I had Mark from Auxiliary Engine Services stop by Satori on a recent lunch break and he took a look at the diesel engine, which is a Bukh lifeboat engine. He may be the only person around Ballard who has even worked on these engines before. I called just about everyone and the first response was, “Never heard of it”. It’s basically another 3-cylinder marine diesel engine. Not much to it. The reason Mark had a look is because I had a diesel fuel leak that went into the bilge. After an assessment of the engine he helped me prioritize the upcoming work. First was a hose that was heavily corroded and ready to break, which came from the Groco water strainer. Had it broken while the thru-hull valve was open and I was away from the boat for days, it could have sunk the boat. I spent some time after work one evening disconnecting the bronze fitting and hose (which broke in half when I pulled on it), brought it to Fisheries Supply and bought some new hose, a bronze elbow, a hose barb and hose clamps. Some time pushing it all together in really tight quarters and that problem was solved. The second issue was solving the fuel leak. Mark suggested that I go ahead and replace every fuel line and fitting up to the valves on the tanks and engine. This included a new water separator/fuel filter.
Fortunately I was able to catch the fuel in the bilge problem before the pump went off. I turned the bilge pump off, closed the fuel valves at the tank, plugged the engine compartment that flows into the bilge and then I cleaned out the bilge one evening. Not such an easy task as I had to degrease the water and surrounding area and then pump it manually into fuel containers to contain the final water, fuel and degreaser combination. After cleaning and turning the bilge back on I was happy to see clear water again. It was a very messy cleanup but I’m a stickler about polluting the sound so there really wasn’t any other option. The next task was figuring out how to get my fuel system back in order. The first assessment seemed a bit overwhelming but some serious thinking and a trip back to Fisheries supply confirmed how I was going to replace everything. When I began disassembling the old system I realized all of the junctions were flared fittings to a plastic barb connected with a flared end cap. I decided to simplify the fuel lines down to 3/8″ NPT and 1/4″ hose barb double clamped with really good hose clamps. A few bronze “T” junctions, a new shutoff valve for the diesel stove and new 1/4″ Trident A1-15 fuel hose and I’m ready to replace the lines. A new Racor 500MA water separator/fuel filter will take care of keeping the fuel in good condition and a simple step down to 3/8″ NPT will add it to the new fuel system.
One of the things I actually like about this system is that it keeps the tanks level once the engine has run long enough to cycle the fuel once through the separator. There are valves on both the top and bottom of the tanks and also some old vinyl tubing once used for sight-glass measurements of the fuel tanks. The sight-glass tubing is getting removed and both top and bottom connections are getting plugged as it’s not the most practical way to gauge the remaining fuel. I use the wooden dipstick method and prefer that over opening the engine compartment. You simply open a fuel tank from the cockpit and probe to the bottom. The wetted surface displays the remaining fuel from the full mark.
I had to place an online order for the bronze Ts, brass hose barbs and hose clamps as it could take a lot of driving around to find all the parts to finish the job. Another week or two from now and I should have it all installed and ready for a final inspection and sign off by Mark.
Sunday marked the first time Satori has been in near gale winds in perhaps 20 years. Most of the sailing she’s done has been around the sound in good weather. I have a friend staying with me who is not only a competent river guide but also a very trustworthy individual. A friendship bond that goes beyond your typical bro. He’s the kind of guy who would rather take on the daunting task of being out on the front deck when shit hits the fan. He’s also been in some very hairy situations few can ever experience. Been charged by a griz? Yes. Been stuck in the middle of Patagonia with no one for miles? Yep. Deck handed for marlin off the coast of Austrailia? Uh huh. We used to call him WorldAngler but recently he’s known as PrimalAngler. Meet Ryan Davey.
Anyhow, there we were in the morning looking up the wind for the day. The day before we were looking at a high of 22 knots. Today, a gale warning and 25-35 knots in the Puget Sound. I thought of the times when predictions all fell short of actual and decided to press on. We rounded up another competent crew member right before casting off. Another capable fellow. He was by far the best ski partner of last season. We slayed the deep at Stevens Pass many times. Steep lines, big drops and high speed carving. Not in the groomed but on Cowboy Mountain. This guy made all other skiers look like they’re skiing bunny runs. He’s never sailed before but I had no doubt he could handle it. That’s all that mattered.
As we motored out of the marina it was apparent with the tilt of the other masts on the water that we were dealing with some blow. I thought maybe 20-25 at first but as soon as we headed into the wind and pulled up the mainsail and put a single reef into the sail things seemed a little more serious. We were gaining speed with just the main and once we cleared West Point’s protection the gusts were blowing much higher. Out in the shipping lanes I tried to turn into the wind and was heeled over so far that I was concerned that the tiller couldn’t handle it or we might get a gust that would blow us over too far. Either way things felt out of control. My crew did the best they could to help out and I was doing what I could to get the bow into the wind so we could reef again.
Since there were too many 30 knot gusts on my starboard tack, I decided to try heading downwind and coming back up on a port tack while letting out the mainsail to keep the wind from catching the sail. This worked well except when it came to jibe the boom came around in a split second and shock loaded the mainsheet. The mainsheet held, Ryan was at the mast with no harm done and we continued to come about until eventually we were in irons. At that moment Ryan was on deck and I was yelling for him to lower the mainsail but in the panic I was also yelling a confusing command. “Sail Down!” with arm movements eventually prompted him to start pulling the sail down and we were in the clear. “Okay time to motor out of this storm!” and we were on our way back to Shilshole. We measured on the wind vane 30 knot winds and I’m pretty sure there were higher winds in some of the gusts while our sail was up. Not sure how much but regardless we knew things were too much out of our control to continue. Once at the marina we were faced with 15 knot winds inside of the break-wall and I was concerned about getting back to my slip. I found a place at the end of M dock to park and chill out while we calmed our nerves and then Ryan and I started planning our approach to our slip.
“Stay really close to the windward side and we will fend off the leeward boats if we’re pushed into them”. Sounded like a great plan. I wanted to finish the day so we motored into the lane and came about into the slip with no problems. Lots of lessons learned that day. It’s only a matter of time before another day with near gale winds and another try for sailing with more control over Satori.
Something I didn’t really think about until after the accidental jibe was what could have been the worse case scenario. If the boom had lost the mainsheet from shock-load and went flying around to where someone was standing. That person could have been knocked unconscious and into the water without a life jacket. Had I not had Ryan and Peter as my mates I doubt Satori would have gone sailing that day. It was a very enjoyable experience even with a bit of adventure and risk. I have a lot to learn and a better arsenal of techniques to tighten up my skills.
Matt has a nice set of photographs from our San Juan Island tour and has allowed me to post some of them here:
One discovery I made about the San Juan Islands is that the winds are not really strong enough to sail at all times and mostly not strong enough except for a few hours per day during the summer. There are places where I think the winds are more dependable and different seasons where you can expect good winds but they usually coincide with colder weather. Satori needs about 12 knots of wind to get up to 4-5 knots of speed over the water. 15 knots and she’s moving faster than the motor wants to push her and 20 knots should put her at or beyond maximum hull speed. I’ve been in winds at about 17-18 knots so far and cruised around 6.5 – 7 knots and that’s where I like to be for gaining any distance. One place I realized has pretty consistent winds is just on the north end of Sucia Island near the northern buoy. My friend Justin was out at Echo Bay back on Labor Day weekend and knew I was heading around to visit him for a couple of hours before heading out. My crew and I were anchored out at Fox Cove just between Little Sucia and the other side of the channel. That morning we cruised up north and hit awesome winds and when I made a call for Justin on VHF he decided to give us a fly by greeting in one of the dinghies they had towed from Oak Harbor. He had some nice photos of our position and offered to share them for the blog. Here are a few of that series….