Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Buying a New Boat: The Search

After Wayne and I decided to start looking for a new boat to use on the chuck (salt chuck, ocean), we developed our mandatory and "nice to haves" lists. That helped us keep us focused during our search. The key item was our maximum dollar amount. This had to include any upgrades that might be required to make the boat conform to our mandatory list.

Geoff from Lake Union Sea Ray in Bellingham was a key player in our search. He also introduced us to Yachtworld.com where we could review boats available in the U.S. and Canada. Narrowing the search to the Pacific Northwest (including British Columbia) made the search more realistic.

If we purchased a boat in the States, as Canadian permanent residents, we would need to import it to Canada. This would be advantageous if we could find a boat that was less expensive south of the border. Importing a boat into Canada is fairly simple if it was manufactured in a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) country. If not, it could require expensive import duties. We definitely wanted to avoid those.

From craigslist we found several boats that we went to see. One definitely made it to the top of our list. We also went to several local dealers to see boats in their lots or on their docks. As I mentioned before, this process helped us narrow our search for three Bayliner models: the 2858 command bridge and the 2859 sunbridge (both 28-footers), and the 3058 (a 30-footer). Now all we had to do was find THE boat. -- Margy

Monday, May 30, 2011

Buying a New Boat: We Found It!

Buying a boat is a bit like love, you never know when you'll find it. We went to see a 1993 Bayliner 3058 twice. It was an individual sale through craigslist. The owner kept it well maintained and the layout was very functional. The only downside was twin 4.3L engines. We were afraid they were a bit underpowered to get the boat up on plane. But the up side would be better gas consumption at lower speeds.

Before we went for a demo ride, Geoff found a 1992 Bayliner 3058 Motoryacht just north of the border in Richmond, BC. Wayne was at first reluctant to travel so far, but since it was on the way to Vancouver International Airport, he stopped by on his way home to Powell River.

It was love at first sight. And it had every item on our mandatory list (including price) and almost every item on our "nice to haves" list. Wayne told me all about it when he got to Powell River. He was so excited. We set up an appointment for me to see it on my return trip to Bellingham. We learned that this was the boat we wanted. We also learned that not all boat brokers are as good as Geoff.

Thanks to Geoff's hard work, we found our boat. But now the hard work had to start. A boat can look great from the outside, but what is happening inside. Since we didn't know anything about the owner or his maintenance records, we opted for a complete boat survey and mechanical inspection. What a story that made! -- Margy

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Buying a New Boat: Getting a Boat Survey and Mechanical Inspection

When we purchased our Bellingham boat from Geoff at Lake Union Sea Ray, we knew the seller and the maintenance records for the boat. Wayne and I trusted the boat we were purchasing was in good condition and free of any major defects. For that reason, and because our U.S. insurance carrier didn't require one, we opted not to get a boat survey.

With our new Bayliner 3058 Motoryacht, we didn't know the seller or the boat broker, and there were no maintenance records. For those reasons, and because our Canadian insurance carrier required one, we chose to get a boat survey.

Geoff also recommended that we get a mechanical inspection of the engines and legs to make sure they were in good operating order. The Foghorn (as in Foghorn Leghorn) has been moored in the fresh water of the Fraser river for several years, but before that it was in salt water and that can be quite corrosive.

Wayne and I met Geoff at the Skyline Marina in Richmond, BC, where the boat is moored. Geoff helped us find an independent survey company and mechanic. During the morning, both inspectors crawled all over the boat looking at the construction, systems, engines and condition. Then Geoff took us out to test the boat in action.

The final stage of the inspection was a haul out at the marina so both inspectors could see the bottom of the boat and the stern drives. The Skyline Marina has a 30 tone boatlift, so we used that. Now that was quite an experience. All I could think was, "Don't drop it!"

After both inspectors finished, they gave a verbal summary of their findings. The written reports followed two days later so we could make our final purchase decision. But the initial report was good.

Both inspections plus the haul out were a bit expensive, but the peace of mind it gave us with an unknown boat was worth it. You can bet when we get ready to sell our 2350 Bayliner it will come with a lot of records for the prospective buy to review. -- Margy

Friday, May 27, 2011

Buying a New Boat: The Boat is Ours

The week after the inspections, we decided to buy the Bayliner 3058 Motoryacht named Foghorn (I'm sure there's an interesting story there, but it's lost to antiquity). I'm sure you've already guessed that by now. We're very happy with our new boat. Yes, there were some ups and downs during the search and procurement process, but the end result is well worth it.

Wayne and I went up to the Skyline Marina in Richmond for the Victoria Day weekend to stay on the boat and get to know it a better. It was great fun! Because we're going to sell our smaller Bayliner 2350 soon, we didn't want to purchase too many things to outfit the new boat. So Wayne brought a big box of things down from Powell River including life vests, a portable GPS, and tools.

We bought two new sleeping bags for the v-berth bed and stopped at Overwaite (I still refuse to call them Sav-on Foods) for a picnic supper. Because we were on shore power, we could use our microwave oven (too huge for a boat) to make popcorn before we went to bed. When we get to Powell River we'll trade it for our smaller one in the condo. That'll be an improvement for both places.

We took the boat out on the North Arm of the Fraser River towards the Strait of Georgia. We traveled at slow cruise and enjoyed watching all the river traffic including several log booms heading upstream and a barge filled with sawdust from the mill heading out. Back at the slip, we toasted our new boat with a bottle of champagne on the bridge. What a great way to end the day. -- Margy

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anchors "Away"

You've read quite a bit about our new boat. We did an extensive boat survey before purchase, but you never know what you'll find until the boat is yours.

We went out into the Fraser River to try our remotely controlled windlass anchoring system. We started lowering the anchor slowly with a few stops. On the third start, the anchor started in free fall and the chain was ripping out of the locker at a fantastic speed. Then I saw something fly into the river. Finally, it stopped when the chain turned to rope and jammed. That was anchors "away" in a literal sense.

The shaft sheered and the clutch (brake) was gone. We also learned we had over 100 feet of chain, most of which was lying at the bottom of the river. Fortunately, the windlass had an independent drum operated by a foot switch. Wayne wrapped the chain around the drum and began the difficult task of retrieving our anchor.

I had to keep repositioning the boat because at the time, the Fraser was running at about 4 knots on an ebb tide. The good news was we got both our anchor and chain back. We carefully piled it on the deck and started looking for a repair shop. Having to everything by phone and Internet was a little daunting, but we found Saxon Parker of Explorer Yachting.

Not only could he fix our windlass, but also replace our ailing fridge. He did it professionally, and most importantly, within our extremely short time frame. Sax sent his installer technician back to show us how the windlass operated. That was extremely helpful since the manual that came with our Lewmar left a lot to be desired.

Thanks to Sax and Chris we were back in business. But we saved our first test run for Secret Cove on our homeward cruise. We'd had enough of anchoring in the fickle Fraser River. -- Margy

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

O'Dawn-Thirty Departure

Thursday, Wayne and I took our new boat from the Skyline Marina in Richmond, where we've kept it for a month, to our new harbour in Powell River. We waited two days on board for a fair weather day for departure. Following a day of strong winds Wednesday, Wayne wanted to get started early.

So we were up and going at 5:30 a.m. with the high tide. If you know me, I'm not an early bird. But I must say it was a beautiful time of day. Wayne navigated us out the north arm of the Fraser River past moored log booms waiting to head to the mills, and barges of sawdust ready to head back out, maybe even to the Powell River paper mill.

Stay tuned for the rest of the trip from dawn to dusk. -- Margy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Boating the Sunshine Coast

It seems we found the only good weather day to move our boat from Richmond, BC, to our home port in Powell River. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday were all windy with choppy seas. Thursday, the seas were fairly calm with two to three foot swells coming from the northwest. There's nothing like a warm, sunny day to boat along the Sunshine Coast.

We decided to take the direct route from the Fraser River to Gibsons. Rather than pounding in the swells, we slowed down and rode them in a teeter-totter motion. Our Bayliner 3058 really handles well with its wider beam and longer length. On such a nice day, we didn't see many other cruisers, but we did pass this classic commercial fishing boat.

When we reached Sechelt, we slipped behind the Trail Islands where the swells diminished. After the Merry Island Lighthouse, we were in calm water. We chose Secret Cove for our fuel stop. We'd been there before in our 2350 Bayliner (now for sale) and felt it would be a good open fuel dock to approach.

Two women fuel attendants met us upon arrival, so it was an easy event. Even so, Wayne brought the boat is with grace and ease. It seemed late in the day, but it was only 8:45 a.m. When I said we had just come up from Vancouver, she said we probably were glad to get away from there. At the time, we hadn't heard about the Stanley Cup Finals riots.

We grabbed two cups of hot coffee at the marina store and went across the bay to try out our new windlass anchoring system. It has a remote control on the command bridge and a foot switch on the bow deck. We put the anchor down twice and then rested to drink our coffee and have a bite of breakfast.

The rest of the way to Powell River was an easy ride. Long Texada Island blocked the northwest swells, allowing us to travel on plane all the way at a fuel saving 20 knots. The Powell River paper mill and the Queen of Burnaby ferry were welcome sights in the distance.

Come back tomorrow to see our new slip in the new North Harbour. -- Margy

Monday, May 23, 2011

Powell River's Remodeled North Harbour

When we were at Secret Cove, Wayne called Jim, the wharfinger in Powell River. He said that even though the marina wasn't done, we could come in after 5:00 p.m. or before 7:00 a.m. We were early, so we stopped for fuel in the South Harbour and peaked inside our breakwater to see what was happening. The construction barge was blocking the entrance and busy working on the last two docks.

We anchored off Willingdon Beach for a relaxing afternoon in the warm sunshine. Kids were fishing from the float at the end of the breakwater, catching lots of little fish. Life must be good now that school is out for summer. Heading to our slip, the first sign that things weren't quite done was a sign: MARINA CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION.

Inside there were just a few boats. You hardly ever see a marina this empty. Soon it will be full, but not today. When we got to our slip, it was still barricaded by two old dock section. Since most spots were empty, we picked one nearby and left a message for Jim.

Friday, after I left for Bellingham, Wayne went back to the marina to move our boat. It is now in our slip at the end of the dock. It's nice and open for approaches and departures, but Wayne learned it can be hard to dock in windy conditions when you're alone. Fortunately, a couple watching from another dock ran to his assistance. We sure live in a wonderful place! -- Margy

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stairway to Heaven

It's been a long time since I've written a Wednesday Friends Day post. I would like to expand my "friends" list to forums I enjoy visiting. Today, I was over at one of my favourites about cabin living, the Small Cabin Forum. It's associated with a website of the same name that provides lots of information about cabin construction. I recommend that you visit both.

I was reading some of the posts, and one of the popular threads was "Share Your Outhouse Pics." Now that might not be a topic of great interest to cityfolk, but to us cabin dwellers it's an integral part of our lives. Some were traditional, some fancy and one was a Tufway chemical toilet.

I had to share mine of course. To get there I have to climb what I call the "stairway to heaven." It's four flights up a notch in the cliff. During rainy weather it shares the space with a waterfall.

Up top is our outhouse. It's nothing special, just a one-holer with three plastic bins. One holds TP out of reach of nesting mice. Another holds used TP to be disposed of later. That really cuts down on the quantity of fill if you know what I mean. And the last holds lime and a spoon to sprinkle down the hole to reduce odours.

If you prop the door open, you get a great view through the trees to the lake beyond. Now where could you find a bathroom with that in the city? -- Margy

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Our Floating Vegetable Garden Wins Sunset Contest

In the April issue of Sunset Magazine, there was a call for readers with vegetable gardens to submit a picture to the magazine's Facebook fan page. The winners would receive a set of garden tools. I submitted a picture of my floating garden up at the cabin, and do you know what? I was one of the tree winners and my garden's picture is in Sunset's June 2011 issue. What a great honour!

How does my garden grow? With purple sage, red potatoes, and green lettuce all in a row.

The heart of my garden is my float. It was designed and built by my good friend John. Cedar logs provide the buoyancy needed to keep four 3 X 10 raised beds above the waterline. On the bottom of the beds is a heavy cloth called mill felt. It is porous, but very strong. Frequent watering is needed in the warm summer months, so John installed a solar powered water pump and hose for me.

And supervising it all (and supposedly scaring away hungry birds) is Mr. Owl. His strategic perch at the rear of the float gives him a bird's eye view of his vast domain.

Each year I try to plant something new. Last year it was acorn squash, banana peppers, cucumbers and Scarlet runner beans in barrels on the deck. This year it's garlic in a barrel and up with the potatoes in my hillside plot. What are some of your favourite things to grow? Do you think they would do well in my garden? -- Margy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Growing Rhubarb in Deck Pots

Last spring I planted a rhubarb bare root in a medium sized pot on my deck. It's a deep pot to allow for root growth and to help insulate them during the winter. Even so, I wasn't sure it would work.

Rhubarb is a long-lived perennial plant. The directions said to not to cut any stalks the first year to allow the roots to get established. I cheated a bit and took a few to make a pie. Looks like I dodged a bullet.

I would say this is a pretty good start for year two. The pot is in full sun and catches the rain. Plus, it's in a location for easy watering with a can of lake water.

My good friend Margaret from Powell River also posted about rhubarb this week. Head on over to her blog Thistle Garden to see how easy it is to freeze extra rhubarb. Plus, she has a handy tip for using the leaves (they are poisonous) to cut down on garden weeds.

Do you grow rhubarb? What are some of your favourite recipes? -- Margy

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Avian Trampoline

Two years ago, all of the baby Barn Swallows fell from their nest to our porch roof. None survived. So last year, we gave our nesting visitors two helping hands. First, Wayne built a small wooden shelf to help support their mud nest high up under our eves. The second was a soft "landing pad" just in case any babies got pushed or fell from of the nest.

I used an old sheet and sewed a large pillow. Then I took some polyester fiberfill I had from an old craft project to fill it. The fiberfill dries fairly quickly and retains its loft, making it a good choice for an outdoor "avian trampoline." To help keep the fiberfill in place, I created three pouches in the pillow.

To keep it in place on the porch roof, Wayne used some strategically placed rocks. The pad has an additional benefit. At the end of the season, it can be discarded with all the droppings from the nest.

We are hopeful our Barn Swallows will return by the end of May. If they do, everything is ready for them. The old nest just needs refurbishing and the new trampoline is in place.

And by July, maybe we'll have more babies to watch like these. -- Margy