Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spencer Spit: 21-22Sep, 2014

Sunday, 21Sep

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Wind:  S 5-10.  Waves:  <1ft.

A simple, gorgeous, sunny day!  Took Strider out to shake off some of the cobwebs:  Kelly, the dogs and me.  This was Kelly's first time out for the entire year and we kept it easy.  7.4nm to Spencer Spit State Park.  Made 7.5kts across Rosario Strait to Thatcher Pass.  We were sailing(!), airing out the main, screacher and genoa.  Then the islands blocked the winds.  We motored through the pass to the south side of the Spit and discovered mooring buoys had been added (or replaced) since our last visit.  Picked up an open one and made our way ashore, landing about half way down the Spit.  Walked nearly 3 miles, through the woods, the campground and along the shore, just enjoying the day.

Getting back aboard, the winds were creating some chop and since some of the north side buoys had opened up, we moved to the north side.  Much better!  Just sat back and relaxed, no boat chores, no have-to-dos.  Dinner was mozzarella alla caprese with tomatoes and basel from our garden.  After dinner, took the dogs ashore for a run to the end of the Spit.  Chatted with a couple of lads enjoying a beer on the beach.  Ran the dogs!

Slept well!

Monday, 22Sep

Weather:  Overcast and rainy.  Wind:  Negligible.  Waves:  Flat.

Woke to the above weather, but we knew it was coming, so no surprise.  Rain was gentle.  While Kelly slept in, I took the dogs ashore for another run.  Sheltered in the log cabin as a couple showers passed by.  Back to the boat and an egg and fried potato breakfast - a hot one on a cool morning!

Used the rain to give Strider a much needed bath, delaying departure in case of fog in Rosario.  Around 11am, could see things were clearing and we departed.  Kelly motored us all the way back and into the slip!

A very nice, relaxing excursion to a great place close by.  Kelly enjoyed being out on the water and shed some worries, if only temporarily!  Got an opportunity to check out the Navionics IPad Navigation app (thank you Cindy!) and liked it.  Now I need to install a 12 volt outlet on the cockpit dash....

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Aboard S/V Sarita: Friday Harbor to San Francisco: 3-8 September, 2014

Richard (Brit), Jude (Aussie) and their daughter Katya (artist) have been living aboard their Hallberg-Rassy 46 center cockpit Sarita for a few years now, home basing in the San Juan Island area.  Usually home schooling Katya, they don't hang around long.  Available on their website is an extensive write up of their travels to Alaska the summer of 2013.  They repeated the journey the summer of 2014.

However, fall is approaching and they desire warmer climes for the winter and have decided to take their home to Mexico for the winter.  Since they left their automobile here, everyone assumes they will be back...hopefully.

Getting to Mexico though can be a challenge.  WNW out the Strait of Juan De Fuca then south, off the coast in the Pacific Ocean.  Open ocean and not the protected 'inland' waters of the Salish Sea or the inside passage to Alaska.  Off shore passages are not necessarily easy or comfortable or relaxing or without angst.  Adding to the angst is there are limited opportunities to duck into a safe harbor and not all the harbors available are easy to get into as many have sand bars with breaking waves blocking the entrance!  To relieve some of the angst, Richard and Jude asked me to come along!  How could I pass up the opportunity to get away and exercise some skills?

Initial intent was to do 3hrs on and 6hrs off watches.  Potential stops were Neah Bay, WA for fuel and Newport, OR for fuel or a break.  Note:  A day is dawn to dawn.

Wednesday, 3September, 2014

Weather:  Sunny and warm, clear and a million, great day for a picnic.  But with no wind, bad day for sailing.

Took the 0900 ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor.  Arrived around 1000.  After some last minute errands and goodbyes from their marina friends, Sarita was underway around 1300.  Motored out through Cattle Pass and headed NNW.  Had ATT cell phone reception until just west of Port Angeles and chatted with Kelly a few times.  Still 5 hours from the open ocean, easy, 4ft ocean swells started to greet us.  Discussed pulling into Neah Bay and opted to bypass knowing Newport, OR was available in a couple days.  Watched the sun set, looking for the green flash.  Nope.  I hit the rack just after sunset in anticipation of the mid watch.

Around 0030, felt a change in the motion and knew Sarita had just changed course, making the big left turn southbound around Duntze and Duncan rocks, NW of Tatoosh Island, NW of Neah Bay.  We were on the Pacific!  0100, up and about, geared up:  Life vest, foulies (cold out there), harness and life line.  Grabbed a box of cereal and an apple.  Relieved Richard who stated he was queasy and Jude was out for the count.  Making 7.5kts in FOG, no horizon, with an 8ft Pacific swell from the stern, though gentle, was not helping.  Running on radar and GPS, enclosed in a cockpit...I hoped for the best.  I ate the apple and then munched on the cereal wedged into a corner where I could see the radar, GPS and have cold, outside air blow on me.  Didn't help.  Less than an hour later, my stomach rebelled.  Don't fight it!  My abdominal muscles were well exercised.  The good news was what came up was fresh and tasted nearly as good as when it went down!  Feeling much better, resumed my position and the watch.  Apparently there was a tiny piece of apple left and an hour later, made its escape.  Feeling much better again, resumed the watch.

And that was it.  No more excitement.  No traffic, no maneuvering, no sail changes as Sarita was motoring.  Richard relieved me at 0400 and I was off to an exhausted sleep.

Thursday, 4September, 2014

Weather:  Initially cool in haze/fog then the sun came out with the winds.  Winds:  Zero increasing to 20kts NNW in PM.  Seas:  To 8ft @ 10sec.  Off the Washington coast, about 60nm out.

Relieved Richard at 0700.  About 60nm off shore with no traffic making 7.5kts motoring.   Just 'for noon, NNW wind was up to 14kts sustained and out came the genoa and main!  Wonderful broad reach!  Sailed along smartly through until afternoon on Friday.  A mixed pod of 15 Pacific White Sided and Common dolphin escorted us for about 45min.  At times, Sarita seemed surrounded!  The crew had a party, hooting and whistling.  Out on the bow, I tried to teach them The Victors, but don't think the dolphin got it.

The rest of the day and night was spent clipping along at 7.5kts under sail!  Watched the sun set, looking for the green flash.  Nope again.

Friday, 5September, 2014

Weather:  Sunny and nice!  Winds:  NNW@20, dying to zero in the night.  Waves:  8' @9sec.  40nm off the Oregon coast.

On an early morning watch, saw the moon set.  Then Orion rise, then the sun rise!  An entertaining phenomenon occurred in the predawn light.  Looking west at a faint horizon, with all the waves together, the sea looked pretty flat, almost like a field of grass the wind was blowing.  But every 30sec or so, a larger wave, could be seen speeding along, like a lump.  The lump reminded me of an elephant's back.  Suddenly, I could see cartoon elephants trying to sneak by.  Trying, but not succeeding, by hiding (or not hiding) in the grass!

Richard tossed a line in and caught a 5lb tuna!  The tuna must have been there for a while as it did not struggle.  But because their shape is so streamlined, no one could tell the fish was on, even when retrieving the line!

Discussed going into Newport, OR.  I could think of two reasons.  First was to refuel.  Sarita carries enough fuel for an 800nm range:  Exactly the distance from Friday Harbor to San Francisco.  But since we had sailed for nearly 1.5 days, there was plenty of fuel, and therefore, no need.  The second reason was Jude might need a break from the motion.  However, she was finally becoming acclimated.  Going in would give her a break, but risk a set back.  Richard decided to continue on.

Watched the sun set, looking for the green flash.  Nope again.

Saturday, 6September, 2014

Weather:  Sunny and nice.  Winds:  Calm.  Seas:  1-2ft.

Simple day in the sun.  Motoring about 30nm off the coast.  Passage past Cape Blanco and Cape Mendicino, potential rough spots, were uneventful.  Tossed a line in the late afternoon, but did not catch anything.  With Jude doing watches, 3 on and 6 off is easy!

Attempted to find the Michigan vs Notre Dame football game via XM.  Could find the MSU vs Oregon game and heard the Michigan halftime score of 0-14.  Did not want to listen to the MSU game in hope of hearing a score.  Kelly kept me apprised via Sailmail and the 0-31 shellacking.  Glad I could not find the game.

Sunday, 7September, 2014

Sunny and motoring.  Wind picked up a bit towards dusk.  Waves:  1-2 but became confused north of Point Reyes.

Another simple day!  Motoring 30-10nm off the coast.  Off all things, got cell phone reception about 10nm off Point Arena, about 100nm north of San Francisco.  Better yet, my old flip phone was able to reach those 10nm!  Made some calls letting everyone know things were going well!  Attempted to sleep, but the confused waves and attempting to sail kept the berth...well, shall I say, moving in odd, random, sometimes jerky ways.  Did not sleep well.

Assumed the mid watch, just north of Point Reyes light, and actually had something to do instead of just monitoring!  Approaching San Francisco, there is traffic, there are lights, there are buoys and other navigation challenges!  Sarita was motoring with the genoa mostly furled.

First off, Sarita has two GPS systems aboard.  A Garmin and an IPad running Navionics.  The IPad seemed to be more accurate.  The Garmin positioning was good, but showed buoys, buoys not on the IPad and upon close inspection, did not show up in real life.

So, that sorted, there was an intermittent light, off in the distance, at 11 O'clock.  Seemed fixed, as in not a boat, but something ashore.  House?  Were the waves making it intermittent?  One of the nice things about being on a boat is things slow down.  Sarita was making 6.5kts, about a mile every 10min.  As such, there is know need to make quick changes, just need to spend some time looking at the situation.

Richard had pointed out another navigation hazard, at 9 O'clock and named it S/V Northern Lights.  Said he had spoken to someone aboard.  Radar showed a target, about 2nm off at 9 o'clock.  Radar is nice, range set at 6nm, giving an hour's warning, but I guess I'm spoiled.  This radar did not plot the target's course, no speed, no CPA (closest point of approach).  Fortunately, I know how to do these by hand...or Mark I eyeball :).  Got the binoculars out to check out the target.  The waves didn't help and I could not get a steady look.  Was I seeing the boat's green light?  White light?  Both?  At this point, the wind died, the sail was furled and course was changed a bit to the east to parallel, outside and to the west, the northern Vessel Traffic Lane (VTL).  Bumped up the throttle to make 7kts.

Radio crackled, "Vessel to my west, this is Northern Lights."  It could only be us.  "Northern Lights, Sarita, go ahead."  "This is Northern Lights.  Have you changed course?  I'm seeing just red light."  "Affirmative.  Have you on radar and no collision danger."  "OK.  What's your vessel name again?"  "Sarita."  "OK, Sarita, Northern Lights out."  Seriously?  Makes me smile.  Northern Lights out.  "Sarita out."  Northern Lights' radar blip started slipping aft, no longer a factor.

Bright light glowing, beyond the horizon, lighting up the night, at our 1130.  WTF?  Everything is moving slow.  Just keep an eye on it.

The light on the beach is clearly rotating now.  'Tis Point Reyes Light.  On course and on track for a 0830 slack tide arrival at the Golden Gate.

Big vessel moving fast, coming from astern, at our 6:30.  Looks to enter the VTL.  AIS gives a name and it is a freighter bound for San Francisco.  Northern Lights is now 4nm aft, between Sarita and the freighter.  Radio crackles again.  Northern Lights trying to contact the freighter.  No response.  Another attempt.  Still no response.  Should I let Northern Lights know the VT Service (VTS) is on channel 14 and the freighter is probably on channel 14 and not monitoring 16?  I decide to let Northern Lights figure it out on his own.  With two radios aboard, I tune the hand held to channel 14 to monitor the VTS.  Over the course of the watch, there was a lot of chatter, but mostly inside San Francisco Bay and nothing affecting Sarita.

Glow in front of us is getting brighter.  Freighter is charging up from astern.  The freighter is fast, making about 18kts, about 11kts closure.  AIS alarm goes off warning of a danger vessel with a CPA of 1nm.  It is the freighter, in the VTL.  Sarita is outside the VTL, should not be a factor.  And it wasn't.  The freighter just zoomed right up, went right on by and became another light on the horizon forward, nearly disappearing in the glow.

There was a, for lack of a better word, a phenomenon I'm associating with the freighter, the radar and waves.  When the freighter was 2nm aft, a small blip appeared on our bow at 2nm.  Over the course of the next 20min, the blip was there and then not.  Wave action hiding something?  No lights out there...debris?  Changed course to starboard, away from the VTL.  There was no appreciable change in the blip's bearing drift.  Slowed Sarita to 4kts and changed course again, significantly, to port, towards the VTL.  At this point, the freighter was approaching our beam and the CPA of 1nm.  As was the blip.  On the radar screen, sea clutter, radar reflections off the freighter, began to spread around Sarita.  The sea clutter got larger, engulfed the blip and then surrounded Sarita.  I kept an eye out for a real object ahead.  The freighter moved past and beyond, the clutter went away.  No real object was spotted.  After 20min, enough time for an object to be spotted, avoided or just plain no longer a factor, course and speed were resumed.  I can only conclude the blip was a reflection off the freighter and waves and there was no real object.

At this point, the Point Reyes light was aft of abeam, the freighter was disappearing forward, Northern Lights had dropped well aft and the glow began to take shape:  A very bright set of lights, on the bow of a northbound vessel.   Ultimately, as the vessel came abeam, I could see it was around 90ft.  I could not tell if it was a fishing vessel or perhaps coast guard.  But man, the lights were bright, illuminating the sea for a long way in front of the vessel.

All of the above happened in the first 2hrs of the watch.  The last hour was...quiet.  Richard, looking like something the cat dragged in (not having slept because HE was enjoying the sailing earlier in the night), came up to relieve me.  I used the aviate, navigate, communicate form for the turnover brief and hit the rack for a couple hours.

Monday, 8September, 2014

Weather:  Cool and overcast.  Winds:  Negligible.  Waves:  1-2ft.

Arose about an hour before bridge transit.  Grabbed a breakfast and headed up on deck.  Everyone was up.  Well, except Katya, who could probably sleep through a hurricane if it were sometime between 6am and noon.  She was rousted out!  Once under the Golden Gate, I started pointing out landmarks:  The Presidio, Transamerica Pyramid (The SF Iconic Building), Ghiradelli Square, Pier 39, I'm not going to Alcatraz, Treasure Island.

Motored under the Oakland-Bay Bridge to the South Beach Harbor Marina, a block from Giants Stadium, and into slip A79.  Voyage complete!

Friends of Richard and Jude from Colorado flew in for a visit and came aboard for an arrival beer.  Since they had wheels, all piled in and took a tour of the city, up the Embarcadero, past Fisherman's Wharf, through Russian Hill, west on Union and into the Presidio.  Stopped at the Golden Gate overlook and then back into the van for dinner at Pier 39.  Lobster bisque in a sour dough bowl, calamari and an Anchor Steam beer.  Except for Ghiradelli chocolate, all the SF requirements were hit!


Relaxed aboard Sarita on Tuesday while Richard, Jude and Katya played tourist.  Met them for dinner in Chinatown.  Had crispy garlic shrimp.  Hotter than expected, but not so hot as to kill the flavor of the shrimp.  Good!  Got back aboard just before the 7th inning of the Giants game hearing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" sung by the fans in the stands.

Flew out on Wednesday.  Steve, Richard's friend from Colorado, offered to take me to the airport.  Both Richard and I gave him a lot of opportunities to change his mind as he and his wife were staying in Bolinas, about an hour north of SF and my flight was out of San Jose, about an hour south.  He was determined though and arrived about 45min prior to the agreed time.  Traffic was not as bad as we thought it would be and he got me to the airport at 0830!  0830, early enough for the 1000 flight, with a window seat on an exit row!  Thanks Steve!  Flight was painless, lots of room, a sunny day with an excellent view of SF, the bay and the bridges.  Into SEA by 1200 and aboard the 1300 shuttle to Burlington where Kelly picked me up.  Mission complete.

I'd like to thank Richard, Jude and Katya for the opportunity and the adventure.  'twas most excellent!  Just wish I'd gotten to taste the tuna :)!

Summer 2014 in review

It has been a slow year for Strider and since the excursion to Poulsbo on Memorial Weekend, she has sat in the marina, patiently waiting.  Kelly's hip was replaced in early June and while the initial recovery was slow, it has picked up and everything is going swimmingly!  The surgeon has finally cleared Kelly to get back aboard and she is looking forward to it!

So, while there was no summer aboard Strider (and no crabbing), we did get a lot done around the villa and estate, things we had put off for a while.  The encroaching forest got cut back.  Lighting and plumbing throughout the garage have been enhanced.  Junk has been off loaded.  Retaining wall built.  Deck railings begun.  Prepped for garage drywall.  Garden planted (onions, garlic, shallots, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and lettuce).  Cherries, plums, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, figs and Asian pears have been harvested!  Apples and European pears are on the way.  Wine grapes look fantastic with this exceptionally hot year.  Made blueberry and peach jams!

I know, this is supposed to be a sailing Strider blog.  Still, shore bound life affects time on the water and needed explaining.  While time aboard Strider has been dock bound, maintenance must still be accomplished, so she has been visited and TLC applied.

This water baby however, has gotten out a bit in other ways.

Test sailed a Beneteau Oceanis 45 on Lake Union with RT.  RT was looking for a new boat.  Impression of the Oceanis?  Great acceleration, wonderful accommodations, fantastic tailgate, but a leaner, really.  Also, will stall in irons under the main only.

Test sailed a Lagoon 39 catamaran on Lake Washington.  Impressions?  Too heavy, the boat speed was underwhelming.  Under the same conditions, the Beneteau was faster!  Nice on interior space, but the cabinetry was too bland, gave me the impression of particle board slapped together.  Lived up to Lagoon's charter barge reputation.

Took the previously test sailed Oceanis, now dubbed Freestyle by RT, out of Lake Union, through the Ship Canal and Ballard Locks and into the salt water of Puget Sound.  I'd never done that before!

Then the big event, taking Sarita west out the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and making the big left turn.

So, summer at home, enjoying the cycles of life with the changing seasons.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunday, 25May2014: Poulsbo to Skyline

Weather:  Overcast and cool.  Winds:  ZERO to very light.  Seas:  Flat.

Kelly's pre-replacement hip was really giving her fits so the trip was cut a day short.  Boring motor but managed to rig and air out the screacher.  Departed around 0530 and road the ebb nearly to Port Townsend.  Fought current around Point Wilson and then an uneventful motor into the slip.

Friday, 23May2014: Skyline to Poulsbo

Weather:  Overcast and cool.  Winds:  ZERO to very light.  Seas:  Flat.

Kelly's pre-replacement hip was giving her fits so she stayed home and my buddy Joe came along instead.  Boring motor almost the entire way.  Rigged the genoa along the way and managed to air out the spinnaker for a little bit.  Else, did not even raise the main as the winds just weren't promising.

Found RT's new vessel, a Beneteau Oceanus 45 dubbed "Freestyle" in honor of his daughter Emma's swimming accomplishments, anchored out and waiting for us in Liberty Bay off of the Poulsbo Marina.

Grilled a couple steaks with Camembert accompanied by asparagus.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter 2014 Projects: Update 12May

Since the major "make it my boat" projects were accomplished over the last couple winters, nothing huge is planned, just maintenance and refinements.  This page will be updated as projects are completed.

Domestic Water Supply

Under maintenance, the water lines are being replaced.  Last summer, Kelly noticed an off taste in the water.  Since the water lines appear to be OEM and the line from the tank to the pump had rotted at one point, it is probably a good time to replace the lines.

Going with PEX, commonly used in new house construction.  A couple reasons for the selection:  First, it is tougher than vinyl.  Second, it will not break should it freeze.  But, with any new tech, there are challenges:  (Update 12May) 3/4in supply line PEX did not fit the vinyl fittings exiting the water tank.  Also needed different fittings for the water pump.  All other fittings, faucets and hot water heater worked well with 1/2in PEX.

Water Tank

The supply water tank fitting was a big challenge, finding one that would work for 3/4in PEX and then installation.  Installation required the removal of the plexiglass tank top.  Once the top was removed, found the tank itself had a thin film of growth.  While cleaning it, I realized the tank must be cleaned more often, but removing and reinstalling 34 x 2in screws to pull the tank top, was not fun.  Something easier was required and the solution was a 9 1/4in Whale TCL-4 Watertight Locker Door (LD4002) installed while the tank top was off.

The hatch sticks up about 3/4in above the tank top.

With Hypervent under mattress pads, the hatch has very little impact under our feet.

Installation was straight forward requiring a jig saw, drill, 10x 1in #10-24 SS nuts and bolts along with aquarium quality silicon sealant.  Now, instead of having to deal with the 34 screws, I simply twist off the hatch cover. 

Water Lines

Update 12May:
The biggest challenge was removing the old waterlines.  The lines were zip tied to electrical lines under the sole.  I assume to make it easier during construction, certainly not easier for maintenance.  

Forward of the saloon, the project was difficult, especially feeding the lines to the faucet in the head as PEX in cool weather is stiff.  Some strong tugging was required to pull the old line out from under the head.  Feeding the new supply line was a breeze.

Aft of the saloon, the project was increasingly difficult.  Several waterline splits were located under the refrigerator, requiring removal of the fridge to access.  This space is tight, filled with electrical wiring, heater venting and the waterlines.  Heater venting was required dismantling.  However, no amount of tugging/pulling and swearing could budge the waterline crossing under the sole to the galley sink.  Ended up cutting a 3 3/4in access hole in the base of the locker under the sink to access the waterlines.  Found two zip ties within reach and cut those.  Then I was able to push the waterline from one end while pulling from the other and finally remove the old lines.  Two more zip ties came out with the removal.

The messenger did not work for the new waterlines to the galley.  Once again, the access hole came in handy as the line was feed through and then guided by hand through bulkhead holes.  Like the head faucet, the galley faucet fittings worked for the 1/2in PEX.

The Rundown:

3/4in PEX is now the main cold water supply line, running from the water tank, through the pump and down the port side to the engine compartment.  1/2in PEX branches off to the faucets and to the hot water heater.  1/2in PEX is the hot waterline.

Did a redesign whilst replacing, mostly simplifying and shortening lines.  For instance, OEM had the hot waterline out of the heater routed to two splits under the refrigerator.  One to the head and galley faucets.  But the second was to route water back, under the engine compartment (where the hot water heater is), to the aft/exterior shower.  This last split is now in the engine compartment, close to the water heater.

Also newly installed in the engine compartment is a hot water heater drain valve.  The water in the  heater tank cannot be removed via the boat's water pump.  Cold water from the water pump enters the bottom of the tank and hot water exits the top.  If the water pump is only pushing air (empty supply tank), the air bubbles through the tank and only air comes out the faucet, leaving water in the hot tank.  When the old supply waterline was removed, about two gallons drained out of the tank and into the bilge.  So, a drain valve is now installed.

Also installed a shut off valve at the supply water tank.  Should be able to clean the water pump strainer more easily.

Of a questioning note:  The OEM(?) domestic, potable hot waterlines were automotive heater hose (Goodyear, made in Brazil).  No wonder the hot water tasted of rubber.  WTF?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Monday, 30December2013: Friday Harbor to Skyline

Weather:  Overcast and cool, low 40s.  Wind:  Calm.  Seas:  Flat.

Departed around 0900 and arrived 1200.

Essentially a boring motor on the usual route, across San Juan Channel to Upright Channel to Harney Channel through Thatcher Pass and across Rosario.  The motor did give us an opportunity to clean and stow many of the post trip things required, saving time in the marina.  The marina was closed for the holiday so did not take on fuel.

Kelly surprised me by not only taking Strider out of Friday Harbor (amas spread!), but also bringing her into our slip in Skyline!  Apparently, she just decided to do it!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sunday, 29December2013: Cowichan Bay to Friday Harbor

Weather:  Overcast and cold.  Winds:  Calm building to SE 10.  Waves:  1-2ft.

Breakfast was a loaf of still warm rustic bread from True Grain.  Spread the amas dockside and had an uneventful departure around 1000.  Motored out Cowichan Bay and through Satellite Channel.  SE winds picked after passing Piers Island.  Sailed 7-8kts under full main and genoa.  Initial E tack brought us to the north side of Celia Reefs buoy and the south end of Portland Island.  Tacked S to vicinity of Coal Island.  Tacked E past the north side of Imrie Islands to the SW corner of Moresby Island.  Tack S and once clear of Moresby, tacked E making 7.5kts across the Haro directly to Turn Point Light.

The tide and currents had changed at this point and with the SE winds and knowing it would be a motor, we chose the north side of Stewart Island route, avoiding the unfavorable currents on the south route.  Once in the lee, fired up the engine and Kelly called out, "What's that noise coming from the engine compartment?"  Fan belt was slipping, and squealing.  Secured the engine and we drifted for the 10min required to tighten it.  Once repaired and fired up, motored along the north shore of Stewart and checked out Prevost Harbor.  Midway along Johns Island, SE wind picked up and were once again under full main and genoa making 7.5kts.  East tack took us to a point a couple miles NNW of Flattop Island.  S tack to vicinity of Green Point, SE corner of Spieden Island.  At this point, it was 1400 and I was tired.  Fired up the engine and we motored into the wind the rest of the way to Friday Harbor securing the sails enroute.

Winds in Friday Harbor were calm and I decided to leave the amas out and backed into slip G15 - got to practice when able!  Several people showed up to assist and took lines.  I asked them not to do anything so I could bring Strider in.  After, one man stated he had both bow and stern thrusters and could not have done better!  Felt good to bring Strider in that way.  Neighboring boat started talking to Kelly, "I think you were here the last time we were.  Don't you have a couple of dogs?"

Not wanting to cook, had wonderful German comfort food (pork schnitzel, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and roasted veggies along with a Fish Tail Mudshark Porter) at the Rumor Mill.  Did not stay for the live entertainment though the duo sounded nice in warm up.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Saturday, 28December2013: Butchart Cove to Cowichan Bay

Weather:  Overcast and cool.  Winds:  Calm.  Seas:  Flat

Departed around 0930 after the fog lifted and arrived around 1230.  With the exception of encountering a rook of 50 harbor seals floating around near the confluence of Satellite Channel and Saanich Inlet, it was a boring motor.

Photos courtesy of S/V Sarita

Butchart Cove:  The Afternoon of 27Dec
Butchart Cove:  The Morning of 28Dec
The guide book speaks well of Cowichan Bay, the 5 marinas, shops and restaurants.  Since we were not quite ready to go home, we thought to go there for a night.  Upon arrival, we motored along the waterfront, dodging the anchored vessels, checking out the place.  The marinas were pretty tightly packed together and we had a hard time seeing where one ended and another started.  The fuel dock was spotted however, the amas were folded and we filled our tank.  While there, I explored a bit of the town, looking for marina offices.  Finally, I asked at the local grocers and was directed to the "government dock."  Must mean the 'Cowichan Bay Fishermen's Wharf Association.'  No response on the radio.  No response to a call on the office phone.  Called the cell mentioned on the answering machine.  The dock master answered and directed us to a spot and stated he would be in tomorrow.  Turns out, he was on a break and was only in the one day from Christmas through New Year.  Also turns out, the dock is set up on a first come, first served basis and any mooring after 1400 is considered to be overnight and the fee is due.  While sleepy with a lot of fishing vessels at this time, there was plenty of space available.

The charms of Cowichan Bay may be over hyped by the guide.  Had dinner at the Bay Pub.  While the fried oysters and double chocolate porter were good, the crab cakes were awful.  The Masthead Restaurant menu looked intriguing and probably would have been a better choice.  True Grain Bread Bakery was a highlight.  Hilary's Cheese Shop was also had some interesting selections.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

27-28December, 2013: Butchart Gardens

Weather:  Cold and dry.  Winds:  N/A.  Waves:  N/A

Butchart Gardens during the Christmas Season exceeded the internet hype.  Amazing place.  For Christmas, the Garden had set up a '12 days of Christmas' theme and the displays were clever.  For instance, the 4 calling birds were a macaw, cockatoo, toucan and a parrot...with cell phones!  The 5 golden rings were lighted, floating on a pond.  The 9 ladies dancing were nursery rhymes/story characters on a carousel:  Snow White; Cinderella; Little Miss Muffet (and spider) etc.  Also, inside the main area, carolers sang on the hour, and a brass band played played on the half hour. 

We could not find the 12 drummers drumming.  Finally, we asked at the information center.  The conversation was something like this:

"Where do we find the 12 drummers drumming?"
"Did you drive in?
"Did you take a bus?"
Puzzled look, "Did you walk?"
"No.  We came on a boat from the Cove."
"Oh!  Well, walk out that way, past the skating rink, and you will see them.  The drummers are on top of arches over the road on the way out!"

We strolled through the place in daylight, starting around 3pm.  We then sipped peppermint (not schnapps) hot chocolate during sunset and then went back through after dark.  A singing family was near us as we went through the second time.  At each 12 days station, they sang the song from that point.  They were pretty good and harmonized well.  Very entertaining.  I asked them what they were going to do for the 12 drummers and they said they were going to stop the car and sing!

The light displays draw so much power part of Butchart, the Japanese Garden, is closed after dark.  However, the path from the main area of Butchart back to Strider in the Cove is through the closed Japanese Garden.  So, we had to stop by the information desk and ask for an escort.  Two supervisors showed up, opened gates and escorted us back to an frosty dock.

Pictures being worth a thousand words:

Strider and Sarita in Butchart Cove
The Sunken Gardens Before Hot Chocolate!
The following pictures are courtesy of S/V Sarita:

The Sunken Gardens After Hot Chocolate!
Galadriel's Tree
A Fantasy of Lights
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Friday, 27December2013: Victoria to Butchart Cove

Weather:  Overcast, showers initially.  Winds:  Calm becoming SW10-15.  Waves:  <1ft.

Boring motor in the cold rain turned into a great sail!  Departed 0800 to arrive 1400.

Had spread the amas the night before and raised the screacher in anticipation of light winds.  Uneventful motor out of Victoria, turning the corner and heading east in the rain and no winds.  Went to the north side of Trial Islands.  Raised the main in anticipation of winds at Mouat Reef and turned north through Mayor Channel.  Winds began to improve as we entered the Haro via Baynes Channel.  We were sailing under main and screacher in SE 5-10 by the time we reached the former leper colony of D'Arcy Island.  Gybed up Sidney Channel making 8kts.  Once past James Island, winds shifted to SW 10-15 and we were cruising at 11kts with excursions to 13kts VMG* in an apparent wind beam reach!  With little waves and predictable wind gusts, it was a very comfortable sail!

Courtesy of S/V Sarita
Because the winds would become squirrelly and the currents potentially strong, the screacher was furled and the engine started prior to entering the tight passage between Goudge and Fernie Islands in the Canoe Cove archipelago.  Passage was uneventful despite a 2kt current in the face.

Winds were variable in Swartz Bay and we motor-sailed.  Winds picked up at the west end of Satellite Channel and we beat WNW under screacher and main to the south end of Saltspring Island where the wind died once more.  Furled the screacher and motored south.  Winds picked up once more at Patricia Bay and we beat south.  Winds died at Senanus Island, the sails were furled, dinghy moved to the net and we motored the rest of the way into Butchart Cove.  Mooring in Butchart was easy as we were the only ones there until Sarita came in.

Sarita and Strider in Butchart Cove
Courtesy of S/V Sarita
'twas a good day!  50% of the trip was sailing and the sail through and out of Sidney Channel was thrilling!  As with most sailing in the PNW, was kept busy by the changing conditions.

*VMG:  Velocity Made Good.  This is the actual speed in direction desired, not necessarily the direction the boat is heading.  For instance, a sailboat cannot sail into the wind.  If the desired destination is in the direction of the wind, the sailboat has has to tack back and forth to go in this direction.  On a tack the boat will be going at what ever the boat speed the wind and sail settings can push it.  But the velocity towards the destination, or VMG, is less because the boat is not headed directly towards the destination, but an angle off the direction.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

24-27December, 2013: Victoria for Christmas!

Weather:  Overcast and cool to cold but dry.  Winds:  N/A.  Seas:  N/A.

Victoria.  We had heard Victoria is a special place over Christmas.  Kelly and I had discussed giving each other experiences vice presents for special events as experiences are something to last us a lifetime, something we can talk about whilst sitting on our porch swing in our dotage.

Victoria.  Victoria is a special place over Christmas:

Parliament in its Holiday Best
Government Street South
 Government Street North
Parliament and Boats at the Causeway Floats
View Across the Harbor
Herself in Her Finest Dress

We managed more than just evening walks through Victoria.  Richard, of S/V Sarita, was very kind to treat us to a meal at Don Mee, a local Chinese restaurant.  There was also some shopping at Irish Linens and Rogers Chocolates, where the Christmas candies were half off!  Further, the Empress Herself had a wonderful, 60ish Christmas tree displays.  Each of the trees were sponsored by a local business and the proceeds went to the local Children's Hospital.  And of special note, we found a couple good beers!  Gulf Islands Brewing has two we like:  Heatherdale Scotish Ale (heather, not hops) and a Porter.  Several of each were liberated from a local liquor store!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tuesday, 24December2013: Skyline to Victoria, BC

Weather:  Mostly cloudy, low 40s F.  Winds:  Calm.  Seas:  Flat

Departed 0815.  Arrived 1415.  Had south winds at 10kts inside Burrows Bay and tacked south under main and genoa to exit between Alan Island and Williamson Rocks.  Wind then died and we motored the 30nm to Victoria.

Rendezvoused with Sarita outside Cattle Pass.  Could not establish radio contact(?).

Moored inside on the Causeway Floats main dock.  Entered from the south side and backed in for a starboard tie, tucked between a powerboat and a Gemini 105.  Though folded, probably could have gone in spread.  For the first time since the electrical system upgrades, hooked up to dockside electricity.

Strider on the main dock

First winter excursion.  Diesel heater worked great to keep the cabin warm.  Glad to have the cockpit cover.  Kelly mentioned she would not have done the trip with the stock cover.  Stayed warm in the cockpit with a medium sweater, full foul weather gear, gloves and watch cap!  Kind of like the difference between riding a motorcycle in the summer and a snowmobile in the winter - got to dress right!  By the way, a motor is just as boring in the winter as the summer....