Getting Ready to Go

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 4 Mar 2015 00:30
Last week I completed my online studies and now, as winter draws to a close, I can start getting Sylph ready for sea again, and put some attention back into Sylph’s blog. 
I have a few chores to attend to.  The engine throttle cable is very stiff and may need replacing, and the engine wiring continues to be unreliable.  Yesterday I pulled the throttle cable out and have been lubricating it with light oil.  It has loosened up a lot.  Tomorrow I will try refitting it and see if it works OK.  I also cleaned the connectors in the wiring loom between the engine panel and the engine, yet once again.  The engine now starts, the gauges and warning lights all seem OK, but the shut down solenoid still does not work.  I will have another look at this tomorrow as well.
It hasn’t been all work and no play over winter.  I have made a few friends and shared some good times while here.  The highlight of Cordova’s winter season is the Ice Worm Festival held in the first week of February.  The festival is a tradition that was introduced to Cordova back in 1961 and has been a regular event ever since.  For me, the best part of the festival was the survival swim race, where teams of four people have to run down the dock, don survival suits, then jump in the water and swim about fifty meters to a life raft.  There are two awards, one for the fastest time and one for the best artistic display.  The artistic award is judged by the Ice Worm Queen and this year was won by the Ninjas, though the Pirates gave them some stiff competition.  (See photos posted separately.)
The ice worm is reported to be a creature that lives in the ice and its eggs hatch when the ice thaws out sufficiently.  However, I regret to say that due to climate change effects in this part of the world the ice worm may be soon on the endangered species list.  I was rather looking forward to experiencing an Alaskan winter, but, while cold, by Alaskan standards it was pretty mild and there has been very little snow.   I am told that major snow falls have occurred in March and April in previous years, but I am very sceptical that we will see much more snow, if any, for what remains of winter. 
Some NOAA climate change scientist have hypothesised that the reduced Arctic icecap has caused the jet stream to weaken, which has led to a “ridiculously resilient ridge” on the west coast of North America, and a “terribly tenacious trough” on the east coast.  The ridge and trough have in turn led to warmer and colder conditions than usual on their respective sides of the continent.  (BTW, I am not responsible for the technical jargon quoted above – blame the scientists.)  Paradoxically, a consequence of the mild winters is that Cordova’s water supply is at risk.  While it has rained heavily over winter, this apparently just causes turgid rivers and makes the water undrinkable, so it cannot be captured in the reservoirs.  Rather, the reservoirs rely on the spring snow melt, but there is no snow, so the reservoirs are very low.   The lack of water also means that the hydropower station is inoperative, and the town has to rely on diesel generated power instead.   All a bit of a vicious circle really.
On the bright side, the crew of Sylph are in good spirits.  We are looking forward to getting sailing again (or at least I am).  Meanwhile RC is starting to patrol the docks now that the weather is warming up.  I suspect he is not quite as keen to get underway again as the skipper.
All is well.