Fixing the Boat

There is always something broken. It is just a rule on boats. Usually is is more than one thing, you have a list. Just so long as nothing on the list is truly critical.

Battery circuits on the forward engine room bulkhead of a Nordic Tug ‘42
Battery circuits on the forward engine room bulkhead of a Nordic Tug ‘42
Our journey south along the Inside Passage has been documented by adding things to the list, and crossing a few off as they get fixed. Washdown pump not working? Bad crimp in the power connection. The defrost vents on the bridge… Fixed. The anchor light atop the mast? Fixed… That took some work and dismantling half the ceiling. Door latch on a galley cabinet… Fixed.

Still, the list does not seem to get any shorter.

Nothing really critical… Until we noticed the batteries were not charging.

Hmmm… That might be a problem.

I spend a few minutes poking about in the engine room. The battery circuits are fairly simple, everything is just bolted to the forward bulkhead and fairly easy to get at. There is some complication in that we also have a battery charger that runs off AC power, that adds a few more wires, circuit breakers, and other electrical boxes to the setup.

Yeah… The alternator is dead. It is putting out 2.9 volts, not 12 to 13 volts..

Hmmm… That is a problem.

Fortunately we can charge our batteries. We have to run the generator and use the battery charger. We can keep cruising, with no redundancy. Lose the gen-set or the battery charger and we will soon be dead in the water when the batteries give out.

Of course this happens in the middle of a rather large bit of wilderness, a long ways from any substantial port that would have the needed parts.

So we run the gen-set for a few hours each morning, and a few hours each evening charging the batteries. The nights are punctuated by getting up to check the battery voltages, on the panel just outside my cabin door.

Those few days of cruising allow us to get to Shearwater. This little port serves the cruisers coming up from Vancouver and transiting the Inside Passage. Shearwater offers a fairly good marine supply house and a small boatyard.

Alternator on the Cummins diesel engine of the Nordic Quest
Alternator on the Cummins diesel engine of the Nordic Quest
Of course they do not have an alternator for a Cummins diesel in stock. They can however fly one in the next day from Vancouver. Just $400 for the alternator and another $90 to have it couriered to the airport. The final bill is $515… Ouch. Only somewhat softened by the conversion rate to $US.

We spend the night in a very pretty little cove a few miles from Shearwater. In no hurry to run back to dock I take a couple hours to kayak around a saltwater lagoon playing tag with a family of otters. One nice result of the breakdown.

At 1:30pm the water taxi arrives from Bella-Bella with our alternator aboard. Good, this will take 20 minutes… Not.

A broken 1/2″ ratchet… Run up to the marine supply for a 1/2″ breaker bar. $20 later we can get the serpentine belt off.

We do not have a socket big enough to get the pulley off the old alternator. Run up to the boatyard where the mechanic quickly swaps the pulleys with an air ratchet. We slide him enough loonies for a round of beer.

Done. The batteries are now charging! We head south towards Queen Charlotte and a open ocean crossing with all systems good to go. Everything critical at least.

Quiet Blog

I admit Darker View has been a bit quiet for the last few weeks. A few reasons for this. Firstly I was in Alaska with family for most of the month of June, fishing and exploring out of Juneau as usual. Then I was quite busy at work, compounded by recovering from a bout of bronchitis.

To top it all off I spent my blogging energies working on the NordicQuest.com blog instead of Darker View… Sorry.

I will have to cross post a couple of the good postings that I put up over at NQ here. While the blog has been quiet, I have been having fun!

Breach!
A humpback whale breaches in Chatham Strait

Nordic Quest 2014

As is my habit, I have produced a video summary of this summer’s voyage in the Nordic Quest. Take a few of the best photos, a little video, a snippet of timelapse, a decent tune, and mix well…

Nordic Quest 2014 from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo

Having done this more than a few times now it is getting harder to be creative. Still there are always unique shots that come back from any voyage, such as the mother grizzly and cubs. There is also a sequence I had always wanted to try, a timelapse of the huge Alaskan tide change. This time I had a chance to shoot it, and had some success.

Nordic Voyage

Ten days on the boat out of Juneau, our annual family trip fishing in Alaska is complete. This summer it was an all family affair… My mother and father, my brother and his wife, and their grandson Andre. Add Deb and myself for a total of seven aboard the Nordic Quest for ten days of fishing and exploring. The plan was to head south of Juneau, down Stephen’s Passage for the Frederick Sound area.

First stop was Taku Harbor for the night with the following day spent attempting to fish salmon in Stephen’s Passage. A pretty day, but no fish. The only luck we had was a single crab in one of the pots left overnight in Taku.

Dawes Glacier
The towering wall of ice that is Dawes Glacier in Endicott Arm
On to Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier. The weather was not great for visiting the ice, but we did arrive at low tide, the best time to see calving. We were rewarded by the sight of several ice-falls as the water level fell and the face of the glacier crumbled.

An afternoon spend fishing Halibut was rewarding as well, plenty of fish landed along with one hundred pound specimen caught by Andre. A halibut that big can not be gaffed and simply lifted into the cooler. Instead I harpooned the fish off the swim deck. My first harpoon shot was a bit off, hitting low, a second was much better, right through the spine behind the gills. Good this too, the fish promptly broke the steel leader. Two harpoon lines attached insured this fish was headed for the freezer.

Continue reading “Nordic Voyage”

Nordic Quest 2013

Sorting through thousands of photos, dozens of video clips, and assembling time-lapse from yet more thousands of frames, all to create a mere five minutes of video. It is quite the chore, but also a lot of fun. In a way I relive the voyage, each photo a cue to recall all of the little experiences that make a great trip.

Having another couple photographers along provided a great source of material, it is not all of my photos. Randy and Nancy sent me some of their best, which have been woven in to create a better video. We got lucky on the weather, while it was cloudy and rainy for much of the time, we had a glorious day for visiting the ice at the top of Glacier Bay. We were lucky with wildlife as well… Orca, grizzly, humpback whales bubble netting, mountain goats, eagles, even a set of fresh wolf prints on a beach, all of the big game.

It was fun…

Nordic Quest 2013 from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo.