Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, 25July2012: Nanaimo to Secret Cove

Weather:  Scattered clouds and mild.  Winds:  NW 10-15kts.  Seas:  2-3ft.

Mostly great day of sailing!

Departed Nanaimo via the south route around Protection Island, motoring out of the moorage and then setting sail right away.  In hindsight, should have motored north to Departure Bay as this would have set us up better for the crossing.  As it was, full main and screacher initially.

As we rounded Protection Island and heading NNE, the wind was more upon our nose and the screacher was furled and the genoa brought out.  About half way to Snake Island, killed a bunch of snakes in the cockpit by reefing the main and genoa and tacking WNW to get around the north side of Snake.

Once we tacked back NNE, we had a clear shot across The Strait of Georgia, making 8kts!  2-3ft waves can make for an uncomfortable ride, but reefing had smoothed it out.  Hand steered initially, toying with the windward waves, avoiding the biggest and enjoying the sailing.  Further across, the winds moderated a little and Lasqueti and Texada Islands reduced the fetch and shook out the genoa reef.

Approaching Thormanby Island, the winds decreased further.  In an effort to continue sailing, we tacked WNW and then back to NNE around the north side of Thormanby.  Winds died on the north end of Thormanby and we motored the rest of the way.  In hindsight, to arrive sooner, should have just continued around the south end of Thormanby and then motored through Welcome Passage into Secret Cove.  I guess all is a compromise.  Arrival in Secret was uneventful with a helpful staff.  Sunny and hot in the cove.  Maybe the extra time on the water was good!

Tuesday, 24July2012: Princess Cove to Nanaimo

Weather:  Overcast and cool initially.  Winds:  0.  Seas:  Flat.

Departed Princess Cove at dawn, the sun still way below the horizon, but just enough light to make our way out of the cove.  Motored through the quiet waters to arrive at near slack for Dodd Narrows, the shortest way to Nanaimo.

Dodd Narrows is just what the name implies, a narrow passage between islands.  The significance, besides being narrow, is the tidal currents must get through this passage, making upwards of 10kts and then being dangerous.  The 6 minute slack is the safest, but slack also attracts traffic, including barges.  The books state the narrows has at least a 150ft width, but it seems narrower, particularly with a 25ft wide boat.

It appeared we were the first boat northbound and Captain's Mast was the only one visible behind.  Several 'Securitie" calls were made announcing our arrival.  Several yachts made their way south before our arrival.  We made our way through with a slight southbound current and found several yachts on the north side waiting for our passage.  Nice of them!

Captain's Mast was about 30min behind and RT reported about a 3kts current in his face as he went through.

Once into the industrial Northumberland Channel (paper mill to the west, log booms to the east), the waters were calm.  Observed a small tug attempt to pull a log boom out of the bunch (east to west) only to hit full reverse as a small motor yacht heading north to south, did not yield.  Technically, the M/Y probably had right of way, coming from the tug's right and the tug did not have a restricted in maneuvering marker out.

I pulled up and let the tug out and a radio call was recieved, "Trimaran in Northumberland Channel, thank you."  I responded with, "No problem."  I figured he had the right of way 3 ways.  First, coming from the right.  Second, while not having hoisted a restricted in maneuvering marker, it was.  Lastly, the law of gross tonnage was on the tug's side.

The wind started to pick up as we approached the north end of Northumberland and we managed to sail a bit.  We made our way to the mooring buoys at Newcastle Island Marine Park, snagged one and settled in for a day of sightseeing/provisioning.  Took the dinghy to the island and hopped the water taxi to downtown.  Strolled along the waterfront, got ice cream and attempted to send a post card to Sam, but it never arrived.  Made our way to the local, and conveniently located supermarket and stocked up - this was our last chance prior to heading into the desolate north.  OK, not really.  Not really the last chance and not really desolate, but it felt like it at the time.

Dinner at the Dinghy Dock.  OK pub grub.  The deck is the attraction.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday, 23July2012: Sydney to Princess Cove, Wallace Island

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

A calm, pretty day with little wind and we departed Sydney without fanfare or drama.  Wind conditions dictated motoring most of the way.  Route was straight forward, south of the Little Group into Moresby Passage, Swanson Channel, Captains Passage and into Tricomali Passage, up the west side of Wallace Island and into Princess Cove.

On the route up and just south of Wallace Island, we spotted a trimaran ahead of us.  Looked like a Dragonfly and we had a brief encounter with Steve and Janet on their way back home!  They told us they had not made it to Desolation Sound but had found warm, swim-able water in a small bay near the entrance of Jervis Inlet and had enjoyed the splash!

Per the norm, RT motored faster and was all set up with a stern tie just south of the dock in Princess and we rafted on his starboard side.  PCove was neat!  Surrounded by 20ft cliffs, this is a long and very narrow bay with room for a lot of boats if they drop anchor in the middle of the cove and stern tie to the numerous bolts/chains on the banks.  Small dock in the middle of the west side is convenient for walking the trails on top of the cliff.

Besides being a neat place, we chose to stop a PCove because it is about a 3hr motor to Dodd Narrows on tomorrow's route to Nanaimo.  Dodd is infamous for its raging tidal currents and it is critical to pass a slack tide.

Sunday, 22July2012: Bedwell to Sydney

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  Calm freshening to S@20.  Seas:  <2ft.

A good day with an ugly period.

Departed Bedwell around 1000, motoring initially but picking up a light wind and we beat out of the harbor.  Once outside, winds died and then became brisk and increasing to 20 by the time we arrived Sydney.  Raced RT, flying formation for a while, but the centerboard was not going down and control was sloppy.  Heaved to and deployed the centerboard and returned to the race.  Initially used the screacher, but elected the genoa as the winds increased.  Cruised in for an easy victory arriving about 20min ahead of Captain's Mast.

With the south winds, route to Port Sydney was pretty direct, south of Moresby Island, north of Reay Island, south of the Little Group

Entry into the marina was standard but got ugly getting into our slip.  Sydney marina is tight, one of the tightest I'd been in.  Not much maneuvering room.  Further, the strong winds were pushing us into the dock, but off our finger pier.  Attempted to use our standard entry, going past the slip and turning back into it to approach bow in, directly towards the dock.  Did not make the turn fast enough, did not have enough speed on and the winds weather vaned the bow away.  Then the winds pushed Strider sideways, into the moored boat next to the slip we were headed for.  Ended up hooking the other boat's bow anchor with the port back stays.

A gathered crowd assisted us into the slip.

What could we have done differently?  Turn sooner, making a more direct entry into the slip comes to mind.  Kept more speed on perhaps.  Could have used the weather vaning to hover at the end of the finger pier, drop Kelly off with the spring line and then made the entry is another thought.  Next time....

Though tight, Sydney Marina was modern, clean with good showers and laundry.  The town was nice and we restocked, did a shelf check in the BC Liquor Store and found an ice cream shop!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Friday, 20July2012: Reed Harbor to Bedwell Harbor, South Pender Island, BC

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

Another 'sail when we could, motor when we had to' day.  Had some winds leaving Reed and managed to get near the center of Boundary Pass and then motored.  As we approached South Pender, a NNE wind popped up and we beat towards the entrance of Bedwell.  At the entrance, winds died and we motored to the custom's dock.

RT had motored the entire way and handed me the phone at the custom's office for check in.  Waited on hold for about 20min then checked into Canada.  Poet's Cove Marina is co-located with the custom's dock making this area a bit of a zoo.  Which boats are in line for customs and which are attempting to get to the marina?  Patience.

After clearing, motored out of the marina and took a provincial park mooring buoy...another first for us.  Rafting is not allowed on these buoys.  Fortunately, I was able to observe RT's mooring technique and being a good mimic, getting on the buoy was painless, monkeying with the harness is another story.

All my reading of trimaran anchoring and mooring buoys indicated the 'superiority' of the wide harness technique available to multihulls.  That is, hooking the harness to the boat at the widest possible point, the outboard end of the akas.  Did so, but also looped a mooring line through the buoy attached to the vaka as a back up.  We were secure.  What I don't like about the wide harness is there is so much line and this line can dip into the water and under the boat.  Doesn't happen with sufficient wind to hold the boat off the buoy, but in calmer conditions it does.  Still working on it...I hate reinventing the wheel.

During the afternoon, a S wind picked up and I sailed the dinghy around the harbor.  Great fun, but I learned I needed to sit in the bottom of the boat, just too tippy.  Later, after the wind died down, rowed Kelly to Poet's Cove for a little retail therapy.  Along the way, a British lady from another boat popped up and asked "Is this your tender?"  Yes.  "Brilliant!  I saw you sailing it around earlier.  Brilliant!"

Lesson Learned:  Getting on a mooring buoy.

Lesson Learned:  Anchor/mooring ball harness needs work.

Thursday, 19July2012: Roche Harbor to Reed Harbor, Stuart Island

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

Mid morning start with a motor around the west end of Spieden Island to Reed Harbor, the long, narrow bay on the south side of Stuart.  RT arrived about 45min prior and was on a mooring buoy awaiting our arrival to raft off.  We dropped a crab pot off near the entrance as we entered the harbor.

Captain's Mast motors at 6.5kts while we motor at 5kts.  Sure, we can get 6.5kts, but our fuel consumption increases dramatically while 5kts @2200rpm consumes about .31gal per hour.  Since Strider only holds 13gal, we like to conserve and sail as much as possible.  Besides, Strider is much faster sailing than motoring.  So, this became the norm for the adventure, if motoring was required, RT was in the destination prior to our arrival, with the fenders down, awaiting our rafting.  He will later claim he had a beer waiting also.  But he stocks IPA, which I don't care for.  Further, I ended up supplying him with beer as there was a miscommunication between him and Merry Margret later in the trip.  RT wanted two cases of beer in Powell River and ended up with two 12 packs...'nuff said.

Reed was the first of many first time stops for us on this trip.  Nice place, long and narrow, seemingly completely protected.  Being protected, it is warm!  Later, Kelly needed a dog fix so she walked RT's with him as I checked the crab pot and found we caught a starfish!  Yeah!  Bait gone, starfish in trap...I think we had a steak that night.

Wednesday, 18July2012: Roche Harbor

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

Nice day in anchored in Roche.  Kelly enjoyed the craft booths set up outside the Company Store.

RT arrived and rafted off us.  As we observed the situation, we both decided my light weight Fortress, 40ft of chain and then rope rode was probably insufficient to hold both our boats rafted, particularly in the strange current/wind conditions of our anchorage.  So, while I brought up the anchor, RT fired up his engine and motored us over to his favorite anchorage, about 300yds off the Customs Dock.  His plow anchor and 100% chain rode were then deployed.

A comfortable evening was had by all!

Tuesday, 17July2012: Skyline to Roche Harbor

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

Sailed when we could, motored when we had to.  Did the northern route to Roche, Thatcher Pass, Lopez Sound, Harney Channel, through the Wasp Islands and across San Juan Channel to Spieden Channel and into Roche.  Anchored in 25ft between the marina and Mosquito Pass, allegedly the "only secure anchorage around," as one local put it.  Had problems getting the anchor set, backing down too fast.  With the advice of the 'local', we slowed down and set.

Very strange current/wind interaction in this spot as the current was going one way yet the boat were all pointed in the other direction.

Day 1 of the grand adventure!  After all the preparation and shakedown, we are off to the Great White North.  Our dogs were dropped off at Aunt Nina's yesterday.  RT is bringing Captain's Mast north solo...well, except for his dog, as Merry Margret has to work for a couple weeks more and Emma has swim practice.  This grand adventure idea started last September when RT realized he could finally head north as now he could go in company.

Originally, we were to rendezvous in Roche on the 17th, but RT was delayed a day.  Kelly and I were ready so we headed out for an evening alone, senza dogs, senza all and had a nice evening together.  Nice dinner, a walk, ice cream and the sunset ceremony were enjoyed.

I think this was the 5th night in total Kelly had spent at anchor and she is becoming more comfortable.  A functioning head has made a huge difference and having a dinghy has helped!

Speaking of dinghy, we found a 1985-1995 model fiberglass 9.5ft Gig Harbor Boatworks displacement hull, sailing dinghy.  After cleaning it up and getting a couple 7' oars, we are really happy with it.  It rows easily and has the sailing rig.  Two drawbacks, it is tippy and low freeboard.  It is not for moving two people in choppy water.  It does however, move two people and two dogs quite well and being fiberglass, is less likely to puncture on the PNW rocks/barnacles!

Lesson Learned:  Slowly backdown to set the anchor!  With all the currents and winds, setting the anchor is hugely important in the PNW.  Previous experience on the Great Lakes and inland lakes with little to no current, an anchor set had not been a priority.  Instead, the anchor was just dropped with a pile of chain on top.  Learning, learning....

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Monday, 9July2012: Spencer Spit to Skyline

Weather:  Sunny and mild.  Winds:  SE 5-10.  Waves:  <2ft.

Sailed home via Thatcher Pass.  Tough tacking through the pass.  Eventually cleared and had a straight beat home making 6-8 across Rosario and a welcoming, calm sail into Burrows Bay.

Sunday, 8July2012: Garrison Bay to Spencer Spit

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

We wished Steve and Janet bon voyage as they headed north!

Sailed when we could, motored when we had to, through Mosquito Pass into Roche Harbor, east through Spieden Channel, across San Juan Channel into the Wasp Islands.  Wove our way to the south side of Crane Island, occasionally picking up a little wind.  Seems the Harney Channel always has wind and we had a nice sail through here.  Stopped off in Blind Bay searching for the 4 mooring buoys at the state park.  Chart was confusing and we finally figured out the park was the little island in the bay entrance and there were only 3 buoys, all occupied.

What is the deal with 'private' buoys in public water?  If no one is on it, can we use it?

With the confusion of the private buoys littering the bay and the occupied state park buoys, we moved on to Spencer Spit.  Attempted to anchor on the more protected north side, but backed down too fast (later learned) and could not set the anchor.  Moved to the south side via the narrow pass between the spit and Frost Island.  The anchor set the first try.  10kt S winds created 1ft waves, which was a bit uncomfortable.  Not the chop, but the fact this wind could push us onto the beach in a flash.

It was a good test!  We kept watch and the anchor was rock solid.

Spencer Spit is a cool place with a lot of sand and we could let the dogs run as the spit naturally confines the dogs.  This was a nice shakedown and all the systems worked well.

Lesson Learned:  Within its limitations, have faith in the Fortress anchor (great in mud and sand, no weeds/grass)

Saturday, 7July2012: Hunter Bay to Garrison Bay

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Mostly light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

We decided to go to Garrison Bay, in the exact opposite corner of the San Juans from Hunter Bay, probably 10 miles as the crow flies.  The shortest direction is probably head north through Lopez Sound then head west.  While shortest, it held more probability of motoring.  So, we went the longer route through the Strait of Juan deFuca to the Haro Strait.

Turned out to be a mostly motor, but the winds sometimes cooperated.  Of interest to me was how similarly our boats motored at the same RPM.  This is interesting because Steve talks extensively about replacing his original Gori propeller with a Varifold and how much better it performed.  I thought we might upgrade to a Varifold.  Turns out there is more to the story.  His old Gori was trashed by years in the water without a zinc.  So when he upgraded, he was really just replacing a crappy prop.

So, at similar RPM, he was making perhaps .1kt more than we were.  This could have been because of a better current, cleaner hull, lighter load etc.  Basically, statistically insignificant.

Arrived in Garrison Bay and anchored in 5-10ft of water.  Garrison was a great place with the British Camp and dock available to walk the dogs.  Dogs spent the evening staring into Flexible Flyer, looking for the cats.  The cats retaliated by walking around the boats at night.  One of the cats got adventurous and decided to investigate the dinghy, tied to our stern with a 7ft line.  Did not see what happened, but there was a lot of scrambling, a splash and yowling.  Dogs were up in a flash, barking.  Made my way aft and out with a flashlight and illuminated a catfish for Janet to retrieve.

The rest of the night was peaceful!

Friday, 6July2012: Skyline to Hunter Bay, Lopez Island

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Mostly light and variable.  Seas:  <1ft.

When my Dragonfly 1000 mentor Steve and his wife Janet were headed to Canadian waters, we arranged to meet for a couple days.  First stop:  Hunter Bay, where we knew there was beach access to walk the dogs.

Initial winds out of Skyline were easterly so we expected a push across Rosario Strait.  I set the main loose.  Sail out to Rosario was as expected, then the wind died and we motored to Lopez Pass.  Turns out Lopez Sound usually has wind and we found around 7kts out of the SE and managed to sail into Hunter Bay...with a scalloped main.  Not the best entrance, but we got there.

First time we had rafted off another boat at anchor and we followed Steve's instruction, "Just treat it as a dock!"  After initial greetings, Steve wanted to move the boats to shallower and more protected waters in the eastern portion of the bay.  So Steve fired up his engine and motored us together to a better spot.  Ended up moving a little further when a Bellingham boat called over, "Hey, if I wanted to be in a parking lot, I would have stayed out there with the other boats."  Jeez.

Pleasant evening was had.  The dogs spent a lot of time looking down their companionway at their cats....