Friday, November 13, 2015

Saturday, 8August2015: Gorge Harbour

Weather:  Overcast and rain all day.  Winds:  S 0-5.  Waves:  <1ft.

Rain dampened the day as we remained rafted on Freestyle, doing laundry, visiting the store and saying goodbye to Hannah, one of the 13yr olds.  The day was both frustrating and emotional in separate events.

Frustrating was doing laundry in the local facility...and what started as a load between the two boats became a couple loads.  The facility was crowded, hot, humid, boring and expensive.  This facility is the single biggest reason why I wrote Laundry and will avoid laundromats in the future.  Waiting, trying to stave off the boredom and escape the oppressive heat and humidity, I visited the store.  The customers were in a rush and focused only on themselves.  As a result, they ended up being rude, hopefully unintentionally.  Tip of the hat to the employees for their patience.  I could not have done it.  Regarding the store, not badly stocked, similar to a convenience store but with a more frozen goods and fresh veggies.  It was a bit cheaper than the store at Refuge.

The emotional part was the departure of Hannah, one of the 13yr olds and a lovely young lady.  She flew out on the 1330 flight and sat right front, in on the cockpit's starboard seat.  We were aboard the boats when the float plane's engine fired up.  I grabbed the binoculars to see into the cockpit and there was Hannah, waving like a maniac!  The Kenmore Air's pilot taxied right past the our boats giving us a chance for a last goodbye.  The entire time, I was doing a running commentary on what Hannah was doing.  "She's waving, now with two hands, face is in the wind screen now, huge grin, her camera now, face again, single hand wave, now two!"  You get the idea...just image the unbridled enthusiasm of a 13yr old girl!  Then the throttle was firewalled and with a roar, the plane lifted off and disappeared over the trees and was gone.

Why were there tears in my eyes?  I'd only met her last week.  I'll chock it up to the unbridled enthusiasm of a....

Monday, November 9, 2015

Friday, 7August2015: Squirrel Cove to Gorge Harbour

Weather:  Sunny and warm, becoming overcast with showers.  Winds:  S @5kts.  Waves:  <1ft.

Pretty day after a pleasant night, but time to move on.  Freestyle wanted to go to Gorge Harbour as they were dropping one of the 13yr olds there on Saturday to fly back home.

Departed around 1000 and beat at 6kts initially with the genoa only.  Exchanged it for the screacher as winds quieted, maintaining 5+kts to the sound end of Cortes Island.  Motored from there.

The reef between Sutil Point and the Q20 buoy was clearly visible.  Though rounding the buoy to the west is recommended, there was the boat equivalent to a traffic jam there.  So, we cut the corner to the east with no difficulty.

Two bald eagles greeted us from the Guide Islets outside Gorge.  Looked for the petroglyphs on the narrow entrance into Gorge, but did not find them.  Once inside, we expected to anchor out because Freestyle wanted a dock.  Was motoring around looking for a place, while enjoying the variety of unusual boats anchored, when Freestyle left the fuel dock and headed our way.  No room at the inn.  So, we waited as Freestyle found a high spot on the west side and dropped the hook.  Just in time for the rain, we rafted around 1500.

Two groups made dinghy excursions, the ladies ashore for some retail therapy and the gentlemen on a cocktail cruise to take a closer look at the anchored vessels.  There was a Catana 50 sporting a German flag causing some major boat envy on my part....

The rest of the night started damp, but quiet.  Around 0200, winds picked up and gusted causing a restless couple hours as I was constantly checking our position as we swung, hanging far out on Freestyle's big anchor.  We did not drag, but there was a game plan in place involving our anchor, dinghy, braving the teeth of the storm and getting very wet.  No need however and the winds died back down around 0400 and restful sleep returned!

Thursday, 6August2015: Roscoe to Refuge to Teakerne Arm to Squirrel Cove

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light becoming S 5-15.  Waves <1ft.

After several days of playing in Roscoe Bay, it was time to run the errands and explore.  Departed Roscoe ahead of Freestyle and gave them depth reports though the cut.  Motored the distance to Refuge Cove arriving as Freestyle was getting off the fuel dock, Freestyle is a fast boat!

One of my goals for this trip was to not fold Strider and this trip to Refuge proved a challenge to the goal.  The place was crowded.  Docks were full, including the floating dock.  There were three other boats waiting in line, we thought for the fuel dock since they are all power boats.  Turned out only two were waiting for the fuel dock but the third was looking for a 'go to the store' spot.  We waited about 5 minutes and then a spot opened deep inside, between a couple docks.  We slowly made way for it when the third boat said, "Hey, we were here first!"  We backed off.  However, they looked closer and did not like the challenge and waved us to go ahead!  The space was a bit tight, but the winds were negligible, and Strider slipped right in at the foot of the dock.  Upon arrival, a 7yr old boy asked, "Why do you have three boats?"  "To go fast" was the response!

Post shopping and stowing, we departed.  Since Strider was on a port tie, a line was secured to the aft port quarter, the engine reversed, pivoting the bow out and we motored out!  Like we'd done it before!

Motored out the north side of Refuge and northbound in the Lewis Channel making for Teakerne Arm, the waterfalls and Cassel Lake above the falls.  Though we'd heard the falls were way down this year because of the dry weather, we thought it would still be nice to see them and perhaps swim in the lake.  S to SW winds picked up as we rounded Joyce Point into Teakerne Arm and the screacher was unfurled.  Had a pleasant, 4kt sail up channel, being patient as Freestyle anchored and set up for rafting.

Teakerne Arm is a deep fiord with limited anchorages.  There were a lot of boats in the anchorages, many not stern tied.  In other words, they were hogging the place and not allowing other boats room.  Freestyle tried a couple different spots, one up close to the falls and another around the corner a bit.  In both cases, the anchor would not bite.  This, combined with rising wind, waves and crowd, made us decide to wave off and go somewhere else.

So, we made for Squirrel Cove.  The winds were straight up channel, right in our face for departing so Strider motored out.  Once back in Lewis Channel, the screacher was brought back out and we beat south.  Not often a beat is pleasant, but in this case, it was!  Just a nice 6kt sail with non-annoying waves.  Rounding the rocks at Boulder Point, we continued to sail through the narrow entrance on the west side of Protection Island and into Squirrel.  We continued to sail until the winds finally died on the north side of Protection.  At this point, we spotted Freestyle anchored on the north end, close to the saltwater outflow.  Motored up and rafted at 1530.

A nice, quiet evening followed.  Squirrel Cove had a lot of room but was protected, like a small lake.  Good spot.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Saturday, 1August, 2015: Roscoe Bay to Refuge Cove and back

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

It was time for some fresh groceries, a holding tank dump and fuel so we departed Roscoe Bay at 0830, mostly motored the 7nm around the corner to Refuge Cove and arrived at 1015.  What sailing was done was with the screacher only.

Motored up to the fuel dock and was assisted by an energetic kid from Michigan who'd relocated with his dad.  He was entertaining.  After fueling, Strider was relocated to the floating dock and we rowed the dinghy to the store.

Refuge Cove: float/dock to the left, fuel dock center, store to right

The Refuge Cove Store would not have been out of place in a bayou backwater in Louisiana.  I half expected Calypso from the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' to come walking in.  It is a small store so items/selections are limited.  Further, they are pricey.  Still, finding some fresh veggies, eggs, cheese, Flor de Caña 5yr and a fresh cinnamon roll was great!  We needed to get creative loading the dinghy with the new stash....  Retail therapy!

Refuge Cove Store
Once back aboard, Kelly stowed the goods while I rowed the dinghy over to the local garbage barge where, for a buck Canadian a pound, trash will be taken to a recycle/land fill for disposal.  Very convenient!

We departed Refuge Cove around 1200 and motored/sailed to Tenedos Bay where we had such great fun in 2013.  Upon arrival, we went to the protected area in the NNW corner only to find it pretty crowded.  Attempted to anchor so we could squeeze in between a couple boats, but could not get a purchase.  So we pulled anchor and explored the bay further, looking closer to the beach and trail to Unwin Lake.  As we motored around, I kept getting an uneasy feeling.  The steep banks would be hard to stern tie to and the steep banks indicated deep water close to shore.  Further, the afternoon wind had picked up (in the bay only of course) setting things rocking.  Too open, too wasn't Roscoe.  So, at 1400, we headed back to Roscoe.

Arriving at 1530, selected a spot on the south side of the bay thinking the orientation would help with the solar charging but also in anticipation of Freestyle's arrival and there was plenty of room there.  Double stern tied, making a Y, centering Strider in a tripod.  Needed to extend the anchor rode and did so with the dinghy.

Safe and secure, we headed off for a fresh water cool down.  Then back for dinner, rum and the nightly herring and moon jelly show!

Roscoe Bay, West Redonda Island, BC

We stayed in the Desolation Sound area for about 4 weeks and Roscoe Bay became our home base.  Every 3-5 days we would depart Roscoe on an errand or exploration only to find our new location was not as nice as Roscoe and we would come back.

We went to Roscoe based on a recommendation from my Dragonfly mentor Steve.  Last year, he and his wife Janet aboard Flexible Flyer went there, stayed a month and never moved.  They liked it that much!

Roscoe Bay and Black Lake via Google Earth
Roscoe essentially had it all.  A small, protected bay with a sticky mud bottom and multiple stern ties made for secure mooring.  The saltwater water temperature was not the warmest, but 68 was good enough for some of us.  Better was the easy access via a 10 minute walk from the head of the bay to the fresh water Black Lake.  The lake's water temp was in the low 70s...great!

Our initial anchorage was in the notch on the north side of the bay and turned out to be fortunate.  The notch's size limited the number of boats able to fit in, allowing privacy while the rest of the bay filled over the next couple days.  Turns out, our arrival was just before a long BC weekend and there were a lot of boats on the move.  By Wednesday, there were 53 boats moored in the bay, crowded as a Michigan State Park campground on Labor Day!  OK, not quite that bad, but comparatively packed.  By Friday, most of the boats had moved on and from then on, there were between 10 and 20 in the bay.

Just a small portion of the initial crowd
Easy days, easy living - a vacation!  We fell into a routine, a relaxing morning, breakfast and a cafe' followed by a boat check, a little reading and scoping out the neighbors.  Late morning, we'd row to the head of the bay and walk to Black Lake for the first swim of the day.  Back aboard for lunch and then boat chores: "Shaking out the rug," rigging adjustment, corroded solar panels, sheave greasing, minor repairs, laundry etc.  Mid afternoon found us back at the lake for our second swim.  Back aboard for supper, something grilled of course -  no need to heat up the boat!

We snorkeled the lake once.  The shore is steep and the lake gets deep and dark fast.  There were some interesting rock formations (cliffs down into the water) and a lot of fallen, sunken logs.  Else, just not a lot to see...a few minnows, weeds etc.  Snorkeled once in the saltwater.  Also, not much to see.  So, used the gear to clean Strider's bottom, which was easy with the new bottom paint.

As evening rolled around, the massive herring schools expanded their patrols, encircling Strider, and the moon jellies rose to the surface seeking love.  Off and on, we'd be entertained by someone on another boat, someone with a bagpipe or a mandolin or just singing.  One afternoon, there was a mom and a, I'm guessing, 4 year old, both padding their own SUP.  The little kid was singing O Sole Mio at the top of her(?) lungs.  Very cute, very entertaining.

Quiet, restful days
The water therapy worked for Kelly, loosening her hip.  "Gravity is not my friend" was a common refrain as she splashed and floated in Black Lake.  With Freestyle's arrival came a couple 13yr olds and their energy.  They were able to draw Kelly into the salt water and she was routinely seen jumping off the boat into the bay and playing with the kids.  She was...kinda outta control...but in a good way!

Kelly relaxing!
Freestyle arrived Monday, 3Aug, bringing water toys including a SUP.  Kelly and I both wanted to try one and had many opportunities to use this one.  The two pieces of advice worked:  1) Trust the SUP, it will feel tippy, but will not go over;  2) Don't look down, but look out at the horizon.  Great fun, but don't want to buy one at this point.

A word on the electrical system.  Two of the 25 watt solar panel internal wire connections had corroded.  I was able to lift the top plastic film and effect a repair.  Even with the repair, we were loosing about 9% per day, necessitating a 1hr engine run every 4 days.  We could have gone longer if I had kept the engine start battery.  Since I hadn't, I wanted the batteries to be above 50% all the time just to ensure there was enough cranking amps to turn the engine over.  The engine runs were usually accomplished with running our errands or exploring.  While a bit disappointing, it was perfectly in line with the design.  It does need to be noted though, we were running a refrigerator and a freezer, both big draws.  Further, there was a 120v CPAP machine in use.  Also, the orientation and narrowness of the bay and our mooring within the bay prevented optimal solar collection.  So, all in all, not bad.

On another note, I was really pleased to see, over the course of the time in Roscoe, several, less than 25ft boats with young couples or small families.  These boats do not have a lot of creature comforts, usually a porta potty, a coleman stove and perhaps an inflatable raft for a dinghy.  Some of of people slept in sleeping bags in the cockpit, others down below.  The point?  They were out there doing it.