A Travellerspoint blog

Game Over, Going Home

sunny 70 °F

On Tuesday morning we loafed a bit, having breakfast before we got underway. By 0700 we were working the lines and were off the dock. There was plenty of space to maneuver as we backed down the alley between the two docks. The marina had not even opened by that time we left so, there was no one to see us off.

The weather just seemed committed to being nice. The clouds from the previous evening were gone; the barometer had stayed above 31; the temperatures were cool for me, nice for everyone else. High 50’s or low 60’s at night, higher 60’s during the day. And, finally, at last, the forecast was for the weather that should accompany high pressure. Because …

I thought that we needed to do something different. So, all sailors know: change your hat, change your luck. For most of the trip I had been wearing my prized, red “Dock Four” hat, a genuine boating hat. In so doing I had been neglecting my blue “Just Sail” hat, one under which we have transited thousands of sea miles. Time to change.

Did it work? Of course, it did. Hats matter! The new weather warning was for wind 5 to 15 knots increasing to 15 to 25 knots in the evening. It hardly seemed threatening to us as we left the harbor. Within 15 minutes of lines off, we were out of the harbor, lines and fenders stored and sails out. My original thought was to get to Powell River and lay over there before going on to Pender Harbour and then to Nanaimo.

The wind was from the northwest and we were generally going on a southerly heading with the wind over our stern. We started out at a pretty good speed, well over 5 knots. As we cleared some of the islands and headed to a more southerly heading, we were going over 6 knots. Wow! This was starting to be fun.


We haven’t done much downwind sailing. There’s no particular reason for that other than the winds at the times we have sailed. As we headed down the Malaspina Strait the wind was dead over the stern … a true run. So, with nothing better to do we set the sails wing on wing: one sail to the port side and the other to the starboard side. It’s pretty cool to do this, but it is showing off, a little. However, if you can do it, why not. It’s a tricky point of sail to manage, but a very effective one in using the wind efficiently. We did it for well over an hour, at least an hour more than in all the rest of our entire sailing history. I had called sailing close to the wind, heeled well over, violent: the struggle of helm v. wind v. boat. Sailing downwind was quiet, calm, the boat was steady underfoot, moving little; it was almost peaceful, easy to forget that we were underway under sail.

After the novelty of wing on wing wore off, we settled down to a series of broad reaches with jibes when necessary. All through the morning we were flying, occasionally over 7 knots, something we rarely did at all on our boat, and never for a sustained period. By 1130 we had reached the Powell River and we were going to have a choice between a very short day or a new plan. The new plan was to head to Pender Harbour, about another 25 nm ahead, two days of travel in one. The trip from Refuge Cove to Pender Harbour is not one I would have planned even motoring.

This was about as nice a day sailing as I can recall. Every day we have seen poor souls with sails hanging limp, the nylon fabric untroubled by any air movement. They were everywhere and they were going nowhere. Today, in eight hours, we saw exactly five boats under sail; ours was the sixth. Where was everyone when the real party started? (follow on note: one of those boats was a catamaran, the second we have seen this trip. Still no Island Packets.)
The fun continued until about 1430 when the wind dropped from nice double digits to tepid single digits. The last few miles to Pender Harbour were done at a modest four point something knots, good enough for us on most days, but a bit of a letdown from the past hours. We moored at about 1630 in Pender Harbour at a place we had stayed last year. For the day we travelled about 50 miles under sail. A good day. One to store away and to savor at some future time.

49 37.882N
124 02.038W

Having arrived in Pender Harbour a day early we got to rest up before returning to Nanaimo on Thursday. This was a good thing. Wednesday was way windy, maybe too much even for us. If only we had an anemometer that worked; it seemed possible that the forecast 30 knots might have arrived and done so even in the protected harbor. It’s ironic; the roughest day we have had so far was tied to the dock in the harbor. Whatever the wind speed was, the wind came directly over the stern, making the boat pitch fore and aft, loudly slapping the water with every move. It was quieter and steadier under sail the day before. Finally, about dinner time the wind abated somewhat, the boat was steadier, and the treetops were vertical once again.

Thursday’s forecast was for some wind early and diminishing in the afternoon. When the fruit is sweet, squeeze as much juice from as you can. So, we left early in order to capitalize on the promised wind.

We left the dock at 0715. Had sails up by 0730. Started out at 6 knots. Every 30 minutes we lost another knot. At 3 knots I quit and turned on the motor. The sail fast, have fun wind arrived about 1300. But, by that time we were working on our approach to the harbor so it was for naught. Got fuel and were moored by 1530.

49 56.309N
123 56.835W

Now, we’re back in Nanaimo, back at the dock, packing to exit the boat for a hotel before a convoluted Saturday trip back to Charlotte and our mountains.

So, let’s run the numbers:
 The trip – 10, maybe an 11. For me, it surpassed my wildest expectations. We wanted to see the northern waters and we did. Those waters did not disappoint. Absolutely worth the effort. The trip to Princess Louisa Inlet alone made the whole thing worthwhile. I could easily have spent much more time here; so much to explore and worth doing again, but other waters do beckon us.
 Sailing – 6, maybe a 7. A complete surprise. Although our sailing days were not so many, when they arrived, we did very well with whatever the wind offered. Some of the sailing was moderately technical with lots of tacks and jibes. Other times we had long reaches, sailing through the islands from point to point, able to relax and to enjoy the ride, which we did.
 Boat handling – 6 maybe a 7. Again, I surprised myself by doing much better than I expected. This boat seemed, to me, a bit sluggish in reverse. If that is true, it may have been a good thing once I grokked how it moved. I probably did as well or better with this boat than with our boat.
 Anchoring
o Conventional – pass/fail. We passed.
o Stern Tie – incomplete.
 Below deck disciplines – no better than a 4. There were days when I forgot to check the oil and coolant. I never checked the raw water strainer because it was a joke in a stupid location. Electrical panel discipline was below average based on past experience.
 The Boat – at least a 6, maybe a 7. It was a good charter, better than I expected from a Hunter. There were some issues but, it is a boat after all. All boats have issues all the time. We are cruisers, not sailors, and we coped with whatever was served up. Stuff happened, we managed. Never for Ever did sail very well. I would recommend this boat to anyone.
I finally figured out what is so different about this boat from ours. This boat has tons of space for storage in the cabins below decks. Carol would have loved this boat; she could have had 100 pair of shoes on board with room to buy more. It has a real paucity of storage space above decks, in the lazarettes. We could not have carried half the stuff we had on our boat, rodes, anchors, spare parts, tools and such. The boat is very well suited for what we did: two weeks out and back. It would never do for six months out and back.
 Planning & Preparation– the planning was good, at least a 7. In truth, much of the work had been done last year; some new stuff was added to that. All in all, save for my favorite flashlights we had enough of the right stuff, we go all of the stuff onto and into the boat and could find it is a pinch. The extra charts we brought along from the charter company were very helpful. Maybe it was luck, maybe experience. The only thing we did not master was the cross wind at Prideaux Haven.
 Provisions – at least a 6. I only lost a little weight. I never went to bed hungry. I had lots of dark chocolate for dessert. My scotch lasted 14 nights, exactly the right number.


I think that this trip sort of sealed the deal. We are not what once we were. Two weeks on a boat was and is about the right amount of time. The trip was taxing, to some degree, and for all that we did not push any boundaries as had been our wont when cruising on our Ziveli. We have become visitors to a place where once we lived. And, that’s OK. It’s still a great and fun place to visit and we will again.

Next blog entry: in 2020 from someplace much, much closer to the equator.

Posted by sailziveli 16:09 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish

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