A Travellerspoint blog

A Salty Day, Indeed

storm 53 °F

It seemed like a good idea at 0640 this morning. The weather forecast looked pretty decent: mostly sunny, single digit winds from the ESE. What's not to like about that forecast? So we cast off our lines and headed out False Creek into the mouth of Vancouver Harbor. There must have been twenty various types of ocean going freighters at anchor. All sorts of national registries, all sorts of colors, all sorts of configurations save oil carriers. Every single one was riding high in the water, waiting for a load of some kind. Timber might be a good guess; also a lot of phosphate and potash come out of Canada.


Getting through the maze of metal behemoths was easy enough; just go around their sterns to avoid any possible encounters with anchor chains. We saw this lighthouse going north. Not so many lighthouses have snow capped mountains on their flanks.

I had been concerned about how far to push north having given up some distance to clear customs in Vancouver. I wanted to get to a place called Pender Harbor which would a great jumping off place for the next legs of the cruise. I wasn't really sure we could make it there, so I had a bailout plan just in case. This boat travels comfortably at 6 knots, with an occasional tenth or so on a good day. So, putt-putt along at 6 knots we did.
A few hours out the wind began to freshen, a bit, coming almost dead over the stern. This can make for some fast sailing since the wind literally pushes the boat. It also makes an uncomfortable ride; you usually get a great deal of side to side motion as well as fore and aft. Having proven we could manage the foresail without an imminent disaster out it went. Pretty cool, we were now making 7 not 6 knots. It seemed like Pender Harbor could be a possibility.


Fast forward another hour or so, and the wind is blowing a steady 15 to 20 knots and we are making 8 knots. Maybe more good fortune than we needed. There was about 50 miles of open water behind us and that is a very large fetch. The waves were building and, for the first time ever I felt unsafe in the cockpit of a boat. Of course, our boat had an enclosure of canvas and glassine; not impossible to go overboard, but it would have taken an unusual set of circumstances for that to happen. This boat did not come equipped with a jack line, tether or safety harness. So, Carol and I bought and brought our own. Prescient. I sent Carol below and attached the tether to a backstay. My hands were hidden because I did not want to show my white knuckles.

Given another hour we were getting getting gusts of 25 - 30 knots. So I reefed the already foresail and we started hitting 9 knots. At one point the wind overpowered the autopilot and we did a dangerous 360o doughnut. I am critical of this boat on several issues, but there is some first class equipment on board, one piece of which is the autopilot. It must be piston driven, and, attached to that hyper responsive rudder, it did a very good job of handling the weather. I don't know that I could have done half so well; machines don't get tired.About five miles out from Pender Harbor we came into the lee of some islands and the water quieted down a bit.

We hit the way point for the entrance to Pender Harbor and I thought that the issue was solved. Not even! We had to pick our way through a gantlet of islands without any navigation markers. Long story short, the trip I thought might take until 1800 was done by 1400. We took on fuel and water and buttoned things up for the night.


Posted by sailziveli 19:10 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats

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