Tuesday, 30 September 2008

lovely wallace island

Wallace Island
Two words: Loved it! We stayed in Princess Bay, the bay I fondly recalled from 2 years ago. (I anchored there  when I took  the 5-day Basic Cruising Standard course.)  We arrived in time for lunch, and afterwards we both bathed (nothing like sponge-baths when you’re desperate enough!) I have to say I felt like a million dollars afterwards! We spent the rest of the day exploring the island, hiking, learning about its history and enjoying the hot sun. Back on the boat, I lazed in the hammock hung above the fore deck, while Rick relaxed in the cockpit. This was one of our favourite spots, and we highly recommend it!

Then it was Cadboro Bay and home…

We got to sail on this lovely day, with the hopes of stopping in Sidney Spit, but Northern winds were predicted so, no protection! We opted for Cadboro Bay… tomorrow we’ll be back at our home berth. Melancholic and happy. Melancholic to leave the freedom we enjoyed behind… but happy to see our friends and family!

southward bound

Rebecca Spit

Too soon, it seemed it was time to head back… but we stopped in Rebecca Spit one more time. (The only anchorage we went to more than once). And with good reason, we got news that our friend Sam was on his way home to Quadra with a new world record from the HPV races in Nevada. We surprised him and celebrated his victory with the family and 2 days later, started our journey homeward.

False Bay, Lasqueti Island

All the way up to Desolation Sound, we were plagued by NW winds, so it’s not surprising that when we turned around to head south, the wind shifted to SE!

On our way to Lasqueti Island, we got to sail a little bit, but mostly motored through choppy waters…and that’s when the engine started to waver again…oh boy.

The engine was being starved for fuel. It stopped running.

A cold day on the water
So here we are, drifting in the Northern Georgia Strait and Rick has the fuel system ripped apart. Originally, when we had problems on our way north, we thought it was due to dirt in the fuel. What Rick discovered is that not only we had a faulty check valve at the tank (it wasn’t releasing at a low enough pressure), the electric priming pump wasn’t pumping fuel or allowing fuel to pass through it.

We jimmied open the check valve (Kyra’s idea!) and by-passed the electric priming pump. And the engine hasn’t been a problem since.

We made it to Lasqueti Island as the sun was setting… found ourselves a spot to anchor, ate some dinner and crashed, we were beat.

Silva Bay, Gabriola Island

BBQ Chef in heaven
Early the next day, we left Lasqueti, without doing any exploring – our goal was to spend more time on Gabriola. The skies were grey, it was cold and it there was a bit of rain. As we progressed south, the skies started to clear, but not before we donned our Floater suits to stay warm…(the first time this year!) The closer we got to Gabriola, the more layers came off. Silva Bay was busy with boats, a bit of a shock to the system after all the quiet anchorages up north! The sun was shining, Rick rowed to shore to get some beer, and we did a bit of provisioning. Although, the food highlight for Rick was the steaks Andrea sent us home with – The BBQ chef was on cloud 9! We enjoyed a relaxing evening, reading and lounging.

The Log Boom
Gabriola Passage and Telegraph Bay

We left Silva Bay in time for slack tide at Gabriola passage, another narrow passage with lots of rip tides. All went well, it was even fun! (Once our binoculars confirmed that the log booms were headed away from us and not fighting us for space in the passage!

Telegraph Bay

We got to Telegraph Bay, refueled at the Thetis Island Marina, and although we were craving showers, we anchored. While I stayed out of Rick’s way, he installed a “bus heater” so that our cabin could warm up when the engine was running… the seasons are a’changing.

We decided to spoil ourselves and go to the pub for a drink and some food that neither of us had to cook! After our meal at the friendly little pub, and a magical row through the bio-luminescents after dark, we slept soundly.

beautiful desolation sound

Tenedos Bay
I fell in love with Desolation Sound as soon as I laid eyes on it. Its wild beauty is breath-taking. We picked the northern cove in Tenedos Bay for our first anchorage. It was very peaceful. There were few boats in all of the Sound, September proved to be a great month to avoid the crowds. We enjoyed exploring in our dinghy, and on land. I found this lovely bluff to practice my yoga, we had a picnic on a little island in the middle of the bay, and also explored the area around Unwin Lake. I had a great time skinny-dipping in the lake… the water was refreshing, but not too refreshing!

Unwin Lake

After three nights in Tenedos, we decided to go to Prideaux Haven – one of the most popular destinations in Desolation Sound with amazing views of mountains and lots of great nooks and crannies to explore. Prideaux Haven includes Melanie Cove and Laura Cove. (In the 20’s and 30’s two men lived there, one in each cove and there is some evidence of their presence long ago – right around that time I read M. Wylie Blanchet’s book “Curve of Time” which includes stories about both men.) We hiked, we rowed, we baked in the sun, and relaxed. One thing I noticed around here, the seagulls are way more laid back than Victoria seagulls, and so was I! There’s something to be said about being out in the wild!

Prideaux Haven

bliss: sunshine and old friends


Our next stop was Hornby Island. We enjoyed 2 days of pure relaxation. We spent our time reading, listening to music and enjoying the warm September sun. It was great! 


Getting to Quadra Island was a big-ass slog. We sailed and motored 63+ nautical miles in 11 hours. The first 4 hours were spent sailing not very far upwind, but it was a whole lot of fun!


After that, the wind died and we wanted to make sure we’d get there by sunset, we ended up motoring.
We had a blast hanging out with Andrea and the kids, (Misha and Sophie). Sam was off competing in Battle Mountain, (HPV Races).


The highlights were: Freshly picked raspberries, doing our laundry, catching up and chatting with our friends, and most of all, showers!

I’d add to that, the awesome sight of the moon rising this evening and our walk around Rebecca Spit. (I have a bit of a soft spot for this park).

Straight from Andy's garden to our bellies

Bouncy fun with M and S

Next: Desolation Sound, at last.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

it was bound to happen

Waves a'splashing on the dodger

And find our quiet anchorage, we did. But only after one hell of a day! We left Nanaimo on September 12. The forecast was promising some strong winds, around 20 knots. We have sailed in stronger winds, but that was a long time ago. Rick had set up the reefing system, but with some compromises, as he’d been unable as of yet, to find the parts he needed at our Victoria chandlery. So, we rounded Protection Island, the seas were choppy… maybe 3-4 foot chop. We set the main with two reefs and are about to set the genoa, when all hell breaks loose, well, not all hell, just the reefing system! Damn. I was not a happy camper… err, sailor! So we begin motoring while Rick’s mind is working out what to do. It’s a bouncy ride, I start feeling a little seasick, that kind of thing shouldn’t bother me in a few more days, but yesterday, it did.


The engine speed starts to waver. Then it cuts right out. All the bouncing around has stirred up dirt and crud in the fuel tank and it’s beginning to clog the filters. (That's what we thought at the time.)

Kyra lept into action, and we set a reefed foresail. We started beating our way north. The boat’s motion eased, and we were making good progress, not entirely towards our goal. We proceeded to sail on that tack for a couple of hours. The wind started to falter. Since we were out in the middle of Georgia Strait, we figured it was time to tack and point closer to Hornby Island, (our intended destination). That tack didn’t go so well. We couldn’t point anywhere near where we wanted to go. We had a difficult time trying to steer against the current. And the wind mostly died. It was sort of like trying to sail through a washing machine. After 15 frustrating minutes, we went back on the other tack and continued our way north.

At this point, we began to look into alternative destinations. Lasqueti Island was nearby. We decided to give the engine another try, as the seas had calmed. I turned on the priming pump to assist with fuel flow. The engine ran and behaved itself, for the most part. Sometimes, the engine speed would drop and we would give it more fuel until it stabilized and would then take it back to cruising speed.


Rick suggested Graveyard Bay as our destination, as we wouldn’t make Hornby Island by nightfall. I have to admit I laughed, it was a little too poetic! So, here we are, motoring around the point, I’m a little jittery about the engine faltering, but I am feeling better, which makes everything look better. Graveyard Bay is a one boat bay… lovely and protected from Northwest winds, (the prevailing winds on this trip! It feels a little snug to Rick and, neither of us are used to anchoring in such a small space. It made it hard for me to relax, but eventually, fatigue won over. And this turned out to be a great little anchorage. September 12th kicked our asses, today, we’re doing engine maintenance and will be going to Hornby Island this afternoon…The winds are pretty light and once again, the sun is shining…

Moonlight over Georgia Strait
Engine's getting some TLC

Thursday, 11 September 2008

a narrow passage

By 9 a.m. the next morning, my bruised ego was recovering from a terrible loss to Rick at Rummy. I did, however, succeed at making the best stovetop popcorn ever! We were itching to leave Clam Bay. Next destination: NanaimoThe wind was on our side, (well, not really, it was going against us), but we were able to tack up the channel. What a lovely sail: Sunshine, smooth seas, now that’s the life! 

Chef Rick in action.
Strike a pose!
Entering Dodd Narrows
So we went ahead… I ended up steering and feeling mighty nervous but determined to overcome my fears. Of course, going through a little early meant that there were some rip tides to contend with, but the current wasn’t super strong. We made it through and I panicked for 1.5 seconds when I felt the boat shift as we went through the rip tide, but it was over so quickly, I recovered in no time… well, just in time to get nervous about going into the Nanaimo Inner harbour (docking in a new place can be difficult, especially for this newbie.) We passed with flying colours; we actually looked pretty damn good. (No bruised egos this time!) Nanaimo meant a visit with our friends Jen and Jay and their girls (and a shower each and free laundry!) We had a lovely time catching up with them, and plan to spend another relaxing day here in Nanaimo, before heading north… Being at a marina feels so luxurious, but the lull of a quiet anchorage will soon send us on our way!

big and small: two anchorages

We had planned to spend 2 days at Montague. Just relaxing, you know. So we cleaned up a bunch of stuff, found about 30lbs of recyclable paper we didn’t need to be storing anymore, wired up the ammeter, polished and installed the bronze portlight frames, etc. 

After so much relaxing, I was feeling grimy, so I went for a swim with my shampoo. It was so refreshing. So refreshing that I was in and out of the water in about 2 minutes, including shampooing and rinsing.

Steven and Darusha advised us to take the Hummingbird Pub Bus. An experience not to be missed. So, we dinghied to shore and jumped aboard the bus. The Hummingbird Pub Bus is a 10 minute trip into town with a driver who alternates Fats Domino songs with good natured jokes. It is a lot of fun and it’s a great way for the pub to get customers. The pub was good too, beer and pub food, but not nearly as remarkable as the bus. 


On Monday morning, September 8th… We started stowing after a good night’s sleep… the sun was shining and we were ready to move on. We decided to dinghy to the fuel dock, to fill our jerry cans with diesel and pick up a loaf of bread… frozen Dempster’s was all they had, so we made do. (I’m a bit of a bread snob… I love bakery bread. I plan to learn to bake bread to satisfy my inclinations!) We decided to tow our dinghy by the painter; it’s the bow line (rope) on the dinghy. It made sense as we were not headed very far… (More about that later!) Rick mentioned earlier, we’d originally hoped to go to Princess cove on Wallace Island, a favourite anchorage of mine. The last time I was there, was with my sailing group from the Basic Cruising Standard course I took in 2006. Unfortunately, the forecast predicted strong North, Northwest winds, so we picked Clam Bay, as it afforded good protection. We were able to sail most of the way to Clam Bay…

At first I did feel uncomfortable with the motion of the boat. I hadn’t realized just how out of practice I was… As I got more comfortable, I enjoyed steering, paying attention to the wind and finding my confidence back. When we arrived near Clam Bay, I became nervous again – there are rocks and reefs to watch out for – as it turned out, one of them was marked, and further inside the bay than I realized. I’m becoming aware that looking at charts and transferring the information to real life is quite a transition at times – and my sense of space is somewhat challenged! (And that's when taking fixes comes in, etc). Here’s what I should have worried about… the dinghy, well the painter, really… when we anchor, we set the anchor and rode (mostly chain), then we go in reverse building up to 17 or 1800 rpm…to make sure the anchor is set. (That’s for you non-sailors). Well, we don’t normally tow the dinghy. So when I went in reverse and Rick was making sure the anchor was set… the painter of the dinghy became more slack…and more, and more: when all of a sudden the dinghy starts this crazy dance, the engine alarm goes off and the dinghy takes on a bunch of water… I cut off the engine… and start to feel very stupid! The painter had gotten wrapped around the propeller. The solution: someone had to dive in. Did I mention that the Northwest Pacific waters are very cold? Oh, and we don’t have a dry suit. I’ll let Rick tell the rest of this story!

So, the dinghy painter is wrapped around the prop shaft. The dinghy has been sucked under the back of the boat so the stem is about 2 feet from the prop. The back of the dinghy protruding out from the side of our stern. I should have just taken my knife down and started hacking. The previous owners had a special (to them) painter on the dinghy and I wanted to try to save it. I dove down and could sort of see. I couldn’t budge anything. Couldn’t turn the prop and I couldn’t make any headway with the painter. I tried a few times and then climbed out of the water to catch my breath and warm up a bit. I got Kyra to cast off the other end of the painter and tie the stern painter off to the boat. Back in the water to see what kind of progress I could make, this time wearing sailing gloves. Still couldn’t move the prop, but the painter started to unwind. A couple more attempts and I wasn’t getting very far. Kyra handed me my knife and I cut the painter at the dinghy’s bow. Back out of the water for a minute to catch my breath and then back to struggle some more. No real progress. By this time Ken, from the next boat, had rowed his dinghy over and was bailing it out for us. I was shivering and decided to warm up before jumping back in. Kyra lit the furnace, made me hot chocolate, and a hot water bottle. I didn’t want to go back in. I went in anyway, with a knife and hacked through everything around the prop shaft. It was pretty fast. Should have started with the knife approach. After that Kyra warmed me up with more hot chocolate and hot water bottles.

The rest of our evening was less eventful… I offered to take Rick’s turn to cook – what guilty feelings can do to you! We had a lovely curry dinner and watched the sunset in all its glory…

The wind did build up overnight, but we were rather comfortable throughout. After listening to the marine weather forecast on our VHF in the morning, we decided to stay put and not head in to Nanaimo today – gale warnings. So I baked muffins, Rick puttered on deck, doing jobs on our “list”… The sun is still shining, the wind is blowing and the smell of freshly baked goods fills the cabin while Paul Simon’s Graceland plays on our stereo. Life is good, if unpredictable!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

off the dock!


It is September 7th, 2008 and we are at anchor in a little place called Clam Bay. We were going to anchor in Princess Bay, which is supposed to be extraordinarily nice, but the predicted wind would make that anchorage uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. So far, the predicted wind has not materialized.

We are finally under-weigh after a week’s delay. We had the mast pulled out of the boat in order to fix it and finish it up bright. A busy social schedule, only moderate motivation, a big nude art show to prepare for, and poor weather in August pushed our project back. We got the last coat of varnish on the mast and everything ready for re-stepping by September 2nd.

Wednesday the 3rd was a big day. We had a crane truck scheduled for early afternoon. Kyra was looking for a place to hide. She was nervous about stepping the mast and didn’t want to be around for the excitement. As we made our final preparations and we moved the boat to the end of the parking lot, Kyra overcame her fears and agreed not only to be around, but also agreed to guide the mast into its step at the keel of the boat.

We also recruited a number of folks from the marina to assist with the re-stepping. With everything in place, we sat around in Cecil’s cockpit waiting for the crane truck to show up. Cecil convinced Kyra that the job of the person at the step was potentially dangerous and volunteered to do that job himself. (In hindsight, Kyra wishes she had been an active participant in the process, and had not let boys tell her what she can and cannot do.)

There was a lot of interest from the guys on the docks. Kyra stood on the adjacent Harbour Ferry dock to take pictures. When the crane truck arrived, we leapt into action. Mark provided the crane operator with appropriate ‘up, stop, and down’ hand signals. Scott and Rod assisted me on deck guiding the mast through the deck and managing the standing rigging. 10 minutes after the crane truck arrived, the operator was driving away with a not too big wad of cash in his hand. The mast was standing! Nobody cried and nobody died.

We spent that evening slaving away, getting the sails bent on, the rig rough tuned, provisions provided, laundry laundered, that sort of thing. The next morning, we were off… sort of.
We pulled into Oak Bay after a very light-air sail then motor. We stopped there to put a new transducer in the boat. So, it was back up on the ways. It all felt very familiar after spending June hauled out.

We spent an evening with our friends Steven and Darusha, who were in Oak Bay for a final engine service before their big trip down the coast to Mexico and beyond. The next day was a scramble to get the transducer installed and to adjust the Hydrovane, self steering system before dropping the boat back in the water around 4:00pm. Since we had everything out of the lazarette, this meant it was a great time to sort and throw away a lot of stuff that had been packed in there. Somehow, after several trips to the dumpster, the lazarette was full when we were ready to go.

So, on Saturday, September 6th, at ten to noon, we finally, at long last, got off the dock. Our first port of call was to be Montague Harbour. There was no wind to speak of most of the way and we had a long way to go, so we motored the whole way. Kyra and I had both been pretty overwhelmed with everything involved in getting off the dock. Neither of us were the picture of patience on the way to Montague Harbour. Arguments would be resolved and forgiven just in time for another eruption. It was not the quietest trip we have taken, but we still liked each other after the anchor was set.


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