Installing, testing, and loading equipment takes up a large part of our weeks at this phase. One question was how well would our folding aluminum bikes tow our dock cart/bike trailer. On Sunday, we pulled the bikes out of their bags and attached the cart with a special towing arm converting our folding aluminum dock cart into a bike trailer. The arm attached to the bike post of one of our bikes using a bracket designed and fabricated by a professional car re-conditioner.
Taking advantage of yesterday’s day off from school for Veteran’s Day and the flat windless seas, Kandu and crew plus Uncle Bill motored 2 ½ hours through Monday evening’s heavily overcast sky over to Smuggler’s Cove on Santa Cruz Island. We chose Smuggler’s for its proximity to Ventura, easy grabbing sea floor, and large area; making it easy to ‘swing’ on one anchor without hitting other boats.
Nearly pitch black, we tested again our Simrad autopilot, and B&G navigation and RADAR equipment; learning how to dim the panels so as not to rob our night vision. Stationed halfway between Ventura and Santa Cruz Island, we motored safely past the oil platform and its large steel can buoys.
Oil derricks in the Santa Barbara Channel are lit up like Christmas trees, so oil platform Gail is quite visible at night, but her buoys are not. The broadband RADAR work well to point them out to us before we saw the shadow of one of them against the glow of Gail.
Cautiously entering the dark cove, to confirm our location, we tried out our new LED spotlight. It worked like a champ, lighting up the shoreline and the Coast Guard’s mooring buoy. At a depth of 30 ft, we dropped hook (anchored) using our new 65 lbs Mantus anchor and snubbed it with our new Mantus bridle. The anchor impressively grabbed the muddy sand bottom. The thick nylon ropes and the innovative chain hook that comprise the bridle worked well to keep our motion gentle and quiet through the night. The crossing and anchoring were a success.
When anchored, wind blows a boat downwind. With the anchor chain fixed to the bow, the boat is held head first into the wind. Wind and swell usually come the same direction. In normal circumstances, a boat will rock in the more comfortable fore and aft motion, not side to side, which is uncomfortable. When rocking side to side, the boat rattles and rolls, making it difficult to sleep or work. That night, Smuggler’s Cove had a small, short frequency sea roll. Without wind to point Kandu’s bow, we often came sideways to the swell. At 3 a.m., I decided to deploy one of our two new, never-before-used stabilizers, or “flopper stoppers” as they are commonly referred. I quietly moved through Kandu’s interior, pulling from the main hanging locker (closet) the two stoppers in their separate bags and climbed one of them up the companionway ladder and into the cockpit. It took about 10 minutes to rig the unit off the mainsail’s boom, something I had previously configured at dock a few weeks prior. I locked the boom in place over the starboard quarter and dropped the shiny stainless-steel folding wing into the water. Leslie said the benefit was immediate: the boat rocked less. Later that morning, on the opposite side of the boat, I deployed the second stabilizer from the spinnaker pole. Roll was very slight after that.
Still awake at nearly 4 a.m., I decided to try and download a weather fax off the HAM radio and into our HP laptop. Excitedly I was able to receive several weather fax transmissions, sent by the Coast Guard at Point Reyes near San Francisco. Now I need to learn how to clean up the images. They came white on black instead of black on white, they split alignment halfway through the image, and are slightly fuzzy in sections.
After a hearty breakfast by Leslie, I worked to commission the watermaker. I cleared out all the tools and lubricants to gain access to the plumbing that supports the watermaking process.
The first step in the commissioning processes was to turn on the saltwater feed to the boost pump. When I opened the valve, seawater poured out from around the fitting that feeds the system, so we didn’t get any further in the commissioning process. I put everything back in its place, realizing this was an issue that will have to be addressed at dock where I’d have easier access to parts.
One of the main reasons for heading out to Santa Cruz the night before was to take advantage of the forecasted light winds that would allow us to sail for the first time our newly re-cut gennaker, our large colorful light wind sail. After lunch, while the boys kayaked to the beach through small waves, I rigged up the windvane self-steering, in hopes of testing it along with the gennaker. We pulled out from under Trent’s berth the newly re-cut gennaker sail, no easy task as the sail is large and the living space we walked it through, small. We prepared it on the foredeck. The netting I laced days earlier kept the sail from falling off the deck and into the water.
With the boys and kayak safely back aboard, we started the engine and weighed anchor. It came up fine, except, darn it, the sharp point of the anchor poked through the green gelcoat line of Kandu’s bow. I’ll need to take greater care when pulling up the anchor those last two feet. With anchor away and stowed, we motored past the Coast Guard buoy and unfurled the mainsail. Once set, we tied the mainsail’s boom preventer line to protect us from accidentally jibing, which means holding the heavy boom in place so it doesn’t dangerously swing over (or into!) our heads without warning. We proceeded to hoist the gennaker, Leslie on the foredeck, me in the cockpit. The light-wind sail easily slipped from its sock and gloriously made its colorful presence felt. We were impressed and pleased with the effort.
Too soon the wind died and we re-snubbed the gennaker, pulling its enclosing sock down from its head (top) to its tack (bottom). With no wind, we were unable to test the self-steering wind vane, another thing for another day. Just as we had done the night before, we engaged the hydraulically operated autopilot to steer us home. We again motored past Platform Gail, this time noticing the sea lions basking atop her buoys.
Before long, we entered Ventura Marina, successfully docking without any of the incidents or fanfare that occurred the last time we pulled from our slip. All in all, it was a productive 24 hour period, filled with good test runs, yet with still more to come . . . several more.