A short post. We are now in transit back to the states. This first passage may have been our most difficult due to the weather. Heavy rain and winds were forecast and they didn't disappoint.
It was wonderful to have our island friends come to see us off.
And a picture of us sailing away.
Tonight we spend in Sydney, BC. The weather is clearing, the sunset is beautiful, and tomorrow finds us in a different country.
The new year is often about new beginnings and the promises we make to be thinner, happier, and generally better then we were last year.
For me, the new year is about possibilities. What may have been impossible last year may be possible this year if I choose to act when the opportunity arrives.
I find it difficult to take any promise to myself seriously if I’ve waited to the start of the new year to make it. If it’s serious enough to make a promise about, maybe I shouldn’t be waiting, right? Let’s get that baby started right now!
So I don’t spend time making promises. Instead, I reflect on the possibilities of the new year, and which ones I’ll want to pursue.
How is 2020 looking so far?
It’s possible I’ll walk more, eat less, and strengthen up.
It’s possible I’ll get more comfortable sailing in heavy weather.
You never know. It’s also possible I’ll finish my book.
I’m really looking forward to what the year will bring!
Our trip to Oregon was busier than expected and after two weeks of running around we were exhausted. It was time to get back to Otter Bay. It took two days of traveling before we stepped aboard our sailboat Odyssey. She was musty, cold, and nearly devoid of food but it felt really good to be home. We handled the musty and cold quickly, but groceries would require a store.
On our trip to Oregon we had talked about taking the boat off the dock more often during the winter. True, you have to keep a close eye on the weather, but we knew there would be lots off opportunities to go out. In fact, it looked like a nice weekend was coming up so we made plans to take the boat to Ganges on Sunday, just a few days away. My quartermaster assured me we had enough food to survive till then.
Ganges is a town located on Salt Spring Island, the largest and most visited island of the British Columbia Gulf Island group. With a population of about 6000, they support a large, well stocked grocery store. Come Sunday, that would be our destination. We also planned to have lunch at one of the many restaurants within walking distance of the docks. Our simple shopping trip was shaping up to be a great day out.
By Saturday afternoon the weather was cool and calm. After a quick consultation we decided it would be a perfect time to go off somewhere and anchor. With well practiced ease and a giant smile on her face, Sarah untied the dock lines.The engine was put-putting as we maneuvered our way out to spend a lovely night in the bay.
The next morning the world was dripping cold with heavy fog threatening to obscure all but the nearest islands. We were in no rush and Ganges was just an hour and a half away, so we relaxed and waited, enjoying a lazy morning coffee and delicious breakfast. About noon the fog began to lift so we pulled anchor and headed off to Ganges for a day of fun.
Later that afternoon, with happy tummies and a boat full of food we left the government dock and headed back to Otter Bay. Due to the time change we were a bit surprised how low the sun was. On the way down Captain Passage the clouds cleared a bit, treating us to a beautiful evening cruise home.
After long voyages it’s customary to post the pertinent statistics. A summery is often all that’s needed. Here is ours.
Travel from Otter Bay, North Pender Island, up and across Georgia Strait to the Sunshine Coast, up through Desolation Sound and then the inside passage, ending up in the Broughton Archipelago, there to spend the summer exploring. The return trip followed the same path.
Number of days.
May 20th to September 15th
Longest travel day, time and distance.
September 10th, the return trip across Georgia Strait.
The torpedo testing range, WG, was active so we had to go around it.
6 hours, 36 minutes
Furthest point from Otter Bay.
Muirhead Island Group, Drury Inlet
50º 55.303’ North 127º 08.593’ West
Straight line, 203 miles
Interesting fact. That is 173 miles further west then Victoria.
Maintenance and Repair.
None. Odyssey is a very good girl and her crew love her very much.
Here we are, well tucked onto a safe dock after four months in the remote north. We have all we could wish for, showers, laundry, fresh water and supplies.
And yet, after just three days, we decided to untie the dock lines and anchor out in the bay. This wasn’t about traveling, nor looking for a better place, we both just felt the need for a little privacy.
It sounds ridiculous, but compared to the Broughtons, Otter Bay is a busy place.
Out we went, less then half a mile, and dropped the anchor. There we spent a wonderful two days.
What did we do? Sarah painted, and in an amazing way, as she always does. Me? When all is well, the stars alined, and the world calms down enough, sometimes I just sit and contemplate the universe.
It had been awhile and I enjoyed it very much.
Happy, grinning and satiated, we headed back to the dock as the sun set. All was well with our world.
What does it take for you to be really happy? Money? Accomplishment? A sense of being? Whatever it is, find it and enjoy it to the fullest.
Ours is a relatively quiet and creative life based on the philosophy of ‘Do no harm’. For us this is enough.
That, and loving each other.
Heading south from Nanaimo, through Dodd Narrows, into the southern gulf islands can be an exercise in patience. The Narrows, just an hour south of Nanaimo, really controls the timing. You only transit at slack tide and there is no cheating allowed. (Dangerous.) Be patient, wait for it, and all will be well.
Before heading to Otter Bay we planned an overnight stop in Ganges. We were in need of a big restocking of food and fuel. It’s a seven hour trip from Nanaimo, but with an early slack tide at Dodd you could do the whole trip in a day.
Unfortunately, the time of slack wasn’t so early the day we wanted to go and would put us in Ganges quite late. Also, for us, 7 hours is just a bit too long for a comfortable cruise.
With all this in mind, we broke the trip into two days. The first day we would head south through the Narrows and then anchor in North Harbor on Thetis Island. It’s a great anchorage in all except heavy NW winds, and very quiet with good holding in mud. We slept well that night.
With bad weather moving in we left early the next morning. We made Ganges by 11 am, fueled up the boat and tucked into a nice slip.
There were three days to burn before our slip in Otter Bay was available. It rained, it blew, we had a great time eating out, going to the Fall Fair, and shopping. On Sunday we headed out after the final food shopping, tired and happy.
Not a bad way to get back into the swing of civilization.
My last post was a bit short. I complained about water spouts (think tornados on the water) that were in the forecast for the day we wanted to cross the Strait of Georgia. Actually, the complaint was focused on the forecast combination of water spouts together with calm winds. Those two things should be mutually exclusive.
At least that was my opinion.
The Captain should always have a plan, and mine for crossing large and often rough bodies of water is fairly simple.
- Get to the crossing point, the last safe harbor before launching across the big water.
- Wait for a weather window.
Our go spot was Pender Harbor on BC’s mainland. We like John Henry’s Marina and would happily wait there for good weather. It turned out that good weather was upon us for the next day, except for that whole water tornado thing.
We decided to go anyway.
Our path was nearly due south as we headed out the harbor. Towards the north, the sky was inky black from top to bottom.
I told Sarah, “Glad we aren’t going that way” and happily steered towards Nanaimo and clearing skies.
It took 6.5 hours and we got caught in some big downpours, but it was very calm and luckily water spout free.
How does a seasoned captain deal with heavy rain?
A Mary Poppins umbrella of course.
NOTE: I wrote this a month ago while anchored in Drury Inlet at the north end of The Broughton Archipelago. My apologies, many posts were shelved till better internet access.
Today I watched the grounding of the sailing vessel Monna.
Several hundred yards from us she came to a sudden and violent stop when her keel hit a rock.
I was watching her at the moment of impact. The bow went down and the stern came up out of the water. I still can’t believe she didn’t tear the keel off and sink right there.
We were anchored in the Muirhead Island group at the end of Drury Inlet, a long way from anywhere, especially any kind of quick help.
The charts are nicely detailed, which is a good thing because there are rocks everywhere, some showing themselves at low tide, others staying hidden just below the surface.
When we arrived yesterday we had the place to ourselves, which was surprising considering the sunny day. But as the tide changed, quite a few boats began to show up. Most passed the islands by for a large (and rock free) anchorage a half mile away. Most boats that is.
The approaching sailboat looked to be about 45 to 50 feet long, threading his way through the islets, taking it slow. The small cove we were in really wasn’t large enough to handle two boats swinging on anchor, and my fear was someone would try to fit in anyway. As the sailboat approached I was hopeful he would pass us by.
No such luck.
His intent was obvious as he turned towards us. It never occurred to me he was turning too soon to avoid the rocks at the entrance. I was watching closely as the 10 to 15 ton sailboat came to a jarring halt. The captain disappeared, I’m guessing thrown from the wheel.
The noise it made was surprisingly loud. I imagine anything not bolted down inside was now on the floor. The captain was quickly up and started backing away ever so slowly. Soon they turned back into the channel.
I hailed them several times on the radio to see if they needed assistance, but I never got a reply. They were probably too busy checking for damage. I could see that no one was wearing a life jacket, nor did they put them on after the collision. If his wife had been on the bow, getting the anchor ready, she would of been tossed into the water.
At a snails pace they headed out of danger to the larger anchorage just north of us.
Why did it happen? I don’t know. Was the captain distracted for a few moments as he tried to figure out where he could anchor? Did his chart plotter fail to show the rocks? He obviously made a decision to turn into the cove, but why too soon? Simple carelessness?
Our chart plotter records our path, so I took a look to see how close to those rocks we had come. The safe entrance was about 400 feet wide and I had stayed safely in the middle. The rocks were marked on the chart and we never came close.
There is an old saying. “There are two types of Captains, those that have run aground, and those who lie about it.”
That may have been true twenty years ago, but with high definition chart plotters fitting on your phone and GPS accurate to 16 feet, it’s hard to imagine anyone running aground unless they just aren’t paying attention.
And no. I’ve never run aground.
And yes. We always wear our life jackets when in transit. Always.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.