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Inside Passage | Ship's Log

The San Juans

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Location: Anacortes
Weather: Mostly clear; light winds

This morning came early again. We planned a 0800 hours departure, but we were ready to sail early and departed at 0730. Skies were mostly clear, and winds and water were calm. We motored to the middle of Haro Straits where we had to heave-to for a few minutes to wait for a passing ship; then pushed on, arriving in Friday Harbor at 1130 hours where we checked into the U.S. with Customs. We took a short walk, had a snack, looked at boats, and were back on the trail by 1230.

We tied up in Anacortes about 1530 hours, checked in to Cap Sante Marina (too bad winter rates don’t start until tomorrow.) We walked the docks for a couple hours, gawking at yachts for sale. (Where do people get all that money?)

A couple of thoughts about the San Juan Islands:
– First, the terrain with the grassy areas, rocks and wind-blown hemlocks is strikingly different from the far northern islands. They’re beautiful!
– Secondly, they’re so small. After traveling 700 miles or so from Ketchikan, it seems incongruous that we should be able to cross the entire San Juan Archipelago (large, in my memory) in a short day, even with our lunch break in Friday Harbor.

Tomorrow we check on boatyard services, get some estimates for jobs that need done on the boat, and maybe talk to a broker or two. Our mission, at this point, is to get Camai ready to sell (it needs to look like a new boat!)

The fun trip is almost over; the work has just begun…


Inside Passage | Ship's Log

Layover in Sidney

Date/Time: Monday, September 29, 2014
Location: Sidney, BC
Weather: Windy, some rain, improving in the afternoon

We arose with the intention of departing early for Friday Harbor, but the weather forecast wasn’t the best, with gale warnings for the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and wind warnings for Haro Straits, which we will have to cross. Winds were supposed to increase in the afternoon, then decrease overnight with better weather to follow on Tuesday.

Having learned our lesson in Georgia Straits a few days ago, we stayed in Sidney and spent the day seeing the sights. We ate in a few restaurants, browsed in a few stores, walked the docks and looked at boats again.

This evening is beautiful with calm winds, and the water in the harbor has calmed appreciably. We will be ready for an early morning departure again tomorrow.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log

Another Nice Day!

Date/Time: Sunday, September 28, 2014
Location: Sidney
Weather: Mostly clear, mild

Morning came early today. I took Elsie to the beach at 0530 hours and we had the anchor up and were underway at 0630. Our goal was to reach Dodd Narrows at 0733, high slack current. We made it just at the beginning of the ebb, riding the current through this gateway into the Gulf Islands, the island archipelago between Nanaimo and Victoria. The sunrise was beautiful, temperature was mild, and winds were light as we rode the ebb tide currents through various narrow channels, finally ending at Sidney. It was a bright Sunday afternoon and there were boats everywhere we looked.

Though Barb was feeling a bit headachy, she soldiered on never slowed down. We tied up in Port Sidney Marina about 1320 hours, and took our time getting the boat secured and put in order for the evening.

We called Barbara Hodgson, the ham radio operator (VE7KLU) who has been net control for the radio Northern Boaters Net for 28 years. She happily made arrangements to come to the boat and visit with us, since we would only be in town overnight. On both of our trips down the coast (winter of 2005-2006, and now) we have had the pleasure and security of morning chats with Barbara, so it was a real treat to meet her in person and get to know her better.

Barb’s feeling better this evening, the weather forecast is good, and our plan for tomorrow is to go to Friday Harbor where we will check in with U.S. Customs and then visit friends.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log

A Sailor’s Kind of Town

Date/Time: Saturday, September 27, 2014
Location: Anchored in Nanaimo Harbor
Weather: Light breezes, blue skies

We awoke in Northwest Bay to blue skies with some fog patches and no wind. The only flaw was the constant cacophony of sea lion talk which reached a low ebb during the night but grew to a crescendo as the sun reached the log booms where the sea lions were basking.

A careful check of all boat systems revealed no problems from yesterdays rough ride; all the filters looked good and everything was in order mechanically and electrically. Tough boat, but not-so-tough owners. Barb and I found even the slight movement of the boat at anchor was annoying after yesterday’s sloshing.

We departed about 1000 hours and dropped anchor about 1415 in Nanaimo Harbor. Nanaimo is one of our favorite stops with the anchorage in front of a city park on Newcastle Island, and the unique Dingy Dock Pub nearby, a good restaurant that can only be reached by water.

Weather today is perfect, making yesterday’s adventure seem so long ago. The boat is warm and dry, and most of our gear is dry as well.

Tomorrow we plan on an early start to make the current change at Dodd Narrows, and our goal will be Sidney.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log


Date/Time: Friday, September 27, 2014
Location: Northwest Bay, Vancouver Island
Weather: Wind 20 gusting 25, heavy rain

Most of our days have been easy, but today we tried to outguess the weather forecast and paid for it by getting beat up in heavy weather in the Strait of Georgia:

We checked the weather forecast early this morning, which included wind warnings in Georgia Strait until afternoon. But the weather inside Comox harbor was pretty nice, and we decided we could get sloshed around a little, as long as it was going to calm during our trip. Besides, we had been in Comox five days and were anxious to get moving again.

So this morning with light rain and heavy overcast we departed our calm anchorage in Comox Bay, and headed south through Baynes Sound between Denman Island and Vancouver Island. As soon as we left the anchorage we could feel the swells from Georgia Strait, but then for the first couple of hours we were in the shelter of Denman and felt only a light chop. So far so good. Then we passed Deepwater Bay, the last shelter before entering the Straits of Georgia, and the swell and chop became heavier. It was a narrow entrance with the wind against the tide…things would probably get better.

But after leaving the shelter of Denman Island the seas continued to build. By mid-afternoon we were taking some spray and occasionally it sloshed up over the windshield and cabin top! The waves were steep with a short period between them so we got bucked around a bit; we were definitely having an uncomfortable ride. Of course the wind was on the nose so sails were not helpful and we could only motor into it. Usually we are heeled to one side or the other so if things are going to shift inside it is to one side or the other. The bucking action shifted forward and aft and a few things spilled off a shelf and out of a cabinet with a faulty latch (funny what things you discover at times like this). Happily, the mess was minimal.

By mid-afternoon the weather forecast had changed. They were calling for significant winds until this evening, becoming calm overnight. The three of us being uncomfortable, tired and queasy, we decided we’d had enough, but this part of Vancouver Island has few places to find shelter. We bypassed the small harbor at French Creek with a small unfamiliar entrance on a lee shore, opting instead for Northwest Bay, which has an easier entrance and excellent shelter from southeast winds–still about 20 miles short of our intended destination, Nanaimo.

As we ducked behind the island near the entrance the seas settled down immediately. But the winds increased and a HEAVY rain squall dumped on us as we entered the bay. It rained so hard the little rain drops were each creating their own white cap on the water. Sheets of rain were blowing across the surface of the water as we examined the small marina for an open moorage spot (there were none.) Water was pouring down my face so heavily I could stick out my tongue and drink it. I went through two pair of glasses before I abandoned their use altogether and then had to squint to keep the rain drops from stinging my eyes. My good rain gear was doing its job but water started running in the neck and down to my waist and if I lifted my hands to do anything the water ran up my sleeves.

Even our water dog didn’t like it. Half seasick already, all she could do was sit by the binnacle in her “vulture” pose, looking longingly at the dry boat cabin. When we spoke to her she looked up, squinting her eyes against the rain, staying as much under the dodger as possible. She didn’t need to speak; her look alone said, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.”

Each time we entered the pilothouse water cascaded off us and everything got wet. Between the gusting wind and pounding rain we could hardly hear each other as we came into the head of the bay to anchor. As soon as the anchor was down the squall passed, the rain stopped, the sun came out and the change was stunning.

Once anchored our first job, as usual, was taking Elsie to the beach in the dinghy. She had a great time running and swimming on the pea-gravel beach as if it had just been another easy day. (Dogs are so resilient.) After the doggy essentials were done, Roger returned and we all three took a trip to the beach; it felt good to walk on dry land. The bay is over a mile long and well-protected from the heavy seas outside. One side of the bay has log booms which have become a temporary home to about 100 sea lions. Their bellowing was continuous, echoing off the trees and rocks on both shores.

We returned to the boat, cleaning up water where we could and hanging things to dry while the weather continued to improve. Small amounts of sea water had managed to slosh through the dorade-type vents and the hatches that were not dogged down, and cabin sole was wet from the rain water we had carried in.

But for the most part, the boat was warm and dry, and we had a good dinner and a comfortable night at anchor.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log

Home on the Hook

Date/Time: Thursday, September 25, 2014
Location: Comox
Weather: Breezy with rain showers

This morning was beautiful with clearing skies to partly sunny and a refreshing breeze. It was really tempting to get under way despite the strong wind warnings in effect for the Georgia Strait. We dawdled around, went to the store, and when we didn’t see the stiff breeze that was forecast, decided to go take a look. We departed the dock about 1030 hours, but when we headed around Goose Spit we found ourselves in a 2-3 foot swell that was obviously rolling in from rougher conditions out in the strait.

The day would have been perfect for, say, a rowdy sail on a beam reach over to Desolation Sound; or downwind to Campbell river, but our next objective is Nanaimo, 51 miles and a long uncomfortable slog to windward. We could have done it, but with ideal conditions forecast for the weekend we decided to lay another day in Comox Harbor. We tucked inside of Goose Spit and anchored in the same spot we were in three nights ago.

We took the dog to the beach and a heavy rain shower overtook us. Barb and I were in our rain gear, and Elsie was having fun swimming, so no one minded much. The wind was light, and the periods between rain showers were beautiful. About 1600 hours a bunch of paddlers came by on their stand-up paddleboards, and the small Lasers and other sailboats came out of the harbor en-masse. Apparently, there is quite an active water-sports program, and we were center-stage for the show.

We grilled some steaks for dinner, and enjoyed the solitude, the rain showers and the rainbows. And the savings, because anchoring is free; remember Ben Franklin said, “Thirty five dollars saved is thirty five dollars earned.”

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’ll head to Nanaimo.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log

Still Stormbound

Date/Time: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Location: Comox
Weather: Windy, rain showers

We’re grateful to be in a safe harbor, tied to the dock, with the convenience walking Elsie Mae on the beach without requiring a skiff. Still, this storm has been rather long and we’re anxious to get going. We went out to dinner with Tom again; other than that we lounged around the boat, did some chores and walked Elsie several times.

The forecast is for calmer weather on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but it is conspicuously silent on tomorrow’s weather. It’s starting to look like another day waiting for Georgia Strait to calm down. One thing is for sure: Watching the weather chart we see that the jet stream has moved south and the weather patterns are are starting to look more like a normal fall. Our long streak of spectacular September weather has probably come to an end.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log | Weather

Heavy Weather

Date/Time: Tuesday, September 23,2014
Location: Comox
Weather: Gale warnings, Rain, winds up to 40 knots.

This morning started with rain showers and intermittent sunshine and very little wind. But the forecast was for gale warnings in the afternoon with winds building up to 30 knots and increasing to 40 knots tomorrow. So we decided to stay tied to the dock in Comox instead of making the 53-mile jump to Nanaimo.

This was actually a welcome delay as it gave us the opportunity to have a nice visit over lunch with Tom McQuade, the husband of a long-time friend of Barb’s from boarding school days in Taiwan. Unfortunately Jennifer was off on an adventure in Europe but we enjoyed our time with Tom who also took us to a couple of marine stores in search of some parts.

When we left the dock for lunch we had a pleasant walk up to the nearby restaurant in a brisk breeze. On our return. the winds had picked up and the docks and boats were rocking and rolling and the rain showers had become heavy. We doubled the mooring lines, made sure the boat was well-fendered, and hunkered down in our cozy boat, glad that we decided to stay in port.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log | Weather

Comox Harbor

Date/Time: Monday, September 22, 2014
Location: Moored in Comox Harbor
Weather: Light rain showers; winds S.E. 15 knots

Early morning, Goose Spit, Comox Harbor

Early morning, Goose Spit, Comox Harbor

We like Comox. We have a few friends here, the countryside is nice, the harbor is excellent, and it feels rather civilized. And the harbor prices are a bit more reasonable.

Today we moved from the anchorage in to the harbor, and spent the day with a fellow cruiser, Bob Mutter (radio callsign VA7RAK.) We last saw Bob in Ketchikan about mid-summer when he left to circumnavigate Prince of Wales Island in his schooner, s/v COUNTING COUP. So today we brought each other up to date on cruising adventures (past and present,) while we completed harbor chores such as laundry, shopping and eating out. Bob was a wonderful host, and we hope to see him in Ketchikan again in the spring.

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

The weather was breezy with showers, and we returned to the boat with plans to leave early tomorrow. Mother nature has other plans, though–tomorrow promises to start out windy with showers turning to rain. Gale warnings are forecast for Georgia Strait with winds increasing to 35 knots by late afternoon. A deep low off the west coast of Vancouver Island threatens us with continued southeasterly winds through Wednesday.

We’ll be staying in Comox until the weather improves. It’s a good thing we like Comox.


Inside Passage | Ship's Log

Georgia Straits

Date/Time: Sunday, September 21, 2014
Location: Anchored in Comox Harbor
Weather: Clear, southerly winds to 15 knots

Today we left Campbell River at 1010 hours to catch the last of the ebb and ride the flood tide out of Discovery Channel. The Canadian Weather folks had high wind warnings out for the northern Strait of Georgia, but nothing untill afternoon and nothing over 25 knots. Our goal, Comox was only 30 miles down the coast.

Most of the day was spent motoring on glassy water, with some large patches of fog that cleared up about noon. By the time we arrived at Comox it was warm and sunny, and the breeze was building from the south. We tucked inside of Goose Spit and anchored in the middle of about 20 other boats. By all appearances the harbors were pretty busy (full) so we elected to wait until tomorrow to tie to a dock. Besides, tying to a dock costs money and we were still smarting from the high prices at Campbell river.

Once anchored, Barb took the Elsie Mae to the beach in the dinghy while I replaced the broken anchor windlass switch (it works!)

Tomorrow will be a laundry and shopping day, and we’ll touch base with some old friends who live here.


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