A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

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.

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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.

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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 Comments (0)

Refuge Cove

sunny 60 °F

50 07.446N
124 50.376W

We had initially planned for our last place to visit to be Von Donop Marine Park. At dinner last night there was a couple next to us and we started talking about sailing in the area. His suggestion was to consider Refuge Cove, which I did when we returned to the boat. It turns out that this harbor is the best place to position ourselves for the trip south.

So, here we sit. The trip from Gorge Harbour was trying. Except for the first two minutes in the Gorge itself, we had the tide on our bow the whole way; and, at least half that time the tide was flowing through narrower places making the current even more difficult.

I have finally figured out how the tides work here. In this part of the Salish Sea all water exits to or enters from the north. All that is necessary is to ideate how the water at any particular place is responding to that gravitational imperative. Sadly, understanding it does not make the boat go any faster. I have a congenital defect: I did not get the patience gene. Going slow requires patience that I do not have. So, the trip was not so much fun.

We tried to run out the foresail to avail ourselves of a slight wind over the stern. Would have been a good idea if Carol had not fouled both jib sheets by laying fenders over the two lines. Got that worked out and gained maybe a quarter of a knot.

I have been using an app on my phone from the Canadian weather service: North of Nanaimo. It has a marine forecast going out four days. Today there was a warning: winds of 5 to 15 knots. Puh-lease! I do not mean to imply that our northern neighbors are weather weenies but at 15 knots the game just barely starts to get interesting. Maybe it’s a metric thing; a speed of 15 knots is probably about a hundred million millimeters per hour. I can see where that number could be off-putting.

When Carol had inquired about a mooring here, she was told that it was first come, first serve but that there was plenty of room. When we arrived in the cove it seemed pretty full. There was a very large sailboat at the fuel dock, and it looked like little available dock space for us. I must have spent 30 minutes doing doughnuts in the harbor with an occasional figure eight. Fortunately, even the shallow water here is pretty deep. Finally, when the large boat left the fuel dock there was an obvious place for us, so we took it.

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If the trip was tedious, we did see a couple of interesting boats. One had a great, multicolored foresail that just stood out against the dark mountains and islands. We also saw, first time ever, what seemed to be the Canadian version of our Coast Guard.

Of Refuge Cove, there is not too much to say. For us it’s a place to park the boat and a good springboard for the trip south. For others, it is very centrally located in Desolation Sound. A great place to gather supplies and, maybe passengers from the float planes, before heading out to more exciting places.

We first we arrived the place was packed and bustling; the tide turned about 1430 and boats started to clear out leaving the place somewhat forlorn. I cannot imagine what plans they had that allowed for travel with no more than seven hours of daylight. The implication is going north with the current. There are interesting places to go in that direction but a paucity of anchorages.

Carol and I were comparing “notes” over dinner. Some of the notations were:
 The catamaran we saw in Gorge Harbour was the first we have seen underway.
 We have seen no Island Packets, a somewhat high-end sailboat. We think we should have seen a couple.
 Despite our short time here we have seen some of the sailboats several times at different places. Sailing has always been a small community.

I continue to take pictures of these mountains, even after having taken the same pictures of the same mountains. An irresistible impulse, catnip for the camera, I suppose. They stand in such stark relief with little to diminish their majestic rise from the water’s edge. I have many seen many mountains, but I have never seen anything quite like the way these present themselves. Even if the pictures bore others, they continue to fascinate me. We saw these vistas again, and I've probably put them in earlier blog entries. But, I like them, so here:

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These pictures made me think about a song by the Byrd's, Blue Canadian Rockies, on their Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. Great song, great album, as if anyone remembers about vinyl albums anymore.

A coincidence, I’m sure, but …. we’re getting ready to leave and the sun has gone away. A heavy layer of clouds has rolled in despite the barometer still reading a very high 31.3 inHg. I recently read that the Sunshine Coast, the western coast of British Columbia, gets 2,400 hours of sunlight a year. That works out to about 6 hours a day. Allowing over a year equal parts of day and night, that works out to the sun shining 50% or the time or, looked at the other way, not shining 50% of the time. It’s all about the spin.

Carol, as could be expected, just had to go shop at the small general store here. On her return to the boat she was so excited with one of her purchases. Against very long odds, she found a 12-pack of the Pamplemousse (grapefruit) La Croix sparkling water that I drink at the house. She had to convince the manager at Ingle’s to carry it, but it was here for the taking.

Carol was surfing something or another and was excited to see that our blog had been picked up, somehow, under the heading of Canadian travel blogs. Maybe I should demand a raise. Maybe, I should just be quiet.

Posted by sailziveli 17:06 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Gorge Harbour

sunny 60 °F

50 05.983N
125 01.440W

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Leaving Grace Harbour was not a difficult decision. There was little to compel our remaining there. When we were getting things sorted out to get underway, I again saw jellyfish, so many that, had they any substance, they would have made a carpet on which to walk. Carol thinks that these are lion’s mane jellyfish; I’m going with moon jellyfish. The latter seems more likely. They do not have much stinging potency, but you will feel them.

Most of the trip, generally north and west, was unremarkable. The usual currents in the Malaspina Inlet, dodge a few islands, skirt a few rocks, and just motor onward. We saw another boat that had its sails out and the windex was showing action off the beam. So out go the sails, a fair amount of work. We might as well have been hanging laundry from the line. There was not even enough wind to move the mainsail and boom to the lee side. In go the sails, even more work than taking them out.

We headed to Gorge Harbour on west side of Cortes Island. The only thing I noted was that along the way, for a while, we had these mountains to starboard and these mountains to port. A pretty nice corridor for a nonce. Of course, we were probably 50 miles or more from either crest line.

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In the trip’s early days, I had noted many arrowhead shaped figures on the chart plotter. I didn’t know what they were and was not concerned, I only thought them odd. One day, we were in a remote area there was just us and one of the BC ferries. While watching the ferry, the dawn finally arrived, banishing my benighted ignorance: the arrowhead was the ferry’s AIS, Automatic Identification System. This was just getting more widely used when we sold our boat; we had never encountered it before because our chart plotter was ancient and did not incorporate this feature. This is almost better than radar. You can have your navigation information showing and see most of the boat traffic in your area. I suppose as old units get replaced this service will become universal.

Sunday, June 16th was Father’s Day. While cruising through the Baker Passage, not particularly close to anything at all, Sean called from Chicago and we were able to take the call. I like technology; I like the connected world or most of it anyway. Robo calls I hate. It has seemed bizarre that I am here in Canada, in the outback of the country, and my cell phone has several calls every day from numbers not in my contact list. Carol, however, has not had a similar problem.

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A few miles south of Gorge Harbour we saw this distinctive craft. It was about a mile away. It was either a very old boat, close to a century old by design, lovingly restored or, a very new boat custom built to resemble a very old boat and costing multiples more that any similarly sized new boat. All I can say with certainty is that it had AIS which means that its electronics were new.

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The area that we are now could easily be the Gulf or San Juan Islands, more than 100 miles south; or, it could be Maine, several thousand miles east. I have a problem, probably not unique, when viewing islands like these. They seem to form a seamless front, the gaps and passages between not apparent to me at the level of the helm. Gorge Harbour is completely behind the land arms that form it; you cannot see any hint of civilization, just a wall of rocky shoreline and green pine trees. Had I not had a specific lon/lat for a waypoint, I most likely would not have found the entrance. The harbour is named for the eponymous entrance, which is called, no surprise, the Gorge, another one of those narrow, high sided passages in which currents play havoc with light, under powered craft, i.e. a sailboat. This picture shows what we saw approaching the entrance. It's like, : "Where's Waldo?" The entrance is there if you can see it.

The Gorge Harbour Marina and Resort is the only thing here, besides a few private homes and a few derelict boats in the harbour. We first went to the fuel dock first to ensure that we have enough diesel fuel for the return trip to Nanaimo, then moored at the marina. Carol wanted a shower to wash her hair. The reason that could not be done on the boat is red-headed logic, not understandable by a regular guy, me for instance. There is a restaurant here after many nights of eating on the boat; a small store to replace the razor I dropped off the stern in Prideaux Haven and for Carol to find many “necessary” things; places where Carol can walk around and meet people; and a laundry. But, wait, There’s more! Carol said that there is a hot tub by the pool. This has my complete attention. I wonder about the logic of some things, though. We are on the marina dock and can fill our water tanks with however much water they can hold; they have a swimming pool and a hot tub, free to guests, which we are. But a guest shower costs $2 Canadian. Go figure!.

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This is a wonderful, natural harbor. Were it to be in the Bahamas, or some similar place, it would be rated a primo grade hurricane hole. Here, with a keyhole entrance, not so much of a chance.

Joshua Slocum was the first solo-sailor to circumnavigate the globe and he did it in a boat he built himself. I'm just guessing here but I doubt that Joshua stopped in, say, Cape Town to find a marina with a hot tub. Of course, back then Cape Town actually had water, so he could have and he should have. It is almost impossible not to be relieved of burdens and cares, at least for a while, after a good soaking. Carol had her shower, washed her hair so, she is good. Did laundry, which she hates, but does it anyway. We can go home without looking like homeless people.

I have been working on our route south, putting us on the dock in Nanaimo Thursday evening. There are options, but the forecast is for weather to come through, which, may complicate route planning. Fortunately, the wind will have a north component and we are headed south, so the lament about not enough sailing may prove to be false. One of several issues is that there is only one useful harbor onthe east side of Vancouver Island, Comox, and it is more than 50 nm to Nanaimo, doable, but a very hard day for us.

Posted by sailziveli 16:44 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Grace Harbor

sunny 68 °F

We decided to leave Prideaux Haven, having spent two nights there. Freeing the boat from the stern tie was much easier that getting tied in the first place. A quick dinghy trip to the rocky, oyster crusted shore to pull the line through the chain links. Easily and quickly done by pulling the dinghy along the lines. We off loaded to motor from the dinghy, a couple of minutes to raise the anchor and we were underway, having this view from the stern as we headed west.

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Sailing was not an option, the water being glassy and the air being still. It may have taken an hour to get to the mouth of the Malaspina Inlet and we arrived with an ebbing tide on the bow. It was no more than 3 nm to get to the entrance of Grace Harbor, but the passage there was sinuous; many islands and rocks in the inlet. Not difficult, it just required a bit of caution with the current from the tide.

A turn to port and we were heading into the harbor. The harbor itself is like a balloon: a short, narrow entrance into a large open area. We had thought we would have to do our first unassisted stern tie here. We had the lines ready, and our minds prepared. When we got well into the harbor, we saw that only a couple of the dozen boats here were stern tied; the rest were at anchor. So, when in doubt, go with what you know. We put the bow into the wind and dropped the hook in about 25-ft. of water with a low-ish tide. This boat has an unusual, to us anyway, anchor rode: about 100-ft. of chain and 200-ft. of nylon rode. I know how to set the scope with either chain or nylon; I am not sure what the answer is for the two in combination. I, more or less, split the difference. Safe enough, I suppose.

Only after some of the places we have been so far would Grace Harbour rate a yawn. Really, not too much to be said about it. We are at the eastern end and there is open water to the west. Maybe a good sunset, about 2120 this evening; long days now as we approach the summer solstice. We may not be awake that late; we are on geriatric time now. On the plus side, it is rated to have good holding for anchors and is well protected from weather in any direction, of which we expect none.

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I have been surprised, pleasantly, by the cell coverage up here. We are in the boonies and have a good 4G connection. So, the blog gets published.

We have already decided that we will stay only this one night and then we’ll head north to Gorge Harbor and, after that, Von Donop Marine Park.

Posted by sailziveli 12:58 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Prideaux Haven, Laura Cove

sunny 68 °F

50 08.762N, 124 40.044W

Woke up Thursday morning; even groggy I noticed that the boat was pitching fore and aft. That had to mean wind. When I went topside the red and white maple leaf flags were extended nicely.

The Lund harbor is fairly small, not a lot of maneuvering room. Just as we started to move away from the pier, another boat entered the harbor. With the wind, at the time, on our beam it got a little dicey, but no damage was done.

After clearing the harbor to open water, stowing lines and fenders, we ran out the sails. I don’t know what the wind speed was, the anemometer problem again, but it was probably around 10-12 knots with some gusts. Out first point of sail was a close haul. With a modest wind I would not have guessed that this was going to be a “bury the rail” day, but it was. Burying the rail means heeling the boat over so far that the rail, the edge of the deck, is in or almost in the water, in this case more than 35o. Despite having done this many times, I was struck by how violent this can be. It is a physical struggle to hold the boat on the correct angle to the wind without going inside that line and losing speed. The boat heels over, tries to head up, and when a gust comes, it seems to want to break away in a new direction. It is fun for a while and seems to me to be the sailing experience distilled to its very essence. Having had that thrill, I decided that I had had enough; we adjusted the traveler, got the boat under better control and went on our way.

We were headed to Prideaux Haven, part of the Desolation Sound Marine Park. In straight line distance from Lund, maybe 8 miles. On the water, dodging islands and obstructions, no more that 20 miles. The wind was sailable for most of the trip with long reaches of several miles each. Finally, when our speed dropped below 2 knots the sails came in and the motor started. There are some die hard sailors here; many boats just kept trying to make headway under sail and were barely able to keep their sails filled.

We covered the last 3 miles quickly and arrived at the entrance to Prideaux Haven, a small cove. The entrance is very narrow but easy enough with these modern chart plotters. There were 4 boats already anchored there, but the was plenty of room for another. I drove around a bit to study the bottom, picked a place and told Carol to drop the anchor. I decided that I didn’t like that place and had Carol recover the anchor. In doing so, Carol figured out how to simultaneously blow the circuit breaker for the anchor windlass and, somehow, to get the chain out of the gypsy, jamming the anchor. It was rock solid.

This problem required me at the bow and Carol cannot maneuver a boat well in these close spaces. So, back out of the cove to deep water. I found the Lewmar circuit breaker; we had the same one on our boat so after a second of thought, resetting it came back to me. Then, get a winch handle to the windlass to loosen the gypsy; I did that and dropped maybe 40 feet of chain and anchor before re-tightening it. I recovered all the chain, but the anchor wouldn’t align; so, I hung over the bow with a boat hook to pull the 45-lb. Rocna into place.

And that was the high point of this edition of Anchoring Follies. It got worse. Generic anchoring is simple; point the bow into the wind and drop the hook. There was a good breeze though the cove and it was directly on our port beam. Sometimes the anchor would not set, an exercise in ups and downs; other times when it did set, the wind absolutely pushed the boat sideways, making it impossible to bring the stern into position for tying. And, we hadn’t even got to the point of bringing the dinghy into play. My plan was we that had eight more hours of daylight, and even if by accident we would get set.

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Finally, two guys took pity in us and motored over in their dinghy and offered to help. Between the three of us we got an inelegant, but workable, solution. Was it successful? The boat was in the same place the next morning as it had been the previous evening. So, yes. Lesson learned; stern tied anchoring is no different from regular anchoring save for the line on the stern. The wind will have its way, sailor!

The past two evenings have been very pleasant and warm enough that we have had dinner in the cockpit. This evening, Friday, we watched a boat pull in and set about anchoring. We thought that this might be a good opportunity to “go to school.” So, we watched and waited until the food was almost cold, had dinner, cleared the dishes, had a bit of chocolate for dessert and they still were not completely done.

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I had read that many anchorages have rings set into the rocks. That was, more or less, the case here. Except there was simply a chain and you thread the stern line through the links. The problem, at least for our instance, is that the line is so large relative to the hook that it does not easily balance in length. Had I known this, I would have brought a very large shackle, attached it to the chain and run the line through that; lot of free room to keep the lines equal in length.

It’s pretty here, but different from the awesomeness of Princess Louisa Inlet. The shore is line with trees, my guess is that they are spruce. There is no shoreline or beach, just rocks; the branches of the trees overhang the water. These islands are low, 100 – 200 feet high.

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On Friday morning, day seven of the trip, the sky was cloudy. The clouds were thin, occasionally the sun would break through a hole, to disappear again as the clouds scudded by. The barometer is still above 30 inHg, fair weather, so maybe the clouds will pass.

By noon, the clouds had broken, and the sun was shining, warming everything nicely. This seemed the right time for a dinghy put-put about, so we did. The motor is stored on board with a very nice davit arrangement. The harness that holds the motor is a real problem. The motor should approximately vertical when being winched up and down. With this harness, 45o is pretty much the deal. That can be worked around. My fear is that the harness will give way and we will deep six the motor.

We tried to motor to Melanie Cove. The tide was low, and our first attempt put is in water too shallow to transit. So, we found a deeper passage and made over there. Big Surprise! Every boat there was swinging on a standard anchor; not a single stern tie in a couple of dozen boats. No regrets; we are wiser for our experience.

Most of yesterday at anchor and today were low intensity, a whole lot of doing not very much. Naps were taken; books were read; food and noshing when the mood struck. A restful time, probably necessary.

Now that we are in Desolation Sound, the distances between places will not be very great; a couple of hours will take care of most trips. I suppose in the next few days I will start planning on how to get the boat back to Nanaimo by Thursday night. Today, not a concern.

Carol is deciding where we will go tomorrow. Wherever it may be, we will be rested for the journey.

Posted by sailziveli 09:03 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Lund

overcast 78 °F

There is not a whole lot of Egmont; so, suffice it to say that we were there, got fuel and water, and left the next day. That is not to say that the area isn’t beautiful. It just suffers in comparison to its neighbors.

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We both slept a little later than the past few nights and were up a 0630. Our habit is to get underway, NOW, breakfast and other things to be done on the water. The usual boat pulling along the dock to get away from an obstruction safely and we were off at 0700.

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BC Ferries are ubiquitous here, each plying a single route, many between tiny places and even tinier places. Carol thought that a picture was important; here it is.

It is the nature of cruising that there are two places: where you are and wanted to be but no longer to; and, where you want to be next. In between are transits and passages, almost always tedious and tiring. In fact, they were the root reason that we sold the boat; I just decided that I could not do the 24, 48, 72 and 96 hour stretches required to go where we wanted. Today was no different. An eight-hour slog through tidal currents on the bow, slow going, not very interesting.

Keeping a sailboat in peak condition is hard; doing it for a charter seems to be even harder. We had another problem we identified. It has been difficult to recover the furling main the few times that we have used it. That just seemed to us to be idiosyncratic. On the trip back to Egmont Carol noticed that the base, at right-angle of the sail, was flapping about. This is seriously not supposed to happen. There is a loop at the base of a furling mainsail that goes over an inverted hook, hard to explain, but they all work that way. The loop had come off the sail and I pulled it part of it from inside the mast. I called the charter company to let them know that they would need a sail maker for the repair. Carol and I can work around this without too much trouble, we think. If we lose ½-knot when under sail, we’ll never notice.

I had wanted to stay in a harbor called Lund, a small community with an old hotel and restaurant that I thought Carol might enjoy. When we called in the morning there was no room at the inn. This led to one of the more interesting exercises. If we couldn’t stay in Lund, we needed some place to park the boat for the night. Michael, at the charter company had loaded us up with paper charts, which I thought would be useless. I dug one out and found the Copeland Islands Marine Park, a place that had never come up in all my research of the area. Underway, I went on Google Earth and got the exact lon/lat of the anchorage. While I was doing this Microsoft was updating my windows program. A connected world.

Eight hours later, as we approached Lund, we called again and there was room, so we are moored there. Ironically, Carol decided against eating out. Should have gone to the Copeland Islands.

Boat handling can occasionally be challenging, Since the beginning of time boats with pointy ends have had two sides. Different languages, different times, one concept, two sides. In today’s parlance: port and starboard. This has led to some confusion aboard this boat, so we have come up with a novel solution: four sides. We have retained the old, reliable standards of port and starboard. In order to clarify we have added the “other port” and the “other starboard.” Our boat handling communication has improved about 100%. Now, there is no confusion.

The weather has been not as expected: way too nice. I have been shirtless on several occasions, and I am in CANADA, the great white North. This does not compute. Nice weather, no wind. In fact, we seem to have entered a wind-free zone. Another day of glassy water. The barometer has dropped a bit, but the pressure is still high. Last night some “mare’s tail” clouds came through; these are usually a precursor of something on the way. But today broke fairly clear. I’m not sure that the diesel heater works so I have no complaints.

We have not decided where to go tomorrow; wherever that might be, almost certainly we will be off the grid. We’re both a little tired so we may gunk-hole for a day or more to rest up.

Posted by sailziveli 17:03 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Princess Louisa Inlet, 2

sunny 78 °F

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Some stuff I neglected to put into the original, just tired, I guess. So, early in the morning our area of the inlet was in the shade. When we looked over the side, we saw jelly fish, by the hundreds which must mean that the were in the inlet by the millions. It may be that they only come near the surface in dim light. The largest was about 6-7 in. in diameter. These were not expected. During that same time, we saw a pair of something, seals or marine otters, hunting well away from us. I wonder if these jelly fish were on the menu.

The reason we were in the shade was because the sun had yet to get high enough to get over the mountains. This sunrise was pretty nice to see.

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Seaplanes are the UBER of these parts. When we went to the dock there was a section reserved for sea planes. While enjoying the scenery we saw this plan arrive at the dock and, later, take off.

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As to the great fuel disaster: running out of fuel is the sole responsibility of the captain, moi. So, when we got to Egmont, I was curious how close to the edge we had come. Skipping the metric conversion stuff, the tank holds 30 gallons; we put in 15.5 gallons. The denouement: the needle was on empty; the tank was half full. Fuel gauges on boats are notoriously inaccurate. The problem is, unless you know the boat you don’t know which way the gauge is off: showing too much or showing too little. I will do what cruisers do; I will build a fuel and motor hours program and calculate max/min fuel estimates. I never thought to have to do this on a charter boat.

Posted by sailziveli 15:40 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Princess Louisa Inlet

sunny 78 °F

Nanaimo Marina: 49 11.314 N 123 56.834 W
Pender Harbour: 49 37.914 N 124 01.616 W
Princess Louisa Inlet: 50 12.064 N 123 46.027 W
Egmont: 49 56.451 N 123 56.344 W

As Olaf said to Bjorn, we’re all Norwegian now! Carol had read that the Princess Louisa Inlet is only true fjord in North America. If true, it was done once and it was done exactly right, end of discussion. If Norway has anything better to offer, that’s where I want my ashes sent.

The trip here was interesting if for nothing other than the place names:

  • Agamemnon Reach, brother to Menelaus, married to Helen who was abducted by Paris. Pretty much the entire Iliad.
  • Exiting the Agamemnon, we passed through Jervis inlet to enter the Prince of Wales Reach.
  • About 2/3’s of the way there the Prince of Wales Reach became the Royal Princess Reach.
  • Finally, at the end of the Royal Princess Reach, a left-hand turn took the us onto Queen’s Reach which brought us to the entrance to Princess Louisa Inlet.
  • Princess Louisa Inlet.
  • The sole discordant note of the place names: Malibu Rapids. It sounds like a skateboard park for teenagers.

We both awoke early, about, 530. Having a long trip in front of us and nothing better to do, we were underway at 0610. The dock master had put us on a long dock, bow in with little room to maneuver. The solution was simple: walk the boat back to the end of the dock, i.e. me on the dock holding two mooring lines and Carol on the helm. At the end of the dock, I jumped onto the boat and we were in a position to make some moves in reverse, getting the bow properly oriented to exit Pender Harbour.

By 0650 we were in the Agamemnon channel; by 0840 we had entered the Prince of Wales reach. The data showed that we should have fighting an ebbing tide, e.g. the water was moving in the opposite direction of our route of travel. I expected to make about 5.0 knots against the current; we averaged about 6.5 knots which put us several hours ahead of schedule foe the right tide at Malibu Rapids.

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At about 1030 I felt something familiar but could not quite identify it. Then it hit me: a breeze, not to be confused with actual wind, but air movement none the less. We were making great time, too good in fact, so sailing seemed like a good way to delay our arrival time. Well, that lasted about 30 minutes before the sails were safely returned to their furled storage positions. On our boat I estimated that we needed at least 7 knots to move the boat; on this bigger and heavier vessel it probably requires about 10 knots. For the two days that we have been underway the surface of the water has not been disturbed by any air movement.

Every part of the 360o view along the several reaches was simply majestic. The problem was that I was tethered to the console, looking down or across the bow to try to rationalize the chart plotter to the actual landscape. There was little of stopping to smell the flowers.

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Along the way we checked out designated anchoring spots, of which there are few; this was mostly for me to get close to the shoreline so that I could better understand what bottom contours should look like. It’s beginning to make some sense to me but we’re still in the book learning phase; we have not yet started our practical application of the book learning.

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Were on station to enter Malibu Rapids by about 1420, which my tide tables said was the maximum flow. We nosed toward the channel to check out the current and to get a look at what the charts indicated was some complicated geography. When we got close, I didn’t even have to move the helm; the current was so strong that it pushed the bow aside in the direction we wanted to go.

I had researched the tides for Malibu Rapids on the internet and we carried those tables with us on the boat. Along the route to the rapids the chart plotter showed a tide station. So, I checked that out too. The tide station put low tide at 1648; my tables had the tide turning from ebbing to flooding at 1813. What to believe? (after note: the only explanation that fits: the tide stations were reporting standard time not Daylight Savings Time. Throw in the extra hour and everything works.)

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We put the boat in the middle of the Queens Reach, shut off the motor and waited a couple of hours. At about 1700 we cranked everything up to check out that data point. The good news was that the tide was ebbing so we could see what was going on at the exit point. We have some experience of reading currents. When fast water meets slower or still water the surface gets very choppy. The 1648 estimate was wrong. So, assuming that the 1813 was when the water would start flowing the other way, it seemed that there would be a short period of slack water, no current. We came back to the rapids entrance at 1740. If the current was not dead still, it was attenuated, so in we went on a boating slalom course. Fortunately for us, the tricky bit was less than ½-mile.

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The farmer was wrong; you really can get here from there. It took maybe 30-minutes to get the end of the fjord. Nice surprise! There are several mooring balls here, many of which we empty. So, we moored, and Carol’s comment was that we could sleep well without worrying anchors holding. There is no fee for using these mooring balls; the only restriction is an honor system limiting the stay to 72-hours. This may not be the end of the civilized world but there cannot be much happening to the east of us until Calgary.

There are three larger boats on mooring balls; maybe ten smaller boats tied to a pier. Since we were moving on a Sunday, I expected to see a lot of boat traffic heading the other way. Not so.

Life on the boat is going well, so far. I continue to try to concuss myself by bashing my head against solid parts of the boat; no sense has been knocked in yet. Carol has found spaces and places to store her treasures and our food. I don’t know if it is possible to actually settle in on a charter boat as opposed to an owner’s boat. But we are fairly comfortable and somewhat organized.

Another role bifurcation: on the boat I do most of the top side stuff; Carol does most of the below deck stuff.

I was listening the weather report on the VHF radio, no hearing aids in. I was having a very hard time; the sound volume was there but I could not understand the words. Bingo! The weather is given in both English and French and I had tuned in to the French portion.

I had thought that the running rigging for the furling main would be the same as what we had on our boat. Mostly true. There is some sort of a looped line for taking the main in and out. Not complicated, just different, and there is no apparent benefit from that difference that I can see.

So, here we are, trapped in paradise. When asked where we live, I usually make mention of the mountains. In truth, part of the height comes from the Appalachian Mountain being on a plateau. Here, I think that we would be laughed at. These mountains rise 5,000 feet from the water’s edge. It is a literal statement that we are moored in the shadow of a snow-covered mountain. It would be an interesting compare and contrast exercise; the Bahamas and this fjord, two incredibly beautiful places that share little of what makes each of them so beautiful; maybe it’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

As Texas Slim once said: this is not my first rodeo. To wit, I turned on the computer this morning and the battery level was 50%, seemingly not possible because I always have plugged in when I use it. Our phones and Kindles also didn’t charge overnight. My first thought was that I might not have seated the plug into the socket properly. Different combinations of adaptors, cords and devices. No power from the single DC outlet. Joshua Slocum did pretty well without all of this stuff; I could but chose not to do so.

Out came the screwdriver; in a minute or two I had opened the electrical panel, which is more complicated than ours was. It wasn’t too difficult to locate the two wires going to the socket. One of those wires had an inline fuse in a moisture proof holder. Opened it up, voila, mystery solved. The fuse’s filament was burned out with no replacements on board. Carol, being Carol, hailed a passing dinghy from a very big boat, Single Malt. The two guys in the dinghy took me to their boat, rummaged around a bit, and gave me two replacement fuses, and then took me back to our boat. It only took a couple of minutes to re-open the panel and to put the new fuse into the holder. All is now good, maybe at least for a while.

Carol and I loaded the dinghy with its motor and went for a walk about on the maintained trails. It was almost impossible to take a picture due to the pervasive mist in the air. This boat and ours both have/had 8 Hp motors weighing about 80-lbs, or so. It was not a big deal. We had visited the Olympic peninsula in Washington last trip. Blind-folded and turned loose I could not have told the difference between the two.

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The weather, so far, has been wonderful, if not sunny. The barometer is reading 31.5 inHg, a high pressure that usually means clear skies and cooler weather. We have been very comfortable and appreciate what we have been given.

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Things were so nice that Carol wanted dinner in the cockpit; it was a good dinner, Carol having put some effort into it. On the mainland, the food would probably been called pedestrian at best. In this tableau, who cares about the food; the view, hard to absorb that we were sitting there with this as the background motif for a meal. I have done more things and been in more places than most people. With my experience there is always the possibility of becoming jaded: been there, done that. I hope that I will always be able recognize and to appreciate the gifts being served to we two.

Teddy Roosevelt created the National Park Service about a century ago. I am not a big fan of big government. However, preserving the pristine beauty of these places for all that can reach them seems to me important. I would go to the barricades to prevent them from being sold to the highest bidder.

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The falls are called Chatterbox Falls, the name’s etymology nowhere mentioned and probably forgotten. One way to describe the falls is that there may be a dozen smaller falls on the mountain face, that come together as one. Each white trace on the rock face is an individual stream. All told there may have been 20 separate streams around the inlet.

The trip back from the inlet was almost a disaster. New boat, to us anyways, so fuel consumption and the vagaries of the fuel gauge were not known to us. The gauge seemed to go from 1/2 to 1/4 in about 15 minutes. It didn't stay there very long seeming to be in a hurry to get to 1/8. So there we sat, waiting for the right tide to get through Malibu Rapids and not enough fuel to make it to the nearest fuel dock. By the way, no VHF and no cell signal. We were majorly f_______d! As the saying goes: God watches out for idiots and small children. When things were looking really bad a miracle occurred: a glimmer of a breeze. Off went the motor and out went the sails. It was slow going at first, maybe 3 knots or so, and we had to keep tacking from one side of the reach to the other. Out tacks started off embarrassingly bad; we dropped almost all of our speed until we got the sails re-trimmed and the new course corrected. We got a little better at tacking and the breeze got a little brisker. All of a sudden we were running 4.5 to 6.5 knots, almost motor cruising speed. A very dark day turned out to be a wonderful experience: sailing and having fun doing it.

It is ironic to me that the two best pure sailing events we have had, this one included, were when we were out of all other options save sailing. The other event was in the Bahamas at Devil's Cay.

We made the marina in Egmont with plenty of daylight and moored there. Tomorrow, Wednesday, we are heading north for Desolation Sound. We will have to be smarted about fuel usage but the best miles per gallon will be under sail.

Posted by sailziveli 18:59 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

A Boat Is not a Bicycle

sunny 60 °F

And, of course, it does not all come back to as soon as you jump aboard. However, I did avoid most of the obvious screw ups. We last moored our boat in September of 2013. Of the roughly 70 intervening months we have only 1 month on the water.

Carol awoke at 0500 and I was up by 0600. By 0700 we decided that we were ready to get underway, so we did. The boat was moored stern in, port side to, and there was a brisk breeze pushing the boat against the dock. Not the best circumstance but, we were early enough that there were not any spectators in the peanut gallery to heap obloquy on my never great and now much-attenuated boat handling skills. In the event, it went very well; larger boat, narrow fairway, no damage done, nothing to embarrass me. I'm a guy; performance matters; a solid 5 out of 10 and better than I expected.

About 30 minutes out the entire engine alarm system exploded with shrieking beeps and flashing red lights. Hay una grande problema! I shut down the engine immediately and had visions of the trip going down the tube and us being towed back to the marina. I checked the obvious stuff by tearing open the engine hatch: oil, OK; coolant, OK; v-belt, OK; raw water, OK. No obvious causes, which could be good, maybe a bubble in the raw water supply; maybe bad, a heat exchanger problem.

So, we re-started the engine and let it run at low RPM’s for a bit. After a while we got underway again without a repeat. Probably some transient issue.

Once we cleared into open water, we made pretty good time, averaging about 6.0 knots, maybe 6.7 mph. Good on a sailboat. This boat has a much bigger Yanmar engine that did ours; its physical mass is at least 50% larger and the write up says that the motor has 7-hp. For all of that, we did no better that we would have done in our boat which, I suspect, was much lighter.

Tried to sail a while in the morning; zip for wind, well under 5 knots, I estimate, because the anemometer does not work. Negative speed for wind is a difficult concept to grasp. The breeze, not wind, freshened a bit in the afternoon bit was still well under 10 knots, enough to help with motor but not enough to drive the boat unaided.

This boat has a brand new, as in just installed, Raymarine chart plotter; it has never been used. After having figured out how to enter way points into the system, yesterday, today I had to figure out how to access and use those way points. By 0930, after 2.5 hours of frustration, reading and re-reading the manual, I had the chart plotter configured exactly to my liking. I suppose it seems inflexible to be doing today what I first learned to do 10 years ago. However, on an unfamiliar boat in unfamiliar waters there is much to be said for going with what you know rather than adding another variable to the mix. Or, just maybe, I nailed it 10 years ago.

At about 1030 the boating gods intervened. We had planned to stay in Eggmont, a good starting point for traveling to Princess Louisa Falls. They were having some sort of Eggmont festival and there was no room at the inn. And, there are no particularly good anchorages in the vicinity. So, the best we could do was to stop at Pender Harbour, where we stayed a couple of days last year. This is not a real problem, but it does add about 1.5 hours to an already long day’s travel. And there is a target to hit: slack water is at 1813, a little after 6:00 pm. There may be a grace period of slack-ish water before the narrows become impassible to our vessel. Regardless, a tough day ahead even with an early start.

It felt good to be on the water again. There seems to be something satisfying for me, even below the visceral level, of standing at the helm of a sailboat and pointing the bow to open water. I have always had a passion for the sea since the days of my earliest childhood. I remember little about being young; I remember much about what I read, Moby Dick, Two Years Before the Mast, Treasure Island, Captains Courageous, and I remember some of my earliest experiences with the ocean. I know that my water days will pass; that just makes these few moments a little bit more deeply appreciated.

So, off tomorrow, out of Pender Harbour, through the Agamemnon channel and on to the Princess Louisa Passage, we hope.

Why do I use way points? This picture is what we saw as we approached the Agamennon Channel. The entrance is there, if you know to look behind one the islands. With way points it does not matter what you can see; it's all about what the GPS can tell you.
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Posted by sailziveli 16:08 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Game On!

sunny 62 °F

The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes
but in having new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Quote supplied from the Captain’s logbook, a gift from Connie & Stan.

The weather here shares a common characteristic with our mountains: wait a minute and it will change. Clouds pile into each other, massing, darkening, dispensing a few raindrops and then are vanquished by brilliant sunshine. The locals here seem to accept this with perfect equanimity. It’s 50o, rainy and windy but they’re wearing shorts because in two hours it will be nice for precisely two minutes.

A natural bifurcation seems to have evolved between us; she is responsible for the trip details from door to dock. I own the details for what happens after we leave the dock. My half was a little bit easier this year than last. We ordered chart kits from the Royal Hydrologic Office last year. To my surprise there were no way points on any of the charts, way points being a specific location, longitude and latitude, in clear, safe water. I am sure many have traveled without these, Capt. Cook on the Endeavour comes to mind, but we have come to use and to rely on them, if for nothing else than to make route planning easier. So, the solution was to make our own based on the premise that most of the water here us way deep so, if you stay in open areas or comfortably between the sides of channels, no hay problema! Turns out Google Earth is exactly the right resource to do this, so we did. Having done all that for the last trip we added only a few more this year based on what we learned last year. Ergo, my job was mostly done.

Shopping is exclusively Carol’s purview, made more difficult this year by my new dietary regime. However, since this is not gin & tonic territory, scotch will be the Never for Ever’s portion of grog. That, I pick, so I did. I was shocked by the prices even factoring in that 25% currency exchange differential. There are no cheap drunks in Canada it seems.

Carol and I can sail well enough but neither of us has the “wind gene,” that natural sense of the interplay between wind and sail and how to harness those two elements together to sail fast. In farm terms we are draft horses not racehorses.

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On the last two boats we chartered the two critical pieces of wind data were kaput: on both, the windex, on the top of the mast, was loose; on both the Raymarine electronic wind instrument did not work. We can, and did, sail without either of those two devices; we would have sailed better with them.

Wednesday and Thursday nights, we both slept hard. On Friday morning a nice young lady picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the marina for orientation and such. While Michael and I are walking down the dock I am into my thing about windexes and he is telling me no problem. We arrive at the boat and, sure enough, it’s flopping in the wind. Someone went up the mast to tighten it, so we are good.

We paid a couple of bucks extra to be able to board the boat on Friday and get all the scut work out of the way, a very good plan. The charter company also has a courtesy car, which Carol is using to get provisions.

This is a very, very nice boat. It is well equipped and well appointed. I will not be able to throw off on the Hunter brand anymore. The back cabin, where we will sleep, goes across the entire width of the boat; ours was truncated by a lazarette. This is a great size and comfortable for two people, well beyond two weeks.

We made a conscious effort to bring less stuff this year. Last year we mailed a package ahead and still brought a suitcase each and another for various non-clothing items. This year we dispensed with the mailed package and went with three suitcases. We are using the fore cabin for storage yet, somehow, it seems like getting 5-lbs. into a 3-lb. bag.

The indispensable criterion was a diesel heater which this boat has. Despite being in the mountains this place is quite a bit cooler, at least so far. In the 60’s if the sun is out, and comfortable if the wind is not blowing. We’ll try it out this evening.

The disappointments so far:

  • I brought two very good Streamlight flashlights which, of course, I didn’t check at the house because they worked just fine last year. This year, not even. I have the vague feeling that I am missing something that, if recalled, will solve the problem. So far, not recalled.
  • A bigger boat, a nice boat and only one 12v outlet. We have a 1 -> 5 adapter so we’ll be ok, but it’s not convenient.
  • I lost a shoe. It was old and beat up but, 5-year old children lose shoes, not adult men. I’m pretty sure I know what happened and where; it was easily replaced.

While Carol was out shopping, I was laboring away at getting waypoints into the chart plotter. This one is brand new and the ugly, tedious job went as quickly as could be expected. Out of maybe 60 waypoints I only had to correct 2. Better than my usual average.

So, we have a tentative program, not a plan lest the boating gods are angered. Cross over to Eggmont on Saturday, roughly 45 nm. Then, on Sunday, head to Princess Louise Falls, another 45 nm. These falls are supposed to be the main attraction in this area. There is a tricky bit getting there. Just at the entrance to the area there is a narrows which can only be traversed safely at about slack water. The upshot: specific arrival and departure times. We'll stay there a bit and then head north to Desolation Sound, maybe for the duration. There are lots of places to explore there.

I did talk to Michael, experienced in these wasters, about stern tie anchoring. He had some insights that may make things a little bit easier.

The barometer is over 30.00 inHg, so nice weather for next couple of days at least. We both worked pretty hard today, Carol more than me. We're starting out a bit behind the full energy curve, but no one ever said that having fun is supposed to be easy. We’ll try to use the nice weather and be underway very early on Saturday.

Posted by sailziveli 17:19 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

Preflight 2019

sunny 55 °F

Yogi Berra was exactly right: sometimes it is just like déjà vu all over again. Last year we sailed on the Salish Sea; ditto that for 2019.

Boating seems to require the acceptance of failure as a precondition for any success. Parts fail, systems fail, judgement fails, but most of all plans fail. The boating gods are a petulant lot, much given to inflicting mischief on those who dare to set forth on their hallowed waters.

To wit … last year we started at Bellingham, WA. Seemed like a good idea at the time. But the numbers were against us. The first day was basically shot with boat loading, boat familiarity and related activities. We only made it to the mouth of Bellingham Bay, a few miles from the marina. Then it took two days to get to the city of Vancouver to clear customs and “enter” Canada. Then it took a hard day north to get to where we wanted to be at which point, we hunkered down for a couple of days with a gale warning, which, of course, never arrived. That was the northern terminus of our trip; we stopped where we wanted to have started, spent a couple of days there accomplishing not very much and then headed south in order to return the boat as scheduled.

So, this year my bright idea was to skip the useless part of the trip and to start well north of Bellingham. Turns out that the farthest north we got last year was Nanaimo, on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, the second largest city there. When we passed through there on our first trip, we saw about a mile of marinas chocked full of every manner of boat including sailboats.

Not so surprising, some of those boats can be chartered, and paid for in Canadian dollars, a bargain at 75¢ USD. And, the good part is that this is exactly the right jumping off place to sail to the northern regions. In fact, there is not too much north of Nanaimo on either side of the water except empty places, just the places we have wanted to go.

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The boat that we have chartered this year is a Hunter 38-ft. We were visiting boat friends that live south of Asheville and told them of our selection and it got a rousing: gag & yuck! Hunter boats are the reputational equivalent of the 1980’s Yugo car. Serious water people do not want one and, in fact, we have seen only a handful in our six years of cruising. But, for two weeks, I guess that we can live with it without loving it.

Boat names are interesting things. The name selected usually has some particular resonance for the namers, and is usually the result of a process that would have children with names such as Tweeven Dialop Smith. This boat is the Never for Ever, and surely has a story behind it.

At 38-ft. this will be, to date, the largest boat we will have handled. Ours was 36-ft. and our first two charters were 30-ft. and 34-ft., both too small. The smaller boat handled well when we engaged topside, but the sleeping and storage accommodations were just too tight. This boat has the exact same physical layout as did ours and the exact same rigging configuration as did ours. Plus, it also has a cockpit enclosure, something that we added to our boat and much enjoyed.

So, lots of stuff the same, save for one thing: anchoring, which has nothing to do with the boat or its configuration. I have been formatting our blog into a book format to publish next year. As I have read through most of the entries for the first four years there is one constant: issues and problems with anchors, their deployment and their holding power. For all of those problems there was, at least, a learning curve, increased competency and confidence, better at the end than at the beginning.

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Now, we get to take all those years of learning and to chuck them overboard, port or starboard. That learning will not apply because the bottoms to which we had anchored were, basically, flat and shallow, rarely more that 25-ft. of water. The empty places we plan to visit have deep water, hundreds of feet and the only place to anchor is near the shore where the bottoms slope steeply up to the shoreline. The problem is that the anchor will hold as long as the tension on the rode is pulling it uphill, toward the shore which will not happen because of wind and currents. The solution is pretty simple on paper: tie a line from the stern to some object on shore that will keep the stern of the boat from moving very far from perpendicular to the shoreline.

As a captain I have studied this technique, ideated it, imagined it, analyzed it but never have done it. The choreography is complex, and the sequence of steps certainly matters. Set the anchor, get the dinghy ready, secure the motor, have one person on the boat hold the line while the other motors to shore without fouling the line in the OB motor or the boat’s propeller, secure the dinghy, secure both ends of the line, get back to the boat, re-secure the dinghy, have a very stiff drink, then worry like hell. It’s a fairly safe bet that I will be the dinghy guy and Carol will be holding the spool of line on the boat. Likely outcome: we’ll get killed or try to kill each other. But, like most dreaded things, it will probably work out once our energy is redirected from worry to work. Grappling with these issues usually causes them to diminish.

We arrived in Nanaimo on Wednesday, getting through the door of the room exactly 17 hours after having closed a similar door in Charlotte. The trip was brutal involving multiple planes, buses, boats and automobiles. Too much stuff to schlepp, too much time spent schlepping it, too many thousands of people ahead of us clearing customs in Vancouver. The phrase that best appertains to the hotel at which we are staying is: faded glory. Its saving grace is being across the street from the marina.

The newest cruising wrinkle this year is trying to do so while keeping me on a gluten free diet. Probably doable, probably not enjoyable in the doing. I expect that I will have shed all of my excess pounds by the time we return.

We are both a little beat up, Carol, more so, since she has been struggling with an issue that started before we left the house. We board the boat Friday and will have a walk through and orientation that same day.

Hopefully a couple of restful nights of sleep will have us both a bit more perky by Saturday morning.

Posted by sailziveli 09:03 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sea canada cruising sailboats salish Comments (0)

An Easy Day

sunny 68 °F

Monday, June 11, 2018

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Woke up early with plenty of time for a not so rushed morning. We did not have a stopping place in mind. There were several places we could stay, the farthest not but about 30 nm, maybe less. This lack of destination is quite uncharacteristic of us on a boat or any other time: Focus! Plan! Execute!

As we were working with lines to get going this Canadian Goose approached the boat. I think that it was actually begging, folks probably having given it food before. Regardless, the bird was not put off by humans or their activities.

The boat was moored in an awkward place; easy to get into, not a lot of easy options getting out. As mentioned previously, this boat has a sail drive propulsion system, something generally found on catamarans, not so often on mono-hulls. For some reason, which I don't understand, in reverse it backs up perfectly straight. Regular drives, as we had on our boat, pull to port or starboard depending on the direction the propeller turns. So, I decided to try something that I had heard could be done, but had never tried: I put the boat in reverse, walked around to the other side of the binnacle, steering from there. From that side the helm responded exactly as it does from the rear side going forward. This is kind of "inside boating" stuff but it was really cool, after years of looking like an idiot on our boat.

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We had a tricky passage about an hour into the day. To get to it we passed through the Northumberland Channel on our way to Dodd Narrows. In family terms, the city of Victoria is the beautiful daughter; Nanaimo is the less attractive one that works very hard, an overachiever. It is a commercial place. Along the channel we saw some of that commerce in action.

No surprise here, logs, lots of logs.

Next to that was this operation. It's a silly picture for a blog but what struck me is that the vessel being loaded is one that we saw going into Vancouver, one of many that was laying at anchor. From Vancouver to here is no more that a couple of hours for this type of vessel. I have no idea what the pile of brown-ish stuff is, but it must have some value, somewhere because a load was heading out soon, most likely to China by the boat's name and home port.

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At the end of the Northumberland Channel is a spot called Dodd Narrows which must be transited to go south inside the Gulf Islands. There is a lot of water on both side of this real estate and it must follow the passage of the moon, it being difficult to repeal the law of gravity. The upshot is that the current there, passing through the narrow place can generate very powerful currents, currents that exceed the ability of this boat's engine to manage, i.e. 7 -10 knots. The trick is to go through at slack water, the few minutes between rising and falling tides, which today was exactly 0900. We were there with plenty of time to spare, saw a sailboat coming through at about 0830 so decided we could do it too, which we did. Carol did the required sécurité, sécurité, sécurité to notify other boats that we were entering the Narrows. Actually, it was mostly a non-event. It was no more than a quarter mile long.

What we did get to see was this on the other side: a tug with a raft of logs in tow also heading for the Narrows. It was being helped by a smaller tug that was working on the sides and back of the raft to keep some shape to the bunch. Best guess is that the raft of logs was at least as wide as the Narrows. It's also a safe bet that these guys know how to make it all work. During the safety meeting at San Juan Sailing, a frequent hazard to navigation that they mentioned was floating logs. Now we know why.

That was pretty much the excitement for the day. Heading south and east this was what we saw after the Dodd Narrows. In many ways this could have been what we saw last year in Maine; the same piney woods, mostly low islands, with the tops of the trees not reaching 100-ft.

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What was different was the high rise of mountains in the interior of Victoria Island. As we got farther down the chain of islands there was some higher land, one peak measured at about 1,000-ft. The area was much built up, some smaller places, what you would expect for a rustic summer cabin; other places were almost mansions.

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We decided to go to Montague Harbour (no adjoining Capulet Harbour that we cold find) . This was Galiano Island, on our port side, as we approached the harbour entrance. We intended to get a mooring buoy but had lost the boat hook over the side during the Great Boom Vang Debacle of Sunday, June 3d. There are work-arounds but we decided to moor at a a dock, unashamedly the path of least resistance. There are some walking trails which interest Carol, and maybe we'll go to the bar tonight for a gin & tonic. As the title says, an easy day, earned or not.

Posted by sailziveli 15:24 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

New Plan

overcast 56 °F

Sunday, June 10, 2018

It's simply a matter of the numbers. We have been trying to break the trip into 40 nm chunks. Figure six knots for about seven hours; getting under weigh and mooring at night fill out the minutes. That's a full day, since I am at the helm for almost all of those hours, in the sun, in the wind, in the rain, no sitting down. Seven hours is a full day for me.

So, to go north would have required at least one ten hour day, or a day and a half. Then we would need those days and several more to get back to Bellingham Harbor. It was a close call even as a planning exercise; having lost the days in Pender Harbour it became impractical, no way to make the numbers work.

We got under weigh at about 0600. It looked like a dark and stormy morning. Well, maybe, but maybe not. There doesn't seem to be any strong correlation between the ominous sky index and the actual weather. This was the sky to the west as we left Egmont Harbour. I have a working hypothesis about rain in these parts. It's fairly simple: if a cloud has a light colored bottom ... no rain; if it has a dark bottom you will get wet. This theory is supported by all the available data points.

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As we went into the channel this was the view over the stern. Passing through Agamemnon Channel there were two massive sets of power transmission lines. Since there is little population to the north, these most probably power Vancouver. Best guess is some hydroelectric dam to the north. The chart showed over 30 meters of clearance, but these things always make me nervous. The downside risk of being wrong is enormous. When we were boat shopping in 2007 saw a boat we liked until the due diligence brought out that it had hit a power line. Zero interest.

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As we exited the channel into open water, we saw, actually we didn't see, Pender Harbour under this small cloud.

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I think that I am going to have a small regret about not getting all the way north. The combination of mountains, sky and water is literally awesome, as in inspiring awe. The Sunshine Coast as we cruised west (irony intended).

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As we rounded Texada Island, there was a very low cloud on the water; no rain. The sun hit it just right to show a partial rainbow which lasted quite a few minutes,

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The weather forecast was the same one that had been issued for several days: winds 5 to 15 knots in late morning, picking up later in the day. So, it sounded like time to get back on the horse. Using Sprague's rules, not the owner's, we gingerly got the mainsail ready to hoist. One of the things that is as basic as oxygen on a sailboat it to put the boat in irons, i.e. point and keep the bow directly into the wind. Pretty hard to get sails up and down without mastering this basic skill. This usually is not hard to do; there are tools to tell you how you're doing. Except, big exception, none of them are working on the boat. The Raymarine wind instrument is dead; the windex on the mast is a mess. So, today I piloted the boat through this exercise and Carol provided the muscle. Much better result ... certainly not a flawless, well oiled machine, but adequate.

It was good to have done this because seeing the mainsail fully deployed I was able to grok how it works. Pretty simple once you get it. We waited an hour for the wind, not making enough way to put enough water over the rudder to control steerage. Then it freshened, a little and we began to move. After a while it picked up again, and it felt like sailing, the boat heeled at a modest angle. We ended up making five to six knots, good enough for the wind that we had, although without the Raymarine wind instrument, we have know idea about wind speed other than reading the surface of the water. Prior to the trip I was reading Dana's Two Years Before the Mast for the umpteenth time. It seemed like good preparation for our Two Weeks Before the Mast. They figured all this stuff out without any electronics. So, how wimpy are we?

All of this got me to thinking about boats and sailors. This is a sailing boat, built and equipped the get the last fraction of a knot from the sails. We were not sailors, we were cruisers who sailed. This may seem like a distinction without a difference, but I will beg to differ. Cruisers get the point of sail right, have to do that. They will make some sail trim adjustments, but these are simple such as light winds, tight sheets. And if a cruiser is going 5.0 knots while a sailor is is making 5.2 knots with perfect sail trim, who cares. Sail trim only lasts a few minutes anyway until a new trim is required. A cruiser will sit back, we always have a way to sit, not stand, and relax. If a three day trip takes an extra hour and fortyseven minutes, not a problem; you arrive safely and that is the whole deal.

We arrived and moored in Nanaimo on Victoria Island by 1500 , traversing the entire not very wide width of the Salish Sea. Nanaimo is the second largest city on the island after Victoria. The new plan is to wend our way south through the Gulf Islands, which are Canadian, and get to the San Juan Islands, which are American and be in a good position to get back to Bellingham on June 19th.

It's a plan and will likely be less intense than what we were doing.

Posted by sailziveli 17:39 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Maybe the Show Is on the Road

semi-overcast 58 °F

Friday, June 8, 2018

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We arrived at Pender Harbor Tuesday afternoon a little beat up from the run north from Vancouver. The weather forecast was for storm winds on Thursday, so a layover day seemed prudent. Then the storm was supposed to come on Thursday night. Then the storm was supposed to arrive Friday. Well, here we are on Friday and, finally, it’s here, and a little more than anticipated: a full Gale Warning. We have done these before and there is no need for another merit badge. The good news is that it looks likely to move past us quickly. The winds should attenuate this afternoon, but it always takes a while for the water to calm down after a blow, so Saturday is still the plan.

This area, as mentioned, is called the Sunshine Coast, claiming 300 days of sunshine per year. The real answer is more like 300 hours, with an hour every day. When I was researching the trip the historical data pointed to rain on half the days in June. That is probably what has happened, but not in the manner I thought. Rather than a prolonged period of rain, we have had brief showers, lasting not very long, and with not very much actual rainfall.

We have both been sleeping until about 0500 when it is very light out. It is not fully dark until after 2100, and the summer solstice is not until June, 21. So, the days will keep getting longer for the duration of the cruise, and we'll probably keep waking up earlier.

As feared, the boat only has one interior DC outlet. But, we've done OK because we have a 1 to 5 outlet that charges both phones and both Kindles. The cell coverage has been mostly OK. Phone service has not been a problem; data service has been a little bit intermittent, but overall, good enough.

Saturday, June 9, 2018
Pender Harbour was not an easy entry or exit. There are several smaller islands between the harbour and the open waters. The chart plotter is useful in most cases but made for a tough choice; set it at close range so the small obstructions are visible or set it a a longer range and see how to get around the islands. I don't really recall this sort of situation before. Toggling between the two worked but took my eyes off the business at hand.

Anyway, we made it out early, catching about half the ebbing tide. When we left there was cloud cover but, maybe, 25% sunshine through the clouds. Seemed like a good enough deal. We rounded the point and headed generally East up Agamemnon Channel. Sunshine behind and this ahead. It looked ominous; then the rain started. Not so much fun but definitely part of the cruising experience.

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Save for the water, these clouds were reminiscent of our Smoky Mountains.

Then the rain stopped, mostly, but not quite all the way. It seemed like we were heading into the backside of beyond. There were a few houses along the water; off the grid is not enough to describe them. More like off the map or the face of the earth. No roads, no power, potable water I couldn't tell; access only by water, and a fancy floating dock to do that. It seemed more and more remote. Then we rounded another point of land to see a huge BC water ferry. At first I thought that it might have been in a repair yard. But there was a mooring dock that is unique to most ferries and I could see an asphalt road with yellow lines. When the ferry zoomed past us at 15 - 20 knots it was a sure thing. A functional ferry way back in the interior connecting not very much to nothing really there and it was doing so several times a day.

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Then the sun came out. Go Figure. 12 to 15 miles, less than 3 hours. A complete meteorological tour of Agamemnon Sound.

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We had time to explore so we headed north to Hotham Sound to see Freil Falls and the Harmony Islands. The falls are way cool. The drop is almost 1,500 feet from Freil Lake on top of the mountain. The waterfall is about a mile or so from the Harmony Islands, another British Columbia Marine Park. We had thought to anchor there but some of the land is private and it just seemed like too much of a hassle. So, we didn't, opting instead to go south a few miles and moor at Egmont.

While we were in Hotham Sound we may have seen some seals. That is the best guess based on the behavior they exhibited. If they were, in fact, seals, all we really saw were their snouts and a swirl of water when they dived.

Now the question is where to next? The lost days now look like more of an issue. I now wish that I had done things differently but that's water under the keel. Tonight we'll look at the options and distances and come up with a plan. Who knows, it might even be a good one.

Posted by sailziveli 15:42 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

I Do Know What I Don’t Know

overcast 60 °F

After yesterday’s modest weather debacle, some research seemed in order. I had dialed up the Weather Channel for the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, as this area, north of Vancouver, is called. I checked the weather for the region this morning, as must always be done before making weigh. Same forecast as yesterday. I tried the weather channels on the VHF; found a couple of stations in French, despite being more than 1,000 miles from Quebec. I found an English language channel that sounded like a BBC broadcast, very proper, you know. Couldn’t understand a word over the VHF radio.

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Finally, I did a Google search for marine weather and hit the jackpot: marine weather for the Strait of Georgia north of Nanaimo. Dead solid perfect. What a difference. There is a low-pressure system coming in this evening. Winds 10 – 20 knots today; 20 – 30 knots tomorrow. Sounds about right.

We had planned to head inland today through the Agamemnon Strait. That would have put us in narrow-ish waters flanked by very high mountains. In Chicago, the Windy City, winds were greatly accelerated by the tall buildings. This was due to the venturi effect. I don’t know if that would happen in this geography, but I also don’t want to find out that the answer is yes. Where we were going to anchor has not great protection to the south; it would have been our first stern tie anchoring. It was easy to say that the downside risk outweighed very little upside benefit. So, in Pender Harbor we will remain for a while. It’s secure, we have power, and a couple of down days were built into the schedule. And, in truth, we are both a little tired having pushed very hard since last Wednesday. However, right this minute that seems like a bad decision.

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We are, probably, 40 miles north of Vancouver, and the hillsides around the harbor are very built up with many nice houses. There is not an uninterrupted road connecting this area to Vancouver; a ferry passage is required somewhere to connect to a road along the coast.

The large harbor, has several smaller alcoves called bays, each one discreet from the others. To get from bay to another can only be done on the water. The geography makes that seem reasonable. It’s hard to imagine how people even get to their houses. But, as the picture shows, it is a lovely place.

On Saturday, taking the boat out of the marina, I was uneasy about my knowledge of the boat. Now, having set up the chart plotter to my needs, having gone through the charts, and been on the water a few days, it’s all come back. At the house our routines are whatever we want them to be; on a boat our routines are whatever the boat requires for cruising and safety. We have to work a little harder at them now, they are less ingrained, and we are applying them in a new context.

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One thing that has been different on the north side of the border is the Great Canadian Anti Cleat Conspiracy. This is our second stop and there haven’t been any dock cleats for mooring. Big surprise. Instead, they use a rail system using 4x4’s. Short pieces are attached to the dock and then long pieces are run on top. Lines go under and around the top pieces. I suppose, if it’s what you use daily, not a big deal. I like cleats better if for no other reason than I avoid all the splinters in my hands and fingers. This was not an anticipated contingency and it’s hard to find a pin or needle to get them out. I have been using a not-very-sharp compass point that mostly works.

Miscellany

  • This has been our first experience with a diesel heating system on a boat. It works like a radiant heat system, circulating warm water in front of fans. I must work pretty well; I am comfortable and Carol is too hot.
  • I haven't had too many successful pictures so far. It's pretty simple: the water has been so choppy or rough that auto focus cannot keep up. Frame a shot, and by the camera goes click, and I am as likely to have a picture of the sky or my foot.
  • We went out to dinner and walked around some and the area is striking; it is Snow Falling on Cedars, remarkably lush and green. Most of the trees are Spruce, Fir, Cedar with the occasional Maple. Dinner was pub fare. Carol tells everybody everything, a well known fact to all reading this blog. So, she told the owner that this was, sort of, a 50th anniversary deal. He, being a nice man, prepared and served us a tasty flambé dessert.
  • Just a few days into the trip we are running short of two critical commodities: toilet paper and scotch. Fortunately, there is a small store nearby that sells both.
  • I have been using this website since day 1 in our boat, that being 2007. Having studied and learned to build web pages, I am increasingly frustrated with this resource. It is, probably, 1995 technology, and not very good even for that year.

The weather forecast has remained the same but there has been a 24-hr. shift back. It now looks like Saturday noon will be the earliest we can safely leave the dock. When we arrived we were the only boat; several have since come in, presumably, for the weather. A certain stoicism is required to survive boating: weather happens. Our worst time was in the Bahamas, at Emerald Bay, when we were stuck for 10 days, not being able to safely navigate the channel to open water. Last year in Maine we got fogged in for several days before we were able to leave the dock even for the first leg. All cruisers should remember the last line of the poem “On His Blindness,” by John Milton: They also serve who only stand and wait.

Posted by sailziveli 08:48 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

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