March 16, 2015

Our MacGregor 26M spare sailboat found a new home in May-2015

Update 9-May-2015: Sold!

We received a full price cash offer with a signed purchase agreement and earnest money deposit in late April.

This transaction was completed in early May when we delivered the boat to her new home on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.

We will miss the opportunity to use her as a guest boat and runabout this summer in southeast Alaska, but on the other hand it is great to divest ourselves of yet another item we don't really need to go cruising...

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Original post: [16-March-2015]

Now that we are above zero in Fairbanks, it is time to start planning for summer. [Everything is relative...]

One of the things we have been planning for this spring is to sell our fun big/little trailerable sailboat/powerboat, Second Wind: 






She helped us keep our sanity the last few years by providing us the option of exploring Prince William Sound for weeks on end each summer (and occasional dips into freshwater lakes along the way...)

So if you know anyone who may be interested, please refer them to our Second Wind website for details. Thanks!

If we don't find the next home for her we will take her to Wrangell and have a guest boat! (Like when you lend your spare car to your guests...)

March 13, 2015

Spring 2015 Projects

Or: What we bought at the Seattle Boat Show...

[Updated 17-Feb-2015]

Here is a partial punch list (with references) for new/replacement systems we intend to complete as part of our spring commissioning this year.

Many will spawn subsequent posts detailing the project, so keep an eye out if you have an interest...

The winners are: [√ = Completed]


  • √ Composting Head [Completed 17-Jul-2015]
    • Why? We broke the lid on one of our two Lavac Heads. Replacement cost for just the lid is 20% of the new composting toilet cost... [yes, just the lid...] While we love the Lavacs, we dislike holding tanks and consequently have been pondering a composting alternative for one of our heads; Now is the time...
    • The majority of this project [and the 'funnest' part...] will be removing the old plumbing without creating a nuclear wasteland within the boat...
    • This marine unit is not nearly as pretty as one of these for a home or cabin, but it will be perfect for our needs
  • √ Pure Sine Wave Inverter [and 125Amp battery charger] [Completed 6-Jul-2015]
    • Our 20+ year old modified-sine inverter is not compatible will all modern appliances, and the charger portion is showing signs of dysfunction/ fatigue/ failure...
    • We purchased a factory refurbished unit with warranty for about 45% discount
    • A sub-project is replacing the aging [and misreading] Link 2000 battery monitor with one from the same company as the inverter [Magnum]
    • Magnum also has a module we can add in the future to auto-start our generator when the house bank is sufficiently depleted [need to think more about this one... not sure we want to be awakened [startled] by the generator firing-up at some future anchorage...]
  • √ New Galley and Master Head sink faucets: [Galley completed 10-Nov-2015]
    • We're going for improved flow control [single valves] and increased faucet/sink clearances [taller, swan necked faucets...]
  • √ Dryers on the vent lines of both fuel tanks [Completed 17-Nov-2015]
    • Oh, and replacing one of the through-hull diesel tank vent fittings which is plugged with corrosion [[Completed 17-Nov-2015]
      • It took a diesel shower from a pressurized tank when fueling the very first time last summer to discover this... 
  • Replace one or both VHF radios: 
    • With N2K compatible AIS & GPS capable VHF Radios [Two new VHF replacement radios are already on board...]
    • We rely on AIS MOB devices, so having back AIS receiver(s) [in case our Vesper Watchmate 850 malfunctions- and it never has...] is crucial to our strategy. 
    • √ We will be installing a B&G V-50 with remote wireless mike in the cockpit. This unit ties into our existing B&G N2K network and interfaces with our B&G Zeus Touch MFD/chart plotter. [Completed 8-Jul-2015]
    • We may also install a Standard Horizon Matrix GX2200 VHF radio with a hardwired RAM3 mike for the cockpit [I decided not to use this unit and resold it.]
    • We will also be installing a hailing horn to transmit sound signals (e.g., fog, etc) as well as be a forward listening post
  • √ Waterheater: [Completed 10-Jul-2015] Replace the existing 6 gallon unit with a super insulated IsoTemp SPA (AKA IsoTherm] 11 gallon unit with a built-in mixing valve [Installation Manual]
    • The mixing valve will prevent us from scalding ourselves (remember the water is heated by the engine and reaches temps of 160-190°F. It will also make the tank of water go a lot farther
    • The spray-foam insulated SS tank of hot water will last 24-36+ hours [Per existing owner reports]
  • √ Internet signal booster: We are installing a WiriePro WiFi and Cell Data booster [Completed 9-Jul-2015]
  • And more projects... yet to be decided...


March 11, 2015

How nature can deceive us...

Minus 10F at home in Fairbanks in mid-March... We take solace that it is -30F in town...

March 1, 2015

Wrangell to Fairbanks

From the time we unload off of the ferry in Wrangell, we have all day Saturday and Sunday till 4:00pm to get showers, do some laundry, load items into Denali Rose, retrieve items from Denali Rose, service the camper, prepare for the drive to Fairbanks, and put our trailer onto a storage lot. Our next ferry, the Malaspina, was departing Wrangell for Haines at 5:00p on Sunday.

Everything is opened up for air flow, and the prevention of mold and mildew while we are away.
We moved our wagontrain to the Wrangell RV park, and unhitched the trailer while we did errands for the day. This park has a different setup than what most parks have. There aren't any trash containers, you, the camper are required to take out all of your garbage and dispose of it somewhere else. There aren't any outhouses or restrooms either, and that seems weird, as they do have tent sites. I guess their main aim is to have self-contained larger RVers, because they DO have electrical hook-ups.
All leveled up for the night.
One of the items we had trouble with, was servicing the camper. We could dump the black tank at the marina, but since it was only February, we couldn't find potable water anywhere. We still had the drive from Haines to Fairbanks, so we needed to fill the tank. Worse case, we were going to have to fill containers down at the boat, and walk it up the ramp to the camper. I got a brilliant idea...go to the volunteer fire department, and see if they would let us fill up. 

No one was at the fire department, but it is connected to the police station, and the dispatcher was on duty. She was very busy, but as soon as she was free, she asked me what I needed. 

" I know this is a strange request, but we are moving to Wrangell, and we leave tomorrow night for Fairbanks to get the rest of our stuff, and we need to put about 30 gallons of water in our camper to use on the way. Since this is March, we can't find open potable water, and I was wondering if you had a hose bib we could hook up to, and get water."

She looked at me weird, and said she would call the duty officer, and see if he could help. So the Wrangell Police Department comes to the rescue. The officer came, opened up the garage door, and let us hook our hose to their hose bib for fresh water. One note, I didn't see "water assist" in the weekly police blotter, and I was disappointed. 


The service that checks on our boat while we are away, recommended someone to store our trailer. He has a large front yard, and uses it as a paid storage lot for trailers and boats. That's one way to make the place pay for itself. So we drop off the trailer there, next to a large connex container, and head for the ferry terminal. Another note, Bill didn't change the clock inside the truck, and I thought we were running an hour late. He didn't let me know the real time till I asked the Marine Highway employee if the boat was running late. Bill laughed and said 'ha ha, the clock is an hour fast." Whack!

The ferry employee, when he saw my shocked look, said that he wouldn't want to be in Bill's shoes right now. Harumph, uh YEAH!

There is a reason we call it the Alaska Marine Highway, as most of the communities in Southeast Alaska are on islands, and this is the major form of transportation. The Malaspina loaded up with about 4 high school basketball teams, and the boat was full of teenage kids.

This was a non-sleeping lounge, so not as full for the evening.
The sun set shortly after getting onboard the ferry, and it wasn't long until the ferry turned into a channel called the Wrangell Narrows. This is a 22 mile long stretch with over 60 navigational aids to keep you from hitting rocks or going aground. We have done it twice in Denali Rose, but this was my first time in a large vessel, and in the dark of night no less. (cool time lapse video of the MV Matanuska going through the narrows)

I followed along on the active chart we have on the IPad, and stood at the front of the lounge following along with the beacons, lights, buoys, and cans. The ferry always had a spotter standing up front in the bow, and at times turned on huge spotlights to make sure they were seeing correctly. They had to go very slowly through some of it. The large cruise ships don't go to Petersburg, because they can't fit through this passage.

They turn off all of the lights in the lounges at 10:00pm, (except for emergency lights), and everyone has claimed their sleeping spaces to stretch out. It is like one large slumber party. People with camping sleeping mats, blow up mattresses, (full size even), sleeping in between the rows, along the outside walls, in lounge chairs, bench chairs, and creating camping sites. (Really!)


And like all slumber parties, there is always someone who won't be quiet. At about 11:30pm, I decided it was enough, and reminded the young men that there were areas of the boat where people weren't sleeping, and they should go there if they intended to stay awake and talk. Something to be said for having grey hair and a commanding presence, (and parents who have done a fairly good job at instilling some respect), as they said, "Yes Ma'am", and they laid down and went to sleep. We have decided in retrospect, that if/when we do an overnight, we will pay the money to get a stateroom. (small closet room with bunkbeds, and a bathroom).

The next day was sunny, and beautiful, and we really enjoyed the scenery.


Eldred Rock

Notice the glacier to the left.
Approaching the ferry terminal at Haines.

Picturesque Haines
Haines is in a really beautiful area of Alaska, with the jagged mountains, the Lynn Canal, and the Chilkat and Chilkoot rivers. When the sun shines, it is spectacular. Haines has the largest congregations of bald eagles in the world, and they feed from the hot springs fed rivers. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is 18 miles from town. 

Now we are on our final leg of the journey back to Fairbanks. We have to cross into Canada one more time as we drive from Haines to Haines Junction, to the Alaska-Canadian border just past Beaver Creek. Traveling through the Chilkat Pass was another beautiful drive, with blue skies, pure white mountains, and black highway. (Chilkat Pass, elev, 3,510 feet/1,070m, at Milepost H 59 Haines Highway)


This picture was taken through the truck windshield, note the tinting.

Snow just waiting for new trails to be made.

We saw a wolf, caribou, and mountain sheep. There were also many turn-outs for people towing trailers with snow machines.

We took 3 days to drive back to Fairbanks. I'm sure it could be driven in 2, but Bill had begun to not feel well, and he didn't want to have extended driving days. We blame all of the kids on the ferry for passing on the flu and colds we both would come down with.

We got back to our home in Fairbanks in the late afternoon on March 3rd, and between the 4th and the 8th, we got about a foot of snow, and then a week of minus 3 to minus 30 temperatures. Welcome home. 

Neither one of us felt very good at this point, we parked the truck and didn't have the energy to unload much. We left the furnace and the fridge on in the truck, until we could get the perishables into the house. It took us awhile before we could get out and plow the driveway, clean the deck and steps, and carry pellet bags to the house. We joke about how we have been in a disagreement with our lungs about whether they would live inside or outside of our bodies. I think we have finally won the debate.


Bill out with the snow blower.

Looking up our driveway, we are snowed in.

Parked truck, awaiting unloading.


Now that we are feeling better, it is time to get busy, sorting, cleaning, clearing out, selling, and packing. (again)