We got on a plane. It was 5:45 pm. Then for six hours we sat. It. Ever got dark. Then we got off the plane (in the middle of the airfield) and it was 6:45 the next morning.
Flying to Iceland is weird.
Iceland Air has many, many planes. Reykjavik has about 6 gates. Their solution is to offload you in the middle of the tarmac and load you on a bus and drive you, dodging planes and ground crew the entire way, to the terminal.
Then, if you are catching a connecting flight like we were, you line up at a gate, they load you back on a bus and then drive you all the way back to the middle of the tarmac and load you on the plane right beside the one you just got off of. Presumably you luggage just took the more efficient route of transiting the 100 feet between cargo holds.
Then it was 3 hours to Gatwick and the end of any peace and quiet. London is a loud place. With all the go, go, go you don’t notice it until you head down a quiet university lane and the sudden cessation of the constant cacophony wraps around you like a comforting blanket.
Arriving at Gatwick, you are processed in a classic hurry-up-and-wait system that rushers you through the airport and spits you out in the terminal lobby. We wandered over to the airport concierge and bought Oyster passes for the transit system and 2 tickets for the Gatwick express to Victoria Station. Then a quick transfer to the Undergoumd and we were crossing the street in Kensington to our hotel.
It’s a small room on the 3rd floor of an old Edwardian row house. There are a lot of old Edwardian row houses. Or at least what I think are old Edwardian row houses. But what do I know about row houses? They could be Georgian row houses for all I know…but I like the ring of Edwardian row houses so there you go.
We dumped our stuff, grabbed a quick shower and went for pizza and prosecco. At this point it was 3 pm local time and I hadn’t slept so we decided one of those hop-on,hop-off bus tours would be just the ticket for staying awake until evening.
So for four hours we looped around London listening to a travelogue, seeing all the main sites and picking up tidbits like Mews were old back alleys for the carriage houses and most of what I think of London is actually Westminster.
Breakfast in the basement and we walked down to the Imperial College to check out L’s conference site. Then it was the tube to Westminster and we hopped on a one-way river tour which had been included with yesterday’s bus tickets.
We saw the river side and disembarked at the Tower of London. It’s way bigger than I imagined. Somehow it’s never really represented as a fortress but it really is. We decided against the 20 pound tickets and just walked around. It certainly makes more sense now that I’ve seen it. Especially the riverside…
Then we ducked into All Hallows Church. Standing their gazing at the ceiling we were approached by an older gentleman that invited us to stay for a pipe organ concert in about 15 minutes. We had a chat about the history of the place. Apparently it was bombed out in the war and when it was rebuilt the ceiling and supports were cast from concrete due to all the shortages in lumber etc after the war. Apparently houses cont first priority on building materials. Makes sense but it’s one of those “aftermath” things we rarely think about.
It had a small crypt with some Roman artifacts and the obligatory diorama. I love dioramas. This one looked remarkable similar to the one in Trier but I suppose that’s not surprising as the Romans were distinctly unimaginative when it came to designing new towns.
Upstairs the organ recital had started so we sat in the pews for a bit and took in the Schumann and Bach and enjoyed the cool air and free wifi.
Christopher Wren’ St Paul’s was on my list so we decided to walk there next. Unlike every other church we have explored this one had a 20 pound admission. But it was on the list so we coughed up the cash and wandered in.
It was unlike any other cathedral I’d seen. The closest in feel was St Andrews in Bordeaux, but it had much cleaner lines and little of the gothic left. There was a concert scheduled for that evening so we were treated to some strings and pipe organ as the musicians practiced. No photos allowed in the cathedral so I sneaked a few.
Exiting the cathedral we wandered down Fleet Street and decided to grab a meal. I spotted a small pub and we popped in. As far as I could tell we were the only tourists in the place.
Apparently English pub etiquette is to line up at the bar and order your drink and food. When it’s time for a refill you queue up again with your empty and exchange it for a new pint. The beer is mostly warm which was a fact I had forgot about the English. L had two ciders and I tried a couple of local ales. Pretty good stuff.
It was much different than I expected. At first it seemed little more than a giant Bay with endless cosmetics but after we headed up a few floors it started to regain a bit of its mystique. Eventually they kicked us out and we walked home and zonked out for the night.
- Up around 0700.
- We are an hour away from Sidney and have a noon lunch date so will just hang out for the morning.
- We motor down and check out Fulford Harbour. Nice looking place except for the big ass ferry that comes and goes multiple times a day.
- We motor to Sidney and tie up.
- Lunch with Geo Takach and his daughter Fran.
- Laundry in the P.M.
- Then Mark and Karen pick us up and take us for delicious Chinese.
- Off the dock around 1000 hrs. I have to stop trying to turn the bow into the wind.
- Motor past Portland Island and then raise the sails.
- We are sailing with a ton of big ferries in some pretty narrow water.
- It gets even more exciting by Enterprise Reef just outside of Active Pass and the Ferries have little room to maneuver and we have a lee shore. But everyone finds sea room and no one dies.
- We sail right into Montague Harbour and drop our sails at hedge of the anchorage.
- We anchor off the marina and settle in for the night.
- I haul the dinghy up on deck to search again for the slow leak. No luck.
- Load the outboard on the dinghy and set off for the marina to explore.
- Then we head to the Provincial Park to walk the shoreline.
- We are up bright and early and head for Nanaimo to spend out last few days in the harbour. Need to make Dodd Narrows slack at 1330 hrs.
- We raise the sails in 13 knots and slowly jibe back and forth going down wind. It’s cold again.
- Just before Porlier Pass we haul in the main and motor sail with the jib. We are making 6.3-7 knots the rest of the trip.
- Winds are predicted to be 20-30 tomorrow so we decided to just head on into our slip at Stones.
- Fuel up and back into our slip for the last time around 1430 hrs.
- Rain. Not much wind though.
- I buy some cleaner for the inside of the bimini (still some algae from last winter). Hosing the underside of the enclosure in the rain…it presents an odd picture.
- We prep for a quick haulout, but then its cancelled.
- So we grab our bins from storage and start sorting and packing.
- And then the winds. And more rain.
- Looks like we are inside for the rest of the day.
- And more rain.
- Lovely sunny morning.
- Drop off a bag at Seair so they can send it on an earlier flight.
- Do the last loads of laundry for stuff staying in storage.
- Finish packing and inventorying by noon and haul everything into storage unit.
- Clean galley and then the rain starts again.
- Afternoon coffee with L’s parental units.
- More cleaning.
- Last dinner aboard.
- Finish it off with a movie in the cockpit.
- Off the boat.
- At Seair by 9:15.
- We get to fly in a Beaver (1956); always my favourite.
- Only 3 on the flight so we leave 20 minutes early.
- And a couple of hours in YVR before we are home…
As our spring cruise slowly begins to wind up, I bring you even more excerpts from the logs of Never for Ever.
- I’m up bright and early. Lots of traffic on the docks as boaters (and charterers) come and go.
- Ian makes up some more epoxy and I patch the hole in the dinghy.
- I check the Velcro—the glue has not held; the sealant has not cured right. Need a Plan B. And to stop using that sealant—it has failed me in almost every application since I bought it.
- Around 2, after borrowing the car, I head downtown to pick up Leslie at the Harbour Air terminal.
- We head to Thrifty’s for replenishment. I pick up some contact cement at London Drugs. Then we drive over to Harbour Chandlers and I get a small tube of silicone seal.
- We wander over to chat with Canty. We are not able to make definitive plans but will try and hook up in the next few weeks.
- We order Ali Baba pizza (delivery) for supper. Delicious and a most welcome treat.
- Chain is in and Ian marks off 120’ up by the office.
- Jared comes down and checks the shaft alignment. Torques the motor mounts one last time and tightens an injector. He also tightens up the stuffing box.
- I reattach the teak and mount the flag on the spiffy refinished flagstaff.
- Leslie and I spray paint yellow in 30’ increments and add yellow zip ties on the 15’ increments. One of the staff comes by and splices the old rope rode onto the new chain. We are good to go.
- We load up the chain, rope and anchor in a heavy-duty wheelbarrow and haul it down to the boat.
- Leslie’s parents show up so we head off to the Pirates Fish and Chip place for lunch.
- Back on board we finish loading rode and anchor back on bow. We are officially good to go.
- We decide to wait another day and clean the canvas before we leave. So we spend the afternoon cleaning canvas and getting wet and grimy.
- Beth (from NYCSS) is taking out Baraka 2 with some friends for the weekend and are loading up tons of supplies.
- We also book our Iceland accommodations and tour as well as the last of the London details.
- We cast off around 1000 hrs and fuel up.
- Then we roll out the sail while we are still in the harbour and head to Dodd Narrows for the 1300 slack.
- We sail all the way to Dodds and roll in the main for a transit about an hour early. A Hunter in front of us balks twice at the entrance and on their failed second attempt we scoot by and smoothly transit the narrows.
- On the other side we raise sails almost immediately in 10-12 knot winds and start beating south. The next two sailboats, and a few minutes later Baraka 2, all raise their sails as well and we all crisscross back and forth. Eventually we all split off to go our separate ways.
- We arrive at Clam Bay, Thetis Island still under sail around 1600 having put less than an hour on the engine all day. We anchor on the south side in 20’ of water with our shiny new chain.
- Leslie goes for a long evening row.
- Lazy day.
- Around 1100 we put the motor on Laughing Baby and transit the Cut to the Telegraph Harbour Marina.
- Most of the boats from the Hunter Rendezvous are gone but we chat with Lawrence for a bit and promise we will make next year’s Rendezvous. (It will have an ABBA theme!)
- The rest of the day is relaxing in the very still waters of the bay and watching all the boats leave. There were 15 or 20 when we arrived and we are down to 5 by the time we settle in for the night.
- Beautiful sunset!
- A slow morning. Only 3 boats left by the time we decided to move on.
- It’s still glassy calm, so we motor south towards Prevost Island or maybe Ganges on Saltspring.
- As soon as the water is hot, I grab a shower.
- James Bay on Prevost is our preferred destination and as we approach, it appears there are only two converted fishing boats rafted together in the deeper part of the Bay. Score.
- We drop anchor in 30’ of water on a falling tide and settle in at the end of our 120’ in about 22’ depth. Perfect.
- We row ashore and explore the mudflats before heading over to the camping area on the west side of the bay. This bay is now part of the Gulf Islands National Marine Park Reserve. We grab a map showing all the reserves and realize we have been to many of them already.
- Another quiet evening. We are joined by two more sailboats but one leaves around 8 o’clock.
- Up around 0730 to another sunny day.
- I catch up on some blogging.
- We hit the reef at low, low tide (1015 hrs) and do some exploring.
- Ongoing Bald eagle/raven battles keep us amused.
- With the motor on the dinghy we head out into Captains Passage and check out Selby Cove and Annette Cove. Two more anchorages on Prevost Island for next time.
- In the afternoon we hike up rough trails that run north along the peninsula.
- After some bushwhacking we hit the top of the hill and take some images and enjoy the sunshine and view.
- Beautiful sunny day.
- loll around.
- Eventually we take off and hike inland. Then we cut across and bushwhack down into a valley before heading back to the cove. No groomed trails here but some really nice hikes nonetheless.
- Cold and rainy evening.
- Up early in the rain. Slow motor to Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island dodging crab traps in the limited visibility.
- Tie up at Ganges Marina.
- Wind is up but the sun slowly comes out.
- We check out downtown, Black Sheep Books, acquire some back-up wine, a few souvenirs and buy a few things at Thrifty’s.
- After Eight (a 150’ yacht owned by the Wheaton family of Edmonton) comes in and ties up at the government wharf.
- Back at the boat we unpack and then head out again for a bigger tourist experience.
- We check out all the shops, talk art in the co-op gallery and smell some awesome soaps. L buys a card with a drawing of Mona Lisa— there is a series each with a different version done by a class of school kids. A great idea.
- We now have a new dish drain pan!
- Dinner at Moby’s Pub. Probably the best beef dip I have ever had. Really, really good.
- Quiet night aboard; we have wifi so we catch up on some Netflix.
- up early and watch the HMCS Raven cast off the outer dock. They leave two crew ashore who then catch up in a RIB.
- We shower, top up the water and cast off.
- 1.75 hrs later we drop anchor alongside two other boats off Russell Island, another Gulf Island National Park.
- It’s low tide so we hit the shore for a couple of hours of beachcombing along the midden beaches. Starfish, sea cucumbers and we actually get some video of barnacles feeding. I love low tide.
- The anchorage starts to fill up with 10 or 11 boats here for the night.
- While we are chatting, it occurs to me that the name of the guy who’s Bayfield bumped into us in the middle of the night had said he was headed to see a friend in Prince Rupert. And his name was Cole. And he had a Bayfield. I ran for my cellphone and loaded the YouTube app. Yup, the Cole who banged into us was Alfie from the Life is Like Sailing YouTube channel that I watch. Cole had helped Alfie take his boat up to Prince Rupert last fall. Small world—I just wish I had figured it out sooner.
- We make a reservation at Port Sidney for Sunday night—gonna go visit some peeps.
- Skipbo for evening entertainment
- Lots of powerboats=generators disturbing the morning silence.
- We take off for a hike and manage to do the whole island. Probably not more than 3 miles or so total.
- There is an old Hawaiian settlement here: apparently there were lots of Hawaiian workers who decided not to return home and settled the coast.
- Snakes! Clam gardens built along the north shore! Hidden rose gardens and massive clematis!
- We go past the groomed trails and hike to the eastern tip of the island.
- There are 21 + boats in the anchorage by the time we get back.
- A Fine Madness is a big ketch filled with students from Lethbridge. The program is called Literasea. Stuck on a boat with a dozen or so teenager? No wonder the Captain took a short walk on the island by himself 🙂
- We count them up and realize we have only spent (as in paid cash for) 9 nights in a marina. There was almost a week on the hard in Stones and probably about 6 other nights in our slip. But other than that, in almost two months we have paid to stay only 9 times. Pretty sweet.
- The anchorage must be a common party spot on weekends because a half dozen of the powerboats all seem to know each other.
- Another crib blowout.
- 23 boats in the anchorage when we retire for the evening — 10 of them sailboats.
More excerpts from the logs of Never for Ever.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 🙂
- 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.
- Quiet day while Leslie works on her presentation.
- I clean the boat. It needed it.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Let’s continue on with a day-to-day summary of our trip to date shall we? That means I can just copy notes out of the ship’s log, add an observation here and there and be absolved from doing any real writing. Ah laziness…
5 May con’t
– We spent the rainy day in Squirrel Cove hunkered down, out of the rain.
– Nothing to report.
– Raised anchor around 0945 and motored back to the public dock.
– Leslie went ashore to mail some mail (Mother’s Day cards).
– Then we set off north, anticipating a nice downwind sail in 10-12 knots of wind.
– And the wind died.
– Arrived at Cassel Lake Falls in Teakerne Arm a few hours later.
– Spent a looooong time trying to stern tie in 100ft+ of water and just downstream from the falls. We finally managed to get the boat stable on our third stern tie position.
– Hiked up to the top of the falls and then on to the lake. Beautiful!
– Back at the dingy we rowed along the coastline before heading back to the base of the falls.
– Once aboard the winds picked up on the beam and the stern got closer and closer to the shore — not sure if the anchor was dragging or the long rode in deep water was adding to much play into the system…
– A brief discussion resulted in the prudent decision to up anchor around 1630 and set off for Von Donop Inlet.
– Side note: my allergies were kicking in and I was hacking away and choking like I haven’t done in years.
– 17-20 knots of wind right on the nose: sigh.
– We anchored in the first cove by the lagoon at 2015 hrs.
– Anchor was making a weird noise all night.
– Upon consultation we decided the noise was unacceptable and pulled up the anchor to move further down the inlet.
– We are the third boat the. This counts as the most crowded we’ve been since we left Nanaimo.
– L and I are both now exhibiting signs of bad colds. Did we pack cold meds? No.
– Nice sunny day and L explored the inlet by dinghy.
– Spent some time on the point overlooking the entrance.
– Colds fully installed and raging. We feel like crap.
– We decide to head for some sort of chemical relief and up anchor for Heriot Bay
– 2 hours later, Heriot Bay is full, so we tie up at Taku Resort.
– L docks us masterfully. She’s been doing a lot of docking this trip.
– We pay up and head for the store for Sinutab and NeoCitran and doughnuts for lunch.
– Later we hang around the boat suffering pathetically.
– Dinner is the pub at the Heriot Bay Inn. Burger and a Hermann’s for $12: w00t!
– Just before we go to bed, while brewing a batch of NeoCitran, the propane runs out. Switch tanks at night in the rain or wait until morning, knowing coffee will have to wait?
– Try to make coffee and remember previous night’s decision. Crawl out on stern to change propane tanks. Make coffee.
– More hanging around pathetically.
– We make a trip back to the store for some milk and produce.
– I checked the public dock to see if Peter from Kismet was there but no.
– More hanging around. Possibly even more pathetically.
– Still sick but tired of being sick and tied up to the dock.
– I forgo my morning doping and we cast off for Octopus Islands
– First we stop at Heriot Bay to refuel and refill our empty propane tank
– We are way early (3 hours) for slack at Beazley Passage so we tied up at the Surge Narrows Public Dock.
– I forgot about the note about the cross current and screw up backing in twice before I jump off the stern (dock line in hand) to just wrestle the damn boat in by hand.
– Someone forgets to take boat out of gear before aforementioned jumping to dock.
– L saves the day.
– Finally tied up we chat with the locals, explore the post office right on the dock and walk up the road (track) to the local school.
– No roads here, no power, no services — just cool residents living the life.
– A couple of hours of hanging around: pathetic love: medium.
– 1700 hrs we cast off again and negotiate the “rapids” with no issue.
– Arrive in Octopus Islands with one boat in the centre cove so we head to the northern-most cove and swing in the middle by our lonesome.
– We are joined by two other boats.
– Colds continue; considering labeling ourselves a “plague ship.”
– L throws her back out to make life even better; adds Robaxacet to drug regimen.
– It rains off and on.
– I go for a small row, but we otherwise huddle below.
– Rains on and off, sunny in between.
– Going stir crazy, so we head off for a row around the islets.
– We encounter Brad and Jan from s/v Longreach just arriving back at their boat in the other cove. They have been crabbing.
– After turning down their offer of crab due to extreme crab-related ignorance and then turning down their offer of free wine due to plague-ship status, we finally relent to accept a couple of pre-cleaned crab and cooking instructions. Super-nice people who have been living aboard for years and traveled to Mexico, the South Pacific, Japan and back.
– We return to the boat for the now traditional hanging around pathetically.
– For dinner we boil up the crab, I make up a lemon mignonette and garlic aioli and are now initiated into the ranks of messy crustacean consumers. Good stuff.
– L need internet for some last minute conference stuff, so we decided to head off to the Toba Wildernest Resort on the advice of friendly neighbourhood boaters.
– We up-anchor 30 minutes before slack at Hole in the Wall — everyone else does as well and as we leave the Islands they are once again empty.
– We circle outside Hole in the Wall (up to 11 knots of current at max flood!) waiting for exact slack. Two trawlers come through from the other side about 8 minutes early and we head in as soon as the clear the pass.
– The gap between the two islands takes about 30 minutes and is narrow and beautiful the whole way.
– As we cross Calm Channel we get internet again for the first time in a bunch of days.
– No wind and we motor for a few hours easterly towards Toba Inlet.
– Approaching the Wildernest Resort we radio in and they tell us they are still closed until June 1. Bugger. Stupid friendly neighbourhood boaters.
– So we head south to Waddington Channel to check out Walsh Cove.
– Walsh is beautiful but involves a stern tie in 60-80 feet of water. And we’re tired. And still sick. And Prideaux is only 1.5 hrs south. So we decide to continue on.
– We anchor in Laura Cove (Prideaux Haven) around 1820 hrs. Since we are the only boat we just swing in the middle. Long, tiring day. We take drugs and go to sleep.
– I’m feeling better. -ish. The cold has receded leaving only the post nasal drip of a bad allergy attack that wakes me up in the middle of the night because I’m choking. L’s back is good but the cold seems to have settled into her ear…
– I mention the H-word. Discussion is deferred.
– Internet is too spotty so we head out into Homfray Channel to get a good signal.
– Work done, files uploaded and tasks completed we circle a bit and decide against returning to Laura Cove. Tomorrow is supposed to be another crap day before the weather clears for a week or so. We have laundry to do and some groceries to get so we decide to head to Lund.
– And possibly I am getting a bit stir crazy and need to walk around…
– We arrive at Lund around 1330 and they have one spot left just the perfect size for us. We tie up and decide against paying for power.
– We go shopping, restock on drugs and olive oil.
– And take a short walk.
– It rains all night
– I throw on my rain pants over my pajamas and head up to Nancy’s Bakery for fresh, warm cinnamon buns. Mmmmmmm.
– L works and I head in to do the laundry.
– More talk of hospitals and doctors (L has to fly in less than 2 weeks and the ear needs to be dealt with by then). Discussion deferred again.
– We walk up to the Historic Lund Hotel and I have the “World’s Best Clubhouse.” When I ask the waitress if it really is, she admits to being a new employee and uninformed about the possible superlative nature of the clubhouse.
– It is a damned good clubhouse. The waitress later admits to asking the cook to ensure its superlative nature and he decided to add extra bacon to push it over the top. Lucky me.
– We buy Harbour House’s Whelks to Whales to further our knowledge of all the undersea life we have been examining on our almost daily rows.
– A short walk ends back on board with some relaxing, coughing and generally time-wastage.
– Then it’s time for wine.
It’s been busy 2 weeks. A lot of change, a lot of settling in and a lot of re: readjusting, rearranging,repositioning and rethinking. I am surprised on some levels how smoothly it has gone; and on others I remain sceptical about the amount of success we can claim in actually adjusting to life back on the boat. Still, we’ve got time and intend to let matters take their course.
I am going to do a post over at neverforever.ca detailing some of these issues but I thought I would do a quick catch up of the day to day of the last two weeks or so.
- Travel from YEG to YVR. We caught a cab to the South floatplane terminal and had a bee in the Flying Beaver while we waited for our flights. Our extra bags almost tripled out 35 lb baggage allowance so we paid an extra $25. Still a good deal.
- It was sunny in Vancouver but we landed in Nanaimo in a light rain; it remained sporadic for the rest of the day.
- We walked over to Stones Marina and collected the boat and gate keys from the new Marine Store. We loaded our gear on board and started unpacking.
- There are at least 3 owners on dock right now so we share the keys to the courtesy car around. Owen from Keykera (the Hanse 40) lets me know when he’s done and we pile in to buy supplies.
- I carelessly stuffed my reader in the front pouch of my carry-on and when I stacked it on top of the rolling luggage and then we dropped the whole mess it turned out that half my screen was now inoperable. Since I didn’t want to read only half a book (only the bottom half) we decided to seek out a Chapters. Since we were at it we bought two (one for each of us) and then skipped across the parking lot to Save On to provision.
- Despite our careful lists last spring we still managed to to buy things we didn’t need like laundry soap and tinfoil. A lesson learned for next year.
- Sunny 14°
- The morning started slow as we bounced back and forth from the NYCSS office to the boat listing deficiencies (missing cushions, missing dish rack etc.) and straightening little details out.
- L’s parents picked us up around noon and we went out for lunch and coffee afterwards.
- Back on board we engaged in more unpacking, tackllngour storage locker. Our initial intent to not haul it all was soon abandoned and the only thing we left behind was a couple of pillows and a comforter as NYCSS had supplied us with linens. Still, I got my favourite pillow and our fleece sheets so the boat is over supplied with linen.
22 & 23 April
- After some humming and hawing we decided to stay on dock settling in. There were a few issues (a lose wire, I wanted to replace the dinghy painter etc.) and the evenings were on the cool side and we like the electric heat. So we took the time to acclimatize both physical and mentally.
- By the time we had moved everything around the boat had been transformed from the stark charter boat to something more akin the home we were used to.
- We did dinghy to Newcastle and walk around for a bit. My stomach had been unsettled for the last couple of days and remained that way for more than a week; I took to having late afternoon lie-downs. I still don’t know what the problem was but I stopped taking cholesterol meds I had recently been prescribed and things have settled. L is convinced its a psychosomatic coincidence but I am not so sure. I will restart them in a day or two and see how it goes.
- We finally cast off and motored the long 1 nautical mile to the anchorage off Newcastle Island.
- The weather is unsettled but not unpleasant
- When we hopped in the dinghy to take a run into town the outboard seemed to be seized. I couldn’t pull the start cord for love or money. A bit of investigation and poking around found that the engine was fine but the transition was in gear. A little more poking around found a bolt lying loose under the engine. I managed to retrieve it and fasten the bracket for the transmission shifter cable and voila! We motored back to NYCSS and borrowed a deep socket to tighten it back up and we were good to go again.
We went to run errands in town. Picked up some loonies and twoonies for laundry and showers and some more fresh produce. I also snagged a second frying pan and a bunch of odds and ends of kitchen ware from the dollar store.
We hiked to the lake on Newcastle and enjoyed the rest of the day.
- We weighed anchor and motored across Strait—no wind to speak of.
- About half way through Welcome Passage — a narrow passage between South Thoramsby and the mainland — we were hailed by a tug that had just passed Merry Island behind us. He let us know that the tug way ahead of us was coming into Welcome passage as well and that we should be prepared to make room for the two tugs and barges to potentially pass each other in the narrow passage.
I assured him we would.
- I checked the AIS and it looked like our CPA (closest point of approach) for the tug ahead would be four minutes or so after I intended to turn off into Smuggler so we relaxed and just kept an eye on him.
- We pulled into an empty Smuggler Cove a little before low tide. We went a bit deeper into he Cove than we usually do and managed a pretty decent stern tie manuever.
- We paddled around and hiked part of the trails. A quiet day.
- We pulled out and made the short motor to Garden Bay in Pender Harbour. There was big powerboat anchored off our stern but he left a little later. Once again we were the only (transient) boat in an anchorage.
- There was a small aluminum boat tied off to a mooring buoy (I thought) a few boat lengths off the end of our rode but I ignored him. Turns out he wants on a mooring buoy but on about 80 feet of rope road and when the small powerboat returned to take over the line from aluminum job we were closer to 30 feet. I talked about moving with the owner but decided to see what would happen.
- We headed in to Madeira Bay to buy some meat and a few forgotten provisions. We checked out a few places to potentially eat dinner and eventually motored around the point and checked out the Painted Boat Resort and made a reservation at their restaurant.
- Raining mostly but it cleared late afternoon.
- When I poked my head up in the morning the anchored power boat was bumping off our bow and the owner had come out to make sure we weren’t scraping up the side of our boat. Nice guy. So I gave in and we moved the boat a couple of hundred yards further out.
- I’d forgotten onions so we dinghy over to the Garden Bay Pub docks and walked over to Henry’s. They didn’t have much at this time of year but I did grab a couple of onions.
- That night we motored over to the Lagoon Restaurant at the Painted Boat Resort for a lovely dinner.
- Sunny with partial cloud
- A couple of hours motoring into 15-20 knots of wind (will the wind ever go my way in the Malaspina Strait?) we arrived for an Illicit docking at Westview marina. Dock 6 was empty because they were doing repairs. But we figured since it was Sunday we should be ok until morning.
- We topped off the tanks and got set to go if we had to cast off early.
- Very rainy in the morning, but a lovely sunny afternoon.
- We cast off mid morning. The Marina manager said they wouldn’t be doing any work until later in the day.
- We decided to try our luck in the Copeland Islands. We found a one boat nook between two of the southern islands and stern tied a few hours before low tide. All the rocks were awash and it was pretty easy to manuever in. We did later discover a wreck that showed up in the narrow bit coming in that was awash at low tide and noted it for when we were heading out.
- We hiked the shore line for a few hours and rowed around a few of the islets, enjoying the sun and warm weather.
- Partially cloudy but the winds are climbing.
- We decided to l and the winds were predicted to climb and we were stern tied beam on to them.
- Leaving at high tide was a bit more exciting as you couldn’t see the wreck or the rock and had to guesstimate. The chart plotter wasn’t overly accurate so I pretty much ignored it except to get my bearing. And coming off the stern tie in the wind swung our stern towards the other shore a bitt to close for my comfort. But all turned out well.
- Thurin Channel between the Copelands and the mainland is narrow and a tug with a log boom was just entering from the north. He didn’t answer a hail on 16 so we decided to cross his bow and pass on the starboard as he seemed to be drifting to his port.
- We turned into Desolation Sound proper and decided to check out Prideaux Haven, a very popular destination in high season. We pulled into beautiful Melanie Cove just in from Prideaux a few hours later and there was only one boat in Prideaux which might house 40 or 50 in summer. And there was one lovely green boat from Victoria in Melanie Cove that we passed as we anchored at the far end.
- The anchor chain bound in the windlass and we had to do some MacGyvering to get the anchor down.
- It was rainy but we suited up and explores & hiked some rough trails. We are obviously some of the first as I had to clear a lot of winter deadfall. It will be easier on the next crew.
- Then we rowed the cove and explored the shoreline. We spotted our first Lions Mane jellyfish: rusty orange with tendrils 2 feet long streaming behind a 3 or 4 inch jelly. Really fascinating.
- I awoke to misty swirls of cloud disputing in the emerging sunlight.
- I had coffee up in the cockpit for the first time. there was a crack and a rock plunged into the water over on the north shore. I don’t know what it was but less than five minute later a series of reverberating cracks and bangs on the south shoer echoed through the cove and then a tree sedately dropped into the water with a big splash. It was an extraordinary amount of noise.
- The laptop batteries needed to be recharged so we flipped on the inverter for an hour or so while we enjoyed the morning. Unfortunately I forgot that I had plugged in the electric heater in Powell River and since we had opened the hatches to let some fresh air in andmositure out no one noticed it blowing hot air in the v berth. I came down to check the SOC (set of charge) on the batteries and was astonished and dismayed to see it sitting at 53% (letting it drop below 50% is extremely hard on the batteries). An quick investigation revealed the heater as the culprit. This meant we had to either motor for a couple of hours or find a dock to plug into.
- We decided to head to Squirrel Cove to do laundry a few days early. It might have been a good choice anyway as we passed 6 boats heading east on our way west.
- We tied up at the Squirrel Cove public dock (with 30 amp service) and walked our laundry over to the Squirrel Cove General Store. We started the loads and picked up some fresh produce and some more wine, then enjoyed the sunny afternoon. Three hours or so later we cast off, with clean laundry, fresh supplies and topped up batteries.
- We dropped anchor deep in Squirrel Cove all alone in an anchorage that literally can hold hundreds of boats. Two more boats showed up later in evening but it was till pretty peaceful. We BBQ’s some chicken and went out to explore and try out the underwater housing on my small action camera.
- Rainy in the morning. Clearing as I type…
- We decided to stay in Squirrel Cove; we’ve been moving too much lately. All the other boats have cleared off and we are alone again.
- L’s baking cookies.
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.
- 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
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
And then there was bed.
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.
I can feel the heat from the sun. It’s already starting…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Mylar balloons. These have big 40s on them. They really are a scourge.
And then another one. I think this is a problem, people.
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.
34° 1.3410′ N,118° 31.8944′ W
And another balloon.
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.
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.
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.
Off dock. It’s a warm wind but a light one, so no sailing for now.
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.
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.
35° 13.7066′ N,120° 56.4685′ W
We raise the main with one reef, sailing downwind in 12-15 knots.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
34° 26.8886′ N,120° 26.4931′ W
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.
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…
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.
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.
34° 24.1893′ N,120° 8.6200′ W
Down to shirt sleeves. Woot!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.