Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lake Powell, Day 7. Bullfrog Bay to Slick Rock Canyon

Wednesday, September 22, 2010.

Before breakfast Russ and I trolled in the dinghy up and down, back and forth, to and fro, round and round Bullfrog Bay, all to no avail - saw a few fish jump but no boils, but we persevere!

Last year, striped bass, or stripers, were "boiling" every day in just about every bay or canyon we went to. A "boil" is when a bunch of stripers are chasing shad and the shad all seem to break the surface of the water close together at the same time. A cast into a boil last year was pretty much a sure thing to land a fish. Fishing is much different this year apparently.

Back on the boat, we had a wonderful blueberry pancake, sausage and egg breakfast - we do eat well on the boat!

After breakfast, we decided to change the Racor fuel filter / fuel water separator on Daydream because the engine had acted up a couple of times like it was not getting enough fuel. Naturally the filter wrench I had been carrying around for years for just this contingency didn't fit - it was way too small. Russ had another filter wrench, which was slightly too big, but we wrapped stuff around the filter cartridge so the wrench could get a grip.

No she go, whoever last changed the filter had tightened it down beyond any reasonable bounds (the instructions say "hand tighten"). I wonder if these things have a mind of their own and just tighten themselves down over time out of sheer perversity. So with Russ now completely in charge of changing our fuel filter, we ended up removing the entire Racor housing, disconnecting all the fuel lines and unbolting it. We finally got the filter off the housing, but the bowl underneath was still attached to the filter, and the innards of the filter were just spinning, so we could not unscrew the bowl. We solved that by drilling a hole in the top of the part of the filter that was spinning and using a screw driver to keep it from spinning. It still took a mighty effort to unscrew the bowl, but in the end that sucker came off. We then carefully lubricated the new gaskets, hand tightened the bowl to the filter and the filter to the housing, and re-installed the housing. Thus once again, Russ proves he is smarter than a fuel filter!

We decided to stop by the Bullfrog Marina store for gas for the generator and ice, and now the tenor of this day changed - not for the better. A little way out in Bullfrog Bay, it got really rough, Juan de Fuca - Admiralty Inlet rough, water washing over the cabin roof. We heard a noise we didn't like and I went out - one of the straps holding our kayaks on the roof was completely off, and with that kind of pitching we were within minutes of them coming crashing off the roof. So I got the straps put back and tightened down without falling overboard.

Then came the thunder and lightning. Then the pounding rain. I will not say how big the waves were, they were probably smaller than we thought, but the boat was going up to the crest of the wave then crashing down on the other side, and it was a bit more than just unpleasant. This was definitely a side of Lake Powell we had never seen before!

We lost visual contact with Traveler, and of course did not know where the store was and really were having a hard time seeing much of anything. We radioed Traveler and Russ came back out to show us where the entrance to the marina was located, and we followed him in.

Inside the marina, it was calmer but still pretty windy. Russ got up to the dock and we were going to follow him in to tie up. We watched - Traveler's side thrusters could not move the boat in against the wind, but he got a bow line to somebody on the dock, and finally got in and tied up. I could tell the wind was just going to push us off the dock any which way we tried it, because the C-Dory's flat bottom makes the cabin like a gigantic sail - with the wind blowing the wrong way, and in tight quarters, painful past experience led me to believe we would be better off standing off and just circling out in the open area of the marina.

Russ radioed us that his stern line had gotten wrapped around the propeller, and he went diving to free it. Then on the next pass, we noticed that one of Russ and Toni's kayaks was missing, so we radioed Traveler we would go back the way we had come to look for it.

Amazingly, Toni spotted it on the beach with her image-stabilized binoculars. She swam to shore, retrieved the kayak, and paddled back to their boat where Russ loaded it back on top, and off we went. It is hard to imagine what paddling that little kayak in those big waves must have been like.

The wind had subsided quite a bit and it was no longer raining. The water was sort of Bellingham Bay snotty but not like it had been. Through all the rough water, the Raymarine S-1000 autopilot was a real lifesaver, keeping us on a straight course without having to fight the helm. Out in the main channel, we got over in the lee of a high rock wall and Russ passed over our ice while it was still ice and we headed down river. It got quite a bit calmer as we proceeded, and we even saw a bit of sun.

The National Park Service was warning on the radio about flash floods in Padre Bay, especially Last Chance Canyon - this area is quite a bit south of where we were, but it was still a sobering thought.

We even managed to poke into Lost Eden Canyon for a look at a spectacular amphitheater a ways in.

Discretion being the better part of valor, with the weather forecast for more winds, we thought it would be best to get tucked in for the evening sooner rather than later, so we ate lunch on the way and headed for Slick Rock Canyon, where we anchored up. The weather was still a bit breezy but this is a very protected spot. Had drinks and a lovely tenderloin steak, squash and hash browns dinner. Still no sign of fish - I wonder if I just imagined them last year.


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