Wednesday, March 29, 2006

We have been graced with a wealth of visitors in the last few weeks. The first was Helen Butler from Yellowknife, we had a lovely sail and it was just great to be able to show our boat off to our very first non-family Yellowknifer. We cleared all our sails out of the v-berth so we would have room for guests and we whiled away the evening exchanging stories of our lives in the past year. It was wonderful.
Then we invited a local family that had befriended us last fall whom we are vaguely related too, she is my sister-in-law's brother's wife sister (If you can follow that you are a genius.)for a day sail. We had Lorna, Randy and Sandy Hughes on board. When we were out we saw a number of porpoises and some seals. Lorna has piloted whale watching zodiacs for a season or two, so was able to give us lots of information about the types of whales we could expect to see and the time of year we might see them. The wind was quite variable that day, but the sun shone all day it was a super day.
We had a call from John and Gail Borkovik, from Yellowknife, they were in Vancouver and wanted to know what marina we were at. After making it clear to them we were on Vancouver Island, they made the trek over and stayed with us for three nights. It was so nice to have their company and catch up on Yellowknife gossip. We had a terrific sail the day we took them out, Gail was a natural on the helm, John ability to stay on course did not quite cut the mustard. We even saw some whales, it wasn't a great sighting but after consulting with Lorna the next day we figured they were minke whales.
They helped us replace our windex which was blown off in the 35 knot winds we were out in last week. Check out for pictures of how high off the ground I actually was.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Okay, I have decided that I have truly made the transitions from regular working stiff to SAILOR GIRL. A while ago I gave up my female compulsion to purchase more and more pairs of shoes, from the practical to the outlandish, and decided to concentrate on nuts and bolts instead, STAINLESS STEEL, of course (is there anything else???).

When working on a boat you have to have on hand any number and type of stainless steel fixtures. You have to have bevelled head screws, pan head screws, machined screws, tapping screws. Naturally you need numerous and various sizes, different diameters and different lengths, you have to have small skinny ones and small fat ones, and long skinny ones and long fat ones and you can't forget to have the middle sized ones as well, so small middle sized ones, medium middle sized ones and long middle sized ones, the list in endless, rather like shoes except they don't come in different colours. Then there are nuts, on a boat you want the teflon nuts, that is stainless steel nuts with teflon inserts, ordinary ones will just work themselves loose and become a hazard, so teflon is the way to go, and of course you need every size you can think of. The size is dictated by the diameter of the bolt. To be included with this are the washers, all stainless steel and as many different sizes as you could possibly imagine. We have some really big ones that are referred to as backing plates but I am still a little confused as to when a washer is referred to as a backing plate, but I am sure I will learn that soon.

This particular rant came to mind when I took one of my northern sailing friends to the West Marine store to purchase some nuts and bolts for her partner and their boat. I had to explain why she just had to buy the teflon nuts, the regular ones just wouldn't do, it was then I figured I had made the transition to SAILOR GIRL.

Hope all is well with everyone, we are off to a Bluewater Cruising meeting tonight with a presentation from a very experienced pair of sailors, should be good.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Prevost Harbor, WS

We had fun sailing this week, maybe I should say I had fun sailing this week. It was threatening to gale on Wed. morning so Barry wanted to go back to Sidney, we headed towards Sidney but stayed in an American harbour next to a park. We had a good sail up there, 20 knots downwind most of the way the boat behaved beautifully, no problems. The next day it was threatening to gale again and Barry wanted to go back to Sidney, instead we headed for Roche Harbor. It galed!! The winds were sustained 30 knots with gusts up to 37 knots, we sailed upwind into the gale. It actually blew our wind vane off, it's gone!! Other than that no problems, well, we did forget to tighten down one window and we got some water in the boat, the bilge pump went to work but couldn't get all the water out on the one tack, not good. We put the Monitor vane on and it actually steered the boat better than we could have, it did a great job. This morning we woke up and I asked Barry what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to go back to Sidney, so I gave in and said we would, after we went ashore and walked around Roche Harbor.
Wet and Wild Barry, notice how tilted he is, he is actually standing up straight on the healed over boat.
Roche Harbor actually has quite a bit of history, they had a big limestone quarry and kilns there at the turn of the century and into the 1930's and 40's. There was a wealthy family that ran the lime works and he built a memorial to his family in the middle of the woods. He built columns that have the same circumference and diameter of the those in King Solomon's temple and then in the center there is a round table of limestone and cement surrounded be six stone and cement chairs, it is the same as the family table and it represents a symbolic reunion after death. It was pretty neat to see the structure in the middle of the forest, all of on its own.
After that we headed back to Sidney and had a wonderful sail back, it was a gorgeous sunny day and we practised our sun shots on the sextant and Barry snapped this shot. You can see our vane working in the background.
A couple of Yellowknifer's are supposed to drop by to see the boat next week. It will be nice to show it off, if you are planning to be on Vancouver Island anytime soon make sure you drop by to see us. Oh, by the way if you are reading everything, just so you know I did NOT get to go shopping in Friday Harbor, Barry agreed to go sailing instead!!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

We had the pleasure of being boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard today. The mothership came rumbling by and then "baabing" there was a zodiac in the water. Barry says I think they are coming over here and I said no, why? Sure enough they headed our way and said they were coming aboard to make an inspection. What a nice couple of cute fellows, very polite and professional and social, they introduced themselves as Cameron and Chris. We made small talk as they looked at all our documents, called in our names to some US governing body, and checked out our safety equipment. You will be glad to know that we are not wanted for anything in the U.S. (our kids haven't sent them out looking for us) and Cat's Paw IV passed the safety inspection with flying colours.

One of the guys really looks like David Berry, I almost said Hi Dave when he came on board, my goodness, he was even from David's neck of the woods, Maine, (kind of) so I guess they grow them really cute out there. We gave them our boat card and told them they would be famous on our blog in a few days, the one guy even checked with the other guy when they left the boat to check out whether or not he had the internet address.

After they left they hopped back on their zodiac and went back to the mothership. Now I know why the zodiac just appeared "baabing" when they came over, they actually drove the zodiac right onto a ramp in the back of the boat, it just disappeared up into boat, it was really neat. It was a very pleasant visit, we had perfectly clear conscience when they came aboard, no Canadian beef or chicken, no rogue limes or oranges, no illegal Vancouver Island potatoes, no unwanted garlic, all is well with the world. If those guys were an indication of the quality of the U.S. Coast Guard personnel, one and all will be welcome onboard Cat's Paw IV, anytime. Thanks guys!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

We have headed over to the U.S. for a little March break. Here Barry is checking into customs at Friday Harbor, WS. I have felt the need to go sailing for awhile and get away from Sidney. We were planning on spending 5 days over here and then heading back for the next session of our celestial navigation course. I now know how to shoot the sun and wanted Barry to take a picture of me using the sextant, but did not get around to it. I figure I would look like a real OLD SALT in the picture.

The weather is not co-operating, the wind has picked up to over 20 knots and Barry wants either to stay in port here or head back to Sidney, didn't he know that all I wanted to do was get away from there, just for a few days. I am game to stay here until the winds subside but not sure I can convince the CAPTAIN. There are some lovely stores here that I would like to go and explore so I think I will just go ahead and do that. I have not bought any clothes since Aug. last year and I am feeling deprived.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Well doesn’t that beat all, it is the 9th of March and we woke up to snow today, unbelievable!!! We went all winter without a hint of snow and today we get the white stuff, it is supposed to stay cold and yukky all of next week. I guess that’s what I get for bragging about the trees being in bloom and the daffodils being out. I just can’t’ figure out this west coast weather. We have lost the battery charger to our camera so it will not work at the moment so we have to get to a camera shop and get a replacement charger. I know all of you would have loved to see pictures of us in the snow in MARCH, arrggghhh!!!!

We attended an excellent meeting last night about Winlink and weather faxes and all sorts of stuff last night. The presenter really new his stuff and had made a power point presentation on a CD and GAVE each boat a copy. So if you didn’t catch it all at the meeting you could review it at home. Just Super Stuff.

I found out there are several position plotting sites out there which will allow us to radio in our position and once we leave you will be able to follow our progress using a site on the Internet. That was so super to hear, you would even be able to see how fast we were going and we could give a brief report about the weather or the seas or whatever. I think that is quite exciting because people on land will be able to track us if they want to. I am thinking we will set it up for our around the island tour in late May so will keep you posted on what site we are going to use and where you can go to find it.

I have just generated a new TO DO list and I am currently working on putting together a DITCH bag. If you have to abandon ship everything you theoretically need to survive should be in your ditch bag, IMPORTANT STUFF, this should be an interesting exercise.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Well, the scourge of the airwaves is operational and has begun her career as an onboard ham radio communicator!! Today, March 6, 2006, at 1220 hours PST, I actually talked to some guy in California. Barry had taken the ham installation and operation course on Sat. and we had 10 Bluewater Cruising members aboard this morning to look at our ham radio and its installation. Our installation passed the inspection with a few minor changes to be made and then we tried to contact this guy that runs a boating net in California. We could barely here him but the course conductor could actually make out what the guy was saying and he was receiving our signal not too badly. That was a real good thing; Barry still had doubts about whether or not the radio was working.

Then later after everyone had left, I turned on the radio again and heard somebody running a contest to see how many people he could contact, so I replied. It was quite neat to talk to the guy, we didn’t chat too long as he wanted to get to other people, but he did ask how come someone with my call sign was transmitting out of Victoria. Once we move we are supposed to change our call signs but I really like mine, it indicates that we are from the NWT and I do not want to change it.

To continue on with the Ham Installation course we went on two other boats and looked at their set up and saw how their radios worked. The other two couples were also living aboard their boats and they are in Sidney so we will have to make the effort to get to know them better. This week we are taking a celestial navigation course and then Barry will go to a rigging course in a couple of weeks.

The guy that was supposed to install our holding tank has put us off for another week, this is the second time he has put us off, so if he does it again we are going to look for someone else to do the work. We would like to have that done and finished. We pick up our liferaft tomorrow. I have finished putting together our medical kit, except for the prescription medications, so preparations are moving along as they should.

We are thinking of entering a 66 NM race that takes place on April 1. It is possible that we could be racing over night so that sounds like something we would like to do. The boat is more suited to that type of racing than your around the bouy type races. We have to get an official PHRF rating for the boat so have to submit our sail sizes to a committee that will assign us a handicap rating. Down here you can’t just say well I have this kind of boat and they look up your rating, you have to send in sail sizes and types, etc.

We went out on Friday and sailed around one of the U.S. San Juan Islands. There was a lovely breeze of 12-17 knots with very little waves and it was a wonderful sail. There are a lot of beautiful log homes with gorgeous settings on the San Juan’s. I think a lot of people have their Pacific Northwest summer homes on these islands. We didn’t get in until after dark, but Barry didn’t even freak out and I docked the boat in the dark without a problem. Barry’s Mom moved residences last week and we spent two days up island helping her, so life has been busy and full. All the trees are full of blossoms down here and the weather is gradually warming up, I washed the boat down yesterday and then sat up on deck in my shirt sleeves with some wine and cheese and read my book. It sure beats working!!!