Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness

Readying Celeste in Dutch Harbor, June 14—20, 2015


Celeste in Unalaska

Seth and I got started on our planned projects/upgrades to Celeste the morning after our arrival. We’d gotten most of our stuff aboard the evening before and had stowed as much of it as we could before getting too tired and hungry to continue around 9:30, six hours after we’d landed.

Installing the new alternator

Installing the new alternator

Refreshed by a good night’s sleep, we started with the engine’s alternator. There’s nothing wrong with our original, but we’d ordered a high output one to install instead. Last year our solar panels kept our AGM batteries charged properly, and we had never discharged them more than 12% on any given cycle, but a high output alternator will ensure a proper charging rate whenever we motor as well. Plus, now we have a spare. The new alternator went on easily enough, occasioning only one trip to Alaska Ship Supply for a bolt. And the engine started up again on the first try: successful project!

Running the new autopilot compass cable

Running the new autopilot compass cable

Next on the list was to fix a leaky freshwater foot pump and to re-do some of the plumbing in the bilge so that it leaves more space for stowing heavy tupperwares of tools and sailing hardware. Alongside that, we ran a new backbone cable for our autopilot’s fluxgate compass in order to move it into the V-berth and well away from the magnetic interference of the engine, which we think was the cause of its occasional swerving last year.

Warm light LEDs

Warm light LEDs

We also had a few small projects such as installing a new 12V plug in the cockpit which we can use for a variety of things, including our spotlight, and such as installing brighter, warmer light, LED bulbs in the cabin to replace the cold light ones we had last year.

Yet another project was to install a small fan near our heater’s chimney as a way to disperse the heat a bit better around the cabin. In the tropics someday it will also keep things cool, though that’s not a worry in the Bering Sea. . . .

New jib!We managed to get the sails on while the fine weather lasted: both our old mainsail and our new jib! The genoa that had come with Celeste was on its last legs, rotted by 30 years of the sun’s UV rays. It still carried us from Port Angeles, WA to Whittier, AK (in Prince William Sound) but we’d kept having to repair it and it had blown out at the most inopportune times. (After Whittier we used our heavier and smaller Yankee jib due to high winds and also the sail’s superior condition.) Our good friend David Townsend, whom we’d met on our respective circumnavigations, recommended a sail loft in Hong Kong that would align with our budget, so over the winter we’d ordered a new 135% Dacron jib. It’s the first new sail we’ve ever had!! We’d taken careful measurements, of course, but it was still thrilling to see that it fit perfectly and looked so well made!

Feeder lines on cleat, jib halyard on winch

Feeder lines cleated, jib halyard on winch

Also on deck, we re-ran our halyards. Last September, we’d run feeder lines up the mast to keep down weight and windage for the big winds we knew would blow all winter. So we just stitched the end of each halyard to it’s feeder line and ran them through. All the halyards were in good condition except for the staysail one, which we replaced with new line.

Then it was time to tackle the eagle poop. Two hours of hard scrubbing with a deck brush and a sacrificed dish sponge mostly did the trick, and we disposed of a bunch of lovely fish bones and fish guts, dropped by eagles dining atop our mast. . . . We also discovered that apparently eagles make not-so-little feathery pellets like the owl pellets one dissects in elementary school biology lessons. . . .

Cleaning off the eagle poo

Cleaning off the eagle poo

The culprit! Eagle on the spreaders

The culprit! Eagle on the spreaders

After that, with the boat looking almost ready to sail, we took a few days off to explore Unalaska and wait for a the propeller zincs we’d ordered from Seattle.

11 thoughts on “Readying Celeste in Dutch Harbor, June 14—20, 2015

  1. Things seem to be going well for your next adventure, the boat looks well with the varnish, and what speed for a 28 ft waterline, yes you got a good one , looks great with all sails up, I would love it. Do hope the weather stays good ,

    • Thanks so much, Terry! We’re so happy with how Celeste stood up to the winter and feeling good about the voyage this summer with the boat in such good shape! I hope the weather stays good, too!!

  2. I always read and follow your postings on your blog feed. I may not comment all the time, but I follow. I really enjoy your writing, stories and on the edge adventure sailing/exploring. Thank you.

    • Thanks so much, Hayden! So glad to know you’re enjoying it. Sorry if we don’t post as frequently as we’d like – the internet can be hard to come by up here!

  3. Hehe…I had never considered cleaning off eagle poo would be an issue would come across:)

  4. will the Eagle now become part of your logo? 😉 Poor chap must be having a hard time once you sail away – unless he’ll be following you, of course…

  5. Lots of hard work. Sounds like you are very well prepared. Any news on the ice?