Oh Lord, Stuck in Port Townsend (Again) …

Hello Faithful Readers –

You’re all probably wondering why our Tracker hasn’t updated recently or why we haven’t posted traveling pics or updates in the last few days. Well, it ends up we hit a pretty big good-news-bad-news scenario right out of the gate.

The Bad News First

On our leg up from Astoria to Neah Bay, we found that our Walter V-Drive was running way above its normal operating temperature. Technically speaking, the V-drive is the thingy that makes the prop go round and round. It was also starting to leak oil from two of its seals. We found that we could reduce the RPMs on the engine and keep the drive unit happy. That mode allowed us to keep making northbound headway at ~ 5 knots and monitor the temperatures.

We were able to keep this up to get ourselves from Port Angeles to Port Townsend late in the afternoon last Thursday. After some debate, we decided not to push our luck and continue on into Everett, WA.

Now for Some Good News

Well, the good news is is that Port Townsend is chock full of marine trades, including mechanics, welders, and a surprisingly modern machine shop, all walking distance from the boat. It’s also a very quaint town and very walkable.

A longtime family friend recommended a transmission shop in Everett, and they have turned out to be simply awesome. I call the guy there the “Yoda of the Marine Drivetrain”. (Three guys answer the phone there … two Mikes and an Eric … it took me a few calls to learn to ask for Mike #1 and not Mike #2. I still do not know their last names. I am “Guy with busted V-Drive out in Port Townsend).

After some cold calling and door knocking here last Friday, we lined up a mechanic from Gold Star Marine to pull the drivetrain on Monday. I rented a car and we heaved both the transmission and v-drive into the trunk. Tuesday was off to Everett to deliver same.

I was also able to source a new set of R&D Marine engine mounts to replace the set that we currently have installed (ours were looking tired and our new mounts can greatly reduce the vibration from the engine and drivetrain). Ends up PYI, Inc. was only a few miles down the road.

Lining Up Dominos to Fall in Order

Since we had 1) a rental car 2) a stationary boat, and 3) time on our hands, I took Wednesday as a logistics day to resolve an issue with another one of our onboard systems, our Hydrovane. We needed to swap out the main shaft for a longer one to accommodate the height of our Bimini and solar panels near our transom. We were super close on our first try down in Portland, but not close enough

Our original game plan was to simply to sail into Vancouver, B.C., swap parts, and do the install in a local marina. We’ll do this here in Port Townsend instead, as it’s pretty straightforward at this point.

I did get to see a little of West Vancouver and it reminded me of a very green Palo Alto, CA. The folks at Hydrovane have been terrific to work with. As a a small, family-owned business it was fun to see their World HQ.

Thursday has been the easiest day so far this last week. I only had to take the transmission brackets over to a local welder for some beefing up, and then over to a machine shop for some minor work. I had expected an all day affair but I got it all done before lunch (!).

Carrie & I then walked down to see an old friend (Alan from s/v Thirsty) off on his summer travels. We had been wanting to try the local tap room, so we stopped in there for a pint before dinner. Carrie found her favorite beer there and we met a nice dog on the patio.

What’s today, Friday ?

So that gets us down to the end of our first week here in Port Townsend. I’ll pick up the brackets later this AM and check on the status of our stuff in Everett. It’s a 5 hour round-trip with the ferries, so Monday is more likely.

Our mechanic will come down Monday & Tuesday to install 1) a new set of motor mounts, 2) a rebuilt transmission and V-Drive, and 3) a flexible coupling for the propeller and drivetrain shaft. #3 is still a Procurement-in-Process. These three things will solve our misaligned drivetrain (that caused our overheating); the rebuilds will restore the transmission back to a useful service life to support our cruising.

Wednesday we’ll make sure nothing blows up and that we won’t kill ourselves by driving the boat around here in the bay. We’ll flip the boat around in a slip (tying up stern-to or backwards) and finally complete our Hyrdovane install.

Weather pending, we should be back on the road about this time next week. If you read this far, thanks for stopping by!

6 thoughts on “Oh Lord, Stuck in Port Townsend (Again) …

  1. Thanks so much for the update. We wait with baited breath for every bit if info on how life is going for you two. So pleased that you are in a good little town to get things done. Remember the old saying, “Cruising is working on your boat in exotic places”. And as Pat has commented, “It’s always something”. We love you and like you, can’t wait for what’s next. Mom & Jim


  2. Port Townsend is wonderful — enjoy your stay there. And don’t forget to
    check out one of the best bookstores in all the Northwest — William James
    Bookstore, right there on the main drag!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to hear you have a handle on the V-Drive and transmission. Combining the Hydrovane project makes sense. Hope all the dominos fall into place next week.


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