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        1. Desolation 2019 week three

          Gearing down

          All in all it was a slow week. We finally settled into the groove and got in some relaxation time. So that means this will likely be a pretty short entry. I think. Lucky you.

          14 May

          Rain in Von Donop Inlet. We knew it was coming so it wasn’t much of a surprise to wake up to the sound of rain on the deck. It wasn’t raining too hard so I still got my morning coffee in the cockpit and the inevitable and annoying drip from our overhead traveller didn’t start until I was almost done.?And then I pretty much stuck it out there for the rest of the day, shuffling around to avoid the various drips. L, on the other hand, didn’t emerge at all; I think she popped her head up maybe twice all day. She at least spent the day productively, working away on her project.

          I spent the morning finishing last week’s blog and enjoying the sights and sounds of a rainy PNW day at a beautiful anchorage. At the risk of encouraging even more people to visit at this time of year, rain really n be a positive rather than a negative if you just adjust your mindset.

          It was still a pretty warm morning (15°-ish in the bin). The cove was pretty sheltered and there was absolutely no signal so I have no idea what the weather was actually like elsewhere — but we were treated to glassy, still water and lots and lots of precipitation. It rained pretty much non-stop all day.

          Last night as we explored the anchorage by dinghy, L picked up some cell signal and we got a text from my brother. Apparently he is already aboard Teka?and heading north to Comox, expecting to arrive in a few days. Since he was supposed to board in Comox, I have no idea where he actually started from. We tried to get a note off letting him know we would likely meet him in Gorge; if we were lucky he got it.

          At one point, when the rain slacked off to a mere dribble, I did grab my rain pants and jacket and rowed out into the main inlet to try and get a cell signal. I picked up one bar and a wet ass. Seems the waterproofing on my rain pants has held out pretty well in every area except the ass — something I hadn’t expected. So, pants and underwear…not so dry.

          And that was the day.

          15 May

          Two nights was all the batteries had so we decided to head to Quadra Island. It was a beautiful day for a sail, so we motored the whole way to try and get as much charge into the batteries as possible. We even motored slowly to maximize charging time. Although the initial plan was one night on the hook and one night at Taku Resort, we were thinking if we could jam enough amps into the batteries to stick out two nights on the hook then we could skip the fees at Taku since we were subsequently booked into two nights at Gorge Harbour.

          As we passed the entrance to Hoskyn Channel, L spotted a whale watching boat headed our way and then, a few minutes later, the telltale long black dorsal of an or. They were about 200 meters off and headed straight for us. We killed the engine just as they dived and they must have passed below us beuse we didn’t spot them again for several minutes before the reappeared off the port side, again a few hundred meters away. With another whale watching boat coming, a small powerboat circling back, and the Whaletown ferry barrelling straight for them, we decided to just float there and watch them swim away rather than altering course to keep them sight. Sometime I feel mighty sorry for them—it’s a wonder if they get a moment’s rest. Anyway, we estimated 4–6 in the pod although its always hard to get a good count and they were diving for longer periods than usual between breaths.

          As we rounded the spit, there was one other boat at the north end just dropping anchor so went a bit east and dropped in 40’ of water and backed on to the shore to settle in about 17’ with our bow facing south. There were supposed to be little to no wind and pretty protected from the north, so we figured we were good.

          We ate and went for a walk around the spit and enjoyed a lovely evening soaking in the relative lm and the gorgeous views.

          16 May

          The lm before the storm.

          We enjoyed that lovely evening until around midnight. Then L and I were woken by winds howling, gear banging and the anchor chain creaking like a medieval torture device. The forest had lled for lm winds out of the north west, but what we got was strong winds out of the southeast — the direction we had absolutely no protection from. Thankfully we had anchored bow to the south so not only was your anchor set that way, but all the chain was already out that direction and there was no question of us swinging further toward the rapidly shallowing shore.

          What we did have was an awful racket. I had not secured anything since we weren’t expecting wind. I made several trips up on deck to tie back slapping halyards and lines, snap down flapping nvas and finally to readjust the snubber so the loud creaking sound of the chain banging on the seafloor stopped being transmitted right into the bin. But by that time we were wide awake. And also kinda freaked out by the violence of the swing and the plethora of creaks, groans and bangs. So we slept in the salon for most of the rest of the night, keeping an ear out and eventually moving back to our bin in the early morning.

          When we finally got up, we overheard that the Truant 36 who had dropped anchor beside us (but set it 180° to us) did drag a bit but no one else seemed to have suffered any other consequences.

          Around 11 am L had her conference ll while I hung out with her in the cockpit. That bit of work done, we headed into shore to buy some supplies. We finally found some skim milk so that big crisis was averted and we also picked up some snacks and sundry other things.

           

          The rest of the day was walking the shore and relaxing. I spotted some beautiful fritillarias and explored the massive piles of driftwood ever-present on Rebec Spit. We did find a halibut head in the dinghy after returning from one of our strolls. I have no idea how it got there except maybe a passing eagle or seagull dropped it. Gross anyway you look at it.

          We kept an eye on the battery monitor and it looked like we would be good until morning without having to run the motor.

          17 May

          We awoke to cool, grey weather and a state of charge of 52%. Time to “get up and go little dinosaurs!” (inside joke). An hour or so later we were negotiating Uganda Passage purely with charts at low tide. Not having a functioning chartplotter was really honing my chart reading skills. This involves a bit of a serpentine in a narrow channel threading amongst three buoys. It always seems a lot more difficult than it actually is.

          It was not quite 11 a.m. when we emerged from the passage alongside Shark Spit — which is a long sandy spit south off of Marina Island that necessitates the Uganda passage transit. It’s a popular place for lols, picnics and lunch stops but we’ve never actually stopped. Since the tide was out and the entire spit was exposed we decided it was time to give it a try.

          I had Leslie drop anchor when we hit 20’ but by the time I had the boat in reverse we were down to 4’ under the keel. Oops. So we pulled it back up and moved out to 40’ of water and tried again. Success. We rowed ashore and beached the dinghy in the mud flats that were exposed. A bit to the north a lol had their shoal keel sailboat completely beached so they could work on the bottom while the tide was out. Handy.

          The spit was a lot of fun. We collected oodles of shells and sand dollars (the first we’d seen in this area) and walked all the way out to the end of the spit. We were maybe 100’ from the green buoys we had just passed. When the water is up those buoys look like they are in the middle of a huge pass. We also found some huge spiral shells that were broken and it was hard to guess what they were. Later when back aboard we figured they were Moon Snails, which n grow up to 2 and half inches. We also spotted what I thought was plastic or rubber refuse but turned out to be Moon Snail egg collars. I wish I had known so I could have checked them out more closely. Next time.

          We made lunch as the winds started to build out of the south and by the time we raised anchor they were doing pretty well. It was only 15 minutes to Gorge so we motored along spotting 3 dolphins off the starboard side for just a few minutes before they disappeared.

          We headed to the fuel dock but had to wait while they got a power boat tied up in the increasing winds. After we filled up we moved out, switched our fenders to the starboard and headed into our slip. Luckily the by now strong wind was blowing us on to the dock so it wasn’t much of an issue, but that was the first time I have ever entered a finger with the boat in reverse and still making too much headway.

          The rest of the day was watching boats arrive and the shenanigans associated with a strong wind on exposed docks. The lgary Yacht Club flotilla gradual assembled. Rainbow’s End, a Dufour 36 was already at dock when we arrived. Teka, the Kelly Peterson 44 my brother was aboard snugged in behind us. Then Norfinn, a Jeanneau 49 from Desolation Sound Yacht Charters showed up to everyone’s consternation. A bit of miscommunition had listed it as a 38’ boat and they were not prepared to accommodate an extra 12 feet of boat on one of their busiest weekends of the season. They made it work by rafting up Time Warp, a talina 32 to Rainbow’s End. Last in was Gloman’s Magic another Jeanneau from DSYC, this time a 42’ DS (deck salon). And that was the group for the next week. I gradually met most of them over the next few days.

          18 May

          We were stern to the wind, and while Teka?blocked some of the waves, it was a loud bangy night in the aft bin as the waves slapped up against the transom. It’s one of the worst features of the design of our boat and if the wind had been just a little less, I would have backed into the dock to avoid that particular flaw. Still, we eventually managed to get some sleep.

          Visiting aboard Teka.

          The morning started with a coffee with my brother aboard Teka and a skipper’s meeting aboard Norfinn. It was weird being one of the more experienced skippers there. I would guess most of them were probably better sailors than I was, but they hadn’t been through these waters much and only Larry (Teka) and I had been through the rapids multiple times. The plan was to head north through Surge Narrows to Octopus Islands; transit Upper Rapids the next day to work our way to Blind Channel; and then come back through Dent and Gillard to Big Bay. Then the next morning we n scoot through the Yucultas and then it’s a couple of days in Desolation before we head for Lund.

          I don’t know if I have ever mention my brother is in a wheelchair. I was anxious to see how he negotiated the problems of moving around a sailboat. Larry et al. had devised a great portable ramp system and the low center cockpit of the Kelly Peterson made it relatively easy for him to haul himself off and on the wide side decks. It really wouldn’t work on our Hunter.

          The Cortes Island Seafest started at 11 and everyone headed up to enjoy it. We opted to do laundry. Shellfish and I and not currently on speaking terms. That and the fact that until this point we have spent a sum total of $34 in moorage (at Lund) and had just been hit with a $150 touch for two nights — have I mentioned that Gorge Harbour is a pretty high-end resort? I was still in shock and another $50 to sample seafood that would likely be a literal pain just seemed silly.

          Seating was open to the public however, so we joined in, listened to music and met a few more flotilla participants in between laundry loads. L went back aboard to finish off the last of her presentation so she could send it away while we still had some internet access. Later she me back with a bag full of cider. Lucky me.

          That night the band moved down to the deck overlooking the marina and we were treated to front row seats from the comfort of our own cockpit.

          19 May

          I was up pretty early but the flotilla were up even earlier. We planned to get off the dock around 9:30 but as the boats strutted sting off one by one that shifted closer and closer to 8. L was not impressed when I me down and shooed her into the shower since all the other boats had already taken off and we were last at dock.

          Eventually we st off and headed out. There was more turbulence in the gorge than I had ever seen before. Nothing to fuss about but still a new phenomenon. We spotted three dolphins as we turned west to head for Uganda. Maybe the same ones we had seen coming in?

          It was a long sunny motor up to Surge Narrows where we ught up to the other boats who were milling around. Eventually someone pulled the plug and we all transited through a swirly Beasley Passage like ducks in a? row.

          A short while later we dropped anchor in Octopus Islands and set up a stern tie. We were first in as some of the others hung back and the rest opted to go thought the rockier (but ostensibly deeper) back passage. We had hit the narrow pass into the islands at low tide and a few were wondering if their deeper keels would be a barrier. There was never less than 13 feet of water so I really don’t think this was a real issue.

          Eventually everyone showed up in the inner cove with 4 boats lined up in a row and the two others on the other side. Rainbow’s End opted to stern tie to a boulder that eventually ended up well below the surface of the water. It’s really not something I would do, but it all worked out for them. Still…

          Some people headed off to hike to the lake at the far end of the bay, but we opted to hang and I rowed around the cove for a while.

          20 May

          I heard the others raising anchor at gawd-awful o’clock but didn’t bother to crawl out of bed to see, instead just rolling over and drifting back to sleep for a few more hours. You see, there were two possible slack at Upper Rapids that day. One, just before 6 a.m. would give you a push up Johnstone; the other, at noon, would have you bucking the flood tide. I wasn’t going to get up at 5 just for a knot or so push.

          At around 7, I crawled out of bed, made some coffee and hit the cockpit for some peace and quiet. Four out of six boats were gone with only us and Norfinn opting for a more civilized beginning to the day. The sun was still out and shining brightly but it only lasted about an hour until the south winds brought in clouds and the ocsional drop of rain.

          L rolled into consciousness right around then and we started our morning by doing pretty much nothing except watch a family of nada Geese? showing off their rock climbing skills. And we emptied out main propane bottle. Luckily Blind Channel n refill it for us. Eventually we started prepping and raised anchor in a light drizzle before slipping out into Okisollo Channel to poke our heads into the rapids. We transited about 20 minutes early and Norfinn tucked in about 5 minutes behind us.

          It was a grey, lm day and we motored the whole way. A few points displayed some interesting currents and we varied between going 8 knots and 3 depending on what the water was doing. Eventually we tied up at Blind Channel and despite both a warning by the staff and prior experience, I almost got ught out by the ever-present current. It just sneaks up on you at the last minute.

          And that was that

          We opted not to enjoy opening night at the restaurant and visited a little with Teka. The flotilla had started out pretty well although the constant movement each day was something we havent done since our chartering days. Still it was fresh and interesting and maybe we would actaully sail with the fleet at one point ??

           
          —Bruce #Cruising

          Instagram This Month

          Cleaning and packing. Almost done.Cleaning and packing. Almost done.
          Beautiful last night out in the water with the VanIsle 360 dance party music providing some serious 70s & 80s ambiance.Beautiful last night out in the water with the VanIsle 360 dance party music providing some serious 70s & 80s ambiance.
          The #RCN’s sail training ships Goldcrest and Tuna joined us in the anchorage last night. #royalnadiannavy #sailingThe #RCN’s sail training ships Goldcrest and Tuna joined us in the anchorage last night.
          #royalnadiannavy #sailing
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          #beautifulboats #racingmachine
          Good morning. Not getting tired of the views...Good morning. Not getting tired of the views…
          Santé and Kerkyra of @nanaimoyachtcharters enjoying a gorgeous evening in Smuggler Cove.Santé and Kerkyra of @nanaimoyachtcharters enjoying a gorgeous evening in Smuggler Cove.
          On watch. It’s a tough life.On watch. It’s a tough life.
          That moment when you think you have them beuse you’ve got the better tack and they go and raise their spinnaker... #racing #sailingThat moment when you think you have them beuse you’ve got the better tack and they go and raise their spinnaker… #racing #sailing
          A break from sailing with a quick stop and swim in Pendrell SoundA break from sailing with a quick stop and swim in Pendrell Sound
          Running 3rd (1st in our division) in our first ever race. Flotilla sailing with the lgary Yacht Club! #desolationsoundRunning 3rd (1st in our division) in our first ever race. Flotilla sailing with the lgary Yacht Club!
          #desolationsound
          Even gray days are beautiful when you are on the water. Discovery Passage!Even gray days are beautiful when you are on the water. Discovery Passage!
          Sand ts on Shark Spit :-)Sand ts on Shark Spit ??
          Gorgeous views on all sides! At anchor on a sunny day in Rebec Spit after being treat to Or in Hoskyn Channel.Gorgeous views on all sides! At anchor on a sunny day in Rebec Spit after being treat to Or in Hoskyn Channel.
          First day of rain on the trip! Enjoying a new cove in Von Donop...First day of rain on the trip! Enjoying a new cove in Von Donop…
          After a full day and night of rain it’s nice to wake up to sunshine and bird song.After a full day and night of rain it’s nice to wake up to sunshine and bird song.
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          Anchored next to the tombolo at Tenedos Bay. Oysters anyone?Anchored next to the tombolo at Tenedos Bay. Oysters anyone?
          For a treat, lunch at Nancy’s Bakery in Lund.For a treat, lunch at Nancy’s Bakery in Lund.
          Exploring the Copeland’s on foot. New blog post at neverforever.Exploring the Copeland’s on foot. New blog post at neverforever.
          Snug in our “favourite” Copeland Island anchorage (we’ve been here twice). Beautiful day for a hike!Snug in our “favourite” Copeland Island anchorage (we’ve been here twice). Beautiful day for a hike!
          Ballet Bay was a new anchorage for us. Beautiful, lm and serene :-)Ballet Bay was a new anchorage for us. Beautiful, lm and serene ??
          Or! Welcome to Malaspina Strait... 7 or 8 or greeted us off Pender Harbour. I’ll never get tired of the sight.Or! Welcome to Malaspina Strait… 7 or 8 or greeted us off Pender Harbour. I’ll never get tired of the sight.
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          One step forward, one step back...in Nanaimo for some quick repairs. Dinghy Dock Pub for dinner and back north again tomorrow!One step forward, one step back…in Nanaimo for some quick repairs. Dinghy Dock Pub for dinner and back north again tomorrow!
          And so it begins again. Desolation, here we come...And so it begins again. Desolation, here we come…
          Due to circumstance beyond our control I had to put off our trip to the boat until Monday so I made a burgee instead. So if you see it flying instead of the yellow NYCSS one it means “owners on board” ?Due to circumstance beyond our control I had to put off our trip to the boat until Monday so I made a burgee instead.
          So I f you see it flying instead of the yellow NYCSS one it means “owners on board” ?
          Once a year like clockwork. It’s time to go sailing!Once a year like clockwork. It’s time to go sailing!

          Twitter Digest

          Twitter Digest

          Twitter Digest

          Desolation 2019 week two

          Je suis désolé

          Previously…

          When last we blogged we were tied up in the Copelands starting to get into the cruising groove. We have been binge-watching a lot of Episodes lately which was Matt Le Blanc’s Showtime series about a fictional Matt LeBlanc. It stars Tamsin Greg and Stephen Mangen who I just adored on the British series Green Wing. If you are at all into absurd British humour you really need to watch Green Wing. Episodes always starts with a Previously… so… This week: Desolation Sound!

          8 May

          Another beautiful day. The morning was again work for L and after lunch we took off to explore. I see a pattern emerging. We motored up to the cove in the central island that seems to be the popular anchorage of the Copelands. It is however open to all the wakes from boats transiting Thulin Passage so it doesn’t really appeal — but the approach is much less nerve-wracking than our little hidey hole.

          Speaking of nerve-wracking, we are still having some low, low tides left over from the new moon. and when we putted out the entrance of our cove at low tide we could see a large metal spar actually poking above the surface of the water by a few inches; it emanated from the charted wreck that lies along the east shore. I never realize just how close to the surface it was. The wreck is directly below a large conifer up on the ridge and lies about 20 feet off the shore at low tide; closer to 30 at high tide. Be aware. That still gives you 30–40 feet before you have to worry about the rocks on the west side of the narrow passage. While I still recommend entering this anchorage at low tide so you n see said rocks, maybe it might be better to do it a couple of hours earlier or later.

          There was one boat anchored in the centre of the cove we headed for, eschewing any of the new fancy stern-tie chains that have been recently installed — seemingly all over Desolation Sound and the Sunshine coast; there must of been a government grant or something. We did a slow reconnaissance to check out the chains for future reference and then used one to tie up the dinghy and head ashore. There a bunch of easy paths to follow that wind around the south portion of the island but couldn’t find anything that led to the north portion.

          On the way back we check out the southern-most island and it looks like it has a bunch more trails so we will have to head over one day. Next trip though, as our batteries look to be around 55% tomorrow and it is time to think about a recharge.

          Out in the Passage we had got enough signal for me to discover that SV Violet Passage has tied up in mpbell River. A quick Instagram message confirmed they are ready to head north so it looks like we definitely missed them this year.

          9 May

          I awoke to a very loud, very bossy eagle. And a couple of equally noisy nada geese. What a racket! I thought these hideaways were supposed to be peaceful.

          With batteries almost dead we now had basilly two choices. We could find a marina and plug in or go for a long motor and try and pack as much juice back into them as possible. With topped up batteries we have 3 or 4 nights power but ft we just rely on the engine to recharge we n’t usually get them past 90% (which will take 5 or 6 hours of motoring) and that leaves us with only 2– 3 nights on anchor.

          Batteries

          For those that are interested we use about 15% of our total batteries pacity in one 24hr cycle. Our lead acid battery bank holds 450 amp hours at 12v, only 50% of which is available to be used (lead acid batteries don’t like to be drained less than 50%). That means we use around 67 amps a day—the majority of which goes to powering our fridge and freezer and running the stereo.

          I would love to pick up an alternate power source, but solar panels aren’t really appropriate for a charter boat and I waffle over the cost effectiveness of a small generator. They are worth around $1200 — the equivalent of around 20 visits to a marina. Since we usually see only 2 or 3 marinas a trip, that’s a lot of years of amortization.

          After some back and forth we had a plan. We decided to head to a marina, which meant Lund, Gorge Harbour (which we were visiting next week anyway) or across to Quadra Island and Taku Resort. A bit more consulting of the charts and lendar and we decided to head to Lund for a night. Then we could spend a week in a couple of anchorages (tentatively Tenedos Bay and Von Donop Inlet) and make our way around the back of Cortes to Taku where we could reprovision, do laundry and top up on power and water. That would leave us in a good position to meet up with the flotilla either in Comox or Gorge by the 16th.

          As we puttered around getting ready to st off I noticed our two loud goose friends on the cliff behind us. Then I noticed the six goslings also sttered across the cliffside. Let me tell you watching tiny little yellow fluff balls sle cliffs is another pretty nerve-wracking activity. And mom and dad didn’t seem to even notice…someone should ll social services…

          Speaking of wildlife I had forgotten to mention the 6-inch squid who spent quite a bit of time checking out the yellow paint on our chain rode way back in Smuggler Cove. I have never seen one before; according to the guide book he (she?) was likely a Loligo opalescens also know as an Opal Squid, or a Market Squid, or even more commonly known in a restaurant near you as lamari. Mmmmmm…lamari…

          We left on a rising tide and both the wreck and the rocks were invisible. All this was made a bit more sketchy by the fact the chart plotter is still pretty dim, almost unviewable in dim light. But no objects were hit. I spent a few minutes once we were clear of the cove looking at my macerator. I don’t think it is operating properly, but luckily enough I have two. We switched over to the back-up and were “rewarded” with a blast of…well…crap. Now we n empty the holding tank later on.

          Lund had a slip for us on the north side of A dock. (Slips n be at a premium at Lund and it is a strictly regulated first-come first-served. They won’t even give you slip assignment until they see you approach the breakwater.) We tied up, plugged in and walked up to the harbourmasters office to check in. $34 later (which is a real deal) we were all registered and decided to go pick up a few provisions at the store. And since we were spending money anyway we indulged in lunch at Nancy’s Bakery — I had a most delicious grilled Monte Cristo — and later again in dinner at the Boardwalk Restaurant.

          Back on the docks, I noticed we were tied up alongside a 50-ish foot Ocean Alexander and right behind them, a huge 64-foot Northern Something-or-other. 10 feet in boat length makes a huge difference in overall boat size. We felt positively puny. Cruising never fails to remind me about the relative sles of wealth.

          10 May

          We grabbed a last shower with our newly heated water (such luxuries at dock), before topping up the tank and unplugging from the dock with fully charged batteries. There was no wind to speak of as we motored north through thulium Passage. We had definitely decided on Tenedos Bay as our next destination. It’s another of those “popular” anchorages in Desolation that we had yet to visit, so we decided to give it a try since it was more likely to be empty at the time of year. As we rounded Sarah Point we finally “officially” entered Desolation Sound and the view, as always, was stunning. I took etc same pictures and video I take every time although you would thin by this time I would have realized it was nothing new. And the water was empty of boats other than one smaller powerboat fishing off the point. The wind did come up a bit but we’ve already fallen into the trap of laziness and didn’t bother to raise the sails for the short trip. I think we are going to regret that when we finally join the flotilla which I predict will be stuffed with landlocked sailors desperate for a breath of wind. I predict we will get our asses kicked in the inevitable racing.

          Tenedos had a large expedition type yacht on the hook in the main anchorage off the mouth of the stream. It had to be 60–70 feet and had the look of something more likely to be found in the Arctic than cruising around here. Unfortunately it was gone the next day when we took out the dinghy so I never did tch a name other than the OP emblazoned on the side of the forward superstructure. Other than that we had the place to ourselves. We anchored in the west arm on the north side of the bay just off the tombolo that joined the small island to the mainland. We dropped in about 40 feet of water and just swung in the middle of the small cove rather than fussing with stern lines.

          Later I finally got to row the dinghy — stealing control from the oaring fanatic I travel with by the simple expedient of jumping in the boat first before she noticed. We toured around the anchorage spotting hundreds of the small red starfish (leather stars?) and lots of the purple and pink ones as well. Two small deer were wading in the shallows off the point and back at the boat we discovered that the rocks on the north side of us were apparently a favoured haulout for about 15 harbour seals. They remained around us for the entire stay, coming and going with the tide and ocsionally, when basking in the sun like a loud pile of ts, all me crashing back into the water when some loud noise startled them.

          We did discover a few more items on my “Oops I forgot pack that” list. Earlier the amount of mosquito bites on my ankle pointed out our complete lack of bug repellant (I usually pack it though we’ve never used it before but…), and my rapidly reddening forearms pointed out that leaving the sunscreen at home on the counter was a dumber mistake than leaving my good kitchen knife behind.

          Late that night we were joined (although off in the centre between the two arms) by a 50-ish foot Meridien named Bad Habit. They were pretty good neighbours except for the generator. They only ran it in the late mornings though, so that was all right.

          11 May

          What a warm sunny day. [Insert sigh of contentment here] We spent the day mostly relaxing and watching the seals noisily fight over the best sunning spot on the rocks. Later on a nature watching boat me scooting over the submerged tombolo with a load of eager junior naturalists and paused briefly by the pile of pinnipeds… they didn’t even budge. I guess they are used to being an attraction, beuse every time we even sneeze they all go crashing into the water as if we had set off a bomb.

          Later in the day we were joined in our cove by a small trawler-type with 4 men and their toys. They were ok neighbours if you had to have neighbours. L suggests to me that my article in Pacific Yachting encouraging people to take in Desolation Sound during the early season worked…which is a bit of a bummer, albeit an ironic one.

          We mounted the outboard and scooted over to the trail head for a hike to the lake. It was more of a walk and all of 7 minutes long. Disappointing. We did back track and take the more “rigorous” south trail which consumed another 15 minutes and was a bit more interesting as it terminated on some sunny rocks with a nice view and a rocky “beach” one could wade or bath in —something one of our trawler buddies was currently doing. When the sun got too hot he meandered back and spent a half an hour of so sitting on the rough bridge over the stream enjoying the miniature rapids and noisy babble of the lake water slowly emptying into the sea. “Everyone should be quiet near a little stream and listen.” This is a quote from Ruth Krause that was illustrated by Maurice Sendak and I use it as one of my desktop pictures. Every one really should…

          Back at the trailhead there is a mpsite and we chatted with a nice couple from Colorado who had just kayaked in. He helped me drag our dinghy back into the water as it had receded a good 30 feet and heavy and awkward when the 8hp outboard is on it. They were out for week and then heading north by r to Alaska. Watching them unload was fascinating. Two adults and a dog is rgo enough but the amount of stuff they unpacked from the two person kayak was kind of astounding.

          Heading back to the boat we were flagged down by a couple on a trimaran wanting to know about the “hike.” It turns out they had driven out from Montreal to buy their boat in Comox and were taking a few days to explore Desolation before they trucked it back to Quebec to cruise the east coast. Apparently the current exchange rate made a west coast purchase and subsequent trucking way more affordable than buying something from the eastern States.

          12 May

          Wake up. Drink coffee in the morning sun. Bake muffins for lunch. Go for an afternoon motor to tour the bay. Relax in the sun. Drink some more coffee. Sigh.

          The only highlight of the day was the departure of trawler boys and the early evening appearance of Swell. She’s a 60-something foot converted ocean-going tug that we had been docked near in our last few weeks in Victoria. They do excursion tours from Victoria all the way to Haida Gwaii. While it was nice to see her, the fact that she didn’t turn her engine off at all was a bit annoying and our peaceful anchorage was no more. I know, I know, first world problems…

          13 May

          Cooler and less sunny, yet somehow one of the warmer mornings so far with the temperature being 15° in the bin when I crawled out of bed. I bet if we hadn’t gone back for the heater repair it would have been a solid 11° all week.

          Swell was gone when I emerged from the bin, but a commercial prawn boat was anchored across the bay and they leave the engine running all the time to keep their tch cool so you could still hear a rumble echoing across the anchorage and drowning out that early morning serenity. Still, it was a bit quieter than Swell had been and we had the seals anyway.

          Coffee and leftover muffins ensued.

          The batteries were down to 57% (which was a bit lower than I expected — I suspect we are playing the stereo a bit more than usual) so we got ready to raise anchor and depart. We were off by 9. The chart plotter is almost completely useless now, but I have gotten a confirmation that the new one has cleared customs so it should be there by the time we get back. There are a series of shallow spots and drying rocks at the entrance to Tendedos that I normally would have woven my way through, but this time I opted to just go around — better safe than sorry, eh…

          An hour and half later we tied up at the public wharf at Squirrel Cove (in a spot that was vated mere moments before we arrived). We wandered up to the store in search of skim milk for someone’s morning tea —supplies were getting critilly low and bit suspect. We had checked at Lund and now at Squirrel Cove and there has been absolutely no sign of skim milk. 2%, homo, half-and-half there was plenty of but absolutely no skim or even 1%. We have concluded that Central BCers either hate skim milk with an all consuming passion and thus the stores don’t dare rry it or they absolutely love the stuff and the stores n’t keep it in stock. The truth remains a mystery.

          Then we headed north. We fired up the inverter to charge the laptops and as soon as the water was hot I had a nice shower and shave and broke out some clean clothes. Life is good. The weather had been nice enough that we have managed a couple of solar showers over the previous week, but the forest has the wind turning southerly which usually brings cooler temperatures and rain so the likelihood of another water-warming day is pretty low. Take the showers when you n get them.

          No whales in The channel this trip. We’ve been lucky there several times before. As we passed the cove midway down Von Donop we noticed it was a) empty and b) very lm. We turned hard a-port and wandered in to check it out. The depths were 11-12 feet (below our 5-foot keel) with the tide predicted to drop another 6 feet. After some maundering and negotiating (I was voting for our usual anchor at the end of the inlet) it was decided to give it a try. And wouldn’t you know it, the anchor was being fussy, and for one of a few very rare instances kept dragging rather than setting right away. That’ll teach us to try something new. But after a few tries we got it stuck in and both of us satisfied that we wouldn’t move. So here we are, for a few nights at least.

          There is zero cell signal and the batteries only managed to get up to 82%, so I think two nights will be our max and we will head off to Herriot Bay or Taku a day early for laundry and the opportunity to visit a fully-stocked grocery store. At this point I doubt we will make the long sail south to Comox to meet up with my brother, so it will be only a short hop across to Gorge on Friday.

          In Summary

          It been a good week. We’ve had plenty of good weather (although that is predicted to end tomorrow) and some beautiful scenery to enjoy. We’ve also added a few creatures to our ever growing list of west coast wildlife which is always good.

          We’ve got a few days until the flotilla to kick back and then it will be go, go, go for a week.
          —Bruce #Cruising

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          Desolation 2019—week one

          And we are off. We had planned on heading to the coast on the 25th but unfortunate circumstances meant we had to ncel our flights last minute (Ouch!—but it’s only money right?). A couple of extra days and we got everything fixed up and took off on the 29th.

          The plan was to cruise Desolation for a few weeks and meet up with the lgary Yacht Club’s annual flotilla. My brother had joined them last year aboard his friend’s Kelly Peterson 44 which apparently had enough room for him and his wheelchair—something our Hunter just n’t manage. The flotilla was heading north from Comox, up to Blind Channel and then circling back by way of Toba Inlet. It looks to be a pretty busy agenda, so hopefully we will get our relaxing in first. And I imagine they will all be keen to actually sail.

          And we’re off…

           29 April

          We left Edmonton around 9 am, abjuring our usual seaplane flight from Vancouver to Nanaimo in favour of a flight into Nanaimo’s airport beuse that got us on the boat about 4 hours earlier. Ian from Nanaimo Yacht Charters picked us up at the airport and we had a nice visit on the drive in.

          I’d forgotten our keys (among other things) and so I grabbed NYCSS’s set from Beth and we started hauling our gear on board. A few hour later we were mostly moved in and took a break to lunch with L’s parents who had driven in to meet us. Then we finished unpacking and headed off to the grocery store to provision. Eventually everything was done and we kicked back to try and relax after a long day.

          Speaking of forgetting things. So far, beuse I got cocky and didn’t consult my pre-departure provisioning lists, I have realized I didn’t bring: a long sleeved button down (useful for cool evenings), my good kitchen knife, my gorilla pod for the go-pro knockoff, the aforementioned boat keys, my radio license renewal and enough long sleeved t-shirts. That’ll teach me. Or not.

          30 April

          We woke up to 10°C — a cold start to the day. We had intended to be off dock early but you know, one thing or another… Eventually we did st off and headed across the Strait for the Sunshine Coast and the start of this year’s adventure.

          We discovered right away the bearings on the wind transducer were shot. In what was obviously ~15 knots of wind, the wind instrument was reading from -1 knots up to a peak of 3 knots. I found later this was probably due to a big storm early in the year which had abused a few of the boats in the fleet. As per usual, after a year of being off the boat, we were a little off balance and since we opted to head straight out rather than have our normal couple of days at anchor in Nanaimo to settle in, we were a bit jangling. So the lack of accurate info about the wind and an initially bouncy ride led us to decided to motor sail rather than sail. I know, I know… we’re so weak-willed. What n I say…

          I also discovered that the issues we had been having with the chart plotter last year were worse. I had assumed last year it was a battery/power issue which we had dealt with at the end of our cruise; but the screen was still dimming as time went on and the faint odour of ozone could be smelled. It got so bad that by the point we were ready to transit the narrow, rocky entrance to Smuggler Cove I couldn’t see the screen in the sunlight and decided to fire up Navionics on my phone to double-check our position.

          But we made it in safely, dropped anchor and took out a stern line to the fancy new chains that had been installed. L took the line out in a change of our usual procedure. Seems she was tired of me yelling instructions from shore on how to maneuver the boat. So she had to put up with me yelling instructions from the boat on how to run the stern line. Some people just n’t win…

          After dinner we discovered a horrible fact that almost ruined the whole trip. There was no kitchen drain plug! We searched high and low but to no avail. Horror! We quickly started researching places to head off to in order to find a replacement. In the meantime I McGyvered a temporary fix out of Press-and-Seal and a side plate. Disaster averted and dishes were duly done.

          We were treated to about 3 hours of helicopters repeatedly coming by and dipping their buckets in the south cove. The fire couldn’t have been too far away as they were back every 4 minutes or so. Exciting stuff.

          1 May

          We awoke to 11°C and moored in the shade of a cliff which meant there was no hope of warming sunshine for at least 3 hours. Since 13° is our cut off for firing up the heater, I decided to fire up the heater. What I got was a horrible noise. Long time followers of this blog will note that my relationship with our Webasto Hydronic heater is not the best. In fact I would estimate that at least 50% of the time that I have gone to fire up the bloody thing it has failed to satisfy my need for heat. It again did not fail to disappoint me.

          As soon as I flicked the breaker a horrible noise me from the aft locker. I glanced over at the thermostat control and noted it was already on (this is not good in my experience as it means it wasn’t shut down properly). I shut it all down after a few minutes and tried again. After my third try the thermostat control now started giving me an error message in the form of a series of indecipherable coloured blinks. And that was that. I wasn’t going to go through another whole cruise with no heater—it was now a matter of principle. Besides, we need a new drain plug.

          I lled Ian, let him know we were headed back and asked him to have a technician on standby. He thought it might be the bearings in the pump and utioned that a replacement might be several days away. But I stuck to my guns and said were gonna get it fixed. I n get stubborn about the oddest things.

          It was glass lm as we motored back across. That will serve me right for not sailing when I had the chance. I also noticed on the way back that the stitching on the Sunbrella edging of the jib had frayed and was now flapping a bit. That was a bit of a problem beuse given a little bit of wind, it was sure to get a lot worse.

          Back at NYCSS, it beme apparent that the issue was the recirc pump. Unbeknownst to me (I have been mystified by the setup of that bloody Webasto from day one and no one has been able to explain it to me) our install had an external pump—which is apparently just your typil freshwater pressure pump—plumbed in to pressure up the system. This pump turns on as soon as the breaker is turned on, before the Webasto’s internal pressure pump is actually fired up. Apparently the logic is that beuse the Webasto Diesel system is originally designed for trucks, there might not be enough oomph in the built-in pump to deal with the elevation changes and length of runs. An external pump ensures that airlocks are less of an issue.

          So we swapped out the pump (which was still working and “probably” would have lasted the whole trip) but unfortunately the new pump had manufacturing defect and we had to put in a cheaper one. This means I n now hear the recirc pump running, but since the whole system generally sounds like an airliner running up its turbines, I figured it wasn’t much of a big deal. And the error code had reset itself. We successfully fired up the heater several times. Success! Of course in the week or so since we had it fixed the mornings have all been pretty good and I have yet to have had ocsion to actually use the stupid thing. Sigh.

          After a quick consult, we decided to haul down the jib. A & M nvas is just up the hill and theY agreed to do a quick sew job; we had it back in just a couple of hours. In the process we did notice that the foil that the jib slides into was loose and then had to find a couple of new set screws to get that taken re of.

          I also decided that the chart plotter was unacceptable as it was. We will be okay beuse I had both my phone and my iPad to use and frankly I prefer using paper charts except for very narrow entrances and exits. We talked it over and decided that anything newer risked having to replace a lot of other instruments that talked to the chart plotter and that it could quickly run to almost $10,000 if we got rried away. I found several refurbished Raymarine e80’s on line and decided that for several hundred dollars it was worth it. So I bought one and it should be waiting when we finally get back. Hopefully it will be an easy swap.

          All in all it was a busy and expensive day. Oh, and Beth found us a replacement plug…but it wasn’t as good as the original constarn it… We st off and a few minutes later dropped anchor in Mark Bay around 5 pm. Then we dinghy’d over to the Dinghy Dock Pub for dinner and some cider.

          2 May

          These will get shorter, I promise. In any se we awoke, phoned the municipal dock to see if we could tie up for an hour instead of having to lower the outboard off and on. They said yes and we headed in. At first we were supposed to raft onto some crabbing boats but they were already getting pretty dense, so the harbour guys had us tie up in an empty slip normally occupied by the Spill Response boat.

          I screwed up that dock. I wanted to reverse in but the wind kept tching the bow and swinging me out. As usual I got stubborn before I got smart and at one point even touched my anchor to the rail on one of the aluminum boats. Eventually I smartened up and just went in bow first. Easy-peasy. We dropped off some mail, bought some batteries and found another replacement drain plug (which still wasn’t as good as the original) and st off again.

          The winds were lighter but we managed to sail for for 40 minutes or soon until they died and we were left only making 2 knots of boat speed. Really starting to regret not sailing that first day…

          A few hours later it was windy stern tie in Smuggler and there a lot of shenanigans until I was satisfied. It’s not as quiet as it was two years ago at this time of year. We shared the anchorage with 3 boats the first night (with two more in the back cove) and there was never less than 2 the entire time we were there.

          3 May

          The next morning Leslie wrote a proposal for a conference that she had left to the last moment. Around noon we managed to scrabble together enough internet signal to send it off. I on the other hand, discovered the shelf life of FSR is about 4 years. My wondrous blue rust-eating jelly was now a watery pink. So much for me spending some time working on the inevitable creep of rust stains.

          So I let L row me around the anchorage. Eventually we tied up to the north shore and went for a hike out to the point—something we’d never done. Dinner was the first pizza of the year!

          4 May

          Another lazy morning followed by a longer hike that pretty much covered all the available trails. Lots of tourists and lol availing themselves of the sunny day and beautiful scenery.

          5 May

          I wanted to get north, so we headed out with the intention of making Sturt Bay or maybe even Lund. One of my objectives is to try an meet up with S/V Violet Hour. Violet Hour is a C&C 38—if memory serves me—that Patrick and his partner (whose name completely espes me at the moment) bought right around the time I was researching our own purchase. Them, Matt (on Gudgeon—who we finally met up with last year in Von Donop) and us make up a trio of sailors who all bought boats and started blogs right about the same time. The three journeys make an interesting compare and contrast for anyone contemplating life on the water in the PNW.

          They were a couple of days ahead of us heading north at the time of our first abortive attempt to st off and now were already exploring Desolation. As their intent was to head further north I wasn’t sure if they would still be around when we eventually arrived in Desolation.

          The forest lled for 10–15 knots from the N and as usual the Malaspina was uninviting. We could have sailed but once again wimped out and decided a straight line was more efficient than spending the day tacking back and forth. Just outside Pender Harbour I spotted a dorsal fin and we were treated to a pod of 8 or so or about 300 feet off the port side. We killed the engine and drifted alongside for 15 minutes or so as they headed south.

          In the end it turned out that banging into the waves was not to our taste and we aborted our northward journey and decided to duck into Blind Bay. We had been to the Hardy Island anchorage there before; Dave (R Shack Island) had meant to take us to Ballet Bay on the south side one day but we’d never made it. So we decided to give it a try on our own. We arrived a low, low water and anchored in 20 ft surrounded by rocks. Six hours later the rocks had completely disappeared and suddenly all the warning in the guide books about approaching with ution made a lot more sense.

          I am still refining my anchoring distance sense — we settled in slightly off centre in the small bay and I would have sworn there was barely enough room for us. An hour or so later another boat me in and dropped anchor a comfortable distance off our bow. Later when we went for a row we realized there was probably enough room for a couple more boats as well. So much for getting better at judging distance…

          6 May

          The winds were gone again. So we motored out of the bay and headed north up a much lmer Malaspina Strait. A bit later we spotted a sailboat on the AIS gaining on us. Eventually it turned out to be a Hunter 38 (pretty much the same boat as us but a few years newer). We had been running at close to 2500 RPM this trip which is much higher than our normal 2200 “Dave speed.” But these guys were beating us by almost half a knot in what was pretty much the exact same hull. L wouldn’t let me speed up. She’s mean.

          We followed the other Hunter into Lund about 20 minutes behind. I tried to stern into the fuel dock and lost my bow to the wind. Again. That’s three times already. You think I’d learn. Anyway we backed out and me in on the other side after the the other boat had finished refuelling and st off. Much easier. Then we picked up some more cider, topped up the water and took off again.

          By this time I was just looking to find someplace to settle into for a few days. Violet Hour was supposedly heading for Cortes Bay but that didn’t appeal. Apparently according to our spiffy new 20919 Waggoners there were a bunch of new chains in the Copeland Islands and that was barely 2nm out from Lund. So we decided to give them a try.

          The wind had picked up out of the northwest and our chosen anchorage looked a bit choppy so we bailed and went back to our cozy nook in the south islands for 2 years earlier. The entrance is a bit nerve-wracking but it was low tide and at least we could see the rocks instead of guesstimating where they were. We passed over one section where there was less than 2 feet under the keel but then passed into deeper (8 feet under the keel) water. Since we were about 3 feet above low tide we figured we were good for a few days.

          As soon as we settled were greeted by the lol seal. Later dinner was interrupted by a trio of noisy otters transiting the cove with their own victuals and we watched a bald eagle tch and consume a fish just off our stern. Idyllic. Leslie went for a row.

          7 May

          L spent the morning working (she is delivering a paper at the Learneds June 3 in YVR and still hasn’t finished her paper). I relaxed and thought about cleaning rust. Then we lowered the outboard and went for a cruise around the various islands in the group. The strait was dead lm so we crossed over to Major Islet and killed the engine just to the west of where the sea lions were gathered. We slowly drifted past these loud pinnipeds, managing to not disconcert them too much (although they did object to us when we attempted to row a bit further out…loudly). We also spotted some seal pups sunning themselves on the shore. Seriously cute.

          We finished the day up with some shore exploration by drifting along the rocks: tons of starfish, sea cucumbers, anemones and all sorts of unidentified sea creatures—guide books are not as helpful as one would suppose. A quick hike next to watch the waves off the west side of the island and it was back on board for dinner and some episodes of Episodes.

          Starting to relax

          That pretty much wraps up our first week aboard. A bit more hectic than we could wish for but an improvement on the rush of try to head to the Broughtons that we went through last year. We have about 10 days before we meet up with the flotilla boats—either in Comox or a day later in Gorge. We haven’t decided yet. Everything in Desolation is pretty close to everything else so hopefully we n get in some sails without worrying about schedules.

          I’d also like to find a chandlery and buy some cleaning supplies. The nvas could use a good scrub and the stainless needs some work. But our options are limited and I’m not that committed to it yet.
          —Bruce #Cruising

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