Sunday, 30 October 2016

Annual Boat Maintenance Time – 2

It’s the creep up from power wash, paint, zinc to ‘maybe look at this or that’, that is the killer in annual maintenance. My experience is that horns, left out in the weather on the bow have a short life, as anything electric left in the rain has this habit of kicking the bucket before its time. And so I said to take a look at that and the creep began.

It crossed my mind that my GPS with the expanded chip from Puget Sound to Portland Canal, inside and out, was acquiring an odd habit: it wouldn’t go beyond the chart loading stage, so it fired up but wouldn’t work. I had to pull the plug from the back, insert it again, fire it up and the charts came on line and everything worked. That meant the problem was likely to be an electrical connection not sending complete juice that was causing an intermittent problem.

In boats, an intermittent electrical problem usually means there is corrosion (remember that salt) inside a wire lead somewhere in the system. Now, with a GPS, you don’t want to have a problem because if it doesn’t work, in fog, you have no chart in front of you to tell you where you are. And while running into a freighter that can’t see you is a serious problem, I once ended up in the States, Lopez Island, in the fog, then ran out of gas off Discovery, and needed rescuing, in the fog – one reason I never go anywhere without full tanks anymore – before I went out and bought a GPS with charts - $2500.

And from ongoing intermittent electrical errors, I got the wiring redone on my boat. Anyone who has done this knows that electrical wiring is the most expensive thing you can have done on your boat - $1500. Then I had a fuel gauge kick the bucket on the dash which would lead to running out of gas. So I got the other side of the electricals done – a new dash instrument panel, and a new switch panel, with all the double and triple wires back and forth. As in $1000. 

And, of course the gauge in the tanks kicked the bucket soon thereafter, and because the mentally-challenged boat designer had given me two 20 gallon tanks, one on port, one on starboard, rather than in the centre under the deck, and the tanks were a son of a bitch to fit under the gunwhales, so $600 for labour and then the gauges were replaced.

And then I noticed there was a container for antifreeze that had no top, so let’s look at that, too. Oh and how about giving the engine a once over? I had no reason to think there was anything wrong but since the boat was out of the water, it was the right time to get some peace of mind. And did I mention that my canvas top is starting to look like it was used on Noah’s arc – not to mention all the seagull ‘droppings’ and the zippers that have started ripping out? 

The canvas is so embarrassing that I did some looking into getting it redone only to find that not only did some canvas workers not even get back to me for an estimate, that others were booking six months in advance, and the only guy who was booking for early 2017, gave me an estimate of $4000 – to $6000, and it would be more if he made it into a bimini style – less work in my estimation.

I had been going to get a new boat, silly me, and let the top go, but had to finally decide that that was just not on the card$$ at the moment, as I had bought a new car, a Jeep. Its story makes even this boat story sound like child’s play, inexpensive, and I won’t get into that. Suffice it to say, Jeep = Kaching.
Oh and did I mention that someone ran into my boat while it was docked? That I ended up getting a new kicker, that I paid for, because I got fed up waiting, and losing income and etc. – I’d say $16,000 which I haven’t seen a penny from after two years. But that is a story that has another chapter to go and I’ll let you know the story then, when it is resolved.

Then there was that boat designer again who, instead of lifting the in-board engine above the abundant rain we get on the wet coast, he left the starter motor in the bilge, and then put the auto-pump switch a little forward of the starter. That meant I got to grow mushrooms on my boat, and change the starter more than once per year, because it was under water for more than 30 years, not to mention the battery, as in more than $500 each time. And then there was the kill switch, $250. And then there was the bus heater that got to sit in water, too, and needs changing every few years, as in…

And does it end there? No, as we boat owners know, it never ends. So a different kind of pump was installed, entailing a complete re-rig of the system including new hull drains, and $500 for the parts (not just a $50 new bilge pump). The good thing about this expenditure is that I now have a dry boat, and it sure is nice looking into the bilge and seeing it dry.

And, my boat is back in the water, and as yet, I have not had the bill sent to me, so I don’t know if those exhaust manifolds were replaced – you will remember that each one is $500 and there are two, and they have to be put into the boat – you will also remember that the structure that holds the inboard engine needs disassembly because said designer had built the cover in such a way as to prevent one getting a wrench on the bolts on the manifolds.

And does it end there? Not a chance. The next time I went down to go fishing, the engine would not start. Well, unbeknown to me, the bilge pump came on, would not stop, and killed the battery and presumably something is wrong with the bilge pump. A message was left for me, but I did not get it for two days, resulting in a dead boat. 

So I went back to talk with my good buddies at Gartside and was told the original pump was left in place and it was probably that one that caused the problem. And that the problem would be solved. 
Does annual maintenance end there? I have no idea because I haven’t got the bill yet. Happy boating.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Annual Boat Maintenance

For boat owners with boats in the water, annual maintenance time is one of great nervous tension. That’s because the ocean and sun are the most hostile environment to anything man made, particularly boats. And the issue is: money, lots of money. Those of us who have such boats, stand around at the gym and laugh at one another’s horror stories. “I got a bill fer $5,000.” And the response is “Ha,ha, ha, that’s noth’n, I got ‘un fer $7,500.” And so on to the highest bill in the past year: $22,000, fortunately not mine.

Annual maintenance is at the least: haul boat, power wash hull, paint with antifouling and change zincs. Only several hundred bucks, but there is more. Do come down and look at your bottom before the power washing at your mechanic, Gartside in my case, at Oak Bay Marina. Take a look at how small an amount of growth can make getting out of the hole take a whole lot longer and running at higher rpms, meaning more fuel consumed, for the same planing speed. 

I have my leg (yes, the dreaded in-board, out-board configuration on my boat) painted with silver so it looks nice (and I put a tarp over the transom all year to slow down growth). This means it has no anti-fouling and requires several cleanings in the year, me hanging over the transom, face to the water, trying to get as much growth and barnacles off. The barnacles are the real problem, as they cause cavitation in due course, and if you leave them too long, you won’t be getting out of the hole because the barnacles cause cavitation and the prop turns in a void that opens up inside the water.

If you leave it much too long, the zincs disappear and the saltwater begins eating the leg itself, once causing us $1,600 in electroplating of the leg, when we were just in new from Alberta and didn’t know how death creeps up on all things das boat as fast as it possibly can. 

If your prop hasn’t had cupping put on each blade’s leading edge, do have the prop sent to Sidney for the service - $100. Getting out of the hole becomes easier and a couple hundred lower rpm on the plane, so lower fuel consumption. And you should carry a back up prop - $200 – in case you hit something, for example, the dead head that was under water when I came off the four-foot wave, but had risen enough to hit my hull in the trough, and then my leg, rendering the prop into Swiss cheese that had to be changed in the same four foot waves, hanging over the transom, trying not to lose the cotter pin and its housing on the nut holding the prop on. I have done this a dozen times over my boat career. Do have one leg firmly around something on the boat so you don’t just fly out of the boat and die, the water being that cold.

Now, in my current hauling, the first thing I and Jack noticed was a small bit of plastic tarp stuck in the joint between prop and leg housing. Trying to get my heart beat back to normal, I was much relieved to find out, once the prop was off, that the tarp piece, had not managed (hard to believe) to break the seals that keep the ocean out of the leg. Once, I was not so lucky and got to spend $2,500 to have the unit salvaged, cleaned and all the internal parts replaced.

Do also clean the transducer for your depth sounder/GPS several times in the year, as it is not painted either. In the summer, growth can grow an inch a week so you can end up with a transducer that doesn’t work well in no time flat. The cleaning also gives you time to check the angle on the transducer, something that can change, depending on the shear caused during planning. I set mine a bit forward, so the bottom and fish are read a bit before I get to them, rather than after I have passed by. Saves canon balls, too.

And do remember that zincs can be almost useless with only a little pitting, so don’t ever not change them. And where possible, buy the more expensive ones with more meat. For example, my Volvo leg zinc is always the max. The small problem with this is increased boat electrical potential around your boat, and thus extending out to close by fishing gear. Put more line out or switch downrigger cable from stainless steel to cloth and the problem is solved.

Change the zincs on your trim tabs, too, and for those afflicted with an in-board configuration, add the pencil zinc to the heat exchanger on the fresh water cooling side of the leg coupling to the engine. To the heat exchanger, you can add a bus heater that makes fishing in the winter like sitting in your car, so there is an upside to this, though they need replacing now and then - $300, parts only. And do note that you have two fuel filters, one on the engine and one in the system between the fuel tanks and the engine, the latter mostly for water that condenses over time in your tanks. And don’t forget which direction the spigot on the tank switcher needs to go to change tanks or run them down equally. 

I forgot once and paid $300 servicing to find out that only my doltage brain was the problem.
As for anti-fouling, use the best possible paint, near $100 per gallon, choke choke, that can last two years (or almost that long, resulting in more growth than usual every second year) with power washing each year. It kills everything, so don’t go sucking on your hull.

And then, of course, are the two or three other things that need doing and the careless, simple suggestion of giving the inboard engine a look over. Simple things can go completely awry, so be non-committal, suggesting your engine is hunky dory. The drawled response was: “And what about yer risers?” All inboard guys know this one about the death-causing problems of saltwater and sun. 

Exhaust manifolds on the engine are on the raw water (a word that means death to engines) side, drawing and pumping cooled water out the leg. And they last five years only. And the parts are more than $500, and that’s not adding the swearing at the engine time required to get the frigging nuts off the manifolds to change the suckers, add another $1000, including time for disassembling and reassembling hull components that are strategically placed in places so you won’t be able to get the ‘risers’ off.

My least defensive response was: “Well, fellers, you can check the service records… and see where we’re at, eh.” At this point I was chewing philosophically on a fox tail shoot between my front teeth and squint’n into the high noon sun.

The downside of inboard systems, well, one downside, is that they have two water pumps, one on either side, fresh and raw. And I once had, on a day I was five miles south of Trial, in a brewing storm, when both my water pumps packed it in simultaneously and a near death experience that ended with me steaming around the break water for home smoke and flames coming out of the stern and forty gallons of fuel about to blow. But that’s another story, for the amusement of other boat owners.

More of the annual horror, er, maintenance story, next week.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Halibut, SFI, Salmon Head Recovery Program, Coho Regs, Shore Fisheries

Halibut: You will be glad to know that we can continue fishing for halibut until the end of December. 
This results because the total allowable catch of 1,100, 950 pounds for sport fisheries was not reached 
by the end of the sport lodge fishery that ends early in September.
As the Victoria area is the largest sport fishery in BC, and we fish 12 months of the year, we are the
lucky recipients of the excess. See Fishery Notice FN1060-Recreatoinal. If you want to query the 
DFO staff person, phone: Devona Adams at 604-666-3271; or Rob Tadey 604-666-9033.
DFO and the Sport Fish Advisory Board Halibut committee meet through out the season to assess 
the figures. Thank you Martin Paish et al. The fishery will continue at the same limits announced in 
Fishery Notice FN 0221, which are: maximum length of 133 cm; the daily limit is one; possession 
limit is two, only one of which may be greater than 83 cm; the annual limit is six per licence; and 
each must be recorded on your licence at the time of catch.
Sport Fishing Institute (SFI): If you want to attend the SFI policy meeting and fundraiser on 
November 25, time to get in touch with them. It takes place at the Pacific Gateway Hotel in 
Richmond. It is a key forum for politicians, public servants and those in the sport fishing industry
 to come together and share their knowledge on issues facing sport fishing and receive updates of 
the Salmon Outlook that lists stock strength for 2017.
Speakers will cover a broad range of topics, with lunch, and continue until the Annual Big 
Splash Fundraiser in the evening. Email: 
Salmon Head Recovery Program, DFO: I just received text from DFO on a couple of salmon 
heads I turned in to them. Marked (adipose fin removed) chinook and coho belong to either fish
 clipped for a fishery, or clipped and with a coded wire tag. So, sometimes you get information o
n the hatchery the fish came from, and others, as the fish don’t have tags, you get none.
Do send them in as they help in stock assessment and enhancement, as well as CDN/USA 
treaty discussions. Here are my two heads:
1.      Trial Island, Jan 2016, 211051 Chinook 2012, GROVERS CR HATCHERY, WA 1
2.      Trial Island, Jan /2016, NO TAG Chinook.

My records show that I caught both west of Trial, after the ebb, on a pearl or green-glow bait head and a Purple Onion flasher, as well as bites on a White Lightning Coho Killer. Other fish in the same area, also on anchovy, green-glow head and a Lemon Lime flasher.

The tagged fish came from the Grovers Creek Hatchery in Washington. It is in Puget Sound, north west of Seattle near Poulsbo.

If you click on the attached letter and tables, you will be able to get a better idea of all fish in all areas. As we know, in the winter, most of our chinook now come from Puget Sound (in the past, rivers like the Cowichan comprised a much higher percentage of our catch, but not so anymore, as there are not enough Canadian fish to comprise a fishery anymore), an arrangement they accept because Alaska targets our chinook, and thus it is quid pro quo.

We also protect their Nooksack and Samish river spring chinook, with our retention limit lower than the plus 20 pound returnees in March and April. So it works out.

You can contact Erik Grundmann at 1-866-483-9994 for more information. Do look at the tables, as they are the stats that matter for our fisheries in the Sidney to Victoria to Sooke area.

 Sorry, I could not load the Angler Letter and its tables. Send me an email, at gmail, for a PDF.
Coho Regs: We are now in the end of the season for in-ocean coho retention. The current coho regs in our areas may be found at: In the Victoria area you can now retain two, one of which may be unmarked. If you fish the inside of Port Renfrew harbour, it is four fish, two of which may be unmarked.

Coho For Shore Anglers: it is time to do the Port Renfrew saltwater lure section of the river, with the bridge being the arbitrary saltwater boundary. In Sooke, the silver bridge is the boundary, and below it, saltwater rules for coho and chum retention apply. Zero above the bridge. The time honoured spot for the salt gear-chucking fishery is Billings Spit. Think pink and red, with wool on a spinner a typical rig. In Port Renfrew even the time honoured Buzz Bomb catches fish. On the first day of the monsoons, float the San Juan from the Harris Bridge or confluence pool.