific SeaFarers net

13. Tune standing rig

14. Replace missing bolt in anchor locker lid - done

15. Figure out if 'clunking' sound in steering is a concern - it has been there for 8 years -The clunk occurs when the cable/chain splice rolls over the steering cogs - doesn't seem to be a problem but it does bother me. 

16. Check / adjust tension on steering quadrant and cables - The steering cables see to be at the right tension

17. Check all standing rigging - done

18. Check prop and shaft zincs - Diver inspected bottom - no growth - rudder and prop look good - replaced all the zincs

19. Test EPIRB -    EPIRB battery tests OK - is an ACR 121.5 EPIRB still acceptable to the USCG? - HAD TO BUY NEW 406 EPRIB - it is illegal to use an old 121.5MHz EPIRB

20. Decide if we need AIS - At this point I am thinking it is un-necessary - R20XX Raytheon radar works perfectly and we can always shoot a flare at a ship that wants to run us down.  You can read an account of a VERY CLOSE and scary encounter with a large container ship at sea at 3 AM here: Close call at Blunts Reef and here Red Green overhead in the dark

21. Fix anti-siphon valve in LaVac intake line -  This was very easy fix - turned out that Mexican Mud Dapper wasps had built a nest right over the anti-siphon valve - still siphons in water when sailing on port tack, healed more than 15 degrees

22. Repaint Sailomat Windvane This took five elapsed weeks and about 60 hours labor.  I disassembled and sand blasted the cast aluminum Sailomat components and then coated them with POR 15 and cream colored Rustoleum paint. 

23. Test Sailomat Windvane - done

24. Test ST1000 tiller pilot with windvane - done - worked perfectly first try!

25. Test inner forestay - done in only two hours - forgot how to hook up Highfield lever

26. Test staysail (they have not been used in 10 years) - done

27, Decide if we need XM WX data -   Decided that the HAM radio, Airmail, USCG WX Fax work so well there is no need for more data - Aug 23 Discovery- Airmail (requires a HAM license) has a fantastic interface to Saildocs which can provide 0.2 degree grids for wind predictions (GRIB files).  That is an individual wind prediction for each 14 mile square!!  They also provide GRIB files from the US NAvy's COAMPS ("Coupled Ocean/Atmospheric Mesoscale Prediction) model.  The COAMPS model takes into  account headlands and shorelines and will be extremely useful between Coos Bay and San Francisco (Care Arago, Cape Blanco, Cape St George, and Cape Mendocino) and for getting around Pt Arguello and Pt Conception between Morro Bay and Santa Barbara.   Sailmail (SSB subscription service) also provides the same data access.

28. Decide if we need a new cell phone for better offshore coverage - NO

29. Update flares - Bought enough new flares to satisfy USCG requirements.   Another cruiser told me it is required that I keep the expired, but still useable, flares separate from the current flares - now have THREE flare boxes - two waterproof ammo boxes in cabin and smaller box in bail out bag - we carry a lot of flares - six big parachute, a dozen 25mm, two dozen 12mm, three big smokers, 12 hand held, six small rockets, six big rockets, three small smokers...etc. 

30. Clear the lazerette and bilges of all the un-necessary junk and stuff that has accumulated over the years -  Found a lot of old worthless stuff to discard - it is amazing how much room there is down there

31. Test life jackets - The automatic inflators are suspect - their indicators show green but there is a lot of corrosion - I manually inflated each of the three and they all hold air, their strobes work, and their whistles toot!

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