With Only the Wind

The last couple of weeks have been quite fulfilling. Last year I remember being at Fort Warden, camping during the week of Fiddle Tunes and looking at the single boat tied to the closest mooring buoy from the dock. I kept thinking to myself that this would be me next year and so I made it happen.

Sailing north from Seattle to Port Townsend happened to be downwind, until just south of Point no Point. Before I started sailing north I immediately reefed once to get the mainsail in a better shape for winds that could potentially reach thirty knots. I was uncertain what would happen out there but I knew it was blowing from the south and was the only person on board of Satori. She did really well with just the reefed main and the jib flying and kept her speed from 3.5 knots over water to her maximum speed of 4.7 knots. The winds blew a steady twenty knots with the maximum true wind speed of 26.5 knots. The speed over ground was 8.3 knots which could be the fastest she has ever gone with myself at the helm. The currents were remarkably swift and there was a moment where I was so nervous I decided to drop the mainsail and fly with just the staysail. A few minutes after dropping the main, the winds shifted to 180 degrees from the north. In hindsight I think it was a good choice as I could have watched the boom swing and flutter violently in 25 knot winds. Not exactly something I ever want to experience. Once the winds shifted, I dropped all sails and motored the entire way to Port Townsend to ensure getting tied up to a mooring buoy in time.

Point no Point chop
Point no Point chop

If you’re not following my previous posts, this was a trip to test the MNBB project and specifically gather some statistical data from the trip north so I could come up with the maximum values that I described above. The MNBB logger did an excellent job at providing more information than I would normally have on any given trip so I will continue enhancing the project so one day others can enjoy the additional information from their sailing trips. I will be presenting the project on Thursday at the SeattleJS meetup in hopes to gain some exposure and find additional contributors to help with all of the coding.

Moored at Fort Worden looking at Point Wilson lighthouse
Moored at Fort Worden looking at Point Wilson lighthouse

While at Fort Worden I learned that the swells coming from the cargo ships roll in at the wrong angle and several times a day Satori would rock violently. Nothing bad came of it other than some rude awakenings and my pup Sasha looking up like the sky was falling and the world may come to an immediate end. We endured the rocking for the better part of the week and I ticked it off as training for dealing with sleeping in the open ocean. We both did well but also decided that Fort Worden is not the best spot to moor in the Salish Sea. Next time I will bike to Fort Worden and keep the boat back in town.

Seattle fiddle legends - Paul Anastasio imitating Joe Venuti's loose string bowing.  Greg Canote bowing the tune.
Seattle fiddle legends – Paul Anastasio imitating Joe Venuti’s loose string bowing. Greg Canote bowing the tune.
Clare Milliner and Walt Kokken playing Old Time tune
Clare Milliner and Walt Kokken playing Old Time tune
Best jam of the week. Friends Joe and Aki jamming really good Old Time tunes. I joined in later. Satori behind.
Best jam of the week. Friends Joe and Aki jamming really good Old Time tunes. I joined in later. Satori behind.

On July 4th I decided it was a good time to take a cruise and look for some fireworks and wind. The winds blew 15-20 knots before I even untied from the mooring buoy. Normally I would just sail off the buoy but I was blocked by the dock so I turned the motor on for a bit to maneuver away from the dock and into the wind. As soon as I headed out the engine alarm went off with a steady beeeeeeeep. I thought it might have been a malfunction of the alarm but also decided to sail off and see what was happening so I killed the motor and went down below. First I checked the bilge and immediately knew that the reason for the alarm was from lack of oil pressure. The bilge held all of the oil from the engine. I switched the bilge pumps off to eliminate any concern about an oil spill overboard. The bilge has not cycled in months and has been bone dry so I was not worried about the boat filling with water. The next task was to get the boat back to anchor or mooring buoy so I could clean it up and figure out the issue. I didn’t want to come into the bay with all sails up and twenty knots of wind so I tactfully flew the staysail and took a long time getting back to the buoy sitting outside of the dock. I figured I could tie up and then the next day sail away without needing the motor. After two hours of tacking in twenty knot winds I finally made it back, only to find out that the buoy was private and strictly stated, “do not tie up”. My home was on sail power only and I knew the buoy could hold a boat so I did it anyways. When the boat was getting blows with that much wind and I really had some work to figure out how to get her home, I tied up and began cleaning out the bilge. After removing the oil and before completely cleaning I decided to try to fill the engine with oil and see the rate of leakage so I refilled and started her up. She leaked it all out in a matter of seconds. Okay time to clean up. I keep a five-gallon jug for this very reason so I was able to remove the oil, then spray with degreaser and water and completely remove all of the oil without any issue. The engine compartment was wiped down with paper towels and dried completely. Another few towels to prevent the drip from going back into the bilge and it was time to figure out what the problem was.

I found the source of the issue but could not actually see it because it was located back and at the bottom of the engine. I grabbed my point and shoot camera to get a better look and after some skillful shooting at some nice angles, I found the problem. There is an oil cooling system that has two pipes that come out and back into the engine block with a heat exchanger and the outflow pipe had rusted out. The muffler was replaced earlier this year but prior the leakage caused some severe corrosion in the back corner and the pipe rusted to the point of failure. I attempted to clamp the hole shut but there was no way to make a patch with the given placement of the hole so I decided the only way to fix it was to get Satori home and order a new part.

Corroded pipe leaking oil detail
Corroded pipe leaking oil detail
Corroded pipe leaking oil
Corroded pipe leaking oil

The next morning I made one last stop to take Sasha out for potty and get my bike back to the boat. Around noon the winds picked up and I untied from the mooring buoy, committed to sailing the entire way home. I called Boat US towing to check my policy regarding long-distance towing. My limit was 25 miles from the slip and I was thirty miles away. If I had her towed the entire way I would pay fifty percent of the cost, which would have been $700. If I sailed most of the way home it wouldn’t cost anything.

The winds were moderate to light most of the way. Around the south end of Whidbey Island the winds died as always and I simply kept her pointed downwind. Around Edmonds right where the ferries cross I was slowing down again so I figured anywhere from Edmonds to Seattle would be fine. I called for a tow but the dispatch said they would not get to me until 11:30pm. As long as I could keep sailing I was okay and although moving slowly, she kept going. Around 11pm I was outside of the Shilshole Marina and decided to come up with a strategy for staying under sail without drifting south. I put up my jib and tried to put her on a course where she would move slightly hauled without going too fast or drifting too far south. She did really well and after two laps into the shipping lanes, the tow operator called to let me know he was on his way. I headed in close to the north entrance of the marina right around where he would be arriving. He came alongside while I was under sail, then I dropped sails and within a ten minutes was tied up to the slip. A long day and night but we were back safely at home without any issue except getting the rusty part off and replaced.