7:8 Why I Otter

No Internet. No time. Catch up later…

Up and at em. Tim wasn’t due for a bit and we had discovered that while the boat’s sound system had an aux in, unlike the At Last there was no supplied 1/8″ cable. So we hopped in the car (we still had the keys) and made a quick trip to London Drugs for a cable. We’d already blown through a bunch of waters so we picked up another flat just to be safe. While the water on board is potable, conservation is the name of the game when on a boat. That way you can stay out longer and avoid marina charges. We never did have a problem with it though and we weren’t particularly water-concious. Then again we weren’t away from a port more than a night.

When we got back we did the engine checks and tidied up in preparation for casting off. As a result we were up and off pretty soon after Tim arrived. C took out of the slip and down the channel, motoring south to public dock so we could get in some learning and practice. We got one good docking in on the big wharf before we were booted off by the dock boys. Then we switched tot he wast pump-out dock as it was usually empty. It’s a smaller dock—barely big enough for our 38′ but that just meant we had to be more precise. Everyone got a chance to practice and there were very very aborts. All in all a very confidence building experience—for me at least.

One of the bonuses of moving to the pump out dock was our spectator: a cute little otter. He spend most of his time cavorting in and around a floating raft while we came and went. Since everyone got a chance to work the ones, everyone got  at least a few moments to watch him roll around and  hop back and forth. C decided that Pedro needed a friend but alas her wiles were not up to the job—or at least not so far. Who knows what will show up on her doorstep back in Greisbach: he has the address now.


Eventually we decided to move on and headed across the harbour to Mark Bay to try our hand at a mooring buoy. As we had discovered in the At Last, grabbing a mooring buoy from the bow is almost impossible. The chains are heavy and covered with algae and weeds below the surface. With Tim and Leslie hauling on the boat hook and C’s gorilla arms reaching for the ring, we still weren’t able to haul up the chin close enough to get a line through it. Eventually we gave up and pulled stern to the buoy, looped the rope from the swim grid and backed the boat down while walking the line forward. A much better system which we adopted for the rest of the trip. We had a quick lunch and then cast off again to head out to find some wind.


We set sail coming out of Nanaimo harbour and it was a much calmer day. With C at the wheel we sailed out from behind Protection Island and headed out to the Strait. We (with C at the helm) tacked back and forth in a steadily decreasing wind until we were eventually becalmed just before Entrance Island. So we furled the jib, lowered the mainsail and fired up the engine. Leslie took the helm and motored us along the outside of Gabriola Island to Silva Bay. I took over as we entered the maze of tiny islands that protects Silva Bay from the weather of the Georgia Strait. After a brief discussion we decided that free moorage at Tim’s docks in Degnen made more sense that paying at Silva so we passed on through and took the shallow passage between Gabriola and Sear Island out to Gabriola Passage.


The current was good, so we passed quickly though the passage and turned to starboard into Degnen Bay. Tim was pretty sure he had an empty slip and it turned out to be true: right beside a monster Bavaria that had its owner aboard. I circled around to get a good look and to let the crew get out the fenders and then proceeded to back a 10 foot wide boat into a 14 foot wide hole, with the neighbours watching to ensure I didn’t scrape their very, very expensive boat up. But I made it with a lot of coaching from Tim and we tied up happy as a clam. We plugged into shore power and started to think about dinner. Tim’s house overlooks the marina so he was going to sleep ashore, but Carmen had some delicious BBQ planned.

Dinner and wine on deck and then Tim bid us bon soir. We sat up and watched the beautiful stars and relaxed after an enjoyable day: quite different from the previous day by a long, long way.


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