Ocean Hermit – sailing, solitude and stories

My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.

Voyage to Ungava – 14 – Back to School After 38 Years!

How time flies even on a sailboat. I can’t believe it’s been almost 6 months since I last posted. And so much has happened.

Learning the mysteries of electrical diagnostics and troubleshooting

Learning the mysteries of electrical diagnostic and troubleshooting

Firstly, 2013 was yet another summer in which Kuan Yin did NOT yet reach Ungava Bay nor even taste the sea. But the quest is still on, I haven’t abandoned or given up yet. In fact I’m now MORE firmly committed and focused than ever.  I say that because the romance of the dream of sailing into Ungava Bay has gone –  replaced by a practical, focused and steadfast determination to drop the hook in the Koksoak River at Kuujjuaq – the destination of the voyage of 1811. (Which, years late, I am still attempting to retrace.)

After the adventures, mis-adventures and terrors of the summer of 2012, I retreated to a warm and lovely part of the planet to relax and refresh weary muscles and mind.  Despite everything last summer, I left Kuan Yin actually more determined than ever to press on.  Almost unbeknownst to me, my attitude had hardened into “whatever it takes”.  This is the third stage of the adventure so far:

Stage one had been pure dream – “I’m going to retrace the voyage of 1811” without too much notion of just how much effort and money this might take.

Stage two had been – “This is too difficult. Maybe I should give up.” And I had come very close to doing so a couple of times. But long walks, sometimes late at night, to look out at the ocean from headlands, good friends and a few wonderful days at anchor in magical places, had shown me that I couldn’t quit. I want this too much!

My choice was stark. either give up or get in deeper.  So, for a variety of reasons, I chose to dive in deeper.

Over the winter of 2012 off the boat I searched for a comprehensive diesel course that would teach more than clean fuel, clean air and compression.  In the end, faced with the results of a Google search, I decided to go all the way.

Stage three. I am now a full-time student at Georgian College, in Midland, Ontario, studying Marine Engine Mechanic for a full academic year!  Back in class after 38 years. (Much more on this to come.)

With school starting more or less at the end of August, I decided that there really was no time and no point trying to make a dash for northern Labrador in the few weeks between when the sea ice leaves the coast and I would have to leave Kuan Yin again to go to school.  As it was, the ice did not clear off the coast north of Makkovik until the second week of July.  So even if I had tried to go north we would not have reach much farther north than last year.

Rust behind one of the fuel tanks. The space ia bout 16 inches wide and awful to reach with a brushed loaded with epoxy paint!

Rust behind one of the fuel tanks. The space is  about 16 inches wide and awful to reach with a brush loaded with epoxy paint!

Instead I decided not to launch but to use the weeks instead to work on boat issues:

1) Install a new Cape Horn windvane – the gift of a supremely generous foundation for “lifetime achievement”. (More on this to come).

2) Install a new electric auto-pilot, the controller/display died the day I left St. Anthony in 2012.

3) Two more holes in the hull along a welding seam. This issue needed facing.

4) Rust in inaccessible places inside the hull.

5) Remove the marine toilet, sewage holding tank and associated plumbing. The holding tank was in the bilge so if sometimes water got into the bilge it was impossible to clean up under the holding tank. Standing water is not a good idea on a steel boat.

By removing the tank I gain more easily accessible storage and can remove three thru-hulls from the boat (water in, sewage out and water in for head sink, which I never use). Three less holes in the bottom of a boat is always a good thing.

I’ll be installing a marine composting toilet next spring; though offshore bucket and chuck it is still my preferred and simpler method.

I’m happy to report that with the skilled help of John Belben and his crew at Riteway Construction, L’Anse au Diable, on the Strait of Belle Isle, and after some very long work days when the weather was good, most of these issues have been addressed.  A new prop shaft has been installed and lots of minor items of the to do list have also been completed.

School ends by May 2014 – then it will be back to Kuan Yin, get launched and go north.

Ungava Bay here we come – at long long last.


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This entry was posted on September 8, 2013 by in Kuan Yin, Labrador, Sailing, Voyages.
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