Once more unto the breach

So we are off and running again.

I have chartered a 40′ Beneteau called Baraka Too from our friends atΒ Nanaimo Yacht Charters for a little over two weeks. We will be meeting up with Dave and Margaret from R Shack Island in Nanaimo and the two boats will be traveling together for a while.

At this point we will either go north to Desolation Sound for peace, quiet and nature or head south towards Victoria for a bit more urban, touristy trip.

Desolation Sound is supposed to be beautiful with warm water and secluded anchorages, and without the flotilla, we could do much more exploring and relaxing. On the other hand we might finally be able to make it to Victoria. I contacted the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and if we make a reservation we should be able to find dock space on the Causeway, right across from the Empress Hotel. Leslie and I have stared at those boats many a time back when sailing was just a dream and it would tickle us both to actually be one of them.

There are pros and cons to both but we will wait and see.

For now we will start packing/prepping again and get ready for a new adventure.




Day 1: Waiting… waiting…

Finally we are outta here. It’s not that I don’t like home, but away is so much more… you know… away.

The usually pacing and wandering until it’s time to load up. Over-packed again but what the hell.

A long line at security. Longest I’ve ever seen at yeg. Went fast though. And we boarded promptly. I watched Last Vegas for most of the flight. Mildly humorous but it made me feel damn old. C sat alone one row up and one row over. Or should I say she sat with a stranger. After about 15 minutes of pleasant inane chit chat it turned out the stranger was Mr Zappic… Mr. Zippocol… Mr. Zippeezipperson… Her next door neighbour from the cow field across the fence in Redwater.

Small small world.

Got a note from Dave & Margaret. They are hanging off a mooring buoy off of Newcastle Island. We will meet up tonight after we are settled.

We are going to have a snack/lunch at the airport before heading to the seaplane terminal. We have a couple of hours to burn. C bought a book as a treat for herself while L and I chilled and tried to look cool. I think we succeeded. Mostly.

A quick taxi ride and another wait and eventually we met Ryan, our pilot for the short hop to Nanaimo. I was initially disappointed because it looked like we were flying in a Cessna, but it turns out it was actually a Turbo Beaver. These are Beavers that have undergone a conversion to add a more powerful turbo engine and some airframe modifications to make them longer and fit in one more row of seats.

Flying over the channel the weather looks good so hopefully we will get some sailing in. It’s a short flight of barely more than 15 minutes but it sure is convenient.

So we were met at the Seair dock, driven the short distance to the marina and hopped on our boat: the Baraka Too. I headed up to do paperwork and grab charts and then Ian came down to walk us through the boat. Eventually we were as set as we ever were going to be and we headed for the courtesy car and groceries.

We picked up supplies at the Save On and some liquor and motored back down to the docks. Meanwhile R Shack texted that the mooring buoys were full up. Rather than fussing with anchoring in the busy bay, we decided to stay at the marina for the night and dinghy over to the dock.

Eventually all the ducks were in a row aboard, or as in a row as we were gonna manage and we piled into the dinghy and set off. This dinghy was everything that Stupid Dinghy wasn’t: stable, roomy, and easy to get the outboard on. It won’t row worth a crap but at least we won’t fear for our lives (or at least our sanity) every time we board.

Dave and Margaret were already at the Dinghy Dock Pub and we settled in for some beer. C and I had Dunkel on tap–how great is that? Halibut and chips was the special so we all ordered that except for L, who opted for chowder. Then it turned out they were out of halibut πŸ™ Most switched to cod, but I bailed and had a steak sandwich.

After a bit of discussion we settled on Desolation Sound as our destination and then visited while we ate. Dinghy Dock Pub is literally a pub on a dinghy dock so we watched the boats float by, stared at the sun setting over the Island and listened to overly loud music.

It was a late start so the sun was well on its way down when I pulled the plug and said it was time to go. Dave had a handy-dandy red/green flashlight with an extra white for a stern light that he lent us for the motor home so we were legal as we made our way down the channel to the marina.

Back on board we unpacked a bit more, tried to settle in and hit the hay.

Tomorrow we start!




Day 2: Off We Go Into The …

World’s worst sleep. World’s worst pillow. The Shearwater had the world’s best pillow, God’s gift to pillows it was… and we are being punished for worshipping a false pillow god.

So I got up when I heard stirring in the salon. C headed out for a shower and I had coffee. No one had boiled any hot water for me. Just saying. When she got back I also headed up to the showers. The day had begun.

Eventually L crawled out and we were ready to rock and roll. We puttered around and then decided to go out and try the sails before R Shack was ready to go. I forgot to check the prevailing wind and we left C on the dock with the midship line. Literally. I told we would swing around and catch her on the other side of the docks. Oops.

The 40′ is a bit more of a pig than Shearwater was. The wind blows her around and I had to try twice to get her to the dock to pick up C. But in the end we got ‘er done. Down the channel we motored. Passing the mooring buoys we saw R Shack Island was still moored up and moments later I got a text saying they were about 20 minutes behind schedule. We headed off towards Gabriola to see if we could sail this thing.

Turns out we could. Badly. Well not that badly, but badly enough to gently bruise my easily bruised ego. We got a couple of tacks in but the sidecars were way too forward and the jib kept getting caught in the shrouds. After C moved them aft, it was a bit easier.

Then the main jammed when we were trying to furl it. This involved trying to sail into the wind (toward the rocks) and sending crew forward to decipher the various lines, blocks, gears and pulleys. Eventually we figured out the furling line had jumped a gear in the windi-up-thingee. A bit of brute force and we fixed that right up.

We also fought with the jib roller furler as the furling line runs through a lot of blocks and, unlike the Shearwater, is impossible to furl by hand. But… live and learn.

We got everything settled down just as R Shack emerged from the harbor so we let them pass us and settled in for a nice run across the strait. The winds were SE at … oh ya, this boat has no wind speed gauge. Major annoying as it takes a whole new way of looking at making decisions.

We motored for 15 or 20 minutes until we were past the last islets and then raised the sails and headed for Secret Cove. Actually we were headed more for Sechelt but that’s sailing for you.

We got in a couple of hours but eventually we weren’t doing better than 2.1 knots and I pulled the plug and fired up the motor. R Shack was miles ahead with their Code zero sail, which really shines in a beam reach. We cut the corner and met up with them again close to Merry Island.

A fairly quick transit up Welcome Passage and we fell back to let R Shack lead the way into the south arm of Secret Cove where we were going to anchor.

[flexiblemap src=”http://macblaze.ca/kmz/2014-1.kml”]
6h35m 29.3nm

Once on the hook, everyone breathed a collective sigh and we started to relax. Dave rowed over with a few beers to share so we kicked back and gossiped for a bit before supper. Tomorrow is going to be Pender Harbour as R Shack needs to pick some stuff up and we might as well have a nice short day after today.

Eventually Dave needed to go home and we had a marinating flat chicken screaming for the BBQ. Unfortunately the BBQ wasn’t cooperating. After a bunch of fussing C abandoned the poor thing and headed for the preheated oven. Why was the oven preheated? I think it was because C never intended to use the BBQ in the first place and deliberately sabotaged it. Why would she do that? Because she wasn’t ravenous and wanted to save the best meal of the trip for when she was especially hungry.

But fate intervened! The frypan-seared, oven-roasted chicken was beyond fabulous. And in the end even the sneaky, devious mind of El Diablo Carmeno could not keep a good Sunday chicken down.

Meanwhile I fiddled with the BBQ wasting gas and concluded that either the bottle must be low or we just needed more patience as eventually the stubborn thing started to heat up. Eventually as in after 15 minutes. Live and learn.

Dinner was delish but I was bagged. The bad sleep caught up with me and I begged to be allowed to go to bed at 8:30. But the wicked sisters denied me and I was forced to lie on the bench and ‘participate’ in chitchat. At least my feet were warm πŸ˜‰

Somewhere around 9:30 they finally relented and I shuffled off to bed. Carmen, tired of my incessant whining and desirous of a less groggy Bruce on the morrow, offered up one of her pillows as an offering. I snatched it up.

It was so good.

It was so good I actually dragged my half-asleep ass out of bed again to thank her. It was so good. I am never gonna f*ck with the pillow gods again.





Day 3: Finnegan, Begin Again

A much better sleep.

Up around 7:30, I grabbed some coffee from the, thankfully, heated water and joined C in the cockpit to drink and enjoy the silence.

45 minutes or so later the sun disappeared and the wind came up so we headed back in. I made some oh so tasty raisin bread toast and she went off to do mysterious non-boy things in her cabin. I finished breakfast and tried the heater while doing some writing but it counter-productively kept blowing cold air. Eventually I read the manual. Huh. Takes up to 20 minutes to heat up. Huh.

Soon enough the Dr was heard stirring and we got ready to start the day. Strawberries and raisin bread toast for her along with her milky tea and the morning was… Wait a minute! C went back to bed! What the hell kind of a morning is this? Like herding cats for the love of Mike…whoever the hell Mike is.

The south arm here at Secret Cove is home to an outport of the RVYC (Royal Vancouver Yacht Club). The boats aren’t as luxurious as you would think. But I guess after paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for the privilege of docking their boat in Vancouver, they haven’t got enough left to buy a truly bodacious boat. Still, I’m not knocking them. At least they have boats.

Dave was saying they have some truly silly rules. Like when he was here buddy boating with some friends who were members, he wasn’t allowed to tie up to the dock. Only if he took his dinghy to their boat and then stepped on to the dock was he considered a ‘guest’ and be made welcome. But I guess if they don’t guard their privileges zealously then they will soon cease to be privileges.

Somewhere around 10:30, Dave called and said they were 20 minutes away so we tackled the anchor weighing. The anchor locker in this boat doesn’t like the chain so it takes time and effort to get going without jamming the windlass. But soon we were motoring our way out of the narrow channel from south arm.

Out in the Malaspina strait we motored along for a while getting our sea legs while R Shack Island raised sails and started criss-crossing the strait. After a while we raised our sails and slotted in behind on a beam reach. We were only going to Pender so it’s not a long day.

As we started motoring we noticed the speed gauge wasn’t working. This was most likely the impeller was fouled with debris so we decided to pull it and clean it off. This involved pulling the thru-hull and quickly shoving a bung through the hole to stop water from coming in. Then clean the impeller and reversing the process. During this process water is pouring through the hole into the bilge. A bit nerve-racking. Carmen, unfortunately, got splurched in the process. Seawater everywhere. Some might say I made her wet. But I wouldn’t. Nope.

After a last minute attempt at wing on wing we finally called it a day and dropped our sails. Leslie motored us into Pender following R Shack and I refreshed C on her bowlines and fenders. Then I took over the helm and we docked (mostly successfully) on the dock of Sunshine Coast Resort marina. Awesome place.

[flexiblemap src=”http://macblaze.ca/kmz/2014-2.kml”]
3h32m 14.4nm

All docked up, it was time for lunch and a beer. Unfortunately it seems the milk had taken a header in the fridge and we had a huge, smelly mess to clean up first. Sigh. Then C went for a walk and we chowed down.

After lunch we chatted a bit then hit the dinghy to motor over to Madiera to walk around the townsite. We picked up some more milk, some paper towel and a few J Cloths. Dave and Margaret were there as well and we stopped and chatted. Then we wandered back to the dinghy and headed over to Garden Bay to explore before heading back to the boat.

Back home C set the potatoes to boil and we split a bottle of Creepy Uncle Dunkel. Seriously, what a great name for a beer. We took our glasses over to R Shack and spent an hour or two chatting and drinking. There was some discussion of Princess Louisa Inlet, but it’s a long haul and a multiple-day commitment. We decided on Sturt Bay and the Texada Boat Club for tomorrow.

Back on the Baraka Too we continued our “love” affair with the BBQ before giving up again and frying our fresh salmon filet. Carmen did something magical to the boiled potatoes and it was a great great meal.

We cleaned up and I headed for a shower. Clean and tidy I rejoined the crew and wrote while they talked wine and chicken and stuff.

A great day…






Day 4: Settling In

W00t, I slept in till 8!

I started the water and tried the heater again. I know, I know…stubborn.

I’ve collected two mosquito bites: one on my right wrist (itchy) and one on my right foot (itchier). I am hoping to avoid the superlative. Other than that it was a good sleep; best I’ve had aboard so far.

Today is Sturt Bay. I haven’t listened to the weather so I’m not sure if the sails are going up or not. Yesterday L did all the sailing whilst I played the sail trim game with C. As usual she won and crushed. I think I have a tendency to want to crank things in when her tendency to be looser (or is that loose?) is the better choice. Regardless, she got us almost an extra knot out of the available wind. Beginners luck or just typical Carmen win-and-crush?

We are starting to get a handle on the Baraka Too. One big plus for owning a boat would be that you would learn it and then get better, rather than having to learn a new boat every time. I think if we ever hit on a great charter boat we will have to stick with it.

Yesterday as we cruised back from Madeira, I circled close to a two-masted wooden ship that was simply beautiful. Her master was out on the foredeck and I threw him a nod before concentrating on not hitting anything. Apparently he gestured to Carmen and Leslie and indicated that I had two girls, which was one too many, and that I should relinquish the spare. As Leslie was the only one privy to this conversation (Carmen’s back was to him) I will take it on on faith, but she sure had an odd smile on her face. I’m not sure who she was really trying to barter away…

I just realized that it’s only 8 now. Apparently my eReader didn’t adjust for the time change and I really got up at quarter to seven. Oh well, I’ll try again tomorrow.

The Sunshine Coast Resort is a collection of six or so buildings with a marina. Family run mostly by a German expatriate named Ralph, it has a sauna, hottub, showers laundry and more. The only real downside is that it’s built on a hill so you get your cardio whenever you venture off the dock. But this is the second “little secret” we’ve gotten from tagging along behind R Shack and I hope there are many more to come. It’s always great when you find these things on your own but serendipity will only take you so far.

We cast off around 10:30 with expected winds of 10-15 knots. A slow motor out of Pender Harbour and then the southeasterly wind picked up and the 4-6 foot swells on our beam made the ride… well… more amusement parkish. Once past the islands and rocks guarding the harbour we unfurled the genoa and were sailing at 6 knots on the one sail. Eventually the speed dropped to 4.5-5 knots but the swells kept coming.

Eventually R Shack switched from their jib to their code 0 and they started reeling us in. They and another sailboat soon passed us and we struggled valiantly with our sail trim trying to catch up to no avail. Luckily for us the winds kept dying and when our SOG hit 2 knots we fired up the engine and motored back into the lead. And it didn’t take too much longer for those two to drop their sails as well, totally justifying our decision.

About an hour later we turned into Sturt Bay and backed into a slip on dock 4 of the Texada Boat Club. It was a classic bodacious docking right up to the point the wind shifted and the bow swung towards the fancy-ass Bavaria 40 on dock 3. A little power and she snapped back into line but my heart did in fact go pitter pat.

Speaking of the Bavaria, it’s the same boat we saw last time we were here. I think they’re following us.

[flexiblemap src=”http://macblaze.ca/kmz/2014-3.kml”]
5h04m 23.6nm

R Shack followed us in about 15 minutes later and we settled in and put the boats to bed. A bit of chat, a bit of beer and some Doritos and we sat back to enjoy the day.

As an aside, Dave mentioned he saw a pod of orcas feeding just outside Pender Harbour. But our radio was not turned up loud enough and we missed the call. Sigh.

I chatted a bit with a couple from Portland, Oregon. They sailed up here along the Washington coast and up the strait. Now they are working their way back home.

We joined Dave and Margaret and headed up into town for dinner at the hotel. Classic small town. The food was fine although I should have forgone the salad for the more traditional fries. We talked and relaxed and then headed back to the docks for a nightcap. The beer / water split was exactly along gender lines. Not sure what that implies.

The lovely dock I chose seems to have a squeak issue. The join where the two docks meet (incidentally right where Carmen’s head will be when she’s sleeping) is currently rubbing in a loud obnoxious way. So loud in fact that conversation was fairly difficult. So loud in fact that Dave says Margaret invites Carmen to sleep the night in their stern cabin. Of course I don’t trust Dave. I think he just finished reading the blog post about the most excellent chicken ever and is trying to recruit her. Or it could be they are just lovely people. Or they are sneaky & lovely people who like great chicken and are good at killing two birds with one stone. But she’s staying with us.

The sun is setting with a beautiful red tinge and we are winding down. Tomorrow is Grace Harbour and stern tying for a night or two.





Day 5: Bound for Grace

7:15 I awoke and emerged from the cabin

7:18 Carmen made her first dirty joke

But at least the water was half boiled before she did it.

It was calm night and eventually even the squeaking died off to nothing. Breakfast is raisin toast. C is having mushy oatmeal with blueberries. She made me toast and only burnt one side of one piece. That’s a 84% success ratio. Not bad for a beginner. When Leslie got up C made her toast too and I think she finally managed 100%.

I had a shower aboard. The head in the bow is roomy and spacious. Best boat shower so far.

We dock-chatted for a bit and started to prep to take off. The wind is gone so it looks like smooth motoring, at least to start.

R Shack cast off and we followed suit and we headed up the Malaspina Strait finally on our way to Desolation Sound. A bit later R Shack spotted a couple of dolphins and we throttled back to gawk. So far so good.

After a bit C took the wheel and proved, once again, she’s good at everything. Her technique was a bit odd though as she kept standing in her tippy-toes and rubbing her head on the bimini. At one point I heard a muffled laugh and she exclaimed “It’s my hair-caught-in-the-zipper holiday!” I think she was trying to be dirty, but I’m too sheltered to get some of her more outrageous innuendo. {blink-blink}

About an hour and a half in Dave called back and teased me with the hope of wind. The winds have shifted to North-West so if they do pick up it will be a nice close-haul and we can have some fun.

We decided to make up some dough for flatbread before we set sail. Unfortunately for me as soon as we started mixing dough Dave called back and declared the wind more of a figment of his hopeful imagination than anything one could actually sail by. But we made the dough anyway.

It’s started to rain. More mist actually. Weird thing about this boat is that although it has a bimini, the rain seems to find its way to every spot except the helm. Lots of seals today but so far no whales. We are adjusting our expectations laterally and now calling for bears. I think. We have a good chance.

{to be continued}

Day 5 Part Two

The first part of the blog entry is going to post automatically tonight but there is no cell service here in Grace Harbour. That means this second part will not go up for a few days, after we leave.

Seems between the condensation and a incorrectly secured hatch we have a few wet spots here and there. I stripped our bed (where the slightly open hatch was) and hung everything as best I could to try and dry things out. Hopefully it’ll be good by bed time.

The rain increased as we rounded Malaspina Peninsula and we weaved our way through islets and islands. R Shack dropped their main and we passed them and led the way into Grace Harbour. All the books say stern tying is recommended but as we entered the harbour most boats were anchored in the middle. Rebels that we are, we decided to stick with the original plan and scoped out a likely tree.

We dropped our anchor and backed towards shore. Leslie manned the helm while Bobo the Sailing Clown and I fought over the oars and steered the dinghy crookedly towards the wrong shore. Eventually we figured it out and crawled along the rocky shore to “our” tree. A loop around the tree and we attempted to bring the stern line back to the boat.

Nope. Not long enough.

Plan B involved heading back to shore and just tying off to a tree. Eventually we got the boat tied off, while Leslie steered the stern into the tree and we pulled ourselves back to the boat along our stern line. Success.

And thankfully the rain had all but disappeared making the preceding maneuvers much, much easier. Beside us R Shack was doing the same thing thing with a little less comedy, although they had a few good ones. I especially liked the one where neither of them tied off the dinghy and it floated away.

[flexiblemap src=”http://macblaze.ca/kmz/2014-4.kml”]
5h09m 26.9nm

Back on board we doffed all our rain gear as the rain had stopped altogether. I was standing in the dinghy adjusting the oars when Carmen’s mental powers filled me with the urge to jump in the water. So I did. Warm for 2 feet then cold underneath. Fun though. Carmen looked on jealously but, unusually for her, couldn’t commit. After I crawled up the transom I took off my rain pants and tried to shame her into it. Eventually I succeeded and over we went. Ta-da!

After we were back aboard we semi-dripped in the cockpit and C headed below to get help with her pants. I wasn’t invited. Leslie passed up my warm fleece pants and a towel and I changed before heading down.

All dried off and changed, we met again in the cockpit over beer and cider. We called the neighbors and Dave rowed over to join us. At which point the rain started again and didn’t stop until the wee hours of the morning.

After a few beer, Dave rowed home in the rain and I sat in the salon watching Carmen make dinner. We had invited R Shack over for pork loin so it was time to get at it.

Cooking with two small burners is not the easiest thing in the world. Especially if the pan is so big you can only use one burner at a time. And there are very, very few serving bowls aboard. But in the end, flatbread with garlic and oregano, a lovely romaine salad, pasta with mushrooms and onions and tasty, juicy loin was served in several courses. Coupled with a couple bottles of wine and some very pleasant company, it was a loverly evening.

Dave and Margaret rowed back in the rain and dark and we descended to wash dishes and clean up. Then we crashed on the settees to wind down before hitting the sack.

Good day.


Day 6: Boating in Place

I slept in! By sheer determination and force of will I didn’t emerge from my cabin until nearly 9. Some coffee, some toast and jam, and I caught up in the blog entries.

Last night was okay although the drip of condensation from the overhead hatch that hit my shoulder at random intervals was annoying. But I survived in a rough-and-ready, manly-type way. It’s just who I am.

While Dr. L(ove) was getting up and around I took C out for Dinghy 101. We practiced forwards, backwards and beaching. I give her a B- . She mostly lost marks for talking over the teacher.

After we got back we collected L and headed for the oyster beach that was currently sitting at a full low tide. For an hour or so we crawled over the rocks and splurched through the mud exploring. We saw oysters and mussels, baby clams and baby halibut, granite and more granite, and lichens and mosses. One of the lichens was pale, long and spongy, like, as Carmen wittily remarked, a Woodland Afro. Huh.

While scrambling along the barnacle encrusted granite I mentioned to Leslie how is was odd that I had worn these pants for several days on the preceding trip without noticing the Velcro enclosure on the front pocket.

After a million pictures and a ton of exploration, Dave and Margaret arrived in their dinghy and we explored some more. Coastal life really is infinitely fascinating. Dave wanted to cruise up Lancelot Inlet to find Isabel Bay and check out anchorages there, so we decided to tag along. We motored in the dinghy out of Grace Harbour, gawking at boats and oohing and awwing at the lovely homes built along the edges of the shore. There is a section or two of land here in Desolation Sound Marine Park that is still private land and the homes built here are all phenomenal.

After we had cruised the coastline at idle we decided to turn back, but before we did I let Dave know that Carmen had been good and needed to open her up. So while they trailed along behind, C wound up the 4 hp and preceded to do some doughnuts and high-speed turns. At one point more backwash was coming over the transom than I could bail, and we managed to fill the boat with enough water to wash some of the mud from our walk.

Coming back L took over the stick and had to learn how to use an outboard all over again. Eventually she straightened herself out and we throttled up to zoom home at half speed.

Back at the boat we put away all the drying that had been festooning the boat and had a drink. Dave rowed over to join and we chatted and decided on a rough agenda for the coming days. Tomorrow is Refuge Cove for supplies and so L can call her Dad for his 70th. We’d like to hit Roscoe Cove, Gorge Harbour and Lund over the next week as well. Should all be doable.

As Dave was leaving I got up to untie his painter for him and Carmen asked out loud if my pants were on backwards. I would have thought it a highly impertinent question except it turns out they were. Seems I don’t have Velcro enclosures on my front pockets after all.

After a bit Dave rowed away and we fired up the engine for some hot water. I made pancakes while C had a shower and we sat down to enjoy a white Zin with our dinner:

Leslie: pancakes with white sugar
Bruce: pancakes with butter (lots) and blueberry syrup (lots more)
Carmen: pancakes with peanut butter and raspberry jam

Mmmmmmm, pancakes.

After dinner they washed up and I watched the glassy water and wrote for a bit. A good, good day.

A bit later I rowed/motored over to the spot where the oyster beach had been. Completely under water now. A brief tour of the harbour and we put up the motor in the stern and sat and enjoyed the cooling evening air with a drink and some candles in the cockpit.






Day 7: Seeking Refuge

Up a bit earlier to make ready and we were in the dinghy fetching the stern line by 8. Dave and Margaret’s smooth working machine had them off anchor and circling before we even got to the bow but we put our heads down and got’er done. We blame it in the anchor locker which needs a lot if tlc to work correctly.

We motored up and out of the harbour and into Okeover inlet. We wove our way around the rocks and islets and out into Desolation Dound proper. Across the Sound we went and a mere hour later we were pulling into Refuge Cove; a nice short day. . I had a shower while we crossed and cleaned up the heads and when I emerged again we were almost there.

There were three boats coming into Refuge including us. I took I ver the helm and we slept another sail boat slot between us and R Shack Island. As we slowly approaches the docks at the far end of the cove we tries to see if there were any open spots. It looked pretty full.

Dave dived into a spot that had just been vacated by a trawler while we circled and waited. Eventually Dave tied up and spied out a spot at the end of one if the fingers behind an aluminum skiff and we motored in at 90 degree angle to the dock. Just as I eased the 40′ boat into the 44′ foot space, the skiff behind pulled out. Should have been more patient. Still, I need the practice. The trawler in front of us was due to leave in an hour so we walked the boat back to where the skiff had been and left room at our bow.

We tied up and tidied up and then proceeded to watch the show. Refuge Cove offers 4 hour courtesy tie-ups. This means lots of people come in to fill their tanks, wash their clothes or have a shower–or all three–before scooting off again. So it’s a revolving door of boats coming and going.

[flexiblemap src=”http://macblaze.ca/kmz/2014-5.kml”]
2h02m 8.3nm

We have had three neighbours off our bow so far, although I think the latest is here to stay.

We wandered up to the store to settle up and I grabbed some emergency beer. We will look for groceries later. We checked out the book store and gallery then C & L headed down to bake buns for dinner.

Like I said, most of the afternoon was spent watching boats and the docking shenanigans. The Refuge Cove coop owns the docks but there is no wharfinger, so it really is catch-as-catch-can and sometimes it can be quite hilarious as boats come and go throughout the day, jockeying for position and measuring up spaces between boats.

Soon enough the Pan O’Buns was all dones and we sat in the cockpit with fresh, warm buns and butter and … Oh yeah… with… with mustard. Some of us apparently like fresh-from-the-oven buns with mustard. Yes. Mustard. No judgement. But… mustard. Still, however they were prepared, they were delicious anyway.

After buns we headed up to the cafe and had lunch. D & M were just leaving, but he bought us a loverly welcome-to-Refuge-Cove gift of fresh baked cinnamon buns. I had a burger, C went for tomato soup and L stuck with the bun. And even more boat watching ensued.

After a while Dave came back to scope out the laundry availability and we planned out the next few days. Unfortunately for him, he soon forgot the primary mission of laundry-scopage and Margaret was forced to come up and do it for herself. Men…just not reliable when there are pretty boats around…

We’ve settled on Okeover Inlet and the public dock there for our ultimate destination tomorrow. It’s a bit of backtracking, but we are hoping to do some sailing. We have reservations at the Laughing Oyster there courtesy of Dave. Dave likes things booked in advance if at all possible and I can’t say I fault him for that. Just seems sensible if’n ya ask me.

We also now have reservations for the marina at Gorge Harbour for the 31st and dinner there as well. That gives us almost a week to get there.

Afterwards some more wandering, some more visiting and then a visit to the store for some supplies. Back at Baraka Too, C went for a rest and the good Doctor and I went to R Shack for a beer/cider sociable. We< /i> had a great visit, but sadly C attracted the attention of Bob and his wife and was soon ensconced in some serious sharing time with the older couple in the neighboring boat. She did learn a lot about what was horseshit (most of what everyone else thought), and what was not (most of what Bob knew), but didn’t get much quiet time.

Around 6:30 we returned to find her burrowed below in her cabin and eager to share her newfound, non-horseshit knowledge. I guess Mr. and Mrs Bob left an impression.

So we made supper. Hot dogs on homemade buns with roulette Doritos (every 5th one was super spicy-hot–stupidest idea in the universe) and a nice merlot.

The sun has been hot most of the afternoon but it is cooling down quick as C and I sit in the cockpit and watch the sun slowly set. Eventually al joins us until the shivering becomes uncontrollable. Tomorrow is just around the corner.






Day 8: No Fair, Yours is Bigger

I was first up. Hot water and, since it was pretty nice, coffee in the cockpit. Today was a slower morning with lots of Harbour-watching and meandering. I headed up for a shower and started the day refreshed and clean.

We filled up the jerry can for the dinghy with gas and topped up the forward water tank. We still haven’t had to switch to the rear tank so either we’ve been conserving, this thing has monster-big tanks or both.

Soon enough everyone was ready so we fetched Dave to help cast off and smoothly slipped off the dock and motored down the finger. Well, at least that’s how it was supposed to go. In actuality, my brilliant plan of springing the bow off stalled at about 30 degrees and I hung there. Trying to go forward with the wheel turned just took me into the boat in front of us. Eventually Dave, Bob and another helpful soul grabbed the bow and we reversed it out, essentially using a 3-man spring system to muscle the stern out. Worked.

I had forgotten two things. First the wind was pushing us on the dock and the bow is a lot harder to turn into the wind than he stern. And second, if I had rigged the spring line off the bow, the natural curve of the forward part of the hull would have given me much more angle to play with. Live and learn, live and learn.

At this point I got so busy the rest of the day that I didn’t write a single other thing. So now I am sitting in the morning sun, drinking my coffee and reviewing what was a great day.

We motored out of Refuge Cove at slow speed and Carmen took the helm. After about 15 or 20 minutes R Shack Island caught up and radioed the winds were 8-10 knots. C was into it so we raised sail and headed south-ish on a close haul.

A few tacks later we attempted to go around Kinghorn Island, but the winds started to die so we gybed and started back east-ish. The winds picked up for a bit but started to die again and R Shack radioed back to see not whether it was time to drop sail. A quick vote showed our sailing spirit and we (Carmen) sailed for almost another hour in light variable winds. Great fun.

The sun was out and we were slathered with sunscreen, but there were still a few red noses at the end of the trip. And the clouds were simply beautiful: scalloped fringes arrayed on a blue, blue satin cloth.

Eventually it was time to bring in the sails and head down Okeover Inlet. I took over the helm and we motored once again through the maze of rocks, shoals and islets. Carmen spotted what we guess to be a seal wrestling with a salmon. 4 or 5 big splashes and then nothing.

We passed the entrance to Grace Harbour and were on our way to Isabel Bay for that look-see Dave had wanted. As we passed the point where Carmen had gleefully been doing doughnuts in the dinghy I threw the wheel hard over and showed her how it was done. This was the point she exclaimed “No fair! Yours is bigger.”

I think she was trying to be dirty again.

I think our antic-filled maneuvering made Dave nervous because he radioed that we should skip Isabel Bay and head straight for the government dock further down the inlet, which was our final destination.

Actually Dave gets as antsy as I do about having a firm destination and since the government docks are usually small and don’t take any kind of reservation, it just made sense not to leave it too long. Turns out though, this particular dock is huge. A long, wide L-shape that sits high in the water, it had a couple of obvious spaces on the outside and quite a few on the inside.

I brought the Baraka Too around the breakwater and smoothly to the end of the dock (I had taken the easy spot). I think I might have this boat dialed in … knock on wood.

I walked up to give R Shack a hand with her lines and soon we were all tied up and set for the night.

[flexiblemap src=”http://macblaze.ca/kmz/2014-6.kml”]
4h46m 16.7nm

We decided some exploring was in order so we mounted the motor in the dinghy and zoomed off with C in charge. Dave and Margaret opted for a cold beer on a hot day in the cool shade.

Across the inlet we found a rock beach and Cap’n C zoomed us ashore. We pulled the dinghy up on the rocks and tied it off as best we could to a bigger rock. Over the course of the hour or so we were there I had to head back to the boat and pull it up higher out of the rising tide several times. Tides rise fast!

I headed for a big log under a shady tree while the others headed up beach exploring. The granite sand comes in multiple sizes here from half-inch pebbles down to millimeter-sized grains. Mix in shell fragments and you have lovely, lovely colours and textures.

After cooling down I walked down the beach and found oyster gardens where some enterprising soul had arranged the rocks to create a protected little haven for the delicious shellfish to grow. As I turned back to find the others and show them my discovery, I discovered instead they had disappeared. I was pretty sure even they couldn’t have managed to both drown on a beach, so that left bears, cougars or psycho mountain men.

With a heavy sigh I started making my way down the cobbley beach eyeing the nooks and crannies for torn clothes or random body parts. I passed the dinghy and hauled it up again and kept going. A couple of hundred yards further down I spotted a leg dangling from a tree on the shore and swung inland. As I got closer I discover that C and L were in fact sitting on a big log between two rocks under a huge maple. They had named it May. The tree, not the log. Naming a log would be silly.

Oblivious to my distress they chatted on about rusty cables, pretty rocks and a snake. I opined that snakes were fine, but only at a 7-foot distance. After a bit of a rest we wandered back to my garden discovery and what should happen but a snake magically appeared right under my feet and slithered like a racing pro for the bigger boulders higher up the shore. I didn’t scream, but some incomprehensible noise did come from somewhere in the vicinity of my head.

Soon enough we piled back into the dinghy and I pushed us off. I had to, because Carmen already had it in reverse and was fully prepared to leave me behind. We cruised by some vertical granite cliffs and spotted what may or may not have been a petroglyph.

Somewhere around there the call of the cold beer rang out across the inlet and we steered into it and revved ‘er up. As we approached our boat, C decided to attempt the extremely difficult and dangerous maneuver of bringing the boat in beam-on to the transom. I had been practicing all week to no avail and I closed my eyes in anticipation of the train wreck about to occur. Dinghy-meister. That’s all I can say. Sigh.

We slurped down two ice cold ones and a scarfed a bag of bugles. Then it was time to clean up for our 6:30 reservation at the Laughing Oyster. Dave and Margaret beat us and wandered down to our boat. I chatted with them while we waited for the girls to ‘refresh’ themselves.

Dinner was lovely and the view spectacular, even more so as the sun began to set. We closed the place down with a couple of bottles of Riesling and some delicious deserts. It was a fine, fine evening.

Carmen and Margaret continued a prior discussion in which I learned that Margaret’s mother had been raised in Thorhild, which is where Carmen’s mother had been raised. Different generations so they might not have met but the family names should be familiar to each other. The Logie family was Margaret’s family.

At last we walked back to the boats in the last of the failing light and tucked into bed soon after.