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Glossary:

Haida (hI-duh) = the people
Gwaii (gw-eye) = islands
Haanas (hah-nus) = beautiful

Heck, Hecate Strait in the right conditions is a piece of cake! Using all the navigation and weather tools at our disposal, we timed our crossing of this infamous piece of water perfectly. We had no more than a SE 15 knot wind and about 1 meter (3 foot ) seas. We also crossed the shallow bar near the Queen Charlotte City entrance on Graham Island (like seven-feet-at-low-tide shallow!) at high tide, so never saw less than 21 feet under the keel. But it was cold; even the camel hair blanket I was wrapped in like a burrito and multiple layers of warm clothes didn’t stave off the chill.

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A deer swimming across Ogden Channel.

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Exploring Larsen Harbor before crossing Hecate Strait.

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Half way across the strait. No land sighted in either direction.

Once we docked, we went to the visitor center and were greeted by a man who’s lived here for 96 years, Sergius; he moved to the islands when he was 4! How cool to be welcomed by a centenarian and his partner, Maevis, who’s 74 and a retired teacher. Both were as sharp as a tack and very interesting to talk with.

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Serg, Maevis and Clay

We hung out in Queen Charlotte City until this afternoon taking care of chores again, like laundry and shopping for fresh produce. We ate dinner a couple nights at OV’s or the Ocean View Restaurant, Pizzeria and Pub, and per usual chatted with many people with interesting stories. Briana, the young bartender/university student from Ontario who’s working on the island this summer, and I became friends. We talked about all sorts of things while Clay and Chris played pool. I hope she’ll take us up on our offer and join us for a day or so when we come back north before crossing back over to the BC coast.

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Me and Bri

Yesterday we rented a car and drove up island to the town of Old Masset where we toured its maritime museum and then to Naikoon Provincial Park where we hiked out to the beach and waved to Alaska. Chris is from Pittsburgh and a hockey fan, so dinner last night was at the Yakoun Pub where we watched his Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Okay, the guys watched the game and I knitted. Much more productive.

Now we’re in Sandspit, just across Maude Channel from Queen Charlotte City till early tomorrow when we’ll begin our journey into Gwaii Haanas, a national park reserve, marine conservation area and an UNESCO world heritage site. Entry into this special area requires taking an introductory 1.5-hour class and getting permits. We did both this morning. The presenter shared protocols for going ashore at specific places, safety tips, general “leave no trace” principles and asked that we practice “yah’guudang” or “respecting all living and non-living things and the connection between them.” I like that, but wonder, “shouldn’t we always practice respect toward others and nature all the time?” Seems like a given to me.

While we’re on the subject of respect, I need to vent. I am sick of the lack of respect I receive as a woman in this nautical world. People assume Clay makes all the decisions and is the sole operator of the boat; they don’t look to me as a leader and that pisses me off. The latest example is from today’s intro class. The presenter showed the “captains” in the group the areas which are closed temporarily in the park. I wasn’t included. Really?!?

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I’m angry I feel I have to prove myself to gain even a little respect. If I had genitalia hanging between my legs, I wouldn’t have this issue, even if I did something stupid like run my boat aground in well-charted waters, like some MAN did here over the weekend. Granted, I don’t have the experience some other mariners do (including my husband), but I can’t help that; it comes with time on the water which I gain each day. What I do have, though, is intelligence plus common sense and a penchant to thoroughly process a situation, which lead me to make smart decisions. I’m not on this boat as a sparkly accessory; I’m an equal partner in an adventure of a lifetime with my life partner, and if I had to move this boat alone, I could, would and HAVE! Whew! I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point and my blood pressure’s a little lower.

Now, dinner’s waiting for me, cooked by the man of the boat—who’s often the galley slave—so I’ll sign off for now with a promise to post again next time we have connectivity. By then, we’ll have explored the amazing Gwaii Haanas, and will have many tales to tell and photos to share.

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Gwaii Haanas, here we come!

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Where in the world are we? Look here.

With weather still in our favor, we left Shearwater on Sunday, May 28, for “The Outside” (a.k.a. the eastern edge of the north Pacific Ocean). We sailed across Milbanke Sound and up the west side of Price Island (we’re pretty sure it was named for our friends Larissa and Jim). Along the way, we passed McInnes Island, a weather reporting station we hear about on VHF; it’s fun to see the places named on the radio. Continue Reading »

We’re already in Shearwater, BC! In the last two weeks, we’ve wasted no time traveling 400 miles to this northern village. What’s the rush, you might ask? Well, Haida Gwaii off the northwest coast is our first main destination and we want to get there. No dawdling. Continue Reading »

We said our goodbyes to Anacortes Marina on Friday, May 12, a couple hours later than planned. The 20-30 knot SE wind didn’t allow an easy departure; Sundown went every way but out.  So, we waited a couple hours for the wind to die down enough for us to get off the dock with some help from our friend David. (Thank you!)

From Anacortes, we enjoyed smooth sailing to Jones Island; it’s such a sweet little place. On Saturday we crossed Boundary Pass and checked into customs in Bedwell Harbor, on South Pender Island. Easy peasy. We love Canada! Our next stop was Walsh Island and Princess Cove where friends Chris, Dutch, Ruth and Harold were waiting for us. Check out the fun we had (thanks for the video, Ruth!).

After a couple of nights, Chris, Clay and I sailed on to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, the last big city as we head north. Chris (who we met last year in Desolation Sound and who we’ll be buddy boating with all summer) treated us to an amazing dinner at Asteras Greek Taverna. It’s a “must try” if you’re ever in that town and want a great meal.

From Nanaimo we crossed Georgia Strait to Jedediah Island. Stern tying in Deep Bay was an adventure due to the way the current swirled through there. Once we had both Sundown and Chris’ boat, Puget Escape, secure in the ways we liked, we took off for a great hike and successful oyster mushroom hunt. Needless to say, dinner last night was extra tasty!

A motor sail up the west side of Texada Island today took us to Westview Harbour/Powell River back on the mainland. I immediately went for a run to decompress and check out the town. Clay and Chris beat a path to Powell River Outdoors, where Chris bought a fishing license and they both bought MacDeep lures, guaranteed to catch the big ones! We’ll see…

Tomorrow we’re heading to Hariot Bay on Quadra Island. There’s an historic waterfront hotel and pub, and small quaint community to explore.

Oh, and the weather has been amazing! Lots of sun, relative warmth and only a little rain. Life is good.

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Where in the world is Sundown?
Look here!

Our sweet Sundown, a 1982 Hans Christian 33t sailboat, feels newer and more beautiful than ever. And she should as we’ve invested more time and several boat bucks (1 buck = $1,000!) into her over the winter. As we make final preparations to set sail for British Columbia this weekend, we thought you’d like to see some of what’s new.

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A Weems & Plath barometer to help us better predict weather (a generous gift from our friend Chris Bowman who felt Sundown wasn’t complete without it).

Sundown’s original Kenyon stove gave up the ghost…well, the oven did. And you know what time it is when your oven quits? Time to get a new one! We now have a shiny three-burner Force 10 (kind of like a Wolf stove for boats). The oven holds an accurate temperature and the stove top has pot holders to keep what’s cookin’ from sliding off the stove when under way.

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Because $@#! happens! Replacing the original hand-pump-to-flush head with a fancy electric one was the BEST improvement ever! Just tap the rocker switch and “swoosh!” Poo begone!

We installed a ProFurl roller furling for the genoa (the big sail out front). So rather than the genoa being attached to the head stay (the cable the runs from the top of the mast to the very front of the boat) with bronze hanks, which is very traditional, it’s now attached to a rod that runs the length of the head stay and rolls up around it. The photo on the left shows the hanked-on genoa in a down position and tied to the life lines. The photo on the right shows the genoa on its furling. Thank you Dave O’Connor of Bellingham Sails & Repair for modifying the genny for the new system!

We have Advanced Elements inflatable kayaks! Given our experience in BC last year, the farther north we traveled, the more limited off-boat physical activity became. There was nowhere to run, bike or even hike, and the water was too cold for swimming. Having a way to escape the confines of the boat, get exercise and feel independent will revolutionize this summer’s cruise and keep this sailor in a much happier head place!

A new-to-us cutaway Seagull guitar also has joined the fleet of boat toys. It sounds great and will help us stay in harmony as we sail on.

We’ve also done some varnishing, gel-coat repair, re-painted her boot strip on the last haul out and many other maintenance projects to keep Sundown as bristol as possible. If only we could all age so beautifully!

Many of our followers have been asking what we’re up to and why we haven’t posted anything new lately. Our recent weeks have been filled with work and more work, so there hasn’t much to write home about—except for one special event. Our son, Blake, is back in the U.S.A. from the Middle East where he was working as an EMT! HUGE answered prayer!!! Continue Reading »

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Clay on Sundown. Compliments of our friend April.

Happy New Year! The past several weeks have flown by and now we find ourselves on the light side of the Solstice, anticipating spring and another sailing season. Continue Reading »

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