Vancouver to San Diego Part 1

Forgive the odd image placement. It’s hard to do on the phone.

August 31

7:30 am
53° 16.0117′ N,113° 41.8405′ W

Up at some ridiculous hour and off we go. While it was bone dry at our condo we were surrounded in four sides by lightening. At 6 in the morning it is kind of eerie since your brain isn’t function at full speed yet. By the time we were half way round the Henday (our ring road) the rain had started and we just tried to keep out of the maniacal morning commuters’ way and still stay between the nearly invisible lines.

Still we made good time and arrived at the airport barely 40 minutes after leaving the front door. There was an tender but not so tearful goodbye and L drive off leaving me to my dates for the next few weeks.

For those who don’t already know I am joining my friends Tim and Donna on their Baltic 42 as they begin their journey to Mexico. I am just sailing the Vancouver to San Diego leg and get to miss all the boring stuff in the sunny south.

By the time I got through security and made my way down to gate bazillion-and-one I had barely sat down before they called the pre boarding. Since I had emergency row seats I got to stand right back up and board. We started boarding at 7:10 for an 8 o’clock flight. These things are getting more and more inefficient.

8:30 am
49° 16.2889′ N,123° 8.2490′ W

And hour and a bit later I grabbed my bag at YVR and after a bunch of waffling decided to grab a cab. It took me straight to Granville island with my overly heavy duffle and I waddled down the dock to where I saw Northwest Passage tucked up against a powerboat.

There was no one aboard so I called Tim. They were at Starbucks borrowing wifi so I dumped my gear aboard and headed out. The boat looked like it was still undergoing refitting more than something set to cruise a couple of thousand miles south but then boats always look like that up until the last minute.

After a quick greeting I headed off to visit West Marine while Tim and Donna headed back to the boat. I scoped out some prices and then walked a few more blocks to Steveston Marine chandlers. I picked up an inflatable off with an integrated harness and tried on a few jackets before deciding to buy the WestMarine house brand instead. So back I went and picked up a jacket and a pair of cruising boots (fancy sailing gumboots) and then hauled my loot back to the boat.

1 pm

The rest of the day was spent doing odds and ends. We installed a 110 plug in the vberth and a twin 12v/usb plug at the chart table. These were fairly simple jobs but involved a lot of boat yoga so I was a tad stiff later.

Next up was bolting deck rails on the stanchions for lashing spare tanks we have 1 gas tank, 4 diesel tanks and 4 water tanks, all 5 gallons each. Along the way I managed to drop Tim’s favourite crescent wrench overboard. Losing other people’s tools seems to be becoming a habit for me.

Once those were done we then worked on a grab rail for the dodger. this involved wonderful the docks trying to find something we could bend this 3-foot piece of stainless steel over so it would match the existing curve. Pretty much every system we came up with was almost guaranteed to kink the thing rather than add a bend but like the manly men we are we persevered. Well actually Tim persevered. I eventually got bored and wandered off after declaring the task impossible. Of course now we have a handy, perfectly curved, stainless steel grab rail attached to the front of the dodger so I guess we all know who won and crushed in that scenario.

Supper was a late night bbq’d steak and that was pretty much it for Day 1. I crawled into my berth and resolved to actually get organized later.

September 1

8:00 am departure

I wandered up to the shore to have a lovely hot 6 minute shower and was back on board and ready to go by 8. We were supposed to meet up with our traveling companion Sea Esta X out in English Bay by 8:30. Sea Esta is Tim’s boat, a Catalina 42, and he is also taking it south. His crew was joining us in Point Roberts where we would clear into the U.S.

The winds were South 10-15 knots so of course we were going south. We did roll out the jib and actually had a good sail with the winds climbing over 20 knots at one point. One long tack took us out towards Sandheads.

49° 7.1764′ N,123° 19.0649′ W

We spotted some dolphins around out among all the fishing boats at the mouth of the Fraser River.

A bit later we tacked to get closer to shore but right around Tsawwassen we gave up, rolled in the sail and motored the rest of the way.

Point Roberts
48° 58.5899′ N,123° 3.8183′ W

2 hours plus at customs. I’m not sure what kind of bureaucratic hell the CPB officers dwell in but it has to be some sort of punishment. There were multiple, multiple phone calls, visits from at least two different pairs of officers, more phone calls and contradictory instructions. But the only question they asked was what was my job which they decided was irrelevant since I was just heading home right away.

Eventually they did issue us our cruising license although they had to phone us the actual clearance number since their system kept crashing and we were free to cast off.

4:06 departure

In the long interim the winds had turned to light so we motored against the current towards Sucia Island. Intermittent dolphins visited along the way and we had a pleasant trip across the bottom of the Strait of Georgia.

48° 45.679′ N, 122° 54.951′ W
Sucia Island

After we pulled into Shallow Bay on the north side of Sucia I brought us alongside and we rafted to Sea Esta X rather than dropping our own hook. The Catalina is rather luxuriously appointed so we abandoned ship in favour of a cold beer under their canvas.

An hour or so later dinner on deck was corn and pollock burgers and then it was time to hit the sack.