Sunday, August 28, 2016

Stay cool and keep sailing

A friend asked if I could help out as delivery crew in returning his Crealock 34 from Halifax, NS to Portland, ME, expecting a 2-3 day passage. Sounded good to me, and I signed on. Here are my notes on the adventure:

Easy peasy packing, although contingency clothing accounted for most of the weight: foulies, sea boots, sweater, fleece, gloves, and the like.

Did the map search and printed directions from Halifax airport to the yacht club, naturally on the complete other side of Halifax from the airport. About an C$80 cab ride, so I figured changing some money might be a good idea. Flying in at night and hoping for (i) an open money exchange, (ii) a functioning ATM machine, or (iii) a cab that takes credit cards is pushing my luck.

Easy peasy money change at Copley, buying C$200, which is easily twice what I would need for the cab, but would leave me with cash for an anticipated stop down the coast.

Easy ride to Logan, easy check in with no line, easy pass through security with no line. This time I remembered to pack my rigging knife in checked luggage! Sadly I had to leave my favorite inflatable life jacked behind; can't fly with a CO2 cartridge.

Easy flight, more or less on time, easy baggage claim, easy pass through Canadian Customs, easy access to a cab right outside, and a no traffic ride to the yacht club.

Naturally, the gate at the YC was locked, but at least the cell phone worked and it was a short walk for the skipper to come get me. Still a bit of a challenge to get the gate open, even from the inside, but yes, there was a button.

Right to sleep, awake at 6AM, found the shore head, made preparations for departure and were underway by 7AM. Watching the weather window, we weren't sure if we were going to Yarmouth, NS to wait out a better weather window or what, but off we went. Wind was abaft the beam, with following seas, as we settled into a 4 on/4 off watch schedule.

Down the coast we went, deciding to round Cape Sable and head to Bar Harbor, staying within the weather window but making the most sea miles.

Naturally, whenever we were close enough to land to see it, the fog denied us. A 10th of a mile seemed the norm... AIS helped a lot.

What went wrong in the fog? Well, in no particular order, the chart plotter went dark. That shut down the radar display, as well. Then we discovered the radio was receiving but not sending. No wonder ships that were calling us in the fog weren't responding once we answered them. Handheld backup, emergency antenna and cell phone GPS would suffice for the balance of the trip,

We stayed well off of Cape Sable, avoiding the tidal rips.

Clear of the land, we had clear skies much of the way across the Gulf of Maine. The wind remained abaft the beam and seas continued to follow. Overnight, the stars disappeared, though, and visibility appeared to be decreasing. When we could see the flow of the running lights in the mist, we figured we were back to a 10th of a mile or less.

Nice to have the AIS working, which alerted us to an exceedingly large cruise ship outbound from Bar Harbor.

We arrived at Bar Harbor at about 7:30, fog bound until we were well inside the turn at Bald Porcupine island, picked up a mooring and waited for a Customs agent to make the hour and a half drive from Bangor. "Stay on the boat in the meantime," was the order.

Clearing Customs was straightforward. Met the agent at the harbor master's office, he asked a question or two, checked passports and we were done.

We had a great crew, with varying levels of sailing and off shore experience, but the best attribute was when things went wrong, we just solved the problem. No panic, no extraordinary concern, just solve the problem and keep on sailing.

I'm looking forward to the next one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Torqeedo Travel 1003

We're just back from a two week cruise that covered Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Rather than another edition of "My Summer Vacation," I thought I'd post a review of the Torqeedo Travel 1003.

We're in our second season with the electric outboard, which I bought used from a sailor who moved up to a bigger boat. The Torqeedo powers our West Marine rollup.

The pros:

The all electric outboard lets us avoid carrying gasoline on board. There's nothing to spill, even with the motor lying in a locker or in the cabin. Enough said.

It's light weight, and especially because the components (motor, battery, tiller) can be loaded separately. One hand for the component, one hand for me has worked well.

Power has always been sufficient, even when fighting wind and current.

Battery life has been sufficient to power a tender while cruising. It recharges on board whenever the boat's engine is running and that's kept up with use.

Battery life, speed, remaining miles, are calculated by in internal GPS and displayed on the tiller assembly. You always know what's left.

The cons:

It's slow to charge, so if you're a heavy user, expecting long runs and high speeds, you'll be out of luck.

I get occasional failure which has required a reconnect of cables and/or a power reboot.

The tiller assembly, in particular, is delicate, so beware and don't force anything.

The motor is designed to lock in the "up" position, but the latch is flimsy. A block of wood is suggested, instead.


Keep the oars in the dinghy (as you should with any motor).

I suggest rowing when the distances are short and conditions allow. Especially when cruising, it preserves battery life.

Test the motor in forward/reverse before casting off. That will insure that cables are properly connected, the electronics are working, and you don't need a reboot.

The magnet that functions as the kill switch is easily misplaced or lost. A backup is recommended.

Bottom line:

The motor is easy to mount/dismount, quiet and from what I've seen and experienced, as reliable as traditional alternatives. For the way we use it, battery life is perpetual.It's not perfect, but we're fans.