Summer Fun

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Well we’ve managed to commit to a bit of summer fun in the Broughtons. Leslie and I have booked the Shearwater, a 33′ Bavaria, to join Cooper Boating’s planned flotilla to the Broughtons off the north-east side of Vancouver Island. The flotilla will be headed by the Yeadon Jones, authors of the Dreamspeaker guidebooks. It’s 14 days in June, leaving from Powell River and truly a magnificent opportunity.

The flotilla format — a group of boats travelling together under the guidance of a ‘lead’ boat — will allow us to to head further afield than L and I would otherwise be comfortable doing. We’ll have the benefit of others’ knowledge of conditions and anchorages while still enjoying our own boat and able to be as social (or not) as we want. Now I just have to keep from going crazy for the next 3 months.

Today we are off to the Edmonton Boat & Sportsman show to look for even more adventures… or maybe just dream a little 😉

The planned itinerary is below. but who knows if it will change or not.


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Add One More Week

Well it has been decided to add another week onto our Broughton’s sailing trip (see previous post in this category). Cooper Boating had previously offered to let us take the boat a day earlier from Vancouver since the Shearwater was based out of there and they would have to ferry it up to Powell River anyway. We decided against as it would have been a long (10 hr+) day and there was no guaranteeing the conditions in the Strait. I would have hated to miss the flotilla if we decided to wait out bad conditions. Anyway, after talking it over we decided it would be nice to have the boat for a few days prior to joining all the others so we decided to add a week on the front of the charter.

We will now pick up the Shearwater from Granville Island on the 7th and take a week to make our way up the Sunshine coast to Powell River. Day one will likely be 20 nm or so to Gibsons or Plumper Cover on Keats Island. Then it’s a longish 20 nm in fairly open water up the Georgia Strait to Secret Cove or Buccaneer’s Bay. There really is no place to stop along this leg so hopefully the weather will cooperate. From there we could head to Egmont or Pender Harbour. If we are feeling confident we might head up to Princess Louisa Inlet, but I think it’s more likely we will plunk around Welcome passage until it’s time to do one final 20 nm run to Westview (Powell River) to join the rest of the flotilla on the 14th.

Then it’s another 14 days onboard and through the Broughtons before we get off the boat in Powell River on the 29th. After that, who knows? Maybe we will hop back on another boat and keep going…

 

Apparently there are lots of dolphin and killer whale encounters in the Archipelago so we have our fingers crossed.

 

The Fleet

As June approaches, we now have word of who will be joining us in the flotilla to the Broughtons. There is a mix of power and sail, big and small, as well as charter and private. It will be interesting to see the demographics of who makes up the crews. The list provided included some couples as well as simply stating ‘and family.’ Leslie and I are still hoping not to be the most novice boat in the fleet but so far we just can’t tell.

Charter Boats
Corus — Bavaria 50’ sail (Lead boat with 5 paying crew)
Arcturus — Bavaria 32’ sail
Electra — Nordic Tug 42’ power
Simply Irresistible — Beneteau 42′ sail
Mariner’s Compass — Westcoast CB45 46′ power
Raven Magic — Grand Banks 42’ power
Shearwater — Bavaria 33’ sail (our boat)

Private Boats
Intrepid 4 — Sceptre 43’ sail
Ocean Grace — 30’ sail
R Shack Island — (I think this is a Tartan 3400) 34’ sail

There are in the neighbourhood of 25-30 people scattered among the 10 boats. and we will be getting together fairly regularly. I guess I will have to shelve my anti-socialness for the nonce. Supplied Meal Summary: 14 breakfasts, 14 days of snacks and lunches, a couple of Happy Hour Appies, 5 Pot Luck Dinners, 4 Eat Ashore at a Bistro dinners, 5 Dinners aboard.

Day One

I don’t know if its nerves, recent events or just plain stomach flu but this morning’s wait for departure time has had me churning since I got up. Blah. The cats definitely know something’s up: Artemis has been a bigger pest than normal. But everything’s packed and ready to go and we are off about 11:30.

Drive to airport, catch the Westjet Flight 177 to YVR and the adventure was begun. One hour and 13 minutes later we landed and grabbed our bags. We then grabbed a cab to Granville Island, eschewing the Canada Line due to L’s delicate mobility and my not wanting to carry a ton of bags from train to bus to island.

At the Cooper Boating office the friendly people took my credit card and we headed down to the Shearwater. This Bavaria is a 2006 and smaller by a bunch than any of our previous boats. Except for the wheel. The wheel is massive. Huge.

Sam came down and walked us through the boat and then fiddled with the windlass remote as it didn’t seem to work. We headed off to No Thrills to try and get some provisions. We had to walk so we took it pretty easy. Tomorrow we will check out the market and maybe walk back up.

I snagged a few ciders and we had dinner on the island at one of the many pubs and then settled in for the night. Tired…

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Three otters put in an appearance across the dock to say goodnight. Goodnight.

Day Two: Ahoy

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Morning brought coffee, a quick breakfast and showers at the marina. We hoisted the sails and went through the system, then headed off for some groceries at the Granville Market as well as a six pack of beer for Bruce. We head back to town and the No Thrills, but stopped a convenience type store and found all of our remaining supplies without having to hoof it up the hill.

A safety video, a few knot reviews and we fired up the engine and cast off about 1pm. I forgot to start the gps so the track below begins in the beginning of English Bay. I guided the boat out from the docks behind Granville Island and handed the helm to L where she stayed the rest of the day.

We motored about amongst all the traffic and head on a course of 275° for Point Atkinson. The winds were 4-7 knots and we mulled turning into Haro Sound and ducking behind Bowen Island, but as we came out into the strait proper it all looked good so we carried on.

About half an hour later we decided to hoist sail so L turned into the wind and raised the sails about 2:30. The winds varied from 6-11 knots the rest of the trip and we sailed on mostly a beam reach for a little over an hour. When we turned into the pass to bring us around Keats Island and the wind was almost perfectly astern. A few minutes later we spied a tug with several barges in the channel and decided not to risk it. Down came the sails and then the roller furler got caught up in the dingy which was still on deck. Eventually Bruce got it sorted and we turned back up the channel with the motor putting away around 3:40.

Somewhere around 4:03 we spotted a tug towing a huge log boom at a snails pace. It was covered in seals so that couldn’t of helped speed-wise. There was a sprinkle of rain between Bowen Island and Keats Island and we curved around the back side until Plumpers Cove appeared off the port bow.

I demoed a mooring ball approach and Leslie took over while I rigged the lines. A few minutes later we had officially arrived at Plumpers Cove around 5 pm.


3h13m 16.6nm (approx)

After tidying up and hauling the dinghy into the water we cracked a celebratory cider. After some relaxation we fried up some dogs and ate like kings. I rowed to the dock for a look see and L cleaned up. The dingy need some air so I pumped it up whilst waiting for the park warden to come collect the fees: $12/ night.

A bit of writing and that was that.

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Day Three: Rattle and Hum

Well last night Leslie cleaned my clock at Yahtzee: 5 games to 1. I feel good about that, I do; very Zen… dammit.

I tightened up the spinnaker halyard because it was banging against the mast in the gusts of wind. Very proactive I smugly told myself. And we crawled into bed to read and sleep the sleep of the dead. Or so I thought.

So the wind came up and things started moving. Almost immediately I got up and moved the dinghy ahead away from our cabin in the stern. I had noticed it’s slurping and banging noises earlier but underestimated how loud they would be. Back to bed. I fell asleep and around 2 I woke up to go out and tighten the main halyard to stop the incessant banging. Back to bed.. Sometime later I reached up and found an old mag light in the crevice above my head that would sharply bang on big gusts. Thankfully I could do this from bed. Around 5:30 I got up and pulled out the folding wing on the table which would rhythmically bang after each gust rocked the boat. Back to bed. After that I tried, semi-successfully, to sleep with a pillow over my head and finally crawled out of bed around 8:30.

Good morning!

I had a French Vanilla instant Nescafe (cause that’s all the store had in a small jar… Mmmmm) and a couple of granola bars to kickstart my brain. L rose and shone a little while later and had a shower with the remnants of yesterday’s hot water. We listened to the weather, looked over charts and talked options before mostly deciding to stay for the day in hopes that tomorrow’s forecast for calm was true.

I manually pumped out the bilge and then called Coopers just in case. We have a fresh water leak somewhere so we will likely have to keep pumping throughout the trip.

Eventually we decided to pack up a lunch and dinghy over to the dock. Ham sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and some water out of the wind and we were sated. Meandering through Plumper Cove Marine Park we oohed at the trees and awed at the ferns before settling down on the rock and seashell beach to enjoy the sun.

I can tell that I am still pretty tense because as I was munching on my apple — yes, I ate an apple — a swallowtail flew in front of me and almost gave me a heart attack. So apparently I am terrified of butterflies or still pretty wound up. It was pretty though.

We chatted with a fellow seaman about the conditions and asked if the dock might provide a quieter night. He said to stay on the buoy as the dock wasn’t any more shelter and would just give us something to bang off of.

Eventually the lethargy threaten to take root so we brushed the shells from our asses and hopped back in the dinghy. Back at the boat we mounted the outboard for practice and took a cruise around the cove. Tiny, tiny dinghy…not going to be doing any major trips in this puppy.

Back on board it was knots and beer and some more baking in the sun as the Shearwater continues to spin and swing in the wind.

Eventually 6 o’clock rolled around and it was time for dinner. I seared my $23 hunks of fresh salmon and popped them in the oven since it still felt too windy for the BBQ. I failed to ruin it. A quick salad of baby romaine and some cucumbers and it was time to eat. Since Constantine the Great’s foot double wasn’t around we only finished a half a bottle of Rioja.

Dishes, clean up and I started the engine for some hot water. The friendly neighbourhood park warden rowed by for his daily tithe a little after 7. He’d delayed the trip until the wind went down. Did I mention it is finally calming down?

A quick shower and now it’s time to crush Leslie at crib to try and regain some honour after last night’s walloping.

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Day Four: Wet and Dry

A calm night. I attribute that to the two games of crib I slaughtered Leslie at last night. A fitting offering to the weather gods. Unfortunately the bragging irritated the sun gods and it started raining early in the wee hours.

I was up around 7 and had my usual breakfast of coffee and bars. Leslie followed soon after and we made a plan. The plan was I would stand, cold and miserable, at the exposed helm piloting our craft through the dreary mist while princess Dr. Leslie remained inside the warm cabin until the water was heated so she could have a hot shower. Of course we didn’t phrase it that way…

Anywho I cast off around 8 and we headed around the back of Keats Island, too late to catch the tide that would have allowed us to use Shoal Channel. It added about and hour to the day but what the heck. A few minutes later I popped down to get the rest of my rain gear.

As soon as we hit the Strait the wind picked up a bit and the swells were 3-4 feet. Surprisingly it wasn’t at all bad except for Leslie down below trying to clean up and get ready for the day. The rain, mist and swells lasted almost to Sechelt but then everything slowly calmed and brightened. By the time we had hit Halfmoon Bay it was a halfways decent day and by the time we hit Secret Cove it was downright fine. We were straight into the wind so we had decided to motor the whole way as a result it was no work at all.

Coming up on Welcome Pass we passed two barges towing big long booms and heading straight toward us, one on either side. No big deal in the end, but not really the kind of thing you want to see headed your way just as you hit the first narrow bits of your passage. Leslie phoned ahead to Secret Cove to let them know we were coming and we enjoyed the calm water for a bit.

Emerging from the pass we hung a right (adjusted course to starboard) and snuck into Smugglers Cove for a look-see. It was still close to low tide so all the rocks were showing (which is a good thing) and we slowly motored in the narrow, narrow entrance and did a turn around the twisty passages. Not the kind of place I would like to anchor and definitely not the kind of place I would like to anchor if it was at all busy. Beautiful though.

It was a short jaunt across the bay to the entrance to Secret Cove so we got out the lines and fenders. Another narrow entrance bifurcated by a big rock. Slowly we crept in and L and I rigged for our first dock. I hailed the marina on 66A and we headed into Charlie dock.


4h26m 29.2nm

An empty marina makes for some pretty impressive docking. And we tied up without a hitch. Power hooked up, we headed into pay: $61/ night including power! Works out to $1.50/ft and $8 for the hookup. We shopped the great little store, picked up some wine and settled in for some hotdogs for lunch.

After lunch it was down time. A bit of writing, some sitting and maybe a nap or two. And I decided to hit the showers…

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Zzzzzzz

After everyone was up and at ’em again it was time to snoop at the Broughtons charts. They are big. And bulky. And big.

Time for supper and the damn fridge froze my chicken thighs. I popped them in the oven on random (bloody gas ovens) to defrost and whipped up a tomato salad. 6 million hours later the thighs were soft-ish and I fired up the BBQ.

I have to say, if there is anything in the universe that I am more grateful for than learning about meat from Carmen, well I just don’t know what it could possible be. Salt and meat. Sigh. Thanks, Carmen.

Anyway, I crisped the skins and flipped then over on the grill. Unfortunately, C never told me what to do if I couldn’t get indirect heat and the BBQ wouldn’t go any lower. After a panic and some swearing at the lack of a personal chef, I pulled the thighs and popped them back into the oven at indeterminate-low for 15 minutes. Delish.

Some wine, a walk in the fading light and L does the dishes on command, LOL. Then it will be time for game night and a continuation of my newfound ascendancy.

I tweeted our location earlier and it turns out R Shack Island is anchored nearby. She’s a 34-ft Tartan that will be joining the flotilla on Saturday. Seems they are taking advantage of the week before just like us. Maybe we will even meet them before the big meet-up at 5pm Saturday…

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Day Five: Slow Boat Running

Morning! Coffee up in the cockpit this morning. A beautiful day.

We puttered around and L hit the showers. Fill the water tanks, dump the garbage and recycling, buy peanut butter and some bottled water and it’s time to go.

The loud, not-so-polite-to-his-wife guy came by and we chatted for a bit. He is off to Princess Louisa. He said thanks for the help I gave him docking last night, but somehow I suspect he was just offering to help me cast off so I wouldn’t mash his boat: enlightened self-interest. Be that as it may, we cast off and backed out of the slip without hitting any of our neighbours.

Lines in, fenders stowed and we were out of Secret Cove and into a mild Malaspina Strait for a short 1.5 hour motor to Pender Harbour. So we raised the sails in the 5 knot winds wind headed 90 degrees away from our destination. 4 hours and 45 minutes and 13 nautical miles later and we were putting into Garden Bay in Pender Harbour. It was fun sailing and taught us a lot about how much we didn’t know about trimming sails.

Leslie manned the helm through out the sail and eventually, after we dropped them at the entrance to Pender, motored us around the rocks and shoals towards the evenings destination of Garden Bay Hotel and Marina. Of course, there is no hotel there; it’s just a name after all.

Garden Bay is supposed to be a splendid anchorage, so we decided to give it a try: three or four times… Eventually we tired of going in circles and moved on to the docks for the night.


4h46m 13.7nm

After tying up I headed up to the pub to pay for the night and got seduced by the sight of sweating mugs of ice-cold beer. So I went and got Dr. Captain and we headed back for multiple pints on the deck overlooking the bay and, eventually, dinner. Mmmmm, beer. A brief walk and it was back to the boat for rest and relaxation in the warm night air.

After we left Secret Cove and had just set sail, we heard a Pan Pan from R Shack Island. They are a 34′ sailboat joining the flotilla with us. We had discovered last night that they were anchored in Secret Cove just down the south arm. I thought we might meet up with them in the AM at the fuel dock, but they hadn’t showed by the time we left. It seems that they had embarrassingly missed a rock on the charts and were, at the time of their radio call, hung up. Not taking on water, they were in no danger, but they weren’t going anywhere.

Later in the day we learned they had been hung up for 20 minutes until the tide rescued them and them proceeded to the marina we had just vacated to have there boat dived and checked out. In the end all was good and we expect to actually meet them in person on Saturday.

On our side, we discovered the holding tank was not draining correctly and seemed to be full. We had had some mixups on the correct position of the seacocks, but it was really all in vain. I think the drain is not working at all, as odiferous fluids are streaming out of the air vent.

All in all a splendid day that, while it had its moments of stress, taught us a lot and continued the process of easing into the nautical lifestyle.

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Day Six: Stinky, stinky

I have a mosquito bite on my ass. It started yesterday when I acquired some bites on my foot and heel. I suspected those were exposed bits in the night that fell victim to vampire-squitos. But never did I imagine that merely cooling down my butt would result in such indignities. Have they no shame!

Nevertheless I persevere. I got up this morning and putter around until the High Lord Dr. arose and allowed the day to begin. Coffee, bar and I started to prepare to cast off. In good time L was ready and we cast off and gently backed out of the slip, heading for Madeira Bay and the pump out.

Three or four minutes later we weaved our way into the public dock and tied up on the wharf where the pump-out oughta be. It was a small vertical grey pipe that said ‘No Self Service’. So I wandered into the Harbour masters office to inquire and he said “Broke.”

“Broke?”

“Broke. ”

But… broke broke?”

“Yup. Broke.

“So where…”

“Lund. ”

“Lund?”

“Lund.”

“Um, but our tank is full. And it stinks. And sometimes even I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Heh. Lund.”

“Umm, Westview?”

“Doh know. Maybe.”

“Ok. Thanks.”

“You have a nice day.”

“Yah. Thanks. A stinky day anyway.” Mutter mutter mutter

So we walked the boat off the dock and slowly backed out into the bay. I informed Leslie we were going to Powell River instead of Texada and called Larry at the Cooper base there to let him know we were coming. We brought in the fenders and lines and slowly made our way out of Pender into the Malaspina Strait.

It was a longer trip than we’d planned so we left the sails down and motored for a couple of hours. At one point the winds picked up and were going the right way so we decided to try a bit of sailing. As soon as the sails were up, the wind was down. We stared dejectedly at the luffing sails for a couple of minutes and dropped them back down and motored on.

Something occurred to me and I had Leslie idle the motor and, while we drifted along, I tried plugging the holding tank vent while she vigorously pumped more water into the tank. Logic dictated that something had to give and at worst I would find myself spattered in foul fetid stinky slime. Just like a day at the office and I’ve kinda missed that. After a lot of pumping and pressurizing the system, the blockage in the drain let go and the sea was full of crap. Literally.

And we were happy.

So the plan was back to Sturt Bay on Texada Island and the friendly docks of the Texada Boat Club. I called Larry and let him know. He sounded harried. Apparently the impending circus of 10 strange boats on his dock was stressful. I got the impression he was more than happy not to see me.

A fine day. I stretched out, hat on my face, and baked in the sunlight while L slaved away behind the wheel, ensuring we didn’t run aground in 10 metres of water. And we didn’t. Great job! And a kudos to me for taking a break. Everybody wins.

Eventually around 12:30 the winds picked up to 9-11 knots and we were only and hour away from our destination. So up went the sails again. This time we headed upwind in a close haul and were zippily speeding along at 6 or 7 knots–faster than we had been motoring. Of course we were head 90 degrees away from our goal, but that’s what tacking was invented for.

A few long tacks and we were headed directly into the entrance of Sturt Bay. I tried radioing ahead but got no answer so I phoned instead. They said just pick a place on dock 4 and settle in. So we did. We rigged for docking and I gently backed us in. I think I might be getting the hang of this docking-at-empty-docks-with-no-wind thing. A friendly fellow from a gorgeous, late model 40′ Bavaria gave a hand and we tidied up and coiled the lines.


4h34m 24.9nm

A beer, some cookies and sausage and we relaxed out of the sun for a bit. Then a quick walk around the site and we decided not to walk the hill into town. Better to bask in the sun some more and do some writing and napping.

Tonight’s dinner is BBQ porkchops and tomato salad. I am marinating the chops in something C would be ashamed of me for but c’est la guerre. The Pinot noir rosé was chilled and perfect to begin the cooling down process. Mmmmm. Food.

After dinner was more r&r and talking about the next few days. Then I had a shower. Warm, cool, wet, soapy… Showers are awesome! I feel like 1.25 million bucks (taking into account inflation and market fluctuations). I think we will resort to card games later and close the night off properly with a win for Team Bruce.

We finished the night off with 30 minutes or so on deck watching the sun go down and grudge match crib. Stay tuned for the scores…

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Day Seven: Long day, Short trip

Leslie beat me up. First time this week. I was tired; all that lazing around yesterday wore me out. And I had to get up and secure the banging cabin door after the wind came up last night. Poor Bruce.

At any rate, I got up for coffee with the water pre-hotted and decided to be virtuous and sliced up an apple: blech.

We listened to the weather reports, learned that LA hadn’t won the cup and discovered Katherine Wynne was gay, courtesy of George Takei. I guess we should look at some real news eventually.

Today we have 4nm to go across the Malaspina Strait to Westview (Powell River). Or we could stay put and go tomorrow am. No decisions until the teeth are brushed…

So one of the things we are learning about is the boating community. We got a little of it last year, but there are so many destinations in the Gulf Islands that you didn’t keep running into the same boats over again. Here on the Sunshine Coast most people are going one way or another. We met 3 boats in Secret Cove. One was going back to Vancouver, one we met the next day as we were leaving Pender and they were arriving and one, the Sea Slipper (an old Uniflite), we encounter again in Sturt Bay. Another is a big American Tug we saw in Pender Harbour. Even curmudgeons like us will eventually start talking to these complete strangers like we actually knew them. Mostly about boats and destination. Kinda like chatting to a farmer: the weather, what’s next and what you know more about than the other guy.

Anyway, today we are out in the strait just noodling around.


5h14m 20.5nm

Five hours and fourteen minutes later we headed into Westview. We had tacked, gybed, hove to, close reached, beam reached and reefed. All in all, a successful sailing day in which we got absolutely nowhere not very fast. Winds peaked out about 13 knots and were generally fluctuating between 7 and 10 knots. On either end of our tacks we usually ran into a bit of a wind shadow and the winds would drop to 5 knots and we’d turn around and try again.

It was a great day on the water and I’m glad we had the chance to just sail without having to worry about getting somewhere.

Pulling into South Harbour at Westview to fuel up I had to try and back into the small fuel dock as Ocean Grace (another Broughtons boat–the Catalina 30) was already tied up to the front. While it was eventually successful, it wasn’t pretty. Still, no small cats were harmed during the making of the dockage so I guess I have to be satisfied with that.

After fueling up we called Larry over at Cooper’s slips in North Harbour. I think Larry is still having a bad day. A distinctly unhelpful experience concluded with me just radioing the Harbour master and requesting a slip. He said take a spot anywhere on 4, 5, 6 or 7 to 11. Still not that helpful. But I shall persevere.

Anyway it seem this is a busy spot and rafting (docking to another boat) is common. But never having engaged in that particular maneuver, I wasn’t hot to try now. So we backed up and found a nice end slip on 8, way on the other side of the fuel dock. A long walk from the office and an even longer one from Coopers docks but that’s life in the sailboat lane.

Then the long walk back to the wharfinger’s office and we pay up (only $27/night) and snag the shower key. Good to go! While there I briefly met Dave from R Shack Island. Seems he was smart enough to ask for a slip in North Harbour and they helpfully accommodated him. Turns out I could have been more specific about who our boat was and I too might have been so blessed. Of course Larry never mentioned that to me when I asked for his advice. I’m sure when I actually meet Larry I will find him a perfectly acceptable human being, but right now he seem more of an obstacle to be overcome than a resource to be embraced. Dave’s obviously more canny than I am.

Anyway back at the boat I broke out a beer and L finished the cider she had got a head start on. Pizza was the order of the day so I whipped up some dough and let it rise while I made a sauce. The docks have a ban on bbqs so I was saved that humiliation. C would never have forgiven failure on my part. I fried up two crusts in a pan and popped one in the oven with the requisite sauce, cheese and ham. The other got olive oil, salt, fresh rosemary and garlic and was christened pizza bread. Not bad. But I’ll do better next time… And the wine makes everything better.

After dinner I hit the showers while Chief Pilot La cleaned up. We’ve got enough sauce for pasta so we should be good for at least another meal.

A little quiet time and it should be back to games. Last night Leslie beat me by one point and I need to redeem the honour of Team B.

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