Thursday, 11 September 2008

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!

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