Egmont is one of our usual stops and after a long day of cruising with our new exhaust hose we headed in for our moorage. Unfortunately we arrived during one of the biggest currents of the year and they hadn’t left us a proper space on the outside of the dock, so we had to wait for the currents to calm down. That would take 4 hours. We were tired after a long cruise, but that’s how it goes sometimes. So we cruised around some nearby sites, made some phone calls and let time pass until we could come back to the dock. By the time we got back, the dock crew had cleared an appropriate space and we tied up easily. But we were exhausted and pretty much got ready for bed right away.
Egmont is usually a calm and peaceful place, but the nearby Northwest Wilderness Lodge clearly had a big and jovial outdoor wedding party, complete with every hit wedding song playing loudly, as well as lots of hooping and cheering. It sounded like a great wedding and I wish we had the energy to crash it! But alas we didn’t, so we closed the hatches and fell asleep.
Another positive change in Egmont is a new cell tower which allows us to make calls and improves the WiFi.
We awoke on Fathers Day morning and got to use the improved WiFi to video with Jasmine, David, James and Robert. James is becoming such a great reader and he read us some of his chapter book. Robert was his usual cheery and energetic self. But soon we were ready to celebrate ourselves with a walk to one of our favorite places: the little bakery in the woods. And to our surprise when we got there we were welcomed by one of the owners smiling and saying, “are you Jasmine’s parents?” Jasmine had called ahead and asked to buy our breakfast for Fathers Day. It was such a thoughtful gift and it really made our morning!
After our yummy breakfast and lovely walk back to the True Love we headed out on our way to another very special place: Princess Louisa Inlet.
We had a mixed cloud day but the views were as stunning as usual. Unfortunately along the way we ran into the second boat issue of our trip. The First Mate forgot to turn on the generator when cooking some lunch using the microwave/convection oven, which draws a lot of AC power. The two main engines have big alternators that supply AC current without using the generator but if that’s not enough the “inverter” can create even more AC current by changing (inverting) some of the DC power in our batteries to AC power. If the AC power draw is too much, the inverter is supposed to shut off the power supply, but that didn’t happen. Instead, after about 15 minutes of using the microwave without running the generator, the port engine battery alarm (a VERY load and annoying beep) started blaring. We turned the engine off which turned off the alarm. And the port engine restarted no problem, and ran, no problem, but with the port engine key turned all the way on, the annoying engine battery alarm blared again, which was unacceptable, so we turned the port engine off again.
Needless to say we were frustrated. Not another repair! Not another multi-day trip to a boatyard! We ran for a while on one engine and then the Captain realized that we could start the port engine, and then turn the key back only a quarter turn, which would turn off all of the engine gauges (tachometer, temperature, oil pressure and voltage) and all of the engine alarms, but did not turn off the engine. As a result, we had the power of both engines again and they seemed to be running perfectly. And at any time, we could turn the key all the way on, quickly check the gauges, and then turn the key back a quarter turn, all before the annoying battery alarmed blared.
Once again we arrived too early to enter Malibu (tidal) Rapids that guard the entrance to Princess Louisa so we had to spend a couple of hours cruising and exploring the surrounding area. Clearly we aren’t in the habit of scheduling our cruising for tidal currents! We will improve to make our cruises more efficient. We hoped that running the engines longer would recharge the port engine battery and make the alarm go away but it didn’t.
Our usual very special anchorage spot in Princess Louisa Inlet was open so the Captain set the shore tie and we dropped anchor in our favorite spot with two waterfalls and a stunning view of the mountains and Chatterbox Falls. We were pretty tired from our long day and worried about the engine alarm, but we decided to stick with our plan and enjoy our special place in this truly amazing part of the world. It feels like home to us in so many ways.
Over the last 4 days the worry has been replaced by a joyful serenity as we kayak, practice yoga, stretch, paddle board, meditate, read, play chess and just float in this beautiful place. We’ve seen seals, eagles, otters, and butterflies. A juvenile eagle caught a fish and ate it in the tree behind the boat and we get a photo.
Our hope was that coming earlier would mean more snow on the mountains and bigger waterfalls. There is more snow on the mountains and a few more waterfalls, but this time of year the waterfalls seem more affected by rain than the snow melt. The moss is definitely brighter on the rocks. And we’ve had mixed weather, some very warm periods and some cooler times with afternoon thunderstorms. We went for a beautiful 2 hour kayak yesterday morning in sunshine and came back just as the raindrops began to fall for a very rainy afternoon.
Today however it’s sunny and glorious; perfect for paddle boarding and exploring on the tender where we spied the big eagles nest used by the local pair. We always see eagles here but, in over 10 years, we’ve never seen the eagles’ nest. I even captured a picture of the nest with the pair around it. James and Robert, can you find both the eagles?
During our 4 days here, the First Mate had time, as usual, to organize the provisions in the fridge and the pantry. We spent yesterday’s rainy afternoon organizing our new charts for cruising north to Fjiordland and planning a more precise schedule for our summer.
The electrical system is one of the great mysteries of boating for us. In our electrical book, which we have read and highlighted, but barely understand, it says the batteries are the least understood equipment on the boat. That rings true for us. But over the last 4 days we’ve pulled out all the applicable manuals, and tested the batteries. We’ve confirmed what we already suspected: the battery alarm light is not something that requires you to turn off the engine (like the high temperature or low oil pressure alarms), at least according to the Volvo Marine engine manual. We can safely run the engines even if the battery alarm is “on” or “silenced.” Our battery bank seems to be ok. The batteries may be draining a little faster than usual, but that is to be expected with the age of our batteries (which are scheduled to be replaced next year). We are concerned that the inverter didn’t prevent us from pulling too much AC power from the DC batteries when the convection oven was running without the generator being on, but we are not sure what to do about it.
The Captain figured out today that the port engine warning lights don’t all light up (temp, oil, battery) like the starboard engine warning lights when we turn the engine on without starting it. Instead, only the temp warning light comes on. However, the port engine starts right up and runs fine, either with the battery alarm blaring or without any alarms (or gauges) as long as we turn the port engine key half way off after starting the engine.
So with our limited knowledge and skill we have a few theories.
1. The warning sensor on the port engine is broken or loose. This would be the simplest and easiest solution.
2. The alternator is dead. Again in the electronics book it says you should always have a spare. I’m not sure what good this would do us, because I can’t imagine us changing it. But it does speak to the factor that they do fail.
3. The batteries despite appearing ok when we tested them need to be replaced.
4. We are too ignorant to have a clue.
So our next mission is clear: we are going to visit another boat yard or repair shop. This time, we are determined to cruise north, not south, so we are going to look for some help in Campbell River. Tomorrow we will leave early at high water slack tide so we can ride the ebb current out of the Fjord. When we get close to Egmont (about 40 miles away) we should have phone service again so we can make some calls and make a repair reservation for Monday at a Campbell River boat yard.
The good news is we really aren’t stressed about it! The magic of Princess Louisa Inlet has worked and we are calm and relaxed. The First Mate took one of her best photos ever of this beautiful place! It begins this post. Our boat is organized and we have a great plan for reaching our goal of Fjordland on the northern BC coast. Of course we will need to fix the engine light/battery/alternator/who knows what problem, and we will, but we aren’t going to let this new little problem distract us from the beauty that surrounds us.
Overcoming the unexpected is part of life in general and certainly part of our boating adventure!
Update: We are in Egmont. After making all our calls, it appears the alternator was fried by the use of the microwave without the generator and we have found someone to replace it on Monday. Another learning experience. All is well.
The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love