Monday, November 10, 2014

Time to winterize your boat

This morning the lawn was covered in frost!  That means it is time to winterize your boat and get her ready for winter cruising or storage.  Preventative maintenance is always the least expensive kind.

I like to cover the air intakes for the engine compartment so that cold air does not blow in and displace the warm air you just heated.  Easiest method is to use vinyl shelf liner, it has a low tac adhesive that does not leave any adhesive residue when you peel it off later.  Very inexpensive and a roll will last for years.

Download the Winterizing Checklist here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Another American Tug 485 is launched!

For more information on the American Tug 485 contact Steve Scruggs at 206-930-6139 or  Factory direct sales of American Tugs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Racor Filters on sale at Fisheries this week

Fisheries has a one-week special on Racor Filter elements.  Stock up now for the American Tug 2015 Alaska Trip!

Fisheries Supply in Seattle does a great job. 

Here is the link

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seattle Boats Afloat Show

Seattle Boats Afloat Show
On Lake Union

September 10-14th, 2014

On Display:  Our new American Tug 485

Come to the show and see our new American Tug 485 on display.  It is always fun to see friends at the big show so please stop by the boat and say hello.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The rest of the Coastal trip: San Francisco to LA

The trip rolls on...  Mike completes the delivery to Los Angeles

Editors note: I recently published my daily trip notes for an American Tug 34 delivery from La Conner to San Francisco.  Mike, the owner of the boat invited me to join him for the cruise.  That was only part of the story as Mike continued down the coast to his home marina in San Pedro, CA.   It sounds like I should have volunteered for the final 400-miles!   Here is Mike's report:

August 20, 2014, leaving San Francisco YC

Upon arrival to San Francisco, we were graciously welcomed into the San Francisco Yacht Club where we had a two-day respite from our usual routine.  Steve Scruggs and Gerry Henson were delivered to the airport and flown home. 

At the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere
New crew member and fellow AT owner, Scott Sibbald (Trooper, AT 365 hull # 09), boarded and we prepared for cast off on Wednesday, August 20th.  Torn between waiting for high tide (10 am) to occur and wanting to get away early enough to make our desired miles before sundown, we compromised at a 0745 exit which set us on the remnants of the flood cycle.  Despite a 2-knot adverse current, our AT made a great exit under the Gate & we then followed the main channel markers until we turned left.  Our destination was Moss Landing, centrally located in Monterey Bay, about 95 miles away.  

Scott and April’s 2013 AT 365 “Trooper” at commissioning

Reaching Moss Landing at about 7PM, we tied to the dock, sprayed the boat off with fresh water, and went in search of Grub (Phil’s Fishmarket & Eatery…recommend it!  After “pre-flighting” our Cummins diesel, we turned in for an early departure.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Scott & I pulled away from the Moss Landing dock at 0415, needing an early start to reach Morro Bay before too late.  While the channel was well marked (in daylight), most of the markers were not illuminated, however, they were nicely reflective.  Perched on the foredeck with a flashlight, Scott pointed out each marker and we had an uneventful low-tide exit to Monterey Bay in flat seas with a gentle swell. 

The famed Pebble Beach
 The “sail” from Monterey Bay to Morro was, in a word, exquisite.  With flat seas, beautiful lighthouses, and breaching whales, time and miles flew by.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to take your AT out into the open seas…please do so—she handles beautifully. 

Point Sur Lighthouse

Upon entering Morro Bay—still some 5 to 10 miles from the fabled “rock”—we began to see large pods of whales, dolphins, and some really entertaining sea lions (flipping themselves out of the water while chasing fish).  We have always had a bit of trepidation relative to entering Morro Bay Harbor—as the entrance can fetch some really large waves over the bar.  Our concerns were unfounded as the entrance was smooth and glassy.  Tying to the Morro Bay Yacht Club dock at 6:30 PM, we dined locally and then turned in after pre-flighting the Cummins.  Our total mileage today was 118.51.

Flat seas near Morro Bay

Friday, August 22nd:

We pulled away from the Morro Bay YC docks at 5:55 AM, bound for Santa Barbara Harbor, about 110 miles distant.  Visibility was 1/2 mile, with light fog.  Following fishing vessels out of the channel, we had an easy exit into smooth seas.  Setting our course for Pt. Buchon, we stayed about 1-1/2 miles off shore until it was time to turn left.  Once again, we had smooth seas (did we pick a superb weather window, or what?) all the way to Santa Barbara Harbor. 

Piedras Blancas Light Station near San Simeon

 Pt. Conception is often referred to as the “Cape Horn of the Pacific”—thankfully we caught her sleeping.  Very smooth ride around her.

Point Conception Light 

At Santa Barbara, one ties up to a 30 minute dock (right in front of the Harbor Office and a West Marine) and then visits the Harbor Master for dock assignment.  After paying the requisite amount, we were assigned a dock near the entrance of the marina.  There are several nice restaurants within the marina, saving us from having to search for a place to eat.  After pre-flighting Mr. Cummins, we turned in for a (by our terms) reasonable departure.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014, Santa Barbara to LA Harbor:

We exited the marina at 0555, bound for Los Angeles Harbor.  Victory was at hand and we could smell the finish line—oh wait—that is petroleum we are smelling!  Off of the California Coast, stretching from about Santa Barbara to just north of Malibu (Pt. Dume), are a string of offshore oil platforms.  These platforms are lit up at night like small cities…with activity going on around the clock.  Scott and I smelled a heavy odor of petroleum in the air, and looking down at the water we saw an extreme oil sheen.  Then came the dark brown blobs of oil.  All we could think of as we motored past at 9 knots was the terrible stain that this was going to leave on the hull.   It never materialized.  I remembered that this oil “seepage” in this area is actually a natural occurring event…it just seeps up from fissures in the seabed.  The oil drilling platforms have nothing to do with the seepage—the fact that this area is so oil-rich is precisely the reason the platforms are here.  In fact, by doing a little research on the subject, I learned that the oil drilling platforms actually serve to decrease the natural seepage by relieving pressure.  Who would’a thunk?  

The ubiquitous offshore drilling platform

Fact - Seeps Are Natural Phenomena

Crude oil and natural gas seep naturally out of fissures in the ocean seabed and eroding sedimentary rock. These seeps are natural springs where liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons leak out of the ground (like springs that ooze oil and gas instead of water).
"Almost 50 years ago, an oil spill from a California offshore platform will lead to creation of the modern environmental movement. Natural California oil seeps – offshore and onshore – today leak tons of petroleum each day – and have for several hundred thousand years.

Arrival, Los Angeles Harbor:

Ok, this is a little weird, but not wholly unexpected.  After some “washing machine” wave activity just outside of San Francisco, we had traveled the rest of our journey without getting water on our deck.  Then, 15 minutes from our new slip, we rounded Angels Gate (LA Light) and got blasted with 3-foot chop and 20-25 knot winds that covered our boat with seawater.  No big deal—just kinda funny.  It had taken us 4 days to reach LA Harbor from San Francisco, and couldn’t have been a more pleasant trip.  She was snugged up in her new berth and received a nice bath (and dry).  During our sojourn from Canada, nothing had broken and everything had worked as designed. As an aside, I couldn’t have found a better and more amenable crew to help me down the coast.  We all got along fantastically and had the time of our lives.


Editors Note:  Great report!  Thank you very much for including me in your trip home.  I too really enjoyed spending time aboard with you and Gerry.  If you are thinking about a delivery down to Mexico...   Steve

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hose nozzle designed for salt water

The Gilmour 474S salt water nozzle is perfect for your bow washdown hose

The hose nozzle up on the bow has a tough duty; the salt water causes corrosion on the both the outside finish and the internal mechanical components.  Then the nozzle quits working after about a year when the internal spring gives way to rust.

The Gilmour 474S "salt water nozzle" is designed by the manufacturer for this harsh duty.  A durable polymer body with stainless internal spring.

This is a good news / bad news post;  bad news is Gilmour is discontinuing the product, good news is they are on clearance at for less than $6 with shipping.

Here is the link.  Get 'em while they last!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Day Nine - Bodega Harbor to San Francisco - 58 Miles

We arrived in San Francisco!  The final leg was a super smooth finish to a great trip. Very fun to once again cruise under the bridge and see the city open up in front of the boat on a beautiful day.

5:00 AM - The alarm actually did not ring; we were already up with the excitement of getting going.  Last night my brother John joined the crew for the final leg.  John lives in Alameda and we encouraged him to drive up to Bodega Bay and climb aboard.

5:10 AM - Engine inspections completed and the Cummins fired up.

5:30 AM - Departed Spud Point Marina and into the well marked channels of Bodega Bay.  Very dark morning with no moon or stars.  Commercial fishing boats are also heading out.

5:50 AM - Exited the "tips" of the breakwater and headed towards the RW "BA" Gong Buoy and then onto our southerly course which will take us just off Point Reyes.

6:45 AM - Daylight. Smooth conditions with a 5-knot onshore breeze, 2-foot swell with a 15-second period and 3-mile visibility.  Great sea conditions.

Point Reyes - Windiest & foggiest place on the coast

8:05 AM - Passing Point Reyes Lighthouse.  This is a very cool lighthouse that appears precariously hung off the side of the point.  Officially the windiest and foggiest point on the coast. 

The water has changed to a blue color south of Point Reyes

We start to see boats on the water and keep track of other vessels

9:30 AM - For the first time on the trip we start coming across a number of boats.  We had discussed several times how the coast was very quiet of traffic, but that has now changed as we near the large Bay Area metropolitan area.  A couple of heavy ships in the Vessel Traffic Lanes and quite a few pleasure and commercial fishing boats working the area around Bonita Bay.

Natural seashore and former shore batteries that protected the area during WWII

10:40 AM - The Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area have been preserved and kept for future generations to enjoy.  Combining this area with the Point Reyes National Seashore and the waterfront is largely unspoiled.  A great resource close to the city.

Point Bonita Lighthouse - accessed by suspension bridge

11:00 AM - Point Bonita Lighthouse slides past the port side.  Originally too high on the hill, new lighthouse was built lower to reach under the constant fog.

The Golden Gate Bridge and entrance to the Bay

11:30 AM - Golden Gate Bridge. This is the big moment that we have been looking forward to.  The water is very calm and the boat and crew is very happy.  We pass through the Gate against a very small ebb tide.  On larger tide cycles it is important to enter on the flood as a massive amount of water moves under the bridge.

American Tug 34 happily delivered to San Francisco

Noon - Tied up!  This was a very fun and enjoyable trip.  

The crew had a great time.  From left to right:  Mike the owner, Gerry Henson & Steve Scruggs

Saturday, August 16, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Fort Bragg to Bodega Bay

Day Eight - Fort Bragg to Bodega Harbor - 92 Miles

The destination is in our sights!  Weather has remained very nice and the miles keep rolling under the keel of our American Tug.  We really enjoyed our daylight layover in Fort Bragg and the working waterfront of the Noyo River. Highly recommended for coastal travelers.

American Tug tied up at Fort Bragg, CA

6:15 AM - Engine pre-flight check completed and we fire up the Cummins QSB-380.  The engine has run great with absolutely no fluids needed and not a drip anywhere.  The vacuum gauge on the Racor fuel filters has never budged.  Perfect.

Meander of the Noyo River with commercial fishing

6:30 AM - We departed the Noyo Mooring Basin.   It is cool to follow the last meanders down the River and out under the bridge.   

Smaller troller as found around the upper coast

6:45 AM - Passed the outer buoys and headed south towards Point Arena.

Point Arena Light as seen from 3 miles offshore

11:50 AM - Slight easterly course adjustment off Point Arena.  Seas are smooth.  We are bucking a .7-knot current.

Our skipper Mike at the helm of his Tug

4:30 PM - Shark!  We spot fins, but cannot get the camera quickly enough.  Later we spotted several sunfish which look like a very large white plastic bag just under the surface.  

Bodega Head and the red buoy

5:05 PM - Arrived at the Red Buoy off Bodega Head.  From here you go westerly to the RW "BA" buoy keeping you clear of Bodega Rock, which had large breaking waves making it easy to spot.

5:45 PM - Fueled up and moored for the night at the Spud Point Marina in Bodega Harbor.

A very easy day on the water.  Tomorrow we head under the Golden Gate and into San Francisco Bay; which is always an exciting port to enter.  


Friday, August 15, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Port Orford, OR to Fort Bragg, CA

Day Six & Seven - Overnight and around the corner to Fort Bragg - 217 Miles

I mentioned in an earlier post that when cruising the Coast you need to be flexible, and this crew is!  You may have noticed that this post covers days 6 & 7; we made the decision on the water as we neared Eureka to press on overnight around Cape Mendocino.   

4:00 AM - The alarm bell rings.  We planned a long 135-mile day from the anchorage in Port Orford to Eureka in Humboldt Bay, CA.  We have been cruising between 7.25 to 10-knots depending on water conditions and ocean current.  In general we have enjoyed a positive 1/2 to 1-knot current helping us southward down the coast.  The current, along with prevailing NW swells and NW wind lays down a smoother course for southbound boats. 

4:30 AM To achieve 120-mile days at our conservative speeds we need to get on the water as early as practical.  Engine running, anchor raised, radar is still pretty dark.  Port Orford is well protected from northerly & north westerly wind and swell.  The anchorage was a good stopover.  Easy to get into and a straight shot out and back onto our southerly route.

Just after sunrise outside Port Orford, OR

Grey Whales off Brookings, OR

9:10 AM - Whale HO!  More whales on the Oregon Coast.  This was a large pod of the resident grey whales working their way north.

9:30 AM - We cross the dotted line that separates Oregon & California.

The Saint George Reef Lighthouse

11:10 AM - The Saint George Reef Lighthouse is an intimidating sight along the coast.  This very remote abandoned monument is a beast.  After seeing her, we read about her history; including her construction and the stories of some of her keepers.  Wow!  The keepers were a tough lot.

Limited visibility with coastal fog.

1:00 PM - We hit a spot of fog.  Fog came & went for much of the afternoon.  It is good training for running with the marine electronics; useful later in the evening.

5:30 PM - Called the USCG on the VHF radio and requested an updated report on the Humboldt Bay bar entrance.  The radio operator had a 2 PM report and promised an update by 6 or 6:30.  Our running conditions were good with 2-3 foot swell and no wind.

6:45 PM - Passing the Humboldt Bay entrance with updated weather data, and still no updated entrance report we made the unanimous decision to skip Eureka and continue around Cape Mendocino.  Enjoying favorable weather & sea-state; we could make it to the Cape in the last of daylight and then run the remaining 70-miles to Fort Bragg overnight. 

Rounding Cape Mendocino

9:00 PM - Rounding Cape Mendocino at twilight. We prepared the boat for running in the dark with the instrument lights turned down low, counter tops cleared, gear stowed and fresh waypoints plugged into the chart plotter.  The wind is only blowing 5-10 knots and the water is mild.  It will be very dark for several hours until moonrise.  These are good conditions and what we had been hoping for.

Time exposure of the pilothouse - The instruments are dimmed much more than they appear and we have blacked out others with covers or tape to preserve our night vision. 

1:00 AM - The moon has risen and it is lighting up the path.  Visibility improves.  Nice sea-state.

Arrival at Fort Bragg, CA - Noyo River entrance

6:00 AM - Entering the Noyo River at Fort Bragg, CA.  First light. Calm conditions. The entrance is dramatic with the high Noyo River Bridge and the bending river channel slowly unveiling this small port.

US Coast Guard Station Noyo River with two 47-foot Motor Lifeboats

6:15 AM - We are tied up at the Noyo Mooring Basin.  This is a safe entrance port with a preponderance of smaller commercial fishing trollers and remnants of a busy past. 

We found a great breakfast place named David's just up the hill from the marina and adjacent to a nice grocery store.  Fort Bragg is boater friendly.  Now it is time for a mid-morning nap!

Thanks for following our coastal cruise.  Steve

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Newport, Or to Port Orford

Day Five - Newport to Port Orford - A good day at 128 Miles

Today was exactly what we wanted; smooth water and low seas, perfect for laying down miles. We set the alarm for an early departure and hoped the conditions would allow for getting all the way to the anchorage in Port Orford.  

As we approach Cape Mendocino we want to spend the night as close as possible for an early morning rounding and the subsequent run down to Fort Bragg.  Today's long run will allow us to get to Eureka in one or two-days depending on weather.  This will leave us the most options for the rounding.

Guest moorage in Newport, OR

4:00 AM - The alarm went off very early this morning.  Newport allows for arrivals and departures on all tide cycles.  We decided to get this day going before light as the channel is very well marked.

4:30 AM - Departed South Beach Marina, Port of Newport

4:50 AM - Cleared the "tips" of the north & south jetties, turned south and headed onto our course down the beach, staying 4-8 miles off shore.

Approaching fog shortly after sunrise

8:45 AM - Hit foggy conditions just south of Florence, OR.  Radar, chartplotter & AIS are working very well.

Perfect conditions for laying down miles toward Cape Mendocino

9:30 AM - Clear visibility, water glassy calm, no wind.  Course 176-degrees and running at 8.5 knots

Resident grey whales off the Cape Arago Lighthouse

1:30 PM - Whales!!  Grey whales off Coos Bay.  This time we were ready with cameras.

Rock formations offshore near Cape Blanco

5:50 PM - Rounded Cape Blanco & Orford Reef

7:00 PM - Anchored in Port Orford.  Mike made a great salad and pork tenderloin for dinner, followed by gelato for dessert.  A wonderful day on the water!

Cape Mendocino presents the largest obstacle along the Coast

Tomorrow we are again going to get an early start, leaving the opportunity to make it all the way to Humboldt Bay & the moorings of Eureka.  Eureka is the closest departure point (23-miles) to Cape Mendocino and is a long day at 135-miles from Port Orford; remember we are on a delivery and not a family cruise.  I normally would spend plenty of time exploring the history of all these anchorages and towns while cruising.  Conditions permitting we will spend tomorrow night in Eureka, otherwise Gold Beach, Brookings or Crescent City are alternative destinations.  We are trying to stage ourselves as close to Cape Mendocino so that when the weather and sea-conditions allow we are ready to go.

I love this stuff.  Navigating is fun.  Weather is interesting.  American Tugs are great boats!

Stay tuned,  Steve

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

San Francisco Trip: Tillamook to Newport, OR

Day Four - Tillamook / Garibaldi to Newport in the mist - 68 Miles

Some days you just need to be flexible... That is what cruising is all about.  We had planned to move down the beach to Florence, Oregon today.  Last night we reviewed the port entrances and tide information for all the possible stops. Getting across the bar at Tillamook was going to be difficult with the flood not starting until after 8am.  Tillamook is a bar you want to cross late in a flood cycle, and today we have a large tide.

Port of Garibaldi Marina guest dock

7:15 AM - We woke up and listened to the Coast Guard give the bar report, the bar was "closed" due to dangerous conditions.  Guess we can go back to sleep!   The USCG offers the bar report every 3-hours as conditions change so we would not be allowed to depart until at least 10 AM.   We looked at our notes and decided that Newport, OR with its all-weather entrance just 65-miles south would be the best we could do today.  Tillamook Bay was foggy and the wind had shifted to a south westerly, conditions that would make the run lumpy.

The steam train at Garabaldi Station

I wandered around Garabaldi and found the Oregon Coast Scenic Railway steam train had just left its garage and was getting ready for the days run.  This looks like it would be a great experience and the kind of thing that makes the coast run interesting.  If we were cruising with a  little more time in the schedule the train and the Tillamook Creamery tour would be fun.

10:30 AM - The Coast Guard opened the bar and we are free to depart.  Game on!

Former CG Lifeboat Station in Tillamook Bay, cool railways down into the water

11:10 AM - Smooth crossing of the Tillamook Bar.  The conditions remain foggy with quarter-mile visibility and a 10-knot south westerly.  Long rollers.  We headed out towards the "T" Buoy and just kept going on that same course until we were 5-miles offshore. 

2:00 PM - Continue working down the coast keeping between 5-8 miles offshore.  The wind has clocked around to the south and there is a wind driven wave pattern we are bucking into. Kicked the engine up to 1800-rpm and the ride is very stable.

Grey Whale spouting just at the tip of the bow rail.  200-yards out.

5:30 PM - Spotted Grey Whales spouting.  I really tried to get a good photo but that is tough.  The one picture I managed just as the polished stainless bow rail swept past the horizon, see if you can see the spouting.  When we arrived in port I read about the 200 local resident Grey Whales that make the Oregon Coast home.

6:45 PM - Crossed the "Tips" of the north and south jetties entering Newport, OR.  Bucking a 2.7 knot ebb tide. This is an excellent all weather port.  

7:05 PM - Tied up at South Beach Marina, Port of Newport.  Nice moorage. We walked to the Rogue Brewery and had dinner; a fun place and I highly recommend it.  

Tomorrow we are hoping to make up for today's lost time.  The weather report on the Coast is calling for NW winds to 10-knots.  That should give us good conditions for a run to Port Orford. No limitations on leaving Newport. There are plenty of bail out ports along the way if we need to remain flexible.  We will get an early start.

Thanks for reading!   Steve