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....