Charter Season Update

This is an autopost from but it still counts as a post 🙂


Last year I did a roundup of our first charter season so I thought I would briefly follow up again this year.

Disclaimer: I am a notorious “rounder” of numbers and the most incompetent accountant I know. None of this is intended to provide any more than a reasonably forthright account of how I view our financial outcomes. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Year 2

We originally booked Never for Ever for ourselves for all of April, May and June but a late booking was requested for mid-June which we agreed on. So we boarded our boat on April 20 and had it back in Nanaimo for her first charter by June 16.

I did return to the boat in October for a short week-long cruise with some friends, so all in all we used the boat for a total of ten and a half weeks.

The boat was in good shape when we showed up in April. The canvas over the arch hadn’t been removed (by agreement and due to poor design) over the winter so it was pretty cruddy. A bunch of the kitchenware had changed or been substituted and one of the winch handles was missing (which NYCSS promptly replaced). The only major irritant (and it was pretty minor) was our perfectly-sized dish rack was missing. It took us a month to find another —and it went into storage at the end of our season.

The dinghy painter was worn out so I replaced it and also replaced a few of the lines on fenders. We also had to hunt for a few things like the regulator knob off the BBQ and some of the canvas panels for the enclosure. All that stuff had been stripped and stored for the winter. There is more on this in my previous post called Whose Boat Is It?

The Numbers 2017

Weeks Net Income
1 $1600
2 $2500
1 $1700
1 $1700
1 $1400
1 $900
1 $1600
1 $1600

Overall we had the same number of weeks chartered as 2016 and basically the same revenue. The big difference this year was in costs.

Trace and repair small leaks
 Windlass repair
Fire extinguishers certified
Ports & Passes 2017
Spring prep  
Tow and replace Engine Mounts
Turn around (cleaning), new chain
Moorage, insurance & locker rental
Misc: thermocouple, light, small leak
Leaks, sail repair

The costs were up almost  $8000 from last year. There were 3 major factors: I had the windlass rebuilt over the winter as the seal had corroded and it was leaking into the vberth; I replaced the chain  and I had that little incident with running over the dinghy painter and wrecking my motor mounts. That last little screwup cost me over $4000 and any hope of breaking even.

After it was all counted and totted up, I wrote out a a pretty hefty cheque. I have to admit it hurt a little bit since we weren’t expecting it. But then again I guess we got 10 weeks of sailing for less than $500/week so I really shouldn’t complain.

Next Year

We’ve already got 2 weeks booked for 2018 (one is at the end of May, which is a bummer). I don’t know how much we will get out this year as we are currently considering a series of shorter trips rather than one, big, long one. But so far there has been no talk of selling the boat (except when I start dreaming of a new one) and for us, putting the boat in charter has definitely been a good decision.
—Bruce #Charter

Spring 2017 Roundup

April 20–June 16

Well, we are back from our first—and likely only—cruise this year. And I think I can safely say it was a success. We saw some new anchorages, hiked some new trails, met some new people, had some great sails (and finally some good downwind ones) and learned quite a few things.

Quick Numbers

  • 58 days
  • 8 (-ish) weeks
  • 434.8 nm (805.3 km) travelled
  • 26 days traveling
  • 8 marinas visited
  • 20 nights in a marina (only 8 were paid for—the other nights were in our home berth)
  • 33 nights at anchor
  • 5 nights on the hard
  • 0 nights on a mooring ball
  • 7 new anchorages visited
  • 5 popular Desolation Sound anchorages that we had to ourselves
  • 1 new marina visited
  • 120′ of new G4 chain
  • 4 new motor mounts
  • 2 pieces of teak refinished
  • 0 whales, dolphins or any other large sea mammals 🙁
  • 681 images captures
  • 333 film clips (62 gigabytes of files)

Our Summary

We had so wanted to make it back to the Broughtons, but after talking to a few of the marinas up there about services in April, and the fact that Leslie was going to break up our trip by flying to YYZ at the end of May, we decided to limit our trip to Desolation Sound. And it was magnificent. Over and over again we had popular places like Smuggler Cove, Garden Bay, Laura Cove, Squirrel Cove and Teakerne Arm all to ourselves. For the first 25 days our definition of a busy anchorage was 4 boats. And when we headed south in mid-May you could see the stream of bigger boats heading north and we smirked in self-satisfaction.

Sure there was rain. And cold. But on average we saw some blue sky every second day and there were always times we could go for a hike or walk without being poured on. We quickly settled into a 13° C rule (55° F). If the temperature in the cabin was 13° or lower when we (I) crawled out of the berth, then we fired up the Webasto diesel heater. If it was 14° (60°F) or higher, we just boiled water for tea and toughed it out with blankets.

And the weather meant we moved a bit more than previous trips since there was less lolling around in the sun. In the past we have tended to try to stay 4 nights and max out our battery capacity before heading to a marina to do a bulk recharge. But since we were only staying in anchorages 2-3 nights, generally the couple of hours engine time going from one anchorage to another was enough to recharge the batteries sufficiently to keep ahead of the dreaded 50%-discharged level. And that saved us tons of marina fees.

The only downside of the trip was we when we both caught colds and discovered that rain + colds + wilderness anchorages = misery. So we spent a few unnecessary days tied up at an off-season resort (cheap!) and pampered ourselves with unlimited heat and hot showers.

And we had some great sails. Maybe not as many as we had expected, but it was nice to sail in moderate winds for once. It seems too often on this boat, we have sailed in light winds or reefed down and holding on for dear life. And we got some good downwind sails in 10–20 knots — and I finally experienced the real deficiency of the B & R rig. In Ganges, I ran into a fellow with Hunter 380 who had spent ~$9000 to add a slick roller-furling gennaker to compensate for the poor direct-downwind performance, but at that price, I think I will stick to just gybing my way downwind. At least cranking in the main over and over is good exercise.


Will we do the early-season trip again? I sure hope so. We had a ton of fun and there were very few negatives. If we can continue to cover most of our boat ownership costs with July-August-September charters, then having the boat for up to 2 and half months in the shoulder seems a perfect solution. This year we were off mid-June because we had a charter booked for the last two weeks of the month, but I might consider not doing that next year as it would be nice to finish off the cruise with some really warm days for ourselves. But then again, maybe not. We had some nice days and I remember all those boats heading north—I wonder if we might be turning into sailing misanthropes? Oh well, there is always Alaska.

Now all I have to do is see if there is anything worth posting in all that video I shot.

The Interactive Map

I broke the map up into three legs: Desolation Sound, our return via the Sunshine Coast and the Gulf Islands. You can see some of the stats from the Navionics tracks from the sidebar or if you go to the Google maps site, although they aren’t completely trustworthy as I run Navionics on my old iPad and it has a tendency to crash—so I have to go in later and edit the tracks by hand thus screwing up the stats. There seriously has to be a better way…


20-Apr Stones   19-May Smuggler Cove
21-Apr Stones   20-May Smuggler Cove
22-Apr Stones   21-May Gibsons  
23-Apr Stones   22-May Gibsons  
24-Apr Nanaimo Harbour, Newcastle 23-May Plumper Cove
25-Apr Nanaimo Harbour, Newcastle 24-May Plumper Cove
26-Apr Smuggler Cove 25-May Nanaimo Harbour, Newcastle
27-Apr Smuggler Cove 26-May Stones Boatyard
28-Apr Garden Bay   27-May Stones Boatyard
29-Apr Garden Bay   28-May Stones Boatyard
30-Apr Westview   29-May Stones Boatyard
01-May Copeland Islands   30-May Stones Boatyard
02-May Melanie Cove 31-May Stones  
03-May Melanie Cove 01-Jun Stones  
04-May Squirrel Cove 02-Jun Stones  
05-May Squirrel Cove 03-Jun Clam Bay  
06-May Cassel Lake/Von Donop 04-Jun Clam Bay  
07-May Von Donop   05-Jun James Bay, Prevost Island
08-May Taku Resort   06-Jun James Bay, Prevost Island
09-May Taku Resort   07-Jun James Bay, Prevost Island
08-May Octopus Islands 08-Jun Ganges  
11-May Octopus Islands 09-Jun Russell Island
12-May Octopus Islands 08-Jun Russell Island
13-May Laura Cove   11-Jun Sidney  
14-May Lund   12-Jun Montague  
15-May Lund   13-Jun Montague  
16-May Texada Island Boat Club 14-Jun Stones  
17-May Garden Bay   15-Jun Stones  
18-May Garden Bay   16-Jun Stones  

—Bruce #Cruising

The next, next week or so

More excerpts from the logs of Never for Ever.

16 May

  • Off the dock at around 1045 hr
  • There is a nice NW wind and we are heading south…
  • We roll out the jib and then, around noon, we raise the main.
  • after a while we were back to motor sailing but around 1400 we caught the wind again and had a lovely downwind sail to the bay (Sturt) at Van Anda on Texada Island.
  • Pulled into the Texada Boat club into our favourite spot around 1545 hrs.
  • an American Bavaria pulls in in front of us filled with gregarious friendly boaters heading to Desolation
  • Then a cutter-rigged Nauticat (very unusual) from Victoria ties up along side them. Nice boat.
  • Had a lovely chat with Bob, the wharfinger. Seems the pub and restaurant might actually be reopened for the main cruising season. Bob ( his wife actually) maintains a database of batters so he always greets you by name when he comes down to the dock.

17 May

  • off the dock around 10.
  • it’s a grey day and the winds are 15-20 from the SE, right on the nose…sigh, Malaspina always does that to us. Maybe we should have kept going yesterday with the lovely downwind sailing.
  • L is jonesing to sail so around noon she convinces me to raise the sails. We haul out the main with our nominal “first reef.”
  • I man the helm for the first 20 minutes or so then she takes over. We add a bit more reef and she and skippers the rest of the day.
  • We tack back and forth for 3 or 4 hours ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 knots of SOG.
  • At one point we cross in front of a huge barge by a couple of hundred yards. We had the nominal right of way, but he was a tug under tow with limited maneuverability so had precedence.
  • Drop sails around Quarry Bay — the same place we did last time we beat down Malaspina. Great day.
  • Dropped anchor in Garden Bay around 1745 hrs

18 May

  • I call the Pender Harbour Health Centre to see where L can see a Dr. about her ear. They say they can see us around 11.
  • We dinghy over to Maderia Park and then meander down the Sunshine Coast Highway for 15 minutes or so, encountering our very first Turtle Crossing along the way.
  • I have to say that was a great clinic. Small towns are great that way.
  • We stop at the pharmacy on the way home, load up on drugs and head back to the boat.

19 May

  • Up anchor at 0930.
  • Fuel up on the way out and then head south to Smuggler Cove for the long weekend.
  • Just outside Pender I spot a small; blue boat and check it out as I have every other small blue boat. Turns out it is indeed Kismet and Peter (from Victoria).
  • After a brief chat on the radio we decide to raft up in the middle of the Malaspina. There is zero wind. we visit for 15 minutes or so and then say our goodbyes. Peter is headed north to start work at Heriot Bay (Kayak guide at Spirit of the West Adventures).
  • Arrive Smuggler Cove around 1300 hrs. Stern tie on second try. Cross currents are a real bugger.
  • Three Hunters in row after we tie up.

20 May

  • Cove fills up. Up to 10 boats at one point just in front cove; more in the back one.
  • We head off to Thoramsby Island to explore beach. Hot and beautiful.
  • Call and make a reservation at Gibsons Marina…full. 🙁
  • They call back a bit later and say a spot opens up 🙂

21 May

  • Raise anchor by 8 am.
  • A long motor to Gibbons.
  • We cross the bar (shoal) mid-tide in 10 feet of water.
  • It’s a tight squeeze into our berth; barely a few inches wider than the fender. Docking successful!
  • L’s Uncle comes down to pick us up and we head to Roberts Creek for lunch and a visit. Stunning hillside home!
  • Dinner is at the pub.

22 May

  • Quiet day while Leslie works on her presentation.
  • I clean the boat. It needed it.

23 May

  • Move 2 nm to Plumper Cove.
  • We anchor with a little less scope than I want as the winds start to climb.
  • There is a older gent in an aluminum powerboat towing around stray logs…Relic lives!
  • Eventually the boat behind us moves to a mooring buoy so we let out more scope and have a bumpy night.

24 May

  • I can see the bar through my binoculars and at low tide, with the wind, it looks like one big long standing wave.
  • Winds die.
  • Explore Keats Island and do the Marine Park Loop. LOTS of uphill!

25 May

  • Raise anchor around 0945 hrs. We take the long way around Keats.
  • I take a shower and L runs out the jib in 12-15 knots of wind. We leave the engine running because we want to charge up the batteries for our stay in Nanaimo.
  • Bumpy but we do 6 – 6.5 knots pretty consistently in 15-19 knot winds.
  • Pull into Nanaimo Harbour around 1430 with the winds still around 15 knots.
  • Decide to set anchor using the wind. Works, but when I go to set it using the engine I get the dinghy painter caught in the prop (the whole story).
  • Stay at anchor until we can get a tow the next day.

26 May

  • 0100 hrs we are up and fending off a Bayfield with too much scope that banged into us. Decide to raft up for the night.
  • 0630 hrs we cast off the Bayfield.
  • We go into town to shop and walk.
  • Visit NewCastle Island at low, low tide. Almost zero water between the two islands.
  • Ian from NYCSS shows up with crew and tows us to Stones Boatyard.
  • Hauled out and on blocks for at least 24 hrs.
  • Cut painter from prop shaft. Turns out the motor mounts are broken. Now we are here for the weekend.

27 May

  • HOT!
  • Drop off L at Harbour Air for her seaplane ride to #YVR
  • Scrape teak from hatch and flagstaff. Sand.
  • Fill stripped holes for strap brackets in dinghy
  • Remove anchor chain and rode

28 May

  • Resand teak
  • Meet Jim (from Sea Esta X) and Gwen wandering the yard. They are there waiting to pick up Tim and Donna at the ferry.
  • Laundry day.

29 May

  • First coat of varnish on teak.
  • Take down bimini to replace worn velcro and try and build dams from silicone to prevent water dripping.
  • Drilled pilot holes for reattaching strap brackets in dinghy. Drill hole strait through 🙁 Luckily the brackets have watertight gaskets so I can stop the damn thing from sinking.

30 May

  • Cold and rainy.
  • 2nd coat of varnish on teak
  • 2 mounts go in in the am.
  • Tim and Donna drop by for a visit.
  • The last two mounts are installed.
  • Try and replace impeller in knot meter. I get it out but a replacement is $120+ so I put the damaged one back in.
  • I scrub the anchor locker and get it ready for new chain.
  • Supposedly we are back in the water at 09:30 hrs tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

31 May

  • Up at 0530 hrs. Why? I have no idea.
  • Spot Canty at the boat lift dock so I go down to chat with Paul and Kristie. They are in for bottom paint.
  • As soon as the lift drops Canty, it comes for Never for Ever. We are back in the water. Jared checks engine, tightens injector and Darcy hops aboard to help me move us back to a slip.
  • The boat has shifted a bit on the stands so we need to let it settle for a day and then they will check and align the shaft.
  • Put the final coat on the teak.
  • Anchor is still ashore, waiting for new chain and splice.
  • Darryl stops by and we have coffee. Being on the hard is certainly turning out to be social…
  • Haul out dinghy on foredeck to clean and prep my drilled hole in hull.
  • Alas no chain (it’s G4 and a special order) until Friday
  • I’ve got highspeed so I watch Rush on Netflix. Not bad

Making Videos, Animating Graphics

I consider the video below a partial success. I managed to do what I set out to do, but frankly it didn’t end up meeting my minimum standards to call it good. But I have been humming and hawing for days now and finally decided to just post it and move on, because anything else would mean starting from scratch and I think it would be a waste to toss the whole thing. So check out the first of a series of planned sailing itineraries:


The first thing I need was a map. The problem is that maps aren’t free despite what you might think given Google’s presence online. And I wanted something I could manipulate the way I wanted to. So I started with a bunch of base maps that I stitched together and started tracing.

Layer one was the base map that was a not-so-simple outline. Back in my book publishing days, I made a ton of these, oddly enough  mostly of BC. But that was when I was still using Freehand before it disappeared and Illustrator became the de facto standard. And I really hate Illustrator. Well, I don’t so much hate it as resent the fact that all those years of learning Freehand now work against me. But such is life in the design community: move on and keep learning.  At least the hours spent working on this map have helped get my Illustrator skills a little more polished. would have liked to add even more detail but the file was starting to balloon in size and it wasn’t actually necessary to have that much accuracy — so I started to slack a bit in places like the west coast of the Island. 

Then I added in coloured layers, borders, labels and whipped up a quick compass rose. After that was done I started building a series of layers with smaller area maps that I could use later to highlight the cruising grounds.

With that done I saved the file and I fired up a new project in Adobe After Effects, then imported the Illustrator file into it. One of the great things about after Effects is that it imports the files with the layering intact and, even better, maintains a hot link to the original file so if you have to go back and change something it updates automatically (which I did several times). In After Effects I proceeded to divide the project into two main sections: the Salish Sea intro and the first planned itinerary, add some more labels and build in animations. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but no idea of how to do it. YouTube to the rescue. All the graphic animations of the map were done in After Effects including the zooms and the move pathways of the route itself. 

Once those were done I exported it as two videos so I could move on to Premiere. After Effects and Premiere do support the a method of hot linking files but some of the effects I used were not supported so I was forced to render the After Effects files. This just meant that any changes that needed to be done would mean re-rendering the files and updating them in Premiere — a matter of  something like 15 minutes work for each video, each time I did it. So I tried not to do it. And pretty much failed.

In Premiere imported the two videos, a selection of still images from my archives and my intros/outros. Then I proceeded to build the initial text graphics and started breaking the videos down into a rough cut. 

Once the rough cut was done I stared animating the text, fine tuning the timing and playing with the narrative to try and get my point across. Although by this time I was starting to wonder what my point was —which was a huge learning lesson in itself.

Eventually I got it to some place that wasn’t particularly horrible and brought in some music. Originally I wanted to do the project with a scripted voice-over but finally decided that was too much additional work for what it was looking like I was going to be able to produce as a final product. I will likely revisit that decision on the next video (if I go ahead with the project) and be able to better anticipate what I will need to have done in what order to support that sort of narrative. And then I unfortunately got carried away laying the audio track and managed to box myself into a few more corners that would take too much work to back out of. 

Lessons Learned

At this point I essentially gave up on trying to improve deficiencies and focussed on completing something. I’d spent a little over a month on this so far and it was increasingly looking like I would have to go back and start from scratch (well, not quite from scratch, as the Illustrator map was perfect) in order to be able to get the result I was looking for. So I decided to get it to good enough and move on. And that’s what you see here.


I learned a few things about planning such an extensive media project. The first thing —which I already knew, or thought I did — is that eh more pre planning you do the less pain  and problems you  will encounter further down the road. I don’t think I truly appreciated how much I have learned about graphic and print production over the years that has allowed me to work fairly smoothly and problem solve on the fly without excessive documentation. Not so for motion graphics; I have a lot to learn and until I do, working out the kinks before I go into production is going to have to be the rule of the day.

Editing yourself

Again, less is more is a graphic design mantra I have long since internalized but it didn’t manage to make the transition to motion graphics. The amount of time I wasted on fancy-dancy effects that ultimately got left on the digital cutting room floor accounted for a huge percentage of the effort I have put into this. With every iteration I found myself cutting and editing things to try and simply the narrative. And frankly I still think I could have done a lot more.

Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts

Know your tools. I have a personal rule that states if you do a set of actions more than three times in one session then take the time to learn shortcuts. Whether it is keyboard shortcuts, macros or simply a more efficient way of achieving your goal it almost always pays dividends when you take some time to explore your toolkit.

And organization helps a lot. I started out with a free for all of files and eventually found myself making more and more bins and folders to organize image, title bars, video clips and sequences. Next time I will start out with a whole lot of empty folders and keep it tidy as I go.


One of the reasons graphic designers can work alone and filmmakers generally don’t is that it take a huge set of disparate skills and talents to bring together motion graphics. Simply melding the audio and visual components is a massive sideways shift in perspective and I have a renewed respect for those who are auditorially skilled — I’m certainly not. As an audience we experience video differently than we do a static page and there is a whole language I am learning to describe how viewers interact with the screen. A lot of it comes from how we read and view the printed page, but a lot it does not. I am going to have to learn more than a few software programs if if I want to get better at this.

In conclusion

Anyway, I have called this project a wrap and will move on to the next and hopefully do a better job. Because every time I look at this particular video I still want to go in and change something — and I think it’s time to stop looking.

If you have any interest in seeing more sailing related video, my youtube channel can be found here:

Never for Ever YouTube Channel

Not So Offshore: the Vancouver to LA Summary

(originally posted on

In my last post I mentioned I was heading down the coast in a friend’s Baltic 42. The goal was to take it from Vancouver to San Diego so they could join the Baja Haha at the end of October. We allotted approximately 3 weeks for the journey and I imagined that it would primarily  be an offshore trip with two or three legs.

img_8471 Well it turned out that they —and their buddy boat Sea Esta X — decided to loosely follow the “Express Route” as set out in Exploring the Pacific Coast: San Diego to Seattle by Don Douglass and Réanne Hemingway-Douglass. This meant the voyage would mostly be day trips—albeit some fairly long ones— with only a few overnighters.

We got some good downwind sailing and a remarkable amount of motoring. That is, in my lowly opinion, the big downside to harbour-hopping down the coast. The nature of the bars at most of the ports is such that entering and exiting them is often tide and weather dependent: so trying to hit a schedule becomes a bit more important and it’s hard to justify much sailing in light winds.

When we hit Marina del Rey in Los Angeles, it really was time to start taking it easy, so rather than rush the last couple of days to San Diego, I decided to take advantage of the proximity to LAX and fly home from there. Northwest Passage continued on without me and, as of today, I think they still haven’t completed the “two day” trip to San Diego. Good on ’em.


Most of the ports on the pacific side of North America are in the mouths of rivers. This generally means you are negotiating breakwaters, dredged channels and bars. Bars are really what can make entering and exiting these ports uncomfortable or even impossible. Bars are formed by the sediments deposited by the rivers outflow and when the incoming swell hits this suddenly shallow area, steep and dangerous waves can occur. Quite often these bars will be closed to small boat traffic and occasionally they will be closed altogether. That means if you arrive at a bar at the wrong time you can’t come in to the harbour and will have to head offshore again to either wait, or move on to the next port in hopes their bar will remain open. The coast guard is constantly going out in these super tough little aluminum boats (47-foot MLBs) to physically check on the conditions and then report them on channel 16.

We were pretty lucky and got into all our ports without incident, although sometimes in the middle of the night, the middle of dense fog, or in one memorable entry, both. There were numerable small boat closures though.


I blogged about the whole trip in near real time and you can read about it over on although it intended was more for family and friends and rife with errors and typos. I learned a lot about downwind sailing, saw hundreds of whales, dolphins and sea lions and thoroughly enjoyed myself, with the most memorable moment being alone on deck going around Cape Mendocino at 3 am in 30 knot winds. I’ve also posted a bunch of images at the end of this post.


map-va-laThe Stats

  • Trip length: 29 days
  • Travel days: 20 days
  • Legs: 16
  • Travel hours: 232:25
  • Total km: 2392.4
  • Total nm: 1291.9
  • Hours motoring: 200 hrs
  • Fuel used 520 L
  • Overnight sails: 3
  • Longest leg: 54 hrs
  • Ports (marinas): 12
  • Anchorages: 4
  • Mooring Balls: 1

The Trip

Day Kilometers Nautical Miles Hours
1 Granville Island, Vancouver to Shallow Bay, Sucia Island (via Point Roberts) 84.4 45.576 5:00
2 Sucia Island to Anacortes, Washington (via Vendovi Island) 45.7 24.678 5:20
3 Anacortes to Neah Bay 165 89.1 15:40
4 Neah Bay to La Push (around Cape Flattery) 76.1 41.094 7:25
5 La Push to Westport Marina, Gray’s Harbor 130 70.2 12:25
6 Gray’s Harbor to Newport, Oregon (overnight) 271 146.34 25.75
7 0 0 0:00
8 0 0 0:00
9 0 0 0:00
10 Newport to Charleston Marina, Coos Bay 151 81.54 13:45
11 0 0 0:00
12 0 0 0:00
13 Coos Bay to Noyo River Basin Marina, Fort Bragg, California (around Cape Mendocino; via Crescent City) 498 268.92 54.00
14 0 0 0:00
15 0 0 0:00
16 Fort Bragg to Bodego Bay 166 89.64 16:25
17 Bogego Bay to Pillar Point Harbour, Half Moon Bay 120 64.8 11:45
18 Pillar Point Harbor to Moss Landing 114 61.56 10:50
19 0 0:00
20 Moss Landing to Morro Bay 212 114.48 20:50
21 0 0:00
22 0 0:00
23 0 0:00
24 Morro Bay to Cojo Bay (around Point Conception) 141 76.14 11:45
25 Cojo Bay to Santa Barbara 71.6 38.664 7:10
26 Santa Barbara to Ventura 43.6 23.544 4:00
27 Ventura to Pacific Mariners Yacht Club, Marina del Rey 103 55.62 10:20
28 0 0:00
29 0 0:00

Google My Maps version

Google My Maps seems to need a Google account to access it, although I can’t prove that. But zoom in if you can and check out some of the harbour entrances and remember most of them were done in the fog or the dark or both.

Some Images



Humpbacks and grey whales abounded.


The first part of the trip was often cold and foggy.


Newport Oregon emerges from the fog




Entering Coos Bay in the fog



The old spinnaker cut down to a gennaker. It made for some great (and easy) downwind sailing.




Morro rock in Morro Bay.


Cojo Bay anchorage


And then suddenly, immediately after rounding Point Conception, it was warm


At anchor in Santa Barbara


Our last sail of the trip


Santa Monica Pier from the ocean side



Malibu from the air

—Captain Why #Posts

Vancouver to LA: The Wrap up

Well I have been home for a few days, and sorting through my 1200+ images and movies. Surprisingly there aren’t a lot of “fantastic” shots. I guess the ocean kind of looks the same after a while unless you are actually there. And a lot of the real interesting stuff was impossible to get a shot of. I have gone through and fixed a few things in my blog entries and extracted some data as well as plotted all my waypoints and gathered all my statistics. I will jot them down here for posterity.

Northwest Passage is now in Newport, CA and on their way south to San Diego. I am pretty bummed that I couldn’t do the whole trip but at the same time pretty glad to be home. They will pick up more crew at the end of October in San Diego and then head south with the Baja Hah, before making their way to their final destination of Zihuateneo, Mexico. I am so grateful I got to do this trip. Thanks Tim and Donna!

My Final Take

It wasn’t that hard. I was worried that a long offshore voyage wouldn’t be for me, but in the end, while it was challenging and occasionally intense, it really wasn’t that difficult. Like all things sailing, prudence goes a long way.  I think if we had done a lot more overnights then having more crew would have been good, because your energy levels start to diminish over time. But overall it was a fairly pleasant journey with the minimum of nerve-wracking experiences and a lot of glorious ones.

Having a solid boat counts for a lot. Watching Sea Esta X bob and bounce over the swell and comparing it to the real sense of secureness I felt on Northwest Passage, I can certainly begin to see where all the bluewater boat arguments come from. Because on a long downwind sail like that, it is the swell that you affected by much more than the wind.

Would I do it again? Yup.

The Stats

  • Trip length: 29 days
  • Travel days: 20 days
  • Travel hours: 232:25
  • Total km: 2392.4
  • Total nm: 1291.9
  • Hours motoring: 200 hrs
  • Fuel used 520 L
  • Overnight sails: 3
  • Longest leg: 54 hrs

Daily Distances

Day Kilometers Nautical Miles Hours
1 84.4 45.576 5:00
2 45.7 24.678 5:20
3 165 89.1 15:40
4 76.1 41.094 7:25
5 130 70.2 12:25
6 271 146.34 25:45
7 cont’d cont’d cont’d
8 0 0 0:00
9 0 0 0:00
10 151 81.54 13:45
11 0 0 0:00
12 0 0 0:00
13 498 268.92 54:00
14 cont’d cont’d cont’d
15 cont’d cont’d cont’d
16 166 89.64 16:25
17 120 64.8 11:45
18 114 61.56 10:50
19  0 0 0:00
20 212 114.48 20:50
21  cont’d cont’d cont’d
22  0 0 0:00
23  0 0 0:00
24 141 76.14 11:45
25 71.6 38.664 7:10
26 43.6 23.544 4:00
27 103 55.62 10:20
28  0 0 0:00
29  0 0 0:00
 Totals 2392.4 km 1291.9 nm 232:25 hrs

Embedded map version

This is a map of all the actual waypoints I recorded along the way. I used it to calculate the distances. A lot of times when we were sailing we would be tacking back and forth which may not be represented in the paths or the stats above so the numbers are approximate.


Google My Maps version

Google My Maps seems to need a Google account to access it, although I can’t prove that. That’s why I embedded my KML file above so I won’t be dependant on Google. But zoom in and check out some of the harbour entrances and remember most of them were done in the fog or the dark or both.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Fourteen: The End

Sept 28

6:50 am awake

I got up and had my traditional coffee in the cockpit. I’m gonna miss that. I spent some time watching the to and fro of the marina. A fire truck just backed out of the complex and it had a stand-up paddle board strapped to the top. I guess we really are in LA.

The crew took off for a run and I headed off at a more sedate pace to walk down to Venice Beach. They will give me a call when they are finished their tribulations and we will meet for breakfast.

I walk down Ocean to Washington and head for the seaside. Almost to the beach, I encounter a young crazy dude railing against two tattooed muscle boys outside a crowded coffee place. The tattooed dudes are all like “ya ya, move it along” and the crazy one is all like “it’s a violation of nature and the constitution and shit.” I just keep on trucking.

A mile or so after leaving Marina Del Rey I reach the Venice Pier and see my first real “California” beach. Did you know the sand is groomed overnight? Not a footprint on most of it. There are a few casual commuters this early but mostly it’s just me and the surfers at 8:30 am. I’m not sure if it’s a pre-work surf or just the start of a very long day of hanging 10.


I walk out pier a bit to observe their technique and then head back to start walking down the beach. The shadows are still long and the sand is incredibly pristine. I guess the beaches are as “manicured” as the people here in Tinsel Town.

I get tired of plodding through the sand and walk down the path, which as I am later corrected, is actually the boardwalk. The walk is still pretty sleepy with none of the shops open yet.


I wander through a movie set or tv show being filmed or something. I was just looking at all the tents and food and stuff when I noticed them off loading gear and all the movie trailers, I suppose filled with starlets and famous types. I thought about asking what it was and then I thought I would just wander off before I was escorted off.

The big black and white LAPD helicopter buzzed the beach a couple of times…this is just like being in TV! There are cops and life guards and ooh, it’s just so exciting.

Mark called and told me to pick a place for breakfast so I headed back toward the pier. As I approached the coffee shop where the confrontation happened there were 3 or 4 cop cars and motorcycles and 2 LA fire engines. The crazy dude was surrounded by casual-seeming, uniformed personnel and the muscle dudes were nowhere to be seen. I have to imagine the situation escalated after I left. But it didn’t look like they were gonna do much to crazy dude; although I wonder why the overwhelming response of equipment and people.

We met for breakfast at the Terrace. While I sat in Venice Beach just on the outskirts of Santa Monica (which was my next destination after breakfast), what should come on the radio but All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow. It made me laugh.

I parted ways with everyone as they headed back to the boat and then on to Costco. I retraced my steps back down the beach heading to the Santa Monica Pier which was apparently about 6K away. Things were starting to open now. Everything from head shops to t-shirts places to surf shops. Along the way I encountered Muscle Beach, with its weight equipment and even a mini-stadium. It’s a real thing but unfortunately had no muscle dudes to populate it. Maybe its a summer thing?

Bike rentals seem to be the big thing here with literally dozens of places that rent all sorts of bikes. There is also a Green Doctors medical marijuana analysis business with tons of franchisees all dressed in lime green scrubs.

Santa Monica pier is packed with restaurants, shops, an amusement park and even a trapeze school where you could watch wannabe trapeze artists try and fail to fly through the air. It was great fun but man it has to be frustrating to miss, climb back up, miss, climb back up etc. It is also, apparently, the official end of Route 66.


I head into town on my way back and walk down Main Street; lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. As I leave the core I come across those incredibly lush community gardens right in the middle of the residential area. Things grow big here and it’s nice to see the set aside room for gardens. The residential lots are certainly too small to grow anything. The houses range from affluent to ramshackle and the breadth of gardens and boulevard trees is amazing. Everything from palms to azaleas in the boulevards with succulent gardens. And even the occasional well-tended patch of grass. I also passed a couple of dog parks. They are all dirt here; I suppose with the lack of rain that dirt is easier to maintain than grass.


I am so, so hot as I headed back. I bought an ice-cold Gatorade halfway home but the sweat has been pouring off me. The boat is empty when I got back so I drink a couple of gallons of water, soak my face with cold water and relax with a couple more gallons.

Eventually everyone shows up in a cab with their haul from Costco. I help haul the boxes below and finish up my second last blog post while Donna unpacks.

Tim heads out to do some “projects”. The dinghy had been missing from the davits when I got back and I found it over on the dock. He was cleaning it and spraying on UV protectant. I lent a hand applying a stencil he had gotten made up and then we spray-painted the name of the boat on the side.


Somewhere around then I realized I was starting to get sunburnt ankles so I ducked back in to slather on the sunscreen. It would suck to come back painfully burnt on my last day.

All done with chores, Tim and I had a beer and I read for a bit as it started to cool down — it was after 5:30 by then. Sunset comes early here.

There is some talk of heading up to the club for the hockey game but it comes to nothing. A good thing really, since there actually was no game; we were apparently a day early. So we relaxed some more before we sat down in Sea Esta for a lovely Costco roast-chicken dinner and some wine.

It’d been a long hot sweaty day so I hit the shower. Of cours,e while I bring a clean shirt, I forget my towel drying on the life lines. Are you still clean if you use your dirty, sweaty t-shirt to dry off with?

And then it’s time to enjoy my last night in SoCal up on deck. We are waiting for Jim and Mark to return from their galavanting at the club so we can enjoy Tim’s 90-year-old mothers’ pound cake with fresh whipped cream and a good soaking in booze. And then we wait. And wait. And wait. Seems the party is going on up on the club’s deck and it’s not looking like they are going to be disengaging anytime soon. Eventually Donna makes the executive decision that if the mountain isn’t coming to the pound cake, then the pound cake is going to the mountain.

They slice me a delicious piece and then head off to the club to distribute the goodness. It sounds a bit too rowdy up there for someone as sober as I am. I enjoy my piece existing the temptation to just lick off all the whipped cream. But they aren’t gone long (apparently it was a bit too drunk out for them as well) and they bring the remnants back after only a short while.

And then it’s time for bed. I pack most of my stuff and then grab my book to “read” for a bit…mostly with my eyes closed.

Sept 29

6:30 am awake

Last Day. I pack up my remaining stuff and have my last cup of coffee. There was a heavy dew last night so I stay below as everything we didn’t put away is soaked.

Mark has booked a cab for 9:30 so we are good to go. Then I just hang out and chill. I am going to leave my new inflatable pfd behind as my share of the voyage costs. Northwest Passage needs another one with an integrated harness and I had agreed to chip in for beer and fuel and stuff so it’s an equitable exchange, although Tim and Donna kindly insist it’s not necessary. Still, it seems reasonable to me and my bag is already too full.

Then I have my my last, last cup of coffee.

By 8:30 I am already sweating. It’s going to be another hot one. But I left a fleece in my carry-on for home where it’s only going to be 14°.

Tim and I stick our noses in the bilge for a while and scratch our heads over the intermittent bilge pump cycling. At 2:00 am last night the pump started to cycle endlessly. Like on Never for Ever the pump can’t suck out all the water and always drops whatever’s in the hose back into the bilge. But on Northwest Passage the float switch seems to be miss-positioned and it always dumps just enough water to set off the float switch again and restart the cycle. This will just keep happening until someone uses the manual pump to take a tiny bit more water out. Which I did when it woke me up. It seems like it should be an easy fix but you never know. That’s why boats are so much fun.

Eventually Mark called over and we all trouped up to the parking lot to await the cab. A few pictures, smiles, handshakes, hugs and thanks all around and Mark and I were off. Partings can be so abrupt sometimes.

Traffic was light until we hit LAX then it just slowed to a crawl. But eventually we stopped in front of Terminal 2 and Mark and I shook and parted ways. Westjet was a bit further down but oddly to me, all the airlines are actually separated by walls so you have to walk outside. I guess that makes sense in rainless California.


After checking in, walking on to the security is also done outside. It went pretty quick and soon enough I was in line for a slice of pizza to enjoy while I waited. I did see an older couple take a header in the escalator. There were three of them and I think it was a chain reaction with only the fellow on the end remaining in his feet. The other gentleman and a lady were sprawled almost upside down legs and arms akimbo. The attendant did stop the escalator almost immediately but no one made any moves to help right away. Seemed an odd reaction to me. But I think everyone was ok.

10:00 am LAX
33° 56.8032? N,118° 24.2354? W

And then I waited. And typed on my phone and watched the hustle and bustle.

We boarded about 20 minutes before take off. This 737-800 has no entertainment system at all…unusual. My Plus seat comes with complimentary water and massive leg room. The middle seat is a fold down table with a
cup holder and space to store my reader…posh! I get free lunch and free booze (which I don’t avail my self of) and a hot towel for who knows what reason.


California from the air is as strange to me as California from the sea. Low dry mountain ranges interspersed with flat populated areas give way to intermittent drier mountain ranges and densely crowded, flat agricultural zones. Much like the Okanogan, water is seemingly both abundant and completely absent. It is not at all as I have imagined it. I don’t know why I have always associated California with lush even though I know its generally one big desert. Live and learn…

4:00 pm MDT
53° 17.7835? N,113° 34.4861? W

Touchdown. My bag is the first one off the carousel. That never happens.

And voila, c’est tout.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Thirteen

Sept 26

6:30 am awake

I’m lying here trying to get motivated to get up, but also not really interested in going back to sleep. I don’t know what kind of monster I’m turning into! 🙂

7:00 am up and around

Ok, everyone else is now up so I better get going. Coffee is already going when I emerge and we sit in the warming sun; it’s so weird to have it warm and pleasant at 7am at the end of September, but they do say this is unusual.

After grabbing a calendar and talking over the next few days I decide it’s likely better to disembark in LA rather than rushing everyone on to San Diego. I can grab a direct flight from LAX for a couple of hundred dollars cheaper, and the airport is only a couple of miles from the marina. It’ll be convenient and take the pressure off Tim and Donna to go, go, go.

So while Tim and Donna pick up Mark and head in on the dinghy to grab a shower, I borrow the laptop and book my flight. The regular rate is $295 but since I usually like to book my seat ahead of time and I have baggage, I decide on a once-in-a-lifetime splurge and book Westjet’s version of first class for $400. It will only cost me about $50 more when all’s said and done. I know, I know, it’s not real first class, but I do get a comfier seat.

9:10 am up anchor

It’s calm and it’s hot. We are headed for Ventura Isle Marina where Mark has managed to secure us two slips. Only 22 miles but it will be a long motor in the sun.

I talked to Mark and he and I leave LAX on the 29th. His flight is 1:30-ish to YVR and mine is at noon. So we will take a taxi in together from the marina and leave Sea Esta and Northwest Passage to their own devices. Kinda sad really, but I think it will give them more time to enjoy SoCal.

10:20 am
34° 21.0443′ N,119° 33.6076′ W

There are 8 oil rigs, all in close proximity and a few more we can see off in the horizon. Who knew this part of California was such a oil boom town.

11:40 am

It’s an interesting area. Between Conception and Santa Barbara there wasn’t much but the occasional ranch-type house and the rail line running along the coast. Now the shore line is intermittently crowded with beach houses and the highway. At one section there was a long string of monster beach homes with an Amtrack line immediately in their back yards, a jam-packed highway behind that and then pump jacks dotting the ridge line behind them. We are definitely back in civilization.

We are treated to some more fresh baked cookies. Man, we have been spoilt, and my goal of losing some weight this trip has definitely been thwarted.

Donna followed up on Mark’s booking at the marina. It was going to be $60/night, but she managed to wrangle it down to the cost of a couple of cookies. It’s good she’s on our side.

12:42 pm

We are at the entrance to Ventura. It’s beautiful with emerald-colored water, breakers crashing along the shore and a huge beach on either sides of the entrance.

Turns out there is yet another beach in the inside of the breakwater as well. It’s so different here…

1:10 pm
34° 14.6452′ N,119° 15.7166′ W

We are all tied up in Ventura Isle Marina. There are three or four marinas here and a boat yard all crowded in the estuary behind a series of breakwaters. The place is huge. The slips have docks on both sides and there are so many different shapes and sizes of boats. And unlike a lot of marinas we have visited, they all seem to be used regularly.

At Donna’a insistence we unshipped and pumped up paddle boards. Tim is still baffled by the electrical; his alternator is working fine today. So Tim and Donna decide to go for walk instead. I just laid back and relaxed.

A bit later we shared a cold beer and I finished up and posted a blog entry. Then we just sat in the cockpit and watched time float away for a while

They decided to break out the paddle boards, so then I sat in the cockpit and watched Tim and Donna float away for a while. Marinas are like that.

We are dinner outside and then, because it was late, Tim listened to the last 10 minutes of debate online. I think we caught the highlights 🙁

And then there was bed.

Sept 27

6:30 am

This is voluntary. I hope I’m not turning into an early riser. That would really suck.

I had my magic coffee and checked real weather for the first time on the trip. Usually we just listen to the marine forecasts that are high on wind info and low on temperatures. It’s a predicted 31° here in Ventura, but Edmonton is going to only 14°. Brrrr!

Everyone is off for a run before our predicted departure time of 9 am, which is so late so we can return our key and get our deposit back. It’s going to be an 8 to 9 hour run to Marina del Rey.

8:00 am

I can feel the heat from the sun. It’s already starting…

9:10 am

We are off the dock and headed out. We were hopeful with the breeze at dock, but it faded to nothing as we headed through the breakwaters trailing a couple of tourist boats.

So we motor.

10:20 am

Endless beaches. Seriously, it’s been one long series of beaches from about 4 miles outside the Ventura breakwater and there is no end in sight.

From the sea you can see that Ventura exists geographically like a mini Vancouver, sprawled out in a large flat estuary surrounded by mountains on three sides. Up ahead you can see the development come to a fast halt as the mountains come right down to the water, leaving only enough room, and very little of that, for the highway and railroad tracks.

11:21 am

The sails are up! Woohoo! We are in a close reach heading into 12 knots of wind and pointed pretty much where we want to be.

It’s warm winds and bare feet sailing today: super pleasant.

12:20 pm
34° 3.9333′ N,119° 5.7470′ W

Our first big tack out to sea. We are making speeds anywhere from 5 to 6.5 knots over the next few hours depending on how close inshore we get as we tack back and forth.

34° 2.3507′ N,118° 59.8375′ W

We tack again before we have to in order to track closer to a huge pod of porpoises. Then we tack again because the pesky things won’t hold still. Around 1:45 we catch them.

They intersect our path and about 20 or 30 peal off to visit for a while. They zoom along in our bow wake and dance alongside for 5 minutes or so and then take off to catch up to the main group. Still one of the coolest things ever.

2:40 pm
33° 57.7673′ N,118° 55.6155′ W

The wind unfortunately dies after a glorious final sail, but we still have 23 nm to go so we fire up the engine and point toward our destination.

4:22 pm
33° 59.1999′ N,118° 43.2736′ W

We eventually head inshore off our course because it was just too damn boring. Right now we are just off Malibu Beach. I think I can see Charlie’s place from here. I looked it up: that aerial shot from the show (Three and a Half Men) was just past the lagoon.

5:08 pm

More Mylar balloons. These have big 40s on them. They really are a scourge.

5:30 pm

And then another one. I think this is a problem, people.

5:40 pm

And another. Sigh.

We are still cruising close to the beach and not making great progress towards our goal but at least enjoying the scenery. Sea Esta has made it to del Rey, but we’ve got an hour or more still to go.

The shoreline is wall to wall beach houses with the highway right behind. The hillside climbs steeply immediately on the other side of the highway and is dotted with houses, mansions and compounds of all shapes, sizes and architectural preferences. I find out later that the big white one that was kinda out of place was Pepperdine University.

The landscape slowly becomes more and more crowded and less and less hilly as we move south down the coast and LA proper hoves into view.

We also experience dueling traffic copters zooming over the beach which now seems to stretch along the entire coastline. We can see Santa Monica Pier up ahead with its amusement park. I guess that means we are off Santa Monica now.

6:00 pm
34° 1.3410′ N,118° 31.8944′ W

And another balloon.

6:50 pm

We are entering the channel into Marina del Rey right at sunset. A while ago we were part of the tourist scenery as we passed the Santa Monica pier with our full sails out and a glorious sunset behind us. Hundreds of people were crowding the end of the pier and you could see the flashes of cameras going off. Nice to be of service. I wonder if I can write this off somehow?

Anyway, the channel behind the first breakwater is huge with its own traffic separation scheme. The center lane is reserved for sailing boats but everyone is motoring today. We are followed by two other sailboats that seem to know where they are going. All we have is a verbal description from Mark.

It’s a fading light that barely illuminates the massive basin as we enter. Boats are sailing and others are maneuvering and it’s all good. We just motor on by.

There are 6 or 7 huge boat basins that come off this main one. We are looking for Basin D, the fourth one on the port side.

7:30 pm
33° 58.7738′ N,118° 27.1355′ W
Pacific Mariners Yacht Club, Marina del Rey

We found our basin and counted fingers. Sea Esta helpfully turned on their masthead light and we slowly glided down a narrow channel. Sea Esta was tied up in a tiny finger that doesn’t really fit and we needed to do likewise one slip up; it is too narrow for our beam so we are now hanging out. We made it just before dark.

I relaxed, waiting for Tim and Donna to sign in, then hit the yacht club with Mark and Tim for a beer. The people here are very friendly. The yacht club is just 4 guest slips and the clubhouse. Everyone needs to find their own moorage.

We eat dinner in the cockpit and relax as the air starts to cool. Then I head up to grab a shower before bed. And put on clean clothes. The sailing is done for me and I can revert back to street clothes again.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Twelve

Sept 24

5:50 am awake

Coffee. Then it’s time to gear up after our long, long break. I dig out the long johns and extra layers, and haul my stuff out into the cockpit and make ready for the day. Our plan is Port San Luis Opisbo which is a pretty short day, and then to the dreaded Point Conception in the predicted lull tomorrow.

Today was my first estimated date of return but we aren’t even at LA yet. I haven’t bothered trying to come up with a revised date for now. I will wait until Santa Barbara where the travel distances are much shorter. Mark still needs to be back in BC before the first of October and is pretty sure he is leaving from LA.

6:30 am

Off dock. It’s a warm wind but a light one, so no sailing for now.

6:45 am
35° 21.6065′ N,120° 52.2675′ W

We turn the last corner and leave Morro Bay behind.

As we clear the breakwater, the wind gains an edge of cold and our sea legs welcome back the swells. Standing on ground that wasn’t constantly moving has been just plain weird.

The Santa Annas are being predicted in the coming days, which will bring high temperatures in Southern California (into the 100s F) and potentially cause us wind problems with onshore winds up to 50 mph. If we are lucky they will manifest further south and then be gone when we get there. For now all we want to worry about is Point Conception when we decide to go.

8:00 am

Tim spots the first whales of the day off in the distance. There is a new kind of bird out there flying in small flocks really low to water and maneuvering at high speed. Fun to watch.

8:15 am
35° 13.7066′ N,120° 56.4685′ W

We raise the main with one reef, sailing downwind in 12-15 knots.

8:30 am

There is a huge school of dolphins way off the starboard side. We can see a long wall of white foam in distance and with the binoculars it turns out to be a massive number of dolphins thundering along. Since we are ahead of Sea Esta anyway we tack to try and get closer and end up chasing them back the direction we came. We never do catch them, though, as they are both faster and more maneuverable than we are. Eventually we tack back and resume our original heading.

9:00 am

Sea Esta calls and the first change of plans for the day is announced. The decision is made to do the long day to Cojo Bay, 55 nm and 10+ hours away. I’m good with that because it makes much more sense to me since the weather is good and a short day leaves us with nothing to do at anchor.


In the distance off Sea Esta‘s stern we spot 3 or 4 whales in the morning sunlight bouncing off water. Pretty; worthy of a painter or much better photographer than I.

9:40 am

We haul the gennaker up from below and get it rigged to go. Then I hoist the sock and we are flyin’ along at 6.5 knots with gennaker and main together; way faster than we can motor.

Paradisea and Pinocchio are 5 or so miles behind, also heading for Cojo and Harlequin is back there too somewhere. Looks like we all decided to make the most of the good weather, although most had expressed a plan to head to San Luis.

10:45 am
35° 1.9176′ N,120° 55.5180′ W

Now we are sailing along hitting 8.3 knots occasionally and it’s a great sail–very comfortable and a lot of fun.

I’ve got a good signal so I decided to post a blog entry. Turns out the signal’s not that good and it’s oh so painful getting the images to upload. But eventually I get it done. Lucky you!

11:30 am

Winds are climbing and get up to 19-20. We decide it’s time to haul the gennaker down, but it was grand while it lasted. Bringing it down was fun as the swells and the higher winds made me feel like I was dangling on the end of a giant kite. Woo-hoo…

But we are still making 7+ knots with just the main as the winds grow to 22-23 knots.

We spot a sun fish off port maybe 4 feet away and then another even closer a bit later. It’s to bad they go by so fast; they look fascinating and I’d love to look at one closely or at least get a decent picture.

1:00 pm
34° 45.8313′ N,120° 50.3459′ W

The winds are calming although seas remain steep with a short frequency. This means the distance between each wave is smaller than we’ve been experiencing and the anchor is occasionally just a foot out of water, and once or twice actually submerged as we hit the trough between waves.

We are still making speeds in high 6s though.

1:40 pm

Ho hum, more whales. But wait! There’s a dozen or so dolphins as well. That’s more exciting! Seriously, it’s like we are starting to treat whale sightings as mundane, we’ve seen so many in this trip.

There is an offshore oil rig in distance. That’s new. Oh, and more whale spouts.

2:15 pm
34° 38.1738′ N,120° 48.0613 W

The winds die to 5 knots just off Point Arguello which is the first of two closely related points that make up the “Cape Horn of the Pacific.” So we roll in the jib and start the engine and carry on our way.

One of the things we have been seeing with alarming frequency is those mylar balloons that say happy birthday or some such other celebratory phrase. I guess they are tougher than regular balloons and when they land out here they float on endlessly. It’s a bit sad the number we have seen.

I spot some sea lions (Donna says they’re porpoises) bounding out of the water between us and Sea Esta. They sure move fast when they are determined; and while I’m pretty sure I’m right, they look a lot like dolphins on the move and are just as fast.

It almost appears the oil rig we have been coming up on is under tow. There is an AIS target right in front of it moving at less than 1 knot. But then again, maybe not, as there are two more off in the distance. We do hear a call on the vhf saying there is a boat performing ROV operations in the vicinity, so maybe that’s what’s going on.

Then we spot a third platform. Seems like there’s oil to be found in Southern California.

I notice a huge structure on the coast line and check Google only to discover that Vandenberg Air Force Base is just off the port side. What I see is SLC 6, where the space shuttle had been planned to be launched. I haven’t been able to discover if they ever did do any missions from the West Coast as the Challenger disaster changed all the plans. Nonetheless, super cool!

3:35 pm
34° 32.3087′ N,120° 41.6592′ W

We are sailing again. We’ve got the main up with one reef and the genoa out, making 6.3 knots versus the 5.8 we were doing under motor. Our speed slowly climbs up to 7.5 as the winds also climb; the wind instrument is now showing 24 to 26 true.

4:30 pm

The consensus is we need to throw in a second reef. This is easier said than done when running downwind in stiff winds. There was some discussion about just toughing it out but what the hell, we need the practice anyway. To put in the reef we will need to heave to which is, as Tim succinctly puts it, going to be fairly violent. So for several exciting moments, as we swung up into the wind, with everything banging and crashing and heeled over almost 30° before we could backwind the genoa and bring us to a fairly stable stop, we had a wild ride all so we could let the main loose enough to work with. Then we worked to bring the sail down in a controlled manner while bouncing up and down the swells and still heeled over at a fairly significant angle. Once we got the main all cinched down again, we hauled on the main sheet and brought her around so we were now sailing downwind on the other tack. That meant we would have to gybe again, but we were heading offshore a bit so we we could clear Point Conception with a little extra room. All good fun.

So we headed out to sea for 10 minutes or so before we gybed back on original tack, which is always a touchy maneuver in anything less than calm winds. Soon we actually hit 10.2 knots surfing down the swells. These big points sure provide a lot of fun, but I would hate to be going the other way.

5:30 pm
34° 26.1957′ N,120° 29.8480′ W

We just passed Point Conception, which is the last big hurdle of the trip. We spotted and chatted to a sailboat named Sheila who was in fact going the other way. They were looking for a weather report and between us and Paradisea 5 miles back; we let him know the conditions he was facing. Watching him sure was uncomfortable as his bow would come up, and then crash down into to the oncoming swell. Didn’t look like much fun.

6:00 pm

We just rounded Government Point and are entering our anchorage for the night. It is literally right on the south side of Point Conception. The wind is suddenly warm and the whole environment has suddenly changed.

We try to maneuver around a bunch of massive kelp beds, fail miserably and slowly work our way past the crashing surf to where we can see Footloose, a 42-foot Katana catamaran, already anchored.

6:15 pm
34° 26.8886′ N,120° 26.4931′ W
Cojo Bay

All anchored. And I start stripping. It is so hot and my long johns and fleeces have got to go.

We are now sharing the bay with Footloose, Sea Esta, Harlequin, Paradisea, and Pinocchio. Four out of the six all destined for the Baja Haja.

It’s beautifully calm here but you can hear the surf crash all along the shore as the sun slowly sets over the point. And it’s still warm even after the sun disappears. I hang over the side and dip my toes in the water. Warm, but I’m not yet tempted to dive in.

The temperatures are still warmer than anything we’ve yet experienced, although I do grab a fleece as the evening progresses

We have a lovely dinner on deck and the stars are stunning with the Milky Way unraveling its splendor across the middle of the sky. There are so many stars. It’s one of those moments when you are reassured that it’s good to be alive.

What can I say? Beautiful, peaceful, glorious, amazing, all words to hint at the combination of peace and serenity being at anchor in this remote place with so few manmade objects to relate to and so many of nature’s glories to revel in.

Sept 25

6:40 am awake

I had a pretty bad sleep, the worst in fact, of the whole trip so far. Part of it was the anchor chain creaking on the bow roller as we swung around and part was that I was more than a little thirsty after the third, obviously inadvisable, glass of wine. But I was too lazy to get up and grab more water so there I lay, awake.

There was also the occasional odd beep from the main cabin and my phone would buzz. Hmmmmm…

7:22 am

Anchor up and we are off. But not without a few issues. The beeping I had been hearing was the inverter complaining and the house system was completely dead when we got up. Not even enough juice to power the solenoid to fire the stove to make coffee. Oh the inhumanity of it all! But the engine started fine so it was all good for recharging everything. But it’s another project…

The swivel on the anchor also bound, leaving the anchor in a position where we couldn’t bring it past the bow roller. But some manhandling popped it back into place and we got it all up and secure. Another project…

Footloose followed us out of the bay on almost exactly our heading so I guess we are all headed to Santa Barbara. The other three boats pull out about an hour behind us, but they are heading for the Channel Island to explore before heading on to San Diego.

Some frisky sea lions are racing us out on this sunny, warm day. They really are amazing to watch when they are going full tilt. The winds are south east at 8-10 knots so basically right on our nose.

8:30 am
34° 25.4321′ N,120° 19.7689′ W

There is very little swell and the winds are down to 5 knots or less. And it’s a straight shot to Santa Barbara so auto is going to do all the work today. We just need to try and stay cool and keep an eye out for occasional crab trap.

I started the day with no long johns and no windbreaker for the first time this trip. So far so good. I’ve just got my one fleece on and I might even be down to bare arms by noon.

10:15 am
34° 24.1893′ N,120° 8.6200′ W

Down to shirt sleeves. Woot!

10:25 am

We just drove through pack of porpoises. They were bouncing around right on our heading, veered off as we passed by and then joined us. They swam under the bow for 3 or 4 minutes before heading back to whatever important porpoise purposes they had previously been pursuing.

Look closely

The water is much clearer here and you can see the dolphins easily as they weave and whirl alongside. Donna got some nice video.

It’s calm and peaceful but it’s also pretty boring; I don’t think I would want to do days of this. We are passing a ton of oil rigs and can see Santa Cruz Island off in the distance.

12:30 pm
34° 22.9845′ N,119° 52.5833′ W

We just passed an oil rig fairly closely (a couple of thousand yards) and the water was filled with scum and oil residue. The smell of crude in the air was almost like being back in Alberta in the patch. I really hope this well was having a problem because if they are all putting out this much crap then I think California has a big issue.

1:00 pm

There is a huge pod of dolphins in distance. It’s an amazing sight, almost like a huge standing wave spanning hundreds of feet. Another appears smaller, about 300 feet off the port side. They don’t stick around and are heading somewhere fast.

2:30 pm
34° 24.5770′ N,119° 40.8985′ W
off Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara

Well we are now at anchor in Santa Barbara off Stearns Wharf. Today’s deviation from the plan was pretty mild, consisting solely of giving up on tying up at the marina and opting to anchor out for free. There was a moment there when I was thinking we might carry on the 22 nm to Ventura since the winds were finally up, but the lazy buggers among us won through and we called it quits for the day.

3:20 pm

We’ve unshipped the dinghy from the davits for the first time and are now tied up to dinghy dock. The entrance to the marina past the wharf and breakwaters was as crowded and congested as I have ever experienced. In the narrow, congested channel there were surfers, paddle boarders, sailboats, jet skis, inflatables with outboards, swimmers, sailing dinghies and big powerboats all coming and going within a broad spectrum of sense and nonsense.

A quick visit to the harbour master and then we are hitting the showers to clean up and cool off. It’s is super sunny and warm so I opt for a warm shower with a cold water cool down to finish it off. Lovely.

It’s very hot, probably 30°. We all meet up at the West Marine below the harbor master’s office, then Mark and Jim head for a beer, Tim and Donna go downtown and I follow them as far as the old wharf before splitting off.

On my way back I walked along the beach and got my tourist quota of California girls and bikinis. Apparently the heat is due to the Santa Anas and pretty unusual, so the locals are taking advantage.

I grabbed a beer back at the marina head and then indulged in some people watching. I was having a bit of a crisis as I couldn’t get a charge on my phone before I left and was down below 20%. I had to curtail the blog entries And Candy Crush playing. A bit later I moved down to the dockside and watched the ridiculous traffic in marina. Keystone cops anyone… Phone down to 8%!!

A little after 6, I met up with Tim & Donna and we piled into the dingy for the ride home. on the way we stopped for a happy hour glass of wine on Sea Esta and then headed on to Northwest Passage

I relaxed reading in my berth for a bit to work off some of the heat and then headed up to enjoy the cool night breeze in the cockpit.

Dinner was BBQ’d steak and carrots eaten under the stars on a warm and calm evening.

Tim fussed with the electrical system with no discernible results. The alternator didn’t look like it had been charging the batteries while we were motoring. Then he decided to try out his new Honda generator. We are officially one of those people now, but the road noise from the city was so loud I doubt anyone noticed us running a generator at nine in the evening.

So I went to bed.

Vancouver to San Diego Part Eleven

Sept 22

7:30 am

I got up and headed straight to the shower. I got everything all ready, started the water and stripped down. But the water wasn’t hot. I tried flipping the knob the other way but nada. I splashed a bit of coolish water but it just wasn’t doing it for me despite a valiant attempt to tough it out. Then I wondered if there was a hot water switch like I ran into back in Bragg Creek.

So I stepped out into the main area at the exact moment that someone came into the the washroom. There I stood slightly damp with my half hearted attempt to get soapy, stark naked. We locked eyes. He smiled. I blurted out something about hot water and he assured me that the hot water worked automatically; he’d had a few showers already. So I thanked him and retreated back into the relative privacy of the showers. That’s my embarrassment for the month taken care of.

Oh, and he was right. The water was plenty warm by the time I got back.

Back on board I had my coffee that Donna had thoughtfully put in a thermal mug and had some peanut butter and jam on toasted bagels. While I ate Tim read from a paperback they’d picked up at a book exchange.

It’s about this crazy guy who took a sailboat solo from Panama to Australia to rejoin his wife after WWII. He didn’t know how to sail and the story of his first attempt was both hilarious and frightening.

Then everyone (else) headed off for a run and I sunned myself on deck for a bit. Then it was time to beat Tim’s computer into submission. Apparently the restart did the trick because after I got it all plugged in and wired up it printed with nary a hiccup. Did I mention my feelings about Windows yet?

I finished my book (and the series) and spent some time fussing over what to start next. And then I started it. Life is pretty simple here at dock.

A few club members showed up to do some sailing. They have a nifty hoist system here. They just wheel their trailers (most of the small boats are stored in a compound across the street) and hook a three point harness to a hoist. Then they lift it up, swing it over the edge and drop it into the water easy as pie. A few minutes later they hoist the sails and sail off the dock.

Still in IT mode, I decided to set up the 24 inch monitor Donna bought. No big deal except that since both Tim and Donna’s computer have HDMI outputs there was no need for the adapter she had also bought.

After the team got back from their run I walked up to grocery store to resupply my stash of trail mix. I’d eaten the last of it a couple of days previously. It was a nice walk through a more residential area filled with succulent gardens and topiaried trees.

Upon arriving at the Albertsons I spotted a McDonalds and decided to indulge myself in junk food. The fries were distinctly less salty than their Canadian counterparts. I wonder if that’s a US thing or a Californian thing. The only other difference was instead of East Indian immigrants staffing the place, the workers were all Mexican. Different, yet oh so the same. I took advantage of the free wifi and wrote a bit.

Back at Albertsons I picked up more trail mix ingredients: raisins, peanuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips; I like my trail mix simple. Then I walked back towards the waterfront down a more commercial street and peered in all the shops as I went by. Nice little town.

The winds had been climbing when I left and they were going full bore by the time I got back. The boats were straining pretty hard at their moorings.

Tim was working on the broken cup holder. He had a bit of spare star board and had fashioned a brace for the piece I had snapped off. I helped with the last 5 minutes of the work and then retreated below.

By now the boat is really pushing on fenders. Our stern is facing into the wind which is blowing 25-30 kts in the bay. The waves are pounding into the transom and water is occasionally spraying over the back, even as far as in through the hatch.

Rafting was not the best idea in this situation and we are scrambling to get the fenders right between Sea Esta and us as well as making sure the ones on the dock side don’t burst under the weight of two 42-foot boats. The winds peak at 36 or so knots and blow most of the afternoon with lots of thumping and banging and halyards clanging to keep us awake down below.

So other than checking fenders and lines occasionally, I just hang out for the afternoon and relax.

Dinner is burgers and then around 8, Mark and Jim come over for Scotch night. I stick to red wine while the three guys sample scotch from Tim’s collection of 8 or 9 opened bottles that he cleared out of his Degnen Bay house when they moved out. There are Islay’s and 12- and 18-year old Glenfiddichs and a raft of other single malts.

I texted back and forth with Leslie while this was going on and eventually the evening wrapped up. The winds had died to nothing and the stars were out full force. It was actually a pretty nice night as I headed for bed.

Sept 23

7:30 am awake

This morning I started the day with a coffee followed by a shower. Hopefully the caffeine will prevent me from any more “shower moments”.

The weather is calm and glassy. No trace of the storm left in the harbor but I overhear some locals say the ocean buoy reports are still reporting some steep waves out there.

Everyone is off for a run again. I catch up on my last blog post and am all up to date again. Donna asked for the link so I guess typos count now. Hopefully Leslie will catch the worst of them.

I read for a bit and then headed out for a walk after the runners returned. I have got to remember to take more pics with my phone so I have something to post. Sometimes I think I should have brought the laptop and other times I’m glad I didn’t.

Morro Bay has a massive power station just like Moss Landing. They have these huge smoke stacks but apparently aren’t used unless they are needed. Not sure what that means in California but I’ve heard about their rolling brownouts. Maybe they fire them up in air conditioning season?

At the base of the smokestacks is the future home of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. Right now all they have is a nice sign and three static exhibits. One is an old Coast Guard lifeboat, there is an old working tug and finally there is the DSRV Avalon.

The Avalon is one of two Deep Sea Rescue Vehicles, mini subs, that were created after the Thresher disaster. It was designed to be flown anywhere in the world and deployed to help rescue sunken submariners. So cool.

A little further down I came across a cat on the beach named Rascal. He was a bundle of curious energy. I think he was working for the paddle board rental lady. As they were headed back up to their van he put on a burst of impressive cat speed and then plowed right into the soft mesh of his carrier. How red was his face?

I also spot a couple of surfers paddling out towards the big rock. They are on their knees scooping the water on each side to propel themselves along in the calm water of the bay. It looks like a real inefficient method of propulsion.

On the other side of the long dune joining Morro Rock to the mainland is long beach with tons of surfers. The waves are crashing in and surfers old and young are hanging out beyond the breakers waiting to catch a wave. It’s just like the movies! There doesn’t seem to be much standardization of boards though. There long ones and short ones and even some in between ones. Personal preference? Maybe they just can’t afford to change them every time styles change? I hang out watching for half an hour or so before wandering back towards the bay.

There are 2 packs of about twelve sea otters each floating in some kelp beds. A couple have pups on their stomachs and they are busy grooming and fussing. I could just hear pups complaining, “Aw, mom…”

I follow the lovely path back towards town. Just past the place I met Rascal there is a sea lion just off the beach. He doesn’t look like he’s doing well, just sort of floating in a foot of water and raising his head to breathe every 30 seconds or so. There are a couple of Marine Mammal Rescue people there observing and putting up some temporary beings saying keep away.

Turns out he is a fairly large, crested male adult. It is not abnormal for them to sleep on beaches, lifting their head every once in a while to breathe. He’s apparently been there for an hour or so and they are keeping an eye on him. The only unusual things about it was the busy location; usually they like more privacy. Then, after about 7 or 8 minutes of me watching him he just took off. Apparently I was creeping him out.

On the way back I grabbed a hot dog for $3.78. Nothing is cheap around here. I also check out a surf shop. $600 for a board and another $600 for a wetsuit and I’d be all good to go.

The boats have all moved around by the time I get back. They guy on the end volunteered to leave the dock so Northwest Passage and Sea Esta moved over to free up the dock space for boats preparing for an event tomorrow. But I found them anyway.

Turns out there is a 6 o’clock happy hour at the club and we are all invited. So I settle in to read and relax while Tim and Donna head out to fill up the other propane tank. Then it’s just hanging out for the rest of the afternoon. By that I mean Tim tries to wash the boat without using water conspicuously and Donna does laundry and paperwork for San Diego and Mexico. I just read and write some more. Some crew huh?

We are still unsure of our destination tomorrow, just sure we are leaving at 6am. It might be Port San Luis Obispo or it might be Cojo Bay. One is 3.5 hrs away and the other is 10 hrs. 6 am seems excessive if we are only going to San Luis though.

The other thing that is up in the air is my final destination. It’s looking like Northwest Passage might possibly be taking its time on the LA to San Diego leg. If so I will likely get off in LA rather than wait to the 6th or 7th of October to arrive in San Diego.

Tim is looking up a replacement starter as we are having issues with this one engaging 100% of the time. And as he says, in his experience these things don’t fix themselves.

Happy hour was crowded. There were snacks, and pints for $3. I had a dark IPA which was weird. We talked to a few people and I did my token socializing before scurrying back to the boat after and hour and a half.

Chatted with L a bit online, talked destination arrival with Tim, ate some chicken wings and that was that. Just another day stranded on shore.