Day 4: Part of the wavy navy.

On July 05, 2010 In Boat, Captains Log

    Yesterday we decided that we would try to leave later at night with the tide just to make the passage that much quicker. The speed part worked out well as we were able to hit 10 knots while in the area outside of Eastport with the islands, the down side was that with minimal lighting and basically no light from the moon that night we couldn’t see the buoys at all. To solve this Neil and myself went out onto the bow with flash lights to light up the buoys as we could find them. Let me tell you that breeze from the ocean is cooooooooooooooooold. So it took us a bit more time to get out of that area and into the actual ocean than we had anticipated and the entire journey part went off with no more of a hitch than going down the wrong side of an island part way requiring us to double back on our path. No biggie really.

    Now that I we were out in the ocean we could start our shifts which was 2 people awake for 6hrs, then another 2 people awake for 6hrs. Since it was my turn off I could rest and relax… HAHA Just kidding. The “calm” weather that we were told about was technically “calm” for that stretch of the ocean. By calm they mean 10 to 12 foot waves constantly tossing us. Fortunately our course aimed us straight into the waves so we pounded through them fine enough. UNFORTUNATELY I discovered that I get violently sea sick in those conditions and spent the next day (yes ALL night and all day pretty much) hurling onto the back deck.

    Pro tip to those that get motion sickness and plan to take on a trip such as this. Do NOT have rum and cokes, fish and chips, and red wine right before heading on out. Tangy was the flavour and disgusting was the experience.

    So anyways my shift began which I pretty much just tried to soldier through as much as possible between bouts of “christening the back deck”. Things were going fine until near the end of my shift when disaster struck. The steering became increasingly difficult to operate at all to the point where steering was near impossible to keep a steady course (of which we had had a hard time due to the waves and the inaccurate steering system anyways but this enhanced it 10 fold). Little did we know that at this point the start of a long series of problems was just beginning. My Dad woke up from his night early and Jon and I informed him of the issue with the steering system. We decided we’d go down and see the issue first hand.

    The steering system is a custom and overly complicated mess of pipes and pumps. Behind the steering wheel is a sort of mini-pump that when turned pushes steering fluid down to a compressor pump that ups the pressure from the engine turning. That is kept full by a resevoir that is nearby the pump and the fluid is kept cool by a cooling system attached to a pipe on the water intact for the engine. FINALLY we get to the pipes that go to the piston that turn the rudder. What broke or what we SHOULD have noticed that broke before we did what we thought was a good idea was the belt that ran the compressor pump on the engine. We should have noticed this and just soldiered on but we decided to stop the engine to see if there was something we could do. A few things were going on at once at this point that we hadn’t fully thought through. First off the waves were coming from the South South East direction while we were heading more or less South and on top of that the wind was coming from the South East. When we shut the engine off to have a look we lost steerage (like in a car if you’re not moving forward you can’t steering) and were hit by a big wave that turned us sideways to the waves. This rolled us extremely dramatically throwing cargo and people all over the place. My Dad at the wheel at that point hollered down for us to get the engine back running. An operation which I had not done before nor had Jon who was with me. So I was hitting the switches and hollered that I had no idea how to do this. Jon to his credit was a sea of calm during this and just said “Calm down. We’ll be alright.” at which point my brain instantly painted a picture of us capsizing and drowning while locked in the engine room. I managed to get the engine back running regardless and we got steerage back. So we took 5 (oddly enough I wasn’t sea sick during this moment of terror) and then surveyed the damage. The entire saloon/galley area was trashed. The table was overturned, provisions were thrown all over the place but the only casualities were a bottle of beer and a jar of pickles. Once those 2 smells had combined and heated up I naturally took my spot at the stern hurling some more. Yay me.

    As a point of interest Neil pretty much slept through all of this. The guy is crazy. He was smiling like a maniac while at the wheel when we were pounding through the waves. I basically took mini cat naps between bouts of hurling. To add to this part of the journey we believe there is something happening with the electrical system as some things seem to be acting a bit weird at times (Radar, and radio most notably). This is not a good sign since we have to dock at Cape Cod in the middle of the night.

    (Tune in next week for the rest of the hurling express. I should be adding the next article when I have a few minutes to myself.)

    Day 3: The Birth of Tusk

    On May 31, 2010 In Boat, Captains Log

    Today was another busy one. We finished fitting on the new Radar to replace the old one with a jury rigged scaffolding we made out of some lumber that was left on board, we also hooked up the auto pilot the best we could to the old steering wheel that is in the pilot house (an original wooden wheel from a Canadian Schooner of all things!). We also hooked up the head to a stable pseudo platform just below and behind the wheel house with straps and screws and a weird slab of wood and twisted metal we found. Should be sturdy enough for the strongest of craps. Although we bought a water tank for the express purpose of feeding the toilet with water we opted to use 2 barrels we bought in Eastport instead to keep things simple, those will be lashed to the starboard rail during the trip.

    We got ready to move the ship around near a crane at the end of the pier to pull down the mast (The previous day I had drilled a whole bunch of holes around the base of the mast about 1′ up to act like perforations to make it easier to cut with the Sawsall today). A few things happened that made this a particularly ticklish operation. First the engine wouldn’t start properly so we called over Butch (one of the previous Captains of the ship) to help us start it properly which he did by spray ether directly into the air intake. Then when we pulled out nice and slowly the auto pilot got in the way of proper steering of the ship (it wasn’t until later that we discovered we had left the clutch on the thing on thus locking it in place… didn’t matter anyways turns out the zip ties we used to attach the gear to our wheel were too weak to control the wheel anyways and literal snapped like dry noodles). Next since this was the first time we had taken it out ourselves my Dad was at the helm… We tried to approach the pier twice before we veered out to the bay a bit and make 1 last attempt. This ended up being more exciting than we thought, the boat being as heavy and big as it was, AND unfamiliar at this point essentially got away from my Dad controlling it a bit. The rollers that Hal (another previous owner and the broker for the boat) built are designed so that the “Bruce Anchor” when pulled up would roll up onto it and seat neatly in place. In our case it acted like a powerful wood plane and shaved of 2 inches and several feet of wood from the dock. This literally threw wood and gear all over the place… but the boat stopped in the right location after a bit of man handling from the lines that were hanging from the pier. Soooo ya… That was dangerous.

    Anyways we’re leaving tonight with the evening tide… Seriously how many times does one get a chance to say that?

    Day 2: Still in Eastport but refitting nearly done

    On May 11, 2010 In Boat, Captains Log

    Today was a lot of work. We got the power run to the pilot house, organized the main saloon, sorted out some of the wiring, got the mast ready to be cut down, setup the temporary head, disconnected the old radar and got our food supplies for the trip. All in all it was a good day.

    We brought 2 crew members along with us (John and Neil Cameron) who both have experience in handling vessels. My Dad naturally given his past. I on the other hand have very little experience with handling vessels of this size and even less experience as being the Commander of any vessel (typically I’ve been resigned to being the swabby at most, or deckhand really) so this is all new to me. Fortunately I don’t plan on taking the ship out often without help with more seasoned sailors for the time being and probably not until I’ve modified the hull a bit with a bulbous bow with a thruster inside of it.

    A final note regarding the dockage I’ll have in Toronto. Plans have had to change literally last minute. I called the harbour I was going to dock at just to confirm with them that I could dock there and to give them my insurance information to make it official. They reneged on the months of verbal confirmation that they had given me. As a result I had a thermal melt down and had to get my Mom and my sister to help me at 2:30pm on Friday to find a dock that could take me. To that we have 2 solutions currently.

    1. Toronto Island Marina (Hanlons Point): The dock there isn’t specifically for full time docking for the summer but they did say I could stay there for a month currently. However, I’m going to try to stay there permanently as the location is great, the price is better than OHM, and the people are friendly.
    2. Midland: This may end up being what I go with depending on the time I have left after this trip. The idea is that we’d take it up to Midland and for the Summer I’d put it on the hard to work on the interior, when winter comes I’d launch it again and move on. This is handy because I’d be able to check the hull, repaint it and figure out why the depth sounder and forward looking sonar are all messed up.

    So there you have it. The update thus far. Anyways it’s late and I’m exhausted.

    Captains Log

    On May 11, 2010 In Boat, Captains Log

    So yesterday I didn’t have an internet connection but clearly today I do. Yesterday I wrote this log entry that was essentially from day 1 of the entire Eastport to Toronto adventure for picking up my ship:

    Day 1 in Eastport

    Still a bit nervous about the entire boat thing but I believe this will work out now that I have a place to call home at least temporarily in Toronto. Karen the nice lady that manages Toronto Island Marina said I could tie up to Hanlons Point since it was deep enough. But she mentioned that it was a bit isolated which personally I don’t really mind. I still haven’t really eaten yet for a few days only having had a burger sometime the day before yesterday, and dinner last night so I’m not feeling 100%.

    Since I forgot the power inverter I hope we can find one when we go shopping for a new radar unit. If not then there won’t be many logs or the timelapse video I was hoping to make. Sort of a little price to pay considering all the stress I’ve been under in the last 3 days.

    Today we should see how much work there is left before we head on out. I know from looking at the ship that we still have to take the mast down but that shouldn’t take too long now that we have a few extra hands. I think we’ll also be trying to get the head hooked up today. Dad bought some lumber which I’m thinking he was planning to use to make up the bulkheads of the head. We’ll see.

    Anyways 10min before I have to meet everyone for breakfast.

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