Saturday was supposed to be a respite between the storm systems that roll over the North Pacific and into the Gulf of Alaska. Light winds, periods of no rain. That’s great.
It wasn’t to be.
Since the beginning, I’ve told anyone who would listen to never bet your safety on a weather forecast. And in my hay day, I was a very good weather forecaster. The WSFO in Juneau writes a great weather discussion and does a great job overall in a very difficult environment, where local effects significantly affect the local weather.
Saturday looked to be the best day of the week, so I planned on an overnight. We would go to Woronofski Island and leave our crab pot that in the past has been very good. Then we would head south along Zimovia Strait about 8 miles and drop a shrimp pot on each side of the strait in about 300 and 180 feet of water respectively. Then, instead of heading another hour south to anchor in a more protected bay, I decided we could anchor just off Wrangell Island, in a little channel, with a little island to the west.
Untying the lines Saturday noon, the winds were light, but there was light rain. As we motored out of the harbor, the winds picked up significantly. They were southerly at 17 knots!
Now that’s normally a showstopper. But being in Southeast Alaska, even though in this case the winds are channeled down the strait, the seas these winds produced were only about one foot. I’ll take it. I’m guessing the winds just picked up and had been light overnight.
As we headed south, winds continued about 15 knots on our bow, but again no real waves. We dropped the first shrimp pot and headed to drop the second.
All went well. The little channel was just as it looked on the charts. We anchored in 30 feet of water. The anchor dragged about 30 feet before it set, I could hear/feel it being pulled over rocks. I decided to put the snubber on, since the winds had not let up and were in the mid-teens coming up the strait.
This Kadey Krogen is more reactive to the current than winds. So, I knew we would sit parallel to shore facing south until the current turned and then we would turn around. We’ve done this many times and my Delta anchor has never dragged.
I could hear the snubber rubbing as we changed direction a couple of times that night (night for me starts when the sun goes down, 16:00 to 08:00), but that’s not what got me up.
For the last few months, my batteries have been acting sulfated, in spite of being equalized a few times. I have four 8D batteries, each with 230 amp-hours. They are four years old and I had already separated them then checked the individual voltages after some time. They were all within 0.01v; that’s very good.
If the load on the fully charged batteries is 20 amps, then the voltage plummets quickly. In three and a half hours, the voltage was 12.51 at minus 56 amp-hours. Not terrible
I decided we would run the generator for an hour, to renew our hot water and batteries for the evening before bed. The Genny started after a minute of coaxing. When I turned it off an hour and quarter later, with the voltage 13.14v and the batteries at -26 amp-hrs. OK
An hour later, it was 12.73v and -44 amp-hr. Great, but as expected, only 4 hours later, I got up to check and the voltage was 10.50v at only -82 amp-hrs., that’s an SOC of 91%. I started the gen and went back to sleep. Nicely, I can hardly hear the gen in my cabin. I woke up again at 04:00, three hours later, and turned it off.
At 06:15 I got up for good and the voltage was still 12.77v at -47 amp-hrs.
At 07:00 I turned on the gen, just to help facilitate the hot water kettle and rice cooker. I left the gen on as I pulled up the anchor also.
Now, the last little hiccup.
Since the gen was running, I wanted to see how well the windlass worked on gen power versus engine power, so I started pulling up the anchor. I had already taken the snubber off earlier that morning.
I was so enthralled with how vigorous the windlass was on the generator that it wasn’t until the anchor was off the bottom that I realized I had not started the engine.
Ooops – Welcome to my world
Start the engine and within a minute it is running very rough. Oh no, what now. I run down to the engine room and the engine sounds terrible. All kinds of wild thoughts ran thru my mind in seconds. All of them expensive.
In the engine room, a quick glance shows no obvious problems. That tank feed is open, as is the return. Then I see that the vacuum gauge on the Racors is showing 12 inches of Hg. That means the engine has been starved of fuel because…
I check the fuel valves again. An added factor is the additional three valves on the aux fuel pump. I use this pump to fill the filters and bleed the system when I change fuel filters.
I notice that the gravity feed valve is closed. Oops, I close it when I fill the 10-liter Wallas Heater fuel tank.
Opening that valve, allows the vacuum gauge to go to zero. Good. We start the engine again and after about a minute, it is running like normal.
Now, back under power and underway, we got to our shrimp pot and haul it in to discover all of two shrimp and a spider crab on the outside. The spider crab went back to the sea.
The second shrimp pot was empty and the crab pot, which previously had 10 crab, now had two.
6 hours of engine time, plus 6 hours of Gen time means 6×1.4+6.1=14.4 gallons of fuel @$3.52 here =$50 for 2 shrimp and 2 Dungeness crabs. Not Bad.
Never complain about the boat or weather, because it can always get worse.
All in all, 24 hours later, we were back to the dock; an interesting day.
All’s Well that Ends Well.