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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




Current Journey - RSS Feed at http://svapsaras.com/entries.atom

Front row seats to marina wedding

We awoke to a cooler day.  Time for some rib sticking oatmeal and braised greens with sausage!  The oatmeal had cinnamon apples mixed that were originally destined for a pie, with port wine reduction drizzled over the top.  Perfect fall breakfast!

We made our way to the Des Moines marina.  We've never stayed there before and tomorrow there is a farmers market where we can grab a few more things - like plums to replace our plans for a pie tonight.  While at the marina we saw a wedding procession walk down the dock and head for a big boat where family and friends awaited them.


Dinner was Jim's smoked pork and a big Greek salad.  And wine.  There is always plenty of wine!

We eat like kings

We awoke to another lovely morning in Filucy Bay.  When we pulled up the anchor, Dave got to test out the washdown pump for the first time.

We quickly discovered a flaw in the design – the intake hose you drop in the water tends to float.  A quick modification solved the issue:

We headed to Harbormaster Bay.  We were here a year ago but couldn’t enjoy it as the smoke from the wildfires was so thick we couldn’t sit outside.

Breakfast underway was lox and cream cheese.  Yum!


For lunch, Jim cooked fish tacos with a mango avocado salsa.  With all the food allergies aboard, Margaret had found an unusual recipe for Jicama shells.  You slice the Jicama thin and soak it in water.  We liked the taste but the shells were thick and tended to split when you bent them.  Maybe with a meat slicer we could get them thin enough.


Dinner was halibut baked in paper with a herbed mayo sauce.

After a gorgeous sunset it was time for pears poached in port with ricotta cheese with a port reduction sauce over the top.


Fourth time is a charm

20 years ago Dave and Melissa found a small bay filled with sand dollars and named it “Sand Dollar Bay”.  We’ve wanted to revisit for years.  Today we hoped would be the day.  Alas.

The real name of that bay is “Fish Trap”.  When we got to Fish Trap with the hope of anchoring and hopping in the skiff to see the sand dollars, the current was raging and the wind blowing.  Tight quarters and deep anchorage.  Not a good combo.  Dave instructed Melissa to put down 200 feet of chain (all the chain we have – only thing left is 100 foot of rope).  But when we backed down, we were too close to another boat.  None of us liked the optics.  We decide to bail.

Next stop, Boston Harbor, a small marina with a grocery store and great locals.  Dave calls ahead and they assign us a tie up spot.  Alas.  When we arrived, we approached the dock to find the depth was only 4 feet below the keel when we were 200 feet from the dock.  With the warnings in the guidebook that this marina dries at low tide, he didn’t like the optics.  Dave decides to bail and we are all with him.

We then head to Hope Island in hope of catching a mooring buoy.  Alas none were open and two were missing.  We bail on that plan.

We land on heading for somewhere that we have been before – Filucy Bay.  Lovely quiet bay.  Slow internet but we can live with that.  It was a gorgeous day to be on the water.

Underway, Jim fixes the screws in his cabin door which had worked themselves out.

Later this morning we started another Hunt-A-Killer game Camp Calamity.  When we do this – it takes over the main cabin.

Jim and Melissa are intent on solving these puzzles.  Margaret says, “no wonder you two were known for finishing projects in time and under budget – you guys are intense!”.  Well, more or less that is what she said.

But despite the game, we can still take a break to cook!  Dinner was turkey bacon with chicken with a creamy pasta sauce with fried sage leaves on top.  Jim and Melissa can fit in the kitchen together despite the tight quarters.

Hardest mooring buoy ever

This morning Dave had to hook up the wash down pump and give it a try.  Success!!!

We headed to Eagle Island.  We had a heck of a time picking up the mooring buoy.  Melissa realized that we needed to bridle the hook up when we first hooked up because with the current roaring through there, if we put both ends of the mooring rope on the same side of the boat we would have no hope of moving the rope to the other side pulling against the current.  Alas she failed to communicate this to Dave who was at the helm.  That plus struggling with the rope and the boat hook, she failed to point at the buoy when it dropped below Dave’s view under the boat horizon.  Two failed tried and Dave was frustrated.  But third try and we made it.  But when the guide book says the current roars through here – they are not kidding.  The other side of this is that at stack tide we will be bumping against the buoy while adrift.  We put out the front bumper intended to prevent this from being an issue overnight – alas between the thumping and the slapping against the stern it was a short night sleep for us all.  But the view is gorgeous!

Meanwhile, Jim made lamb burgers and butternut squash fries for lunch.  Tons of different kinds of herbs.  So yummy.  Alas we managed to mistake the English muffins for hamburger buns in the freezer so the buns seemed weird.  Well, yeah, because the hamburger buns were still tucked away in the cupboard.

Dinner was grilled lamb medallions with green beans and crispy shallots.  Go chef Jim!

After dinner we set up the big monitor in the cockpit to watch Dirty Dancing with popcorn – made the old-fashioned way!

Melissa has wished for this for 8 long years

Breakfast was pork sausage with roasted veggies and a herb sauce.  Most of us loved it, but Dave said it was “mushy”.  Oh well.

Ever since seeing Joint Decision (52 foot Nordhaven) wash their anchor down with a pump that could have powered a fire hose (after rescuing them), Melissa has dreamed of a washdown pump.  That was 8 years ago.  4 years ago Dave ordered a wash down pump.  Been thinking about how to install it ever since.  Two years ago, Jim and Dave got serious.  Just not serious enough apparently.  Some nonsense about not knowing how to run the intake water pump hose down through the boat to the through hull in the bottom of the forward compartment.  And that’s where this project stalled out.  This year they decided to give up on routing to the thru hull and just toss a hose overboard (did Melissa say this was a solution some years ago?  Who can be sure?).  Anyway, this year the pump came back out while we were on the dock at Gig Harbor.  Great option as there is a West Marine and a hardware store nearby.  Plan is to mount the pump to the divider in the anchor locker, toss the intake hose overboard, and mount the output hose to a quick disconnect coupler on the deck in the anchor winch compartment.  Despite years of planning we needed a male spade clip, stainless steel wood screws, and a hole saw in the right size.  Dave and Jim headed out to Ship to Shore – a local marine store.  They had the screws and connector, but not the hole saw.  Next stop was the grocery store for a few supplies.  One grocery store was closed for Labor Day and had a “no ice”sign”.  They headed to Natural Market next only to find they had no groceries.  But they did have Dave’s calcium/magnesium supplement.  They then headed to West Marine but there was no hole saw but they did have wire. 

When they returned without the groceries we needed, they got in the dingy to head to another grocery store for onions, ice, and more olive oil.  You can never have enough olive oil!

Along the way they saw a really cool looking electric boat that they then helped to navigate into an open slip in the marina.  The whole top was covered with solar cells – likely 20 x the energy production of Apsaras.  She was underway and still putting power in the batteries.  It was their maiden voyage.  The owners helped design it and modeled the interior after their airstream.  The builder who built it to their specifications probably built his last boat before retiring.  Dave loved the drum winch for the anchor – very efficient, and was combined with a washdown pump!  Apparently everyone but us has one!

Lunch was a big platter of goodies.

Upon returning to the boat, Dave began installation of the circuit breaker for the washdown pump in the forward head.

See how nice and neat it is?

Meanwhile, Jim walked the 6 miles round trip to the hard ware store for the hole saw.  When he returned, they installed the pump itself.

When the guys sat down to relax after a hard day of work, Dave began to shake and shiver.  He got worse and worse as the minutes went by.  He reported feeling anxious and cold.  We covered him with a blanket but he continued to shiver.  Of course, we were all freaking out thinking COVID.  But that made no sense because Jim brough his daugher’s home test unit over the night before we left and we all tested negative.  Still… We started to wonder if he had absorbed some marine grade sealant doing the installation and wondered if that was causing a reaction.  Eventually we decided to just put him to bed in hopes some rest would make him well.  Meanwhile, Melissa put in a call to her brother, Kelly, the paramedic to ask whether we should be freaking out.  By the time Kelly called back, Dave had gotten up and was looking a little better.  A quick conversation with Kelly revealed a working theory – dehydration.  The shaking and shivvering is the result of his body having dumped a ton of adrenalin and other stress hormones into his blood stream when it detected the low blood pressure.  And his body could not course correct itself because of Dave’s low blood pressure medications – essentially preventing his muscles from tensing up and correcting for the lack of pressure in his system.  So when he quit working – the blood pressure dropped fast.  And his brain s said “something is wrong here” and set off the alarm bells – leading to the stress reaction.  All he needed was water.  Fortunately, Melissa had gotten him to drink a glass of water before we sent him to bed – and likely that is why he recovered and was better.  We fed him another couple of glasses of water before the night was over.  Next morning he was fine.  Final word of warning from Kelly – Watch it in Mexico.  This is gonna hit him hard if he isn’t careful.

Boat Parts as Kitchen Tools

Since we spent two nights in Poulsbo, we decided to make the 52-mile run to Gig Harbor today.  Underway, the gang finished solving the Baker’s Dozen puzzle.  We parked at the Arabella Marina.  Tight fit, but as per usual, Captain Dave put it in the slip like he’s been doing this for years.  Because.  Yeah.

Dinner was shrimp salad with mango and avocado.  Melissa wanted to make “stacks” so Dave grabbed her a part from stores – some pipe connector that served as the perfect mold.

After dinner, Jim whipped up a gluten free crostada with cinnamon apples.  Yumo!

Lazy Day in Poulsbo

Dinner last night had risotto, so this morning’s breakfast – risotto cakes!  And chicken sausage.  And Bloody Mary’s with Jim’s pickled tomatoes from tomatoes in his garden!

Jim, Melissa, and Margaret spent the day playing a Hunt A Killer game – Baker’s Dozen.  Spoiler alert we will solve this one!  Meanwhile, Dave worked on the alternator.  One of the wires had come lose and that means that the battery wasn’t charging.  The watt-Nazi spotted this issue immediately when we got to Poulsbo yesterday and the batteries were low.  Today a quick investigation revealed the problem which was quickly remedied.

Dinner was grilled chicken with salt and olive oil.  Jim’s working hard in the kitchen.

Uneventful as a trip through the locks gets

After all the engine work the past few weeks, we are ready to head out!  We loaded the boat with groceries last night.  Apsaras is as loaded with food and wine as she ever has been.  We plan to be gone a week, and we have enough food for two weeks.  Well, its all about choices isn't it?

We finished loading the gear aboard and left the dock around 1pm.  We were all the way through the locks by 3:30, and that with a stop along the way for more diesel.  That's a record.  Every bridge opened right away.  Except for Montlake where after the traffic halted we waited several minutes but no bridge movement.  Eventually the bridge tender came out in his orange vest with a tool and tinkered with something.  At which point the bridge went up.  They have been doing maintenance on the bridge and we think they must have left something locked up tight and we might have been the first sailboat through after the work completed.  The Freemont Bridge even stayed open for us - having just opened for a boat just a few minutes ahead of us.  Lunch was a huge platter of cheeses, salami, fresh veggies, crackers and dips.  With wine of course.  Plenty of rose.

Having reached the ocean side a couple of hours ahead of schedule, we decided to head for Poulsbo.  Easy anchoring and we are set!  Jim made us a dinner of the most amazing pork chops along with mushroom risotto.  Mmmmm.

We cracked open the first murder mystery game - appropriately the Baker's Dozen.

Another starter bites the dust

Apsaras really likes to eat starters.  After having replaced the starter a few weeks ago, Dave and Jim tackled the big job of removing the turbo charger so that they could fix the leak that drips onto the starter.  Been a problem for years, but the leak has gotten worse – to the point where there is always water in the bilge.  So they decide to tear down the engine a few weeks ago.  A somewhat nightmareish job.  They had to disassemble the exhaust riser, intake manifold tube, oil inlet and outlet, coolant inlet and outlet, and air cleaner to get to it.  There were two nuts seized so badly to the studs so they had to pull the studs.  And in one case there was a tube in the way preventing the stud from being removed.  So that tube had to be cut and then replaced.  It took 20 man hours to disassemble the engine over the course of several nights and weekends.  Finally the turbo charger came off!

Then Dave spent 3 hours prepping things for reinstallation, cleaning, repainting the turbo charger.  Ultimately reinstallation went much faster – about 3 hours.  Then the nail biting moment of trying to start the engine yesterday.  And… nothing.  You guessed it – the starter went bad yet again.  The starter installed in July lasted exactly one trip to Poulsbo and back.  Probably a total of 2 boat starts.  But during the engine work enough water poured on the starter to take it out again.  So Dave and Jim replaced the starter – again.  This is the fifth time Dave has replaced it – for a total of six starters Apsaras has had since we bought her.  Let us hope we have given her enough love that this starter lasts longer.  Melissa is nervous about launching tomorrow for a week long trip without another new one in stores because she can’t get one overnight.  Dave swears that he can probably fix the one he just removed if he cleans it up.  So that will have to do for a spare for now.

The forward head has been not holding a seal.  So Dave and Jim pulled the vacuum pump unit out and put it in the garage where they could take a closer look.  It wasn’t holding a seal and they suspected the grommet connection for the pipe at the right in this photo had gone bad.  So they replaced the grommet and sure enough it started holding a seal on the bench.  They reinstalled it with new duck bills.  Alas, the head is still not fully holding a vacuum seal.  More work to come there.

Dave replaces the starter yet again

We were due to head out this afternoon with Dave’s 89 year old Dad – George.  George has always wanted to go on a boat venture with us, but has never had the opportunity.  We drove to Shilshole at about noon.  Shilshole called us along the way and said that they needed us to move the boat as the slip we were in was reserved for an event and they needed us out ASAP.  We said we would move as soon as we got there.  Alas Apsaras had other plans.  She wouldn’t start.  After going back and forth with the marina, we decide to just stay where we are for the night.  That way Dave can take his time fixing the engine.  Best guess is that Apsaras wants a new starter.  Cuz she always wants a new starter.  And indeed after picking up George and getting him back safely aboard, Dave replaced the starter.  Yet again.  This will be the fourth starter Dave has installed since we bought the boat 8 years ago.  Dave replaced the starter just last March in 2020.  So this latest one lasted just over a year.  Good thing Melissa puts a new one in the spares inventory every time Dave replaces one.  Ultimately the current problem can be traced to a leak where the turbo charger connects to the engine.  It leaks water that drips onto the starter and corrodes them.  It’s a big job to fix that little leak though.  So Dave has been avoiding it.

With the newly installed starter, we headed to Poulsbo and parked on the dock for a couple of days with George.  Great food and nice hang out!

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