Superwinch Inaugural

Lifting the outboard with the Superwinch

Jim guided the outboard as we used the Superwinch to lift it from the dock so he could attach it to the dinghy on deck. My job was to press the hoisting button on the winch remote.

Lifting the outboard with the winch - closeup view

A close up view of Jim attaching the outboard to the dinghy. The other end of the yellow hoisting line is connected to the drum of the Superwinch.

Today we got our chance to actually use our new Superwinch!

At high tide this morning, Jim brought the dinghy outboard motor down from our storage unit. We store the outboard in our storage unit every winter, then get it out and put it on the dinghy when we’re ready to use it. Since the dinghy is stored on the aft boat deck, we have to lift the outboard from the dock to the deck.

In the past, we’ve lifted the outboard from the dock slowly by cranking the manual winch, but today we let the Superwinch do the job. It quickly got the outboard up and onto the deck where Jim could attach it to the dinghy. Neat! We’re very pleased with how our new system performs.

Dinghy Hoisting Line

Superwinch with hoisting line

The Superwinch mounted on our boom, with the dinghy hoisting line wound on the winch drum. The yellow line looks like polypropylene, but actually it is AmSteel.

Superwinch with line, close-up view.

A close-up view of the AmSteel hoisting line wound around the Superwinch drum.

Our electric dinghy hoisting winch system is getting closer to being complete. Jim wound the hoisting line onto the winch drum today. The yellow line we’re using came with the Superwinch. It looks like polypropylene, but actually is a product called AmSteel. It is 3/16 inches in diameter with a breaking strength of 5400 pounds…more than strong enough for our 275 pound dinghy and outboard motor!

AmSteel is a product of Sampson Rope. We found the following description of it in the Fisheries Supply catalog: “A high-performance 12-strand single braid of 100% Dyneema SK-75 fiber, AmSteel yields the maximum in strength-to-weight ratio, very low stretch, and is stronger than the same sized wire rope constructions — yet it floats. It’s the highest strength single braid Samson makes. Samthane coating enhances an already high abrasion and cut resistance. Adding a cover is recommended for areas handled by winch or rope clutches.”

This line sounds pretty good to us. It’s also lightweight and easy on the hands.

Cataract Be Gone

MASH 4077th

It’s that kind of summer!

Today Jim had the first of his two cataract surgeries. Surgery was about 45 minutes from start to finish…driving time between Anacortes and our opthamologist in Seattle was about 4 hours (round trip). All went well, and we will have a couple more trips to Seattle in the next week for post-surgery exams to be sure.

Tonight Jim is wearing a clear, hard plastic eye patch to protect his eye for the next 24 hours…kinda a pirate look… His second eye cataract surgery will be in 4 weeks.

Winch Wiring Finished!

Wiring the system on/off switch

Jim working on the wiring in the electrical panel for the winch system on/off switch.

System on/off switch

The winch system on/off switch is a push-pull switch, and we mounted it behind our steering wheel, just under the electrical safety placard.

Winch battery charger

We mounted the battery charger for the winch battery in our flybridge storage locker, near the winch battery. The green light means the battery is charged.

We were trying to get the wiring for the electric winch finished before Jim’s eye surgery on June 21st, and we did!

We found a place for the system on/off switch behind our steering wheel, where we can easily reach it to turn power on and off to the winch. This switch provides power to the solenoid coil.

Next we ran the cables from the winch motor to connect them to the battery. Then we mounted the battery charger on the inside wall of the flybridge storage locker, near the winch battery, and connected the charger to the battery.

Then we were ready to power up everything to do a system test. It all works!

Next we will need to wind the hoisting line onto the winch drum and actually hook it up. And then we’ll be able to test the whole operation. Let’s hope it’ll lift the dinghy…

Cape Caution

Cape Caution-Hecate Strait-DixonEntrance

This map from Wikipedia shows the locations of Cape Caution in Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon Entrance to the north.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about Cape Caution, considering that we are tied up in our slip in Anacortes Marina with no plans of cruising that far north this season.

Rounding Cape Caution is a major event for any cruiser going north in the Inside Passage to cruise in Northern B.C. or on to Alaska. Most of the Inside Passage is protected from ocean swells by outlying islands. However, there are two areas of travel that are open to the ocean…Cape Caution in Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon Entrance further north.

Rounding Cape Caution can be a harrowing experience and is not to be taken lightly.

Queen Charlotte Strait

Cruising north in Queen Charlotte Strait toward Cape Caution

Today I was reviewing the Waggoner Cruising Guide online, Waggoner Cruising Guide is one of the area cruising guidebooks that has been a favorite of ours over the years. Last year, the original publisher and founder of the publication, Bob Hale, retired and sold the guidebook to Mark Bunzel, who is continuing the publication and website. I was interested in what might have changed and whether there was a new look. There is a new look, but most of the same good stuff is there. Go to the website and/or buy the 2012 book to check it out yourself.

However, what caught my eye today was a section of the website called “Cruising Reports.” In that section, I noticed that Bob Hale’s cruise reports from 2011 are still available for viewing. We’ve always enjoyed his reviews and opinions, whether reading them from a publication or talking with him at a cruising get-together. Bob’s cruising suggestions are based on his own experiences over many, many years of cruising Pacific Northwest waters.

Cape Caution

Cape Caution is marked by a light for navigation.

As I was reading Bob’s report about his two roundings of Cape Caution in 2011, I noticed that he had included an updated checklist of suggestions for transiting Cape Caution, and I thought we should pay attention. He says,

“Our plan for rounding Cape Caution in what passes for comfort has four components. First, we go on a flood tide only. The flood lengthens the distance between the incoming ocean swells, in effect smoothing them. Further, on an ebb an enormous amount of water flows out of Rivers Inlet, heaping the seas. If we’re crossing from the mainland side, the ebb out of Slingsby Channel can be brutal, even dangerous. We don’t want an ebb.

“Second, the lighthouse reports from Scarlett Point, Pine Island and Egg Island need to be for light winds, maximum 2-foot chop, low swell. Fifteen knots of wind and 3-foot moderate usually isn’t moderate enough for us.

“Third, the West Sea Otter buoy report needs to be seas 1.3 meters or less, preferably less.

“Last, even if points one through three above are in line, if an afternoon westerly is predicted or apt to develop, we want to wait for another day. The westerly can change everything but the tide.”

The link to Bob’s complete cruise report can be viewed at More information about rounding Cape Caution is also available in the 2012 Waggoner Cruising Guide.

Thanks, Bob. We will remember your good advice for our future cruises. Wish we had all this information when we rounded Cape Caution in 2003, when the Slingsby Channel ebb got us!

The sea is always unpredictable, of course, but any tips that help keep us safe are worth remembering and sharing!

Allison Harbour

Before we rounded Cape Caution, we anchored for the night in Allison Harbour, an inlet on the B.C. mainland just SE of the Cape.

Fury Cove

After rounding Cape Caution, our first anchorage was Fury Cove on Penrose Island, a protective bay with white shell beaches.


Anacortes Farmers Market vendors

Some of the vendors at the Saturday Anacortes Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago when it was sunny.

Anacortes Farmers Market, another view

Another view of some vendors at the Anacortes Farmers Market on a previous day when it was sunny.

Smoked salmon dinner

Smoked Copper River sockeye salmon on fresh salad greens made a wonderful dinner.

What a washout. Rain was forecast for today, and it pretty much rained all day. Not hard. Instead, the normal Seattle-style drizzle that kept things…and us…soggy all day long.

We got out our raincoats this morning and walked to the Saturday Anacortes Farmers Market, Fortunately, it wasn’t very windy, so all we had to contend with was the rain. We got cranberry and almond scones for breakfast, and fresh salad greens and olive bread for dinner tonight. We recently received a gift of smoked salmon from Ekhard, one of my friends from high school. He has a smoker and had smoked a bunch of freshly-caught Copper River sockeye salmon and was gracious enough to share some with us. So, dinner tonight will be smoked salmon pieces sprinkled on fresh greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Yum.

Jim’s project today was to get AC power up to the flybridge for the battery charger for the Superwinch battery. However, the wire-way between the main deck and the flybridge is already chock-a-block full with existing wiring! Spent most of the day trying to figure out what to do. Finally identified a possible workaround that we will try tomorrow.

By early evening, the rain stopped, and the sun poked out for about a half hour around 1800, which warmed things up so quickly that dense fog is forming all around us, reducing the visibility between Anacortes Marina and Cap Sante, extending out into Fidalgo Bay. We can hear foghorns out there, and the fog is closing in and getting thicker. Should be a very foggy night.