Friday, September 30, 2005

I am sitting in the cockpit with my floater jacket over my head so I can see the computer screen. It is another gorgeous day, warm and sunny, although there are patches of fog about. Last night we stayed in Silva Bay just off the south coast of Gabriola Island. It was a lovely spot and there was this huge yacht that was anchored beside us. Wow, was it a beaut, probably about a 60 footer with triple spreaders. Barry took a
picture so you can see what we have to put up with down here, the money literally floating around the B.C. coast is just phenomenal.

There isn’t much wind but since we don’t have an agenda, other than we have to be back in Sidney on Oct. 3 for our boat to be pulled out of the water, we are just ghosting along enjoying the view and the sunshine. We are headed south now and will make our way back towards Sidney, depending on the wind we will just head back there or perhaps we will go and spend some time in the San Juan Islands if we get a bit more wind so we are moving a bit quicker than we are now.

As we were headed out of Nanaimo harbour this boat came up to us and got quite close and I noticed a girl taking pictures. I couldn’t figure it out, I know the boat is gorgeous but really pictures, and we weren’t doing anything stupendous or stupid that was worth taking pictures of. All of a sudden, the skipper yelled across that he used the own the boat, it turns out he and his father were the original owners of he boat and had finished all the insides of the boat. We told him we loved the inside and that we were just new owners, the third ones of the boat. It really is a small world isn’t it.

If you are not interested in boat jargon, skip this paragraph. When we first got the boat we bought a lovely 8 hp 4 stroke motor to go on our dinghy, an Avon zodiac, 9’ 6” in length. The motor was great, the dinghy got up on step with both Barry and I in it and we would be able to go anywhere in it. WELL, live and learn, we tried to get it up on the boat. It was too heavy for us to lift, although we did manage to get it onboard for one trip, but did not even attempt to put it on the dinghy as it was too heavy to lift out. Then we decided we needed to devise some system to hang it off the back of the boat. Well, our boat has a canoe stern, so there are no right angles to attach stuff to, everything slopes inward so we got a ¾ inch piece of plastic, called starboard and Barry fastened that on the back with U bolts. We winched the motor onto it and it was JUST TO HEAVY. In a big sea it would have shaken the pushpit out of the deck and then we would have been in a pickle. So, we swallowed our pride and went back to the dealer and traded in the motor for a smaller lighter (at least 30 lbs lighter) 2 stroke, a 5 hp. It should still get the dinghy up on step with one person in it and it should be light enough to attach to the deck. The only catch was the guy didn’t have any in the store, so we don’t have a motor for the dinghy on this trip which is a bit of a pain. We do have two paddles though and Barry and I have managed to co-operate enough that we have gone ashore a couple of times with the paddles.

Next week the boat is coming out of the water and we are having a new depth sounder put in and having a few blisters fixed and a sea water inlet that is leaking repaired. After that the boat should be in fine shape, most of the instruments will be in working order and all the sails seem to be doing there job. Unfortunately on this trip we have been beating into the weather going north and south, so haven’t gotten to test out its downwind capacities too much. Oh well, there will be another time.

When we stopped for the night, the light was so lovely; I jumped in the dinghy and went to take pictures of Cat’s-Paw at anchor. We had the place all to ourselves for a change. Just before dinner I was reading in the cockpit and I heard this noise it was like someone expelling a lot of air, I am pretty sure it was some kind of whale, it was a pretty distinctive kind of sound and I did see a fin on the surface to the water, although nothing else. Seals surface quite near the boat on occasion and yesterday at the anchorage there were two otters playing around in the water fairly close to the boat. We had seen what we think are dolphin fins a number of times but have never seen the whole animal.

Then after dinner we went ashore and wandered around on a deserted beach, with driftwood and sandstone all over. We walked up to a point and there was a lovely sunset, it really is beautiful in this part of Canada.
Barry and I decided to go on a shakedown cruise. We have a week to ten days where we don’t have any workmen coming down to fix anything on the boat and the forecast is for absolutely beautiful weather, + 24 during the day and + 10 or so at night, what more could you want for a shakedown cruise. We decided to head north.

We are in Nanaimo at the moment, we took three days to get here, the first day out of Sidney consisted of very light winds and sunshine. The second day we picked up some decent winds near the end of the day after fighting wind and currents most of the day. Those currents are killers, catching you when you least expect it and not letting you get where you want. We were playing chicken with those rather large ferries that cross from Tsswassen to Swartz Bay and I’d just had enough, we started the motor and got the h out of the way. We spent the second night in a very small anchorage called Retreat Cove. We set out a stern anchor so we wouldn’t swing onto the shelf and spent an uneventful evening there. The third day we had super winds and just flew up a passage, against the wind the whole way but who cared about the current, we were going fast enough it didn’t matter.

Today we hauled anchor and headed for Dodd’s Narrows, a very narrow tidal passage, that is know to be treacherous. Thankfully our boat did its thing and went whistling through the Narrows with no problems. We motored towards Nanaimo and decided to try out the Straits of Georgia and see what the boat could do.

There was 25 knots of wind and about 4 foot seas, great stuff! We had to reef down to the second reef and roll in the jib so about an 8th of the jib was showing and the boat loved it. On one tack it just went, the waves must have been quite favorable, on the other tack the boat slowed a knot and fought with the waves to make any headway. Neither Barry nor I experienced any seasickness, which is a really good thing and the boat was a peach in those winds. Barry says we just have to remember to reef early, whatever. It was a blast being out there with the huge container ships and the ferries bashing into those waves.

We headed back to Nanaimo to get some groceries and hopefully get a few more charts so we can continue northward for a few days. The thought of going out in the Straits of Georgia and just heading for Sidney is very appealing to me, either way we are going to have some fun.

We really miss all our chums in Yellowknife, I get terribly sad when I hear the other boats on the radio calling each other and I have no one that I can call. No longer can I be the scourge of the airwaves, damn, I will have to do something about that. I guess that’s what you have to deal with when you move away!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The frustrations of trying to repair and make changes to a 20 year old boat are sometimes quite overwhelming. Yesterday we tried to get our diesel heater going. We put about 10 liters of fuel in the tank and then tried to light the stove. Well after nearly burning off my eyebrows lighting the methyl hydrate that we are supposed to use to heat up the element so that the diesel will burn nicely we discovered that we think the tank was leaking. There were pools of diesel fuel under the stove that we soaked up with Scott paper towels. Then we went and pumped out all the diesel that we could from the tank. This involved shoving a hose down the pipe and having a leaky pump suck up the diesel. Well we got diesel on the deck on the cockpit cushions and on my nice shirt. YUCK. We went inside the boat to see if we could discover where the leak was, if it was just a fitting or if the tank is defective. After taking off a piece of the teak hiding the tank and scrunching our bodies up inside the cupboard in the bathroom and forcing our hands through a small hole in the bulkhead we concluded that the tank might be leaky. We are hoping to have it pressure tested to see if it is indeed the culprit. If that is so we will probably just put in a propane heater and BOAT (break out another thousand). We were so discouraged that we went to DQ and drowned our sorrows in ice cream.

Oh, by the way we got the transmission fixed, just a loose connection, and we now have a working VHS and our SSB radio seems to send and transmit and our auto pilot works we just have to have the hydraulic pump that it uses rebuilt because it leaks oil like a sieve. We are planning to have the boat hauled out in early Oct. and have a new depth sounder thru hull put in, so after that we should have a fairly safe boat that we should be able to enjoy.

The one aspect of living down here that we are truly enjoying is the weather. It has been gorgeous lately, sunny, plus 19 or 20 during the day and only about 10 in the evenings. We listen to the weather and chuckle every time we here the temperatures in Yellowknife, the weather has been atrocious up there this past week.

My uncle flew in from Washington State to visit with us yesterday. We took him out for a brief cruise which he seemed to really enjoy. Our daughter Trish and her SO Graeme will be arriving tonight for about a 3 day cruise. We are hoping to hoist Graeme up the mast to repair our deck lights and also get some tips from him regarding our electrical system (he is an electrician), We are looking forward to having some fun with the rather expensive toy we have purchased, as I often put it we are going to go out and play.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hope everyone had a super long weekend. Ours was adventurous and torturous in that we had a super sail on Friday afternoon, stopped at a small harbor and let out the anchor, and then I was waiting for Barry to back the boat up and set the anchor and the boat refused to go into reverse. Our brand new transmission seemed to have decided it only wanted to go front wards. Don’t ask me how or why these things keep happening but they do. Barry spent a couple of hours trying to fix the problem. When he was finished we had forward and neutral but no reverse.

Soooo, instead of going up to a different harbor and going to a rendezvous our yacht club had organized we spent Sat. in this smallish spot watching all the boats come and go and spying on the BEAUTIFUL houses that were around the bay. That’s one thing different about sailing around here there are more than rocks and trees and wildlife to look at, some of the homes on the waterfront are absolutely spectacular. Sometimes looking at some of them I think they must have more money than brains because they build so close to the cliff edge or so close to the high tide mark. Hasn’t anyone down here heard of global warming and the effects of erosion? Okay, okay, I’ll get off my soap box.

On Sunday we consulted the tide tables and listened to the forecast and figured out where we planned to go next. Once we had almost got there we decided that we had gotten there too quickly and we didn’t like the looks of the weather that was headed there so we turned around and went somewhere else. The weather caught up with us and dumped, I mean DUMPED, a whole wack of rain on us, not tiny gentle little drops, huge smacking, popping off the water drops. What a way to get wet in a hurry. Then since we were going against the tide and the wind had died to next to nothing after the rain storm, we motored to the spot we planned to stay the night.

WELL, there were tons of boats all closely anchored together (another difference when you are sailing down here, you can’t just go into a spot and have your pick of anchorages). We decided that without a reverse gear we didn’t want to go rumbling through all those expensive looking boats, so we high tailed it back to Sidney, giving that new engine a real workout. We didn’t want to have to return in the dark, we are having enough trouble figuring out where we are during the day, all those stupid little islands look the same. Anyway on the way back there were some lovely cloud formations and I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Barry is becoming frustrated with all the stuff that is going wrong and is being nostalgic about our smaller, uncomplicated Catalina 25. I told him that if he wanted he could always go back to Yellowknife for the winter and get a job and live with Heather.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I have to tell you guys this one. I had taken my bike out for a ride and rather than lock it up and walk down to the boat, I rode my bike along the dock and down to our slip. The docks where we moor have big long fingers which are quite steady and don’t move up and down a lot. Then off these fingers are smaller docks called slips that go between the boats. The slips are quite tippy and when we get off our boat the slip rocks back and forth a bit.

Well, when I came up to the boat there was a guy at the opposite slip working on the front of his boat, so instead of putting my bike on the more stable finger, I put it on our slip, I just put the stand down and left it there and went into the boat. Barry in the meantime wanted to get off the boat and stepped on to the slip and YUP you guessed it. SPLOSH, there went my bike, down to the bottom of the sea. YIKES, my family gave Barry and me those bikes for our twenty fifth anniversary, what was I going to tell them!!!!

Barry got a boat hook and tried to touch the bottom and no luck, it was high tide and it was about 25 feet deep. Then he came up with the idea of dragging the bottom with our stern anchor. So here’s Barry, with this line in his hands, dragging the anchor along the bottom of the ocean between our boat and the slip. He kept thinking he’d hooked it and pulling up the anchor, but no bike. FINALLY he hooked it and up came the bike from the deep, spewing sea water out of every part. It’s a good thing we both still have our senses of humor because what else could you do put laugh about it. The only casualty seems to be the brake light that is only supposed to come on when you push the button; it wants to stay on constantly.

And the Red Spoon Diaries continue!!!!