Posts Tagged ‘sailing’


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.


A deer swimming across Ogden Channel.


Exploring Larsen Harbor before crossing Hecate Strait.


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.


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.


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?!?


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.


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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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.


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.


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!

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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!!! (more…)

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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. (more…)

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On Matia Island with Mt. Baker in the background

What a weekend! On Friday, we sailed almost the whole way from Anacortes, Wash., to Matia Island on the northeast side of the San Juan Islands. Today we retuned back under sail most of the way. Friday’s sail dealt us a little excitement when the wind did a 180-degree shift when we hit a little squall, but we managed (or I should say Clay did, as I was below decks indisposed…I managed to keep my balance!). Today’s return “home” was perfect. The sun was out. The wind was blowing on our nose steadily between 13 and 17 knots, Sundown’s sweet spot for sure.

While moored in Rolf Cove, we enjoyed the antics of a seal, some river otters and many birds. Hiking around the island proved to be a fungus fanatic’s mecca. We couldn’t identify the mushrooms we found as fast as we saw them. Therefore, we didn’t eat any of the shrooms, either. Better safe than off on some wild trip of the psychedelic kind.


But the best part about the weekend was it gave us time away from the dock. Last year this time, we were exclusively sailing or motoring, and anchoring in hidey holes protected from the forecasted winds. We were constantly on the move, unsettled. It felt…well, unsettled and scary and perhaps a little too disconnected. This year, we have a home base in Anacortes Marina. We’re really liking this community and becoming known in small ways, but I think we also need to leave as often as the weather permits, to enjoy the serenity of island time and nature, as well as to keep up our skills. So we’re hitting a balance now I felt we lacked till now. Either way, we’re living aboard and feel blessed.

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