Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 2 - Campbell River

Day 2 – Campbell River  (Written Tuesday evening, May 14, 2012)

Nothing to exciting today…  and I like it that way.

We had a perfectly still anchorage last night and we all slept great.  After doggie duties, engine checks, etc., we throttled up and made the 4 hour run up the Strait of Georgia and stopped at Campbell River for some fuel as well as a slip for the night.

I needed to do some business and there was a gale blowing in Johnstone Strait so a slip made sense for tonight.  Normally, we much prefer a quiet, secluded cove.  My Garmin tells me that we put on 147 nautical miles (169 statute miles) in the last day and a half.  We normally cruise a couple of hours a day and then we go hiking, fishing, or whatever.  This afternoon, I made calls and worked on my e-mails while Connor home-schooled and Val read/napped.  Then we all went out to dinner, got our fishing license, and, of course, more provisions.  It was a beautiful night.

Tomorrow, weather permitting will be another bigger day up North through Johnstone Strait.  The weather has been typical, sunny, comfortable, Northwest winds.  It can get lumpy on these straits when the wind opposes the tides.  We had about an hour and half of lumps today and hoping our timing will give us a smooth passage tomorrow.  The current runs through Seymour Narrows just North of Campbell River up to about 10 knots…even the cruise ships have to stage their passage.  So, tomorrow, we’ll have to wait for the current to subside before we sail but I don’t want to wait to long as the winds tend to kick up in Johnstone Strait as the day goes on.  We've learned to plan "loosely" on our cruises allowing plenty of room for weather, fish cravings, and who knows what else.  That's part of the joy (and curse) of boating.
Have a great day.  We'll be in touch in Port Hardy, Lord willing.

And We're Off!

And We’re Off!  (Written Monday, August 13, 2012)

After a morning of final preparations and business communications, we finally untied mid day.  It was a beautiful day and the water was flat.  Our first leg consisted of a 4 mile run to Blakely Island Marina as Connor and I were having a nasty craving for a chili cheese dog and a malt.  The way the crab has been washed down with salt and butter, this could be the perfect ending to my pre-cholesterol pill life.
After Blakely, we pushed the throttles down for about a 45 minute smooth ride to Poet’s Cove Resort to clear into customs.  This was one of two times in all our years cruising up here that we were actually boarded by a customs agent.  They were mostly interested in guns and alcohol, which I am also somewhat interested in but for different reasons, I think.  It turns out I forgot about my two little bottles of home-made Dolphin Cove wine and Val forgot about her Kahlua, Baileys, and Vermouth she uses to cook with.  Of course, they did a thorough search of our boat and then gave me a firm scolding but were gracious enough not to take our Nexus status away (or our booze)….oops.

After finally clearing customs, we took the little cut between North and South Pender Islands and then throttled up for about 40 more miles through the Gulf Islands.
By 5:30 or so, we had the anchor set in a little cove somewhere in the northern Gulf Islands and had a chicken roasting on the grille.  As thankful as I am for our little Magma grille, anyone who uses one knows your food will either be raw or completely on fire…there’s no middle ground with these babies!  Keep a fire extinguisher handy!

It was a perfect sunset and the layered mountains proclaimed God’s glory exquisitely.  Even the seals seemed to be rejoicing frolicking around the little islets surrounding our boat.

The days are getting shorter already.  As I write this blog, I would guess the sun will set by about 8:30 tonight and it wasn’t that long ago and it was around 10PM.  The nights are really getting cooler too.  Val is writing a letter.  Connor is on shore brushing Lucky and Tanner, a nightly ritual for them…it really keeps the shedding under control.  If he missed a few days, the hair gets so bad it actually plugs up my scuppers!  A big black dog and a white, wet boat…not a good combination.  (Actually, it is!)  When Connor gets back, it’ll be our nightly game of his choosing and then we’ll all succumb to the gentle roll of the sea beckoning us to our berths.

The boat has been working great with no problems whatsoever, thank God.  The forecast looks good for our run up the Strait of Georgia tomorrow.

Hoping this finds you all well.

Ready Set Sail...Almost.

It's Sunday night, the night before we set sail.  It never seems as we're actually ready but at some point, you've just got to untie and go.  Tonight, Connor and I mostly finished packing the boat with fishing gear, downriggers, crab and shrimp traps, etc. while Val cracked enough crab for her magical recipes on board.

It was a good day: church this morning, lunch at the ferry landing, compiled all my paper charts and made sure my Garmin was up to date, then we pulled crab and shrimp pots this afternoon.  We had 8 big males in one crab pot and 56 shrimp in the shrimp pot (although, they're the little ones like little bay shrimp, not the big ones we get up north.)  We have the best crabbing in all of the inside passage within 2 miles of our cabin here on Orcas.

We really don't have an agenda for the next month or so other than to see where the wind blows us with the overall goal of circumnavigating Vancouver Island.  We like the Dreamspeaker Crusing Guides and we've been previewing "The West Coast of Vancouver Island."  You've heard me say in the past that these guides and even the names of the passes, channels, bays, etc. are enough to scare the cajeebers (sp?) out of you.  Names like Destruction Pass, Massacre Bay, Cape Caution, etc. all have me nervous before we even begin.  Usually, though, on the other side, we always wonder what the big deal is.  Nevertheless, here's a few paragraphs from the introduction of the cruising guide....

"Perhaps no stretch of Canada's Pacific coastline offers more challenges and thrills per nautical mile than the outer coast of Vancouver Island.  Here, ocean swells, swiflty changing weather and strong winds, fog, and rock-studded shorelines test mariners' skills and self-reliance.  But the rewards include myriad uncrowded anchorages, almost endless possibilities for getting "lost" in a place of one's own, and a sense of accomplshment big enough to last a lifetime."

It continues, "Weather on the west coast of Vancouver Island differs significantly from the more moderate conditions of the Inside Passage and lower coastal mainland.  The weather is a fundamental factor to be considered of a voyage along this exposed coastline.  One major difference is the speed of changes in weather - monitoring forecasts and condition reports regularly between scheduled forecast time is essential in transiting safely to a protected anchorage when bad weather prevails."

I am expecting to put on about 1,200-1,400 miles on the boat, which may not sound like much for you land lubbers but it is a significant trip on a 33' boat with a teenager and two labs.  Cody, our oldest son is back home in South Dakota working and in his Junior year at the university.

Well, as I sit here typing, I realize all the things that I forgot to pack and I see the pile by the door growing from Val and Connor's efforts.  I guess, we're not quite ready....but we're leaving tomorrow!