Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We are staying put today in a bay in Barkley Sound in what they call the Broken Group, it is part of the Pacific Rim National Park. It is blowing like stink out there and we decided just to stay safe and secure, there has been a gale warning for the last three days and it finally materialized today. We are planning on exploring around here the next few days, there are lots of little spots we could visit for lunch and then find a good anchorage for the night. We anchored at the end of the bay and there was a big tree floating there, we were a bit close and then when high tide came along and the wind came up, the tree started turning around and got rather close to us. We pulled anchor and went further away and re-anchored. Then tree did a 180 and turned completely around and it might have come pretty close to the boat if we had stayed put. It is rather big and still has all it's branches attached so I am really glad we moved rather than get tangled up with that thing. We have the end of the bay to ourselves, last night a group of ravens had a convention in a tree, first there were just 2 and they looked and sounded like they were having a good old chat and then another flew up and then another and there were 4 ravens sitting on one dead tree branch. It did make you wonder what they were up to.
Yesterday I walked to the other side of the island. The path was not very well marked and I made a couple of wrong turns but found my way eventually. Barry stayed aboard as his hip was killing him.

Our guide book said there was a sea cave down the beach, so I wandered down there and found the cave. It was fascinating, with a small beach in front at low tide, steep jagged rocks on both sides that were slippery so one had to be extra careful where they put their feet when scrambling down into the cave. The ceiling of the cave was covered with ferns growing out of the rocks, the cave went back quite a ways, about 30-40 feet ( I am not great with distances) getting smaller and darker the further back you went into it. I didn't see any dragons or sea monsters but it was certainly a place where they could live.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Well Barry got to see a specialist about his hip. Apparently he isn't nearly crippled enough to be considered for a new hip. The docotr said unless you can barely walk you are wasting my time and he wouldn't consider it unless Barry was over sixty and that would be borderline. We half expected that answer but it still is pretty disappointing. He said, so what you are sore, you're old things wear out, live with it. He prescribed him some fancy anti-inflamitories that are supposed to help. At least Barry didn't have to fly back from Mexico or somewhere in the South Seas to hear that kind of news. Ho Hum.
I spent a couple of days in Tofino cleaning and drying out the boat then I rented a bike and cycled out to Long Beach for a day. It was a gorgeous day and I sat on the beach after strolling about a kilometer splashing my feet in the surf, and watched the surfers do their stuff, most of them weren't much good but there were a couple that knew what they were doing and it was a pleasure to watch them. I also went up to Radar Hill where there used to be a radar station just after the war. It was a huge uphill climb, I walked a lot of the way up, but the view was fantastic, the ride down was a lot of fun, thank heavens the bike had good brakes!!!
We are in the process of circumnavigating Meares Island, there are snow covered mountains up an inlet that we plan to explore tomorrow. There is no place to anchor so we will go up the inlet and back down all in one day. It is only about 7 miles long, we have the dinghy down at the moment and hopefully we can tow it while we go up the inlet and I can get some pictures of the boat with snow capped mountains behind. The dinghy is down because we put out the crab trap and we are hoping to have crab for dinner. There were a gazillion crab traps all around Tofino and we had to slalom around them. Barry had the computer on to help with the navigating and he would say go left and I would have to head into a mass of crab traps floating all mish mash everywhere, I am sure my hair is a shade grayer tonight. It is sunny and warm though and we are enjoying every minute of the great weather.

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 17 - Supreme spa conditions were found at Hot Springs Cove in Clayquot Sound. The water in the hot springs was about 50 degrees Celcius, just perfect hot bath temperature, and there was even a hot shower to be had if you sat on a log under the water spilling off the 10 foot high rocks. Barry had a therapeutic massage on his hip under the shower, seeing that it was a 2 km walk down a wonderful boardwalk to get there, he needed it. There was even sea weed available if you wanted one of those ultra expensive sea weed wraps I always hear about. P.S. the boards on the boardwalk are adorned with carvings from boats that have visited. It was great entertainment to read the boardwalk as you strolled along in the rain forest.
The hot springs were much appreciated after a couple of long days sailing. Barry says that it was cold, wet, miserable weather. One evening we pulled into Friendly Cove at 1015 P.M. or 2215 in sailor talk. Friendly Cove is in Nootka Sound, most recently infamous for being the home of the urbanized killer whale Luna, who met an untimely demise earlier this spring when she had an unfortunate encounter with a tug boat. Friendly Cove is also famous as being the place in which Captain George Vancouver and Spain's representative Captain Juan Bodega Y Quadra signed the "Nootka Convention" in 1794 which became the basis for the Freedom of the Seas Doctrine. The early exploration and exploitation of the west coast has many of it's roots in this area and I am fascinated by it.
We did not have a chance to explore Friendly Cove as we arrived so late and then left early next morning to tackle Estanvan Point. I think it almost got the better of us, it was a steady 25 knots on the nose, gusting to 30, and it rained on and off all day. The boat held up well, the reinforced boom showed no signs of buckling or being unhappy in any manner, the only unhappy crew member was the Captain who when he took over his shift at 4:00 P.M. turned on the motor and motored into Hot Springs Cove, not giving up the helm in case the over enthusiastic crew attempted to sail again.
The next morning we awoke to sunshine and the Captain was all gung ho to get Bob to Tofino, but then the skies darkened, it started to rain and the wind howled, the Captain refused to move. The hot springs is a big business and boats come in all day with tourists from Tofino so Bob managed to negotiate a ride back with one fellow and Cat's-Paw IV and her diminished crew stayed put, visiting the hot springs and relaxing the rest of the day.
Today we had a pretty tame day, motoring into an inlet where a trail was reported to go to a lovely sandy beach. The tradition of the Lange Short Cut once again reared it's ugly head. We found the beginning of the trail and a group of kayakers who had come from the beach reported that it was very muddy and a few of their group had gotten boot full's going over it. I saw another trail that was clearly marked so I confidently set off down this trail, thinking I had found a better alternative route, ignoring Barry's comments that the kayakers had not come from this trail, 35 minutes later the doubt's were setting in and at 40 minutes I admitted defeat and we turned around. Barry really wanted to see the beach so after getting back to where we had started we set off down a 25 min. trail that took us 45 min. to walk, partly because of the mud and the maneuvering you had to do around it and partly due to Barry's by now much inflamed hip acting up. I felt extremely horrible to have
put him through a needless hour of hiking up and down and around just because I thought I knew a better way, #@%$#!
Although conditions out on the water haven't been all that one could desire we managed to keep up crew morale with a number of tasty and tantalizing meals. My brother Bob who's culinary skills up until now have admittedly only branched out to barbecuing and cooking KD or Kraft Dinner outdid himself the other day by preparing and serving, UNDER SAIL, a full course roast beef dinner including gravy, Sailor Bob indeed!! When we were blasting away into the 25 knot winds the other day I thought I would see if I could bake in those conditions, and managed to produce hot sour cream cranberry scones, that were inhaled by the cold wet crew. ( There was evidence of my baking on the floor, on the counter top, in the sink and pretty much everywhere once I was done, but I think it was worth it.)
We are headed into Tofino tomorrow. Barry has an appointment with an orthopedic specialist about his hip on Wednesday, so he will take a bus back to Victoria while I clean up and dry out Cat's-Paw IV in Tofino. Hopefully he will be back on Thursday evening and we can continue on with out Van Isle Voyage on Friday.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tuesday, June 13 - Spa conditions prevail today, moist warm breeze blowing gently on your face, we are going to have wonderful skin by the end of the day. This has been the norm for the last few mornings, fog and light winds, then after lunch the fog lifts and the sun shines. We motored into our anchorage at Dixie Cove last night, there was bright sunshine, showing off nearby snow topped mountains. When we set the anchor we checked the temperature and it was a balmy 24 degrees, wow. Then we put the thermometer in the water to see if it was worth going for a swim and it said 18 degrees. Bob did not want to believe it, he thought my thermometer was malfunctioning. I did the toe test and it seemed a lot warmer than the last time we went in (the water was 10 degrees then). Bob and I donned our wet suits and in we went. Bob stayed in and swam for about 45 min. I was in for about 1/2 hour and swam and snorkeled getting eyeball to eyeball with some starfish and sunfish, great fun. I wanted to tell you about the other day when we were in Winter Harbour. We had been in town and then motored around the corner to anchor, so we were by ourselves. The sun was beating down and we were eating crab and drinking wine in the cockpit. It was so much fun to just chuck the crab shells over your shoulder into the water without a care in the world. CRACK, CHOMP, CHUCK was how it went for about a half and hour. I bought a roast when we were in Port MacNeil and we are going to eat it today, but Barry insists we have to cut some raw bits off so we can catch some more crab. We haven't caught any fish yet so hopefully we will remember to put a line in the water and maybe something will bite it.

Monday, June 12, 2006

June 11 - Well a lot has happened since the last update. After makeshift repairs on the boom in Port Hardy with angle iron bolted to both sides we sailed across the Queen Charlotte Strait to the mainland just opposite Port Hardy. That was a test for the boom, it must have passed because that evening Barry decided we could continue on with our trip and head around the island. The next morning we headed for Bull Harbour in order to wait for a good time to cross the notorious Nahwitti Bar. The water gets really shallow here and the ocean swells get really large and if there is any wind it can be quite dangerous. We woke up at 0500 and were underway about 0520 headed for the bar. It was very calm but we did have a bit of current against the tide and it was a very bouncy half hour. Then we rounded Cape Scott at 0945 and headed SOUTH, yahoo. We are now going with the wind and the current.

We had a terrific if rather moderate sail to Winter Harbour where we spent the night. I was getting tired and a bit owly so went to bed shortly after eating at 2130. Today we are going past the Brooks Peninsula otherwise known as the Cape of Storms. It was fairly decent as we sailed out of Winter Harbour and as we got closer the wind picked up and we reduced sail in the main. Now we are cruising down the Brooks Peninsula and headed for a lovely anchorage close to a sandy beach.

We saw a black bear strolling along a beach without a care in the world. Just a few minutes ago some porpoises came to zoom along beside the boat for awhile. They looked to be a different species from the ones around Sidney so I will have to look them up. We are now about half way around the island and I am hoping to do a bit more exploring on shore the next few days. All is well onboard and the sun has just come out so I am going to go on deck to enjoy.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

e discovered bigger problems with our equipment yesterday. We have some hairline cracks in our boom where the boom vang attaches. This is not a good thing. We are now in Port Hardy attempting to give it a temporary fix. Barry and my brother Bob are going to screw some pieces of steel on the boom to reinforce it. We will not be continuing on with our trip around the island with a crippled boom, we have called our rigger and he says that it is going to break sooner or later if a lot of stress is put on it. Since my brother is only here for a short time we plan to sail up to the Broughton Island group and explore around there. We will not be sailing in big winds and putting very little stress on the boom which means sailing with just the head sail or in light winds only with the main up. We are all a bit disappointed with the turn of events but better now than in the middle of the Pacific.

Barry has to go back to Sidney to see the orthopedic guy about his hip on June 21 , so the plan is for him to take the boom back with him and get a new one made while he is in seeing the doctor. We will have to evaluate our time schedule after that and see if we can make it around the island in time to see our daughter Heather and our grandchildren on July 8.

On the positive side we spotted our first whales yesterday and saw more today. We were pretty far away but watching them blow and following their progress is really exciting. They are really magnificent creatures. My brother brought his wet suit with him and went in for a swim last night, he was not prepared for how cold it was but did stay in the water for about 1/2 an hour and did some swimming. I am not sure if he will go back in again or not. The air temperature was too cold for me to go in so I want him to go in again when I am ready to brave the elements. I imagine I can convince him to come in with me, he is not a wimp, being brought up north of 56.

We spent the day in a beautiful anchorage and as well as seeing whales Bob and I went for an up and down hike across the island, then we all went to visit a salmon farm. That was really interesting, the two guys working there came out when we climbed onto the walkway and explained how the operation worked. The little salmon were amazing just shooting out of the water so their whole bodies were in the air, it was fun to watch. Last night we went ashore and I had my first B.C. campfire. The moon was brilliant lighting up the whole bay and as we tended the fire we sang a few campfire songs, a wonderful way to end an informative and eventful day.
We picked up my brother in Port MacNeil on Monday. We both timed it perfectly, he got there on the bus at 3:00 P.M. and we arrived about 3:30. We did some grocery shopping, laundry, had 4 minute showers and took on water. It is a very pretty spot and everything was very handy to the marina. We even were allowed to push the shopping cart from the store to the boat, they would pick it up at the top of the ramp at the end of the day, very convenient.
We left the next day and motored out for a ways and then tacked into a very light wind all morning. About 2:00 P.M. the wind picked up as forecast and then we were sailing in 25-30 knots with meter high waves. Bob didn't feel ill at all and had no problems going down below to look for stuff, very encouraging. We then beat into the wind and waves for 6 hours to reach our destination. We motored the last 3 nm into a gorgeous anchorage that we have all to ourselves except for the loon and the bald eagle. There is a white beach close by and Bob and I plan to go swimming later. We are going to stay here for a day as the forecast is for more of the same and we don't want to get bashed around all day. We had some equipment malfunctions yesterday in the breeze, one which was fixed with no problem the other may take a bit of engineering to get it to be whole again.
We set out the crab trap last night. We had eaten t-bone steak for supper and after chewing diligently on the bones we put them in the carrot bag and stuffed them in the crab trap. When we pulled it up this morning lo and behold there were 5 crabs gnawing on the bones, we ate 4 of them for breakfast, a super start to our day.

Monday, June 05, 2006

We are headed to Port MacNeil to pick up my brother. He will be with us for about 10 days, we will drop him off in Tofino. We had an early start at 0615, the earliest yet. Yesterday we landed in a small cove that was renowned for it's crabs. We caught 9 and ate the only 2 legal sized ones, they were delicious.

We have yet to have an anchorage to ourselves. We get to a spot about 5:00 P.M. or so and think that we might have it to ourselves and then someone else pulls in a little later. Oh well, apparently on the west side of the island there are less boats.

There is a lot of logging that is going on around here, at these lovely secluded anchorages you here the whine and growl of heavy equipment on shore, you can't see anything because the trees are huge, but you can hear it. You can tell what areas have been logged, the trees are a different colour than the natural vegetation. I haven't gotten close enough to figure out what kind of trees they are planting but they seem to be either cedar or some type of deciduous tree.

The other day we stopped at this little island to look at some WW2 gun placements. It was amazing, this small island and the amount of work that had been done on the top of a hill. There were lots of cement and brick buildings, that are all covered in moss now. They had even made cement stairs, these really fascinated me. I have pictures and hopefully will be able to load them in Port MacNeil. All is well, we are having fun, hope you are to.

June 2 - We had a great sail today. Went through Hole in the Wall without any problems, we had more trouble going through Active Pass one time. Then we headed up to an great anchorage on Sonora Island. The mountains aren't so high here but still there are very high hills. We encountered about 25 knots of wind going into the anchorage, it was funneling down a valley.

We went to set the crab trap today, it was about an hour and a half before low tide so I figured it should be a good time. We set it by a sandy beach and about and hour after low tide I went to get it. There were 2 crabs in it, EUREKA!!! I went by myself to check the net and Barry had said to just leave it in the water until tomorrow morning. I decided to take the crabs back to show Barry, but I didn't bring anything to put them in so I just put one in the front of the dinghy, the other one held on for dear life and I decided to leave it in the trap. The stupid crab in the dinghy went under the floor boards, so I spent the whole way back to the boat, about 3 km, worrying that he was going to come up and bite my butt, yuk. Once I got back, Barry said that we had to deflate the dinghy to get the crab out, so we had to take the motor off, bring the dinghy on board and deflate it until we could get the floorboard out and voila, one crab for dinner. We put the dinghy back in the water and Barry went back and collected the other one and we had them both for dinner. Next time, I will remember a bucket!! The crab that crawled under the seat, note the deflated dinghy

What a hoot, I don't think Barry was too impressed though. We don't have any other fresh or frozen meat on board so I guess we will have to figure out what we can catch tomorrow, maybe pick mussels or maybe catch a salmon.

Friday, June 02, 2006

May 31 we had our first feast off the sea. We collected oysters at low tide and barbequed them. Then we waited to see if they had PSP, a disease that will cause your tongue to go numb, then your fingers and toes and then you die. It was quite exciting waiting. We did not die and then the next morning we heard on the VHF that some parts of the fishing area are closed due to red tide, which causes PSP, we must find out what area we are in. The oysters were delicious.
Tonight we are having a big fruit salad. Barry looked in one locker and a grapefruit had gone bad and an orange and the pineapples I had in there were overripe so we are eating all the fruit that needs to be eaten. Live and learn about storing food.
The scenery here is spectacular, big mountains coming right out of the sea, there is still snow on a few, one inlet we could have gone up ended in a glacier. We stopped in one spot today and clamored up a hill to look at a waterfall. I hope Barry's hip is not too sore tomorrow. Tonight we stern anchored, that is tied off to shore. The sea bed is so steep at the edges that you have to get to close to the shore when you anchor so if you tie off to shore you will not swing into the shallow water.
Tomorrow we are headed into some rapids to get us into Johnstone Strait. You have to time the tidal rapids just right so that you go through at slack tide, otherwise there are eddies and currents and overfalls that can get you into a lot of trouble. We have spent quite awhile going through the charts, tide books and guides to help us figure out how to navigate around here. Everyday brings a new adventure and new things to learn, isn't life grand.