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San Juan Islands – July 2009

After several attempts we have finally accomplished our maiden voyage as a kayak mothership by voyaging from Oak Harbor Marina to the San Juan Islands and launching, paddling, and retrieving a kayak while at anchor and cooking, eating, sleeping and living independently on the boat for several days at a time. Part of the challenge is the age of the boat (1972) and the need to spend so much time restoring the boat so it’s safe for use. If you’ve been following these posts you’re aware of the major issue (fuel starvation). We discovered another issue over the course of this trip.

Overall the trip was wonderful. We revisited some places we had not seen in thirty

Mothership at James Island with F-1 aboard

Mothership at James Island with F-1 aboard

years and spent time in an anchorage new to us but convenient to some of the best paddling in the islands. Since I’m in my sixties one of the important aspects is whether I can handle a kayak on board keeping in mind that one does not have the luxury of standing on a dock while anchored in a remote cove. The weight of a skin-on-frame (SOF) kayak makes this much easier. Continue reading San Juan Islands – July 2009

The Kayaker’s Friend

Matt Broze of Mariner Kayaks (they designed and built the Coaster) sent me this photograph of a powerboat that strayed just a tad too close to the edge of the channel. It either means that the nav aids are there to help us kayakers or it means that we should not depend on being just outside the channels to remain safe from powerboats. The boat’s name is reportedly being changed to, “Permanent Insanity”.

Just because you're at the edge of the channel doesn't mean you're safe from powerboats.

Just because you're at the edge of the channel doesn't mean you're safe from powerboats.

Odds and Ends

The fuel uptake issue has been a major hurdle in preparing the Muthah-Ship for safe and reliable operation. During our first on-the-water operation of the Carver we could not get over 2500RPM which meant that the boat could not get onto a plane and reach design speeds of 15 to 20 kts. Although we intend to operate the boat at speeds of 6 to 7 knots 90% of the time, one of the major advantages of a planing hull is the ability to move the boat and its occupants to safety quickly if there is a need. Installation of a 12vdc priming pump helped to get the boat to 2500RPM and onto a plane at speeds of about 14kts but there were still significant symptoms of fuel starvation at 3,000 RPM and above. Continue reading Odds and Ends

The Shakedown Cruise

The photo you see here is of a catamaran sailing back and forth in the entrance channel to Oak Harbor, Washington. I was outbound in the Muthah-Ship underway at 7kts in fine weather and headed for the ebb-to-flood slack water at Deception Pass some 14 miles

Cat on Edge - Oak Harbor, Washington

Cat on Edge - Oak Harbor, Washington

away. What could ruin this beuatiful day? Unfortunately in eight hours I would be limping back into this channel  on the Mercury 9.9hp 4-stroke outboard Sue and I installed two weeks ago. A good $1,000 investment (including the mount) I’d say.

It was supposed to have been the very first weekend for using the muthah-ship the way I had intended; as a vehicle for carrying me and my kayak to adventure. The kayak was aboard and it was an adventure all right, but not the way I had envisioned it. Continue reading The Shakedown Cruise

The Best Equipped 25-foot, 37-year old Cabin Cruiser in North America

When my muthah-ship, a 1972 Carver 2565 Santa Cruz, is finished in the Spring of 2010 it will be the best equipped 25-foot, 37-year old cabin cruiser in Puget Sound and possibly all of North America. And it will be done for a total cost of about US$11,000

The Best Equipped 37-year old Cabin Cruiser in the PNW

The Best Equipped 37-year old Cabin Cruiser in the PNW

(US)! Now eleven grand may sound like a lot of money but it’s less than one-tenth of a new boat which would come with far less equipment and almost none of the teak and mahogany that are trademarks of older boats (with fiberglass hulls). It is also about the cost of three new high-quality sea kayaks (or two in kevlar!) or a couple of Feathercraft folding kayaks. Continue reading The Best Equipped 25-foot, 37-year old Cabin Cruiser in North America

Kids will be Kids

My wife, Susan, is trying to sell her collection of bee-keeping (apiary) equipment and the husband of one of her farmer’s market friends arrived this afternoon to take a look at the collection with his two children. While we waited for Sue to arrive the kids played with the dogs, went down onto the dock, dangled their tootsies in the water and generally killed time while he and I chatted.

The apiary equipment is located in two places. In what’s left of the old shop (the one that burned up and was subsequently torn down (you can see that shop in the background of one of the muthah-ship articles) and in the rental storage cubicles we acquired right after the fire. I gave the kids an option to stay here and I’d put them into a kayak. They both jumped at the chance but the girl was less than enthusastic about getting into a kayak. So Sue and their dad drove off and I carried the F-1 down to the dock where the kids waited. Continue reading Kids will be Kids

A Slight Digression

While a mothership is extremely advantageous for exploring an area by kayak,  it is less than satisfactory if you want to make a weekend trip to a nearby lake but don’t wish to sleep in a tent. Remember that I’m an old guy and interested in exploring but not all that interested (any more) in roughing it. Sue and I, on a trip to Pullman to take our old doggie friend, Maxinne, to the vet school clinic at WSU, found a craigslist ad while surfing around on an iphone.

The ad was for a 21-foot Streamline Princess RV trailer made in 1972 and the photos

1972 Streamline Princess

1972 Streamline Princess

and description made it sound interesting. We had been kicking around the idea of using a pickup truck camper on our 1994 Dodge 3/4 ton. The truck has a 5-speed manual transmission and the Cummins diesel engine so it will pretty much tow anything but Sue has a Kia Sorento SUV which is only rated for 5,000 lbs. However her SUV has 4wd while the pickup – a relic of our farming days – is not. Which would  make cross country ski trips difficult with a camper and a 2wd truck but not so bad with a small aluminum trailer and a 4wd SUV. Continue reading A Slight Digression

Three Days of the Muthah-Ship

I had not really planned to spend this much time on the Muthah-Ship but it was certainly handy to have a place to stay when the water pump on my Dodge pickup went to that great pumping station in the sky at 8:30pm in Everett, WA. Luckily, we used to live in Everett and a call to my friend Jim got him and two mechanic pals to my truck with a replacement and had me running again in under 90 minutes!!! Talk about service!!!!

So it was the least I could do to buy a couple rounds of beer at a local pub and by then it was nearly midnight and I didn’t want to drive 3 hours home when I could just drive one hour to the boat. So that’s what I did.

The surprise was that staying three days and nights on the boat was comfortable. The refrigerator – which looks like it had been through the Iraq war but on the losing side (whichever side that is) – worked to keep food and sodas cold. The vee berth – which was a bit tight with two of us – was

Oak Harbor Marina's blue heron mascot watches over the entrance.

Oak Harbor Marina's blue heron mascot watches over the entrance.

expansive and comfortable with just me in it. The dinette is a great place to sit and watch the marina’s pet mascot – a blue heron – stalk its prey while pretty much ignoring the humans around him.

It didn’t hurt anything that the weather was stunningly beautiful with temperatures in the high eighties either. So I spent those three days doing chores around the boat like adding wiring for the 12vdc priming fuel pump and the fuel consumption gauge, finding an outboard “kicker” motor (a 9.9 hp 4-stroke Mercury), moving the boat to the fuel dock to empty the porta pottie (my first solo move), and getting a library card at the Oak Harbor branch of the Sno-Isle Regional Library System (an easy walk from the marina; even for me). Continue reading Three Days of the Muthah-Ship

Dave Kruger’s Bartender in the Gulf Islands

Dave Kruger is an Astoria, Oregon based kayaking pal whose posts on Paddlewise (www.paddlewise.net to join the email list) and on West Coast Paddlers (www.westcoastpaddlers.com) are very popular and entertaining reads. (Catch his story archive at http://www.kayaktrips.net/sea-kayak/cat_dave_kruger.html .) Dave has also moved to a “mothership” form of cruising and over the past two years has built his 19-foot Bartender from scratch using only the plans. A different approach than mine but one that has given him the “playboat” of powerboats. Here is his recent account of a week long trip to the Gulf Islands of B.C. (Canada) with his partner, Becky. After so many years kayak camping they are moving slowly into the mothership arena.

Surf Scoter in the Gulf Islands by Dave Kruger

Becky and I grabbed a week of mostly sunshine in the Gulf Islands, scooting about in the Bartender, accumulating some 140 nautical miles and a handful of anchorages.  We favored marinas, at Becky’s preference, and scoped out a

Dave Kruger's Bartender Mothership "Surf Scoter"

Dave Kruger's Bartender Mothership "Surf Scoter"

bunch of tasty hideaways for later exploration and overnighting on the hook.

We used Ladysmith as our focal point, partly for its central location, but mainly for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly, low-key pace.  Ladysmith is a relic of boom eras of coal-mining, copper ore smelting, and logging, dating back to the end of the 19th century when a major coal seam initially mined under Nanaimo’s outskirts was “extended” south underground.  Today, it is a bit sleepy but with plenty of character, adequate services, a huge, inexpensive boat ramp, and a friendly, low-budget mooring opportunity in the form of the Ladysmith Maritime Society Community Marina (see below). Not to mention, a convenient source of Marked fuel (aka no road tax), just off Hwy 1, north of town.  Grocery store, fuel, couple good medium-priced restaurants, four coffee shops, dockage, character, an ATM.  What else do you need?   Continue reading Dave Kruger’s Bartender in the Gulf Islands

A Skin-on-Frame Version of a Composite Kayak

My Favorite Coaster Photo

My Favorite Coaster Photo from www.capefalconkayak.com

After a few years of kayaking every paddler can recognize a skin-on-frame (SOF) kayak: they’re long, skinny, with a round bottom and a small cockpit (ocean cockpit). They’re all chocolate brown in color, and they’re all tippy. Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayaks (www.capefalconkayak.com) hasn’t broken that mold (he does make traditional greenland kayaks) but he has extended it. I just completed Brian’s 7-day workshop in SOF kayak building and not one of the finished kayaks fit the traditional mold. In fact, every single one can trace a heritage back to Cam and Matt Broze of Mariner Kayaks.

There is a reason for this. Brian has long been a fan of Mariner kayaks and their Coaster in particular. Several years ago Brian received permission from the Broze brothers to recreate the Mariner Coaster in a skin-on-frame design. His SC-1 comes remarkably close to the easily identifiable outlines of the Coaster in looks and very close in performance and, since you can no longer buy a brand new Mariner Coaster (or any Mariner boat) he set about teaching his techniques to paddlers who wanted the performance of a Coaster but couldn’t find one on craigslist.

Brian told me that he wanted a bit more so he took the SC-1 and fine-tuned its design and, at the same time, figured out a way to scale the boat up or down to fit individual paddlers better while retaining the same performance characteristics. His web site shows some remarkable photos of Brian in his F-1 (the fine-tuned version of the SC-1) surfing some huge Pacific Ocean waves near his home base only a few miles east of Manzanita, Oregon. Continue reading A Skin-on-Frame Version of a Composite Kayak