Friday, October 27, 2006


Got Fuel?

Got up early and motored over to the fuel dock to fill up for the big adventure. It's a long ride up (1 hour 15 minutes) the San Diego bay, but it was a sunny morning with no wind and was more like a sight-seeing tour than a chore. We passed many US Navy warships and because we had an ex-navy guy, Bruce, with us we got many stories and details about what we were looking at.

This was our first time at the fuel dock as the good ship Niki Wiki holds massive quantities of diesel. How much? Well, the specs say 185 gallons, but as we've discovered with so many other things on this boat this number was suspect. We knew we had exactly 50 gallons in the tank after the fuel-polishing process, so how much should we put in? The fuel hoses don't have automatic shutoffs like the ones for cars. Clever boys at the fuel dock instead put this little catch tank onto the vent hole. When diesel starts to burp up the vent hole that means the tank is full.

End result? We added 123.8 gallons - total cost? $375 bucks!! That should last us a good, long time as we are a SAILBOAT and will be using the free wind for most of our journey.

The diesel in our tanks was very old - had sat in the boat for years which is not a good thing with diesel. Over time, black carbon particles form, which clog up the fuel filters and make the engine stop. No fun. The solution is to have the fuel "polished" - filtered.

Okay - good idea. But, the fuel tank on our boat did not have access to allow the tanks to be manually scrubbed which is the only way to really get rid of all the crud. So, we had the marine polishing guy cut a hole in the top of the tank, put in a new fuel inspection plate and new fuel "pickups". He removed all of the diesel, filtered it, measured it, (exactly 50 gallons), scrubbed the tank, and put it back in. Now we really know what we have, and it is good.

We motored back to the marina, munched on Cheetos (the breakfast of champions) , drank coffee, and I knit. But when we were just a few hundred yards from the marina entrance, the dreaded Santa Ana Winds suddenly started up at about 30 miles per hour!!! We knew they were forcasted, but they came in way too early. Yikes!!! It's tough enough to get into our tiny slip with this big boat in the dead still - with a wind coming from our side (beam) it would be nearly impossible.

Jones motored slowly towards our slip...he adjusted for the winds and aimed the boat towards the slip. But as we turned, the nasty winds pushed against the tall sides of the Niki Wiki and suddenly we were sailing sideways - moving quickly into other boats and the far end of the floating docks!!! Folks came running from all over the marina - many helpful hands. I think I yelled something like "We're in deep do-do!". We came to a stop, resting against the dock - sideways. The wind howled. Just a few minutes (literally!) earlier and we would have been fine.

Anyway, with the help of many hands pushing, pulling dock lines, and the engine revving, we swung her around, pivoting on a piling, into the slip. Thats the LAST TIME we will have to get into this slip as Monday we are leaving!!!! I feel like I want to wear a paper bag over my head when I walk around the dock - so embarrassed. But, I've talked to some of the really seasoned cruisers here and they say that they've all done had lousy dockings - and expect to have more in the future. It's just plain tough to do.

Well- gotta go pack up the pantry with all of the shelf-stable food that I've bought for the trip.

Have a great trip. Yeah, bad dockings are part of the package, which is why fellow sailors are so quick to rush to help, isn't it great?!
I'd love to hear about the food you've planned for the voyage, and hope that you will keep updating as access allows.
Bon Voyage.
As always, I am enjoying reading about your adventures, and what is life without a little embarassment. Have a great trip, be safe and hoist a few cold ones. Seeing you in shorts makes me envious as we had 14 inches of snow on Thursday (although it is melting).
I can't wait to hear about your trip! Be safe and have fun!
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