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I heard a pop and saw the fuel in the sight glass fall!

    The focus of this site is boating the San Juan's, but how can we cruise around without experiencing everyday boating issues, and here is another one that caught me by surprise.  Maybe someone will learn from my mistakes.

fuel leak into bilge

     About two years ago my Dickinson Bristol Stove diesel pump quit without warning leaving us cold.  I decided a five gallon day tank was in order so that we would not be at the mercy of electric pumps or need any electricity for a stove that may run nonstop for days.  

    So far so good, my new $150 aluminum tank is about four or five feet above the stove and works perfect. (gravity is pretty dependable)  I also replaced the  demand fuel pump so that I could effortlessly re-fill the day tank from our main fuel tank.  Fyi, I ordered the day tank with a filler cap so that I could hand pour fuel from a jug if needed, but so far have never needed to.

      So, I am watching the vinyl sight tube as my re-purposed VW fuel pump is filling the roof top day tank for the umpteenth time (it turns out it only lasts about 3-4 days per filling, because I don't fill it full nor let it run dry) when I hear a little pop from inside the cabin, and at the same time the fuel level in the sight tube drops out of sight.

    I knew instantly, that a hose had come apart, so I flicked the tank ball valve a quarter turn shut, and dashed for the pump switch at the helm, hoping the 7 psi pump and 3/8 inch hose weren't shooting fuel everywhere. (hope is for dreamers, I guess)

    Under the stove is a medium size cabinet with all our pots and pans, and strapped to the roof of this cabinet is the brass tee I used to splice the day tank into our stoves supply line.

    As you already have surmised, a hose popped off the barbed tee fitting, and in the five seconds or less that it took me to kill the system, diesel sprayed everywhere inside the cabinet, and ran down the hull.

   Rather than bore everyone with little details lets get to the lesson(s) I  learned.

  • I thought I was infallible and could tighten a hose clamp on a barbed fitting, it turns out I had not slid the clamp up over the barbs, and the hose was simply pushed on with nothing holding it.  It took two years to finally come apart, but I thought the system was brilliantly designed and impeccably installed.  I don't know what the answer is, except be careful and pay attention. Apparently I did neither.
  • Always install shut off valve at tanks and fixtures, I am so glad I did.
  • Don't expect your dishes to catch much fuel oil, several quarts made it to the bilge necessitating taking apart lots of cabinets, flooring, etc.
  • Unfinished plywood inside cabinets soak up diesel.  If they had been painted, the fuel oil would have simply wiped off. Now they stink.
  • Plastic dishes are ruined, or at least impart a curious taste to drinks now.
      On another similar thought, I wrote a post a while back about our sailboat "Sunshine." I left the water pump power supply switched on while we were ashore.  During our absence the switch failed, and turned on, pumping all our water down the drain, and then burning out the pump.  On that painful mistake, I learned the importance of throwing the main switch when leaving the boat, even for just an hour or two. (and having a hidden jug of water for making morning coffee)

      Just imagine if "Kraken" my current boat had still been plumbed with the stoves demand pump always on and no day tank, and a hose were to fail. The pump would empty the entire 70 gallon main tank.  Not only would it create a massive mess in the boat, but our automatic bilge pump would have emptied the bilge over the side creating an ecological disaster. (and fine $$)
And as a little bad bonus we would be out of fuel too.

Have a nice day!


Pictures by Land and Sea Around Matia Island in the San Juan's

      A few years back, I  hiked the trail from Pelican Beach to the top of Eagle Bluff on Cypress Island, taking pictures every few minutes along the way.  The resulting pictorial is a pretty good synopsis for those that can't make the journey themselves. See the Eagle Bluff Pictorial hike here.  I decided to do the same thing on Matia, but with a little change up. First I hiked the trail snapping away with wild abandon, then I jumped in the dinghy and hugged the shore continuing taking pictures while I circled the island. Then I deleted most of what I had. The results are  below, you decide if it was worthwhile.
Matia Island picture
The blue marker on the far left marks Rolfe cove, and where we  begin our visit to Matia

First off, exit the dock!
The little four boat float, may be full, but there are two buoys and room for a few boats to anchor.  In a pinch you can anchor in the much larger cove at the other end of the island and do this hike/dinghy tour in reverse.

Hiking boating Matia Island
Boater park fees are  a great deal for what we get in return.

Matia Island in the San Juans
The trail starts at the top of ramp beyond the small picnic campground area.  Matia is unique in that fires are not allowed anywhere, and pets are restricted from trail system.
click where it says read more for the rest of the picture tour!


Swinomish Channel Nightmare in the Daytime

      We came across this boat during our 4th of July hike to Fort Whitman on Goat Island. They were barely stuck when we first saw them, but within a few minutes it was clear they weren't  getting off until the tide came back up.  I can't imagine the port prop and shaft survived,

boat aground in Swimnomish channel
If this is you, our hearts go out to you, it must have been a rotten day. (make a comment, tell us what happened below, if you want to)

Swinomish channel Fort Whitman
One of four gun emplacements at  Fort Whitman on Goat Island.

Here is the link to the  Fort Whitman posting  > Fort Whitman - Goat Island


Some pictures are missing

Some pictures I posted are missing.  It turns out a web site that I used to host some early pictures is gone, along with my pics.  On this site you will see a place holder icon.

It would help me a lot if visitors would make comments from the posting telling where missing pics aren't.  I get an e-mail when comments are left and this way I will know where to look and may re-post the pics since I have the originals.

I have a few disconnected links since I began renaming posts so if you come across links that go to non-existent pages tell me what post so I can fix-em

Thanks for your help.


At Last Pictures of Bimini in a Bag are posted

     Not all of us can just go out and order a $5000 bimini and have it magically appear installed on our boat. So the mother of invention leads us once again down the path of necessity and creates a "Bimini in a Bag"

Do it your self bimini top #1
"Bimini in two bags"
fits under the v-berth

Do it your self bimini top #2
Organized chaos
is the secret behind many good things.

Do it your self bimini top #3
Rainy day at Roche Harbor and the new bimini was priceless

Read the full description and many more pictures in the long posting titled  "Doing it yourself page" over on the right side menu bar or just click here  >>   doing it yourself ideas


Boating Time and SEAL Pup Time Everywhere in the San Juan Islands

        You have probably noticed that new pups are out with their moms on all the rocks and reefs.

If you get too close they slip into the water so there is no doubt they prefer we keep our distance.

         Of note though, we have on two occasions this summer come across lost or abandoned pups.  At Inati Bay a pup spent much of the evening and next morning crying.  It swam to each arriving boat and then attempted to suckle the hull circling the boat all the while crying and trying to nurse.  Apparently from under water bottom paints may be confused for moms.

          At Matia, we noticed a pup doing the same thing.  As each new boat came to the dock or anchored out, the pup swam to it.  We dinghied around the island and saw hundreds of moms with pups in the water and hauled up on rocks.  When we returned  to Rolfe Cove the pup came to our dinghy and suckled the fiberglass hull, it was really sad looking up at us with big watery eyes while making sucking sounds on the boat and then on the wood oar.

         That evening as the sun went down we saw the pup work its way up onto the beach beneath the gangplank.  It was there in the morning, still by itself..  We called the marine mammal stranding hotline to report it, but who knows what happened.

        We talked to the volunteer on the phone and they said sometimes people getting too close will cause pups and moms to separate and then become lost.

lost seal pup begging
We didn't attempt to touch this little guy, but it sure seemed like he wanted to be cuddled

Seal pup looking for its mother
The sucking sounds were unmistakable as he worked his way around the boats again and again.

Seal pup left on beach without mother
Settling in for the night as the sun set.

Seven People - Seven Bicycles - One little boat for our 4th of July at Roche Harbor

Seven People - Seven Bicycles - Two Kayaks - One  Dinghy,
and it was raining lightly.
True our 26 foot trawler is bigger than a 16 foot ski boat but 7 bikes and riders filled us to the top.

kraken at Orcas Landing with a full load of bicycles and people

       We just returned from a week long Canada cruise where we tied two bikes on the roof.  With only two of us on board, the bikes never got in the way.  Next we added two more bikes, two kayaks, and two more people for a Lopez and San Juan ride. We still managed to all find seats, but the bikes ended up on the front deck, and we looked through  handlebars and seats to steer. 
(the above pic is a coffee pit stop at Orcas Landing with everyone and everything and its raining)

dinghy dock at roche Harbor

         At Roche we add three more.  We have seven bikes now (four out front and three in the cockpit) For seating, we break out two folding chairs and fill the dinette.  Kraken seemed to list a little to starboard (the dinette side) but what the heck.  
This pic is at the end of the long dinghy dock at Roche Harbor.

Bicycling the San Juans by boat is alive and well.
  • two crossed from  Spencer Spit to Lopez Village
  • two pedaled from Roche Harbor to Lime Kiln and back
  • three pedaled from Odlin Park, around Lopez and took a ferry ride back to Friday Harbor
  • three pedaled from Smallpox Bay around San Juan Island
  • thankfully, other than the skipper and mate, all slept on shore in campgrounds
Does anyone know an easy way to get off black tire marks?


Princess Louisa Inlet Cruise and Chatterbox Falls

          Our Princess Louisa Inlet Cruise was a great success.  Success to me means no breakdowns or major deviations from the plan.

          We cast off for this approximately 150 mile (one way) joy ride from our slip in La Conner at a little before noon on a sunny Saturday.  Our first stop was just a mile up Swinomish Channel where we visited the fuel dock to top off our 70 gallon diesel tank.  Heading off with the tanks full, the fridge and cabinets crammed with ten to twelve days of very good eating, we headed north towards ominous looking storm clouds and the forecast of gale force winds.  Yes, we are very apprehensive.  Many thoughts occupied our thinking, the first was, were we making a mistake heading into bad weather.  The second was, would we get stuck somewhere and not be able to get back in time for our breakfast date with Linda's mother a week from Tuesday.
Kraken at Princess Louisa Inlet and Chatterbox Falls
Chatterbox Falls from park float

           Our first overnight stop is Patos Island.  Patos is as far north, not counting Point Roberts as a boater can go before entering Canada.  We anchored with plenty of daylight left to walk out to the lighthouse and hike around.  The next morning we got going  early before 7 am. With 40 miles to cover at 5-8 mph, False Creek in Vancouver may be an 8 hour run.  With no good options to duck and cover along the way, I was a still a little apprehensive to say the least.  The wind never really was a factor that day but about halfway to Vancouver we were about 5 miles off shore from the  Tsawwassen ferry terminal when a following swell began to overtake us and toss Kraken around like the little 26 Nordic Tug she is. Steering the wallowing boat became full time work and I found myself driving a zigzag course. I was zigging to make our selves more comfy and then zagging back onto a course that would eventually get us to False Creek where we would check into Canada and spend the night.  Linda got out the Dramamine, and I took one also, something I almost never do. About every fourth zigzag an extra big quartering swell would turn us sideways causing severe rolling and much crashing sounds coming from all of Krakens many stores and equipment.  At this point we are seriously discussing changing course for Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island. Bedwell was about the same distance, the waves would be more on our nose, and we could continue northward on the inside of the Gulf Islands affording ourselves much better protection, but then we would be on the wrong side of the Strait of Georgia, and north of Nanaimo was where the real gale winds were churning up the strait.  This is not how my Princess Louisa Trip was supposed to go.

Click below to read the rest of posting and see a few pictures along the way

Princess Louisa Inlet Cruise - Malibu Rapids - Skookumchuck Narrows - Nine Day Itinerary with layover at False Creek in Vancouver

        We just completed this trip, I mentioned in earlier posts it was in the works, and now it is history.
        We started as usual in La Conner and visited, Vancouver, Skookumchuck Narrows, Malibu Rapids, Princes Louisa Inlet, and Chatterbox Falls.

       This short accounting may help others plan out their trip.  The mileages are approximations.   We kept our speed in the 6 - 7 knt range, most of the time.

You may read a more detailed accounting over on the right side menu or just click here >>Princess Louisa Cruise - long story!
  • Day 1,  Left La Conner with full tanks, destination Patos Island. - 32 miles - Very easy day.
  • Day 2,  Patos to False creek in Vancouver - 40 miles - This was a rough water, rainy windy day that used buckets of fuel, dramamine and really made us think about changing destinations.
  • Day 3, Weather layover -  This was a great day, bicycling Stanley Park, False Creek, and exploring the shops at Granville Island. (this is a must do place to visit again)
  • Day 4,  Vancouver to Egmont  -  57 miles - On this leg I planned stays at Sechelt, Secret Cove or Pender Harbour if needed.  This day was a hard slog, but very doable.
  • Day 5   Egmont to Princess Louisa Inlet - 32 miles - A somewhat boring, very easy day. Plenty of time to check out Park.
  • Day 6   Princess Louisa to Pender Harbour - 38 miles Another bore, but we had planned Secret Cove, and rough water forced us into Pender
  • Day 7   Pender to Point Roberts, then onto Patos - 70 miles - With the currents help, this day was an easy  run.  This could have been a miserable day, I think we got lucky!
  • Day 8    Patos to Pelican Beach on Cypress with a stopover on Clark - 17 miles - We didn't leave Patos until well past 2 pm.
  • Day 9  Cypress to La Conner with a stopover at Cone Islands and a figure eight hike on Saddlebag Island. - 17 miles -   Filled all tanks in preparation for Roche Harbor and the 4th of July.

Kraken at Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louisa Inlet British Columbia
Chatterbox Falls at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet
      In retrospect, if I could do it over, I would have planned a few days at Vancouver.  We were forced by bad weather to hang out in False Creek after customs but it was the best part of the trip.  We are planning a return to Vancouver as our destination.

      Secondly, I would have planned our Skookumchuck Narrows visit (Egmont) for when  big water rapids were forecast.  It was kind of a waste to go to all the effort and not see anything but a little tide rip.

You may read a more detailed accounting over on the right side menu or just click here >>Princess Louisa Cruise - long story!


Twenty Five Boating Chores to do before next season arrives in the San Juan Islands

             Some chores are critical and some don't apply to all of us, but everyone has boating and sailing things to do before getting underway.     

         This website is supposed to be about  sailing and boating in the San Juans, so if I am stepping out of line here -- be sure to quit reading.

           For me and probably most of us, I pretty much quit boating during the winter months but I do go out a little and still must take care of routine chores.  I procrastinate more than I should and sometimes I win, but more often my procrastination causes me more problems and to spend more money.

         Recently I've done a few very important chores, and some busy work which is more fun, and I'll list off a few right now. Maybe a few readers will be reminded of something they forgot to take care of last season.

The numbers and order mean nothing but I think it looks cool to make lists.

  1.  I just pulled completely apart my  trailers four wheels and bearings. Oh gawd what a greasy mess. I went through one and a half  rolls of paper towels.  One wheel had runny grease, so runny it ran out like heavy oil and it was lighter colored than the grease in the other wheels.  But it was full and showed no signs of not doing its job. I figure water must have gotten in and mixed with the grease, but I have seen frothy water contaminated grease and this didn't look like what I've seen. I cleaned it all up inspected the seal lip and repacked everything. All the brakes were totally covered and saturated with grease and brake lining debris making a black mess, which explains why the brakes never work as good as my other trailers. I have made a mental note to replace all backing plates and brake components next time. (more procrastination) Honestly now, they still work good enough, I hope. I ended up repacking two wheels completely, one I looked at and put back together and one just got some grease added . I feel confident about my bearings now and don't have any worries for upcoming road travel.
  2. I cut off the dinghy line that was too long and got caught in the prop last summer.
  3. My last window leak has succumbed to Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure because I got smart enough to apply it to both the inside and outside surfaces.
  4. I have refilled about a dozen non refillable propane tanks. (fyi - my cost is about $1 per canister and I do not in any way suggest that anyone refill non refillable bottles)
  5. I built a kicker motor adapter bracket so my 5hp Honda sits sideways and now clears the water as well as the dinghy's gelcoat while being carried on the mother ship.
  6. I have added rigid SS standoffs after dropping the dinghy and rope burning my hands.
  7. I have built two kerosene lamp holders so I can hang my lamps from the ceiling hooks.
  8. A few months ago I touched up the bottom paint.
  9. I added a vinyl drip rail gutter to the cabin roofs, a project that I worried about being able to apply straight but it turned out to be really easy and looks great.
  10. I added a site tube to my water tank, so I can see the water level without putting a flashlight behind the tank and then guessing.
  11. I haven't yet, but I do have the yellow pad I'm going to use to create a ships manifest list of everything stored on board including where each item is stored. Then I plan to transcribe the list and print out a good looking copy to be kept in my ship's log book.  Yes it is true, I can't remember where I put things.
  12. I built a new front hatch using half inch Lexan and something that looks a lot like oak.
  13. I have taken satellite screenshots and loaded my laptop with all the likely ports of call for my up coming Sunshine Coast cruise to Princess Louisa Inlet in the middle of June.
  14. I bought two used Canadian charts, since my chart plotter doesn't have anything north of Vancouver.
  15. I changed my motor oil last fall so it would sit with mostly fresh oil through the winter.
  16. I have upgraded my bicycle to  tires full of that anti puncture anti leak glop stuff.
  17. I already wrote about fixing the stoves oil drip valve adjustment so it actually is adjustable.  I was forced to do that from prior procrastination caused problems, but I still want credit.
  18. I got on my stomach in a half open hatch, and with a mirror and flashlight checked the water level in my batteries.
  19. I traced my windlass wiring and discovered an off/on switch I had forgot about. Now my windlass works again after hand hauling chain last year.
  20. I added a mid-ship cleat on the starboard side, the PO must have always tied to port or didn't see the need for proper spring lines.
  21. I installed some good looking golden maple click-lock flooring that closely matches the old teak, at least in color.
  22. I accidentally broke off my am/fm radio antenna, but it still works pretty good so I just cleaned up the fiberglass shreds and pushed a rubber cap over the jagged end.  
  23. I replaced all the uv damaged tie cords on my cabin top kayak rack.
  24. I have built and installed all the components to convert my Livingston dinghy to sail, some fine tuning is still needed but I have had several successful (and fun) sea trials. I may just procrastinate and go with it as is, I can finish up the little stuff later.
  25. I just started what was to be a simple port side light relighting. It seems banging on the light wouldn't cause it to work anymore. When I turned the brass screw heads, both stripped so I drilled them out. After pulling off the lens I grabbed the drilled studs with vise grips and broke them off.  Now there is no way to reattach the lens and I have not even gotten to why the light doesn't light up. More on this later, I'm on way to Ace to find 2.5" x #6 brass screws, I know, "fat chance."
Still to come this year I hope:
  1. Fix the bimini tie downs, not done yet
  2. Drill or make a drain hole for the front hatch (limber holes were forgot, don't ask)
  3. Fill flat fenders with more air and look for leaks.
  4. Find plates that fit in sink or cut a quarter inch off the pretty fishy painted ones my wife likes.
  5. ???

I hope your commissioning chores are as fulfilling as mine are. Lets see wax or polish, what's the difference again?
Saddlebag Island quiet times


What Is The Perfect San Juan Islands Boat - What Equipment is Mandatory

    I  was talking to someone the other day that was earnestly looking for a boat for a passage to Hawaii. He remarked that the vessel he was considering did not have an anchor windlass and he sure would like one.  That comment got me thinking about how often one needs to anchor on the way to Hawaii, and then I thought what else do we think we need but really don’t need at all. 
                In the San Juans we anchor all the time, plus an anchor can be a last chance emergency brake when the motor conks out.  On the way to Hawaii I just don’t see any use for an anchor or windlass, and I doubt motoring very far is in the cards either, so a dependable motor ranks somewhere behind standing rigging because if the mast folds up and goes over the side in the San Juans it’s a big deal and probably will require motoring  back to home base.  If the same thing happens a thousand miles from shore its more than a big deal, it could mean a rescue, so having stout rigging is a must going to Hawaii, but not in the San Juans. How about tanks, do we need a holding tank in the San Juan’s, the answer is no, but they are very handy if you do not want to be tied to resorts and shore side facilities. On the way to Hawaii, I think a holding tank won’t be missed.  Fresh water tank, yes. I think you need one going to Hawaii, but in the San Juans, no, you can make it from place to place with a sports bottle in your pocket.  How about a compass, I think yes in both scenario’s.   Radar is a resounding not needed in either case but a gps and radio I think you need, and since they are relatively cheap and portable there is no real good reason not to have them with you. A chart plotter is not needed but a paper chart is needed whether going to Hawaii or hanging around the San Juans.
How about a refrigerator, nope you can get by without one and save a lot of juice at the same time. 
Did I leave out anything big?  Yes! No!  Of course you need basics like a bilge pump or a bucket, but let’s face it a dinghy is handy but not required, so is a new suit of sails.  I think a good argument can be made for having an emergency life raft out in the middle of the ocean, but not so good an argument in the San Juans.
The purpose for this line of thought as I said in the beginning was to think some about
what gear is really needed on my boat, or on the boat  being considered.
Click below to read more


Practicing What I Preach

          One way to plan a cruise to the San Juan's!

     Many times on this site I have suggested that the most important planning thing to do is set a date, and the rest of the cruise will come together, that philosophy has not changed.  But that doesn't mean you can ignore important details expecting them to magically fall in place.  Someone still has to grease the wheel bearings, apply for passports, order techie toys, mow the lawn.
     Just put a big X on the calendar and then sit back and let your cruise plan unfold (bad word choice, sounds too much like unravel) just sit back and let your plan develop.  In our case, with some prodding (one poke) from my oldest daughter, I agreed to go to Roche Harbor for the 4th of July.  No big X date on exact arrival but the 4th is the 4th, so I figured  we would arrive in the general area a few days earlier.

     Now, some months later,  the plan is starting to come together.  I have a day planned for bike riding on San Juan.  I have a  campfire night planned on shore at Jones for hot dogs.  I have a toss up day to get Ice Cream at Blakelys or Friday Harbor, and it looks like if I can make my Livingston Dinghy sail properly, I will have the day of the 4th to sail around Roche Harbor dodging anchor lines and other dinghies.  Yesterday another daughter announced she and her friends had camping reservations on San Juan Island, also over the 4th of July, and that I could give her, her friends and their bicycles a ride over to Lopez on the 2nd, and then they would ride the ferry back that evening.  The plan for Saturday after the 4th is still open, but I know it will fall in place just like always.

       So, we put the big X on the calendar, and the plan is evolving, I can't believe I used to actually stress over vacation details.  I wonder if I should enter the blind dinghy race the day of the 4th.  hmmm!

Just in case someone needs an exhausting check list to stress out over when making plans, take a look here.
Cruisers - Mother of all Packing lists!   <<< click there


A reminder for me again! Murphy's Law!

        My dinghy, just like many others is mounted on snap davits across the transom and stood on edge for travel.  This has been my preferred system for many boats and even more dinghies. To tilt and raise the dinghy up and out of the water I have two nylon lines attached to cleats on the far side.  I wrap one line around each wrist and then with a heave, I lean back and pull the dinghy up onto its side. Next with the dinghy balanced in a somewhat neutral position I carefully tie off both lines by wrapping around the stern rail and back to the dinghy cleat.  For lowering the dinghy I wrap the lines several times around the rail creating a friction brake, then effortlessly let out enough line to set her back in the water.

   So far so good, but here's the reminder part. Last week while lowering the dinghy, my cleated lines somehow became loose, I didn't see it in time and the dinghy fell without any braking wraps. I had one hand on a line but was unable to hold it, so it whistled through my grasp taking with it a bunch of my flesh leaving me with a painful rope burn.  To  add insult, after the dinghy fell I discovered my oars were about to slide out of their poorly knotted  lines as well. Some regulars may remember these are the same lines I managed to wrap around the prop at Jones Island last year.  I'll save the procrastination post for later.

     There are lessons and reminders here.

  • Even though I think I tie great knots and cleat well, I failed.
  • I should have a redundant tie off system.
     This experience got me thinking, what else is about to trip me up?
  • loose bolt/nuts
  • cotter pins not spread enough
  • zincs, corroded fasteners
  • belts, hoses, clamps, 
  • electrical connections, battery condition/quality
  • are my flares expired, where is my whistle?
  • anchor shackle pin seizing wire
  • fuel system, (this is a big potential problem area) fuel stabilizer 
  • waste system (that reminds me, I think the vent is plugged)
  • fresh water chlorination, (oh yeah, forgot that too)
  • diesel exhaust smell in the clothes closet, still not addressed!
  • hatch seal
  • dock lines are still a mish mash of old ropes and  one fender is flat
  • telescoping boat pole is jammed at five feet
I put this list together in a few minutes, so there is plenty I missed.
No preaching this time,  but I hope I got some of you thinking.

Understanding the Rule of Twelfths Formula for Tide Predictions in the San Juan Islands

Disclaimer #1 
I have read this little tool rule many times by different authors and each time have come away confused and surprised at how such a simple idea can come out so convoluted and nonsensical. I wrote my clearly understandable version below and tried it on Linda who knows and understands the rule only to hear  "Your writing is  confusing, why did you say tidal range?"
Using the Rule of twelfths when anchoring
"The Rule of Twelfths"
 First, lets think in terms of where we will apply this tool.  For me it is when I need to anchor and I don’t know how far the tide is going to drop or rise.  Will my keel touch bottom in two hours, will the anchor drag while we sleep?  These important questions need answering before setting the hook.

       To employ the rule you must know some approximate facts first. #1, what is the tidal range in the area, ie. if the tide book states high tide is 8.5 feet and low tide is 1.5 feet, the total range the water rises or falls is 7 feet. As you know every day is different and varies by area so our first fact is just an approximation.  #2, we need to know what time high or low tide is forecast.  These two facts are all we need to know and we can arrive at the anchorage and make a good estimate of what to expect.

       Most areas have a six hour duration from low tide to high tide so we need to think in terms of six one hour segments. During the first hour the water rises or falls slowly. During the second hour the rise or fall picks up speed.  During the third and fourth hours, the water is moving at its fastest rate, and the fifth and sixth hours are slower and mirror hours one and two.  That’s the cycle that is repeated regardless of area or total range.  Slow at first, picking up speed, very fast, then slow down, and come to a stop, in six hours and then repeat.

       So now we have a six hour period broken into one hour segments, it’s time to assign a value to each hour and the following is the backbone of the Rule of Twelfths  123321, (each number represents one hour) yes they do add up to twelve. In the first hour after slack water, the water will move 1/12 of the range, in the second hour the water will move 2/12 of the range, or double the first. In the third hour the water moves 3/12 of the entire range. So this means that three hours after slack, or three hours  before the next slack, the water has moved a total of 6/12 or halfway through its range.  We already know that at the halfway point the tide is moving at its fastest and is halfway in or out, so no surprise there.  When we arrive at an anchorage exactly halfway between high and low tide, all we need to know is the total range and we can easily determine how much more or less to expect.  Where this tool helps most is during the second hour or fifth hour, referring back to our rule of 123321 we see the fifth hour totals 10/12, and the second hour total 3/12 of the range. By reducing fractions we easily understand that in the fifth hour the tide has moved 5/6 of the range and only has about 1-2 feet still to go. In the second hour the tide has only moved  1/4 the range and so still has about 4-5 feet to move.

       Armed with this knowledge you can easily determine how much the water will rise or fall and anchor where the depth is best for your boat.  So remember 123321,  know the tidal range in your area, and what time high or low tide is forecast. The rest is just fractions.

Disclaimer #2
       As a practical matter, I don't park the boat with just a foot of clearance under my goodies unless I have a good reason, such as I'm at a dock at low tide and I know whats coming.  Swinging at anchor with only a foot to spare is asking for it in some locations.  For you naysayers consider what happens to your boat when a big swell comes your way, that's right it is followed by a trough.  Well not only does a one foot trough take away your clearance, but it slams you violently on the bottom to tell you so.

       So, even though the Rule of Twelfths is a fun exercise, and I recommend everyone understand the ups and downs of tides, (ha) I still look for lots of depth at low tide, set my anchors very well, and sleep even better.

Here is a link to the NOAA tide tables  > NOAA tide tables


My shore power cord got so hot the plastic plug melted and had to be pried off the connection

Where have we been for the last sixty days?      

       I have felt bad for not posting recently, but not anymore.  Just as I sat down it occurred to me that many of us are in the same situation. Winter projects, holidays etc. Now that I have time to write, some of you may have time to stop by, and the fact that two months has gone by is not an issue.

         One of my projects was to keep my boat from freezing solid and being damaged. So far so good.  We went for a Thanksgiving weekend cruise in freezing weather, which was my last post about the stove huffing and puffing soot all over the place. You know soot becomes snoot when it gets wet or rubbed or wiped or touched. It also seems to permanently sink into oxidized fiberglass.  Bad news all around, snoot is. The good news is that it cleans off  painted surfaces really nice and almost cleans off waxed surfaces.

        On New Years we went for another cold weather outing and the oil stove worked flawlessly now that I know to pay better attention to the burner.

      Now about the hot wire,  and warning  for all of us that know better.  My 30 amp power plug got so hot that it partially melted the plastic and I had a really hard time removing the plug from the receptacle on the boat.  

        The heat was caused by two things #1 the plug terminals must not have  made a good connection so I'm not getting 30 amps, instead I'm getting heat.   #2 the electric heater and battery charger in the boat probably combine for too much power draw, and with the cold weather I'm lucky I caught it before - poof - a different kind of snoot appeared where the boat is/was. My advice to myself is to check both ends of every cable connection for heat. What worry's me are the buried connections I can't get to.

Here's proof it can happen  - Clickety click   >>  >>  fire damage

Fire and smoke damage in our San Juan Islands boat
This picture shows smoke damage.  My first thought was that I could simply clean  the surfaces.
Think again skipper -- some surfaces clean really well and some become etched.  Smoke is extremely corrosive, and in a closed boat fire, flames may not be present but the smoldering fire pressurizes and forces smoke into and behind every nook and cranny.  Nothing escapes, not the field glasses, not the radio,  not the switch  panel or any electrical terminals .

      Within six months of this fire - all electrical switches, contacts failed.  Wires survived, but all had to be re-cut and new terminals crimped.  (The adjuster totaled the boat)

The cause of the fire was an overheated extension cord.  You can see the orange cord in the picture  So regrettable and preventable.