11 Dec

Vlogging 2019

I finally got around to editing all my video footage from April 2019. It really only needed 3 videos to cover the trip but I wanted to do the week-plus spent travelling with the Calgary Yacht Club as a separate video, so I ended up making 4 with the last one mostly just a round up of the last week, easing back into the real world and cleaning up.

I also thought I would publish a bit of background on the vids themselves. Some of the online forums I participate in are filled with curmudgeons that insist that YouTube is filled with freeloaders and people with no, or bad, work ethics. If the amount of effort I put into my — admittedly bad — videos  can be taken as a measure, then those who weekly produce high (or even medium) quality videos for their sailing channels are in no way suffering from work ethic issues.

My Channel

All 23 of my videos can be found here on the Never for Ever channel. It has a whopping 21 subscribers, half-a-dozen likes, and 6.8k views lifetime. The most views at 1.7k is a short, mostly unedited video of our second solo transit through Dodd Narrows on a Bayliner 38.  I guess people just want to see what all the hype is about? The least amount of views (not counting the new ones) is 62 which is Part 6 of our 2017 trip to Desolation—I guess people were getting bored by then as Part 1 has 222 views.

For those who have never been to the channel, here is a summary of what you will find:

  • 1 early and long video of a flotilla trip to Broughtons — 2014
  • 3 short Broughtons’ videos — 2015
  • 3 test promo videos for NYCSS
  • 7 medium-length videos of Desolation Sound — 2017
  • 3 long Broughtons’ videos — 2018
  • 4 medium Desolation videos —  2019

Videos

Why do I make these? Successful YouTube channels have a hook or theme—something to attract and retain viewers. Me? Not so much. I got to thinking about it during the last round of editing and realized my imagined audience (the enormity of sadly ignorant people who really should come to know and love the PNW) and my real audience (family and friends) were worlds apart. Given the videos I do create, I would guess my subconscious realizes this, as I would definitely characterize them as a “travel log” for people who know us.

To expand the channel by any degree I think I would have to make the leap to official travelogue. This format has a long and storied history in the world of television but it would take a bunch more research and filming to really show the essence of places we visit. And it’s not really feasible for me to move into the vlog world. At the very least, that would take a more cooperative (and less camera shy) partner and a lot more talking to camera…or even any talking to camera. Hmmmm…

And there is no way we could really be a true sailing channel — not with all the motoring we do :-) I can just imagine the scathing comments.

One of the main reasons I make the videos is to practice and sharpen my software skills. My “Map” is a perfect example of this. I needed a map to display routes and rather than steal (and it actually is stealing) one off the internet I decided to  make my own based on various sources. I traced a detailed outline into Adobe Illustrator and then modified and added layers to it. This was then imported into Adobe After Effects, routes added and animated and finally placed into the main Premiere video file for integration with the rest of the footage. It is labour intensive and complex and I end up learning something new every time I attempt it. Good practice, lousy efficiency.

The 3 videos I did to promote Nanaimo Yacht Charters were very much done for practice and proof of concept. It started when Water Dragon, a 2017 42 Lagoon, was going into charter and had done some videos to promote the boat — and I really hated his splash screens. So I volunteered to see if I could add something to it.

This:

 

Became this:

Then I redid an interview video he had done, tweaking the audio and lighting and  played with a sample cruise itinerary of the Gulf Islands, which incidentally is my second-most viewed video despite the fact that it is beyond horrible.

I have also discovered subtitles recently. When I took my one brother for a tour through the Broughtons I checked to see if YouTube had CC (closed caption) capability (he’s deaf). Turns out they have an automatic captioning tool that, like most “autocorrect” type features, produces some awesomely funny results. Fortunately there is an ability to edit and add your own captioning, so I have started to add that to all my videos.

Tools

Hardware-wise I mostly use my iPhone 7 (or iPhone 5 in past videos), a Nikon Coolpix L80 with 28x optical zoom for long shots, and an SJCam (which is a cheap GoPro knockoff) for wide angle, timelapse and underwater shots. I long for a drone but keep talking myself out of it. At home I use my 2015 Macbook Pro to edit and last year invested in a 32-inch Samsung monitor after my old 21″ burned out.

As you can see, one of the “hardest” things about cruising is giving up all that delicious screen real estate for the puny 13″ monitor on my laptop. ;-)

I am lucky enough to have the full Adobe Creative Suite so I use After Effects  for animations and titles, Audition to prep and balance the audio and Premiere to put it all together. This year’s videos feature a lot of colour grading, which is a new skill for me, and a little experimentation with 2.33:1 anamorphic aspect ratios. I will usually open Photoshop and Illustrator at least once during a project to tweak an image or build some sort of graphic like the compass rose.

2019 Offerings

I had originally meant to say something about time invested and work ethic, but I think I have blithered on enough. Suffice it to say I shot these videos in April and it is now December. The rest I will leave for a future post. So, without further adieu, here are the four 2019 videos.

Part one is YEG to Lund.

Part two is Desolation Sound: Lund to Shark Spit.

Part three is a loop through the Discovery Islands with my brother and the Calgary Yacht Club‘s annual flotilla and our return to Smuggler Cove.

Part 4 is just our trip home from Smuggler, and encounter with the start of the VanIsle 360 and cleaning up.

16 Jun

2019 Trip Round-up

Where we were

Happy Father’s Day!

I know I have blogged the whole trip with overly-lengthy and oft boring trip reports but I thought I would add a wrap-up for those who just couldn’t stomach all those words. And a map of course…

Some Stats

  • 35 days total
  • 27 nights at anchor
  • 8 nights at marinas (2 at our home port)
  • 5 new anchorages
  • 4 lunch stops
  • 2 raft-ups
  • 1 day of rain
  • 0 nights on a mooring ball
  • 20 days travelling
  • 77.5 hours at sea
  • 421.5 nautical miles travelled (780.6 kilometres)

Interesting Wildlife

  • 2 pods of orca
  • 3 tube-snout fish
  • lots of sealions (even one sleeping at sea)
  • 1 immature bald eagle
  • a dozen or so oystercatchers
  • 2 deer
  • 1 market squid
  • and a clam digging back into the sand

Most Interesting Sight

  • 1 display of extraordinary local knowledge

“Local knowledge” is the term used when a boater navigates a dangerous area using prior experience (and not through ignorance). The image above was taken in the Copeland Islands. The pass which this Bayliner just transited is completely dry at low water and this image was shot about mid tide. We were holding our breathes as we saw him come through anticipating some sort of horrible scraping as he bounced off the rocky bottom. But fortunately he motored casually through, barely slowing down. Extraordinary.

In Summary

We’ve almost kicked the marina habit. Without the flotilla and good management, I bet we could have gotten our total number of nights at a marina down to 5 or 6. And that really makes my wanting to shell out $1000 for a portable generator a non-starter. Oh well.

And once again we reaffirmed our decision to sail in the early season—awesome weather, minimal mosquitos and rarely too hot & sweaty. And, except when we sought out the company (the CYC flotilla), minimal crowding at some of the prettiest anchorages around.

Not tons of wildlife this trip but some interesting new anchorages (Ballet Bay, Tenedos Bay, midway down Von Donop and Pendrell Sound). And I learned a lot about sail trim from watching the other boats on the flotilla. So all in all a great trip. Hopefully enough of one to last me until next year…

As always a jpeg of the map in case Google ever gets mad enough at me to block my access:

14 Jun

Desolation 2019 Week 5

Alone again

All alone at last. We were now on the clock before getting L back to civilization so it was time for some serious relaxing. We pretty much decided, between available time and battery charge, we would spend a few days in Smuggler Cove then scoot back to Nanaimo, spend a day (or afternoon) recharging our batteries at Stones and finish off the week in Mark Bay.

There were a few things I forgot to mention in the last blog post. One was the appearance of these totally cute tube-snout fish (Aulorhynchus flavidus) on our swim ladder in Pendrell Sound. About 4 inches long, these funny looking things are closely related to seahorses.

The other was just how much I learned about sail trim from sailing close proximity to other sailors in the same conditions.

As an example if you compare the trim on the two headsails you get a wonderful example of what air spilling out the top of the sail really is in terms of sail shape. It doesn’t necessarily tell you what will work on your boat, but by observing and comparing others you start to get a better sense of what all those many words of advice you read mean in a practical sense. Very useful and I learned tons.

27 May

What a lovely hot and sunny day.

We decided to take a trip in the dinghy to Thormanby Island and visit the beach there. It was deserted except for one set of intrepid campers, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

We wandered around for a bit, although my foot was giving me a bit of trouble so there was a lot of standing in cool water and sitting on logs. Later in the day I did run into this fellow who was living aboard his smaller boat (30 feet maybe?) with his wife and two kids. His outboard had died so he was traveling everywhere by sail only. It had taken him over 8 hours to get to Thormanby from Halfmoon Bay the previous evening having to tack back and forth. My Navionics app tells me that is around 2.5 nm, less than a half hour motor for us.

At one point I was standing in the slowly receding water watching all the clams spit and thought to myself, “I wonder if I can dig one up?” I used my handy-dandy walking stick and started scratching in  the sand until  lo and behold I found a small clam. At first I was convinced it was dead, like every other clam we had ever seen, but I noticed it was still shut pretty tight. So I plopped it back in the water and watched in fascination as it slowly dug its way back into the sand.

Turns out this was a Varnish clam or Savory clam (Nuttallia obscurata). Not native to our shores, it is an import from Japan and considered an invasive species. I sped the film clip up 4x so you wouldn’t have to sit through all his shifting around.

Back on the boat we cracked a chilled bottle of white to go with the fading heat of the day and enjoyed a lovely sunset.

28 May

Overnight the winds came up. Once again I had to get up in the middle of the night because I forgot to secure the boat. This time it was the spinnaker halyard banging against the mast. I have to say, one thing about full-time cruising was we got used to these noises and were much better able to sleep through them. Now I have to learn to get used to them  all over again every year.

It was a windy and cold morning, but the forecast said it would be nice by noon. We were planning on heading to Nanaimo as the batteries were getting low. So we decided to wait. At 2:30 p.m. it was still 20 knots off Merry Island and gusting. The forecasts are always so reliable (he mutters sarcastically). Well the batteries were sitting at 55% and we’d wasted most of the day waiting for the weather to warm up, so we decide to make the 3 nm trip and tie up at Secret Cove instead.

There we were finally able to dump the garbage we had been carting around all month—the aft locker was getting a bit stinky—and do all the recycling. A few places along the way had had limited options for recycling but garbage is pretty hard to get rid of unless you want to pay for it. Since we had the storage space we figured why bother.

We tied up alongside Drumbeat, a 70+ foot racing boat that had been fitted out for cruising. It was massive. I spent half an hour just tracing all the lines and halyards. You could adjust literally everything on this gorgeous sailboat.

All tied up, the weather was suddenly sunny and a lot warmer and we had a quiet night.

29 May

We woke to a calm morning. Too calm. It didn’t look like we would be sailing at all today. That’s what you get when you choose comfort over sailing I guess.

It was overcast as we cast off. As we headed down Welcome Passage we kept the radio on the weather channels to see if Whiskey Gulf was active. It was. This was the first time we had ever had to change our direct course to Nanaimo to avoid it. Whiskey Gulf is a military exercise area that is often closed to transit. It’s a rough trapezoid shape in the middle of the Strait roughly from Entrance Island near Nanaimo up to almost Parksville. So we headed east along Merry Island, checked out the lighthouse and weather station there and eventually turned south towards Gabriola. Later we could see some sort or warship stooging around near Ballenas Island but it was too far away to identify.

On the last leg of the trip we finally got to roll out the sails and had a nice bit of sailing for an hour or so. As we came around Gabriola the traffic started to pick up and we were squeezed between two big huge Seaspan carriers, one following us and one coming out. And just as we cleared those, the Duke Point ferry started coming up on us from behind and we could see two  Departure Bay ferries behind him crossing each other’s course. All safe, but a little nerve wracking…

Then, after all that, the Gabriola Island ferry crossed just in front of us just to keep us on our toes.

We dropped anchor in Mark Bay. The anchorage was nearly empty (if you didn’t count the private moorings—and there were a lot more private moorings than last year…sigh). We opted to grab dinner and some cider at  the Dinghy Dock Pub since that would save us from having to shop for one more meal—we were almost bang on in our plans to use up all the provisions. After that it was a warm calm night and we drifted off to sleep.

30 May

A sunny, warm morning. I spotted a smaller sailboat sporting the white ensign on one of the park mooring buoys and then noticed the crew were all wearing the same sort of uniform. Then I noticed another just behind it. A quick google and it turns out they were the Royal Canadian Navy’s STV Goldcrest and Tuna (Royal Canadian Navy Sail Training Vessels). These are two CS-36s that were bought back in the 80s to provide hands-on small craft sailing experience to Navy personnel.

Then I figured out they were here for the VanIsle 360 which is a big international race around Vancouver Island. I posted a pic and Matt from Gudgeon let me know they also had one of the Orca class Patrol Vessels as their support vessel. Too cool.

The previous evening I had spotted a mast in the cut between Protection Island and Newcastle so we rowed over to check it out. It looks like someone was caught out by the drying reef and foundered. It couldn’t have been there too long (a couple of months? more?)althugh it had been stripped pretty thoroughly. But I wonder just whose responsibility getting rid of the wreck is going to be.

We spent the day resting and later went for a lovely walk around Newcastle. Then, just before dinner, I managed to smash my pinky toe while walking down the deck. I had been babying my feet all week in preparation of hauling all our gear and then I go and turn one of my toes a vivid purple. Smooth move…

31 May

Another sunny and calm morning. The harbour really is empty except for permanently moored boats. We will probably be in for a huge surprise the next time we come back in high season, we are getting so used to  the low volumes of boaters at this time of year.

While L was still around we started packing up bins, recording the inventory on our spreadsheets and sorting the laundry. We got it all done in about a half-day.

Then we motored in by dinghy to Stone’s where L’s parents picked us up and we headed to Tim’s for doughnuts, coffee and a nice visit.

Back on the boat we spotted our first Lions mane jellyfish south of Desolation. Didn’t get a good picture though. I wonder if that’s normal?

1 June

We woke up bright and early and started to raise anchor. It was time to head into the marina. Turns out though, the VanIsle 360 was about to start—so we  took our time and drifted around the anchorage for a while so we could see the start of the race. Talk about a whole lot of money in sails and technology circling around like hungry sharks. Neat to see and it made a whole lot more sense than it might have otherwise with our brief introduction to racing with the flotilla.

Snuggly tied up in our slip, we walked over to the BC Ferry terminal and dropped L off for her trip to Vancouver. Then I moved bins into storage and generally cleaned up a bit. Later in the afternoon I found the new (used) chartplotter I had purchased on ebay and had shipped to NYCSS and sat down to install it.

It was a straight swap: Raymarine e80 for e80 so wiring wise, pretty simple. I got it all done and setup except for tuning in the radar. There was just too much signal in the marina and it looked like I would have to take it out into open water to calibrate it. So I left it for the NYCSS guys to do. Nice to have a working screen again. Now I have to decide if I will send the old one away to get refurbished or not. I’ve since found out the backlight issue is fairly common on these models and there are places that will swap out the fluorescents for new LED technology.

And that was that.

2 June

I spent the last day cleaning and doing laundry.

I noticed after spending an hour or two scrubbing canvas, trying to get the moss out, that after it dried, it still wasn’t looking very clean. That’s when I realized I had purchased Mold and Mildew Cleaner… moss…mold…it’s the same thing right? Not.

Around mid-morning an old friend from Hole’s swung by for tea. Liz had been at a family thing in Nanaimo and saw on Instagram that I was here as well. She wandered over while she was waiting for her ferry. Super great to catch up.

I hauled the clean laundry up to storage and dealt with the last of the chores before watching a bit of West Wing and heading to bed.

3 June

I was up early. Turns out it was too early. 1 hr too early. I have a lot of trouble with rounding sometimes. Anyway, I was off the boat and chilling in Seair’s terminal before 7 a.m. waiting for my 7:45 flight. We were on the Cessna again —I miss flying in the Beavers — and landed in south terminal YVR 15 minutes later.

The Entrance Island lighthouse.

Coming up to the docks at south terminal, there was a strong current and the dock boys screwed up their lines. Turns out it was their first time doing it alone and didn’t get a wrap fast enough. Then they couldn’t sweat the line to bring the plane onto the dock. The pilot had to cast off again and bring her around a second time, this time a bit closer to the dock. Alls well that ends well, but its nice to see that the pilots have troubles sometimes too.

2 minutes later one of the Turbo Beavers came in and and that pilot slotted it into a tiny spot with just enough clearance. I would have hesitated to do that in a boat. Show off. Back at the terminal, one of the taxis then backed into a bus. An exciting morning! We took our shuttle into the main terminal and that was it for Cruise 2019. I did learn that if we call Seair from the terminal next time we fly in we can often grab a ride on the shuttle if it happens to be heading back. Good tip.

Wrap Up

I will write up something a bit more numerical for the official roundup but I will finish this by saying it was a great cruise. At the end of the trip I was eager to head home to my own bed for once, so I think that meant I had my fill of time aboard which makes the length just perfect. And we saw some great spots, met some great people and had some great experiences. So that makes the trip just perfect too.

11 Jun

Desolation 2019 Week Four

Being Social

I’m a weird guy: shy, misanthropic and anti-social combined with a strong aversion to being alone, intensely curious (or snoopy if you prefer) and sporadically “afflicted” from FOMO… you could say my relationship with the world is complicated :-)  My brother OTOH is a people person. He collects friends wherever he goes and is never shy about forming bonds with anyone he comes across, no matter what any particular social code may say about that. I guess that’s why the guy without a boat and in a wheelchair is the one who got me out cruising with a flotilla and not vice-versa.

So there we are, cruising around Desolation Sound with a diverse group of people. And not just people: racers! Will drama ensue? Fights over who won what? Secret midnight commando attacks to sabotage other boats? Spoiler Alert: it was plenty ‘o fun! And chock full of details so brace yourself for a long one…

21 May

The morning started with a skipper’s meeting. The current right outside Blind Channel (where, if you remember, we were currently docked), while not particularly dangerous was going to be running at 5 knots around 9 a.m. which incidentally was the time we would need to leave to catch the  midday slack at Dent Rapids. While we did see three boats slowly make their way up the channel against the current, it was agreed upon to wait out this current, head to Shoal Bay for an afternoon break and do the 7 pm slack.

We cast off first. I am still a bit agog about how nervous the other skippers were and how blasé we now are about the various currents and rapids. I think Waggoners puts a bit of a scare into everyone with their “worst case scenario” approach (although I appreciate why they do it). Be that as it may, we bucked a couple of knots current for a few minutes and then emerged into Cordero Channel with absolutely no wind.

A bit later L spotted a sea lion eating a largish fish. He would pop his head out of the water and thrash it violently until the fish went flying off leaving a nice hunk in his mouth to swallow. Then he would fetch his fish and repeat the whole process. So determined was he to choke down this meal that he sunk out of sight as a powerboat passed right over him and then immediately resumed the process. We watched him in the binoculars for quite a while: onboard entertain at it’s best.

The wind came up just as Shoal Bay came into sight and we could see the rest of the flotilla way behind us raise their sails but we opted to just settle in to the bay.  As its name suggests Shoal Bay shoals out quickly. Drop your hook in 50′ of water and you can find your stern in 8 feet or less. It took us 3 anchor attempts to be sort of satisfied (either it was too shallow or the anchor kept skipping) and immediately decided our earlier offer to Teka to raft alongside us was not going to work. 30 minutes later Teka showed up and rafted alongside us — how’s that for decisive.

L went for a row to rescue a fancy fender that was drifting out of the bay; turns out it belonged to one of the powerboats tied up at dock. Then, as it turns out Jean on Teka was a bit of an amateur bird enthusiast and I had mentioned to her we had spotted some stunning Violet-green Swallows here last year, Leslie  was drafted to take the budding ornithologist out to see if one could be spotted. Alas to no avail as the silly things wouldn’t hold still.

It was a pretty lazy afternoon as we all just hung out and visited. Later L and I went ashore, watched the crew of Rainbow’s End and Time Warp play horseshoes and watched a horde (around 10-12) of hummingbirds zoom around the feeder at the little pub. I really do like Shoal Bay.

Some of the fleet cast off early — leaving us and Teka behind. We took the time to have a tour of this classic old 80s boat and then reciprocated by giving Larry a tour of Never for Ever. Some very different design aesthetics from two very different eras of boat building.

Then Teka let go her lines and we started to raise anchor. At this point we actually started to pay attention to our surroundings and it turns out that at some point in the last 20 minutes or so (during the tour) our anchor had let go and we were hundreds of feet away from where we used to be. Not only that but we had about 80 feet of chain out and were now in 90 feet  of water. Umm… Turns out later our drifting had not gone unnoticed but the crew had failed to make connections between our movement and the fact that we were no longer anchored to the bottom. Oops. Oh well, no harm done.

We motor-sailed for a bit until we caught up (and passed) Teka and then killed the engine and sailed downwind just on the jib. The rest of the flotilla was still ahead of us, having been out gybing back and forth and having a good sail as they all waited for slack at Dent. We really have to take a page out of these guys’ book and raise the sails more often.

When we arrived it all looked good so we surged ahead of the fleet and entered Dent about 15–20 minutes early. It was a flood turning to ebb so we got a good push and actually had to try and slow down to not be too early for Gillard. Once Gillard was safely transited we motored to the community docks at Big Bay and tied up first at the otherwise empty docks. Everyone else slowly slotted in and an appie pot luck was declared for one hour hence. I had made some boule on the sail down and popped the focaccia that I had also prepped into the oven so our contribution was fresh bread with some oil and vinegar.

I also gave a few more boat tours to some of the other cruisers while L was stuck socializing with the group at large. And that pretty much ended the day. So far socializing with other people hadn’t killed anyone yet — fingers crossed.

22 May

It was a sunny morning. Big Bay on Stuart Island is situated right between the Yuculta and the Gillard rapids so we had to wait until noon before we could cast off. Our destination was supposed to be the Toba Wildernest (which we had attempted to visit two years ago but were turned away). But a last minute email de-invited us to tie up at their docks — they really don’t like spring cruisers there I guess. So we had a skippers’ meeting aboard Norfinn to settle the day’s plans. It was decided that we would head to Walsh Cove and along the way have a little pre-race race to see how each boat and crew could perform.

A quick note about racing:

Apparently the charter companies don’t like their boats participating in racing — and having seen the mindset of racers in action I have no problem understanding why :-). So the CYC members were careful to refer to any competitive sailing as “the Parade.” They weren’t fooling anyone but the forms were followed and that’s all that counts.

The plan was to gather at the 40°N mark south of the Yucultas at 2:30 pm and head around Raza Island and up Pryce Channel. The halfway mark would be just abeam of island north of West Redonda around 165°W with the finish between of the light at the top of Waddington Channel and Beam Island on the north shore of the channel. I asked what we would do if there was no wind and  the others were confident that wouldn’t be an issue . Heh heh heh…

The rapids were a bit swirly as we cast off but no big deal to transit  about half an hour early.

The fleet was divided into two divisions: the two big boats (Gloman Magic 42′ and Norfinn 49′) and the most experienced racer (Rainbow’s End 36′) in Division One. The other division was us (completely new to racing), Teka (theoretically a big old barge of a boat) and Time Warp (who at 32′ would technically be among the slowest of the boats). At the start the wind was clocking in around 3 or 4 knots so Teka and TIme Warp decided to cheat by rolling out their asymmetrical spinnakers. So here’s the thing. Our Hunter, with it’s weird-ass B&R rig, sports a tiny 110% jib. Both these other boats already had us out-gunned with their 130%+ genoas, but that wasn’t enough for them. The lightweight colourful spinnakers are huge and meant for kind of light winds we were currently experiencing. Luckily they are a pain to raise and fussy to keep filled in these slow drifting conditions.

So we took off like a shot (well ok, more like a slightly inebriated slug with a bad sense of direction) and gained substantial distance on our division-mates before they even crossed the line. We slowly drifted past both Norfinn and Gloman Magic (who eventually stalled in a dead spot and gave up on the race entirely) and that put us second overall and first in our division — Woot! Apparently we also came up on Norfinn on the windward side and stole what little wind they had. Who knew I was a race tactician on top of everything else?

The view from 5th place Teka.

About an hour later Rainbow’s End, who had read the conditions right and had been sneakily drifting towards the opening of Hole in the Wall, caught a nice breeze and took off at a bazillion miles an hour leaving the rest of us looking like rubber ducks bobbing in a bathtub. Eventually, one by one, we all caught the breeze and had a lovely beam reach sail into Gaza Passage. Where we stalled. Like I mean really stalled. So stalled our dinghies were passing us because they were lighter and drifted faster.

Now one might think this would be extremely boring and frustrating. And I suppose on one level it was. But at one point when we were drifting faster than Rainbow’s End and Norfinn (who had reached the passage before us), it looked like we would actually take the lead of the “parade.” At .25 knot boat speed, our adrenaline surged as we urged our vessel forward, determined to capture the overall lead. But alas we caught a back eddy and lost all the gains we had made. An hour later at  5 pm they called it. We had a few hours to go to our anchorage and had moved less than a dozen meters in the past hour. Division Two ended up almost perfectly all line abreast so who “won” remains in much dispute. (Although I think our claim that we stalled first secures us the win.)

After that it was a glorious motor-sail to the head of Toba Inlet and Walsh Cove with stunning views and loads of sunshine.

We stern-tied in 50’ at Walsh Cove and had a bit of an issue with the anchor not catching. But eventually we ended up in 12 feet of water with our stern about 10′ off the rocks: easiest stern tie ever. All settled in we rowed over to be social aboard Teka and had a glass of sparkling wine to celebrate Larry and Tracy’s 36 anniversary. Look at us…being social…

Quite the day.

23 May

Oh what a beautiful morning… 17° C. Coffee in the cockpit and some serious lazing is a great way to start the day.

For some reason I was being mobbed by bugs. Small black flies that didn’t bite or anything but I ended up with half a dozen drowned in my coffee. Blech. And what’s with this bug sense they seem to have? There appeared to be a consistent number and density of bugs annoying me but no matter how many I killed or drowned there seemed to be replacements waiting in the wings. Is there some sort of infinite supply that mandated to maintain the proper level of bug density? If there are actually infinite bugs why am I not drowning in the pesky buggers? Curious minds want to know.

L and I went out for a row to explore and check out the petroglyphs on nearby rocks. Quite nice examples of the form. We also spent some time peering underwater and watching the Oystercatchers that were wandering the shore. Really cool looking birds. In turn, a snoopy seal spent quite a bit of time checking us out.

Eventually we took off had a great sail tacking through Waddington Channel and then turned to go up Pendrell Sound where the flotilla had decided to stop for lunch. We made it about a quarter of the way up on sail before the wind died altogether and then we motored the rest of the way.

The fleet had been maintaining a watch on VHF channel 68 for inter-boat communications but as we started tacking back and forth across Waddington it turned out the Waggoner’s Alaska flotilla was also on 68. So we were treated to a bit of a guided tour of Desolation Sound with some interestingly insecure boaters asking all the good noob questions… ah, those were the days.

We dropped anchor about 3/4 of the way up Pendrell. Three boats were already there rafted together and splashing about in the water. Apparently Pendrell Sound has the warmest water in Desolation, which in turn has the warmest water in the PNW. On the surface it was running about 72° (22°C) that day. Of course about a foot lower it was much, much colder. Still, it was bearable and much splashing and swimming ensued.

Pendrell is a beautiful place, surrounded by snow covered mountains and rolling hills. Jean and I watched an immature bald eagle who spent its time watching us. Its identity was in doubt for a while (immature bald eagles do not yet sport the distinctive white head) but eventually her bird book and some high-powered binoculars confirmed the ID.

After lunch we all headed off for Grace Harbour. It was calm until we hit Desolation Sound proper and then the wind climbed into the 20s with some pretty nasty gusts. We were just about to roll out our headsail when Time Warp, who was just ahead of us sailing on their genoa, got nailed by a huge gust and rounded all the way up. Then Norfinn tried to raise their main and almost immediately dropped all their sail again. We decided to just motor the rest of the way, although everyone but Gloman Magic eventually managed to find a nice balance and sailed it. Apparently Rainbow’s End and Teka — way behind us — had a great sail, managing to hit hull speed (their theoretical maximum speed through the water).

The current was running in Malaspina Inlet and we hit 9 knots over ground in a few of the narrower spots. Eventually we all trickled into Grace Harbour anchor in fairly close proximity. We enjoyed a late supper, some tea with Teka and relaxed in the setting sun.

24 May

Morning came around grey and cloudy and we lounged around until 11 am. Brian had dinghyed by to let us know today was race day. The “parade” would go from between Sarah Point and Kinghorn Island to Major Islet (the rocks just off the Copelands where we had seen the sealions).

Raising anchor proved that perhaps we had anchored in a bit too close of a proximity to each other and Gloman Magic‘s anchor came up with Rainbow’s End‘s chain. A quick tug from the dinghy and it was all good.

Coming out of Malaspina Inlet the winds were fierce and most everyone was throwing in reefs and we were contemplating bailing altogether — but once we got out into the Sound proper they settled down and it looked like a long downwind sail was what we had in store. And right after the start of the race everyone with a reef shook them out and we were off.

 

As previously noted Hunters are not known for their downwind performance so we decided to check out the rumour that gybing back and forth in long broad reaches is actually faster. So we watched as the other boats headed downwind towards the finish line and we sailed westward towards Vancouver Island.  We had just turned back towards the line and, at 6+ knots, it looked like we might actually rejoin the pack in a good position, when Time Warp asked permission to raise their spinnaker and then “poof,” Teka had theirs up in a shot as well and any hope of catching them was gone.

Teka won. We think it was unfair. Mostly because we lost. We were the underdogs and so should have won…right?

I had been worried about pulling into Lund so late in the day but the wharfinger did a fantastic job of squeezing us all in (along with the Comox Yacht Club who were there as well). We were rafted up to Rainbow’s End and Time Warp ended up rafted alongside Teka and everyone else got a nice spot at the docks with no one relegated to the breakwaters.

Dale had been looking forward to a good shower after a few days of being stuck on board but it turned out the handicap shower was out of order. But they made do. He also popped a tire in his wheelchair—but a patch kit and a borrowed air pump made short work of that.  As if cruising isn’t already full of work that needs to be done. All cleaned up and presentable we all headed up for dinner and presentations at the newly reopened pub at the historic Lund Hotel.

Most of Teka’s crew, looking smug as they’d already eaten while the rest of us wasted away.

Growing pains made dinner for 20-odd people a long, slow process and the thought of presentations was abandoned since half the  people were ready to go before the other half had even been served. Our table managed to score free drinks as an apology and we had a nice evening chatting with the American contingent of the flotilla.

25 May

It was rolly in the harbour overnight and a squeaky fender between us and Rainbow’s End threatened to keep me awake after I woke up in the middle of the night. So I dragged myself out of bed and liberally applied some dishwashing soap to the fender to lubricate it. The bright blue Dawn soap made for an interesting “stain” the next morning.

We gathered on the dock for presentations. We came in third in our division and scored a lovely bunch of smoked oysters. I think were were robbed and should have gotten second (I guess I really wanted the 2nd place bunch of smoked oysters). It was obviously a high-level conspiracy and we had failed to grease the right palms (wasting all our lubrication on the fender). I figure this means we will just have to come back next year and exact our revenge.

Teka came out of it as leader of Division Two and overall winner. Apparently they managed to lowball expectations and sandbag to a point where everyone had expected them to barely be able to cross the line with their handicapped crew and overweight brick of a boat. Hah! We weren’t fooled, even if they managed to pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes.

Watch out Teka…we are watching you now…

After that we all started to pull out for our respective destinations. Gloman Magic and Norfinn were due back at the charter base in Comox and Teka had crew to drop off at the same place. Rainbow’s End and Time Warp were headed back to Sidney and we were going to start our slow way back to Nanaimo.

Rainbow’s End was off like a shot and we kept company with Time Warp while they broke out their spinnaker again as we sailed downwind around Harwood Island. Then they opted to head further west and we gybed back towards the Malaspina Strait.

Later we lost the wind and motored south in calm waters eventually deciding to keep going until we hit Smuggler. It was a long day but we had a glorious few days of doing nothing ahead of us so decided to get it over with.

26 May

Morning found us stern-tied back in Smuggler. It was a the start of a lazy, lazy day. All that socializing takes a lot out of a guy. And we really weren’t used to the constant movement from one place to another. We really hadn’t done much of that since we got our own boat.

I wanted to take the dinghy into Secret Cove to pick up some FSR (to start on the brightwork) and some Doritos — running low on snacks can be a grave issue. So we did. And that was the sum total of useful things we did that day.

A very west coast sunset.

Alone again

What a week. We had tons of fun and there were enough people and enough separation that we could all find some time a space to hide when it got to be too much. I have to say I think I really could start to like the idea of flotillas. At least with a groups of interesting and friendly people. And almost uniformly boaters seem to be interesting and friendly people. So there you are. I’m glad my brother invited us along and we will be sure to join in again if schedules align.

And I found out apparently, because of the last minute presentations, we were cheated. Cheated out of our traditional right to winge and moan good-naturally about our failure to win. I knew it.

This racing thing might be addictive.

06 Jun

Desolation 2019 week three

Gearing down

All in all it was a slow week. We finally settled into the groove and got in some relaxation time. So that means this will likely be a pretty short entry. I think. Lucky you.

14 May

Rain in Von Donop Inlet. We knew it was coming so it wasn’t much of a surprise to wake up to the sound of rain on the deck. It wasn’t raining too hard so I still got my morning coffee in the cockpit and the inevitable and annoying drip from our overhead traveller didn’t start until I was almost done. And then I pretty much stuck it out there for the rest of the day, shuffling around to avoid the various drips. L, on the other hand, didn’t emerge at all; I think she popped her head up maybe twice all day. She at least spent the day productively, working away on her project.

I spent the morning finishing last week’s blog and enjoying the sights and sounds of a rainy PNW day at a beautiful anchorage. At the risk of encouraging even more people to visit at this time of year, rain really can be a positive rather than a negative if you just adjust your mindset.

It was still a pretty warm morning (15°-ish in the cabin). The cove was pretty sheltered and there was absolutely no signal so I have no idea what the weather was actually like elsewhere — but we were treated to glassy, still water and lots and lots of precipitation. It rained pretty much non-stop all day.

Last night as we explored the anchorage by dinghy, L picked up some cell signal and we got a text from my brother. Apparently he is already aboard Teka and heading north to Comox, expecting to arrive in a few days. Since he was supposed to board in Comox, I have no idea where he actually started from. We tried to get a note off letting him know we would likely meet him in Gorge; if we were lucky he got it.

At one point, when the rain slacked off to a mere dribble, I did grab my rain pants and jacket and rowed out into the main inlet to try and get a cell signal. I picked up one bar and a wet ass. Seems the waterproofing on my rain pants has held out pretty well in every area except the ass — something I hadn’t expected. So, pants and underwear…not so dry.

And that was the day.

15 May

Two nights was all the batteries had so we decided to head to Quadra Island. It was a beautiful day for a sail, so we motored the whole way to try and get as much charge into the batteries as possible. We even motored slowly to maximize charging time. Although the initial plan was one night on the hook and one night at Taku Resort, we were thinking if we could jam enough amps into the batteries to stick out two nights on the hook then we could skip the fees at Taku since we were subsequently booked into two nights at Gorge Harbour.

As we passed the entrance to Hoskyn Channel, L spotted a whale watching boat headed our way and then, a few minutes later, the telltale long black dorsal of an orca. They were about 200 meters off and headed straight for us. We killed the engine just as they dived and they must have passed below us because we didn’t spot them again for several minutes before the reappeared off the port side, again a few hundred meters away. With another whale watching boat coming, a small powerboat circling back, and the Whaletown ferry barrelling straight for them, we decided to just float there and watch them swim away rather than altering course to keep them sight. Sometime I feel mighty sorry for them—it’s a wonder if they get a moment’s rest. Anyway, we estimated 4–6 in the pod although its always hard to get a good count and they were diving for longer periods than usual between breaths.

As we rounded the spit, there was one other boat at the north end just dropping anchor so went a bit east and dropped in 40’ of water and backed on to the shore to settle in about 17’ with our bow facing south. There were supposed to be little to no wind and pretty protected from the north, so we figured we were good.

We ate and went for a walk around the spit and enjoyed a lovely evening soaking in the relative calm and the gorgeous views.

16 May

The calm before the storm.

We enjoyed that lovely evening until around midnight. Then L and I were woken by winds howling, gear banging and the anchor chain creaking like a medieval torture device. The forecast had called for calm winds out of the north west, but what we got was strong winds out of the southeast — the direction we had absolutely no protection from. Thankfully we had anchored bow to the south so not only was your anchor set that way, but all the chain was already out that direction and there was no question of us swinging further toward the rapidly shallowing shore.

What we did have was an awful racket. I had not secured anything since we weren’t expecting wind. I made several trips up on deck to tie back slapping halyards and lines, snap down flapping canvas and finally to readjust the snubber so the loud creaking sound of the chain banging on the seafloor stopped being transmitted right into the cabin. But by that time we were wide awake. And also kinda freaked out by the violence of the swing and the plethora of creaks, groans and bangs. So we slept in the salon for most of the rest of the night, keeping an ear out and eventually moving back to our cabin in the early morning.

When we finally got up, we overheard that the Truant 36 who had dropped anchor beside us (but set it 180° to us) did drag a bit but no one else seemed to have suffered any other consequences.

Around 11 am L had her conference call while I hung out with her in the cockpit. That bit of work done, we headed into shore to buy some supplies. We finally found some skim milk so that big crisis was averted and we also picked up some snacks and sundry other things.

 

The rest of the day was walking the shore and relaxing. I spotted some beautiful fritillarias and explored the massive piles of driftwood ever-present on Rebecca Spit. We did find a halibut head in the dinghy after returning from one of our strolls. I have no idea how it got there except maybe a passing eagle or seagull dropped it. Gross anyway you look at it.

We kept an eye on the battery monitor and it looked like we would be good until morning without having to run the motor.

17 May

We awoke to cool, grey weather and a state of charge of 52%. Time to “get up and go little dinosaurs!” (inside joke). An hour or so later we were negotiating Uganda Passage purely with charts at low tide. Not having a functioning chartplotter was really honing my chart reading skills. This involves a bit of a serpentine in a narrow channel threading amongst three buoys. It always seems a lot more difficult than it actually is.

It was not quite 11 a.m. when we emerged from the passage alongside Shark Spit — which is a long sandy spit south off of Marina Island that necessitates the Uganda passage transit. It’s a popular place for locals, picnics and lunch stops but we’ve never actually stopped. Since the tide was out and the entire spit was exposed we decided it was time to give it a try.

I had Leslie drop anchor when we hit 20’ but by the time I had the boat in reverse we were down to 4’ under the keel. Oops. So we pulled it back up and moved out to 40’ of water and tried again. Success. We rowed ashore and beached the dinghy in the mud flats that were exposed. A bit to the north a local had their shoal keel sailboat completely beached so they could work on the bottom while the tide was out. Handy.

The spit was a lot of fun. We collected oodles of shells and sand dollars (the first we’d seen in this area) and walked all the way out to the end of the spit. We were maybe 100’ from the green buoys we had just passed. When the water is up those buoys look like they are in the middle of a huge pass. We also found some huge spiral shells that were broken and it was hard to guess what they were. Later when back aboard we figured they were Moon Snails, which can grow up to 2 and half inches. We also spotted what I thought was plastic or rubber refuse but turned out to be Moon Snail egg collars. I wish I had known so I could have checked them out more closely. Next time.

We made lunch as the winds started to build out of the south and by the time we raised anchor they were doing pretty well. It was only 15 minutes to Gorge so we motored along spotting 3 dolphins off the starboard side for just a few minutes before they disappeared.

We headed to the fuel dock but had to wait while they got a power boat tied up in the increasing winds. After we filled up we moved out, switched our fenders to the starboard and headed into our slip. Luckily the by now strong wind was blowing us on to the dock so it wasn’t much of an issue, but that was the first time I have ever entered a finger with the boat in reverse and still making too much headway.

The rest of the day was watching boats arrive and the shenanigans associated with a strong wind on exposed docks. The Calgary Yacht Club flotilla gradual assembled. Rainbow’s End, a Dufour 36 was already at dock when we arrived. Teka, the Kelly Peterson 44 my brother was aboard snugged in behind us. Then Norfinn, a Jeanneau 49 from Desolation Sound Yacht Charters showed up to everyone’s consternation. A bit of miscommunication had listed it as a 38’ boat and they were not prepared to accommodate an extra 12 feet of boat on one of their busiest weekends of the season. They made it work by rafting up Time Warp, a Catalina 32 to Rainbow’s End. Last in was Gloman’s Magic another Jeanneau from DSYC, this time a 42’ DS (deck salon). And that was the group for the next week. I gradually met most of them over the next few days.

18 May

We were stern to the wind, and while Teka blocked some of the waves, it was a loud bangy night in the aft cabin as the waves slapped up against the transom. It’s one of the worst features of the design of our boat and if the wind had been just a little less, I would have backed into the dock to avoid that particular flaw. Still, we eventually managed to get some sleep.

Visiting aboard Teka.

The morning started with a coffee with my brother aboard Teka and a skipper’s meeting aboard Norfinn. It was weird being one of the more experienced skippers there. I would guess most of them were probably better sailors than I was, but they hadn’t been through these waters much and only Larry (Teka) and I had been through the rapids multiple times. The plan was to head north through Surge Narrows to Octopus Islands; transit Upper Rapids the next day to work our way to Blind Channel; and then come back through Dent and Gillard to Big Bay. Then the next morning we can scoot through the Yucultas and then it’s a couple of days in Desolation before we head for Lund.

I don’t know if I have ever mention my brother is in a wheelchair. I was anxious to see how he negotiated the problems of moving around a sailboat. Larry et al. had devised a great portable ramp system and the low center cockpit of the Kelly Peterson made it relatively easy for him to haul himself off and on the wide side decks. It really wouldn’t work on our Hunter.

The Cortes Island Seafest started at 11 and everyone headed up to enjoy it. We opted to do laundry. Shellfish and I and not currently on speaking terms. That and the fact that until this point we have spent a sum total of $34 in moorage (at Lund) and had just been hit with a $150 touch for two nights — have I mentioned that Gorge Harbour is a pretty high-end resort? I was still in shock and another $50 to sample seafood that would likely be a literal pain just seemed silly.

Seating was open to the public however, so we joined in, listened to music and met a few more flotilla participants in between laundry loads. L went back aboard to finish off the last of her presentation so she could send it away while we still had some internet access. Later she came back with a bag full of cider. Lucky me.

That night the band moved down to the deck overlooking the marina and we were treated to front row seats from the comfort of our own cockpit.

19 May

I was up pretty early but the flotilla were up even earlier. We planned to get off the dock around 9:30 but as the boats strutted casting off one by one that shifted closer and closer to 8. L was not impressed when I came down and shooed her into the shower since all the other boats had already taken off and we were last at dock.

Eventually we cast off and headed out. There was more turbulence in the gorge than I had ever seen before. Nothing to fuss about but still a new phenomenon. We spotted three dolphins as we turned west to head for Uganda. Maybe the same ones we had seen coming in?

It was a long sunny motor up to Surge Narrows where we caught up to the other boats who were milling around. Eventually someone pulled the plug and we all transited through a swirly Beasley Passage like ducks in a  row.

A short while later we dropped anchor in Octopus Islands and set up a stern tie. We were first in as some of the others hung back and the rest opted to go thought the rockier (but ostensibly deeper) back passage. We had hit the narrow pass into the islands at low tide and a few were wondering if their deeper keels would be a barrier. There was never less than 13 feet of water so I really don’t think this was a real issue.

Eventually everyone showed up in the inner cove with 4 boats lined up in a row and the two others on the other side. Rainbow’s End opted to stern tie to a boulder that eventually ended up well below the surface of the water. It’s really not something I would do, but it all worked out for them. Still…

Some people headed off to hike to the lake at the far end of the bay, but we opted to hang and I rowed around the cove for a while.

20 May

I heard the others raising anchor at gawd-awful o’clock but didn’t bother to crawl out of bed to see, instead just rolling over and drifting back to sleep for a few more hours. You see, there were two possible slack at Upper Rapids that day. One, just before 6 a.m. would give you a push up Johnstone; the other, at noon, would have you bucking the flood tide. I wasn’t going to get up at 5 just for a knot or so push.

At around 7, I crawled out of bed, made some coffee and hit the cockpit for some peace and quiet. Four out of six boats were gone with only us and Norfinn opting for a more civilized beginning to the day. The sun was still out and shining brightly but it only lasted about an hour until the south winds brought in clouds and the occasional drop of rain.

L rolled into consciousness right around then and we started our morning by doing pretty much nothing except watch a family of Canada Geese  showing off their rock climbing skills. And we emptied out main propane bottle. Luckily Blind Channel can refill it for us. Eventually we started prepping and raised anchor in a light drizzle before slipping out into Okisollo Channel to poke our heads into the rapids. We transited about 20 minutes early and Norfinn tucked in about 5 minutes behind us.

It was a grey, calm day and we motored the whole way. A few points displayed some interesting currents and we varied between going 8 knots and 3 depending on what the water was doing. Eventually we tied up at Blind Channel and despite both a warning by the staff and prior experience, I almost got caught out by the ever-present current. It just sneaks up on you at the last minute.

And that was that

We opted not to enjoy opening night at the restaurant and visited a little with Teka. The flotilla had started out pretty well although the constant movement each day was something we haven’t done since our chartering days. Still it was fresh and interesting and maybe we would actually sail with the fleet at one point :-)

 

17 May

Desolation 2019 week two

Je suis désolé

Previously…

When last we blogged we were tied up in the Copelands starting to get into the cruising groove. We have been binge-watching a lot of Episodes lately which was Matt Le Blanc’s Showtime series about a fictional Matt LeBlanc. It stars Tamsin Greg and Stephen Mangen who I just adored on the British series Green Wing. If you are at all into absurd British humour you really need to watch Green Wing. Episodes always starts with a Previously… so… This week: Desolation Sound!

8 May

Another beautiful day. The morning was again work for L and after lunch we took off to explore. I see a pattern emerging. We motored up to the cove in the central island that seems to be the popular anchorage of the Copelands. It is however open to all the wakes from boats transiting Thulin Passage so it doesn’t really appeal — but the approach is much less nerve-wracking than our little hidey hole.

Speaking of nerve-wracking, we are still having some low, low tides left over from the new moon. and when we putted out the entrance of our cove at low tide we could see a large metal spar actually poking above the surface of the water by a few inches; it emanated from the charted wreck that lies along the east shore. I never realize just how close to the surface it was. The wreck is directly below a large conifer up on the ridge and lies about 20 feet off the shore at low tide; closer to 30 at high tide. Be aware. That still gives you 30–40 feet before you have to worry about the rocks on the west side of the narrow passage. While I still recommend entering this anchorage at low tide so you can see said rocks, maybe it might be better to do it a couple of hours earlier or later.

There was one boat anchored in the centre of the cove we headed for, eschewing any of the new fancy stern-tie chains that have been recently installed — seemingly all over Desolation Sound and the Sunshine coast; there must of been a government grant or something. We did a slow reconnaissance to check out the chains for future reference and then used one to tie up the dinghy and head ashore. There a bunch of easy paths to follow that wind around the south portion of the island but couldn’t find anything that led to the north portion.

On the way back we check out the southern-most island and it looks like it has a bunch more trails so we will have to head over one day. Next trip though, as our batteries look to be around 55% tomorrow and it is time to think about a recharge.

Out in the Passage we had got enough signal for me to discover that SV Violet Passage has tied up in Campbell River. A quick Instagram message confirmed they are ready to head north so it looks like we definitely missed them this year.

9 May

I awoke to a very loud, very bossy eagle. And a couple of equally noisy Canada geese. What a racket! I thought these hideaways were supposed to be peaceful.

With batteries almost dead we now had basically two choices. We could find a marina and plug in or go for a long motor and try and pack as much juice back into them as possible. With topped up batteries we have 3 or 4 nights power but ft we just rely on the engine to recharge we can’t usually get them past 90% (which will take 5 or 6 hours of motoring) and that leaves us with only 2– 3 nights on anchor.

Batteries

For those that are interested we use about 15% of our total batteries capacity in one 24hr cycle. Our lead acid battery bank holds 450 amp hours at 12v, only 50% of which is available to be used (lead acid batteries don’t like to be drained less than 50%). That means we use around 67 amps a day—the majority of which goes to powering our fridge and freezer and running the stereo.

I would love to pick up an alternate power source, but solar panels aren’t really appropriate for a charter boat and I waffle over the cost effectiveness of a small generator. They are worth around $1200 — the equivalent of around 20 visits to a marina. Since we usually see only 2 or 3 marinas a trip, that’s a lot of years of amortization.

After some back and forth we had a plan. We decided to head to a marina, which meant Lund, Gorge Harbour (which we were visiting next week anyway) or across to Quadra Island and Taku Resort. A bit more consulting of the charts and calendar and we decided to head to Lund for a night. Then we could spend a week in a couple of anchorages (tentatively Tenedos Bay and Von Donop Inlet) and make our way around the back of Cortes to Taku where we could reprovision, do laundry and top up on power and water. That would leave us in a good position to meet up with the flotilla either in Comox or Gorge by the 16th.

As we puttered around getting ready to cast off I noticed our two loud goose friends on the cliff behind us. Then I noticed the six goslings also scattered across the cliffside. Let me tell you watching tiny little yellow fluff balls scale cliffs is another pretty nerve-wracking activity. And mom and dad didn’t seem to even notice…someone should call social services…

Speaking of wildlife I had forgotten to mention the 6-inch squid who spent quite a bit of time checking out the yellow paint on our chain rode way back in Smuggler Cove. I have never seen one before; according to the guide book he (she?) was likely a Loligo opalescens also know as an Opal Squid, or a Market Squid, or even more commonly known in a restaurant near you as calamari. Mmmmmm…calamari…

We left on a rising tide and both the wreck and the rocks were invisible. All this was made a bit more sketchy by the fact the chart plotter is still pretty dim, almost unviewable in dim light. But no objects were hit. I spent a few minutes once we were clear of the cove looking at my macerator. I don’t think it is operating properly, but luckily enough I have two. We switched over to the back-up and were “rewarded” with a blast of…well…crap. Now we can empty the holding tank later on.

Lund had a slip for us on the north side of A dock. (Slips can be at a premium at Lund and it is a strictly regulated first-come first-served. They won’t even give you slip assignment until they see you approach the breakwater.) We tied up, plugged in and walked up to the harbourmasters office to check in. $34 later (which is a real deal) we were all registered and decided to go pick up a few provisions at the store. And since we were spending money anyway we indulged in lunch at Nancy’s Bakery — I had a most delicious grilled Monte Cristo — and later again in dinner at the Boardwalk Restaurant.

Back on the docks, I noticed we were tied up alongside a 50-ish foot Ocean Alexander and right behind them, a huge 64-foot Northern Something-or-other. 10 feet in boat length makes a huge difference in overall boat size. We felt positively puny. Cruising never fails to remind me about the relative scales of wealth.

10 May

We grabbed a last shower with our newly heated water (such luxuries at dock), before topping up the tank and unplugging from the dock with fully charged batteries. There was no wind to speak of as we motored north through thulium Passage. We had definitely decided on Tenedos Bay as our next destination. It’s another of those “popular” anchorages in Desolation that we had yet to visit, so we decided to give it a try since it was more likely to be empty at the time of year. As we rounded Sarah Point we finally “officially” entered Desolation Sound and the view, as always, was stunning. I took etc same pictures and video I take every time although you would thin by this time I would have realized it was nothing new. And the water was empty of boats other than one smaller powerboat fishing off the point. The wind did come up a bit but we’ve already fallen into the trap of laziness and didn’t bother to raise the sails for the short trip. I think we are going to regret that when we finally join the flotilla which I predict will be stuffed with landlocked sailors desperate for a breath of wind. I predict we will get our asses kicked in the inevitable racing.

Tenedos had a large expedition type yacht on the hook in the main anchorage off the mouth of the stream. It had to be 60–70 feet and had the look of something more likely to be found in the Arctic than cruising around here. Unfortunately it was gone the next day when we took out the dinghy so I never did catch a name other than the OP emblazoned on the side of the forward superstructure. Other than that we had the place to ourselves. We anchored in the west arm on the north side of the bay just off the tombolo that joined the small island to the mainland. We dropped in about 40 feet of water and just swung in the middle of the small cove rather than fussing with stern lines.

Later I finally got to row the dinghy — stealing control from the oaring fanatic I travel with by the simple expedient of jumping in the boat first before she noticed. We toured around the anchorage spotting hundreds of the small red starfish (leather stars?) and lots of the purple and pink ones as well. Two small deer were wading in the shallows off the point and back at the boat we discovered that the rocks on the north side of us were apparently a favoured haulout for about 15 harbour seals. They remained around us for the entire stay, coming and going with the tide and occasionally, when basking in the sun like a loud pile of cats, all came crashing back into the water when some loud noise startled them.

We did discover a few more items on my “Oops I forgot pack that” list. Earlier the amount of mosquito bites on my ankle pointed out our complete lack of bug repellant (I usually pack it though we’ve never used it before but…), and my rapidly reddening forearms pointed out that leaving the sunscreen at home on the counter was a dumber mistake than leaving my good kitchen knife behind.

Late that night we were joined (although off in the centre between the two arms) by a 50-ish foot Meridien named Bad Habit. They were pretty good neighbours except for the generator. They only ran it in the late mornings though, so that was all right.

11 May

What a warm sunny day. [Insert sigh of contentment here] We spent the day mostly relaxing and watching the seals noisily fight over the best sunning spot on the rocks. Later on a nature watching boat came scooting over the submerged tombolo with a load of eager junior naturalists and paused briefly by the pile of pinnipeds… they didn’t even budge. I guess they are used to being an attraction, because every time we even sneeze they all go crashing into the water as if we had set off a bomb.

Later in the day we were joined in our cove by a small trawler-type with 4 men and their toys. They were ok neighbours if you had to have neighbours. L suggests to me that my article in Pacific Yachting encouraging people to take in Desolation Sound during the early season worked…which is a bit of a bummer, albeit an ironic one.

We mounted the outboard and scooted over to the trail head for a hike to the lake. It was more of a walk and all of 7 minutes long. Disappointing. We did back track and take the more “rigorous” south trail which consumed another 15 minutes and was a bit more interesting as it terminated on some sunny rocks with a nice view and a rocky “beach” one could wade or bath in —something one of our trawler buddies was currently doing. When the sun got too hot he meandered back and spent a half an hour of so sitting on the rough bridge over the stream enjoying the miniature rapids and noisy babble of the lake water slowly emptying into the sea. “Everyone should be quiet near a little stream and listen.” This is a quote from Ruth Krause that was illustrated by Maurice Sendak and I use it as one of my desktop pictures. Every one really should…

Back at the trailhead there is a campsite and we chatted with a nice couple from Colorado who had just kayaked in. He helped me drag our dinghy back into the water as it had receded a good 30 feet and heavy and awkward when the 8hp outboard is on it. They were out for week and then heading north by car to Alaska. Watching them unload was fascinating. Two adults and a dog is cargo enough but the amount of stuff they unpacked from the two person kayak was kind of astounding.

Heading back to the boat we were flagged down by a couple on a trimaran wanting to know about the “hike.” It turns out they had driven out from Montreal to buy their boat in Comox and were taking a few days to explore Desolation before they trucked it back to Quebec to cruise the east coast. Apparently the current exchange rate made a west coast purchase and subsequent trucking way more affordable than buying something from the eastern States.

12 May

Wake up. Drink coffee in the morning sun. Bake muffins for lunch. Go for an afternoon motor to tour the bay. Relax in the sun. Drink some more coffee. Sigh.

The only highlight of the day was the departure of trawler boys and the early evening appearance of Swell. She’s a 60-something foot converted ocean-going tug that we had been docked near in our last few weeks in Victoria. They do excursion tours from Victoria all the way to Haida Gwaii. While it was nice to see her, the fact that she didn’t turn her engine off at all was a bit annoying and our peaceful anchorage was no more. I know, I know, first world problems…

13 May

Cooler and less sunny, yet somehow one of the warmer mornings so far with the temperature being 15° in the cabin when I crawled out of bed. I bet if we hadn’t gone back for the heater repair it would have been a solid 11° all week.

Swell was gone when I emerged from the cabin, but a commercial prawn boat was anchored across the bay and they leave the engine running all the time to keep their catch cool so you could still hear a rumble echoing across the anchorage and drowning out that early morning serenity. Still, it was a bit quieter than Swell had been and we had the seals anyway.

Coffee and leftover muffins ensued.

The batteries were down to 57% (which was a bit lower than I expected — I suspect we are playing the stereo a bit more than usual) so we got ready to raise anchor and depart. We were off by 9. The chart plotter is almost completely useless now, but I have gotten a confirmation that the new one has cleared customs so it should be there by the time we get back. There are a series of shallow spots and drying rocks at the entrance to Tendedos that I normally would have woven my way through, but this time I opted to just go around — better safe than sorry, eh…

An hour and half later we tied up at the public wharf at Squirrel Cove (in a spot that was vacated mere moments before we arrived). We wandered up to the store in search of skim milk for someone’s morning tea —supplies were getting critically low and bit suspect. We had checked at Lund and now at Squirrel Cove and there has been absolutely no sign of skim milk. 2%, homo, half-and-half there was plenty of but absolutely no skim or even 1%. We have concluded that Central BCers either hate skim milk with an all consuming passion and thus the stores don’t dare carry it or they absolutely love the stuff and the stores can’t keep it in stock. The truth remains a mystery.

Then we headed north. We fired up the inverter to charge the laptops and as soon as the water was hot I had a nice shower and shave and broke out some clean clothes. Life is good. The weather had been nice enough that we have managed a couple of solar showers over the previous week, but the forecast has the wind turning southerly which usually brings cooler temperatures and rain so the likelihood of another water-warming day is pretty low. Take the showers when you can get them.

No whales in The channel this trip. We’ve been lucky there several times before. As we passed the cove midway down Von Donop we noticed it was a) empty and b) very calm. We turned hard a-port and wandered in to check it out. The depths were 11-12 feet (below our 5-foot keel) with the tide predicted to drop another 6 feet. After some maundering and negotiating (I was voting for our usual anchor at the end of the inlet) it was decided to give it a try. And wouldn’t you know it, the anchor was being fussy, and for one of a few very rare instances kept dragging rather than setting right away. That’ll teach us to try something new. But after a few tries we got it stuck in and both of us satisfied that we wouldn’t move. So here we are, for a few nights at least.

There is zero cell signal and the batteries only managed to get up to 82%, so I think two nights will be our max and we will head off to Herriot Bay or Taku a day early for laundry and the opportunity to visit a fully-stocked grocery store. At this point I doubt we will make the long sail south to Comox to meet up with my brother, so it will be only a short hop across to Gorge on Friday.

In Summary

It been a good week. We’ve had plenty of good weather (although that is predicted to end tomorrow) and some beautiful scenery to enjoy. We’ve also added a few creatures to our ever growing list of west coast wildlife which is always good.

We’ve got a few days until the flotilla to kick back and then it will be go, go, go for a week.

08 May

Desolation 2019—week one

And we are off. We had planned on heading to the coast on the 25th but unfortunate circumstances meant we had to cancel our flights last minute (Ouch!—but it’s only money right?). A couple of extra days and we got everything fixed up and took off on the 29th.

The plan was to cruise Desolation for a few weeks and meet up with the Calgary Yacht Club’s annual flotilla. My brother had joined them last year aboard his friend’s Kelly Peterson 44 which apparently had enough room for him and his wheelchair—something our Hunter just can’t manage. The flotilla was heading north from Comox, up to Blind Channel and then circling back by way of Toba Inlet. It looks to be a pretty busy agenda, so hopefully we will get our relaxing in first. And I imagine they will all be keen to actually sail.

And we’re off…

 29 April

We left Edmonton around 9 am, abjuring our usual seaplane flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo in favour of a flight into Nanaimo’s airport because that got us on the boat about 4 hours earlier. Ian from Nanaimo Yacht Charters picked us up at the airport and we had a nice visit on the drive in.

I’d forgotten our keys (among other things) and so I grabbed NYCSS’s set from Beth and we started hauling our gear on board. A few hour later we were mostly moved in and took a break to lunch with L’s parents who had driven in to meet us. Then we finished unpacking and headed off to the grocery store to provision. Eventually everything was done and we kicked back to try and relax after a long day.

Speaking of forgetting things. So far, because I got cocky and didn’t consult my pre-departure provisioning lists, I have realized I didn’t bring: a long sleeved button down (useful for cool evenings), my good kitchen knife, my gorilla pod for the go-pro knockoff, the aforementioned boat keys, my radio license renewal and enough long sleeved t-shirts. That’ll teach me. Or not.

30 April

We woke up to 10°C — a cold start to the day. We had intended to be off dock early but you know, one thing or another… Eventually we did cast off and headed across the Strait for the Sunshine Coast and the start of this year’s adventure.

We discovered right away the bearings on the wind transducer were shot. In what was obviously ~15 knots of wind, the wind instrument was reading from -1 knots up to a peak of 3 knots. I found later this was probably due to a big storm early in the year which had abused a few of the boats in the fleet. As per usual, after a year of being off the boat, we were a little off balance and since we opted to head straight out rather than have our normal couple of days at anchor in Nanaimo to settle in, we were a bit jangling. So the lack of accurate info about the wind and an initially bouncy ride led us to decided to motor sail rather than sail. I know, I know… we’re so weak-willed. What can I say…

I also discovered that the issues we had been having with the chart plotter last year were worse. I had assumed last year it was a battery/power issue which we had dealt with at the end of our cruise; but the screen was still dimming as time went on and the faint odour of ozone could be smelled. It got so bad that by the point we were ready to transit the narrow, rocky entrance to Smuggler Cove I couldn’t see the screen in the sunlight and decided to fire up Navionics on my phone to double-check our position.

But we made it in safely, dropped anchor and took out a stern line to the fancy new chains that had been installed. L took the line out in a change of our usual procedure. Seems she was tired of me yelling instructions from shore on how to maneuver the boat. So she had to put up with me yelling instructions from the boat on how to run the stern line. Some people just can’t win…

After dinner we discovered a horrible fact that almost ruined the whole trip. There was no kitchen drain plug! We searched high and low but to no avail. Horror! We quickly started researching places to head off to in order to find a replacement. In the meantime I McGyvered a temporary fix out of Press-and-Seal and a side plate. Disaster averted and dishes were duly done.

We were treated to about 3 hours of helicopters repeatedly coming by and dipping their buckets in the south cove. The fire couldn’t have been too far away as they were back every 4 minutes or so. Exciting stuff.

1 May

We awoke to 11°C and moored in the shade of a cliff which meant there was no hope of warming sunshine for at least 3 hours. Since 13° is our cut off for firing up the heater, I decided to fire up the heater. What I got was a horrible noise. Long time followers of this blog will note that my relationship with our Webasto Hydronic heater is not the best. In fact I would estimate that at least 50% of the time that I have gone to fire up the bloody thing it has failed to satisfy my need for heat. It again did not fail to disappoint me.

As soon as I flicked the breaker a horrible noise came from the aft locker. I glanced over at the thermostat control and noted it was already on (this is not good in my experience as it means it wasn’t shut down properly). I shut it all down after a few minutes and tried again. After my third try the thermostat control now started giving me an error message in the form of a series of indecipherable coloured blinks. And that was that. I wasn’t going to go through another whole cruise with no heater—it was now a matter of principle. Besides, we need a new drain plug.

I called Ian, let him know we were headed back and asked him to have a technician on standby. He thought it might be the bearings in the pump and cautioned that a replacement might be several days away. But I stuck to my guns and said were gonna get it fixed. I can get stubborn about the oddest things.

It was glass calm as we motored back across. That will serve me right for not sailing when I had the chance. I also noticed on the way back that the stitching on the Sunbrella edging of the jib had frayed and was now flapping a bit. That was a bit of a problem because given a little bit of wind, it was sure to get a lot worse.

Back at NYCSS, it became apparent that the issue was the recirc pump. Unbeknownst to me (I have been mystified by the setup of that bloody Webasto from day one and no one has been able to explain it to me) our install had an external pump—which is apparently just your typical freshwater pressure pump—plumbed in to pressure up the system. This pump turns on as soon as the breaker is turned on, before the Webasto’s internal pressure pump is actually fired up. Apparently the logic is that because the Webasto Diesel system is originally designed for trucks, there might not be enough oomph in the built-in pump to deal with the elevation changes and length of runs. An external pump ensures that airlocks are less of an issue.

So we swapped out the pump (which was still working and “probably” would have lasted the whole trip) but unfortunately the new pump had manufacturing defect and we had to put in a cheaper one. This means I can now hear the recirc pump running, but since the whole system generally sounds like an airliner running up its turbines, I figured it wasn’t much of a big deal. And the error code had reset itself. We successfully fired up the heater several times. Success! Of course in the week or so since we had it fixed the mornings have all been pretty good and I have yet to have had occasion to actually use the stupid thing. Sigh.

After a quick consult, we decided to haul down the jib. A & M canvas is just up the hill and theY agreed to do a quick sew job; we had it back in just a couple of hours. In the process we did notice that the foil that the jib slides into was loose and then had to find a couple of new set screws to get that taken care of.

I also decided that the chart plotter was unacceptable as it was. We will be okay because I had both my phone and my iPad to use and frankly I prefer using paper charts except for very narrow entrances and exits. We talked it over and decided that anything newer risked having to replace a lot of other instruments that talked to the chart plotter and that it could quickly run to almost $10,000 if we got carried away. I found several refurbished Raymarine e80’s on line and decided that for several hundred dollars it was worth it. So I bought one and it should be waiting when we finally get back. Hopefully it will be an easy swap.

All in all it was a busy and expensive day. Oh, and Beth found us a replacement plug…but it wasn’t as good as the original constarn it… We cast off and a few minutes later dropped anchor in Mark Bay around 5 pm. Then we dinghy’d over to the Dinghy Dock Pub for dinner and some cider.

2 May

These will get shorter, I promise. In any case we awoke, phoned the municipal dock to see if we could tie up for an hour instead of having to lower the outboard off and on. They said yes and we headed in. At first we were supposed to raft onto some crabbing boats but they were already getting pretty dense, so the harbour guys had us tie up in an empty slip normally occupied by the Spill Response boat.

I screwed up that dock. I wanted to reverse in but the wind kept catching the bow and swinging me out. As usual I got stubborn before I got smart and at one point even touched my anchor to the rail on one of the aluminum boats. Eventually I smartened up and just went in bow first. Easy-peasy. We dropped off some mail, bought some batteries and found another replacement drain plug (which still wasn’t as good as the original) and cast off again.

The winds were lighter but we managed to sail for for 40 minutes or soon until they died and we were left only making 2 knots of boat speed. Really starting to regret not sailing that first day…

A few hours later it was windy stern tie in Smuggler and there a lot of shenanigans until I was satisfied. It’s not as quiet as it was two years ago at this time of year. We shared the anchorage with 3 boats the first night (with two more in the back cove) and there was never less than 2 the entire time we were there.

3 May

The next morning Leslie wrote a proposal for a conference that she had left to the last moment. Around noon we managed to scrabble together enough internet signal to send it off. I on the other hand, discovered the shelf life of FSR is about 4 years. My wondrous blue rust-eating jelly was now a watery pink. So much for me spending some time working on the inevitable creep of rust stains.

So I let L row me around the anchorage. Eventually we tied up to the north shore and went for a hike out to the point—something we’d never done. Dinner was the first pizza of the year!

4 May

Another lazy morning followed by a longer hike that pretty much covered all the available trails. Lots of tourists and local availing themselves of the sunny day and beautiful scenery.

5 May

I wanted to get north, so we headed out with the intention of making Sturt Bay or maybe even Lund. One of my objectives is to try an meet up with S/V Violet Hour. Violet Hour is a C&C 38—if memory serves me—that Patrick and his partner (whose name completely escapes me at the moment) bought right around the time I was researching our own purchase. Them, Matt (on Gudgeon—who we finally met up with last year in Von Donop) and us make up a trio of sailors who all bought boats and started blogs right about the same time. The three journeys make an interesting compare and contrast for anyone contemplating life on the water in the PNW.

They were a couple of days ahead of us heading north at the time of our first abortive attempt to cast off and now were already exploring Desolation. As their intent was to head further north I wasn’t sure if they would still be around when we eventually arrived in Desolation.

The forecast called for 10–15 knots from the N and as usual the Malaspina was uninviting. We could have sailed but once again wimped out and decided a straight line was more efficient than spending the day tacking back and forth. Just outside Pender Harbour I spotted a dorsal fin and we were treated to a pod of 8 or so orca about 300 feet off the port side. We killed the engine and drifted alongside for 15 minutes or so as they headed south.

In the end it turned out that banging into the waves was not to our taste and we aborted our northward journey and decided to duck into Blind Bay. We had been to the Hardy Island anchorage there before; Dave (R Shack Island) had meant to take us to Ballet Bay on the south side one day but we’d never made it. So we decided to give it a try on our own. We arrived a low, low water and anchored in 20 ft surrounded by rocks. Six hours later the rocks had completely disappeared and suddenly all the warning in the guide books about approaching with caution made a lot more sense.

I am still refining my anchoring distance sense — we settled in slightly off centre in the small bay and I would have sworn there was barely enough room for us. An hour or so later another boat came in and dropped anchor a comfortable distance off our bow. Later when we went for a row we realized there was probably enough room for a couple more boats as well. So much for getting better at judging distance…

6 May

The winds were gone again. So we motored out of the bay and headed north up a much calmer Malaspina Strait. A bit later we spotted a sailboat on the AIS gaining on us. Eventually it turned out to be a Hunter 38 (pretty much the same boat as us but a few years newer). We had been running at close to 2500 RPM this trip which is much higher than our normal 2200 “Dave speed.” But these guys were beating us by almost half a knot in what was pretty much the exact same hull. L wouldn’t let me speed up. She’s mean.

We followed the other Hunter into Lund about 20 minutes behind. I tried to stern into the fuel dock and lost my bow to the wind. Again. That’s three times already. You think I’d learn. Anyway we backed out and came in on the other side after the the other boat had finished refuelling and cast off. Much easier. Then we picked up some more cider, topped up the water and took off again.

By this time I was just looking to find someplace to settle into for a few days. Violet Hour was supposedly heading for Cortes Bay but that didn’t appeal. Apparently according to our spiffy new 20919 Waggoners there were a bunch of new chains in the Copeland Islands and that was barely 2nm out from Lund. So we decided to give them a try.

The wind had picked up out of the northwest and our chosen anchorage looked a bit choppy so we bailed and went back to our cozy nook in the south islands for 2 years earlier. The entrance is a bit nerve-wracking but it was low tide and at least we could see the rocks instead of guesstimating where they were. We passed over one section where there was less than 2 feet under the keel but then passed into deeper (8 feet under the keel) water. Since we were about 3 feet above low tide we figured we were good for a few days.

As soon as we settled were greeted by the local seal. Later dinner was interrupted by a trio of noisy otters transiting the cove with their own victuals and we watched a bald eagle catch and consume a fish just off our stern. Idyllic. Leslie went for a row.

7 May

L spent the morning working (she is delivering a paper at the Learneds June 3 in YVR and still hasn’t finished her paper). I relaxed and thought about cleaning rust. Then we lowered the outboard and went for a cruise around the various islands in the group. The strait was dead calm so we crossed over to Major Islet and killed the engine just to the west of where the sea lions were gathered. We slowly drifted past these loud pinnipeds, managing to not disconcert them too much (although they did object to us when we attempted to row a bit further out…loudly). We also spotted some seal pups sunning themselves on the shore. Seriously cute.

We finished the day up with some shore exploration by drifting along the rocks: tons of starfish, sea cucumbers, anemones and all sorts of unidentified sea creatures—guide books are not as helpful as one would suppose. A quick hike next to watch the waves off the west side of the island and it was back on board for dinner and some episodes of Episodes.

Starting to relax

That pretty much wraps up our first week aboard. A bit more hectic than we could wish for but an improvement on the rush of try to head to the Broughtons that we went through last year. We have about 10 days before we meet up with the flotilla boats—either in Comox or a day later in Gorge. We haven’t decided yet. Everything in Desolation is pretty close to everything else so hopefully we can get in some sails without worrying about schedules.

I’d also like to find a chandlery and buy some cleaning supplies. The canvas could use a good scrub and the stainless needs some work. But our options are limited and I’m not that committed to it yet.

04 Apr

It’s 2019!

Well we are about 20 days out from heading to the coast for another month and a bit on the water. L has a conference in Vancouver starting June 1, so that pretty much gives us a finish date. There is a small chance I will drop her off in False Creek and solo back to Nanaimo for the 3rd or 4th but we will play that by ear.

So I guess it’s time to start making plans.

Flotilla

My brother belongs to the DSAA in Calgary and is an avid racer but he’d never sailed the coast in a keelboat (some excuse about a wheelchair or something). Last year he convinced some friends of his who own a Kelly Peterson 44 to join the Calgary Yacht Club’s annual flotilla and cruise Desolation. He had such a blast he is doing it again this year and invited us to tag along. Since the schedules worked we said we were in.

They are meeting up on May 16 in Comox to pick up a couple of charter boats from Desolation Sound Yacht Charters and then are heading off to Gorge Harbour to enjoy the Seafest festival for the weekend. After that it’s off for a nice jaunt up through the Discovery Islands. At this point the flotilla consist of Rainbows End (36 Dufour), Gloman Magic (Charter Boat—42 Jeanneau), Time Warp (Catalina 32), Sail Away (Charter Boat—45 Jeanneau), Teeka (Kelly Peterson 44) and us.

17-May—Comox
18-May—Gorge-Seafest
19-May—Gorge
20-May—Octopus Islands
21-May—Blind Channel
22-May—Big Bay
23-May—Toba Wilderness
24-May—Grace Harbour
25-May—Lund
26-May—Comox

 

It should be fun, and I am keen to see how they get my brother in and out of the cockpit…it sure wouldn’t be easy in our Hunter. The trip is a nice mix of marinas and anchorages so should be a good break for us since we intend to anchor out most of the time.

Before that

Which brings us to our plans. Right now we should be arriving in Nanaimo on April 25th. Given our usual slack-ass schedules, that should put us out and about by the 27th. Tentatively we are going to head north. We’d like to go back to Lasquetti and also to visit (revisit actually) Tribune Bay on Hornby. We’ve only been there once for a quick overnight stop and every other time we have been in the vicinity the winds have been blowing from the south which means it is completely exposed.

Other than that, this years tick list includes Tenedos Bay, Pendrell Sound and Homfray Lodge, and perhaps revisiting Roscoe Bay. I have been following Homfray Lodge on Instagram and it seems like such a cool place that I’d like to drop by and see it in person. So there should be plenty to keep us busy for a few weeks while we wait for the flotilla to gather. And of course, if all else fails, we can hole up in Van Donop because so far, it is our favourite place in Desolation

After that it’s back south we go. We will either hit Nanaimo and clear off the boat around May 31st before taking a seaplane to Vancouver and dropping L off. Or we’ll sail into Vancouver for June 1 and anchor out in False Creek. Then I will solo the boat back to Nanaimo and pack everything away on my own. Mostly I think it will depend on the weather—I’m not up for a solo crossing for the Strait in shitty weather.

Stuff

Last year the switch on my favourite 12v LED lamp died and despite my whizbang fixit skills I was unable to salvage anything but the lead weights in the stand. So I ordered a new one and will be bringing it out.

We also have to deal with our oar situation. I don’t know what NYCSS did last summer/fall. I suppose they dug up some replacements. But the last time we used some of their oars they were too long and impossible to row with. And since we often would rather row than motor, I might spend some time trying to get new oars.

I just heard that one of our forward Lewmar hatches has cracked and needs to be replaced. I know it was crazy crazed and I’ve contemplated fixing them before. Now I will have one good one and one  crappy one and I know that will really tempt me to fix it as well. We will just have to wait and see. Other than that I don’t think there is much we need to do this season. Fingers crossed.

Other Plans?

We had almost the entire season booked but at the last minute there was a cancellation of a 4-week charter in August. The downside is it’s late to try and find anyone who might be interested…any takers out there? I will throw in a skipper for free :-)

The upside is that it is now within the realm of possibility that we could get a few weeks in during the warm summer months which would be a new experience for us. For some reason we have never really sailed Never for Ever when it’s warm out—we have been cruising either off-season or up north where it’s much cooler. But that is a matter of money. Money we lose not chartering and money we spend flying back and forth again. Just another reason to buy a lottery ticket some day :-)

The last time we cruised in really warm weather we were still chartering.

Patience is a virtue

I am psyched to get going. I have been reading blogs and watching youtube videos all winter and I really want to put some miles of my own on. And the carrot of 5 weeks on the water sure helps when its -30°C out. So it’s time to start digging out gear and making some lists.

Hopefully we will see some of you out there!

29 Nov

Broughtons 2018 videos

I’ve been puttering about with all the video I shot this spring during our cruise up to the Broughtons and finally got around to finishing it. Overall I’d give the effort about a 75% …there are few weird video blips and some of the narration is just plain mumbley, but at least it’s done.

It was a great trip and we saw tons of humpbacks and porpoises — and I even got some good footage for once. I especially enjoy getting to share it with my brother—it’s always special to revisit something through someone else’s eyes.

And Matt, if you are still reading, check out the shoutout to Gudgeon in video 3 starting around the 6:45 mark. It will make you glad you finally got a windlass :-)

 

 

 

 

08 Oct

Tracking Never for Ever with Farkwar

Before I get started

If you read my previous post about adding KMLs and posting tracks website be sure to go back and check out the new addendum. A comment someone posted made me realize I could eliminate a lot of hassle in the middle bits by using Google Earth as an editor.

***

Where are we?

I’d been looking for a way to track my position and share it with friends and family in as close to real time as possible. Again it is something I could do by buying something like a Garmin INReach and paying for a subscription, but I just can’t justify the cost. I came across Farkwar because a bunch of other boat blogs I follow used it (Denali Rose and Little Cunning Plan). It’s a personal project by a cruiser/programmer and is available for free (unless you feel motivated to donate something).

Farkwar was designed to work with things like inReach or Iridium Go but also accepts input from a simple web interface or by email. The designer set it up to automatically parse position footers from emails coming from the popular Airmail/Sailmail program. Simply send an email and it updates your position. Of course this necessitates having the proper linkage etc. between your GPS and mail which I don’t have.

What Farkwar does is take your submitted position reports and post them on a map on it’s website.

It will also share your position on Twitter and (if they can get it working again because FB broke the interface) Facebook. You can also set it to link the position report to current blog posts on your site.

What I do

Once I decided to use Farkwar, I set about figuring out how to use it with the tools at hand. What I needed to do was to send a specifically formatted email to a unique “secret” email (which Farkwar gives you after you sign up). The trick was in getting the formatting right since it is parsed by a computer and doesn’t like stray commas or spaces. Once I got eh format figured out I saved it as a master file.

This is my saved default email:

We are currently tied up at our slip in Nanaimo.
–––––
At 28/06/2018 10:15 (pdt) our position was 49°11.3095′N,123°56.8367′W
Destination: finished trip

I use an iPhone. So I save the above email in Notes and just reuse it whenever I want to report. I did have a problem at one point when the iPhone helpfully changed the 5 dashes to one long line and the emails stopped working until I figured it out.

There are 4 main parts:

  1. The body of the report. I don’t know if there is a character limit, but I haven’t run into one. You can put as little or as much as you want in the report.
  2. 5 dashes indicate the end of the report body and the start of the position report.
  3. Time and position. There are several formats of lat and long that will be accepted and it depends where you get that data from.
  4. Destination. I usually just change this for bigger destinations like Desolation Sound or the Broughtons. This is mostly because I use Farkwar as part of my Float Plan.

How I do it

Step one: Open My GPS Coordinates on my iPhone. This is a free app that instantly gives me my lat and long in a mostly correct format. After I’ve opened the app I just hit the wheel in the upper right and hit Copy Coordinates.

Step two: Open Notes and find my Farkwar template.

Step three: Select the old GPS coords and then paste the new ones over top. At this point I need to fix the format because My GPS Coordinates puts spaces between the degrees and the minutes as well as between the minutes and the direction (N or W). Simply delete the 4 errant spaces

Step four: Edit the date and time and add a brief note about what we are doing.

Step five: send the note as an email to your secret Farkwar address and you are done.

This info is updated on the Farkwar map and sent out as a tweet (and hopefully some day once again posted to your Facebook feed).

Embed the Map

I have the map embedded on my float plan page. If you ever want to see where we are, then check there. I try to update it every day we are aboard. If I don’t have cell service I send it anyway and it will update when the phone connects.

To embed the map simply add an iframe to your website with this code: <iframe > src="http://farkwar.com/boats/<boat name>.map" height="500px" width="100%"> </iframe>

Other Bells & Whistles

You can also manually add positions using the web interface. If you add your website it will associate blog posts with position reports.

Farkwar also allows you to follow other boaters and get email notices, and also to form fleets of other boats that you might want to track. All in all a great little tool at a great price.

 

09 Jul

Spring 2018 Round Up

Well our spring 2018 cruise is done. We went a bit later this year due to time commitments but since we were headed north to the Broughtons, it was still a pretty uncrowded affair. We only had three and a half weeks, but we were determined to make the sojourn north again. In retrospect it was a bit rushed (especially as we had a timetable involving picking my brother up in Port McNeill) and I am not sure I would do it again with that little  time — then again, I am such a fan of the Broughtons I probably would. It just a different kind of cruising than we’ve become used to.

Day 1: 24.5 nm (Lasqueti Island*)
Day 2:  58.5 nm (Gowlland Harbour*)
Day 3 : 27.5 nm (Blind Channel)
Day 4: 38.25 nm (Port Harvey)
Day 5: 23.5 nm (Mound Island*)
Day 6: 0 nm (Mound Island*)
Day 7: 6.25 nm (Spout Island*)
Day 8: 14 nm (Port McNeill)
Day 9: 0 nm (Alert Bay)
Day 10: 26.25 nm  (Echo Bay)
Day 11: 15.5 nm (Kwatsi Bay)
Day 12: 25.5 nm (Lagoon Cove)
Day 13: 15 nm (Goat Island*)
Day 14: 0 nm (Goat Island*)
Day 15: 21 nm (Port McNeill)
Day 16: 35 nm (Port Harvey)
Day 17: 42.5 nm (Shoal Bay*)
Day 18: 26 nm (Von Donop)
Day 19: 0 nm (Von Donop)
Day 20: 43 nm (Van Anda)
Day 21: 28 nm (Secret Cove)
Day 22: 24 nm (Nanaimo Harbour)
Day 23: 1.5 nm (Stones Marina)
Day 25: 0 nm (Stones Marina)
Day 26: 0 nm (Stones Marina)
Day 27: 0 nm (Off the boat)

Total nautical miles travelled: 495.75 nm (918.12 km)
Time travelling: 92 hrs 50 minutes
New places visited (see asterisks): 6

As you can see we only spent more than one night at an anchorage on 3 occasions — quite the contrast to last year where only twice did we not stay more than one night.

Wildlife spotted

Humpback whales: 12
Pacific White-sided Dolphins: ~100
Deer: 2
Sea cucumbers:  a bunch and 2 different species
Bald Eagles: uncountable
Barn swallows: a passel
Purple Martins: some?
Slugs: multiple!

Spotted for the First Time
Mink: 3
Dall’s Porpoises: ~5
Minke whales: 2
Sea urchins: tons, both green & red
Chitons: various
Violet Green Swallows: 4 or 5

Boat Troubles

This years trip featured more than our usual share of boat-related issues.

  • Electrical weirdness — We raised the sails almost immediately after leaving Nanaimo Harbour and a few hours later the chartplotter was so dim it was almost unreadable. After we started the engine it brightened back up again. This continued throughout the whole trip. I checked all the connections but didn’t find a solution. (After we returned to dock and properly cleaned all the battery terminals the problem seemed to clear up.)
  • Webasto heater— it ran just fine the  first few times we used it but on the morning it hit 11° C, we just couldn’t get it to fire. It gave us a 3 blink error code for the first half dozen attempts but then it became a 6 blink. After we had access to the web again, I discovered that 3 blinks was a low/high voltage error (see point above) and that 6 was a Temperature Sensor Interrupt (which necessitated ordering a new part).
  • Jib Furling — after sailing downwind in 30+ knots, when I rolled the jib in, it didn’t wrap around the stay properly and left a little flap of sail that caught the wind. After entering Discovery Passage the winds picked up, caught the flap and started unfurling my sail. This became so bad we had to turn back into the wind and unfurl it and wrestle the sail back in again. What seemed like a straightforward procedure took about half an hour and had me on the foredeck getting pummelled by the jib sheets.
  • Main burner thermocouple — the main burner started cutting out halfway through the morning hot water boiling procedure (much to the dismay of the caffeine starved crew). I cleaned the thermocouple and dismantled the burner to give it a scrub but it was all to no avail. So for the rest of the trip we had to rely on the two small burners which meant cooking was a very time consuming affair. I opted not to have the new thermocouple shipped to me and that turned out to be a good thing because getting the old one out eventually necessitated drilling out old screws and retapping the holes.
  • Lost oar — we lost the bottom part of one of the oars somewhere on Johnstone Straight. It was odd because the conditions weren’t half as rough as they had been on days previously. I called ahead to Port Mc Neill to see if they could order me a new oar and they said they would try. But upon arrival it turns out that oars are such a specialized thing that they couldn’t find one that would fit. So we bought a paddle as a backup and resigned ourselves to more motoring that we usually do.
  • Overturned dinghy — after surviving the 25+ knot winds in Knight Inlet we breathed a sigh of relief and turned up Clio Channel. Unfortunately the winds funnel down Clio even more and soon were gusting in the mid 30s. When they hit 39 knots the dingy became air born and then flipped and landed upside down. I managed to pull it in and right it, but our new paddle, the seat and the fuel tank were gone. A few MOB turns later we had recovered the seat and the fuel tank but the paddle was long gone.

Brotherly Love

As I mentioned my brother joined us for a week (Port McNeill –> Broughtons –> Port McNeill). North Island Marina let us use their van to pick him up and drop him off at the Port Hardy Airport which is a great service. He hadn’t been on the water since he was a kid so it was a new experience for him. I asked early in the trip if he wanted to be crew or passenger and he opted for passenger. Still, he managed to spend his share of time at the helm and was a great help.

We saw tons of wildlife, hit the high spots of the Broughtons and generally had a great adventure.

In Conclusion

It was a great trip and over much too soon. We managed to meet up with some old friends, connect with some internet acquaintances and make some new friends as well. And we are still eager to do it all over again.

We managed to get back to a few spots we wanted to see again (including Alert Bay) and were blessed once again with a whole pod of dolphins traveling with us for a few miles. The only thing missing was some orca, but given that we saw a mother and calf pair of humpbacks, I think we can let that slide.

 

A static version of the map for posterity.

05 Apr

A Video Update

Well I finally got around to  finishing my videos of our Spring 2017 cruise to Desolation Sound and the Gulf Islands. I have been working on them since we got back, but could never bring myself to invest the energy to just finish them. As a result the final product looks (and sounds) a little rushed and unpolished. But they are done in time for me to start contemplating 2018 videos…so that’s a plus.

BC Map 2015

A few notes. I wanted to use maps and realized that technically speaking I couldn’t use anyone else’s without violating copyright. So I decided to build my own BC coast map based on several sources. A fun way to refresh my Abobe Illustrator skills. Then I animated them using Adobe After Effects. After a lot of hours, I came to the conclusion that I was doing things the hard way again. But c’est la vie — I learned a lot about what not to do. And they worked out pretty nicely. The whole thing was put together using Adobe Premiere.

I shot everything on my iPhone 5, Nikon Coolpix L80 and SJCam GoPro knockoff. I then used my iPhone 7 for the voiceover. I tried writing a script, but it came out worse than if I just winged it. So I wung it. And it shows. I was however, surprised at the quality and if I concentrated when actually speaking it was pretty damn clear.

Our cruise was 8 weeks so I divided the videos up into 1 week episodes (except for the week on the hard), so 7 in total. I also shot footage on a very sporadic basis because I was often too busy enjoying myself to remember.

Anyway, I now have even more respect for all those YouTubers out there. Enjoy.

02 Mar

We have a plan!

So we’ve booked off our time for the boat…and guess what! We’ve got enough time to make it to the Broughtons without killing ourselves, so as of now that’s the plan.

Broughtons 2018!

Yup, that’s right. We have almost the whole month of June to use Never for Ever ourselves and we are finally heading north again. We visited have the Broughton Archipelago twice —once with a Cooper Boating flotilla in 2014 aboard a charter boat and again in 2015 right after we boarded Never for Ever for our year-long seabbatical.  And we have been itching to go back because it is chock full of culture, wildlife and oh so much nature.

Sullivan Bay at sunset

So the plan (and it is still a plan right now) is to board around June 4 and sail north like the dickens to get past the tidal rapids as soon as feasible and then slow down for a leisurely  tour, hitting some old favourites and hopefully ticking some new ones off the wishlist.

Things to do before we go?

What might interfere with that basic plan is that I have a few things I kind of want to do out on the coast and they will take time that I am reluctant to give. L and I want to take the test for our ICC certification (International Certification of Competence ) because some day I am going to go sailing in Greece and Croatia and increasingly a lot Mediterranean countries are looking for some sort of official certification.

I also want to look into getting our PADI dive certificates. We can do the course work and pool dives here but we would still have to do our open water dive. And I am really leaning towards doing the whole shot out on the coast because we could get the drysuit  qualification at the same time for just a little more cost.

And then there is the Hunter Rendezvous (June 7–10 at Thetis Island). The timing sucks if we are going north, but we have been telling ourselves we wanted to go again and it really was a fun weekend.

Revisit

So where to we want to go back to? Here’s the list of our favourites that qualify  as must see’s in our books:

  • Kwatsi Bay, Sullivan Bay and Pierre’s at Echo Bay — three “resorts” that are chock full of boaters and fun and make up part of the quintessential “Broughtons experience.”
  • Waddington Bay — a stunning anchorage in the archipelago proper that we visited with the flotilla (and therefore stuffed to the gills with boats) and I would love to spend more time in.
  • Alert Bay — this is a ferry ride from Port McNeill and the U’mista Centre is a must see for everyone. And in our case, a “must see again.”

On Wishlist

I have been reading through other people’s blogs and flipping through Waggoner’s and started on a long list of potential spots I want to visit. But the following have been on this list for years.

  • Shoal Bay & Telegraph Harbour — these are technically on the way up. Shoal Bay has been getting more and more attention and I would love to visit this idyllic little spot before it becomes  really popular and some of the charm rubs off. Telegraph Harbour is a place we have been to by car and I just want to be able to say I sailed there.
  • Jennis Bay — another one of the quintessential “resorts” in the Broughtons but one we haven’t made it to yet. Tucked up Drury Inlet past Stuart Narrows it takes a bit more timing and effort to make it to. But it’s on the list.
  • Glendale Cove (Knight Inlet) — this cove is home to a grizzly watching outfit. Need I say more?
  • Booker Lagoon — I don’t know why I have always wanted to go to Booker Lagoon. Maybe because it’s a lagoon and I am from the Gilligan’s Island generation? Regardless I do and I fully intend to. Its supposed to be beautiful.

On the Maybe List

The rest are on the list mostly based on research and other’s journeys. I am open to suggestions, so if you have any, add them to the comments. I will also leave a list of places we have already been (and may go back to)  just for your edification.

  • Blunden Harbour (in Queen Charlotte Sound) — I hear it is wonderful and peaceful.
  • Goat Island (Crease Island) — near enough to Village Island for a dinghy visit?
  • Nimmo Bay — is hidden behind some faster water and also home to a really fancy resort. But we just want to visit the bay and hang on the hook for a while. We’ll save the spa for another day.
  • Joe Cove, Eden Island — sounds like a classic Broughton anchorage.
  • Laura Bay (east side of Greenaway) — Convenient location with a lot of recommendations.
  • Greenaway Sound (trail to Broughton Lake) — the old resort is now gone but the hike is supposed to be fun.

Been There…

Cordero Islands, Blind Channel, Port Neville, Port Harvey, Lagoon Cove, Potts Lagoon, Growler Bay, Village Island, Shawl Bay, Ladyboot Cove, Tracey Harbour, Claydon Bay, Turnbull Cove, Pot McNeill, Sointula

Tracey Harbour

 

11 Dec

October in the Gulf Islands

I had been bugging a buddy of mine to go sailing for years now and he finally managed to get a week off…in the middle of October! But what the hell, Never for Ever has a heater…

We also talked another old buddy into tagging along—this would be the first “road trip” we had taken since just after high school—exciting stuff. As I had previously mentioned neither had much experience on boats so I was a tad nervous about making sure everything was right.

The Cruise

I arrived early to make sure everything was ready and to sort through our stuff in storage for anything I wanted on our short cruise. Midday I walked over and met Brian S (did I mention both my friends are named Brian?) at the Seaair terminal and and brought him back to introduce him to the boat. Then we grabbed the courtesy car and made a provisioning run.

The next afternoon Brian R arrived and we finished off the “last minute” (insert the word booze) provisioning and, since we had missed slack at Dodd’s, went out for dinner.

We did spend an hour or so running around on some last minute errands. We couldn’t find the sides of the enclosure (they were stuffed in a locker) and the bloody Webasto wouldn’t fire up. This turned out to be one of the  major flaws in my plan. The Webasto hadn’t been run since  May and something had gummed it up. We tried again and again through the trip to get it running but in the end we did it without any heat.

Day One

We were off the dock at 1159 and hit Dodds just before the 1350 slack with Brian R at the helm. A half dozen or so sea lions were frolicking and hunting in the current and a few of them seemed like they were playing chicken with us as we squeezed through the narrows. It was a sunny, calm day and there was no wind so we motored all the way to Pirates Cove and I let the crew maneuver us around the shoals and in through the narrow entrance.

Apparently my instructions were clear and coherent because the two Brians managed to drop the anchor and get us secured in the centre of the cove with no issues. We crowded aboard Laughing Baby (three grown men apparently take up a lot more space than just Leslie and I) and rowed ashore to hike around. Unfortunately it was close to high tide so we didn’t see much along the shoreline but had a nice tromp though the woods regardless.

Day Two

We were off the anchor by 0945 and after just a few miles the winds started to climb and we hauled out the sails. They stayed a steady 12-15 knots as we tacked back and forth down Plyades Channel and into Trincomali. My stalwart crew kept the sails up and we beat right past Reid Island and into Houston Passage.

Eventually our tacks were getting broader and broader and the wind was dying enough that our progress south was almost non-existent. So we reluctantly hauled in the sails and started up the motor. The winds did pick up again but by that time it was getting late and we just wanted to get into Ganges.

We tied up on B dock at the Ganges Marina right at 4:30 and  then headed into town to explore. There was some interest in real estate potential so we picked up some flyers and debated the pros and cons of living on Saltspring Island before heading to the Oystercatcher for dinner.

Day Three

It was another nice day as we cast off around 1130 hours and motored out of Ganges Harbour. An hour later with the Channel Islands just ahead we (I think it was Brian S) spotted a spout just ahead which we quickly identified as a pod of orca.

I took over the wheel and sent the crew forward with cameras rolling. For almost the next hour and half a pod of 8 or 9 orcas led the way as we rounded Beaver Point and headed to Portland Island. At one point they completely disappeared only to reemerge about 100 feet off our port side. Needless to say everyone was ecstatic. We didn’t lose sight of them until we angled away to head for Royal Cove and they seemingly headed into Fulford.

We stern tied in Royal Cove around 1400 and once again headed ashore to explore. A short walk took us the middens at Arbutus Point where poked around before heading back to the boat.

Day Four

It was slightly rainy as we raised the anchor and the winds were predicted to be up. We motored west as we wanted to catch the current up Sansum Narrows. All day the wind and waves built and we were treated to a pretty bouncy ride. Everyone seemed ok with motion (which was a relief). Eventually we had 20–25 knot winds from behind as we cleared the narrows into Stuart Channel. We decided to head for Telegraph Harbour and I called ahead just make sure they were open.

What I failed to asked them was what services they still had. Because we had all been talking about a hot shower and it turns out they had turned the water off and the showers and toilet facilities were all closed. Bummer.

And in all the rain we had been having all day I discovered that what had been, 6 months ago, a small intermittent leak from somewhere near the mast was now a raging torrent. We cleverly rigged up some string to direct the water into a bucket which allowed me to sleep in the salon and stay relatively dry. In case you are wondering I had left the tarp in the storage unit (why on earth would I need that for just 5 days…) and yes, the leak is now fixed in time for winter.

 

Day Five

The weather was better when we cast off the next morning and headed for early slack at Dodds. The plan had been to spend the last night at anchor in Nanaimo Harbour, but the winds were predicted to build from the south and some of the crew were jonesing for a hot shower. So we headed to the fuel dock instead (Brian S successfully  bringing us alongside) and then tied up in our slip for the last night.

The aftermath

The next day Brian S caught his flight out and Brian R and I cleaned up the boat and stored our gear. The plan had been for us to fly out by Seair the next morning but a fog set in and Seair wasn’t guaranteeing the flights would go on time. We ended up cancelling our flight and hopping on the ferry. It turns out our flight did go, but by that time we were already at YVR waiting to fly back to Edmonton.

All in all it was a great, albeit rushed trip. The lack of heater wasn’t too much of an issue but something to keep in mind for next time. The leak was a bit more of an issue, but who could predict something like that after such a long, dry summer. And I successfully managed my first cruise with new crew. Hey, maybe I am good at this…

A static version of the map for posterity:

 

01 Dec

Where we’ve been

I realize I owe everyone at least a summary of our October sailing trip, but I haven’t managed to sit down and write it up. What I did manage to do was start thinking about next year and places we haven’t visited yet. Which brought me to thinking of all the places we have.

So I made a map. This includes everyplace we have visited by boat since 2013. Most have been on board Never for Ever, but some also include the destinations visited when cruising on Northwest Passage II, Shearwater, Ocean Pearl and Santé.

(I’ve included a static version of this map below in case my Google Map ever goes kablooie)

What’s remarkable about this is the number of places we have left to see. There is a lifetime of cruising just around Vancouver Island and yet we still have all of Puget Sound to explore and then north all the way up to Alaska. After that, who knows…there is always the big left hand turn south to Mexico.

I find it so amazing that so many other boaters we have talked to haven’t been to half this number of spots but are comfortable visiting the same old places. But then again I suppose they haven’t been blessed with the kind of time off we’ve managed to take or the blessing oft he cruising buddies we’ve had along the way. So much to see…