Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November - Ugh!

The wind is blowing a gale from the NW and it's raining hard. It's blowing so hard I'm having to hold on to my hat as I walk down the dock to where the Independence is moored. There's even one foot waves in the marina. Suddenly the sky turns pink and the houses above the marina which were so warmly lit now are now dark. I look at the marina and there's still power. Another gust comes and the dock is rocking from the wind and the waves. I make it down to the boat cold and wet. I check the air temperature and it is a chilly 45 F. I plug in a small space heater to provide some warmth to the cold boat. I check the bilge and decide to start the boat. I hit the switch and about 12-14 seconds later the diesel comes to life with a roar. I reduce the RPMs to 650 and put it in gear and let the boat run in the slip. I am so happy that she fires up so readily, especially on this cold, windy, and dark night - not that I'm going anywhere. I gently pat the helm and say, "Good dependable girl." I turn on some lights, pour me a couple of fingers of whiskey and ride out the storm. I am amazed at how much the boat is rocking even though it is in the slip. Even above the idle of the engine I can hear the wind and the rain hitting the covered moorage. I'm glad I'm in the Independence.

I let the boat run for about 30-40 minutes until the engine warms up. There's a forecast in the next few days for snow and bitter cold. I figure this little run in the slip will help. As I sit and let the engine run I once again dream of summer cruising instead of dark, cold November days. Outside the wind continues to blow hard, and the rain continues to come down hard. I'm not looking forward for the long walk up the dock back to the car. I re-checked the air temperature inside the boat and now its a balmy 48 F. The running of the engine has warmed the boat up 3 degrees. I take the boat out of gear, let it idle for a few seconds, then rev the engine up to 1,500 RPM for about 10 seconds, then back down to idle for 30 seconds, and then hit the kill switch. Silence except for the outside wind and the noise of the rain hitting the covered moorage. I decide to pour just a bit more whiskey into my cup - I'm not ready to leave. I notice that the rain has stopped. I quickly finish my whiskey and close up the boat.

I start my walk up the dock and look at the hillside, all the homes are still in the dark. I can see candles flickering in the windows. I hope the power is on at home. A gust of wind almost rips my hat off my head. Oh how I dislike November.

Stats: running time (idling in place in gear) ~30 minutes, ending engine hours 6077.5.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Starting Her Up

I love diesel engines, especially the heart of the MV Independence. That big 6 cylinder, naturally aspirated, Ford-Lehman is a gem. She's got well over 6,070 hours on her and she's never missed a beat. To my credit, I keep the oil changed - every 100 hours with the crankcase, and every 50 hours for the injection pump, and do due diligence on the engine maintenance (e.g., impeller changed each season, zincs in the transmission & oil cooler changed, check all hoses, good fuel, etc.). And, my reward always a "rrrrr-rumble" and a quick start. How rewarding.

Yesterday, I came down and "started her up." I let her idle for a bit, then I decreased the RPMs, put her in gear, and let her warm up in place in the slip. The boat lurched forward in the slip stopping when her mooring lines would let her go no further. I simply sat and enjoyed a sip of whisky while the engine purred along and the prop wash made small ripples across the marina. I think somebody wondered what was going on because I saw a guy come quickly up the dock, rush to my stern and look in the water. Seeing the boat in the slip and trying to move forward must have concerned him; causing him to wonder what was going on. He looked inside my boat to ensure that all was well. I gave him a nod and wink, and he simply walked away. I don't think he still knew what was up because he was shaking his head. Oh well.

I watched an empty jug on the deck move along because of the engine vibration. First towards me then unexplicable then away, and then again towards me - interesting dance. I put the jug away and heard other things making music from the engine's vibration. I stepped out on deck myself, walked back to look at the prop wash and made sure there was water coming out of the exhaust. Stopping enough to think that all the mussels and barnacles (little bastards) on the dock enjoyed the prop wash. The mooring lines holding the Independence at bay were all taught and snug. All was well.

I returned to the lower helm station, watched the temperature gauge slowly climb to a point where it just stopped - well below any marks on the gauge that would cause me alarm that something was overheating. I watched the hour meter "tick" away counting the engine's time alive. The tachometer was steady at 650 RPM. I waited until 0.4 hours ticked away, pulled the lever to take the engine out of gear and then slowly raised the throttle to about 1,300 RPMs. Again all sounded well and good. A quick peek down into the bilge and again all looked good. I reduced the RPMs to 550, let it idle there for another minute, and then hit the kill switch. The engine alarm promptly sounded with an annoying buzz and I turned off the key. Silence. One more time I peeked down into the engine room and all looked good - no drips, no runs, no errors. I closed the engine lid and returned to my chair, took a sip of my whisky, looked out the front windows, and dreamed more of journeys past and some to come.

Outside the day was cloudy and cool, but the water was almost perfectly calm. It would have made for a nice afternoon cruise. Rather I sat and puttered about inside - stowing this & that away, checking a few things, and finishing my two fingers of whisky. It was another nice afternoon aboard the Independence.

Stats: running time (idling in place in gear) ~25 minutes, ending engine hours 6076.5.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Good Food & Good Company

Sunday, Sept. 6, 2010
I took Hank & Rocky - the dogs - to the beach so they could do their "dog stuff." Of course they ran all over the beach with Hank almost barking continuously. I'm sure other boats anchored in the bay wanting to sleep in enjoyed hearing dog barking. Oh well it was after 0800 anyway. Dave & Mary rowed over and watched the dogs play too.

Afterwards I went over and enjoyed a cup of coffee on the MV Explorer with Rob & Sandy. As I said earlier, I hadn't seen Sandy in over 30 years so we had a lot of catching up to do. We talked of then and now, and of course about boats. I invited them over for our traditional boat breakfast of corned beef hash.

Dave & Mary came, as well as Rob & Sandy. The galley was full with six (6) adults and two dogs. Kim had made a healthy batch of corned beef hash that was excellent. We sat around, supped together and chatted. It was a great time. By 1200 Dave & Mary left to make preparations to leave back to Olympia; they were going to sail back. Sandy & Rob stayed aboard for a bit longer and we continued to chat. Finally we bid them adieu and we too made preparations for leaving.

The wind was blowing about 12 knots from the SW but the sky seemed to be clearing. Although I knew that rain was on the way. It was tempting to stay another night at McMicken but we decided to head home. We weighed anchor at 1320. We cruised down Case Inlet, following the eastern shore of Hartstine Island until we spied the SV Mary O' Farrell under full sail in Dana Passage. Dave was enjoying the wind and a fair current. Prior to meeting the SV Mary O'Farrell I was doing 8 knots. I slowed down, circled the Mary O' Farrell just for fun, and then we motored on. There were quite a few sailboats out all enjoying the fair winds. It seemed that as we motored down Budd Inlet the wind abated a bit. There was no sign of any of the boating crowds because the tug boat races were long over. All that remained were the racing course markers. Kim met me at the dock because we had the Zipper. We got into our slip at 1400. We quickly unloaded the boat and then I sent Kim on her way back over to East Bay Marina so I could haul the Zipper.

It was a fun Labor Day weekend that makes boating oh so much fun and memorable. I really enjoyed meeting up with both the MV Explorer and the SV Mary O'Farrell.

Stats: 13.6 nm, average speed 5.1 knots, running time 2:39, ending engine hours 6076.1

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Zipperin' to Allyn

Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010
Woke to cloudy skies and a brisk SW wind. Although for most of the night it was calm. After breakfast I cleaned up the Zipper. It was still filthy from our recent summer trip up the coast. So with lots of elbow grease and some scrubby pads I made her presentable.

We then went over to the SV Mary O'Farrell and picked up Dave & Mary for a Zipper trip to Allyn. We had a full crew contingent on the Zipper - Dave, Mary, Hank, Rocky, Kim and myself. The cruise up to Allyn was smooth for the most part with only rippled seas. We tied up to the Allyn dock and walked into town hoping to get some "Bubba's Big Burgers" but found it closed. So we walked farther down to "Leonard K's" and ordered some burgers and fish & chips to go. We walked back to the Port of Allyn beach front park and ate. While we ate we noticed that the wind from the SW was building - it was no longer rippled but about a 1' chop. We boarded the Zipper and started out neglected to notice that Hank's dog life jacket had been blown out of the boat. We flew S down Case Inlet at 20 knots riding over the tops of the chop.

We motored over into Jarrell's Cove where I was hoping to meet up with Sandy and Rob in the MV Explorer. Jarrell's Cove was quite crowded with all the dock space and mooring buoys taken. As we were motoring into Jarrell's Cove the MV Explorer had come in behind us. They looked for anchoring options and I encouraged them to join us in anchoring over at McMicken Island. Fortunately they decided to change their plans and join us. The wind had abated some for our quick cruise from Jarrell's Cove back to McMicken Island.

The MV Explorer arrived about 45 minutes later and anchored just behind the Independence. I hadn't seen Sandy in about 30 years and it was good to re-meet and catch up. The wind was brisk and cool from the SW.

Dave & Mary from the SV Mary O' Farrell came over for supper at 1900. We had a multi-course meal - smoked salmon appetizer, then my grilled spicy Vindaloo pork chops, corn on the cob, finished off with spicy red pepper scallop fettucine. It was a fun feast.

Zipper stats: 23 nm, average speed 15.1 knots, running time 1:42

Friday, September 3, 2010

McMicken Island Bound

Friday, Sept. 3, 2010
We launched the Zipper over at East Bay and then I drove the truck & empty trailer over to the marina and met Kim. She had Hank the dog as her crew mate for the short voyage, and I had Rocky the little demon dog for mine. This was going to be his first boat trip adventure.

We left the West Bay dock at 1450 for a Labor Day weekend trip to McMicken Island. Weather is mostly sunny and warm but the barometer is falling and there's mare's tails in the sky. I am reminded of the saying, "Mares tails and mackerel scales make lofty ships carry low sails." This means the weather is going to change. But for now it's a beautiful day. There's a 10+ knot breeze out of the WSW. Olympia is crowded because of the Harbor Days celebration and Tug Boat races.

When we left the tide was high, or near high, so we cruised straight up Budd Inlet instead of following the channel and going W around Olympia Shoal. We still stayed well E of the Olympia Shoal. Several other boats were plotting the same course which generally should be avoided because of shoal water. There were lots of boats out and boat traffic - boats coming into Olympia and Budd Inlet and boats leaving. We rounded Boston Harbor, made our way up Dana Passage and then N into Case Inlet. The cruise was quite enjoyable and uneventful.

We dropped the hook at 1730 and in 25' of water well W of McMicken Island, or about half-way between the island and the Hartstine Island shore. We were well N of the tombolo that connected McMicken Island to Hartstine and with the tide so high you saw no sign of it. There's a brisk SW breeze blowing through the anchorage. There's six boats here not counting the Independence.

After arriving I noticed that my depth sounder was not always working. I checked it and found that it was "chock-a-block" full of mussels to about the size of a volleyball. I layed down on the swim step and removed the little bastards - "no more free rides for you!"

We had a leisurely evening waiting for our friends in the SV Mary O'Farrell to arrive. They arrived just before 2000 and we met for a quick drink but we were all pretty tired, so the event was short lived. The SV Mary O'Farrell was anchored about 100 yards W of us.

Stats: 13.0 nm, average speed 5.4 knots, running time 2:44, ending engine hours 6073.2

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Oil Change

6070.6 hours
Took advantage of some of the crew being out of town to do some needed engine maintenance. First, I checked to see if there was any "junk" on the leading end (intake) of the oil cooler. It was clean. Next I changed the injector oil. Its been over 50 hours, but the oil looked fine. Next I tackled the main engine oil change. Since I had no commitments I took my time to change the oil. First I sucked the oil out of the dip stick hole using the little portable oil changer pump which went quicker than I expected. I didn't start the engine to heat up the oil like I normally do. Rather the day was kind of warm and just sucked the oil out "cold." I had to use 3 containers to hold all the oil - or about 3.9 gallons. Next I removed all the old "oil zorb" pads and pillow out of the engine room. I didn't have an oil filter so I had to go to the store and buy a new Fram 8A oil filter. So when I took the oil up to the oil recycling center I went to the auto parts store too. When I came back I changed the oil filter and cleaned up. A trick I learned was to remove the oil filter bracket from the engine, then loosen the filter, then put a plastic zip lock bag around the filter and screw the filter off. When the filter is off, simply seal up the zip lock bag - no mess and no fuss. Finally I enjoyed a couple of fingers of whiskey after the oil changing project to relax. I'm ready for doing a little local cruise.

The last time the main engine oil was changed was at 5952.7 hours or 117.9 hours elapsed.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Post Trip Stats

I came down to the boat to tidy some things up, enjoy a finger or two of whiskey and quietly reminisce about the recent 2010 summer trip.

Here's some cumulative 2010 trip stats:

  • Total engine hours for the trip: 112.6
  • Total trip miles (not including Zipper excursions): 628.7 nm
  • Total running time (not including Zipper excursions): 105 hours
  • Average trip speed (not including Zipper excursions): 5.98 knots
  • Average trip rpm (estimated): 1750 rpm
  • Estimated fuel used (not including Zipper excursions): 175 gallons
  • Nights anchored/moored out: 19
  • Nights at a marina: 5
  • Time spent: Priceless

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 24 - Home

Saturday, July 31, 2010
We left our Eagle Island mooring buoy at 0655 under thick gray cloudy skies and a W wind about 10 knots or so. The current was flooding so we took advantage of it - although it was not flooding as hard as it was yesterday afternoon so the benefit to us was not that great. As we motored along I was hoping for more of a push from the flood current but it just never happened. So we took it slow - we were in no hurry to get home. Besides that, late yesterday I noticed that the temperature was a bit higher than normal, so there's probably a bunch of "junk" on the intake side of the oil cooler. Cruising through Central Puget Sound yesterday I noticed a lot of debris - eel grass, bits of kelp, algae, and other junk - in the water.

We had that persistent W - SW breeze all the way home; around Devils Head, down Dana Passage and into Budd Inlet. As it always is, it was relieving to round the Boston Harbor light and get your first glimpse of the state capitol and the end of our journey. I remembered the sailor's dilemma, "Can't wait to leave port, can't wait to get back." As we motored down Budd Inlet we started packing some things instinctively into bags and preparing for the end of our trip. Passing the #5 day mark into Olympia Harbor I started my chores of taking down the mast, radio antennas, and putting out the fenders. Just outside West Bay Marina Kim took the Zipper in and helped me bring the Independence into our slip. I noticed that we have two new sailboat neighbors on the other side of the finger pier and end of the dock. We'll haul the Zipper out this morning, since there's no convenient place to keep her for a day or two.

Well, it was a good safe trip. Once again the Independence took us the whole way up and back without any problems or concerns - she's a good boat. Thanks be to God for a safe trip.

All in all we traveled with the Zipper and Independence 667.7 nautical miles! We returned to our slip at 0940.

Stats: 15.3 nm, average speed 5.4 knots, running time 2:49, ending engine hours 6070.6.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 23 - Down the Sound

Friday, July 30, 2010
It is terribly foggy, you can't even see to the end of the breakwater, so the "viz" is about 1/4 mile or less. A neighboring motorsailer left at 0800 only to return because it was so "pea soupy out there." Earlier I heard the Kingston ferry do a "5 horn blast" probably because of some boater being in the ferry's way. By the time we decided to leave the fog was starting to lift and I didn't even have to turn on the radar. We left late so we would make the Tacoma Narrows on time to take advantage of the flood current on our last leg to home. We left Kingston late at 1005.

We motored out of Appletree Cove and into the Central Sound. The morning's fog and clouds were rapidly lifting to another clear and sunny day. There were quite a few boats out fishing and we avoided them and by the time we hit President Point they were all gone. I made for a way-point just off of the east side of Blake Island. I turned the helm over to Kim for a bit and I rested on the settee. It really was kind of boring cruising - there was no wind or boats, just heading S in the open central sound. By the time we hit the Blake Island waypoint I took over to do my "Colvos Passage thing" - that is, cruise close to the W shore of Vashon Island to take advantage of the back eddy. Besides that it makes it more interesting to see all the houses and stuff on shore. We made about 6.5 - 7 knots along the shore. I deviated from my route about 2/3 of the way down Colvos - near the Colvos #3 day marker - since the back eddy was kind of waning and I wasn't getting the speed I wanted. So I went straight and followed my GPS course to Pt. Richmond. We made Pt. Defiance according to schedule at 1526 (3:26 PM) and proceeded to ride the flood current into the South Sound. We started to make supper by Hyde Point on McNeil Island. As we were passing Eagle Island in Balch Passage I noticed that a mooring buoy on the W side of Eagle Island was available. So we decided to take advantage of it and stay out one more night.

Originally we planned to be in Olympia on Friday night to travel to Wenatchee by car on Saturday to pick up a new pup. But just before Eagle Island the lady we were getting the pup from called and said that Saturday was not available to pick up the pup. This further justified our staying out one more night. Besides that it was a beautiful sunny evening and now we were not in a hurry. We tied up to the mooring buoy at 1700.

We had already enjoyed supper so we lazily motored around the island in the Zipper enjoying the evening and sipping some after dinner drinks. There were plenty of Harbor seals about and a pair of bald eagles. A pair of Kingfishers were not happy with our interruption of there fishing and let us know with a noisy call. I then finished off the day with a cigar on the bow of the Independence.

As the evening wore on to night the weather changed to lots of low clouds and a 10-15 knot W wind which ended any sort of a peaceful evening and sleep.

Stats: 41.4 nm, average speed 6.0 knots, running time 6:56, ending engine hours 6067.5.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 22 - On to Kingston

Thursday, July 29, 2010
We untied from our mooring buoy at 0610 under foggy skies. Visibility was about 1 mile or less. I turned on the radar just to be safe. We cruised against an ebb current making only 4.5 knots or less to about Strawberry Point, Whidbey Island and Skagit Bay. Once we passed Strawberry Point we rode the southerly ebb to our advantage out of Saratoga Passage. It was pretty easy cruising in that there weren't too many boats out, and the weather was fairly calm. I laid down at about Columbia Beach (just after we passed the Clinton ferry) and let Kim take the helm until we reached about Possession Point - about an hour later. We had low clouds all the way to Kingston when it quickly burned off. Just by the Kingston ferry dock in the outer cove, Kim got into the Zipper and met me at the dock. We got to Kingston and tied up at the dock at about 1320 (1:20 PM). Initially we pulled into a slip because the gas dock was busy, however then we went over to the gas dock and filled up with diesel.

I put 150 gallons of diesel in at $2.90 a gallon for a total of $435.02. We last got fuel at 5967.7 hours which calculates to be 92.3 hours which calculated to be 1.63 gph! Most of our cruising rpm was at 1750 rpm which was a bit lower than years past.

It's good to be in Kingston. We've cruised 102 hours so far. We'll have a long cruising day tomorrow. We went up to Bella Luna for our traditional supper of a "Morgan's Special Pizza." As always it was very good. We ate about half, boxed the other half for tomorrow's breakfast and lunch for the cruise down.

Like yesterday, there was a minus tide around 1230-1300. As we were coming into to Appletree Cove I hailed a 30' planing cruiser boat on the VHF which was headed towards Appletree Cove Point but a bit too close to shore. I said, "You're cruising a bit to close to shore and as you get to the point it will be shoal." He was cruising fast and I don't think he payed attention to my radio call. As he approached the point he came to a dead stop. I think he discovered the shoal.

We met another boater from Olympia who had a blue heeler dog just like Hank. We chatted for a bit. He was just starting his vacation while we were ending ours. I passed on some of my boating knowledge during our conversation since he was a relatively new boater.

Stats: 43.6 nm, average speed 5.9 knots, running time 7:22, ending engine hours 6060.0.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 21 - Short cruise day

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I got up early to get doughnuts at the "doughnut shop" in Friday Harbor - cinnamon rolls, maple bars, and chocolate covered cake donuts - one with sprinkles and one with nuts. This is kind of a tradition that we've doing over the past few years.
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Left Friday Harbor at 0815 under foggy skies. We turned the radar on after just getting out of Friday Harbor for our cruise up Upright Channel. We used it until we just got past Flat Point in Upright Channel. I was worried about a ferry encounter like we experienced last year, but we could easily see the ferry regardless of radar or not. He passed us heading S down Upright Channel just before Flat Point. We rounded Upright Head and worked our towards Thatcher Pass, passing Leo Rocks to our starboard side. The boat traffic was increasing; it seemed that most boats were leaving the San Juans, but a few are coming into the San Juans too. After Thatcher Pass we turned down the small channel between James Island and Decatur Island riding a pretty healthy ebb right into Rosario Strait. As we passed the southern end of James Island I worked our way towards Bird Rocks and was making a good 9 knots or more taking advantage of the ebb. Using this ebb to our advantage, we crabbed our way across the Strait moving more S than E. Again it was strange pointing the bow to the E, but the course was more southerly. In the center of Rosario Strait it was a bit rolly from Juan de Fuca Strait but not too bad - it just made our ride a bit uncomfortable with a side-to-side roll. We made Deception Pass at 1130 which was a bit early for slack but it was no problem working our way against the ebb current in the pass. We rounded Hoypus Point on Whidbey Island and headed towards Hope Island where we hoped we could get a mooring buoy for the night.

There's four mooring buoys at Hope Island State Park; #1 is the farthest W and #4 is the farthest E along the N Hope Island shore. Initially we took buoy #2 but found that we were almost touching bottom. There was a minus tide. According to the depth sounder (located at the stern) we only had ONE foot of water between the keel and the bottom. I took a look and could see that when I engaged the prop we were churning up muddy water. Too shallow for me. So we moved on to buoy #4. Buoy #4 had 7 feet of water but it seemed way too close to shore. After we tied up to the buoy it seemed that there was only 15-20 feet between us (stern of the boat) and the shore. I still chose to take this buoy since the tide was rising and there was more water beneath us than at mooring buoy #2. The next low tide was not really low and we would not be challenged with low water. We tied up to mooring buoy #4 by 1218.

We made lunch and then about 1330 the heavy clouds begain to clear and by 1400 we enjoyed clear skies. After lunch we took the Zipper over to Skagit Island and the marine trail campsite where we spent the afternoon on the beach. We then came back to the Independence and had a nice supper of European wieners and home fried potatoes. Later, Josef called us and told us he was signing with the Oceanside (Parksville) Generals.
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Stats: 24.3 nm, average speed 6.0 knots, running time 4:02, ending engine hours 6052.4

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 20 - Back in the US

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
An absolutely still night made for a very good sleep. There wasn't a ripple or a breath of wind all night long.

We untied from the mooring buoy at Montague Harbor at 0615 for the next leg of our journey - on to Friday Harbor and the US. We left under clear skies and that persistent NW wind of about 10 knots. As we motored down Trincomali Channel, into Navy Channel, and into Plumper Sound we had a brisk SE wind of 10 knots. We seemed to be fighting the current most of the way to Friday Harbor. Crossing Haro Strait/Boundary Pass was lumpy. We crossed the border at about 0846. There were quite a few boats out.

One funny comment, as we were crossing Boundary Pass, we saw a large cruise ship heading W. The VHF radio crackled "This is the Princess of the Seas, calling the Pacific Pearl." "This is the Pacific Pearl. " Princess: "Good morning skipper, what are your intentions?" Pacific Pearl: "We're going to pick up speed and try to cut across your bow." Princess: "Are you sure skipper? We're doing almost 30 knots. I don't think that would be too wise. We're pretty heavy." Pacific Pearl: "Okay skipper we'll slip in behind you." Princess: "Wise choice skipper. Have a great day." Pearl: no answer. Kim and I laughed and laughed. We're familiar with the Pacific Pearl. It's a 40+ foot cruiser. It also proves my axiom, "Never ever mess with a ship."

Once again we found ourselves crabbing across Boundary Pass. I had the bow pointed almost towards Jones Island but the current was pushing us W. We were not making good speed, only about 4+ knots. Once we passed our waypoint W of Jones Island and in San Juan Channel we stared picking up speed towards Friday Harbor. We called Friday Harbor for a slip and were put on a waiting list at #6. Meanwhile we headed for the customs dock. After what seemed to be an eternity a customs agent came down to the boat and asked for our papers and just looked at the boat from the dock. He asked a few questions then left. He told me to wait and then pick up the customs phone. Next thing you know the customs phone rang, I answered, and it was a different customs agent. I answered their questions and was granted permission to enter the US with clearance #: 301420100727142547. One interesting thing I did find out though was that this was the busiest pleasure boat port of entry in the US.

When I returned to the boat, Kim told me that we had received our slip assignment: E21. Kim went off in the Zipper to meet me at the finger pier and help me in. Fortunately the current was not running and I got into the slip - bow in, starboard tie - without any problem. We finally got all tied up at 1150. I was exhausted.

We called Ted Leche - our good friend and retired Episcopalian priest who's wife had recently passed away - to see if he wanted to visit. We enjoyed a beer and snacks down at the boat and then went up to Herb's Tavern for supper. Kim was in the mood for a cheeseburger. Kim had a blue cheese and bacon burger, and I had the beer batter fish and chips. It was really good. After supper I came back to the boat and crashed. I always get so nervous about going through customs and the current in Friday Harbor. I know, I know there's nothing to worry about. And there wasn't.


Stats: 28.1 nm, average speed 5.3 knots, running time 5:20, ending engine time 6048.0.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 19 - Early morning beating the "Dodd Crush"

Monday, July 26, 2010.
Left Newcastle Harbor at 0515 - very early to get through Dodd Narrows before maximum ebb. Slack was at 0436 and I figured that the ebb current couldn't be more than 3-4 knots. Maximum ebb was about 0730 at 5+ knots. As it was we went through Dodd Narrows at 0620. A tug announced his N bound transit and then I caught a glimpse of a second tug down S of the rapids. He did not announce his transit through the rapids. Unfortunately we met in the narrows just as we were going S by a N bound tug. He slowed down for a moment but then sped up again. The tug made quite a wake and "rolled up" the rapids. After the tug, we shot through the narrows at 10 knots or more. There were a few standing waves about 2' high but no whirlpools or currents that we couldn't handle. What was amazing was that the tug we met in the rapids was the only other boat - not a single other boat. Wow, after all these times when we transited the narrows and experiencing the "parade of Bayliners" we only saw ONE boat. I like these early morning transits of Dodd Narrows.

After Dodd, Trincomali Passage was fairly calm with a NW breeze of about 10-15 knots making a 1' chop. We passed Round Island, made our way S towards Reed Island, and then down towards Walker Rock. As we got closer to Montague the seas abated to only a ripple. Very few boats out but as we approached Montague Harbor the boat traffic increased. They are probably leaving Montague to get through Dodd Narrows at the next slack which was about 11:30. We rode a good ebb down Trincomali sometimes even doing over 8 knots, but generally 6.5-7 knots. We found a mooring buoy that we're familiar with - the last one on the W side of the bay, close to the island. We tied up at 0925. We noticed that all the mooring buoys were taken by noon.

Weather is still clear and sunny along with the persistent NW wind. The wind was appreciated during the day because it didn't make it so hot.

We relaxed then went to the beach where we threw the stick for Hanky and then walked the Point Grey trail around the island. We then came back and made supper - Vindaloo Pork Chops and grilled shrimp skewers. We then had a leisurely evening. Our last night in Canada on the boat for 2010. I enjoyed our last night in Canada with a couple of tots of Canadian whiskey.


Stats: 27.9 nm, average speed 6.5 knots, running time 4:17, ending engine time 6042.5.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 18 - Surfing

Sunday, July 25, 2010
Left Boho Bay at 1000 for the final crossing of Georgia Strait to Nanaimo. Its forecast to be windy and it is. I was quite nervous. My hope was that by leaving at 10 AM the wind would die around noon and we'd have a nice easy crossing. The wind is blowing at 15+ knots out of the NW. From Bull Passage we set a course to Clarke Rock just out of Nanaimo. Fortunately "Area WG" is not active so we can cut directly across. Once we cleared the lee of Lasqueti Island the waves and swell got bad. The wind was over 15 knots and seas were at least 3' moderate with a few 4' seas thrown in. We quartered the waves and swell, or should I say we surfed with the waves and swell. At least we were not pounding into them. We were doing 6+ knots but every now and then we'd catch a wave which would catch the stern and thrust us forward to the point we would be doing over 8 knots. I kept watch and would notice that the big waves came in sets. I would say, "Okay, here come a few bad ones." Then I would make sure to point the bow more to the S so we would not get too beam to which would cause us to rock too much side-to-side. Again, I was glad we were riding with the seas and not pounding into them.
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As we approached Clarke Rock we saw that there was a "Bathtub Race" going on. Each bathtub was powered by an outboard and had a chase boat with it. We must have seen at least 8-10 bathtubs racing. The bathtup racers were moving NW against the wind and waves. The bathtup racers would soar into the air as they hit a wave. The chase boat would stick close to the bathtub racer but they too were getting tossed about. There was a huge "bathtub" boat just past Clarke Rock that would greet each racer. As we approached Clarke Rock the wind freshened to 20+ knots. As I listened to weather radio the report at Entrance Island (about 2 nm away) was wind at 25 knots and seas were 4' moderate. The seas were definitely a 4' moderate. It was a relief to pull into Nanaimo Harbor. As we pulled into Nanaimo we saw the huge finish line celebration for the bathtub racers. The beach was packed and there were so many boats.

At the N entrance to Newcastle Channel the RCMP were handing out speeding tickets to any boats that were exceeding the 5 knot speed limit. (Never saw that before!) I made sure I was just under 5 knots. The channel was packed with boats coming and going. We finally pulled into Newcastle Harbor at just before 2:00 PM and set the hook in 23' of water right at 2:00 PM. We found a spot to anchor near an existing mooring buoy. If a boat decided to tie up to the buoy we'd be close. So I decided to move a bit more to get more space. Fortunately no boat ever tied up to the mooring buoy.

After getting settled, we went to the beach and took a walk. After surfing down the Strait, I'm sure Hank enjoyed the walk on dry land. Then we went to town and got some more groceries. We came back and enjoyed the evening. For supper we had pan fried potatoes and grilled pork chops finished with the Vindaloo glaze. I had a nice big caesar with lots of ice. Then a Gibsons on the rocks too.

Stats: 24.3 nm, average speed 6.2 knots, running time 3:52, ending engine time 6037.9.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 17 - Going South

Saturday, July 24, 2010
Weighed anchor at 0555 under clear skies. There was a light NW breeze blowing when we left and it blew the whole time until we anchored in Boho Bay, Lasqueti Island. And, it kept blowing. There was a 1' chop through Desolation Sound, and seas started building again after Lund. Just past Harwood Island the seas started really building as the wind and waves came right down Algerine Passage (the passage between northern Texada Island and Harwood Island). They rapidly went from a 2' chop to a 3' moderate or maybe more. Just by Grief Point I laid down and left the helm to Kim. I resumed the helm just before NE Point on Texada Island. At times the NW wind blew hard, maybe 20 knots or more especially around NE Point on Texada Island. Fortunately we were riding with the waves so it wasn't too bad. However, the few boats going N did not have a smooth ride. You could see them pounding through the waves. Every now and then they'd hit a wave and spray would rise above the boat and cover the whole boat. Fortunately, not only were we riding with the ebb, but the wind pushed us along too so we were making great speed and time. But, it was still tiring since in a following sea the Independence likes to yaw a bit, so you have to work the wheel to keep the bow forward and not let the boat pitch. I considered anchoring in Anderson Bay on Texada, but it was busy with several boats. So we kept on going. The seas calmed right down to just a ripple at the S end of Texada Island - Upwood Point. As we came round the S end of Texada, the NW wind blowing down Sabine Channel hit us hard, sending spray over the bow and onto the windows. Entering Bull Passage there were very strong NW winds. We pulled into Boho Bay and dropped the anchor near a small bight were it gets narrow and out of the wind.
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We dropped the anchor in 36' of water at half rising tide at 1425. I put out all 100' of chain because of the wind which must have been blowing at least 20-25 knots and higher with gusts. When we pulled in a nearby sailboat pulled up his anchor and left. Not sure if it was because of me or not. I wasn't that close to him at all. Strange. There were 2 other sailboats and a powerboat anchored to the E of us, nearer to Boho Island. The NW wind continued to blow and at times hard.

Later a couple of small powerboats came into the bay and I helped one try to do a stern with the Zipper tie since it wanted to anchor near me to be out of the wind, but it just didn't work because the wind was blowing so hard. They moved out into the center of the bay and did their best with the wind. I was impressed with the crew because she must've pulled up the anchor at least 4 times while they tried to anchor. There was no windlass just her manually pulling up the anchor. The skipper (presumably her husband) manuevered the boat and barked out orders. They finally traded places and he set the anchor. The poor gal was probably exhausted.

I took a few minutes to check things over in the engine room. I looked good. I then settled down with a cold beer. I listened to the weather radio to get what the current reports were and what might be the forecast for tomorrow. We still had to get to Nanaimo and the worst part of the Strait - between Lasqueti Island and Vancouver Island. Current reports were that the wind was blowing 25 knots at Ballenas Island and at Entrance Island. Lighthouse reports at Entrance Island was that seas were a 4' moderate. Tomorrow the weather and winds were supposed to be more of the same - NW winds at 15-20 knots, although they said that winds may diminish to 10-15 knots near mid-day. So we might leave a bit late.

As the evening wore on the wind continued to blow. For supper I made some European wieners and home fried potatoes. Normally we do a Zipper exploration of Jedediah Island but it was just too windy. So we just stayed put.


Stats: 55.7 nm, average speed 6.5 knots, running time 8:32, ending engine time 6033.9.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 16 - Last Day in Paradise

Friday, July 23, 2010
A lazy day. Had a lazy morning. Again I ran the generator to charge the batteries, put a bit of a chill on the refrigerator, and charge some things. We spent the time while the generator was running listening to CD's and reading books. I also checked the engine over for the trip down Georgia Strait tomorrow. All looked good.

Later in the early afternoon we loaded up the Zipper for a trip over to Teakerne Arm and Cassel Lake. The trip over to Teakerne Arm wasn't too bad, there was some wind and chop going up Lewis Channel, but as you made your way into Teakerne Arm it lessened. The dinghy dock at the falls was packed with other boats. The Canadian Coasties took up a whole side of the dinghy dock themselves. We tied up the Zipper and hiked up to the lake. The day was hot. The lake water was absolutely delicious. Oh my was it refreshing. I swam out to a log and just sat there for what seemed like a really long time just soaking in the warm water and the sun. What's so amazing is how clear the lake water is. Finally Kim came in the water too. Even Hank had some fun splashing about. We kind of got there in between crowds becuase just as we were finishing the place was packed with dogs, kids, and other adults. The trip back to Squirrel Cove was nice since we both felt so refreshed.

We once again returned to the Squirrel Cove store but this time it was to get some "bringsels" - particularly the wonderful Squirrel Cove coffee and some other trinkets. This time they were restocked with some meat and we purchased some pork chops for grilling for supper that evening.

I made our new favorite seasoned pork chops with Vindaloo glaze. Kim made a Greek cous cous. I made a couple of caesars and we sat out on the back deck and had a lovely supper. It was an absolutely gorgeous evening. Sad that its our our last day up here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 15 - Back to Squirrel Cove

Thursday, July 22, 2010
We weighed anchor from Von Donop Inlet at 0930. We had a very peaceful night's sleep despite the winds that blew all around us. Never did I hear any waves lapping against the hull, but I could here the wind blowing through the nearby trees. The skies are partly cloudy and the wind is blowing briskly from the NW at 15-20 knots with a few higher gusts.

We made our way out of Von Donop Inlet and around Bullock Bluff and once again into Lewis Channel as we headed our way S. Seas were a 2' chop. We made good speed (7+ knots) with the wind behind us and a flood current pushing us. We got into Squirrel Cove and dropped the hook at 1235. We're anchored in 19' of water at half-tide in the N part of the cove between shore and middle of "Dog Poo" island. I call it Dog Poo island because every boater that has a dog lets the dog off on the small (about 1 acre) island to do their business. Hank has many times left his mark there too. There's more boats anchored here at Squirrel than when we were here just a few days ago. Even the bakery is now opened, whereas a week ago it wasn't.

I had anchored the Independence almost perfectly between this large powerboat and sailboat rafted together E of us and another sailboat W of us. I was quite proud of my position. Just as I was about to settle down this sailboat comes in and drops the hook between me and the powerboat-sailboat raft. I wasn't too happy because he was pretty close to us. When we would swing we would get to about 30' close. While this is acceptable I still wasn't too happy.

I wanted to change the shackle that held the tow line to the Zipper and the bow ring. I saw that perhaps during our early pounding up the Strait of Georgia that it was pulled apart a bit. The shackle was quite rusty and I didn't want it snapping during a critical time. So we motored the Zipper over to the beach, Kim and I got out on a rock and proceeded to hack saw the old shackle off. It was quite a chore and took some time but we did it. I put on a new anchor shackle that seemed a bit more sturdy and would allow me to easily take on/off the tow line.

With that chore done I now investigated why it seemed that the solar panel was not charging the batteries as I was expecting. The solar panel was in very bright sunlight but the battery level meter was not quite showing 100%. So I spent about an hour investigating the issue. I found that the solar panel was indeed putting out the required voltage (~20 V) and all the connections were good. I did discover that the ground to battery #2 was loose and I tightened this. I finally gave up since I could not find any issue. All I could gather was that after so many days of running the refrigerator the batteries were low and they needed some charging. So I pulled out the portable generator and let it run for a few hours to charge the batteries.

This is a new Generac portable generator which I purchased at Cabelas prior to the trip. Remember last year I spent almost my whole trip working on the portable generator. This one works great but unlike the previous Yamaha I had it does not run at a constant speed but has this annoying revs way up then goes down almost to an idle. I checked into this and this is called "economy mode" on the generator. If you turn off economy mode the generator runs consistently at a higher RPM. I let it run on economy mode. This little generator is much quieter than the Yamaha we used to have. While the generator ran we also did some charging of cell phones and other electronic devices. We also played the CD player and read some books.

Later we went over to Squirrel Cove to get some groceries. Like before everyone else it seemed in the anchorage went too. The store was packed and the fresh meat shelves were almost empty. We wanted some pork chops but had to settle for some Bavarian smokies. I picked up some more liquor - another bottle of Gibsons and more beer. We also got some ice. We then came back and enjoyed some drinks on the flying bridge and enjoyed the rest of the day. You could hear the closeby sailboat's skipper, crew and guests talking and telling stories of Bayliners and other close encounters with powerboats - that was entertaining. A couple of times I wanted to comment but decided to bite my tongue. The wind kept on blowing - although not as hard.
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For supper I cooked up Bavarian Smokies and some home-fried potatoes - a regular Deutsches supper. It was mighty fine especially with a nice Canuck beer - Kokanee.

Stats: 16.7 nm, average speed 5.6 knots, running time 2:58, ending engine hours 6024.8.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 14 - Early Morning Cruising

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
We weighed anchor at 0506 to get through the Yuculta's at 0726 (slack at Gillard). It was a beautiful morning as we moved E down Cordero Channel. The morning's clouds and rising sun made for some very dramatic scenery. The winds were light - about 10 knots.

We made it to Gillard Rapids at about 0750 - a few minutes late. I didn't figure we'd be fighting so much of the ebb on our way to the Yucultas. A trick I learned over the years from watching fish boats is to motor very close (about 20-30') to the Cortes Island shore and you can ride a back eddy that instead of fighting a current, you can move along at 6+ knots. It's just spooky being so close to shore and going full speed. There's plenty of depth though as you never get above 60'.

There was no issue in being late to the rapids. The morning was cloudy but the clouds quickly burned off to clear skies. There wasn't too much boat traffic going S and only 1 or 2 boats going N through the Yucultas.

After the rapids we rode a healthy flood down Drew Passage and all the way to Von Donop Inlet. We got to the inlet early at about 1000. Many of the boats were leaving to get through the narrow pass before low tide. As such we found most of Von Donop open to wherever we wanted to anchor. I thought about the winds during the past few days and ventured farther in to Von Donop than we've been in before - all the way to the nook at the end. This little nook would provide us some shelter in case the winds decide to blow again - which they are likely to blow. We're anchored in 15' of water at near low tide. We dropped the hook at 1045. For now there's not too many other boats in around us and we're the only one anchored in this nook. However, as the afternoon wore on, so did the winds, and more and more boats wanted to anchor in the nook to escape the winds. Finally 2 sailboats and a Nordhavn found their way into our nook and are anchored in here with us.

We explored Von Donop Inlet by Zipper and found a campsite to stop and throw the stick for Hank. He so loves to play water fetch. We then slowly cruised around the shore of the Inlet poking in to the little bays here and there.

For supper I grilled some Bavarian Smokies and made some home fried potatoes - it was really good and hit the spot. For awhile it looked as if we were going to get rained on as the clouds really came in and we did get a few "spits" of rain. However, this disappated and we got no real rain. We did notice that out in the main part of Von Donop Inlet the wind was really blowing and making quite a chop. You could hear the wind blowing through the trees. We were quite quiet and snug in our little anchorage - the wind never really found its way into our nook.

Stats: 33.2 nm, average speed 5.9 knots, running time 5:38, ending engine hours 6021.6.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 13 - All Fished Out

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I got up early, well not that early, to go fishing. The winds were down to about 10 knots and the tide had just changed - ideal conditions to catch a fish. So I motored out to the reef that is at the entrance to Beaver Inlet and started to jig for a bottom fish. I jigged and jigged, but I never even got a bite. This was affirmed by the depth sounder because once again I saw NO FISH. From the reef I motored out to William Point and tried fishing along the wall. Again I jigged and jigged but never got a bite. Again the depth sounder showed no "real" fish. There were some soundings of fish but they were all very small fish. This was better than no fish, but it didn't help me.

I then decided to go check the prawn traps that I had set the day before over on the other side of Loughborough Inlet. I was by myself but figured I could pull the traps and wrap the line by myself. So, off I went. I needed some alone time anyway. I found the traps and began to pull them up. I developed a system where I could wrap the line around the spool and pull the pot up too. It was slow going but it was working. I pulled the first pot up and found 7 prawns in it. Hmmm, not good but at least I wasn't skunked. I hoped that the second pot would have more. The second pot was heavier and I was thinking maybe this was good. But when I pulled the pot to the surface there was only ONE lonely prawn in it. The heavy feeling was the canvas wrapped around the pot making it hard to pull up. Now I was thoroughly disgusted. This little piece of heaven was all fished out. I then decided to not re-set the prawn traps and instead raced back to the boat. In my mind I said that I had enough of the poor fishing and the wind and decided to move on to a different anchorage. Checking the crab pots around the Independence only verified my decision - they were empty too. I thought not even a freeking sunstar. So either the bait was terribly ineffective or there were no fish - fish, crab, and prawns here. I decided it was the latter. x
We weighed anchor at 1040 and left the "blow hole." As we were leaving Beaver Inlet the wind started to build again. At the entrace to Beaver Inlet was another boat fishing the same spots I had fished earlier. I watched him through the binoculars and never saw him pull up anything. Again I felt that my paradise was spoiled. I doubt I will ever return to Beaver Inlet.

We caught the last of the flood and rode through Greene Point Rapids and anchored in Cordero Cove just E of Greene Point at 1210. We're anchored in 35' of water at near high tide in between the island and shore. Anchoring here puts us in better position for catching tomorrow morning's slack through the Yucultas.
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As we were anchoring Kim spotted a bear at the far E end of Cordero Cove. We hopped into the Zipper and went to check the bear out. We saw that it was a sow Black Bear with two very small cubs. As we approached the cubs darted up the beach to the tree line. The sow remained turning over rocks on the beach and licking up the small crabs. We watched this bear for a good 30 or more minutes. We then set two crab pots E of where we are anchored. The bottom looked good with a nice covering of eel grass.

The persistent wind picked up again late in the afternoon. For supper I made a corned beef pepper pot dish which I didn't like. Kim and Hank did. I enjoyed a beer and later a whiskey instead. We checked the crab pots and reset them in several different spots but the result was always the same - no crab. Again I am disappointed.

Stats: 9.9 nm, average speed 6.1 knots, running time 1:30, ending engine hours 6015.6

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 12 - Disappointment

Monday, July 19, 2010
We had a lazy day. Afer a late breakfast we went over to check the shrimp pots in Sidney Bay. It was terribly disappointing but we pulled up only ONE prawn per pot. WTF? Was it the bait? Was our location off? Or, was it because it was fished out. A friend of ours who lives in Port McNeill, BC said that during the winter months the commercial prawners hit many popular places hard. He said that he found many of his usual spots with poor hauls of prawns. Instead of hauling up 100's he was only pulling up 10-20 and occasionally none. So, I suspect the same thing here. I've noticed that each year coming here to Sidney Bay and setting prawn traps that the catch has been going down. Last year we only caught a dozen for each pull. But, a dozen is better than ONE.

I was truly perplexed. I scanned the charts hard looking for where I could set my shrimp pots in a place that might be more productive. Most of Loughborough Inlet is very deep - 600-800' deep. The deepest we can set prawn traps is in 300' of water. I found a spot on the NE side of Loughborough Inlet near some islands and where a small stream flows into the inlet. It goes from 10' to 300+' deep within 20-30 yards - my thought is that this is great for prawns. At least its worked for me before. We set both pots and then went to explore these small islands. Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera. But then this was supposed to be a fishing trip not sightseeing.

We explored the islands, Hank especially enjoying some real land where he could roam a bit and do his business. The islands are unamed and are about half-way up Loughborough Inlet and enjoy a great view both up and down the inlet. I really wished I had brought the camera. The islands were quite boggy and you had to be careful where you stepped because you could step into a sink hole that was about 2-3' deep. At the bottom of these sink holes was water. Within a few minutes we were surrounded by hordes of mosquitoes. These little bastards probably thought this was incredible - fresh blood. So we rapidly exited the islands and went on our way. I gunned the Zipper quickly to out run a few of the flying blood suckers that ventured with us.

I noticed that there was a brisk breeze blowing up Loughborough Inlet, kicking up waves that were about 2' high. Motoring back to our boat was going to be a rough ride. We slowly idled our way down to Strachan Point wish is almost across from Beaver Inlet. I had the depth sounder going the whole time trying to see if there were some fish about. What startled me was that I didn't see ANY fish - nada, nothing, zero, zilch. No bait and no fish. This was disconcerting. A couple of years ago I saw plenty of fish, now nothing.

We raced across Loughborough Inlet to Beaver Inlet bouncing off of the waves. Hank tried to ride up on the bow but it was too rough. I slowed down at a reef at the entrance to Beaver Inlet and once again using the depth sounder scanned the water for signs of fish and baitfish. Again nothing.

We returned to the Independence and settled in for a lazy afternoon of reading books and relaxing. I made some of my Dragon Boat-oriental cracker-peanut mix and sipped a couple of beers. The wind continued to blow harder and harder until we were probably experiencing the same gales that were blowing in Johnstone Strait.

For supper I made a sausage and chicken gumbo (it was supposed to be a sausage & shrimp gumbo). It turned out real good. We then settled down for an evening of conversation.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 11 - Traversing the Rapids

Sunday, July 18, 2010
We weighed anchor at 0730 under clear skies and continued our trip N. We got out of Squirrel Cove and started up Lewis Channel with a brisk wind blowing down the channel at about 10 knots. As we motored several boats passed us going the same direction. The wind abated when we hit Calm Channel. I was getting concerned because our speed wasn't what I expected. We were fighting a pretty good flood current and only making about 5 knots. My plan had us traveling at an average of 5.8 knots. Fortunately just SE of Harbott Point, Stuart Island we started picking up speed - enough to lessen my concern of making it too late to the rapids. We made it to the Yuculta Rapids at 1100, Gillard at 1118, and rode a healthy ebb out of Dent Rapids. While not as crowded as Dodd Narrows near Nanaimo, these tidal rapids can be a bottleneck at times too. We were at the tail end of the boats traversing the rapids.

The Yucultas (pronounced Yew-Caw-Tahs) are a series of three tidal rapids. These rapids are a dividing point between the south and the north. South of the rapids you can find Arbutus trees (Madrona) but you will not find them north of the rapids. South of the rapids sea water temperatures are in the high 50's, north of the rapids sea water temperatures are in the low 40's. Many times you will notice a temperature difference of almost 20 degrees F! When you pass Sarah Point in Desolation Sound that is the dividing line between where water goes. South of this all water drains out through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. North of Sarah Point the water drains out through Queens Charlotte Sound.

The Yuculta's are also a set of rapids that I will only traverse at slack or near slack water. Dent Rapids is particularly nasty with a whirlpool that forms that has the name - even printed on the nautical charts - as the "Devils Hole." Once many, many years ago we heard of a fishboat that hit some whirlpools by Gillard Rapids and was capsized. It is a series of tidal rapids that demand respect.

Just after Hall Point I turned the helm to Kim and took a nap waking just as we passed Bickley Bay. Kim said that the marina at Shoal Bay was packed with boats. We saw several boats in Cordero Channel going our way to the W. The winds turned very gusty in Cordero Channel. Listening to the weather radio we heard for days now that there are afternoon gale warnings for Johnstone Strait. Weather reports confirm these forecasts of winds 30 and 40 knots or more. While Cordero Channel is well away from Johnstone Strait, the winds are coming down the narrow valleys and finding their way here.

We cruised through Greene Point Rapids where at one point we made 11.3 knots riding with the ebb current. Greene Point Rapids is one that I feel comfortable traveling regardless of the time. When riding the ebb through Greene Point you just need to be careful to turn early enough or you could be pushed up on to the N shore. The wind was building in intensity coming down Chancellor Channel when we turned into Loughborough Inlet. The southern end of Loughborough Inlet was almost calm. We made for William Point and the entrance to Beaver Inlet. As we turned into Beaver Inlet we faced very strong winds - it is blowing a gale - literally. I estimate wind speeds of 25-35 knots with higher gusts. However, the skies remain clear.

These conditions of high winds from the NW are common when there is high pressure in or near the Queen Charlotte Islands just beyond Queen Charlotte Sound. The air pressure in Washington is lower and so the air moves from the high to the low. The mountains of Vancouver Island and the mountains of the Coast Range act as a funnel to channel the winds down these narrow valley. All the while you have beautiful clear weather. That's why sometimes when cruising up here I would prefer a light rain because then the winds are not so bad.

We got into our anchorage at the end of Beaver Inlet at 1500. We're anchored in about 30' of water at near high tide. Because of the wind I put out all 100' of chain. We are snugly anchored and the boat is turning from side to side. As we move to one side the wind catches us and you can hear the anchor rode tighten like tightening a guitar string. But again our anchor is firmly set.

Shortly after arriving we went and set the shrimp pots over in Sidney Bay at our usual locations. Setting shrimp pots in such windy conditions can be challenging. I have Kim let out the shrimp pot line - all 300' - while I keep the Zipper in and out of reverse gear. I find that if done properly I can set the pot without drifting too much. Hopefully tomorrow we'll have prawns.

We are at the "zenith" of our 2010 trip. We will stay here for a few days.

Stats: 45.5 nm, average speed 6.0 knots, running time 7:37, ending engine hours 6013.5.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 10 - A Lazy Day

Saturday, July 17, 2010
Another gorgeous day in Paradise. More clear skies. Had a very lazy day. We all slept in. Then it was just reading books and doing really nothing worth noting. At about 1400 we went over to Squirrel Cove to get a few groceries. It seemed like everyone else anchored in Squirrel Cove had the same idea. The routine is the same - under slow bell through the anchorage, but as soon as you hit the cut at the entrance, open up the throttle to flank speed and race to Squirrel Cove. It looked as if Squirrel Cove was being attacked by ones and twos from people in dinghies. I took command of the dinghy invasion force by opening up the Zipper throttle and flying by them all. I rarely get to pass any boats when cruising in the Independence, so when I get an opportunity to pass something I'll take advantage of it.

We again picked up some groceries (chicken, Bavarian smokies, fresh veggies, block & cubed ice) since tomorrow we'll be moving on farther N and there won't me any nearby marinas to get any groceries. The other thing we picked up is some Squirrel Cove coffee. They have their own roast and it is so good. I also got a 3 day fishing license.
After our excursion to Squirrel Cove, we came back and had a nice sun shower. I touched the sun shower bag laying on the deck of the Independence and it was almost hot to the touch. So I tied the sun shower bag to the boom and hoisted it. The setup is that you can stand on the swim step with the sun shower bag above you and take a shower. It was absolutely delicious. The water was oh so warm. It was hot enough outside that almost as soon as you got done you were dry. It was perfect.

Once the larder was stocked, and we were 'refreshed' it was time for a cocktail and preparations for supper. I had me a very tall caesar with lots of ice that I had just purchased at Squirrel Cove. In fact, I had two caesars. I spent my time marinating some chicken. I also concocted my own cocktail snack - a handful of "Dragon Boat mix," a handful of oriental rice crackers, and some peanuts. Dragon Boat mix is something that I've only found in Thrifty Food Stores in Nanaimo. Dragon Boat Mix is a melange of rice flour coated peanuts - coated with a variety of items, seaweed, wasabi, coconut, black sesame seeds, and white sesame seeds, along with some cashews. It is a truly unique mix. I grilled the chicken but I was not so impressed with my marinade and the result. It was good, but not worthy of being entered in the log. Kim made a delicious cous-cous to go along with the chicken. We sat out on the back deck, enjoying supper, and watching the world go on at anchor in Squirrel Cove. One of the best things of being at anchor is how the boat slowly turns so you always get some new view.

Once again I capped off my day with a toast of Canadian whiskey to Squirrel Cove and a beautiful lazy day.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 9 - The Monster Conquered

Friday, July 16, 2010
Left Schooner Cove at 0715 with a brisk 15 knot NW wind blowing. The wind just never stopped blowing. Immediately we had issues. The first one was that we had a line from the Zipper in the water. Second issue, the safety line parted from the Zipper. And the third issue, during resolving the first two issues we took a few beam to waves and the coffee carafe fell and hit the deck breaking and spilling coffee all over. After resolving these things we started our trip across the Strait. There was a good 3' moderate sea coming from the WNW. I had a plan on how we were going to tackle this. We would use the lee of the islands and Ballenas Island to minimize the seas, and then we would work to quarter the seas rather than pound into them. That meant setting a course after Ballenas Island to the S end of Texada Island - Upwood Point.

We followed the plan which started to work really well, once we cleared Ballenas Island we felt the waves and swells. We angled for Upwood Point but the waves and swells were too beam to causing too much side-to-side rocking. So I adjusted the course to head for Squitty Bay on Lasqueti Island which was perfect for quartering these rough seas. Once we got within the lee of Lasqueti Island we then adjusted our course for Upwood Point on Texada. Instead of a straight line course we did more of a curved cresent shaped course. Sure it was longer and took more time, but it was much more comfortable of a ride for us. We were also riding a flood current which helped us cross the worst part of the Strait better than 6 knots.

Once we rounded Upwood Point the seas were very calm, in fact just rippled. However as we started up the east side of Texada Island and Malaspina Strait the waves increased, although there was little or no wind - they were just 2-3' smooth rollers. But we pounded right into them making for an uncomfortable cruise all the way from Anderson Bay to NE Point on Texada Island. Just prior to NE Point I layed down for a nap and let Kim take the helm. When I awoke we just shy of Grief Point and the seas were almost calm. These calm seas were with us all the way to Squirrel Cove.

Just before Grief Point around 1300 the engine hour meter turned to 6000 hours.

As usual with this part of the cruise its kind of boring. You got Texada Island to the W. The island rises steeply above Malaspina Strait then levels out to bauxite mines on the N end of the island. After Grief Point you got the mill at Powell River and the town of Westview to the east. You pass Harwood Island and Savary Island to the W but these are low lying and featureless islands. The shore to the E is also relatively featureless, although in the distance you can see the mountains of the coast range. Far to the W you can see the vast snowfields and mountains on Vancouver Island. There weren't too many other boats out either. The cruise starts to get interesting once you pass Lund. Thulin Passage is quite scenic, and finally you get into Desolation Sound. Passing Sarah Point you get an incredible view of the Liberty Cap and other mountains of the coast range.

We got into Squirrel Cove at 1810 and dropped the hook in 18' of water at half low tide. It is good to be done cruising for the day. We anchored far into Squirrel Cove in the far NW corner, just past the shore trail to Von Donop Inlet. Squirrel Cove was not too crowded. For supper, we enjoyed simple celebratory fare - Chicago style hot dogs (tomatoes, green chili peppers, onions) with a cold beer. I also capped the day off with a couple toasts of Gibsons Canadian whiskey. Wow, I'm back in Squirrel Cove. I was elated.


Stats: 64.1 nm, average speed 5.8 knots, 11:03 hours of running time, ending engine hours 6005.4.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 8 - The Monster

Thursday, July 15, 2010
Woke to clear skies but breezy conditions. Winds are forecast to be 15-20 knots north of Nanaimo out in Georgia Strait. This may mean that today may be a long and rough day. I'd like to get as far as Lasqueti Island but we will see. Tomorrow the forecast is for lighter winds in the afternoon but overnight and early morning winds are still supposed to be about 15-20 knots. Maybe we should wait. If we do wait it would make for a very long day - 13 or more hours - to go from Nanaimo all the way to Squirrel Cove.

Josef gets picked up at 10:00 AM over at the main city dock. We left the Independence at about 0930 to get there on time. Josef didn't want to keep Jim waiting. When we got to the dock there was Jim. We walked up the dock with Josef and Jim and saw Josef off to Prep Camp. Kim wanted to walk about in town, but I was anxious to get out of town. Too many people for me.

I pushed hard to get going and cross Georgia Strait today. Kim reluctantly agreed. We pulled up the anchor at 1142 to take advantage of the winds that generally calm down around mid-day. It did seem that the winds had indeed calmed some. Weather reports from the Sisters Island and Ballenas Islands were that the wind had calmed down from 20+ knots to around 15-16 knots. Lighthouse reports were that seas were a 3' moderate. I hoped that they would calm down even more, perhaps 10-12 knots maybe. Once we rounded the Clark Rock light the seas got progressively worse. Seas were definitely a 3' moderate and maybe more. My wish for calming conditions was not going to be. The wind was from the NW at more than 15 knots. As we moved farther up the Strait the waves and swells got worse - we were getting pounded. The bow would dip into the trough and then as the next wave approached get raised way into the air and then fall with a crash. Spray would get sent over the bow and even over the flying bridge. I even had to use the windshield wiper because of the spray. The poor Zipper in tow was getting pounded too. The tow line would go slack then instantly "piano-wire" taught. My fear was that the tow line would snap and we'd lose the Zipper. In this wind the Zipper would probably drift faster than the Independence could motor and we would never recover her. Consequently I decided to use the "Walt Woodward route" that took us by Maude Island and behind Winchelsea Island. Sure enough being in the lee of these islands the seas were not so rough. Instead of 3'+ seas it was only about 1' chop. In fact it was calm enough for us to reconsider crossing the Strait. But the winds kept blowing and at times very hard so I made the decision to go for Schooner Cove Marina where we'll stay for the night. The weather is clear but it is just blowing so hard. We'll hopefully cross the monster tomorrow.

We got into a slip at Schooner Cove and tied up for the day. Both Hank and I are mentally exhausted from the pounding seas. It was a good decision to go to Schooner Cove. When we were pounding through the rough seas Hank assumed a position between Kim's legs and as close to her as he could possible be. You could tell he definitely did not like the rough, pounding conditions. Neither did I. I took some time to hose the boat off with fresh water to get the salt water spray off. There was salt from the spray everywhere.

Kim was wanting a rich tomato sauce so I took advantage of the afternoon and made a rustic pepper sauce with some Italian sausage. Here's the recipe:
  • 4-5 Italian sausage links
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 2 T onion, chopped
  • 1 T Bick's Red Pepper Relish
  • 1 t red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 C yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 t red pepper powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t capers
  • 2 T Vindaloo sauce

Cook the sausage. When the sausages are about half cooked, saute the onion and red pepper relish using the fat from the sausages. Deglaze the sausages and onions with the red wine vinegar. Add the yellow peppers, garlic, and capers along with the Vindaloo sauce and reduce. Add cooked pasta and mix well and serve.

We enjoyed the evening eating dinner, listening to the radio, and having a couple of drinks. I enjoyed a couple of caesars (vodka, Clamato, A-1 sauce, Tabasco, and Old Bay seasoning) and Kim had a Smith and Kerns (vodka, Kalua, cream and coke). Perfect after a torturous day of being tossed about. We found out that the marina will be undergoing extensive remodeling. The motel will be torn down to make way for more condos, a restaurant, and some small shops. The pool we so enjoyed for so many years was closed as well as the restaurant. The chandlery and fishing gear shop were also gone. Its been about 5-6 years since we were last here.

The wind continued to blow from the NW all afternoon and evening.

Stats: 12.9 nm, average speed 4.6 knots, running time 2:49, ending engine hours 5993.8.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 7 - On to Newcastle Island and Nanaimo

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Woke to clear skies and calm waters. We untied from the mooring buoy at 0803 and continued our trip N to Nanaimo. It was an easy cruise up Trincomali Passage. I would set the wheel and then not touch it until I noticed that the current was pushing us off course. I would then make a slight correction and again let go of the wheel until it needed it. The waters were calm or only rippled all the way up to Dodd Narrows. Unfortunately we were fighting an ebb and our speed was less around 5+ knots.

When we approached Dodd Narrows at 12:00 there was a real "gaggle" of boats on both sides. The VHF radio was almost continously abuzz with "Securitay - securitay - securitay. A xx foot (sail or power) boat approaching Dodd Narrows from the (North or South) any concerned traffic call on channel 16." The current was ebbing and running S and slack was scheduled for 12:57 or so. Boats would motor up and back off, or motor back-and-forth across the entrance looking for an opportunity to traverse the narrow pass. There must have been over 30 boats on the S side and about a dozen boats on the N side. Dodd Narrows is a real boating bottleneck. I never changed my speed, but just kept on motoring determinedly for the narrows. I decided that other boats would have to move out of the way or follow in behind me. And I never hail on the radio that I'm going through Dodd Narrows. There were two boats in front of me - a sailboat, a 32' Fisher and a powerboat, a 32' Sea Ray. The Fisher was working hard against the current and I heard on the radio the powerboat behind the Fisher say, "Now's the time you gotta push the throttle. Go, go, go." I generally approach the narrows more to the N side (if the current is ebbing), the Mudge Island side and ride the back eddy until I get right into the narrows. When I hit the narrows, the current slowed us down to 3.5 knots and I increased the RPM to 1850 from 1750 and we powered right on through.

After passing through Dodd Narrows the wind wasn't too bad coming into Nanaimo Harbor. Sometimes you'll feel the full force of NW wind, waves and swell of the Strait of Georgia coming headlong right into you. There were a few rollers about 2-3 feet in size, but we managed just fine. We got into Newcastle Harbor at about 1305 and dropped the hook in 19' of water at near low tide. The harbor doesn't seem too crowded and we found a nice anchorage - it was pretty much to our choosing.

I gave the engine a thorough checking over - alternator belt, cooling system, oil, transmission oil, as well as a scanning around the engine. I also cleaned the raw water strainer and removed the hose to the oil cooler and cleaned it too. I believe we're ready for the "monster" - that is crossing the Strait of Georgia. Josef called Jim Knight and arranged a time to be picked up (10:00 AM) tomorrow.

We had a lazy afternoon until around 1600 when we went into town to do some shopping. We first went to the marine chandlery to pick up some stove alcohol - its so cheap here. Only $10 per gallon. I checked at the West Marine store in Olympia and they wanted over $30 for a gallon - same brand. Rediculous mark up. So we picked up 2 gallons - enough for this year and next. We also bought a new crab pot since we lost one last year. Next, we went to do some grocery shopping. Finally, I went to the liquor store to get enough liquor provisions for the rest of the trip. I got more Gibsons (Canadian whiskey) and beer. I timed it just right being the last one in and out of the store - whew. When we got back to the boat we unloaded the supplies and then went to get some Zipper fuel and some ice at the gas dock. Once that was done we came back and had a great supper of potatoes and grilled pork chops.

I moistened each pork chop lightly with some olive oil then sprinkled on some Montreal Steak Seasoning, some curry powder, a bit of red chili powder and dash of soy sauce. I let this marinade on the pork chop for about an hour. I also thoroughly perforated the pork chop with a fork to ensure the spices and marinade would penetrate the meat. When at the grocery store I saw a bottle of Indian Vindaloo sauce. Vindaloo is a puree of onions with a bunch of spices. I grilled each pork chop and then finished it with a glaze of the Vindaloo sauce. It was excellent. A definite hit. I finished the day with a caesar drink filled with lots of ice.

Stats: 27.8 nm, average speed 5.4 knots, running time 5:09, ending engine hours 5990.8.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 6 - A No-motor Day

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
We decided to spend the day at Montague Harbor rather than move on to another location like Pirates Cove, or Thetis Island, or even Newcastle Island. A strong wind blew last night just like the evening before at Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island. Maybe that was the gale winds mentioned on the weather radio for southern Georgia Strait. It must have been blowing 25 knots or more. The Zipper moored along side the Independence was making quite a racket, so I untied it and tethered it to the stern cleat of the Independence. By morning the wind had greatly subsided. The weather has been mostly sunny with only a few clouds rolling through, although last night after returning from Ganges I thought we'd get some rain, but it missed us.

Kim, Hank and I took a long walk on the road that leads into Montague Provincial Park walking all the way to the Montague Harbor Marina. It was a nice walk with many nice views of the bay and all the boats anchored and moored there. We then came back and had a few snacks. The rage has been resurrecting the Yahtzee Game with a new battery. By having the battery die, Max's old high score - an impossible 586 score was now gone. Now it was who was going to have the next high score. The electronic Yahtzee game is relegated to the forward head and the unwritten rule is that where it belongs. You cannot take the Yahtzee game out of the forward head and play it. I tried that and was severely chastized. Luckily I got the high score properly - while sitting on the forward head and peace and order was restored.
We had a lazy afternoon, had a late lunch and then did an extended beach trip. We found a shady spot on the N side of the beach with a great view up Trincomali Passage. We also played water fetch with Hank - which he thoroughly enjoyed. I threw the stick fairly far out in the water this time forcing him to swim more. I think he would play water fetch until he dropped dead from exhaustion. As we sat we saw first one large double masted sailboat anchor in the bay, but up the channel we saw more and more approaching. Somebody walking by mentioned that there was a double-masted sailboat regatta going on. It was fun to see these big beautiful sailboats come into the bay and anchor. All in all we counted over 12 large double masted sailboats. We finished our afternoon with a hike on the Point Grey trail. The weather was warm and fortunately there was a steady breeze blowing from the SW to keep us cool. The wind died down later. We were still all so stuffed from lunch that we passed on making any kind of significant supper - just a few snacks.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 5 - Crossing Into Canada

Monday, July 12, 2010
Last night the wind howled. At times I believed there were wind gusts of maybe 20-30 knots. But now this morning, there's cloudy skies and only a few remnant gusts and breezes, though definitely not as strong as last night.

We left Prevost Harbor at 0825 to continue our trip N. Haro Strait was very rolly and once again there was a huge ebb tide to contend with. Again we crabbed our way across Haro Strait and into Canada. The current was going W, we were going N, but we angled our way more ENE - its just really kind of funky. Kim made breakfast en route. Because of the waves and the strong current I didn't call early enough to take advantage of the CanPass system. When I called CanPass they simply said, report to Bedwell Customs dock for processing. Okay on to Bedwell then.

Just as we were entering Bedwell Harbor and customs, a very large sailboat passed us and tied up right in the middle of the customs dock. There was no room in front or behind him, rather you would have to navigate more into the marina and around the back to get to the customs dock. It would also put me "bow in" not "bow out" as I preferred. My manueverability was hampered by having to tie the Zipper up on the port side of the boat. So I wasn't too happy. As a result, Josef angrily stood on the bow of the Independence and yelled across the bay, "Move yer boat, or I'll move it." He, like me, was none too happy. Luckily the sailboat skipper moved his boat forward and we were able to tie up in a small space behind him. As we approached the customs dock the sailboat skipper said to Josef, "There's plenty of dock space on the other side." I said in a low barely audible voice to Josef, "Easy. Let's not lose it." Fortunately Josef just glared at him. As I was docking in the limited space provided by the sailboat another boater commented on my great docking job. I did bring the Independence in perfectly in a tight spot without any issue.

I trotted up to the customs shack and got our clearance number for entry into Canada - 20101930209. I finished before the sailboat skipper, trotted back to the Independence and said, "Lets get out of here before he comes back." I didn't want any more challenges with this goofy sailboat skipper. We quickly untied and moved on our way. Our next challenge is going through Pender Canal that separates North and Sound Pender Islands. By taking the Pender Canal route we will save an hour or more cruising. The current was running S (ebbing) and the tide was falling. As we cruised through I had Josef up on the bow just to spot the shallows - the lowest it got was about 4' below the keel. Going through Pender Canal is always a fun challenge.

We now moved around Razor Point, up Navy Channel, and into Tricomali Channel and eventually Montague Harbor at 1212. We got a mooring buoy on the W side of the bay. Listening to the weather radio there's forecasts for gales in S Georgia Strait for later in the day. For now the wind was from the SW at less than 10 knots. We settled in and decided to do a Zipper trip to Ganges for groceries. However, it was decided to leave Hank the dog at the boat instead of taking him. This would make for easier grocery shopping and less stress for all. It was a good decision.

We picked up a variety of groceries and most importantly some good Canadian whiskey. When we came back Josef made a great Greek Salad. Here's the recipe.
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 C yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 C kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t dried dill weed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 C feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt & pepper to taste

    Cut veggies, add feta and spices and mix well. Then add olive oil and red wine vinegar, chill and let set for 30 minutes or more.

We had a great dinner of Greek salad, grilled steaks and spinach Nan (Indian flat bread) with Tzatsiki. I grilled the Nan on the BBQ until just toasty. Then I dipped the Nan in the steak juice added some Tzatsiki - it was incredible. What a nice evening.


Stats: 18.4 nm, average speed 5.1 knots, 3:35 running time, 158.0 trip miles, ending engine hours 5985.3.