Three sailboats made it to Fry’s for the May 8th- 12th weekend, and notice we didn’t say “sailed”. S/V Benchmark left the harbor about 8 am with S/V Libertad and John Blaustein and Owen Stromo on Owen’s boat S/V Kamala leaving around 10 am. Scott Burns and Steve Carlson motored through fog until about 3 miles to the Island the sun broke out. Friday afternoon at the Island was sunny and hot.
The May trip has always been considered a Shakedown Cruise, and this trip was no exception for S/V Benchmark. About 1⁄2 mile from Fry’s the motor began smoking so Scott turned it off and sailed into the anchorage, sliding between two other anchored boats as he dropped the stern anchor. About 100 feet later he handed the bow anchor to his “New Best Friend” in a dingy who dropped the anchor about 150 ft. closer to shore. After setting the anchors and having lunch, Scott installed a new fan belt to replace the one that had failed and started the motor which seemed to function ok then.
Dennis and Virginia arrived about 2:30pm and John and Owen arrived right after them. S/V Kamala had a shakedown issue of their own – no working radar. Visibility through the shipping lanes only happened as the sun came out right when they arrived at the north bound lane! There were about 8 boats in the harbor Friday night and Saturday two large power boats came with families to play in the water and on shore. Saturday the sun never really came out. John and Owen both wanted to be home Sunday early to celebrate their wives on Mother’s Day and thought waiting until an
afternoon departure on Sunday would put them in too late on Sunday. With that in mind, S/V Kamala decided to leave when the visibility improved on Saturday.
Back on S/V Benchmark, Scott determined that the coolant water pump problem caused the fan belt to break. It was determined that the back bearing on the pump was shot and probably had about 1 to 6 hours of life on the pump until it would fail.
All was not well on S/V Libertad either. Dennis had swapped out the malfunctioning house battery alternator before leaving the harbor and when tested it seemed to work fine. On the trip to Fry’s, the house batteries were depleted to about 85% because they had their radar and autopilot operating. So about 30 minutes from the anchorage they excited the alternator and it brought the batteries up to 100%. Saturday morning after washing Friday night’s dishes they discovered that the galley sink wouldn’t drain. So they had to bail the dishwater out and put that on the To Do List for back at the harbor. Then Dennis fired up the motor to charge up the batteries for the day and the alternator would only put out about 8 amps. So Dennis and Virginia went into energy-saver mode. They didn’t even switch on the mooring light that evening.
Dennis and Virginia had discussed a dinghy adventure with Scott. They launched the dinghy and lowered the outboard onto it. The outboard hadn’t been run since the Catalina Cruise last August and Dennis had his fingers crossed as he pulled the starter cord. Unfortunately, all the pulling in the world was not going to get the motor going so it was returned to the mounting on the stern and the dinghy was hoisted aboard. Add that to the To Do List.
Instead of a dinghy adventure, Dennis and Virginia decided to take a short kayak adventure around the anchorage. Dennis explored the local caves while Virginia took pictures. Venturing around the eastern point of Fry’s they explored a winding cove and discovered a huge sea lion sunning itself on a rock that allowed them to paddle by only about fifteen feet away.
Sunday morning, Scott started the motor, pulled anchors and made it about 1⁄4 mile from shore when the fan belt stopped spinning – so much for the 1 to 6 hours of remaining life prognosis. Dennis and Virginia had anticipated that S/V Benchmark might need assistance, so they had planned to leave right after they saw S/V Benchmark raise anchor. A short VHF communication determined that S/V Benchmark would need a tow.
Dennis and Virginia came by and they exchanged tow lines. Sunday was another day of heavy fog and Dennis was concerned with running radar and the autopilot on his already somewhat depleted batteries. Thank goodness for redundancy. Dennis switched the batteries to be “In Series” and watched as the alternator that normally just charges the engine starter batteries went to work charging both battery banks. All batteries were back up to 97% when we arrived at the harbor.
It couldn’t have been a better day to tow someone. There was no wind and virtually no swell. About an hour after leaving the anchorage we entered the Commercial Shipping Zone. The southbound lane appeared clear by radar and by visual confirmation. As we entered the northbound lane we saw two freighters headed north. The fog had started to lift and the freighters seemed to be about 5 miles off and it looked like we’d cross them even though we were only making about 4 kts. The accompanying photos show how close one of the freighters came.
S/V Libertad towed S/V Benchmark to the harbor which was alive with daysailers, kayaks, and SUPs. They all recognized the towing operation and gave us plenty of room. A short distance from his slip, S/V Libertad released S/V Benchmark and Scott had the motor on for about 10 minutes to get to the slip. S/V Libertad returned to their slip to bring an end to the May Shakedown Cruise.
As advertised, this was an Island Isolation cruise. Each boat did separate activities. There was no happy hour on the beach and no potluck dinner. The most socialization we did was on the trip back from the stern of S/V Libertad and bow of S/V Benchmark as we frequently checked the towing lines.
But it was still an enjoyable trip out on the water!