The Catalyst is sticking to her Wilderness Discoveries cruises this August, running seven-day, six-night trips that “provide the best of Southeast Alaska.” Each trip is one way from Juneau to Petersburg, or from Petersburg back to Juneau, touring through some of the most beautiful and rugged land in the world. The boat has been booked solid all summer, with ten to twelve passengers each trip.
This week was a Juneau to Petersburg trip:
Sunday, August 3 – Juneau to Limestone Inlet: first paddle, fishing boats in Inlet, lots of fish in river (overcast)
Monday, August 4 – Limestone Inlet to Ford’s Terror: hike up Ford’s Terror, paddle narrows, skiff to head of inlet (cloudy)
Tuesday, August 5 – Ford’s Terror to Wood Spit: skiff to head of inlet, glacier hike, bear in stream, fishing, set crab pots (sunny)
Wednesday, August 6 – Wood Spit to Brother’s Island: swimming, fishing (not catching), skiff ride to sea lions (sunny)
Thursday, August 7 – Brothers Island to Portage Bay: meet Norio, whale watching, fishing x2 (w/catching!), (cloud then sun)
Friday, August 8 – Portage Bay to Scenery Cove: paddle in Portage Bay, skiff and hike to Baird Glacier, slide show (fog/sun)
Saturday, August 9 – Scenery Cove to Petersburg: pack, last run together (this year), return to “civilization” (heavy rain)
Here’s the crew:
And here’re the passengers:
I began my “eat Alaska” campaign that I am known for, in which I enthusiastically harvest whatever I can for meals like salmon, halibut, bull kelp, limpets, blueberries, crab, and shrimps. I also kayaked in some of my favorite places, like Fords Terror, named after a navy guy who spent six hours trapped in its tidal surges back in 1899. The passage is part of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness area, and is an amazing place:
We also had a few very sunny days to watching the glacier calve huge pieces of ice, see whales up close, and take a very short swim call with all the guests. I was very torn over which pictures to post in this blog, but you can see lots more at Lia’s online album or the official Catalyst slideshow. Check it out for some amazing pictures of Alaska at its best – and me doing silly things.
Characters of Southeast Alaska
Part of the fun of cruising Southeast is running into some of the regular characters of the area. We met up with Norio Matsumoto, an amazing whale and nature photographer. His online portfolio is here, and is well worth a look.
We also met up with Doug Leen when we got to Petersburg. He owns the Katahdin, a beautiful old tug powered by a six-cylinder Washington:
The boat is beautifully restored, but the paint has been taking a beating from the Petersburg winters. Doug ran the engine for a show a few months ago, but he hasn’t taken her out for a cruise recently. He did take us to his house, right across the channel from town. We got the grand tour of what I think is the most amazing property: about 10 acres with lots of waterfront and many old buildings restored by Doug and Martina. Thanks for showing us around, Doug – and it was great to see the Katahdin again.
Business as usual
Catalyst‘s Washington diesel (awarded the “best geared six-cylinder” at the Classic Workboat Show last October) sounds great, though I noticed that at the “normal” cruising speed, the pyrometers read well off the 550 degree gauge. Bill has been working to cure the overload problems that Catalyst has had for years, but I don’t think we’ve sat and really thought these changes through. I’ll install new pyrometers soon, keep learning more on the subject, and stay hard at work — when I’m not oiling:
The expansion tank also spit out some water, but the temperatures were okay. I think that maybe air was allowed to go from the air compressor into the water system. I just rebuilt the air compressor and replaced the gasket with asbestos, but maybe it requires a sandwich gasket with a copper ring. This might the problem, since the only thing different was that the air compressor was running hard. It settled down when I unloaded it.
One of the things that I like about shipping out as engineer for a while is that I have time to monitor and adjust an engine and really see what’s going on with it when it’s warmed up and at full speed. When I’m working to fix something on the dock or in my shop, I have to just get the job done by the time the boat leaves, and don’t usually get to watch it run for a while. I hope that by September, I’ve had time to make a lot of little adjustments to get it running perfectly.
I missed the Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association‘s annual show in Lynden, Washington, since it was the day before we left town and I just couldn’t squeeze it in. I was really hoping to go but this call out caused such a shake-up that I could not find the time.
Several spies (thanks, spies) say it was the same great show that the PSATMA is known for (see pictures from last year here. They report that the Atlas-Imperial was running well, but the Washington had its injectors removed. There was also rumor of a bad rod bearing. I’ll try to learn more when I get back – they’re great engines and the PSATMA is doing great things with them.
Trends in luxury and disposable income
Did I miss the window for classy old diesel engines being luxury items?
I’ve heard that Model-T Fords have gone down in value because the new generation of “renewed youth” wants the GTOs, mustangs, and Harleys that were cool when they were kids. Now that they have the disposable income to make “luxury” purchases, they’re buying muscle cars and telling their mechanics to make them “just like 1967.” I’m worried about how everything else is thrown out the window in favor of the childhood fantasy of driving a muscle car with the wind in your hair. What about the classic yachts from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s? What about all the other neat old stuff that the Beach Boys never sang about?
At least there’s a bit of hope for the next generation. Theodore Tugboat and World’s Deadliest Catch are at least getting old workboats on TV for future midlife-crisis children. Maybe 40 years from now, we’ll see characters in the Sopranos or Sex in the City buying converted tugs and big old engines, rather than cigarette boats and handbags.
This may be Old Tacoma Marine Inc’s next big project, so stay tuned.
OTM Inc Weekly eBay Auction
This week’s prize from the OTM Inc shop is an air intake manifold for a two-cylinder Washington Iron Works diesel engine: