Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tuesday, 11August2015: Von Donop to Octopus Islands, BC

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  Light and variable.  Seas:  Flat.

A departure from our regularly scheduled program.
When Strider was first bought, a rail mounted propane grill was needed.  Cooking inside a boat is difficult, particularly in the heat, lack of headroom and, most importantly, men are masters of the grill!  Just look at the Bayeux Tapestry.  It clearly shows men grilling meat before The Battle of Hastings!  Don't believe me?  Check the right hand side of this image.

A Magma Cabo was bought, primarily because it was the least expensive grill available and because it has the most surface area.  After years of faithful service, the grill's limitations had become evident, primarily:  It did not get hot enough.  Sure, it could cook sausages and roast some veggies, but it did not do well with a steak.  So, it was modified by drilling out the orifice.  While not recommended, it now puts out the heat searing steaks nicely!

Then one day, while doing a shelf check (strolling through the store to see if there was anything new), a Magma teflon-coated griddle was spotted.  I had to have it!  With it, culinary artistry on the back of the boat increased tremendously.  With the new and improved flame, the grill/griddle gets hot enough so vegetables can be stir fried, fish can be fried etc etc.

So what is the point of all this?  Only that one particularly gorgeous morning last August in Von Donop Inlet, some bread was getting stale and I was in the mood for french toast.  So, the grill was fired up and the bread slices were toasted on the grate.  Then, the griddle was thrown on and heated, butter added, toast dunked and made french toast!  All without heating up the inside of the boat.  Now if I can only figure out a way to make coffee on the grill....
We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.

After the breakfast above, we departed around 1100 and motored out of Von Donop around 1120 making a left turn into Sutil Channel.  Rounding the south end of Read Island, we continued to motor north in Hoskyn Channel, ducking between Read and Hoskyn Rock and Dunsterville Islet.   Intending to arrive at Surge Narrows at slack, we were going to be early and slowed to about 3 knots...we still arrived early.  Waiting for about 45min, watching two large power boats push through Beazly Passage and seeing a few more sailboats stack up behind us, I couldn't take it any longer and pushed into the current.

A big advantage Strider has is she can turn on a dime.  If at any point I felt we were in trouble, I could easily bail.  The disadvantage is she is under powered for such excursions:  She can make 6.5kts maximum.  It did not deter us and into the breach!  The passage was not difficult and I was able to give a play by play to Freestyle waiting to she what we did.  The eddies bounced us around a bit (radio call:  Dancing!).  The surprising part was even at near slack, there was 5kts of current slowing us to 1kt forward speed for about 5min.  A whale tour boat came out as we were headed in and was kind enough to slow down and minimize its wake as they passed by.  Very nice of them!

Once Strider was through, Freestyle came on through!  Awaiting us on the north side were 3 whale tour boats, obviously watching something, but we could not spot anything and they would not answer calls on 16.  Freestyle was first in our group to spot the orca, traveling south along the southwest shore of Maurelle Island.  3 of them, large, medium and small!  Kelly was enthralled.  Her first orca!  We drifted with the current to watch them breach, splash, even jumped over another!  After about 20min, we finally lost them in the waters between Peck and Quadra Islands.

The 3.5nm motor to Octopus Islands Marine Provincial Park was a fascinating study of Kelly, simultaneously ecstatic and horrified.  Ecstatic to finally see orca in the wild and horrified that man had caged these animals for entertainment purposes.

Freestyle, being the faster boat, was out of sight by the time we arrived at the south entrance to the park.  Motoring in, we spotted Freestyle in a quiet nook on the SW side of Octopus Island, anchored and finishing a stern tie.  By the time we arrived, the fenders were in place and Strider was rafted without incident.

This night's dinner was special!  Remember the clams dug at Von Donop the day before?  Yep, this night was the first of two night's meals.  At this point, we had no idea how many clams were in the bucket.  So I just started sorting and cleaning the outsides.  Three were found empty and full of mud and one was found dead.  Still, at roughly half the bucket, there were 140 clams for dinner!

The recipe was simple and straight forward.  Using the crab cooking equipment (capable of 95,000 btu), onion and garlic were sauteed in olive oil.  Then, a bottle of inexpensive white wine was added.  At boiling, the fresh-from-the-saltwater clams were added.  With this cooker, it took about 5min to cook the clams, which were scarfed down along with a fresh veggie plate.  Naturally, a white wine accompanied.  The ladies were a bit shy of the clams, but ate their share...even Em who is normally a very picky eater.  RT and I could not get enough.  Lovely, simply lovely.

The juice was retained and boiled it down for later use.  Because the clams did not have a fresh water rinse, the concentrate was very salty, something to compensate for later.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

9-11Aug2015: Von Donop Inlet, BC

Weather:  Sunny and warm!  Winds:  A few gentle, cooling swirls.  Waves:  0.

Spent a couple days enjoying Von Donop Inlet...clamming, swimming, paddle boarding, chatting...the usual stuff when relaxing!  Another intimate anchorage. 

The morning of the first full day there, RT, MM, Em and I spent an hour gathering 350 clams!  RT had paddle boarded around and found a likely spot.  We dinghied over at low tide and followed the tide in, staying in about 6in of water.  Clams were only a couple inches down and easily collected.  The catch was immediately placed into the crab condo (holey 5gal bucket w/lid), loaded with corn meal for flushing and suspended over the side in cooler water, about 5ft down.  The bivalves didn't hesitate and went right to work!  With a nurse onboard, there was some concern about toxic shellfish.  A call to Canada Fish and Wildlife cleared all concerns.

Did a little paddle boarding.  Got better at it, but don't think I'm ready to invest in one.  While out, chatted with a couple pulling crab traps.  They had been skunked.  While chatting, a big powerboat came in and stopped short of our little cluster (a dinghy and SUP).  I was floored when a lady came out and asked us to move.  We were in the way of their preferred anchor spot.  Really?  Apparently they thought they had the right of way and apparently the 300ft around us was not enough room to go around.  I get restricted in maneuvering.  This just didn't appear to meet any criteria I understood.

All around enjoyable place!  I'd come back!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sunday, 9August2015: Gorge Harbour to Heriot Bay to Von Donop Inlet

Weather:  Sunny and warm.  Winds:  S 0-5.  Waves:  Nill.

After a windy night, departed Gorge Harbour at 0900, motoring through the narrow entrance and still not spotting the petroglyphs.  Once out of the harbor, made a right turn around the Heather Islets towards Shark Spit.  Had a little S wind and popped the screacher for about 10min.  Wind died just north of Heather Islets and we motored as we wove our way around Shark Spit in the Uganda Passage then west towards Hariot Bay.

Wind picked up once out of the north end lee of Marina Island and we made 7kts on a beam reach under main and screacher across Sutil Channel.  The problem with making good speed under sail is short distances are used up quickly.  It is less than 4nm across Sutil Channel and less than 30min after setting the sails, the wind died in the lee of Quadra Island and we were motoring again.

Motored into Hariot Bay and all the dock spaces were taken...the anchorage was also pretty full with permanent mooring balls.  One advantage of having a boat drawing so little (5ft with centerboard down, 3.5ft with rudder down, 2ft rudder up) is the ability to anchor her in close to shore.  So, we motored into about 10ft of water, dropped the hook and let out enough scope to swing into about 5ft of water.  With no wind and a tide nearly at low and soon be rising, we were good!

Dinghied over to the dock, walked a couple long blocks to the nicely provisioned grocery, stocked up, utilized their free shuttle back to the dock, stowed our goods, pulled anchor and was underway to Von Donop before noon!

The 10nm motor north in Sutil Channel to the entrance of Von Donop was pretty boring.  Had some cell coverage so we made a couple calls.  Else, uneventful.

Making the 3nm to the head of Von Donop was far more interesting, reminding me of motoring up the Kalamazoo River to Douglas in 2011.  Narrow in spots, but not as uncomfortable as the guide books made it out to be, no trees reached out to grab us.  Freestyle, being the fast motor boat was already anchored with fenders out when we arrived.  Mooring was uneventful and we were secure at 1530.

A pleasant evening with some SUP practice!