Thursday, June 29, 2017

North to Nanaimo

Tumbo Island
Canada has been a news/phone/email blackout for us for the last ten days.  Our phones, which we thought would work in BC, don't. We've had nilch, nada, nothing.  It's kinda nice.

I've been able to wean my way off the ever present news cycle of craziness and angst and our daily cycles have moved to more natural rhythms of sea, sun, and tide.

A few evenings ago we were afloat in Pirate's Cove on De Courcy Island, the only sailboat in the harbor. Those of you who know the Canada Gulf Islands might be wondering why we haven't gained more northing by now.  It's been ten days, for Dogs sake. As the crow flies, we're only 40 miles north of Orcas Island.  But we are not crows, we are slugs, and we've meandered. And isn't that what the summer is for... meandering.

Picking up from where we left off on our last blog entry .....  A stiff southerly kept us at the Orcas Island Yacht Club docks for an extra day.  With the wind easing somewhat, we drove over to the West Sound Marina to take on some diesel fuel and drop our garbage and recycle.  It is a tight passage into the dock with a rocky islet 40 feet off the starboard and the fule dock on port, shallow water all around. The wind pinned us to the dock as we finished our chores.  It took a couple of tries to get off the dock but with a little help from a local fisherman we made it, did a short turn-around and snaked our way out of the marina complex.
Off Tumbo and Cabbage Islands where we set the crab traps.  Looking out on Strait of Georgia.
 We sailed across West Sound and entered Wasp Channel.  I'm up top.  Connie's down below playing music.  Suddenly I hear a roar and looking back I see a big white powerboat coming up my port side.  She's big. Must be 60 feet or more. And she's moving fast, pushing a bow wave.  By the time she's past I can judge the size of her wake and start to worry about everything down below getting tossed side to side, The accordion getting tossed to the floor, the ukelele jumping around, the dishes in the strainer falling in the galley, and Connie trying to grab everything at once.

There was a second, smaller powerboat coming up behind on the port and land was very near on the starboard so I could not turn to starboard so I turned hard to port and took the wave head on.  Better to pitch than to roll side to side. The bow went up, the bow went down, water streamed down the side decks. Expletives erupted from down below.  I turned hard to starboard, most of my speed gone, as the little powerboat (who was keeping a good lookout) turned to port a little to avoid me. Wasp Passage is only 650 feet wide. Seems like a good place to watch your manners.

We left Jones Island on our starboard and sailed northwest to Stewart Island, Prevost Harbor where we tied up to the linear moorage.  Having not done so before, we thought it would be a new experience.  Linear moorage is made by two huge buoys with cables in between that you side tie to. There is enough room for four medium size boats or two big ones. Unfortunately, an hour later, a power boat took the south side of the same linear moorage and choose to run machinery most of the night.  Why O Why do some, not all, power boaters have to have a fossil fuel device running?  Don't
they get tired of the hum, the clank, the smell, the vibration?  Just turn it off, why don't ya?  Enjoy the quiet. As you see, the power squadron is getting tiresome to the Travelers.

From Stewart we risked crossing the border and checked into Pender Harbor where I sat on hold for 20 minutes to answer the border control agent's questions with "no, no, no, nothing, no, no, no, thank you." We had raced to the dock after spying three other boats making a bee line for the
custom's dock.  Honestly, they were going full tilt, trying to beat out old Traveler to the customs check in.  I played that game, yes I did, I'm embarrassed to admit.  I pushed the throttle over and got MY bow wave happening, roaring to the dock and leaping off the boat, documents in hand.  I took the first phone and waited on hold.  Two other people grabbed the remaining phones and they sat on hold as three other boaters queued up to wait their turn.

Port Browning
From Pender Harbor we sailed around the corner and into Port Browning, anchored, and had a nice little walkabout.  The next morning the fog had set in.  I could hear boats talking about it on the VHF radio.  We stayed put.  I saw a powerboat leave the port and after tracking him for a while on the AIS I hailed him on the radio and asked about the density of the fog... less than one kilometer, he said.  Staying put sounded like a good idea still. After all, we are meandering.

The second day the fog cleared and we sailed around the corner to Tumbo Island, just off the south end of Saturna Island. Our friend Scott Tobiason had told us that Tumbo was a good crabbing place so we set our two traps near Cabbage Island.  The anchorage was wonderful. Being exposed to the
Strait of Georgia, it was wild and wolly.  Lots of eagles and sea birds.  Very few boats.  Taking the dinghy out a few hours later we were delighted to find three crabs in the trap, two of them legal size.  Mmmmm fresh crab for dinner.

We befriended Peter and Steven who were cruising around in their nice 30 footer fishing boat and got good advice on where to set the shrimp trap. The next day we motored around the corner, set the trap, waited two hours, and brought up 50 shrimp. Mmmmm fresh shrimp for dinner. We saw Peter and Steven again and they came over and gave me a Norwegian cod jig to use for catching bottom fish for crab bait.
Norwegian Cod Jig

Sailing north up the Strait of Georgia we turned into Active Pass, dodged three ferry boats and made our way into Montague Harbor where we dropped the hook and had a quiet evening.  The next day we sailed to Ganges to provision.  Our mode now was to sail and keep sailing unless the sails hung slack and the boat speed was zero.  We've got all sorts of time. Why motor? What's the hurry? It took us all day to sail into Ganges.

In Ganges, on Saltspring Island, there are two government docks for use for up to two hours free.  We stretched the two hours to three and  got our provisioning done quite nicely, thank you. 

From Ganges we sailed (very slowly) to Wallace Island and did our first stern tie mooring of the trip.

To stern tie, you drop a bow anchor, and watch it set well.  Then you back towards land and take a line ashore.  Once we were in position, Connie jumped into the dinghy and rowed a yellow floating line to shore where she looped it through a chain bolted to the wall and brought it back to the boat.  We tightened the lines and there we were, Traveler strung between a well set anchor and a line to shore.  We spent three nights at Wallace Island and met some nice folks there. Near sunset after we blew the conch shell horn we saw a neighbor having trouble resetting his anchor.  I jumped into the dinghy and became the little tug that could... pushing our neighbor's boat away from another boat and helping maneuver it to a better position.  Then I visited the neighbors and we talked about where to go in Princess Louisa Sound.

Later I noticed a boat down the way that was drifting free.  So I drove our little dinghy down there and helped those good folks reset their anchor and retrieve their stern tie lines.  Whew, it was 11:00 and time for bed... a little glow still visible in the west thanks to the summer solstice.

At Wallace Island we set more crab traps and caught a few. We also set out a shrimp trap in 200 feet of water and when I went in the dinghy to check it I could not find it anywhere.  I returned to Traveler, running out of gas just before the anchorage.  Then I got more fuel and spent an hour looking for the trap.  Disappointed, I returned.  When we finally left Wallace two days later, we returned to the exact location (latitude and longitude) and I swept the water with the binoculars.  Nothing in site.  So we continued north and I kept looking.  Finally I spotted my floats and
dancing a jig I pulled the trap aboard.  No shrimp, but two small crabs were small enough to crawl through the funnel opening. I set them free and we slowly sailed north through the Tricomali Channel.
Crab Sushi

We've had steamed crab for dinner.  Fried shrimp.  Crab cakes. Crab Omlettes. Crab cocktails. Can we ever get enough?

We arrived at Pirate's Cove, anchored in the center, then took the dinghy ashore for some nice fresh well water.  We haven't un-pickeled our water maker yet so we've been filling five gallon jugs with nice drinking water when we find it.  Otherwise, we've got 150 gallons of chlorinated water in our tanks for washing, cooking, etc..  Soon we'll get the water maker going and start using that for drinking water.  Here in the Gulf Islands the water has been pretty murky and we don't want to clog up our system with this thick stuff. I'm hoping that further north, the water will clear up.  And we're hoping for warmer water so we (meaning Connie) can jump into the water and clean the bottom of the boat!

Wonderful tasting well water at Pirates Cove
Next up we visited the big town of Nanaimo where we finally found internet so I can post this blog.  After anchoring at Newcastle for a night we moved over to the Nanaimo Yacht Club docks for two nights, one of which was covered by our reciprocal.  Here we worked on the windless some more, painted the anchor chain at 30, 60, 90 feet intervals, provisioned, and took long luxurious showers.

Nanaimo Yacht Club docks.  See Traveler out there on the end?

We are set to proceed north to Deep Bay to meet up with Hal and Kathy, our friends from Mexico.  Then the next week we cross over towards Princess Louisa Inlet and try to hook up with Scott and Karen on their sailboat Tula for the run up to Chatterbox Falls.

We are getting into the slow rhythms of the tides, the sunsets, the wildlife and doing our best to just appreciate the world we are traveling within.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Pause in the San Juans

Our Route in the San Juans
We found the Strait of Juan de Fuca to be in a quiet mood when we crossed from Sequim Bay to Turn Island in the San Juans, motoring for a while until the wind came up to push us through Cattle Pass and into the San Juan channel.  Strong wind warnings were in effect for that evening so we thought it prudent to get behind some sheltering landscape.  The buoy was there for us and the ranger thanked us for taking the time to row ashore and register.

 It's nice to be back in the San Juans.  As the wind howled we were snug there in the forested bay.

Lopez Island Yacht Club Reciprocal
The following day we zipped around the corner and snagged reciprocal moorage at the San Juan Island Yacht Club.  We watered, we shopped, we walked, we bought some Canada money. Showers: $1.50 for five short minutes.  I took the opportunity to change the oil in the still-new-to-me Beta diesel engine. Friday Harbor is a great place to provision and take care of business but there certainly is a lot of activity in that harbor.  The next day off we went to re-take our favorite buoy at Turn Island.

 From Turn Island we sailed off the buoy and around to the east side of Lopez to Spencer Spit and grabbed a buoy there for a very peaceful night.   On Sunday June 11 we sailed off the buoy again after waiting til late in the day for an approach into Fisherman's Bay - had to wait for a rising tide and at least 3 ft above MLLW for Traveler's deep keel to make the entry.  Once inside we laid out plenty of rode to ride out the coming gale force winds predicted for the morrow.  We met up with Connie's artist and political activist friend Jane and husband Richard.  Getting back to the boat at early evening, we found the wind waves at about 3 feet and the wind at about 20 knots, making it difficult to regain the boat in our dinky dinghy.  "The wind she howled, our little boat she shivered, she rolled."

Connie and Jane
We had one night available for us at the Islander Resort marina as free reciprocal and we'd saved it for Tuesday so we could easily off load Connie's PA and instruments for her gig at Vita's Wildly Delicious Restaurant.  I laundered. I shopped.  Connie played music.  Bruce, so generous and kind, kept me supplied with wine and pizza and the evening went very well.  There was a good crowd and we enjoyed the evening.  Connie will be back at Vita's August 11th for a Friday wine tasting event.

Bruce Botts, owner of Vita's
Pizza Chef at work
Giant Jenga Game

Cool Breeze at Vita's

Just a note about Islander Resort marina.  Supposedly the dinghy dock fee is $20!  That's the highest landing fee I've experienced.  We forgot to pay it. While our one night reciprocal with Lopez Island Yacht Club was free, our second night would have been at the normal rate of $73. A little stiff perhaps for my liking.  Lopez is beautiful and all in all, we loved the place and the people.

Islander Resort dock store. Expensive dinghy dock behind.

From Lopez we sailed around Shaw and into West Sound to the Orcas Island Yacht Club dock for two nights of reciprocal.  We met up with another of Connie's friends, Peggy Jo Rain, who carried us to Random Howse in East Sound for an open mic session.  We heard some local talent and CB played a few songs. 
Traveler at OIYC reciprocal dock

Orcas Island Yacht Club

 Peggy Jo and Connie Jo
Cool Breeze performing at Random Howse

Now that the last front has roared through, we've got some settled weather on the way so we're preparing to leave the San Juans to make our way north into the Canada Gulf Islands.  We've got our Loonies and got our Toonies and are much looking forward to leaving the country for a while.  Stay tuned and thanks for listening.....

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Full Speed Ahead

It felt good to be in Admiralty Inlet, the boat heeling over, making five knots through the water.  We'd motored so much the last few weeks we'd forgotten just how sweet it is to sail.  I stared at the masthead to see if our VHF antenna would touch the Port Townsend Canal bridge as we went under -- it did not.  Of course the reciprocal was taken at the P.T. Boat Haven -- it always is.
Kilisut Harbor Entrance - This is where they take the A-bombs off the subs.
So we threaded our way past the military restricted area on Indian Island into Kilisut Harbor, stopping at Fort Flagler Marine Park for an hour before sailing south to Mystery Bay.   We picked up a free (prepaid discovery pass) buoy there for the night and enjoyed a good nights sleep.
Mystery Bay on Marrowstone Island - big mooring buoy, eh?

We found the Point Wilson buoy #6 the next morning at about 10:00 and, as always, it seems, the current was flowing east at two knots against our forward progress of 4.5 over water.  So we crept, slowly.  Years ago Keith and I on Platypus found ourselves in that same situation, trying to get west against a flood off Point Wilson.  That time, long ago, we had the little 6 HP Tohatsu pushing us and we made no progress at all.  I was below deck napping and Keith was at the wheel watching old #6
get closer and closer.   We finally headed closer to shore and were able to catch a little eddy to help us out of our stalled situation.  This time around I just increased the throttle and pulled slowly away to the west.

We passed behind protection Island inbound to Sequim Bay.  Up ahead I spied a power boat coming our way on a collision course.  I waited for some sign from the other boat.  Seeing none, I turned to starboard.  Seeing no response I turned some more but found myself hemmed in by the island.  So I did the wrong thing and turned hard to port and got out of the way of M/V Dauntless who roared by at 12 knots.  Whew!

This was not the first time in the last week I had to run from a thundering, bow-waved, power vessel.  Earlier the previous day when coming around Point No Point, north bound, we threaded our way through a large group of racers, their beautiful spinnakers flying. As we exited the pack I looked ahead and saw a large powerboat on what looked like a collision course with us.  Darting down below, I checked the AIS and sure enough, our  CPA (Closest Point of Approach) was predicted as 20 feet in three minutes and their boat's speed was 11 knots.

Seeing the name of the vessel on the AIS screen I hailed on the VHF radio, channel 16. "Charger, Charger, Charger, this is the sailing vessel Traveler, dead ahead of you."  They finally come back, a stressful 30 seconds later as I watched the boat inch closer and closer, "This is Charger, go ahead."

I replied, "Charger, do you see me? I'm the sailboat right in front of you." To this there was no reply.  I turned the wheel to starboard, dashing to get out of their way. Eventually, Charger also turned to starboard and the collision was prevented. I watched while the big powerboat scribed an arc, moving east away from the racing fleet.  Charger had been heading right for the center of that race and did not realize it. 
Wine stains on the chart could have been blood!

While I'm ranting....  two days before THAT incident a power vessel roared around the corner into Port Madison just as I was coming around that same corner.  "Rammer" came very close, pushing a huge bow wave and passed me on my starboard side. She was a very large boat, going pretty darn fast.  I had to turn quickly away from the wave, do a circle then take the four foot wave head on so as not to throw everything down below into chaos.  That would be Connie down below with an accordion strapped to her shoulders. I imagined her slamming against a bulkhead, accordion keys shattering everywhere.  By the time I'd finished that maneuver we were pretty much dead in the water. Thanks "Rammer".

After dodging old Dauntless at Protection Island, we worked our way through the sinuous Sequim Bay entrance and called the John Wayne Marina to ask about reciprocal moorage. I had a nice conversation with the harbor master and learned that there was no open reciprocal moorage and there had not been in quite some time.  In the past the yacht club allowed reciprocal privileges at open guest slips for one night and they would reimburse the marina for that charge.  In a budget cutting move, the yacht club decided to stop that policy and offer reciprocal moorage only when one of their members were out of their personal slips. If nobody leaves, nobody gets reciprocal; we wanna be nobody in John Wayne's world...

Sequim Bay park float
Failing to get dock space at John Wayne, we continued on to the beautiful Sequim Bay State Park where we had the dock to ourselves for two days for free, (Gotta love those Discovery Passes! It's paid for itself and then some.)  Keith and Lisa drove over from Port Angeles and we had a nice sail in the bay and a lovely dinner. They were kind enough to take us shopping, too! That's one of our biggest challenges, land transportation...  The next day we traversed the Strait of Juan de Fuca early to avoid a predicted small craft advisory and gale wind warning.

 While I'm ranting....and you know you love it when I do.... we've had other (not) reciprocal experiences on our 2017 grand tour.  In Quartermaster harbor the reciprocal moorage dock is in 3 feet of water at a zero tide -- not exactly enough depth for most visiting yachts, albeit the bay is a beautiful anchorage. And as in Port Townsend, the reciprocals are often full.  My theory is that the Dauntlesses, Chargers, and Rammers like to hurry to their next destination so they can beat out all those slow moving sailing vessels like Traveler.  "Damn the torpedoes!!! Full speed ahead!!!"

Lisa and Keith Dekker
In spite of these adverse conditions, Connie and I continue on our journey, scoring the occasional free moorage (like tonight in Friday Harbor) and using state park mooring buoys and docks.  I tell you, May and June are good months to cruise, with lots of places to grab a few feet on the dock.  Later in the season, I'm sure we'll be anchoring more often and reserve the dock time for provisioning expeditions.  In the meantime, we'll keep an eye out for big bow waves, small craft advisories, and little harbor pubs as we make our way north towards the sunshine coast.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

We are so cheap!

Poulsbo reciprocal at PYMC
We're on a mission.  Our mission is to wring as much use out of reciprocal moorage agreements and the Washington state marine park pass as humanly possible.  Giving up our 500 dollar Swantown slip, we untied the lines and decided to just float around for three and a half months.  We'll save $1750, I thought.  Today, dockside at the Poulsbo Yacht Club reciprocal dock, I've taken out the log, cracked open the spreadsheet, and done the calculations.  It's definitely break-even time!

In this first month we have more than paid for our yacht club memberships at the South Sound Sailing Society and the Washington Yacht club. My tally shows 11 nights of free reciprocal moorage with a savings of $325.

As for the state parks, we've stayed seven nights thus far this season, recouping the yearly pass fee of $210. From here on out, it's all gravy baby!

Here's our track and central Puget Sound.

It's about time we left the central Puget Sound cruising grounds.  We've worn out our welcome, used up our reciprocal privileges, and exhausted our meager supply of friends who able to join us on the boat.  At noon today we tucked up right inside the breakwater here in Poulsbo, grabbing 44 feet of reciprocal space at the PYC.  As it was time for re-provisioning, we hiked to town, checked out the viking hats, got directions from a nice lady at the waterfront, and started to plod up the hill towards the grocery store.  Lo and behold, a car pulled over and it was Loren and her dog Hart, who we just met on the waterfront.  "Get in here.  I'll give you a ride."
The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker

Sweet Ms. Loren carried us to the Central Market where we had a wonderful time sampling fruit and tasting wine.  We found organic fruits and vegetables, fancy sausages, and ground lamb - all at astronomical prices, but who cares?  Now we are sitting here fat and sassy, a southerly blowing us off the dock, with free internet to boot.

Tomorrow we return again to Kingston, a place we seem to visit again and again.  We've used up all our reciprocal privileges there so this time we'll anchor.  On Saturday Connie has a gig at the Kingston Cove Yacht Club for the annual Kingston Wine and Brew Walk sponsored by D'Vine Wines.  I'm hoping to score some free food and wine but we shall see.  I'm so cheap...
We buddy boated with Scott and Karen Tobiason on Tula, here making their way south towards Quartermaster Harbor

So here's the deal about our summer.  We are cruising old Traveler further and further north as the weather warms.  Goal number one is to see new places.  Goal number two is for Connie to play music wherever we find a pub, wine bar, or yacht club with a corner to play in.  Goal number three is to do all this while avoiding spending any Loonies or Toonies on dock space. Our itinerary has to be totally flexible so as to attain all three goals.
Connie's daughter Tesla rowing me to the dock at Blake Island

After Kingston we'll most likely head around the corner and out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  There we hope to cash in on the reciprocal at the John Wayne Marina in Sequim Bay and also the state park float there.  We hope to connect with the Dekkers in east Port Angeles before sailing across the Strait to the San Juans where Connie has a gig at Vita's Wildly Delicious on Lopez Island. I'm hoping to get a free dinner out of it.
Traveler at Illahee State Park, Port Orchard passage

We've got eleven state parks in the San Juans to visit so as to get the most benefit from our parks pass and a couple of reciprocal moorages to take advantage of there but I bet we'll be wanting to get into Canada to take advantage of our new Canada fishing license.  Let's see, $110 for the license, $200 worth of crab and shrimp traps...  It's gonna take me quite a few pounds of harvest to break even on that deal.
The Seattle skyline view from Port Blakely

Gig Harbor sunset