The Rush Before Departure

During July and August we made two trips to Duet, first for two weeks to finish all the tasks that needed to be completed before we could depart for British Columbia, and second, to depart for British Columbia.

During our two week stay, a lot was accomplished. While the following are in no particular order of importance, they represent the bulk of our activities, excluding, of course, our ongoing and busy Portland social life. We are sad to leave Nancy’s brother Tom and his girlfriend Jill, they are great hosts and fun to spend time with. We are also sorry to leave our new friends, Sean, Celia and Elizabeth and Rob and Julie, along with boat dogs Ellie and Max. By the time we return to Portland this winter, during one of our trips to and from BC, Sean’s family will have enlarged by one, another crew member is due any day now.

The first, and most visible, project in late July, was the transport and stowage of our new Hobie Tandem Mirage Kayak, which is not only 15 feet long, but also happens to be bright red. We acquired said kayak in Nevada, as we got a great deal. Once the enthusiasm over the deal had subsided, reality intruded, namely how were we going to get this huge red thing to Portland?

We figured if we got it home from the store on the top of the Lexus, it could get to Portland on top of the Lexus. There were, needless to say, a couple of minor issues with this plan. First, getting it back on top of our SUV, without the help of the two large guys at the store, was somewhat problematic. The kayak weighs about 85 pounds without all the gear, such as the seats and pedals, installed. While Nancy can carry it short distances, lifting it up over her head is a nonstarter.

Captain Ron is a big believer in brains over brawn. Given that he has more brains than brawn, this makes eminent sense. On the 46, we learned a lot of tricks with blocks and tackle and the careful application of leverage. We also learned that time spent planning always pays off in lower stress, reduced injuries and damage during a project. So Ron spent some time studying the Lexus, the kayak and our garage. Testing demonstrated that our old block and tackle could easily lift one end of the kayak to the roof of the garage. Once one end was secured, the other could also be lifted up and tied off.

There was, however, one remaining issue. We make the trip to Portland in two legs from Reno. So the kayak had to spend the night, by itself, in a hotel parking lot. While we are relatively trusting of our fellow man, we didn’t necessarily believe that it would still be there in the morning when we came out to resume our journey. So Ron rigged a chain and padlock through the SUV’s towing rig, and we were all set.


Departure day dawned bright and early. We made some minor adjustments to the kayak padding system and we were off.

All went well until we got onto the 395 in Reno, when the speed limit climbed to 65. The kayak showed a disturbing tendency to lift. Fortunately, we could observe it through the sunroof, and were able to stop and make adjustments every 100 miles or so, to make sure it stayed attached.


The trip was slower than usual, due to our restricted speed and stopping for adjustments, but the locking system worked fine and we arrived in Portland around mid afternoon. After determining that Duet was, indeed, right where we left her, we started to unload the kayak. The original idea was to have Nancy solicit some helpful person at the marina to help Ron carry the kayak to Duet. But, as is often true in such cases, no such helpful person was available.


Chief Engineer Ron to the rescue again. Having seen the wheels sold with kayaks to help transport them, Ron figured he could adapt a dock cart to the same mission. It worked beautifully, until we had to turn a 90 degree corner within the confines of the top of the marina ramp, which is enclosed by a fence on three sides and is considerably smaller in width than the kayak’s length. At that point, having completely blocked the entrance to the marina, we realized that this part of the trip might require a little brute force.

So the kayak traveled around the corner by degrees, with Ron lifting the end in the dock cart and Nancy guiding the steering end. During this period a number of people accessed the marina by climbing over the kayak. Since we are soon to leave the marina, we didn’t feel too bad, except we did apologize to the long suffering dock master, Justin, who seemed pleased that at least we hadn’t just let the dock cart go winging down the ramp all on it’s own. Justin also presented us with at least 10 packages, all containing vital items. Given that we had promised him that there wouldn’t be any more deliveries after our last trip some weeks ago, we felt he showed considered forbearance not to have charged us storage.

So, finally, the kayak made it to Duet. It fit perfectly into the racks designed for it. These racks were acquired with the wise advice of Stan, owner of Nordhavn 50, Crossroads. Stan has the distinction of being the only person we know to have owned two Nordhavn 50’s, first hull #1, named Crossroads and now Hull #26, also named Crossroads. The crane lifted the kayak effortlessly into it’s place, using the new harness Ron had made and tested at home, the chain and lock purchased for it actually fit and the securing bungies locked it down.

Once the kayak was settled, Nancy and Ron adjourned to their respective project lists. Nancy to provision everything we might need for the next few months and Ron to finish whatever projects he could before we departed the dock. Over the years we have learned that it is very easy to stay permanently attached to the dock, on the excuse of just one more thing that absolutely positively must be done. We have also noticed that the longer we remain at the dock, the harder it becomes to leave.

When we left on our first trip with our 46, there were a dozen boats preparing for the southern journey. 6 of us left. When we returned 18 months later, the remaining 6 boats were still there, still getting ready. So we have now developed a form of triage, which focuses on separating things which impact our safety and therefore must absolutely be done, from things we would like to do before we go. This process enables us to rationalize a departure without too much angst.

Nancy’s job was pretty simple. First, take the lists of what we have versus what we need and generate a shopping list. Most of our provisioning is done at Costco, although some things are acquired at Safeway. Ron, much to his chagrin, was pressed into service during the Costco trip and ended up managing two full pallets of provisions, which he figured was enough to keep body and soul together for years. What he didn’t realize was he would also be helping with fresh goods, as all we got this trip was dry goods, toiletries, etc. Fresh goods would wait until we were aboard full time, so we didn’t have to risk a dock power outage while we were gone. We know too many folks who have returned to find a fully defrosted freezer, with spoiled contents, awaiting them. 

Once the shopping was completed, Nancy settled down the task of finding homes for everything. The 50 has much more storage than the 46 did, so she was able to actually stow most things in the space they were intended for. For example, all food items fit into the galley somewhere and there was space left over. This never happened on the 46. In the 46’s defense, we weren’t taking nearly as much stuff aboard as we did for a trip to the Bahamas, as British Columbia does have grocery stores, but nevertheless Nancy was impressed.



As part of this provisioning effort, Nancy also undertook a more significant effort of protecting things. On the 46 our offshore journeys consisted of mainly overnighters or trips limited to a few days. On the 50 we plan much longer passages. So, figuring there was no time like the present, Nancy began to deploy various padding and restrain mechanisms. Nordhavns tend to do long journeys, so she was much indebted to Nordhavn 52 Dirona, for example, for ideas on how to restrain provisions likely to go airborne during a tough passage. And yes, the padding shown in the photo below is actually swimming pool foam noodles. While their delivery did occasion much comment at the marina, they are easy to cut, shape and are compressable. We will see how they work out over time. 


In the meantime, Ron settled down to his tasks. First among these was to get our main engine belt guard modified. Both our alternators, and the Naiad hydraulic pump, reside behind the guard. All of these items need air to breath, but our guard has no air holes. So we found a great metal shop, which cut three holes and welded grates. Time will tell how much this helps, but it certainly can’t hurt.


As part of this effort, Ron decided to replace our main 12V alternator. The 50 has two alternators, a 12V and a 24V. The 12V is the workhorse, as almost all Duet’s systems are 12V. The 24V supports only the bow thruster, the salt water wash down pump, the crane and, indirectly, the 6V batteries for the MMC electronic engine controls. So it, comparatively, doesn’t have that much to do. Our 12V alternator is original equipment, has run very hot all it’s life, and generally looked quite tired. So Ron bought a new one, a slightly larger Leece-Neville 160 amp unit. Our old one was also a Leece-Neville, but only a 140 amp unit. The old unit has been retired to serve as a back up and is now residing comfortably in a box under the salon settee.


Ron also installed an external Balmar smart regulator. He had installed these units on the 46 and been quite pleased with their performance. Alternators lead tough lives and the smart regulator manages their temperatures and how much power they put out.

The picture below shows the standard regulator that comes with the alternator. First, it is removed.

Then the smart alternator is attached.

Finally, the regulator itself is installed nearby.


After working his way through the alternator project, Ron, finally, finished the salt water wash down pump. As regular readers may recall, the salt water wash down pump was a casualty of the Portland’s very cold winter. Once the new deck fitting arrived, Ron was able to put everything back together. The pump now runs like a champ and will see much duty in British Columbia. As part of this rebuild, Ron also changed out the deck fitting for the washdown, now it is the same as we had aboard the 46. The only trick with this fitting is Nancy needs to turn the pump off before Ron removes the hose from the fitting, after he has washed down the anchor and chain. Otherwise, Ron gets washed too. 


Ron also installed our new bilge pump counter, new bilge switch and bilge alarms. We had a similar system on the 46, and found it very useful. He will also be installed water detectors in the bulbous bow and the lazarette but, for now, just got the main bilge system hooked up. In the picture below, you can see the counter on the left and the alarm system on the right. The unit immediately above is the CCTV system.


As part of his latest set of home shipments, Ron received several sets of shackles destined for use with the anchor snubbers and the sea anchor. Several of these were sourced Crosby in the United States and several from China. The difference in shackles that are rated for the same loads was quite interesting. In the future, despite the additional cost, we will only be using Crosby shackles.


In the picture below, the shackle on the left is from China and the one on the right is a Crosby.

Amazingly enough, Ron even completed a domestic project, one near and dear to Nancy’s heart. Nancy is in charge of our water supply, which means she has to fill the tanks. She is also in charge of laundry, and, while our washer is pretty efficient, we generate a lot of laundry, so filling the tanks is a pretty frequent occurrence. Ron purchased a pressure reducer, which allowed him to hook a dock hose to the boat and bypass the tanks. This simple addition made Nancy’s entire week. In the picture below the pressure regulator is connected directly to the foredeck fresh water wash down. In the future Ron will be adding a pressure gauge, to make sure we don’t overload our domestic fresh water system, but for now this will do the job. 


Ron then focused on various clean up jobs left over from previous projects. These included machining the battery box tops after he had rewired the house bank. The new wiring configuration meant that the old holes in the box tops no longer fit. A bit of work with the Dremel, and we were back in business. While in the lazarette, Ron also secured a number of items, in preparation for our offshore journey. He uses a combination of pad eyes and aluminum bar, cut to fit whatever box or item is restraining.


Over time, we have been gradually figuring out where various things should fit. Ron’s tools, of which there are many, had been scattered all over. He had gradually consolidated them in the engine room, but needed a tool chest to keep them from flying around during our journeys. Said chest was purchased and is now securely attached to the engine room. It does sit over an access panel, but is easily removed in case anything in that area needs to be addressed. Ron has also started using canvas tool bags, a trick he learned from Miguel, Pacific Yacht Management’s engineer. The canvas bags are sorted by type, so all wrenches of a certain size are in one bag. The bags can then be stored around the engine room.


Finally, at long last, Ron serviced our dinghy engine. Nancy assisted, as there were a number of helper roles, such as that of holding the basin for spent oil, that she is well suited for. The dinghy needed to be positioned so that it’s engine was easy to access, which meant hoisting it up over the boat deck. The crane, as usual, accomplished this with no fanfare, and held the dink quite steadily for several hours while the service was completed.


For those undertaking servicing a 40HP Yamaha we would like to note that the lower gear oil doesn’t come out very fast when the screw is removed. The same cannot be said of the engine oil. It is key to hold the basin the right place to avoid a flood. Fortunately, we had anticipated the possibility of an accident, and covered the deck under the engine with diesel diapers. More importantly, we had taped the deck drain closed, to avoid an environmental mishap. The service was completed, but the engine hasn’t started yet, as we didn’t have time to put it in the water and start it up. That will have to wait for British Columbia.

Finally, Nancy laid in fresh provisions, such as chicken, frozen shrimp, etc. Her old vacuum packing machine, carefully kept after we sold the 46, swung into action and the freezer filled up. The pilothouse freezer on the 50 is a thing of wonder, for those used to having to operate within the confines of one small bar freezer. Even the addition of sandwich bread, liquid egg and bagels didn’t fill it’s capacious maw, but we did our best.

Not only that, but it froze everything submitted to it absolutely solid in a very short space of time. In the future, we shall use it to freeze everything first, and then transfer frozen items to the smaller SubZero unit, thereby reducing it’s struggle to freeze items. The only problem with the pilothouse unit is it is a top loader, so some organization is going to be required. This is on the list for a quiet anchorage in British Columbia, right now the fact that everything is frozen is all we need.

So we were off. Downriver, and into the big blue Pacific. The tale of our journey north follows in the next blog, once we take time off from cruising to write it.




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