Log #59l To Sitka and maintenance

September 1, 2015 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 59, The Logs

False Creek, Vancouver, B.C.
Aug. 31, 2015
Hi Folks,
We are back in civilization after completing our enjoyable passage down the west coast of Vancouver Island. We stopped in Esquimalt for a few days at the CFSA to enjoy their facility with water power and free WiFi from our boat. Happiness is…! In addition we had a lovely evening in Victoria with some friends we met on our way north earlier in the summer. Thanks Patrick and Deborah.
We wanted to get over to Vancouver to apply for our visa to China. We leave Vancouver Sept. 22 on our 30 day cruise to Singapore, and go to China from there. Judy did not want to take any chance of a delay in our visa, and so it was our first visit soon after we anchored here in False Creek. As it was we got there at 3; 40 only to find out that the closing time of 4:00 did not apply to visa applications. That office closed at 3:00. Murphy’s Law! So next day Judy hiked back with all our forms and passport pictures to complete the applications. They should be ready tomorrow Sept. 1.
Anchoring in False Creek is very convenient to downtown Vancouver. There is no charge for anchoring, although a permit has to be obtained on-line. Last Saturday Vancouver had a wind storm that knocked out power for thousands of homes. Veleda was pitched about quite severely to the extent we weighed anchor and left the tight anchorage we were in to go to the bay at the end, in front of the Science Centre. We saw two boats washed ashore and several other boats were doing what we did and coming down to this larger bay at the end of False Creek. A few of the boats had a hard time to get their anchor to hold. I saw one yacht that took over two hours to try to anchor, then it took off for a marina up the way. The winds were gusting to force 8 gale (35 to 40 Knots) and steady force 5 & 6 for over six hours. It was and still is raining. We have been able to fill our water tank and have a full jerry can of water. I have attached a separate picture showing the jerry can set up catching rain water from a hose coming down from our bimini. I hope the rain eases the forest fire problems of B.C.
This log gets us from Glacier Bay to Sitka and talks about some of the maintenance we have to do on Veleda. One of our sayings is that “Cruising gives you the opportunity to do maintenance in exotic locations!” I don’t know if I will get all my logs out for this season’s cruising as we have been to so many great locations in Alaska and B.C. Maybe by Christmas?
All the best,

Log #59l To Sitka and maintenance

Vancouver, B.C.

Aug. 26, 2015

We left Glacier Bay, June 28 on a cool grey day, motoring again for 40 miles, to go alongside the public dock at the boardwalked Elfin Cove (58 11.743N, 136 20.834W). There are several small communities without roads on the remote Alaskan islands, as the terrain is too mountainous, and the limited ferry service, if any, makes transporting a larger vehicle problematic.

Boardwalks at Elfin Cove


Routine Engine Maintenance

In Elfin Cove we did an oil change and routine maintenance on the engine as we do every 100 hours of engine use. Judy keeps a good maintenance log noting dates maintenance was performed, accumulated engine hours, and what was done. Our routines include the following;

  • Change engine oil and filter every 100 engine hours (2.8 Litres of 10W40)
  • Change transmission oil every 100 engine hours (0.3 litres of 30 weight)
  • Change fuel filters (Racor and engine filter) every 250 engine hours
  • Clean the air filter every 250 engine hours
  • Check the water pump impeller every 250 engine hours and replace every 1000 engine hours
  • Check water pump and alternator belts every 250 engine hours (actually we do this every oil change)
  • Clean the fuel tank once a year

As we have been motoring over 90% of the time this year, we have put on many engine hours. So far (as of Aug. 10, 2015) we have put a total of 2250 engine hours since installing the new Yanmar 3YM 30 hp diesel engine in 2010.

We also have a long list of spare parts: impellers, belts, filters, and other items such as zincs, squeeze bulbs, and spark plugs (for the outboard). The serial numbers for each item are written down and the number we have spare is indicated in our maintenance log, so we know when we have to replace them. We try to keep a minimum of two of each part, so if we have to use a spare; we will still have one left before we can replace it. In many remote areas such spare parts may be difficult to replace, as the few chandleries up here may not stock them or have the right size.

We have had difficulty in getting spare alternator belts as ours is a slightly different size from standard belts as we put on a heavy duty alternator with a larger drive wheel. Right now I think we have four spare alternator belts.

Routine engine maintenance is a high priority.


We refueled next day, paying $117.60 US for 25.4 gallons of diesel. That works out to $4.63 US a gallon. Converting those figures to Canadian currency would be 117.60 X 1.25 = $147.00 Canadian for 25.4 X 3.8 = 96.52 litres. This works out to $147.00/96.52 = $1.52 Canadian per litre, which is quite expensive even by Canadian standards. Oh well, it is what it is!

We fill our fuel tank, which holds 28 gallons, from jerry cans only, and through a Baja 3 stage filter. I had a bad situation many years ago where I got a tank of dirty fuel which clogged up and stopped my engine leaving me single handed, no wind, and drifting down the Detroit River. We carry four jerry cans, each holding 25 litres or 5 gallons. I refill the tank from the jerry cans whenever the fuel level goes below half full. We have not had any problem with our fuel in the 17 years of liveaboard cruising.

To Sitka

From Elfin Cove we went southwest into the 24 mile long Lisianski Inlet, cutting off at the Lisianski Strait. Further down the Lisianski Inlet was another all boardwalk town of Pelican, but we didn’t bother to go out of our way to see it. Lisianski Strait empties into the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, making us wallow in the long ocean swells coming abeam of us. However it was good to see the western horizon stretching into infinity, reminding me fondly of our few ocean passages crossing the Atlantic. Will we cross the Pacific? I don’t know…

We did not go offshore but stayed in winding channels through the shoals and small coastal islands off the larger Chichagof Island. We grounded one morning coming out of Kimshan Cove on an unmarked shoal, but bumped over it with no damage, just a bit of heart stopping fright. Speaking of fright, we were surprised and startled when a minke whale broke the surface about 60 feet off our starboard bow. We would not want to be above a whale when it surfaced!

We spotted a few humpback whales blowing and casually surfacing a few hundred metres inshore of us. Often a whale is spotted by the mist blown up as the whale nears the surface, then the arched back slowly undulates above the water to submerge again. If we see the flukes raised up it means the leviathan is sounding or diving deep, and won’t surface again for twenty minutes or more.

We travelled 42 miles from Elfin Cove to the anchorage in Kimshan Cove, and another 47 miles next day (June 30) between islands and along the sheltered straits to the inside cruise ship dock at Halibut Point just outside Sitka (57 06.983N, 135 23.674W).

We wanted to be in Sitka for two reasons. One was to haul out and put a coat of bottom paint on the hull. The boat seemed sluggish and the engine would not rev up to full throttle revolutions, and sea growth on the hull could cause such. The other was to be in a community for the US Independence Day celebrations on July 4.

We were directed to moor inside the cruise ship dock by the boatyard. It was well sheltered and free. Ahead of us was a large fish depot ship. It goes out to the fishing grounds and collects fish from smaller boats so they can stay in the area fishing for longer periods of time. The Alaskan fishing industry is quite extensive, larger than that of B.C. Their fishing grounds are not polluted by fish farms as such are not allowed in Alaskan waters.

Next day, July 1 we motored across to get in the slings, hauled out, and blocked ready for power washing the hull and applying the bottom paint.

Veleda’s hull after no bottom paint for five years

Actually the bottom was not that bad, with a small coat of slime, but no heavy growth as we experienced 7 years ago in Grenada. The pictures below were taken in 2008 when we were hauled out in Carriacou, just north of Grenada, showing the extent of growth in a tropical climate.

Veleda’s hull in 2008

However we did see what was causing the engine to not go to full revolutions, as a few heavy cords of kelp stems were wrapped around the prop like thick ropes.

Kelp Stems wrapped on the prop

Shore power and a power washer were provided by the boat yard. This was the first time Veleda had been plugged in to shore power this year.

We had to take a taxi into town to buy a copper-based bottom paint, Sea Hawk Tropikote Blue, which we could apply directly over our original bottom paint without having to sand the hull first. Our original bottom paint was Copper Coat that we applied in 2010. Perhaps we could have had another season or two by just power washing the hull but we felt another coat would be better. Five years is a good long time for a bottom paint to last, especially on a vessel in salt water twelve months a year, although Copper Coat claims it should last for ten years.

We power washed the hull and in the afternoon started the bottom painting. It is a messy job painting with a roller brush, above the head or stooping down to get at the lower areas of the keel. The ground was sloppy wet from the power washing and the drainage was poor. We did not have a platform to put the paint trays on, and had to use them on the ground level. Oh my aching back! Happy Canada Day!

We planned to have the support stands moved next day to paint where the pads had been located. However, next day, July 2, it was raining. Sometimes it stopped for a while, at other times it was a light rain or came down in torrents. The water trickled down the side of the hull. Do we wait another day in the slings in which case we would be delayed by the yard closing for the Independence Day long weekend? We decided to paint in the rain. We had cloths to wipe the surface and Judy held a small electric space heater on the unpainted pad areas for a minute or so to try to dry the area while I slapped on a coat of bottom paint with the roller. We then used the remaining paint to put a second coat on some of the surfaces. We were launched in mid-afternoon in the pouring rain.

We were drenched, muddy and exhausted as we returned to the inside of the cruise ship dock to start our cleanup of ourselves and the muddy deck of Veleda, and to put everything properly away. Unfortunately I cannot recommend this Halibut Point boat yard. It had no facilities other than a travel lift and providing power and a power washer. The slings were not properly cushioned and may have scratched the sides of the hull. There were no pollution control policies. The washed off bottom paint just soaked into the ground. Drainage was very poor resulting in puddles all over the place. There were no supplies available whatever in the office. No offer to drive us into town to pick up supplies was made. Only one man worked in the place occasionally assisted by his father who owned the place. But, it was the only yard.

Next morning, a pleasant sunny July 3, we motored the few miles down to Thompson Harbour in Sitka. More about Independence Day in Sitka and our departure from Alaska in my next log.