Wednesday, September 10, 2008

passage to Oregon

After a layover day in Port Angeles, got underway at 0630 on Saturday, with Jon and Caroline from Victoria as crew. Thick fog, with viz sometimes down to 1/8 mile, kept us glued to the radar all the way out the Strait. We rounded Duntze Rock Buoy about 4 PM, and within a few hours we were in the clear. Conditions on the outside were very mild, and we had an uneventful night under the waxing moon and a starry sky.
Soon after sunrise on Sunday, we were able to kill the engine, and we sailed wing and wing most of the rest of the distance to the Columbia River Bar. The air was very clear, and the Olympics were clearly visible most of the way. The wind picked up as we neared Cape Disappointment, and especially after we rounded up to a port reach, but we kept sailing across the Bar on a gentle flood tide. Spent the night at Astoria. John on Fairanne was just a few hours behind us.
Monday we got underway about 0730, but unfortunately an offshore breeze kept the motor running all the way to Longview. At least we had a lot of shipping and scenery to occupy our attention. After turning the corner, we had the usual N wind and ran under the genoa to Martin Slough, where we anchored for the night. The depth sounder showed as little as 2 feet under the keel near the entrance to the basin. After watching the sun go down, we realized that we should check the tide for morning. Uh-oh! The tide program showed a 6ft drop by the next morning! I knew that couldn't be true, and occasional glances at the sounder confirmed there was little fluctuation. All the same, we decided to get underway at first light. The depth hadn't dropped even a foot since the night before, and we made it back out without touching bottom. Sailed to St Helens, where we filled the fuel tank, then tied up to the Sand Island dock and made breakfast. The last few hours to Portland were a mix of sailing and motoring. The railroad bridge obligingly opened before we had a chance to sound the horn, and we tied up in Tomahawk by 3 PM.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Port Angeles

Took the picture of Adventuress at the dock in Friday Harbor after yesterday's post was already finished. Got underway from Friday Harbor this morning at about 0745, motoring south through Cattle Pass. About an hour across the Strait, the wind had risen enough to kill the engine and sail on a close reach toward Green Pt, east of Port Angeles. The fog soon settled in around me -- thank God for radar. As I neared the inbound/outbound shipping lanes, I checked in with Seattle VTS. Later I hailed the tug Elisa Ann to make sure they had me on radar. Once I closed the coast, the fog lifted and I motored the last 6 miles to Port Angeles. Layover day here, new crew tomorrow, outbound for Portland Saturday morning.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One more time around the block

Took Amtrak to Anacortes on Saturday, leaving poor Vicki to face the start of another school year. Spent Sunday getting the boat ready, and headed out on Monday with high school buddy Greg. We had fair winds to blow us all the way to Sucia, where we picked up a mooring in Fox Cove and enjoyed a lovely late summer afternoon. Where are all the people?
On Tuesday, we motored over to Patos, and then let the ebb carry us down Boundary Passage toward Stuart, hoping for orcas. Nope, but another nice day. We rounded Turn Pt, cranked up the engine and motored the last bit to Reid Harbour. Instead of doing the usual walk to the lighthouse, I hiked the trail to the "Tiptop" of Stuart, with a fine view SW over Haro, and of course no camera to prove it. The best reward was seeing a large pod (~40) of orcas coming south from Turn Pt. Their breathing was clearly audible, and several of them were spyhopping and jumping out of the water.
Today, we floated down San Juan Channel with up to 2 kts of current and about the same amount of wind! No rush, not too far to go. We picked up a mooring at Turn Island, and dinghied over to Friday Harbor for lunch, email, etc.
Tomorrow Greg will take the ferry home to Anacortes, and I'll singlehand across the Strait to Port Angeles, awaiting new crew Jon and Caroline for the passage back to Portland.

Monday, August 11, 2008


We have had a hard time figuring out how to end this trip. We had left our car in Bellingham, so we had hoped to find a temporary moorage there, or at least stop and pick up our car. But there are no slips available and the Customs and Border Protection folks reminded us that we have to clear in at one of the 5 designated ports of entry, which doesn't include Bellingham. So we have ended up in Anacortes for now. We had a nice visit with friends Greg and Dina and their granddaughter Kendall before heading on down the road for home.

Last night in Canada

We went over to Boat Passage in the morning to watch the current flooding out of Winter Cove and into the Strait of Georgia. I tried to convince Vicki to let me con the boat through at high slack in the early afternoon. She was having none of that, so we went the long way 'round Saturna to Reef Harbour between Tumbo and Cabbage Islands. We had a nice sail out of Plumper Sound, but then the wind died and we motored until Tumbo Channel, where we had a last short reach under sail before turning in to the anchorage. This is one of our favorite anchorages, and seemed like a nice way to finish off this summer's time in BC. The winds stayed light in the PM, so I kayaked all the way around Tumbo and Cabbage Islands, seeing a number of river otters and harbor seals along the way.

Winter in Summer

Today (Saturday) we had a short easy sail to Winter Cove on Saturna, thanks to changing out the 140% genoa for the 80% jib. We spent the morning at the Ganges Saturday market before heading out. It was sobering to sail past the wreck of the Roberts II on Minx Reef at the entrance to Winter Cove. We had seen it last year just a few days after it went on the reef. Now its barely recognizable.
Shortly after we put the anchor out, it started raining, and it rained until almost dark. We were treated to a nice sunset at least.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Upwind to Ganges

We should have changed headsails before we set out. Winds in Trincomali were blowing out of the SE, so we had to tack to get to our planned destination, Ganges on Salt Spring. One reef, then two, then we finally dropped all sails and motored from near Porlier Pass the rest of the way to Nose Point. Once past Nose Point, we had an easy reach and run to Ganges, under genoa alone.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quick Silva

We're in Silva Bay, on Gabriola Island, not too far from Nanaimo. It was not so quick getting here, actually. But fun. We even flew the spinnaker part of the day. Now we're back in the Gulf Islands, and only a day or two from re-entering the States.

Not Desolate in the least

We decided to blow off Desolation Sound this year. We had been there, and had a wonderful time with friends, each of the last 2 years, and it seemed anticlimactic to go back this year on our own. The parade of mega-yachts steaming by on their way to Desolation also may have had something to do with it. Fuel prices have had seemingly little impact on the "big boys."
We had a fine NW wind to carry us back toward home, and had an excellent run down Malaspina Strait to Blind Bay, between Hardy and Nelson Islands. This turned out to be a charming and not overcrowded spot, with good swimming and kayaking to boot. We ran into fellow Ericson owners Jon and Caroline on Grand Cru out of Victoria, whom we had not seen since the rendezvous in Port Townsend a few years ago. We also talked to folks on a beautiful traditional cutter named Fairanne, out of Astoria.
The next day we had a short run down the Strait to Smuggler Cove. We had long avoided this area due to congestion, but we got there early and enjoyed a few peaceful hours before the hordes descended for the evening. It is a beautiful cove, surrounded by glacially-polished rocks, and its easy to see why its so popular.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Less Desolate than we were

Well, the weather has really turned around! The barometer is pegged on "fair weather" and it is indeed fair. We waited for the turn of the tide to leave Campbell River, not wanting to fight the 6kt ebb, and had a leisurely sail across the Strait and back thru Baker Passage. We decided not to push on, but to find an early anchorage and enjoy the sunny afternoon. So we're back in the Copeland Islands, only a mile or less south from where we were 2 nights ago. After stern tieing to a tree ashore, we found the water was warm enough for a 20-min swim. Yahoo - this is what I've been waiting for!
This morning, the sun was shining brightly and warmly, and we had coffee in the cockpit. Then we caught the scent of Nancy's Bakery, only a couple of miles away in Lund. So into the dinghy we went, and here I sit updating the blog.

Friday, August 1, 2008

almost to Desolation

We're in Campbell River, after a fairly quick trip up the Strait from Nanaimo, thanks to steady SE winds. We spent one night at Jedediah Island, between Texada and Lasqueti Islands. It's a nice provincial park with good walking trails and beautiful rocky scenery. We didn't take a single picture there this year, as we've now been there 3 years in a row!
The next day, anticipating more SE winds, we left early, hoping to get close to Desolation Sound. The weather didn't cooperate - we had more rain than wind! We ended up, though, in a charming little cove in the Copeland Islands, near Lund.
Today we awoke to more rain, and we needed to charge the batteries and check email, so we came to Campbell River instead of heading into Desolation. We had a great sail across from the Copelands, and caught the last of the ebb tide into Discovery Passage. We're tied up at Fisherman's Wharf, amongst some humongous fishing boats!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Departure Bay Arrival

We're in Nanaimo, waiting for a low pressure system to move through. This is a nice place to hang. We hiked around Newcastle Island yesterday and Protection Island today. Once the weather calms a bit, we'll head across the Strait of Georgia to Pender.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rockin' out on Valdes Island

The Gulf Islands (and some of the San Juans) have the coolest sandstone formations. On our way north after Burgoyne, we spent one night at Chemainus, and the next night at Wakes Bay on the northern tip of Valdes Island (partway through Gabriola Pass). This is another newly-minted park, and as such is not much developed, beyond a dinghy dock and a few signs. But there was a great beach walk out to the east side of the island, where we could look across the Strait of Georgia toward the mainland. We also saw an Ericson 38, Nakesa, same year as ours, tied up to the West Vancouver Yacht Club float on Kendrick Island. The owner, Kerry, dinghied over later to say hi.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Burgoyne Bay

Here's the Internet bakery in Fulford where I graded papers, checked mid-term exams, and updated the blog. The cob oven and walls reminded us of Fireworks in Corvallis. We enjoyed chatting with the owner, Alan Golden, about some mutual favorite books and authors. He had a full selection of Terry Tempest Williams books, among others.
Fair winds blew us out of Fulford and around the southern tip of Salt Spring, through Sansum Narrows, to another peaceful bay we'd never visited before. Burgoyne is filled with mostly local boats, docks and various flotsam, many of which seem to be occupied on a more or less permanent basis. Mt. Maxwell looms overhead, capped by a dramatic granite cliff. We watched a group of otters roughhousing between the boats, until they swam over to an enormous dead cedar tree, toppled into the saltchuck. Later we rowed over to the government wharf and marveled at the huge arbutus (madrone) looming overhead. We were delighted to find that the undeveloped shoreline of the bay has recently been protected as a provincial park. We followed a peaceful old road through the forest and around to the tidal flats at the head of the bay.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Downwind to Canada

Great sailing continues! Yesterday we had a downhill run all the way from Friday Harbor to Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island, where we cleared customs, entered Canada, and started adding a "u" to the word "harbour". We anchored off Beaumont Provincial Park for the night.
Today we tacked out of Bedwell and continued downwind toward Fulford, on Saltspring Island. On the way, 
we took a lunch break 
at Russell Island, one of the newest additions to the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. This was one of the islan
ds settled by Hawaiian natives, who arrived in the 1800s as crew on sailing ships. It had a cool "Hobbit trail" and one of the last remaining Hawaiian ho
We had a special reason for visiting Fulford. Our friend Cathy's old boat Gertrud was bought by a local author and now lives here. We checked on her and she looked great.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Back to Friday Harbor

Poor F&F got rousted from a sound sleep so we could make it down Speiden Channel past Limestone Pt before the strong ebb kicked in at 0630. The reward was yet another fine sail across to Jones Island, where we spent a leisurely morning eating pancakes, hiking, and reading. After an early lunch, we reluctantly raised the anchor and set off on F&F's final sail toward Friday Harbor, where they had to catch the afternoon ferry back to B'ham. Fred took the helm the whole way, easily passing the only other boat headed the same direction under sail. In 6 days of sailing, we averaged a little over one hour per day motoring!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friday Harbor to Roche Harbor

We drove to American Camp right after breakfast and had some great wildlife sightings. First, a fox stopped to groom itself right in the road. Later, we watched two distinctively colored coyotes pouncing on rodents in the large prairie behind Pickett's Beach. They had a lot of black fur and one had a white tip on its tail.
We returned the rental car, cast off the docklines, and caught the last of the ebb tide down toward Cattle Pass, crossing tacks with two other E38s (Nordic Pearl and ?). We didn't quite make it through the pass before it turned to flood, so we motored on through and across the Inner Passage toward Haro.
Sailing once again, we soon spotted the telltale signs of nearby orcas (namely, scads of little inflatables filled with tourists all zipping toward the same spot). Poor whales, they never get much privacy. We saw several females with babies, and finally a large male.
The sailing was pretty good, so we elected to continue on past Roche and on to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. We got there in time for an early dinner and a 6-mi roundtrip hike to Turn Pt Lighthouse. A cute baby harbor seal was floating around like a little football in the kelp at the point.
The next morning we tried to time our crossing to Roche, but still ended up fighting current across Speiden Channel and had to motor the last bit. Roche was full of the usual chaos, but we enjoyed the scene (and Fred really enjoyed seeing so many floatplanes). We went ashore for "colors" at sunset, and poor Chica freaked out when they fired the toy cannon. Day done, peace reigned again, and we had fun getting beaten at Farkel by Fred.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bellingham to Friday Harbor

We rejoined Southern Cross on the 16th, with good friends Faye and Fred along for a few days. They really brought good luck in terms of weather and sailing conditions! Wednesday we started motoring out of Bellingham Bay against the typical headwind and chop, but after pulling even with Fairhaven we were able to raise sails and make Hale Passage in a single tack. Wind died partway through Hale, but only for awhile, and then we had a wonderful reach past Pt. Migley and all the way to Matia. Rolfe Cove was full, but we dropped the hook in the next cove to the south and had it all to ourselves. Enjoyed a nice walk among Matia's stately trees and the first of many glorious sunsets.
The next morning, we were rockin' and rollin' thanks to some sloppy waves from the Strait of Georgia, so we headed out without breakfast and bashed our way toward Pt Doughty. Conditions moderated after we closed with Orcas, and we ate breakfast and had a nice sail down President Channel, then past Jones Island into SJ Channel. We anchored briefly off Yellow Island so F&F could explore a bit. The caretaker keeps "banker's hours" so F&F had to cool their heels on the beach to wait for the opening bell (10AM).
We pulled into a slip in Friday Harbor so Mark could check in with his students and make sure the 1st mid-term was going smoothly (he's teaching 2 online classes this summer). All being well, we rented a car and headed across the island to check out a house high above Haro Strait belonging to some of F&F's neighbors. Wow! What a view.
Back on the dock, we watched the boaters next to us feeding herring to a female harbor seal named "Popeye".

Monday, July 14, 2008

A star is born!

It was a nice surprise to open the new (August) edition of Lats and Atts and turn to p. 67! This picture was from an earlier post on this blog.

Monday, June 23, 2008

passage to Bellingham

Early June did not provide any good opportunities to head north. At several points there were gale force winds and high seas. Finally got a window of good weather and headed across the bar on Wednesday the 18th, with Mike and Doug as crew. We sailed a fair bit into the early evening, but got pushed too close onshore and had to motor NW from off of Long Beach. Got a good view of Rainier with alpenglow just before sunset. Passed the outer buoy for Gray's Harbor at 11PM. Motored most of the night. In the morning the wind picked up from the SW so we doused the engine. Detoured to make a close pass by Destruction Island so we could visit the sea otters. Wind dropped as we approached Cape Flattery, so we motored through Hole in the Wall. Water temperature dropped as low as 36.7 degrees near Cape Flattery! Fueled up and spent Thursday night in Neah Bay.
Friday morning we pulled out about 6:30 and headed down the Strait. Lots of inbound shipping, but we finally made a break across the shipping lanes, hoping to find more favorable current on the northern side of the Strait. Close reached on SE wind for a time; also had a nice encounter with a pod of Dall's porpoises. Tide finally turned in our favor near Sooke, and we had a nice drift past Race Rocks. Wind filled in a bit from the W, so we ran wing and wing, headed for Cattle Pass. Picked up a buoy at Turn Island (just S of Friday Hbr) for Friday night.
Saturday morning was another early departure, to try to get across Rosario before a strong mid-morning ebb. Went through Peavine, around N side of Sinclair and rounded Carter Pt on Lummi. Fueled up, pumped out, and tied up to a guest slip in Squalicum.

Monday, May 26, 2008

passage to Astoria

Took the boat downriver to Astoria over Labor Day weekend. The Columbia was so high that we had to request the I-5 bridge be lifted, for the first time in our 7 years on the river. We spent Friday night tied up to the inside of the north dock at Sand Island, which was well protected by a debris barrier. Across the channel, St. Helens marina had its hands full pulling debris jams away from the docks. We spent Saturday in the marina at Cathlamet, after a lot of good sailing, especially downriver from Longview. We pulled into Astoria early on Sunday and headed home after visiting the Astoria Farmer's Market.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Will sailing season ever begin?

The bigger question: when will "repair season" be over? In preparation for what we had hoped would be an extended cruise to Mexico, we replaced our standing rigging and mast wiring last year. Afterwards, our masthead wind instrument was DOA, and we had a nasty leak at the partners. The first problem is still being worked on, and I finally fixed the leak by re-bedding all the screws in the deck plate surrounding the mast. We also replaced our 2-blade MaxProp with a reconditioned 3-blade prop, to reduce vibration. While hauled, we had a minor blister repaired, and a void near the rudder post filled. The exhaust thru-hull was found to be cracked and was also replaced at this time.
After a great cruising season, we had a stainless rail welded on both sides of the cockpit, in order to attach solar panels and bimini. We had a new bimini built and replaced our dodger canvas and windows.
The coup de grace to our cruising plans was the discovery that the engine problems we had long suffered with turned out to be more serious than we had thought. After long deliberation, we opted to re-power with a new engine, transmission, and panel. The new exhaust thru-hull had to be replaced with a slightly larger diameter, per the new engine specs. But there was another surprise in store! Now it turns out we are overpropped, and we are having our "new" 3-blade MaxProp cut down by PYI. This was a real puzzler, as the transmission ratios and torque curves for the old and new engines were supposedly nearly identical.
So Mexico is off for this year. With any luck we'll at least get to cruise BC again this summer.