5:3 Windy Way

Morning and up we got. I grabbed a shower and settled up at the marina office: $50 this time, pretty steep. We started on our morning checks and cleaned the salt off the windshields so we could see. I was scrubbing down the glass when our neighbour mentioned he had called the ambulance! Seems his girlfriend had been feeling dizzy and bad and the Nursing Hotline advised him to call it in. The emergency responders ended up on the wrong dock but eventually made their way over. Meanwhile Tim and Donna showed up at 9 as planned and suddenly there were 20 people standing on the finger watching a small sailboat the probably couldn’t hold more than 5 or 6. Eventually it all sorted itself out and the girlfriend was wheeled away. Tim kindly helped the fellow snug his sails downs before be headed after the ambulance.

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We said goodbye to Donna and started to talk about how we would get out without any issues. I decided to drive straight out between the two boats in front of me and then pivot my bow into the wind and then leave with gusto to avoid being blown back into the leeward docks. We discussed a few other options and considerations and then, with coaching from Tim, I actually pulled it off as planned. I must finally be getting this stuff.

Since the tide was up we opted to exit south through the shallow channel. The only real consideration was this was also the seaplane landing strip. But all went well and we made it out. I turned the helm over to Leslie and she guided us into Gabriola Passage.

Since we were returning to Nanaimo today we had to negotiate both Gabriola Passage and Dodd Narrows. Leslie and I had done the math and calculated if we left at 10 am we could hit Gabriola Passage an hour after slack which was easy in a power boat, and at 9 knots, make it to Dodd Narrrows at almost exactly slack.

Something must of broken loose in the night because Leslie had to negotiate Gabriola Passage with 3 other boats and a log boom. Easy-peasy. We rounded the corner of Valdes island and headed SW to Ruxton Passage. The wind was following so it wasn’t too bad and from Ruxton to Dodd Narrows it was pretty protected.

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After Leslie brought us through Dodd Narrows though, we were open to the wind coming in off the Strait. It got pretty bouncy. All the way up Northumberland Channel we rode the waves. After securing the cabin more thoroughly we tried some MOB drills and maneuvering with a strong wind. Round and round, pound, pound, pound. Eventually we started angling west towards the entrance to Nanaimo harbor but tried to cheat it enough so that we weren’t too much beam into the wind.

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Back to Nanaimo, we could see a 3 ferries in the water: one small one for Gabriola Island, a big one for Departure bay on the far side of Nanaimo and a third coming in behind us to Duke Point. We managed to miss them all.

We headed to back Newcastle Island again to practice on mooring bouys and anchors in a crowded(-ish) harbour. We each anchored up surrounded on 3 sides by other boats and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The only real issue we had was our chain locker doesn’t seem to pass the anchor chain into a nice pile and it kept jamming the windlass. So whenever we were raising the anchor this forced someone down into the V-berth to settle the pile of chain. Fine if there are 3 of us but Leslie and I were trying to do this with just 2.

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Next up we tried a mooring bouy. Leslie picked it up from the stern and we tried walking it forward which was impossible in the wind. About 30 minutes of traditional male stubbornness later Tim and I got the bow docking line through the ring; I think Leslie had sensibly written it off much earlier as a learning experience.

It was lunch time and Leslie had not been checked out on the dinghy so we decided to leave the boat on the bouy and putt over to the Dinghy Dock Pub for lunch. Leslie got the scoop on the 4 stroke, 9hp outboard including turtle and rabbit, choke, safety cutoff lanyard and basic steering instructions. It was one of those things: I never quite realized that someone could not know how to handle an outboard or tiller… it just seems second nature to me.

Anyway Leslie took us across the bay to the pub’s docks and I jumped out. The waitress told us here was a lower, protected dinghy dock round back so Leslie and Tim cast off and took her around while took pictures. We had a nice lunch on the deck in the sun and unlike the kayakers across the pub, we opted for ice water. They were sucking back beer and I wondered if they would even be able to get in their kayaks later. A self correcting problem I guess. Too drunk to get in: too drunk to be on the water…

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We hopped back into the dinghy and Leslie brought us smoothly back to the At Last. I almost soaked myself trying to hop up on the swim grid before tying us to the boat, but fortunately all I suffered was a tear in my pants. We hauled out the dinghy, cast off the buoy and headed back to Nanaimo and Stones Marina.

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I finished the trip with a reasonably competent docking in the fuel dock where a helpful young man with a cigarette hanging from his lips (on a fuel dock?) helped with the lines. Unfortunately it was now 4:10 and the fuel dock had closed at 4:00. I called Lorraine and she said to bring her in to the slip. Tim intimated that I could try but he that was leery about doing it himself. I sensibly opted to watch Tim maneuver it in stern first amongst the crowded fingers with the wind blowing the bloody bow around like a kite. Beautifully done. Ian was at the slip to help with the lines, and we were home.

Tim sat down to finish off the paperwork and we went through where we were and what he felt was our current level of competence. In the end his assessment was pretty much on par with our own self-assessment. We both passed our coursework, both Ashore and Practical components for all three courses: Competent Crew Power, Day Skipper Power and Coastal Navigation. His recommendation was that I could be turned loose on the charter industry, but I need a lot of practice and it would be a good thing if I didn’t wait a year to get it. Leslie also passed on paper, but needs to work on taking charge and more practice on basic boat handling.

After that he packed up and and we walked him down the dock and said our goodbyes. I would highly recommend Tim to anyone, and he does have his own 42 ft sailboat that he is setting up as a boat and breakfast.

Leslie and I grabbed the keys to the Ocean Pearl, the 38ft Bayliner, and looked it over. That’s the boat next up on my agenda. Walking back I wondered out loud if Paul Kantor was in port. He was our ashore instructor in Edmonton for the ISPA Sailing courses that L, C and I had been taking. He was supposed to be doing on-water stuff this week with Nanaimo Yacht Charters. Next thing you know, there he was sitting in the cockpit of a powder-blue 40ft Hanse. We chatted a bit and wandered back to our boat.

I grabbed a shower ashore and came back to BBQ some chicken and stirfry some peas and mushrooms. Leslie contributed the pasta and we had a lovely little repast. A quiet evening of winding down and we snugged in for our last night aboard.

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