Places We Go – False Creek, Vancouver, BC

July 14, 2010

Mean of me to leave you with a teaser and then make you wait, isn’t it? I thought I would tell you our most exciting event of the summer long before now. But…we have been going and going, or trying not to do anything, because of the going, and, and, and…Okay, no more bad excuses.

We crossed the Strait of Georgia on July 14, 2010. I will tell you all about our visit to Vancouver in the next blog, but for now – the big excitement.

We went directly to the False Creek anchorage upon arrival in Vancouver, BC. We had a full tank of water and were provisioned so we that we could enjoy that part of Vancouver. Granville Island is the home of another famous Public Market. Our goal was to go ashore, get some information, get a boat part, and have lunch. We accomplished the mission and were headed back to the boat. The trip from DESERT VENTURE, at anchor, to the Public Market is a short one and we tend to take the little dinghy on short cruises.

To my surprise and delight, the captain decided to take me to town in style and launched our big dinghy. Oh goody! It was a very fine ride to the market! The captain noticed a little bit of water on the deck around his shoes, but thought it was water left over from the washing the week before. No problem.

Mission completed, it was time to go home. We got in the dinghy and got underway. We noticed more water on the deck around our feet. In fact, a lot more.  His shoes were wet and so were my sandaled toes! Hmmm, not acceptable – not good! We could hear the bilge pump doing its job, but there was still water. We started looking for a cause. I could see water through a space between the pontoon and the boat deck. In case any of you are thinking this is okay – it is NOT! No. Hm…what is this all about? Bruce was seeing even more water – of a particular shade of green – than I was. We continued back to D/V, watching the situation. As we cruised along, about a quarter mile from the boat, we heard a quick “pop-pop”. Wow! My first thought was the pontoon had deflated.  No, not that – it was obvious the pontoons were still fully inflated.  The pontoon on the starboard side of the dinghy, the captain’s side, came away from the hard body of the dinghy forward to about the beam! And then there was a LOT of green water visible and even more coming over the four inch free board of the body!

We continued moving along, but mostly the captain is assessing the situation – with a look of disbelief on his face. And I am assessing the amount of water and the distance to D/V! We have our new auto-inflatable life vests on but I have no intention of testing them in False Creek. I also had a horrible vision of us, in the event of testing the life vests, see my dinghy sink – and that was the last thing I wanted to see.

It is no secret that I am not a “go fast” kind of girl. In fact, if the captain had had a speed boat when we met, it would have probably led to a single date – but a slow boat – I mean sail boat – THAT was MY speed! Our big dinghy is thirteen feet long, and has a 50 hp, Honda outboard engine. Can you say “Go Fast”? Well, there we were – green water outside the boat, water inside the boat, wet feet, bilge pump working dutifully and I could only think of one thing. “Hit it!” He looked at me – and did! I moved forward so that there was better stability and less water coming into the boat. Okay – I moved forward to move weight from aft to the bow – which helped reduce the rate of incoming water.

We got back to D/V safely, got the dinghy on the davit wire, pumped all the water out, and brought it aboard.

I admit I never really thought about the design of the big dinghy. Hard bottom, inflatable pontoons, water stays out, and we sit comfortable – and can go fast. What else is there to know? For one thing, the hard body isn’t all that much – body, that is. Take a look at the hard body part of the dinghy. It kind of looks like a bumper car at the amusement park.

What happened? The adhesive holding the pontoons to a gusset, that slides in the dark slit you can see on each side of the boat, totally failed. The reason I only saw a slit of green was that Bruce repaired a section on the after end of the pontoon on the port side a year ago. Bruce went to work removing the old adhesive from the gusset strip and the pontoons. There were sections where it appeared that no adhesive had ever been applied. It about took 20 hours.

Our friend Sharon, who you will read about in the next blog, drove us all over Vancouver getting replacement adhesive materials. We waited over two weeks to find a day with no wind. We ended up in beautiful Coles Bay in the Saanich Inlet where the day was perfect – light breeze, but the temps were up. I am certain anyone watching us went through several stages of curiosity, indignant feelings, and finally – at the end of the day – relief. In order to protect the job from what wind there was and to limit the heat factor, we created a tent with an enormous gray tarp! It was anything but proper yacht dressing and hung down past the top deck. It had to be done, so I absolved myself of self-inflicted guilt by knowing we would take it down at the end of the day. (No picture available, sorry. When we get into a production mode, photography goes out my head!)

In addition to the tarp, anyone watching saw Bruce and I go under the tarp, where we would move along, me pushing the “roof” up with a broom stick, and helping him see where he had been in painting/applying the adhesive. We did three coats. We waited 30 minutes after the first coat, then started the second coat, and followed up with the third coat. Immediately after finishing the third coat we started the process of attaching the gusset piece to the pontoons. It was very sticky – don’t let it touch any where but where it is supposed to  – trust me! We did one side at a time, so we then repeated the process a second time.

We left the tarp up the rest of the day. What a relief to take it down and calm down the locals who wondered who had cruised into their bay. It had to have been intriguing seeing us in and out and in and out…bumping the tarp top along the length of the dinghy. Funny!

We used Weaver Adhesive System. Directions said let it rest 48 hours before moving, and in six days there would be 100% curing of the adhesive. We let it rest the six days and put it back together in Port Townsend.

The photo above shows us starting the process of inserting the gusset, now attached to the pontoon, into the slot.

The photo below shows the pontoon restored to its proper position. Now it needs inflated! Bruce assures me we will never experience this again! The adhesive is properly applied and cured and we will be going on many more dinghy rides with peace of mind.

If the pontoons “had” to fail, it happened in the perfect setting. As I mentioned earlier we tend to take the dinghy on long distance trips, and we shudder to think of this happening far from the boat in the wilderness. We were close to the boat and had access to repair materials and no harm was done to us or the dinghy. Our future travels depend on us having use of the big dinghy and we were happy to get that little project out of the way in such a safe environment.

Aside from inflating the pontoons there was one more very important step to finalize the process – a robust sea trial!

You can tell from the photo below that the repair job was a big success and the fellow in the dinghy had a whopping good time testing the integrity of the job!

And this all happened in several Places We Go!

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