Problems after 2005 Vancouver Refit

I came to Fraser Fibreglass (Lynnwood Marina, N. Vancouver) on 15 Aug 2005 for repair after having caught the tip of a pinnacle rock in the entrance to Berg Bay, off Glacier Bay, Alaska. I had made way (VERY!) carefully down the Inside Passage from Sitka where I had hauled out for the damage to be assessed - "not life-threatening but definitely in need of expert attention" was the conclusion of Gerry Gangle - a helpful, reliable, local surveyor/boat builder. Phil O'Donoghue did an excellent job on the hull repair and, since it was going to take quite a time & Nereida was now in her 9th year, I decided to take advantage of being on the hard to undertake a major refit and deal with a long list of items for ongoing maintenance, improvement or replacement.

The engine had to be removed for the hull repair so I asked the on-site Volvo-Penta workshop (Marisol) to have a good look at it and renew/replace/service as necessary. Dave Miller of North Sails came by to quote for replacing the mainsail and genoa; my Raymarine instrumentation had been giving continual problems and I asked the Lynnwood Raymarine 'experts', First Yacht Services, to go over my system and sort out the wiring while they were installing a stronger (hydraulic) upgrade to my autopilot system with my circumnavigation in mind. The autopilot had been continually giving me major problems, going down unexpectedly on a regular basis, the boat now being too heavy for the system originally installed & possibly also due partly to the wiring being in a mess. In my naivety, I looked forward to several problem-free years after leaving Vancouver...!!

I eventually left Lynnwood to head south far later than I'd intended - 8th November! - and eventually checked in to Friday Harbour. On the way down to the San Juan Islands, I found early on that my instruments were misbehaving (giving anomalous readings) and also the laptop was unable to communicate with the autopilot to keep us tracking on a given course - despite this supposedly having been dealt with.  I tried re-setting and re-calibrating the instruments, insofar as was possible under way, but couldn't resolve the problem which was mainly giving erroneous COG readings and which seemed to be somehow connected to the local magnetic variation value.

Not wanting to stop heading south, I felt these issues were not big enough to warrant changing my plans (I had a handheld GPS to give a correct COG) and so headed on to Mackaye Harbour to anchor for the night, ready to cross over to Port Angeles - which I began to do the next morning. Initially, I motored from the anchorage in very light winds, with a loud squealing noise as I started up the engine and manoeuvred in low revs. That noise disappeared with increased revs but soon I found myself in a good-sized swell & as the boat heeled over, I could hear a noisy vibration coming from the engine. On looking down below, I couldn't locate the source of that noise but did notice quite a lot of oil below the engine - all rather worrying!

By now there was good wind, and so I was able to turn off the motor and sail.  As I went to raise the full main, I discovered that the 2nd reef line was too short and I had to undo the stopper knot & let the line run out through the jammer in order that the luff of the main be tensioned properly. Then, as the wind increased, I went to reef - only to find that a lazy-jack line was caught tightly in the uncovered leech-tensioner cleat on the sail, stopping the main from dropping - I had to release the lazy-jack lines and then the mainsail halyard so that I could reach the cleat and release the lazy-jack from it. Not something to look forward to doing in strong conditions! I also noticed that the reef marks were missing from the new genoa.

With the list of items needing attention having escalated, the thought of making a 5-7 day offshore passage down to San Francisco in November - but in what was amazingly an ideal weather window at that moment in time - did not seem sensible. I was forced to re-think my plan - better to deal with everything before setting off again, although I knew in my heart that I was unlikely to be able to make that passage again this side of winter, the area being notorious for winter storms coming in on a regular basis..... and so it proved to be. I close-reached to Sequim Harbour (John Wayne Marina), Port Townsend by then being upwind and also strongly uptide, and thankfully managed to dock safely there in the dark, despite not having an adequate chart  - my laptop had hung up and my paper charts did not include any details of Sequim Hbr!) - that was definitely an 'interesting' night entrance....! The next morning, I had an easy, pleasant sail to Port Townsend where I spent the winter months and dealt with all the various problems resulting from my refit - so much for 'no more problems for several years'....and so much for my plan for being in the warmth of Mexico that winter....


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