Time to learn and wait in Campbell River

After a leisurely long morning in Egmont we left for a long day of cruising to Gorge Harbour for the evening. It was an easy calm cruise except of course for the aptly named Grief Point where it’s almost always rough. No problem, though, our new stabilizers worked perfectly!

We were welcomed into Gorge Harbour by a large school of dolphins who apparently had been fishing in Gorge Harbour the last few days. Fantastic!

After anchoring and showering we headed in on the tender for a yummy dinner at the restaurant at the marina. One of the other guests snapped this photo of us.

The next morning we didn’t rush again because we only had a two hour cruise to get to Campbell River. Using the tender we first explored the less developed parts of Gorge Harbour before we lifted up the anchor and headed out where we immediately encountered a pod of orcas! Our first this trip! They must of gotten the message from the dolphins that there were lots of fish to be had in Gorge. After a short show, the orcas disappeared so we continued on to Campbell River, but we learned later that the orcas passed through the narrow “gorge” entrance and entered the harbor! That must have been amazing for all the boaters anchored there.

The day was calm at first although we could see thunderstorms over Campbell River about 15 miles away. As we got closer, however, we encountered some big rollers from the north and again the stabilizers were working beautifully.

That is when our next problem occurred.

The Captain thought he smelled something burning. I thought it was the popcorn I had just made, but he checked the port gauges (which of course were off because of the battery alarm) and we got a different alarm: the engine was overheating! He immediately turned off the port engine, which unfortunately runs the stabilizers, so they were off line. We looked at our closed circuit video of the engine room to make sure there was no smoke and there wasn’t. Then the Captain went down there to make sure nothing smelled or looked wrong, it didn’t. So we continued on to Campbell River with just our starboard engine. We’ve always said that’s why we had two engines: in case one fails. Although we prefer to run on two engines, one working engine is much better than none!

Still, the next hour of our cruise was less comfortable and more stressful than it otherwise would have been, especially because our stabilizers are powered by the (now shutdown) port engine. And strangely, despite the port engine being off, the port engine temperature didn’t decrease. This made us think it was a gauge problem. But we didn’t want to risk damaging to the engine so we continued all the way into the marina on the starboard engine alone. After mooring at a lovely space at the end of “H” dock at the Discovery Harbour Marina, we started up the port engine again and it ran fine. No problem. The temperature was perfect. So it seemed like another case of intermittent failure, our favorite.

During the same cruise we also noticed that the auto pilot screen on the lower helm went dark, but the auto pilot remote continued to work perfectly. Seriously! 😳.

After checking in, we did our laundry, grabbed some dinner, and shared repair stories with fellow boaters in Campbell River. One couple had engine failure in their only engine and so had to be towed back to Campbell River down Johnstone Strait over 7 hours in big waves. So by comparison, we felt lucky.

Monday morning bright and early, Marcus from Altech Diesel Repair (thank you Laurie for the tip!) came to the True Love, to investigate our original problem, the alternator. It was fried as we expected. The first mate watched him remove it and video taped the whole process so we could do this ourselves if we had to in the future. We also asked him about the overheating and he told us that was probably an expected “false alarm” because of the fried alternator. Phew 😅.

Over the last couple of days while waiting for our new alternator to arrive we have spent time calling tech support, reading engine and equipment manuals and really learning more about our electrical systems. We even fixed the auto pilot by unplugging the power cable in the back into another plug next to the first one. It was smart to have two plugs on the back for the one essential power cable!

We’ve learned a lot about our inverter and our large, 800 Amp Hour “house” batteries. They haven’t been holding a charge at night like they have in the past. And although they are reaching the end of their lives, they were supposed to last for another three years. We’ve spent a lot of time turning things on and measuring how many amps each requires. And we discovered our 15 year old small fridge on the fly bridge is probably drawing way too much current. It probably is what has been triggering the inverter to shut itself off at night. No problem, we will just turn the little fridge off before we turn off our generator each night. It just holds drinks and makes ice, and the outside temperature is pretty cold at night here anyway, even in summer.

After calling the inverter company, Magnum, to see if they had any thoughts about our evening shutoff problem, they suggested we equalize the batteries. There was some concern from another expert that we weren’t supposed to equalize our AGM batteries, but thanks to the internet, we discovered that was the correct approach with our “Lifeline” brand batteries. Great! After fulling charging the batteries with the shore power, the Captain pressed the appropriate button on the inverter control panel for 5 seconds on the inverter increasing the volts going into the house batteries to create a chemical reaction inside that should return the batteries to their proper balance. We’ll see if it works.

We are feeling so accomplished!

Our final project was creating a bug screen, McGyver style, for the sliding entrance to the fly bridge. This has been a goal for a while. It took us three visits to Canadian Tire (a great store with a ridiculous name that sells pretty much everything except food). We created a screen that attaches with magnet strips and should allow better air flow while keeping out the mosquitos and evil biting horse flies (half horse fly/half wasp) that are sometimes abundant during the summers here.

Tomorrow the alternator should arrive in the morning and we are really keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to leave with the ebb tide midday and make the long cruise up to Port McNeil or Port Hardy. From there we will be perfectly positioned to head across the open ocean to our goal: Fjordland and the Great Bear Rain Forest.

Although we didn’t plan this delay, it wasn’t bad. We aren’t rushed, we learned more about our boat than we have in the past 7 years and we were able to work on and finish some important work projects we didn’t think we could accomplish. Everything happens for a reason.

Last night the sunset surrounded us with 360 degrees of lovely color. But we are now very ready to move on. Here’s hoping that the alternator arrives on time tomorrow!

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

4 thoughts on “Time to learn and wait in Campbell River

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