Tag: Boat

Bainbridge Island solo trip

For the last couple official days of summer, I decided to take the boat out into Puget Sound for a couple nights by myself. I’ve single-handed the boat myself in Lake Union several times using the Yacht Controller to take it out of the slip and then put it back and am able to do it reliably and without much stress, so I wanted a little more of a challenge. The Locks, especially the large lock, require multiple people to handle the lines so going through them by myself felt like it would be a personal accomplishment and one that I would enjoy.

The kids left for school and then I got packed and ready to go. After a quick stop for a few more groceries at Pete’s Market on the way to the marina, I was on the boat taking the covers off the windows at 10:09am, prepared my dock lines for the locks, checked the engine room, booted the Raymarine displays, etc. I left the slip at 10:35am, fairly quick for me!, and got to the Locks just after 11am. There were three boats already there, including Liv Jack, another SYC member and whose tender Eva drove on July 4th in Roche Harbor.

While entering the locks, I stood in the center of the bow driving the boat into the lock with the remote. The locks crew must’ve realized I was using a remote because he asked “Are you alone?” When I confirmed it, he yelled to the other crew that I’m doing it by myself and the crew member on the wall yelled to me that they’d help me with the stern line. I’ve heard stories about how rude and gruff they are but they have always been pleasant and friendly to us.

I steered the boat into position, went back to the stern where the crew member was holding out a boat hook for me to put the line on. She put it around the bollard and I secured it to the boat’s stern cleat. Then I made my way quickly to the bow again to lasso the bollard, which I did after one failed attempt. I had to adjust both lines a little to make the boat stay parallel to the wall while the other boats entered the lock behind me, but all in all, it wasn’t as difficult or as stressful as I expected it to be.

I took the 5 miles to Bainbridge slowly at 10 knots/hour just to enjoy the short trip. I got to the SYC outstation in Eagle Harbor just after 1pm and was happy to find the 100-foot end tie empty, which is great because it’s the only place our 60’ boat can dock there. If it wasn’t available, I’d have to anchor out in the bay, something else I’ve never done by myself.

After docking, I sprayed the windows down with Salt-Off and rinsed them, did some other minor cleaning, unpacked my suitcase and by 4pm I walked to Harbour Public House for an early dinner before the Steelers game. I really like that place, friendly casual atmosphere, great view of the marina, old school pub, mussels and salmon fish & chips was good. I was outed as a Steelers fan by the guy at the next table — Seahawks fans don’t like the Steelers because they still believe the Steelers paid the refs to beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL — despite putting a jacket over my Steelers shirt.

After dinner, I walked back along the boardwalk to the marina and to the boat where I watched the Steelers game on Thursday Night Football. The Steelers lost to the Browns.

Friday

Summer felt over when I woke up and it was cold and cloudy all morning. The sun came out in the afternoon and the evening was nice and warm.

Aside from some window washing, I relaxed all day, barely even stepping off the boat, listening to music and reading the day away. Oddly enough, Chris Wyman and Mark Putnam stopped by the boat on Chris’ boat on their way out to go fishing that evening. I still don’t know how they knew I was there, they claimed they saw the boat on the dock and went to check it out and it turned out to be me. But they seemed to know it was our boat and I was on it and that Gay wasn’t on it.

The day was cool and cloudy but the clouds cleared and it warmed up in the afternoon. I grilled a steak on the flybridge barbecue, baked steak fries in the oven, added some horseradish and that was my dinner. I watched a movie and went to bed. It was nice quiet day for me.

Saturday

I woke up to a sunny day, made coffee and scrambled eggs and grilled sausage patties for breakfast. By 11:30am I was pushing off the dock and was at the locks before 1pm. I had to wait 3 hours before I could get through the lock because I had to wait for the small lock, since I was by myself, and charters, even empty ones, kept going in front of me. This locking was more smooth than the first time. I put both lines on quickly and watched the 3 guys on the sailboat behind me struggle with their lines. I got back to our slip at about 5pm, closed up the boat and went directly to Hudson’s soccer game at Magnuson to catch the second half. They won again, 2-1. They’re a really skilled team that is fun to watch.

Whidbey and Kingston

We planned to go up to Whidbey Island as a family but Havana didn’t want to go. So it was to be just the four of us. Then Hudson invited his friends, Bowie and Penn, at the last minute. Havana stayed home alone (!) one night and then she spent the next night at Jamison’s house.
Sunday morning we left the marina and arrived at Langley by 1:30pm. After we anchored I was on the flybridge and started to hear Coast Guard reports over the VHF radio of a boat-to-boat collision and a search for survivors in Mutiny Bay, just on the other side of the island from where we were anchored. It turned out to be a seaplane crash, one of the worst plane crashes in Washington history with all 9 passengers, including a 22-month old kid, and the pilot killed. 😢
Sep 10, 2022 Update: all the identities were made public, two bodies have been recovered and the wreckage may have been located.

Monday

We dropped our crab pots and a few hours later had dozens of crabs but all but two were either female or too small. We tried two more times but both were much less successful. But we had enough crab to make a dip.

Penn started school on Tuesday so we took him to the Port of Everett – the largest public marina on the west coast I learned – Monday afternoon where his dad picked him up. Then we took the boat to Kingston to find a full marina. We quickly anchored in the bay and rushed to town to have dinner at Kingston Ale House before they closed.

Tuesday

The next morning I took the tender into town and got a lot of crepes and took them back to the boat for breakfast.

Besenzoni P246 Smile seat and their quality control

Our boat has helm seats made by Besenzoni in Italy and the model is the P246 Smile (pleasant name). The seats are very nice and very comfortable, I can’t help but say. However, when our boat arrived, I couldn’t get the captain’s seat to work properly. It’s supposed to go up and down on a pneumatic cylinder like an office chair: pull up on the lever and it goes up, sit on it while engaging the lever and it goes down, release the lever and it stays at that position whether you’re sitting on it or not. But the lever couldn’t be moved at all and the seat always went to the highest position and when I sat on it, it went to the lowest position. It was as if the valve on the cylinder was always engaged. It turns out that it was.

I contacted Cranchi and Besenzoni about it and after 3 or 4 weeks, I received no good answers and no guidance to make it work. The other seat was also missing a bolt and a spacer that the bolt goes through that held the frame to the seat cushion.

One bolt is missing
One spacer, the other is missing

Besenzoni referred me to Marine Solutions, a Besenzoni partner in Florida, for the parts. It seems odd that knowing the model of seat and my description they couldn’t tell me the part that I need. The seat doesn’t have many parts to it. Marine Solutions asked for the serial number on the seat so they could tell Besenzoni and then could determine what size bolt I needed. Have they really made that many different versions of this seat with different size bolts in the last several months? Besenzoni said the serial number is “stitched” into the pedestal — I think they meant “etched” (probably an Italian to English translation mistake). Trying to figure out what the serial number was impossible since it wasn’t visible anywhere on the seat or pedestal that I could find, not even on the base of the pedestal under the boat deck. I sent photos to Marine Solutions asking where I would find the serial number, they forwarded the photos to Besenzoni but they never answered. I decided to take the captain’s seat off the pedestal thinking the serial number night be on top of the pedestal because it wasn’t visible anywhere else. It isn’t there either. But I discovered why the seat’s pneumatic operation didn’t work!

The problem was that the two steel plates shown in this photo were not fastened to each other.

Check out how poorly that hole was cut and how lousy those welds are!

They were clearly supposed to be, there are 4 bolts that were just dangling from the top plate and the bottom plate was separated from the top plate, the plates could easily move up and down separately so the whole pneumatic cylinder and lever mechanism was inoperable — the pneumatic cylinder was all the way up, the lever could not be moved because it was pinned to the underside of the seat by the cylinder. Sitting on the seat caused the lever to engage the valve pin at the top of the cylinder and the seat would go down but it wouldn’t stay at any position because the valve was always open. and the spring in the cylinder could always push the seat up when no weight was on it.

The bolts were not attached because the bolt holes were too big for the bolts — they could easily slide in and out of the holes. It’s hard to tell if they were even threaded, but maybe they were and whoever put them in did such a sloppy job that they stripped the threads. How did that person not realize the bolts were not secured?! And note the sloppy welding job around the circular hole. The steel was cut very jagged too, my fingers have lots of little cuts from reaching inside it to secure the new bolts. Granted, this part is not normally visible so they probably don’t care but a well-built product by a company that takes pride in their work should not look like that, in my opinion. It’s surprising given that Besenzoni seats are well-regarded and expensive.

I fixed it by buying longer bolts and secured them with washers and nuts. This was much easier said than done because the tube is so narrow that my arm could not reach into it to secure the nut on the underside of the plate. Thanks to my son for helping me! Now the chair works perfectly and has quite nice action. Unfortunately, Cranchi and Besenzoni were of no help at all.

I also replaced the missing seat bolt myself thanks to one of my favorite stores: McMaster-Carr. It’s stainless steel and not painted (yet) so it doesn’t match the color, but McMaster-Carr’s drawings are so precise and complete I could measure an existing bolt and figure out the correct diameter and thread sizing and my first attempt at sizing was exactly right. That’s rare for me! I now have 4 extras in case I need to replace any of the other bolts. FYI it’s this part at McMaster-Carr: 93395A544.

Besenzoni seems to be entirely at fault for the manufacturing and assembly issues and their customer service was not helpful. However, Cranchi’s quality assurance people should have tested the seat to verify it works as it should! They should have also noticed a missing bolt and spacer in the other seat. Furthermore, I initially contacted Cranchi for help with all of this but they were not helpful at all either.

January 20 2022 update: It’s taken this long to get a response from Besenzoni through the dealer in Florida. They won’t send me a spacer, I have to buy it from them. And they won’t sell me just one, I have to buy 5 of them (for $135!). And they refuse to ship it to the dealer with another order to save on shipping from Italy, so I have to pay to have them shipped too. In other words, Besenzoni didn’t give me all the parts to the seat I bought and I have to pay more to get all the parts and I have to buy 4 things I don’t need.

Solo dinner on Lake Union

Nobody wanted to go on the boat today but I know that summer is ending and I haven’t spent enough time on the boat, so I had (reheated leftovers) dinner by myself and watched the sunset on Lake Union.

I live in the prettiest city in the country!
Sunset over Aurora Bridge and Gasworks Park

I’m finally reading The Boys in the Boat and read a chapter of it during and after my dinner. It felt very appropriate to be in a boat at the very place the book is set. Speaking of, I noticed today that the Pocock Rowing Center is right there by the University Bridge that we go under on our way to Lake Union– George Pocock is a significant character in the book and was the most prominent boat builder for crew teams across the country. I love the history.

Cranchi E26 Rider delivery day

We finally got the boat today! After all the delays, I was skeptical that we’d really get the boat this week. I was assured that the boat was actually on the ship that was anchored in Puget Sound for almost two weeks waiting in line to get docked but I didn’t know for sure. It was unloaded on Sunday and the trucking company was able to pick it up today, I assume after going through customs and other red tape.

Hamid, our sales guy from Newport Boats, flew up from Los Angeles late last night and met the trucking company at the shipyard this morning. He sent me photos at each stage…

He hired a captain to take it from the shipyard to the Seattle Yacht Club where we met them at our slip.

Gay, Hamid & Me

Hamid poured us some Prosecco and we motored out of Portage Bay and cruised across Lake Washington to Carillon Point and back.

Gay, me & Captain Chris

Note that I intentionally wore clothes to match the boat: white shirt to match the interior, aqua blue jeans to match the hull, a blue/white watchband to match both and brown shoes to match the decking. Hamid even gave us an Italian flag.

After Chris and Hamid left, Gay and I went to the deck at the yacht club for an appetizer and a cocktail and to hold a table for dinner. Eva was at a birthday party so Gay went home to pick up Havana and Hudson while I read over the stack of manuals that came with the boat. We had a nice dinner at the yacht club, then Gay left again to pick up Eva from the party at Green Lake and then we met on the boat again to go cruising into Lake Union until sunset.

Seattle skyline from Lake Union
Havana, Eva & Hudson

Got an SYC slip!

After only a couple months on the wait list, I got a slip at the Seattle Yacht Club marina in Portage Bay. That was unexpected, I thought I’d have to wait at least 6 months and probably a year or more.

Insert boat here

After months of not being able to get moorage, I was relieved to find one a few weeks ago and now I have two! This one isn’t covered but the location is much better for us, so I’ll give the other one up.

Preparing for the boat’s arrival

I finally found moorage for the boat! It’s hard to find moorage in Seattle, especially now since boating has become even more popular thanks to Covid social-distancing. I’ve been contacting marinas since the Fall and every marina either has waiting lists that are at least 6 months, and even several years long, and other marinas don’t even bother having a waiting list because they’re so lengthy. To make the moorage situation in Seattle even more difficult, Seattle Parks decided to renovate two of the three marinas they run so those marinas are closed down until October.

I was worried that I’d have to get a trailer, park the boat somewhere and put it in and take it out of the water every time I wanted to use it. I got lucky and found a slip yesterday and even better, it’s covered, so I grabbed it immediately. Renting the slip requires insurance for the boat and I got that today too. All of this is a huge relief to me.

I talked to my Cranchi sales rep and he sent me this photo of the shrink-wrapped boat on a rack at the shipyard in Italy just before it went onto a ship to cross the Atlantic. Thanks to the Evergreen debacle in the Suez Canal, worldwide shipping has slowed down. It was tentatively scheduled to be here on May 15th and is now scheduled to arrive in Seattle on May 23rd. Realistically, it’ll probably be a few days later than that and then it’ll take a few days to get it from the Seattle shipyard to the dock where we receive it.