A Travellerspoint blog

Friday Harbor

Last Stop on the Line

sunny 73 °F

Saturday, June 16, 2018
We got underway this morning, late again, expecting that others would have preceded us. Not so. Maybe, because it was Saturday, a weekend crowd was there for the duration. So, we were the first to leave the mooring field, opening up space for another boat to snug in for the night. There was a brisk, very brisk, wind so when we cleared the area into deep water, we put the sails up. Big problem.

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I had found a loose shackle on the foredeck, near the anchor, but did not know what its purpose was. It all became clear; it was the shackle that secures the bottom of the jib to the furling roller. It had come off. There is a sailboat 101 deal that has to be done: mousing the shackles, at least the critical ones,but it really should be all permanent shackles. Standard shackles have a hole in the pin; a soft, flexible wire is run through and around the shackle side to ensure that the pin cannot work loose under a strain. That had not been done; one end of the jib was flapping in the wind.I also noticed that two cars on the mainsail were not in the track. Bottom line: neither sail was usable. No sails, no wind instruments and, by the way, we had to do this to keep the chart plotter from overheating. Not exactly a peak sailing experience, but fun to be on a boat again.

All griping aside, today we were traveling with the current and got back the several hours that we lost going against the current on Wednesday. We are in Friday Harbor, on the other side of San Juan Island from Roche Harbor. An easy day until we entered the marina to moor in a slip. The marina people put us in a slip shared by another boat with the wind pushing us away from the dock and into that boat. Somehow, I got the boat into the slip without crashing into anything, but it was a very close call.

So, here we will sit for two days and then return to Bellingham, to leave the boat on Tuesday. We're renting a car and spending a few days in the area. No particular plan. A couple of days in Victoria and then a few more on the Olympic peninsula. Hope that it's fun.

On Wednesday, in Sucia Island's harbor I looked west for a sunset; seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Last night, by accident, I looked east. The picture does not do justice to the rose tint that the snow capped peaks took on. A pretty picture to end the blog,

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Posted by sailziveli 14:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Sucia Island

semi-overcast 63 °F

Thursday and Friday, June 14 - 15, 2018

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Carol remarked that it was unusual for us to be the fourth boat out, our days underway usually starting before zero dark thirty. We didn’t leave the dock until 0915, leisurely, time for reading the WSJ, unhurried disconnecting power lines, dock lines, unhurried everything. A nice morning. We had chosen as our next destination Sucia Island, rated as one of the two best places for cruisers to visit mainly because there are so many good coves and bays in which to anchor. Actually it's sort of a colony of islands, each having a separate name.

There is a navigational aid for this area of water that I have never seen or even heard of before. It is a chart kit, about 90 different charts, one of which plots the current flow for every hour of every day of the year; that is 61,320 hours per year. This matters because these islands are at the southern end and very close to the open waters of the Pacific. Huge, strong tidal flows constricted by all these islands.

The point of all this is that despite having used the book several times so for, I completely ignored it this particular morning. And it didn’t really seem to matter very much until we cleared the harbor entrance and headed down the channel. The water was turbulent and roiling. Bow on to the current our speed kept dropping: 5 knots, 4 knots, 1 knot. The chart book had indicated that there would be a current of N>2.5 knots flowing against us. In fact it was almost certainly greater than 5.0 knots because at one point we were making 0.5 knots of headway, basically standing still. We were in the deepest part of the channel, more or less trying to go up a funnel against the flow. Bad plan.

After a while, having accomplished nothing, I decided to try a Gulf Stream tactic: get close(r) to shore in shallower water and the current will be less strong. We moved from over 600 feet deep to about 150. This worked OK; we got up to about 3 knots.

I’m standing there thinking about Sylla and Charybdis, purported to be in the Straits of Messina, through which I have been, and the boat does a spurt, 7 knots. It was pretty clear that this was a back current and, sure enough, we passed by a large eddy/whirlpool and I’m trying to remember what Odysseus did. As if I needed it, this was another demonstration about the power nature, weather, gravity when they influence water.
When we exited the lee of the island we were back to standing still. However, we now had wind. So, out go the sails, no problems again, and with the sails and the motor we were able to make decent progress. After about three hours the tide started to turn and things were better.

Currents notwithstanding, it was one of the nicest days we have had. Sunny, pretty warm, a little wind. A good day to be on a sailboat and we were.
We had about 12 - 15 nm to travel; it should have taken about two and a half hours, or so. Actual time was closer to five hours. But, there was a secure mooring ball at the end of the trip, pretty scenery. When we entered the mooring field that afternoon there were less than a dozen boats. By sunset that number were more twenty.

I got the dinghy going, first time, and tried to find the park ranger station to pay our fee. We didn’t have the secret decoder ring and I never found it. The park ranger lady came by later to get our money.

It looks like we’re in for a run of good weather for the few days that we have left. We decided to stay two nights here, Sucia Island, no special reasoning for that. It's just a pleasant and safe place to stay. By about noon, most of the boats that were here last night have moved on. But by dusk there will be a new flotilla arriving just because it's a pleasant and safe place to stay.

Since we have no boat maintenance to do, days like this are leisurely and lazy. The phones and Kindles are in constant use, batteries draining, connections being maintained. As we were struggling against the current yesterday, I got to thinking about how boating today is different from years ago. I don’t think that we, or many of the folks with whom we share and have shared these and other waters, could do so without GPS and chart plotters. The GPS satellites, built and launched for the military, have democratized boating among other activities. Some of my earliest, strongest and best memories involve the beach, ocean and boats. The ocean has always had a fascination for me and I have had the opportunity to pursue that just because we wanted to be better at making war. An ill wind that blew some good.

Posted by sailziveli 12:52 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

Back in the US of A

sunny 70 °F

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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Some general blog housekeeping because it's important to Carol, since she took the pictures. The first picture is me, of course, with my guaranteed, boat proof, not tippable, non skiddable, tea mug. It really works and has never failed to stay upright even in the most trying conditions. On the water, I fortify my tea with a dollop of honey, for quick energy.

We expected cool weather and have not been disappointed in that. We brought a lot of polar fleece clothing that doesn't absorb water, so it retains body heat. Being a certifiable, undeniable cold cold weather weenie, surprisingly, I have been quite comfortable. The only exception has been my feet and hands when wet, which they have been a lot, since there is no protection from the rain. What's been surprising is how much the temperature drops when the sun goes behind a cloud.

Carol solved a problem today. There is a small general store at this marina specializing in t-shirts, sundry drinks and fishing tackle. Somewhere in there she found a boat hook. Go figure. She purchased the entire inventory: one each. Maybe we will moor when in the San Juans.

We have eaten out a bit and Carol has done some grocery shopping, all in Loonies, of course. It's disconcerting to see the prices in Canadian dollars; they seem so high. It takes a moment to think through the conversion process. One Canadian dollar is about $0.78 US, roughly a 4:3 ratio. Maybe not exactly a deal, but OK.

If I ever decide that I want to be a financial mogul, I am going to roll up and consolidate all the shower stalls at all the marinas in the Pacific Northwest. There is no such thing as a free shower out here; $2 for 2 minutes, a deal was $1 for 3 minutes. And the first minute is wasted waiting for the hot water to circulate to he shower head. US, Canada, it doesn't matter. Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but only if you are willing to pay the price. Last night, at Montague Harbour the showers were not only not free, they were cold water only. So, Carol convinced me to do something that I only did a few times on our boat: take a shower using boat water in the head. This violates every genetic imperative of boating, water conservation being the prime directive. The only times I did that on our boat was when we were in the middle of a three or four day offshore transit and I needed something to revive me, knowing we were going into a port where we could get more water. We got water today, we'll get water tomorrow and it felt really good to get clean. This boat even has a plexiglass shower door that folds into three sections. Very fancy.

Quick update. Last night we did have a gin & tonic at the pub but it was a hurried affair. We arrived at 1550; the pub closed at 1600. Customs people get exercised about unopened bottles of spirits. These have various taxes imposed and they seem to fear resale without the government collecting its few dollars. Having an unopened bottle of scotch on board last night, I had to open it to get through customs. I had long known that good scotch goes well with good dark chocolate. I recently discovered that it also goes well with Vanilla Wafer cookies. Sounds like an oxymoron, but they go down well together.

We have mostly overcast weather with little sunshine during the day. Finally, in Montague Harbour there was something like a sunset.

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The trip to Roche Harbor was quiet, As we got closer to the US we could see this mountains to port; hard to tell if they are in The US or Canada. Probably doesn't matter too much; they are majestic regardless.

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As we passed Saturna Island, we could say that we had arrived home. If you look very closely you can see the dotted line that is the international border between the two countries.

There was one interesting thing along the way. As we were in Boundary Passage I saw a whale, too far away to photograph, and too quick anyway. It was probably an orca. I could see a large dark body surfacing and what looked like the dorsal fin, which is distinctive to those whales. It surfaced about three times and then was gone. We probably did better than all the all of the dozen, or so, whale watching boats that were scurrying about trying to find something to watch.

Clearing customs was very pro forma, maybe five minutes. We moored and we were done. Bad weather on Wednesday kept in port. Off tomorrow, we hope,

Posted by sailziveli 19:46 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats 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)

A Salty Day, Indeed

storm 53 °F

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted by sailziveli 19:10 Archived in Canada Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

O Canada

Wrong again! I know what gin & tonic weather is .... this is it. So, having no gin, no limes and no tonic we solved the problem by going to a restaurant with a happy hour. A good solution since Carol did not need to cook. Why were there restaurants available? We had to clear customs in Canada and, improbably Vancouver, BC turned out to be the easiest option. For all the angst and worries, Carol did it over the phone. We could have been calling from Mars and it would have been the same. A lot of wasted time and effort.

On the plus side when we awoke this morning, it wasn't due to any loud thump. We also saw something that I would have thought impossible: bright sunlight and glassy water. Somewhere, under all those cumulus clouds in Vancouver. When we arrived the clouds had gone away.

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When we were having our boat familiarization the young lady mentioned that this Tartan has a very large rudder. I filed that thought in the bin labeled why did she think I need to know that. Now, after a couple of days on the water I get it. That rudder is hyper responsive; unless you have a death grip on the helm when you look down to see a chart or shift your shoulders you are way of course.This boat has an unusual type of propulsion called sail drive (too complicated to explain). So that may have something to do with it. The good thing is that I figured out how to use the autopilot in a selective manner rather that automatically. The auto pilot never moves looks down to see a chart or shifts its shoulders.

This is a beautiful boat, the one I would really liked to have had: a dark blue hull with a gold stripe. It's sort of like a trophy wife, she looks good and is good only at looking good. Living on it for six months would be like asking the trophy wife to make a Thanksgiving dinner for ten guests. It would not turn out well. Two weeks is fine.

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After Sunday's disaster with the mainsail we got up the courage to try to deploy the foresail. It must have been a miracle, Got it out. Took it in. No hay problemas. With that as a positive trend we'll try the mainsail again tomorrow. I'll use my rules rather than the owners'.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we'll almost be to the really good parts. The detour to Vancouver probably on;y added 10 -12 nm. That doesn't sound like much but on a boat it means another two hours of travel time. Regardless, will be entering a cellular free zone.

This cruise is our version of a 50th anniversary treat. No luxury liners for us. Here we were on Sunday, heading to Point Roberts in the cold and rain. Will these people never learn?

Posted by sailziveli 21:01 Comments (0)

Predictably, Chaos Ensued

semi-overcast 52 °F

At 0500 we were both awakened by a load thump. Being at anchor this is never a pleasant sound. Jumped up and looked outside to see if the anchor had dragged. No problem, so that was not it. Carol noticed that my toiletries bag had fallen from its hook. No more mystery. But what was mysterious was that our boat was doing 360's around the anchor. I had never, ever seen this before and would have been very concerned had not the other two boat in the anchorage been doing the same thing. Having had a few hours to think this through I am still clueless. Regardless, the anchor didn't drag and the boat was safe .... no harm, no foul.

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We got under weigh about 0630 heading north for Point Robert. To do so we had to share space in a major shipping channel, Rosario Straight. As we approached, there was a convoy of ships, freighters and container ships, heading south from Vancouver to the Pacific. It was interesting to watch as each ship repeated the exact same same movements as the one ahead as they changed their headings. It looked choreographed, which in a sense it was.

The weather was predicted to be rainy and windy. The forecast was precisely correct. As we entered the channel this island was to port with low hanging clouds; not even a hint of sun then or later in the day.

It took a few hours to get out of the shipping channel. Having done that it seemed time to practice raising the sails, so we did. The boat has immaculate documentation on how to do things, so I took the book to the cockpit and started going through the steps. Predictably, chaos ensued. One of the steps was to release the main sheet, which controls the mainsail boom. Having no restraints and no preventer line, the mainsail boom swung so wide, so violently, that it pulled the piston from the boom vang ( too complicated to explain). Regardless we had a broken piece of equipment and no solution. The on board tool kit had no screwdrivers, pliers, or other useful tools, unless I was going to rebuild the engine. I took a pass at trying to reassemble the two parts; no luck. Called the emergency numbers for San Juan Sailing; no one home. Since help and advice was not in the offing, the cruiser mentality took over. You are on your own, there are two people on the boat and only one of the two has a chance, however remote, of fixing the damn thing. So I did. Ended up with a small issue. When our phone call was finally returned I spoke with the company owner we decided that the small issue was not an impediment, so we turned the boat around and headed north again. We got our first look at the Canadian Rockies along the way.

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We had made reservations at a marina in Point Robert and arrived there easily enough. This was the second issue for the day: how to enter the marina all we could see was a 20-ft. tall seawall ..... no signs, no doors, no clue. Turns out that you entered from the side after almost going onto the beach. It was just one of the things where we had no local knowledge. We took on some fuel and with a little help because of the wind, we moored safely for the night.

We were told we could clear Canadian customs here; not so. Our next trick will be doing that. Then comes the awful moment; raising the sails again.

Posted by sailziveli 16:17 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

Northward Bound

Bellingham Bay

sunny 70 °F

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We're off and we are both playing to type: Carol is excited and I'm nervous .... what did we forget, what did we not do that needed doing, ad infinitum et ultra. In dealing with performance pressure, a sailboat is an interesting challenge because the pressure starts immediately; you have to get underway from the dock without wrecking any other boats or generally embarrassing yourself with lousy boat handling skills. There seems to be a law of inverse proportions for this situation: the worse you do, the more people there are on the dock to see you do it. Nail it, and there's never anyone around. I was adequate so, good enough.

We have a plan, sort of. We will head north on the eastern side of the Salish Sea, which is continental British Columbia, and return south along the western side of the Salish Sea which is the east coast of Vancouver Island. The prevailing winds here are from the northwest quadrant so, tougher going on the northern leg and, maybe, good running to the south. Of course, this plan is based on exactly zero experience, so, go back to sentence #1 .... I'm nervous. All plans are good until execution exposes all the flaws, and my first one was that I assumed that my Google Earth places were tied to my email address and that I could access them from my laptop. Wrong! They have to be physically transferred from my desktop to may laptop. How silly is that. This means that I cannot locate all the way points that I created from my laptop. Fortunately, I have marked them on my charts so we should be OK.

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Most sailors obsess over weather and those that don't obsess at least worry about it. My assumption is that weather will be a big factor on this trip. I suppose that we are on what could be called an inland sea, and will never be very far from some land. But, storms are what they are, and I expect one or two, and a fair amount of rain. I had thought that the weather here was influenced by the Japanese current. That was approximately correct, but the currents in the northern hemisphere of the Pacific Ocean are much more complex than I was aware. The affecting ones are the North Pacific and the Alaska currents. Regardless of the names, the issue is still the same: warm moist air collides with cooler air and it rains.

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It's inevitable, I guess; any boat we are on will be compared to the one we owned, for better or for ill. The Maine boat was older, 80's vintage, and smaller, 30-ft., than ours. It was a tight fit, not much storage, and the forward v-berth was not very comfortable for sleeping. This boat is much newer, and longer, 34-ft. It has a separate v-berth and another sleeping berth, like our boat had. As on our boat the v-berth is being used as a closet and pantry, a shambolic arrangement best kept behind a closed door.

Yardarm issue solved: scotch for me and wine for Carol. This works.

We had a "captain's" meeting with the charter service on Friday evening before getting underway. Didn't know what to expect; didn't expect what happened. First there was a one hour meeting on safety regarding hazards and related issues in these navigable waters. Tidal currents are going to be a much bigger issue than I had anticipated. Probably should have seen that one coming, but didn't. Next we spent a couple of hours on the boat with a young lady who acquainted us with how it worked. Several first impressions: this is a way nice boat. It was built the same year as ours, 2005, and cost at least 50% to 75% more, despite being shorter. Second, it is a serious sailing vessel. It has running rigging that I could not identify by name. Each sail has more lines than both our sails did together. It is set up really nicely. And nothing, not a single thing, seemed to be an analog of anything on our boat. Different places, different setup, different usage; at one point it felt like six years of accumulated knowledge was rendered useless. And, of course, when things go south, which they may, we'll have to translate old speak into new speak and do so quickly. I don't do "overwhelmed" but if I did, that would have been what I felt walking off the dock. The sole saving grace is that they have incredible documentation. The book remembers if you can remember to look in the book. Boat details, a home made chart showing all the places and hazards where people have screwed the pooch. They also have a pretty good inventory of spare parts, hopefully, not needed. However, the diesel heater works so, everything else is a detail.

Our plan for getting under weigh was simple: get there about 7 am; start schlepping stuff onto the boat; Carol would drop off the rental car early; then she would work on stowing things and I would work on clearing out the old way points from the nav system and putting ours in. Maybe leave the dock by noon, maybe not. Didn't really happen like that. It took us more than four hours to load and semi-organize the boat. Stuff was, and still is strewn hither and yon. We has the folks off load some things so that we would have better access to storage. Carol probably nailed it when she commented that this is a pretty boat, but it's tough to beat Beneteau for overall livability.

So, we got under weigh about 12:30 with the goal of going to a small, near by cove called Pleasant Bay. It was a pure Mongolian cluster ______ trying to use the chart plotter. This one is different and newer than any of ours. It worked just fine, but I could not get it to do what I wanted. And, what I wanted was pretty simple stuff. SO, a couple of phone calls, and an in depth read of the owner's manual may have solved the issues, or maybe not. The chart plotter was such an issue that we did not even think about raising the sails. That will be the Marx Brothers meet the Three Stooges. absent pies in the face. That will have to wait for another day and the motor works just fine.

We caught a lucky day, today, sunny and warm, almost sun tan weather which was good for getting stuff onto the boat. Tomorrow, rainy, windy, not so nice. And, we have a 35 nm to 40 nm run to get to point Roberts, which has a marina and where we can clear customs into Canada before going farther north. So, until then we will enjoy our sheltered anchorage in Pleasant Bay, aptly named, it is pleasant and this is what we see to the west.

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Posted by sailziveli 17:36 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

To the Water's Edge

overcast 59 °F

While sitting in the hotel lobby at zero dark thirty, waiting for a bus to take us to the airport, so we could walk to a gate to board a plane, to fly us to Seattle, where we would walk to a bus to shuttle us the the rental car place so we could walk to the car, I got to thinking about traveling in this day and age, the difference between travelling and a trip.

I am old enough to remember the 1950's, before Alfred Kahn deregulated air travel while working for Jimmy Carter, when people treated air travel differently, as a novel, and for many, a first time experience. That novelty meant suits and ties for men and, if the pictures are correct, dresses, hats and gloves for most women. Fast forward six decades .... what a difference. The jeans and t-shirts dress code is way better. The actual traveling,though, is an inconvenience to be endured not enjoyed, suffered not savored.

The Charlotte check in for the plane was fairly painless. Carol, in the full Nordic Princess mode, commandeered someone to help with the self check in process. Whether he was frightened by or fascinated by this lady towering over him by 8-in. or 9-in. I could not tell. Regardless, he made quick work of it and sent us on our way. Carol, having packed a bag the same size as a Greyhound bus, couldn't fit everything into it. Predictable. So she walked through the airport with sundry bags, articles of clothing, pillows and such festooned about her person like a bag lady in search of her shopping cart.

Today, Thursday, a disaster was avoided. I had gotten new glasses and frames in Asheville. I did not think that there were any mistakes left to be made: three wrong lenses, wrong frames, just a series of "never have happened in 60 years of wearing glasses" errors. I had scratched a lens and picked up a replacement on the way to Charlotte. They ordered the wrong prescription for the lens; I was almost seeing double. Fortunately, Carol had asked for the old lens and kept it with her. I carry a small glasses tool kit in my bag and, easy peasy, the old lens was back in. The scratch I can live with; the other would almost have ruined the trip.

After leaving Charlotte, with the temperature about 90o and the high humidity from tropical storm Alfredo's rain, Seattle was almost a shock. Very cool, in the 50's, overcast and very breezy. I don't think that there will be issues filling the sails; keeping me warm may be harder. We shipped ahead all our foul weather gear and fleece clothing. I'm sure that this will work out but it will not be toasty at the helm. I hope that the diesel heater performs well.

There were a couple of difficult questions packing for this trip. The first was: what electronics to bring since they all need charging. On our boat we probably had a dozen interior DC outlets, many of which I added myself. No problems. On the Maine boat there was only one interior DC outlet. Major inconvenience. Don't know about this boat. The computer was a simple decision ... no computer, no blog. Ditto the camera. We are taking both phones, just in case, and they will provide wi-fi hot spots when we can get a cell signal. We are both carrying our Kindle e-readers; lots of pages, no space and good battery life. I am also carrying a DC multi-outlet plug in case we have a similar paucity of outlets this time. Carol solved a major issue: cell phones. I had thought that we would have to buy an unlocked phone and get a plan from a Canadian service provider. Turns out that Verizon, which works on an older standard, has a roaming plan that will work in Canada. All we have to do is make a change in the setting for our phones to work in Canada, Pretty cool, very easy and way cheaper than the alternative.

The second question was harder: I know what gin & tonic weather is and this is definitively not it. The sun will traverse the yardarm sometime and all sailors want a healthy dram to celebrate its passage. We'll have to figure out what that will be. Carol is not much for dark beverages, e.g. scotch or rum. Other provisioning is always difficult with one person, guess who, viewing food as an emotional issue and the other seeing it as an existential issue. We will surely have more than enough food to survive and a sufficiency of choice.

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We seem to have come to the right place; this is a very big marina teeming with sailboats. The good news is that we are done with traveling for now; the trip will start when we are on the wet side of the water's edge, and we are only hours away from that time.

Posted by sailziveli 10:31 Archived in USA Tagged boats sailing boating sails sailboats Comments (0)

Will These People Never Learn???

We sold the boat in November, 2013, going on five years now. Last June, we got to complete the missing leg of our cruise to New England: Maine in Penobscot Bay and the area around Acadia National Park. And, it was good.

Carol's sister, Joan, had given us a book some years back about the 50 best places to visit on a cruising boat, one of which was the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle, WA. This, of course, got me thinking about and researching the Salish Sea, the waters between the western side of British Columbia and Vancouver Island to the west. The Salish Sea is about 130 nm long but not much more than 20nm wide in most places. The San Juan Islands are part of this geography.

Drilling down in Google I came across a reference to a Marine Park in British Columbia. So, I decided to use that as a search criteria and voilà ... it turns out that pretty much both the east and west coasts of the Salish Sea covered with National Marine Parks, the equivalent of our Yellowstone or Smoky Mountain national parks. This pretty much sealed the deal. We were not quite done with our watery ways.

Finding a boat was easy enough. Timing was a little tougher. The better and warmer the weather, the higher the charter rates. I opted for mid-June, just before the prices jump. We will get off the boat on June 19th; the rates go up on June 20th. The trade off is that the wind will be better when we are there than later in the season. It will also be cooler, much cooler, and rainier, much rainier, and the thing that makes this trip possible is that the boat we chartered has a diesel heater which will, I hope, keep my narrow body comfortable, or, at least, not freezing.

Carol and I divided the travel responsibilities in two: I did on the water planning and she did on the land planning, flights, hotels, etc. My part was different from anything which I had previously done. The charts we will be using are from the Canadian Hydrographic Office. In all the pages of charts there is not a single way point or located navigation marker. Big Change! Way points are useful to safe navigation; the premise is that if you travel the straight line between the two points there will not be any safety hazards: reefs, sandbars, obstructions, etc. From the charts. it looks like the water is sooooo deep, hundreds of feet, that the only way to cause a problem is to drive the boat onto the beach. Being a creature of habit, I spent a few hours on Google Earth making my own way points. This will make daily planning and route travelling much better.

The other new(ish) thing is anchoring. We have anchored a boat hundreds of times; not a big deal. We carried 200-ft. of anchor chain and in all those years we only anchored in water deeper that about 20-ft. once: Block Island. This boat carries 300-ft. of chain (see previous statement: the water is sooooo deep). The deal seems to be that there is not much in the way of flat bottoms in these places; the ground slopes very steeply away from the shore. So the trick is to run a line from the boat's stern to the shore and secure it there. Then, when the boat tries to move it will force the anchor to "drag" uphill making it unlikely to pull free. The first couple of times we try to do this we will probably look like clowns but we will not be as bad as when on our first trip south we tried to put out a stern anchor in Awenda Creek, SC. The other caution will be not to foul the propeller, something which I have done on several occasions. Nothing good ever has come from that, ever; the only issue is how bad!!!

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The boat we have chartered is called Cecelia, cue Paul Simon: Cecelia, you're braking my heart, you're shaking my confidence daily. It is a 34-ft. Tartan, Tartan's having a reputation as good boats under sail. That is 2-ft. shorter than our boat, but for 2 1/2 weeks, not a problem. Our boat had a main sail that furled into the mast; there were many practical reasons for having selected that set up. But, after having sailed with a fully battened main sail in Maine, last year, we will always sail this rig which Cecelia has.

We will be spending about 2/3's of the trip in Canada, probably having to clear customs on the first or second day out. Ironically, our old passports expired right in the middle of the trip so, we had to get new ones. This will be my 4th or 5th one, having gotten my first one at 17 right after graduation from high school.

We will depart Bellingham, WA on June 2d or 3d, depending on how long it takes us to provision and load our stuff onto the boat. We will be travelling in the couple of weeks prior to the summer Solstice and, being that far north, daylight will be about 17 hours long leaving plenty of time for longer days of travel. The farthest north we have ever been on the boat was Maine, about 44o north. On a car trip to the Canadian Maritime Islands we went to the north end of Prince Edward Island, about 47o north. We intend to get to 50o north which would put us on a parallel with Newfoundland. That's north enough.

This is something to which we look forward but not without concerns. Boating, and particularly boat handling, is not like riding a bicycle and it doesn't automatically all come back. The bigger concern is with the boat. What happens if there is a problem when we are way north. Probably no cell coverage and no way to communicate using VHF. I don't know the boat and I don't have a good tool set even if I could isolate the problem. We have sailed out of one disaster and I'm sure we could do it again but I not really looking for another merit badge. One is enough; actually one is one too many.

A nice lady we know is going to stay in the house while we are away. While we were having dinner and discussing things she said that one compatibility test for couples is to spend two weeks on a sailboat. Carol and I have passed all the previous tests; here's hoping that we can do it again.

Posted by sailziveli 09:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Swan Island Swan Song

Mackerel Cove

overcast

After Isle au Haut, we went went to Mackerel Cove on Swan Island. That trip took us through the Casco Passage. On the charts it looked involved. We went through on a rising tide so many of the hazards were not visible. Probably, a good thing for an aged and tired pilot.

About Mackerel Cove, there nothing to say. It was just a place to anchor, and not a very great place for that. Many people suggested this place to visit, but I cannot see why. There is a ferry terminal for the ferry that runs to Bass Harbor; there are a few rocky islands and a couple of buoys. Its sole and only gracing feature is that it is only about 6 nm to Bass Harbor which is why we made it our final stop.

We hit the dock at Bass Harbor about 2 pm, that time chosen for the tide to ensure enough water at the dock in case I screwed the pooch trying to moor the boat. In the event, I did not embarrass myself to any memorable degree.

We were the shakedown cruise for the year. So, I spent some time going over the issues with the boat; there were several but none that were critical. An hour or two to move stuff from the boat to the truck and we were on our way home.

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One evening while we were riding at anchor, sitting in the cockpit and having a drink, and looking at this scene, Carol remarked that she had never imagined that she would ever be doing that again after we had sold our boat. While we were heading to Bass Harbor we made a futile attempt to grab the little wind there was and to sail back; too little wind for that. While the sails were up and hanging mostly limp I also wondered whether that was going to be the last time I ever stood at the helm of a sailboat.

If that turns out to be the deal, then that's okay. For me the question is whether I want that to be the deal. Three quarters of the earth is covered by water and I have seen more of it than most people while standing on the deck of a boat. But there is so much more to see and, I hope, time to see it.

Posted by sailziveli 10:49 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Isle au Haut

semi-overcast

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I never studied French, but Google translate says that this means: Isle at the top. That is, more or less, appropriate. It has Mt. Champlain, some 530-ft. tall, which towers over most of the other islands, save for Mt. Desert Island which holds most of Acadia National Park.

It was also an easy run from Pulpit Harbor, maybe three hours. We were steaming against the tide which was running in. All the floats on the lobster pots were leaning against the tide with little wakes pointing the other direction. All the lobster pots must meant that we have left the “high rent” districts of Castaine and Belfast.

This was another one of those days. All that was needed to scream Fall was a yellow leaf or two. The sky, the clouds, the temperature felt like October, not the end of June.

Along the way today we saw many islands that must be privately owned. One acre, maybe three, with a single home. I don’t know why the idea of owning an island seems so outrageous to me. It’s probably not much different from owning 100 acres and we know lots of folks who do. We saw a good bit of this in the Bahamas. For some reason my mind rejects this. Middle class values, I suppose.

We anchored in Laundry Cove, at the northern end of the island. No hints; Carol did no laundry the entire trip. Last night, Tuesday, was our first night exclusively at anchor. There was a storm, some wind and rain, and we were still there this morning. The experience will not get added to our list of anchoring disasters, a good thing.

It is a mile or more from the anchorage to the town dock. The tide was low when we took the dinghy in and we were able to see all of the hazards listed in the cruising guides. I am glad we did not come in through the Isle au Haut Thoroughfare. That was scary stuff and it looked even more dangerous in the actual viewing than it did in the reading.

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We had seen a church spire from the water so we decided to check it out. It is a Congregational church and it is New England personified. Oddly, there was no road to the church only a boardwalk of some 200-yards up the hill. No parking spaces at the church. It is small; 100 people would probably have filled it up. It takes me back. It’s hard to accept that in days past the congregants might have burned a witch.

There is no town to see; a small market, a lady selling lobster, a notary public, the church and a floating dock. I get the idea that folks here don’t really miss the bustle all that much. It’s quiet and has many comparisons to Spring Creek. I cannot imagine, though, what it is like here in January after a nor’easter has blown through. Staying warm must be work. We saw some fuel oil tanks and some wood piles, but I doubt that much of the wood came from the island; very few hardwood trees. The summer folks all leave after Labor Day; but there are a lot of lobster men here that call the place home.

Two Fall days in a row. Today was sunny but with no warmth; breezy, but we were not under sail. So, we went for a walk in the park, a good day for that. The trails were clear but not marked by name, so we don’t really know where we went. One hour in and another hour back. There were some interesting sights. Lots of fir trees, maybe balsam fir, basically Christmas trees waiting for lights and tinsel.

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We saw these, I think they are swamp iris. There were lots of them growing in a swamp, anyway, and they are irises. We also saw these plants in low, marshy places. They look a lot like hostas but the veins in the leaves are a little different. So, maybe not. Mostly, it was just piney woods, ferns and some sort of igneous rocks thrusting to the surface. I don’t think we ever made it to one of the crests of the “mountains” here; there never were any clear sightlines to the water. Mt. Champlain is on private land so we had no chance to go there.

This island’s history is interesting. It used to be owned by proper Bostonians, Brahmins, who later deeded much of that land to the US Park Service. Today, the northern third is private and the rest is public. It also has something I have never heard of: a private ferry owned by the residents. We saw the town taxi, today. It looked like it was a 1930’s something from a movie about prohibition, except it had way more body rust than any car in the movies. Eliot Ness could have stood on the running board chasing a bad guy.

We’ll eat on board tonight. There is more weather coming through.

Posted by sailziveli 07:36 Archived in USA Tagged islands sailing sailboats maine Comments (0)

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