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Posts Tagged ‘British Columbia’

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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pauseLife has been on fast forward for years–either dreaming about, working toward or living this adventurous sailing, cruising life. But alas, it’s time for us to pause and make a trip home to Colorado to visit family and friends, and for me to work a bit there.

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We’re having a wild time here in British Columbia!
In Ocean Falls, Clay made friends with a seal while setting a crab trap. After he vacated Lightfoot the dinghy, the seal hopped in it. I’m going to start calling him the seal whisperer. (Make sure your sound is on and the volume is turned up!)
One day we were “bear-ly” dressed in Eucott Bay’s hot spring (check out the map below). While soaking in the rock-rimmed “tub,” we watched a grizzly on the opposite shore. Once back on Sundown, we saw another grizzly and two black bears!
The next day, Clay went out fishing in Lightfoot. I stayed behind to work and am sorry I did, as he had a close encounter of the whale kind. He says he didn’t know whether to try to get to shore, make a run back to Sundown or just stay put. He choose the latter,  and to hold on tight to the dingy and his bowels.
We’ve also enjoyed the company of Pacific White-sided Dolphins, many kinds of birds and some sea lions. Here’s to living life on the wild side!

Where in the world are we?

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Sundown in Emily Bay.

I woke the morning we were going to make the next big leap north toward Alaska feeling confident and ready. But as we crossed the north entrance of Raymond  Passage out of Shearwater on Denny Island, I had an overwhelming gut feeling we needed to immediately change direction. I said as much to Clay and we did. Rather than continue out and around Price Island and up Hecate Strait, we went the opposite direction up Return Channel (the name was not lost on me) to Emily Bay in Briggs Inlet. It’s a beautiful spot surrounded by granite walls and high forested mountains with a small river at its head. Perhaps, for whatever reason, north British Columbia is meant to be our destination, not Alaska.

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Clay scantily clad on the beach?

When we’re not sailing, you probably imagine we’re strolling on white sand beaches at sunset, dipping our toes in the surf. Actually, we’ve only walked on two sand beaches in our journey so far and we had our Bog boots on. One of the beaches was about 100 yards long by 50 feet wide until the flood tide when it shrunk to about 100 feet long and 10 feet wide, but there was sand, nonetheless. The other was during gale force winds (34-47 knots knots) with rain coming down in sheets. It was marvelous! We HAD to get off the boat that day after being cooped up for a couple previously, so we dressed in our foul weather gear and dinghied to the Hakai Institute landing in Pruth Bay to hike to the west side of Calvert Island where we could check out the Pacific Ocean. Then we hiked to the island’s northern shore—just because we could. (more…)

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Friends are made fast when cruising. Since we’re confined to a boat the majority of every day, it’s wonderful when we get to interact with people. (Yes, Clay and I have each other and we actually still like each other, but I’ve already heard all of Clays stories. He loves having a new audience.)

Our friends Bob and Sandy, who we met in Deer Harbor on Orcas Island, traveled with us for a few days when we first entered Canada. We window shopped in Ganges, hiked around Wallace Island, played cards and just hung out. Our time together with these kindred spirits came to an end when they decided their turn around point was just before Dodd Narrows. So Clay and I continued on as a duo until we anchored in Walsh Bay in Desolation Sound preparing to go through the Yuculta and Dent Rapids. That’s where we met our new friend, Chris Bowman.

Chris recently retired from running the nano fabrication facility at Carnegie Mellon University. He’s on solo trip in his 36-foot Catalina, Puget Escape. We became fast friends in the course of a week (was it only a week?)–eating dinner together every night while reviewing the next day’s weather and routes, listening to music and just getting to know one another. He’s super smart, well-educated, an experienced sailor and a pilot, so we appreciated having his opinion about conditions. (It was the old “three heads are better than two” theory at work.)

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Chris and Puget Escape sailing across Queen Charlotte Strait

It also was comforting having each other nearby to render aid if necessary, like when Chris’ dinghy painter got wrapped around his boat’s propeller and Clay got to use his newly honed propeller unfouling skills (see one of our recent blog posts for details). Or when we snagged an underwater logging cable with our anchor. Chris was preparing to help free us from the bondage just as we were able to unhook ourselves from the steel tether.

Clay and Chris also fished together. It was fun to watch the two of them head out in Chris’ RIB (or rigged inflatable boat, which is a big dinghy with a large outboard motor on it…think FAST!). They both sported large grins making them look like they were up to something, which I’m sure they were. Their excitement was contagious when they caught lingcod, black bass and rock fish, as well as crab and prawns. Together they laughed off the days the fish and the lures got away.

But the Broughton Islands are Chris’ turn around point. After a couple more weeks, he’ll head back south to Olympia, Washington, where he moors his boat. We are continuing our northerly passage bound for Alaska.

The frequent goodbyes are a bit sad, but on the flip side, it’s exciting to see who we get to meet and befriend next. Who knows, maybe we’ll even find our friend Steve Jones. If all has gone according to his plans, he should still be making his way back to his home in Craig, Alaska, and might just be around the next bend.

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I have to confess that I have some misgivings about this trip to Alaska. The scenery gets more breath taking, but the resources get more scarce. The farther north we go, the more I think I’m developing a case of fuel insecurity…as in diesel for the boat and food for us. (more…)

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When you begin your day deep in crap, it can only get better, right? That wasn’t exactly our recent experience, but things could have turned out worse.

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Dodd Narrows, a .2-mile-wide slot through which the current flows more than 8 knots. You must transit at slack tide unless you’re in a white-water raft or kayak!

But first, know we’ve made it through Dodd Narrows, spent a couple days anchored in Mark Bay near Nanaimo, sailed over to Jedediah Island and anchored in the beautiful little Deep Bay and explored that island, sailed to Garden Bay in Pender Harbour back over on the coast of British Columbia and then left there planning to travel the 24 miles  to Sturt Bay on the northeast end of Texada. That plan evaporated when the 10-15 knots of wind forecast for Malaspina Strait was more like 20-25 straight on our nose. The sea was big and not necessarily comfortable, even with one reef in the main and the staysail up for stabilization. So, we executed our Plan B and went into Blind Bay for a couple of nights till the strait settled down.

The first night we anchored in Ballet Bay. It’s beautiful, but surrounded by private property so you can’t go ashore to hike, which lowers it down several notches on our rating scale. It did offer reasonable cell connectivity, though, so I could work…or so I thought. The next morning, the good connectivity was gone and I had work to do. My patience wore thin and blood pressure rose as I fought to keep connected…I just wanted to finish my work! As I was cursing the magical cell coverage gods who seem to get enjoyment from being whimsical with their consistency, Clay went below for his morning constitutional. Next thing I know, he’s digging plumbing tools out of their storage spot. The head was clogged. I didn’t even go down to look. After a bit, everything came out alright, but I still needed better reception, so we decided to move to another spot within Blind Bay–Musket Island Provincial Park and its Dol Cove.

When we dropped anchor, it wouldn’t grab. I watched and heard it skip over rocks. Then, as we were moving slowly in reverse to try to get it to set, Clay killed the engine, which was weird. His reason? Lightfoot’s “floating” painter (the rope that secures the dinghy to the boat when we’re in transport) got fouled in Sundown’s propeller. NOT good. The outcomes could have been a bent prop or shaft, transmission failure, a hole in the boat and losing our dinghy as it got sucked under. None of those things happened, however, due to Clay’s quick responses and the D ring getting pulled off the front of Lightfoot. Clay detangled the line from the propeller using the boat hook and then we hauled the dingy onto the deck to reattached the D ring. Whew!

This mishap feels like a greenhorn mistake and is a bit embarrassing to admit. We really are very diligent to make sure we’re doing everything just right. Actually, we often overthink things, thanks to my Type A personality. This time, though, our trouble stemmed from  becoming a little complacent believing a floating line would never give us trouble of this kind. WRONG! Lesson learned: ALWAYS tie the dinghy up tight before you begin tight maneuvers or operate in reverse regardless of the type of line you use to secure it to the boat.

On the bright side, the cell coverage was awesome and I finished my work! There is that…

 

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