Thursday, October 23, 2014

OpenCPN beta 3.3.2222 is really cool

October 23, 2014
New Release of OpenCPN beta 3.3.2222 has some great new features

GRIB files now have a 'particle' feature that is super cool in visualizing the wind flow.

This is the brief on how to set it up:
First click on options/plugins/ and enable the GRIB plugin
Next click on the GRIB 'wind sock' icon on the tool bar
Now click on the 'Settings' in the dialog box and then click box for Particle Map
Download a new GRIB and enjoy!

If you need more instructions check out all the new changes to the 3.3.2222 beta and find instructions here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blake Island

October 22, 2014
Blake Island, Seattle area, Washington State, USA

With millions of people within only a few miles.  I could hardly believe I had all 475 acres of Blake Island State park all to myself.  I had a nice walk across the island and around the sandy spit on the NW corner.  In the thick forest I hear the call of eagles as I snacked on some huckleberries.  

Here's a link courtesy of Dave Bechtel that give some great insights in to the history of Blake Island.

Blake Island, NW Sandspit
 LightSpeed with small craft harbor docks all to herself.  At $0.60 a foot a night this is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city only 7 miles distant
 Geese, Deer and Raccoon were everywhere, but not a human to be found.
A ornately carved totem pole stands tall at the traditional camping spot of the Suquamish Indians.  Today, this this beautifully decorated Long House is a great place for Seattle visitors to take in a traditional dance performance and enjoy a delicious lunch of NW salmon cooked over a alder wood fire.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One sailors experience with Simrad (parent company Navico) products.

One sailors experience with Simrad (parent company Navico) products.  It's a rant.

It makes the most sense to read this from the bottom up.

Update #3 October 23, 2014

I sent another follow up email to Eric Turnquist ( eric.turnquist at ) of Navico asking for a reply.   Seems basic, but yep, I had to ask for a response.

Eric's reply was simple.  All my emails had been going in Simrad/Navico's spam folder... at least that explains why they never responded. However, it's ironic that Eric was grilling me on the phone about my spam folder only minutes earlier, because surely Navico must have replied in August.  And now come to find out it was Navico that had internal technical problems that were sending customer emails (all of mine) to spam?

Anyway.  No sorry, no nothing on how they intended to address my warranty problems... at this point it was me who was helping them sort out their internal technical problems with spam filters.

A few hours later I get an email from Tom at Navico.

Dear MR. Kane:

I have been instructed to ship you a replacement DST800 transducer. Can you provide me with the ship to address that you would like the transducer shipped to?

Ok, finally making progress.  However, Eric choses to ignore my request for a local rep or service provider to deliver a transducer to the boat. I guess my $10,000 in Simrad products make me small potatoes.

In this day and age, it's really amazing that Simrad / Navico employees don't understand the power of an apology?  It's one thing selling defective merchandise... But, really is that hard to say 'sorry' ?

I think Navico have stepped up and sent me a new system to be 100% sure my problem was solved.  Maybe even sent me a upgraded system to buy back some loyalty?  Ok, that's clearly wishful thinking and not my intent here.   If it were me on the other end of the Navico phone I would have wanted to make 100% sure my customer was happy and had a working version of the equipement I'd sold them.  More so, if that customer might be an influencer.

So, out replacement depth transducer  is now en route to Astoria, Oregon our next intended port of call.

Update #2 October 23, 2014 noon

I stopped by the local West Marine store to buy a shore power cord and share this story with the WM manager as this gear came via WM.   The manager was sympathetic, but only provided an email address for West Marine's Simrad rep and said maybe he could do something if I didn't hear back from Simrad in a few days.  I was back on the boat and writing an email to the rep to beg for some help, when I got a phone call from Eric Turnquist at Navico.

I had no idea from which channel he was responding, but it turns out the local West Marine rep called Navico on my behalf and asked that Naivco call me.  Thanks West Marine manager!  Of course I had to start the story from the beginning.  I was a little pissed when Eric suggested that Navico must have responded back in August and this was somehow my fault that I didn't get the email.  Well, I've been checking the spam folder the last 61 days and I can say for sure there is nothing there.  Tip:  Don't try to blame it on the customer!

Anyway, Eric asked me to forward the original email from August 23, 2014 and he would see what he could do.  No appologies were offered... I guess he still didn't believe Navico had dropped the ball so badly.

It seems we may be on track to get the depth sounder fixed.  The trouble is that we're planning to set sail toward Astoria, Oregon tomorrow and so we have to guess where to send the replacement part.  It sure would be nice to have it now, but do we lose the weather window in the interim?

I followed up with one more email to directly ask Eric how they intended to respond and what the timeline might be.

Update #1 October 23, 2014 AM

So friend Dianna read this post and decided to go to bat for us and attempt to contact Simrad.  The not so funny thing is they actually responded to the email Dianna sent almost immediately, but have yet to respond to ANY of the 3 emails I sent since August 23, 2014!  I've also used Simrads website to send a message on October 21, but still no reply to any of these.

Here's the response to the email Dianna sent.

October 21, 2014
Simrad strikes out again... or better put continues to do nothing to answer my emails and address a bright and clear warranty issue.

Back in the end of July 2014 we discovered our newly installed Simrad IS20 wind /depth/speed had failed.  This was a big deal as we'd just made landfall in Adak near the westerly end of the Aleutian chain and we really needed the depth sounder to find safe anchorage.

It wasn't until August 23, 2014  and 24 more nights anchored in sketchy bays in the Aleutians that we reached civilization and first had the opportunity to access internet suitable to send all the photos and information necessary for a warranty repair.  Conveniently, I still had the direct email address for Simrad warranty and fired off the emails.  

As of October 21, 2014, Simrad has yet to respond AT ALL.  Yep, I've sent follow up emails, but nothing. ZIP, ZERO, NADA.  I can sort of joke about this now, but having the sounder fail when we so desperately needed it as we made our way though the sometimes treacherous waters of Alaska was not a laughing matter.  This caused major stress and greatly imperiled our voyage through the poorly charted waters of the Aleutian islands.

I had low expectations for customer service after Simrad sent me a GPS that said I was a 152 SOUTH when I was in the Marshall Islands.  It took weeks to get this sorted out, even though Simrad knew for 3 months BEFORE they sent me the new unit that it needed a software upgrade to work within 10 degrees of the equator.

For the geographically challenged. 152 degrees South is a nonsense location as 90 degrees South is the south pole.  Here's a link to that story.

Above is the first email I sent to Simrad on August 23, 2014 .  Re-reading this, I guess I could have been a little more polite, but darn it I was pissed at the time. And we didn't have a cell phone, having just arrived from the middle of nowhere after 9 years of voyaging aboard.

Still, No response.  So I followed up with this on September 4, 2014.
And still nothing.  So, I sent one more emails.  And guess what... yep, nothing.
This is the depth transducer that I believe to be the culprit.
 Tag with all the info. Including the Simrad part number 22098552 sent on August 23, 2014
Simrad part number ties back here on the IS20 warranty page.

Another screen shot of the Simrad warranty page showing the Simrad IS 20 Wind/Combi Depth & Speed package part number 22098529.

And here is my original order number from West Marine 13761387 from November 29, 2013 showing the unit to be about 8 months old when it failed.

Sunday cruise

 Aaron and Dave enjoying the incredibly nice October 'tee-shirt' weather.

 Aaron and Steve preparing the big spinnaker for a downwind run.

 Hollingbery clan says "Arrrh"
 Big thanks to Terry and Steve for bringing the great eats and drinks!
 On our second voyage of the day we sailed the Seattle waterfront

 Close up view of the big wheel
 Space Needle
 And we had to dodge a few nets.
Good times.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Loving Ballard nano breweries

Tasty Challenger IPA from NW Peaks Brewing.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Warm welcome

We've been busy visiting with old friends and new over the last week.  Each visit was really worth it's own blog post, but darn it I've done a lousy job of keeping up.

We'd like to extend a special thanks to everyone who's made time to text, email, call, invite us to a meal, a stay at their home, offered us vehicles and rides, shuttled us to and fro and best yet made time to join us aboard LightSpeed for a visit.

I know this is a bit impersonal and after the fact, but a HUGE thank you for the warm welcome back to the USA.

Kathy is off to San Diego for a bio-tech conference for the next week  The weather looks poor for sailing toward Astoria and San Francisco, so it looks like LightSpeed will be kicking around the Puget Sound for another week.

Dave has a new phone (907) 738-0867

Dave & Kathy Kane
s/v LightSpeed

This is not traveling weather

October 16, 2014

Bell Harbor, Seattle

Just pulled the weather forecast for Cape Flattery, our first hurdle on the way toward San Francisco.

SE wind 25 to 35 kt rising to 30 to 40 kt with gusts near 55 kt after midnight. Seas 8 to 11 ft with a dominant period of 9 seconds. A chance of rain in the evening... Then rain after midnight.

Here's the storm that's slamming into the Washington coast tonight.

Looking at the longer range forecast, it looks like we might have a break in about a week.

At the moment we're enjoying another beautiful afternoon here in Seattle.

That's it for now.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bell Harbor, Seattle

October 13, 2014
Bell Harbor, Seattle

Another beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest.  From the decks of LightSpeed in Bell Harbor we're taking in a nice view of the Seattle water front.  A few things have changed like the new 175 foot tall 'Seattle Great Wheel' and the massive sea wall replacement project that's currently underway.  And a few things remain the same like the silhouette of Safeco Field lattice trusses adjacent to the towering 14,410' Mount Ranier.

Lucky us to find sunshine!

Front row parking on the Seattle waterfront

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Busy weekend in Seattle

October 12, 2014
Elliot Bay Marina

It was great to see old friends and new over the weekend.  A huge thanks for the warm welcome back to the USA!

We'll be around through Friday October 17, but after that all bets are off.  If the weather looks good to make miles to the south, we'll go for it.  If storms are on the horizon then we could be here another week or more?

Short term we'd like to lift LightSpeed out of the water for some routine maintenance.  With a 24'-3" beam we don't have too many cost effective choices.   From previous experience, Astoria, Oregon is one of the best deals, so Columbia bar conditions permitting we'll stop in Oregon.

Then we sail for San Francisco where we plan to live-aboard for the foreseeable future.

That's it for now.

Friday, October 10, 2014


October 10, 2014
Shilshole Bay Marina, Seattle

We're on 'H' dock just in front if the giant broze statue of Leif Ericson
Drop-in, text email or call (415) 994-5957

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Port Ludlow

October 9, 2014
Port Ludlow, Washington

We had a great visit with Dave's god parents, Jim and Nancy in Port Ludlow enjoying two superb home cooked culinary delights.  We have a few photos on Kathy's phone and I need to get them posted here.

Nancy loaned us her car for a shopping trip to Trader Joes and yes, we did make a stop at Walmart.  I like to shop local and despise mega corporations that crush local business, but we wanted an electric blanket of all things and Walmart was the place to pick one up.

Yep, we're running an electric blanket every evening to preheat our otherwise freezing cold bed.  It runs through the inverter and consumes about 10 amps at 12 volts, so not too terrible.    

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Port Townsend

October 7, 2014

Port Townsend, Washington USA

Port Townsend was a real bright spot as we caught up with Dianna and Bob, sailing friends whom we hadn't seen since 2008 in Australia.  We enjoyed happy hour aboard LightSpeed with some tasty Port Townsend beers (thanks to Bob & Dianna) and then a great meal at the Banana leaf Thai restaurant, thanks for treating and the warm welcome back to the Pacific Northwest! .... and Shell is still thanking you for the red feather toy.
Bob and Dianna know how to party.

We anchored out off the old ferry dock, as Port Hudson marina wanted the catamaran rate of $1.50 a foot for a night on their nearly empty docks.  Yep, with tax that $68 dollars a night.  Port Hudson is one of the few places we visited in the world that charge an extra 50% for cats and a disappointment when the docks were empty on an off season weekday!

Monday, October 06, 2014


October 6, 2014

Just plucked a guy out of 52F water, later we found out he'd overturned his boat some 5 hours earlier.  All the symptoms of severe hypothermia including slurred speech, with the cold robbing all but the last of his metal acuity.  Getting him aboard was touch and go as his strength and motor skills were nearly paralyzed by the cold.

Surmounting 2 of the 3 stern steps was like the Hilary step of Everest.  We stopped to rest for awhile after those 2 steps.  I directed hot water from our stern step shower on to his core by shoving the shower nozzle down inside his lifejact, coat and shirt.  I' m no expert but I know getting heat to the core is critical and warming extremities is bad.

We attempted to take his temperature, but our digital thermometer only showed dashed lines indicating that Brian's temp was well below any normal sort of range.  After exhausting our hot water supply at the stern we pushed forward to the cockpit, another major achievement.  There we pulled off the outer most layers and boots and then made our way to the inside shower/sauna.

The heater in the shower was cranked up and we had 4kw of heat blasting into a very small space.  Brian protested a bit once he started to unthaw, but feeling his skin, he was still very cold.  In the interim Kathy had contacted the US Coast Guard and relayed all the details such as person in water for 5 hours and our current lat/lon position.

The discussion with the Coast Guard put a heavy burden on Kathy and I to make a medical judgement call on evac or continue to port with Brian onboard.  Reflecting on the situation, I believe the USCG  failed to appropriately respond to the information we supplied.  In hindsight I should have pressed for an immediate helo-evac.  Who was I to decide the level of risk of keeping Brian on board or airlifting to a hospital?

In the end it turned out all right as we effectively warmed him back up.

After several hours aboard steaming back toward Roche harbor it was clear he was going to be OK, but what if he wasn't?

After 9 years aboard in the third world, we may have become too self reliant with little expectation for outside help.  In the process of reentering the first world our third world attitudes may have very well endangered the person we were humbly able to help today.

 Boat capsized near Lime Kiln and drifted on the strong ebb nearly 6 miles to the SSE.  With the tide setting to the south Brian was quickly slipping away from any possible self rescue.
 With thick fog, we were lucky to see Brian waving an oar from atop the overturned Livingston.  Visibility was maybe 100 yards.
 After being in the water for about 5 hours, Brian had nearly lost his ability to move his legs.
 Wet clothes off and into our shower/sauna to warm up.
 I used our spinnaker halyard to right the Livingston, but made no attempt to bail it out and immediately put in tow at full speed ahead.
Brian looking pretty rosy after over an hour of warming up and getting into some warm clothes while he enjoys a cup of hot chocolate.
Brian and boat back safely to grandmas house.

That's it for now.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Back in the USA. Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

October 5, 2014

Back in the USA. Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, San Juan Islands, Washington State.

Made a nice stop in Nanaimo and had a spontaneous raft up with Wayne Gorrie and Jannie Bell of  Van Isle 360 fame.  We'd been in email contact with Wayne for some time  and much to our delight we sailed into the harbor just as Wayne and Jannie were finishing a Saturday afternoon regatta on their Farrier tri.  Wayne called us on the VHF radio and we dropped the hook for an inpromtu raft up.  After a nice visit, the tide was right for a run through Dodd Narrows, so we cut our stay short and went with the tide to spend the night in Pirates Cove.

 Today sailed back into US waters after a short 3 week visit to Canada.   Cleared customs in Roche harbor.  Met up with Camwest veteran Adam Eltinge and lovely wife Deanna for a beer in Roche.

Tomorrow we sail for Port Townsend to hopefully meet up south pacific cruising buddies Bob & Dianna and possibly the crew (skipper Greg) of f/v Duna?  Or (Joe)  f/v Western? And who else lives in PT?

Then hopefully Port Ludlow to visit godparents Jim & Nancy before heading to Seattle later in the week.

That's it for now

Friday, October 03, 2014

People make the place

October 3, 2014

Powell River, BC

New friends Ute and Tim are planning to cut the dock lines and go cruising pretty soon.  They'd been following our adventures via this blog and invited us to meet up for dinner in Powell River when we passed through.

People make the place.  Finding adventure and another perfect anchorage is easy in this part of the world, but what makes each place special is always the people.  A great big thanks to Ute and Tim for a great meal and wonderful conversation and the gift basket!

Gift basket of freshly baked bread, black berry jam, Swiss chocolate (hand carried from Europe) and some fine wine.  WOW!  We hope to return the favor when you pass through San Francisco on your way south pursuing your cruising dreams.

I guess we were too busy having fun to capture any photos from the evening.

Phillips Arm, Shoal Bay and Octopus Islands

October 2, 2014

Powell River, BC

Anchored last night in the Octopus Islands

 Phillips Arm
 Bald Eagle rests along the banks of Phillips river.
 LightSpeed at the dock in Shoal Bay
 Garden chickens in Shoal Bay
 Kathy in the garden.  In season, cruisers can harvest produce from the garden for a donation to the caretakers.  This late in the season everything was pretty well finished.
San Juan Yachting raft up in the Octopus Islands.  Raft ups like these are one of the many things we miss about the pacific northwest... this just doesn't happen in the south pacific.

Sharing another anchorage with Randy of m/v Empress in the Octopus Islands.

This section of the inside passage has strong tidal currents and plenty of narrows where the water accelerates, sometimes into rapids.  We pushed through 5 knots of head current at Hole in the Wall and then the next day rode 6 knots of ebb through Beazley Passage.  After the extreme currents and narrow passage of Bikar atoll these seemed very passe'.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Top 5 sailing apps for Android 2014

Android sailing apps for full time cruising sailors 2014

After nearly 2 years and 15,000 miles with an Android powered Google Nexus 10 tablet here are my goto sailing apps.  Since we are generally far form internet and data coverage all of these apps work offline, but many require pre-voyage downloads.

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#1  SailSafe Pro anchor alarm. The alarm is absolutely piercing and will wake you up 100% of the time.  Easy to use and a bargin for the price.   If you have cell service and this app can even call a phone number to alert you of a potentially dangerous change in your vessels position.  

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#2  MX Mariner chart plotter navigator.  For US waters it is superb as it uses free NOAA electronic charts.  The user interface is simple and easy to use, yet powerful.  We ran this from the Marshall islands to the Aleutian islands and throughout Alaska.  Far better than Navionics for Android and as a bonus you can overlay Active captain info on the chart.

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#3  Barometer Monitor keeps track of the pressure visually with a graph and also via a handy table.  

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#4 Pocket GRIB helps visualize GRIded Binary files or GRIB files.  I rarely use this app as I prefer to download GRIB's via ViewFax (beta) and visualize the data using QTVLM

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#5 Active Captain A powerful way to leverage crowd sourced cruising information.  No local cruising guide, give Active Captain a try to see what's nearby.  We used this all through Alaska and British Columbia.