Day 2

Snuggled up off Big Creek at anchor in about 4 feet of water.  It’s blowing fairly hard – about 25 knots – from the West and this is the quietest place I could find.

Yesterday was not uneventful.  I left Port Bruce about 0830.  As I mentioned this was really my first proper outing with the new motor, and I wasn’t surprised to have a few issues.

First off I had an oil leak from the valve cover.  Couldn’t really tell which one.  The motor also started starving for fuel when I went above about 1800 rpm.  Most disturbingly I had a leak from the gear cover that was sending smoke and oil out under higher speeds.

Wind was Southwest about 15 knots so I had a quartering sea. Quite pleasant underway.

I stopped in Port Burwell to fix the valve cover leak.  I had the covers off earlier so no surprises, but the gaskets are sort of a silicone and seem too big when warm.  After one unsuccessful attempt I put them in the freezer for 1/2 hour, cleaned everything carefully and that solved that issue.

I wasn’t keen to run hard with the gear cover leak, so continued on east.  Forecast was for strong west winds today so ducked around Long Point and anchored last night inside the point.  Had a good sleep.  Beautiful morning, anchored in about 5 feet of water on a sand bottom.

I changed the fuel filter this morning – pretty sure that the air was getting in around the gasket, so wanted to replace it.  The gear cover leak puzzles me.  There must have been crankcase pressure to cause the leak… But I reinstalled the CCV system last week, and my working theory is that it was somehow plugged and allowed pressure to build that blew out the gasket.  I really hope that’s it.  Have disconnected the closed loop and have unrestricted ventilation now

Fortunately I have a spare gasket aboard, so the main project for the rest of the day is to see if I can fix that.  Might be tricky.  I also still need to patch the inflatable.  

Have I mentioned how much I hate waves?  I’m quite happy to hang out here until the wind dies a bit to avoid the waves out on the lake today, so will putter away at the repairs. 

GPS stats from yesterday

Tomorrow I Leave

Just got home from the boat, and am realizing that tomorrow morning – ideally early – I’m boarding Mazurka for what may be 4 or 5 weeks.  Wow.  I’ve been plotting and scheming about this for a while, and it’s actually going to happen.  

This means I have a busy evening ahead.  Packing clothes, going through some checklists at home, and buying groceries.  Need to have a few days of food aboard.

The cruise hasn’t started yet though. Tomorrow is very much going to be a shakedown exercise.  While I thing all systems are in good shape, I do have a new motor, and I did have some challenges this spring in getting it fully operational.  More on that later.  In any case, essentially I’m breaking it in tomorrow doing the 100 mile run down the lake to reach the entrance to the Welland Canal.  If tomorrow goes well, I’ll be ready to relax.  If it doesn’t I’m sure you’ll hear about it here in due course.

Wind forecast is for west winds 15 kt, so I’m hopeful that it won’t be too rough.  Likely the nastiest piece will be the 20 miles approaching Port Colborne but assuming motor is good I’m going to have the hammer down.  This is a test/delivery segment.  I’ll be happy never to visit Lake Erie by boat ever again.

Wish me luck!

Final prep

Cleaning today.  Still a few things left on my list, but hopefully no show stoppers. Plan is to leave here on Saturday and head for eastern Ontario and Quebec.

Hopefully you can see the difference between the clean right side and the yet-to-be cleaned left.

Still on my list:

  • Patch hole in my RIB and get it down here.  My tender is an old Avon RIB 310 (10 ft) with a Yamaha 15 hp two stroke.  Fun little boat.  A new boat is on my list but I’m trying to keep the old one working for another year.  Patched a hole in the hull this spring, so hopefully it will be seviceable this year.  Also reinforced the davits this spring, so expect to have a more robust arrangement over last year.
  • Clean interior
  • Replace lower shift cable.  Old one is stiff and I tried lubing but am going to replace it.
  • Configure alarms on sensors – I added EGT and two new temp guages – exhaust temp at the muffler and oil temp and will play with them to determine appropriate thresholds. Have a car horn that I can have set off when parameter values are exceeded.
  • Check fuel system carefully – one return line seems to be partially blocked, and I think I’m still getting air in somewhere.  I put in a squeeze bulb with lots of clear hose on my intake line and it helps to bleed and identify issues.  See pic below.
  • Clean motor, generator and bilges.  I am also putting in a drain hole on each stringer to ensure no water pools there.
  • Install wifi booster antenna on flybridge.

That’s about it!

2017 plans

I finished work on Friday, with an expected return of mid-September.  I have a few local obligations over the summer, but am planning to get underway this week and spend most of the next 3 months underway and aboard.

Boat is in Port Bruce Ontario, on the North shore of Lake Erie about mid-lake.

Current plan is to head east, go though the Welland Canal to Lake Ontario, and make my way liesurely to Kingston.  Then up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa.  Beyond that I’m flexible.  Probably down the Ottawa River to Montreal.  Would like to visit the Chambly Canal and maybe areas downstream of Montreal. 

I’m quite happy and comfortable traveling by myself, but hope that friends and family can join for some segments of the trip.  I’m going to try to document my plans here as they unfold to help with coordinating those visits.

Why a power boat.  Aren’t you a sailor?

Yes, sailing used to be a big passion of mine.  But really I just like boats.  In addition to Mazurka I have a Laser dinghy, a couple of canoes and a small fast inflatable.

As with many things, it comes down to the use case.  I’ve lived in London, Ontario for 24 years, and there isn’t much boating close by that interests me.  I took a pretty much complete break for 15 years – busy with family, career, homes etc.  I traveled a lot to race Lasers in Masters events for a few years, which is a ton of fun.  

I’ve had a long-standing interest in seeing North America from the water.  More specifically from the inland waters.  I was hooked the first time I went down through Virginia and North Carolina on the intracoastal waterway (ICW).  There are thousands of miles of navigable waterways, and my goal is to travel them all.  I’m not a fan of open water. 

Given that, a power boat is the right choice.  Not just any powerboat, but one that is easy on fuel and reasonably self-sufficient.  I’ll try to go into more details on my selection criteria and the purchase process, but that’s the short answer.

FAQ – Cost

Q:  Wow.  That’s a yacht!  You must be rich…
A:  Really I’m not.  Well, I am.  But I’m not any richer than you.  We’re both rich!

That often leads to things like a comparison of other lifestyle attributes.  I’m happy to talk endlessly about my daily driver car – a 2005 Prius – that I’ve driven 100,000 km in the last 24 months at a ridiculously low Total Cost of Ownership.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that most people I know spend what seem to me to be exorbitant sums on things that I don’t got and don’t miss.  I view having this boat as a privilege, but its not as big a deal as it seems.

I bought this boat with a notional budget of $5,000 per year for all operating expenses – fuel, insurance, maintenance, winter storage, docking and lock fees.  That’s not very much in the boating world, and if you put it in terms of a car ownership cost, I could be driving a new car instead of my 12 year old hybrid.  Nobody would think I was rich if they saw me driving a 2017 Accord 🙂

Q: Ah, but how much does it cost to buy?

I paid us$24,000 for the boat, about $37k landed in Canada.  I had a top budget of $50k.  I had an inheritance of about $60k and wanted to fund a couple of years of cruising from that money, as this is Jeff’s boat rather than a family boat.  Again, I am fortunate.  

So I go to boat shows and I see boats that are essentially a modern version of my boat, and the prices are in the mid-high six digits.  That to me is for the rich folk.  This boat is the floating equivalent of my old Prius – functional, efficient, and relatively affordable.  I like that.

I should also say that I am an obsessive DIY boater, and that I spent 15 years of my young life working on and around yachts, including a successful 4 year stint as a broker.  So I came into this with a background and skill set that I felt comfortable with in terms of identifying the right boat for my needs and budget, buying the best boat I could find at the best price, and maintaining the boat myself.  I’m also completely comfortable selling stuff, and am confident that I can sell the boat when I am done with it, and that there is a good chance that I can recoup a significant portion of the purchase price.

Whew.  So bottom line is that it probably doesn’t represent as big a financial burden as you thought.

I’ll talk about money lots here.  It matters to me, and maybe will help others who are contemplating doing something similar.

Q: what about fuel costs?

I did keep a detailed spreadsheet last year.  Don’t have it handy, but I did do some detailed fuel consumption analysis.  I wanted a boat that I could travel on without worrying about fuel costs.  And I’m a greeny sailor.  In 2016 I traveled about 3500 km over three months and used about 2300 l of fuel.  That’s more than I’d like, and I hope I can reduce my per km consumption this year.