Check it out! We did so much I can't write about it all. Have a question? Just email me at email@example.com.
There is a new gallery. Haul Out.
Check it out! We did so much I can't write about it all. Have a question? Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It rained most of the night, morning light showing everything wet, with water dripping from the solar panels and rigging. Warm coffee and breakfast helped us muster up and out, dressing the boat for passage. Off the dock by nine, the rain was taking a break, with the darker clouds holding to the South, our course this morning.
It wasn’t a long passage really, 2-3 hours. The tide would help us along. I was concerned about any lingering swells from the overnight winds, but as we headed across Swanson Channel the sea appeared languid, worn out from the night’s bravado. With shower’s dark curtains falling in the distance, we crossed quietly through Satellite and Shute Passage. Our goal, narrow John Passage, would see us free of the busy ferry traffic and safely on our way to Tsehum harbor and Van Isles marina.
About a year and a half ago we purchased Odyssey. The inspection at that time told us she needed bottom paint and a cutlass bearing, neither so bad as to require immediate attention. We were eager to be off the dock, explorer our new world and learn to sail her, so we put the work off till ‘next year’.
And now it’s next year.
The winter has been unusually cold, wet and windy. Unusual for this part of the Canadian gulf islands. Tonight it’s raining and 42 F outside. Tomorrow we leave our cozy little marina, dodging in-between two storms for the big island of Vancouver and Van Isles Marina, where in two days our home will be lifted out of the water, set up in a yard, and worked on by four separate crews.
My second in command, quartermaster, ships doctor, cook, and love of my life, has encouraged me to write about this event in the hopes it may be of interest to some of you.
I was going to write about condensation…but we’ll try her suggestion first.
I mentioned four separate crews and I should explain because it really helps to define what we hope to accomplish in the week our boat will be ‘on the hard’.
The first crew, from the marina, will focus on painting her bottom. All boats that stay in the water for long periods of time use a paint designed to keep things from growing on the hull. This paint only works for 2-4 years. So yes, every so often, we have to repaint the bottom of our house.
The second crew is from the on-site boat yard. There are some things, like the cutlass bearing, that I have neither the time nor the tools to work on.
The third crew will be measuring and fabricating our new cushions. The current ones are original. 34 years takes it’s toll on anything you sit on.
The last crew, and most important, are us. We will be working on the toilet plumbing, water lines, and a half dozen other things we have the tools and expertise for.
So off we go. I’ve made a commitment to share everything I can. There will be many things to see and do.
I hope you enjoy.
March 5th, 2018
Im sure the last two weeks have been difficult. Things had been going relatively well, considering. We had talked just a week before it all went south. You seemed fine, still complaining about the doctors and all the ‘crap’ procedures they pushed upon you. But life had gotten quieter, less drama. Do you remember when you called me to say they were holding you hostage? Funny to look back at that. And late last year when you were sure you only had two months to live? I came down to see you, only to find it was a false alarm. I was so mad at you. It makes me smile now because it was so, well, you. I should have seen it coming.
And then you did die, and I’m sorry for that. You would be surprised how many people have spoken up for you. For all your boisterous complaining you still found a way to make it into people's hearts. Good for you!
In the last two weeks you’ve been handled, refrigerated, and cremated. I’m thinking the hardest part was the plane rides I took you on to get you up to the boat. You hate to fly, and let me tell you, the storm that met us as we landed in Canada made me hate to fly as well. Rough really doesn’t cover it, and I’m sorry for that. The ferry ride was bad, but it’s a big ferry, and very safe. That night, finally on the boat, you put up with a gale blowing in from the Southeast. Unbelievable. Almost storm force winds.
Today was the first window of opportunity for us to sail. Off the dock and out into Swanson Channel, we shut off the engine to drift along Ella Bay reef. I had thought of going into deep water, but shallower seemed better, near the light. Sarah had some flowers for you, of course. Hand picked, you know her. The container for your ashes is designed for just this, no plastic, devolving quickly.
Into the sea it quickly sank out of sight while the bouquet floated off with the tide.
Many native cultures believe that the first animal seen at a burial is that person’s spirit guide. As the flowers drifted off, a bald eagle flew over head, low and slow. What surprised me was that he stayed with the boat, circling overhead for 15-20 minutes before heading off to shore. I’ve never seen an eagle do this.
After reaching Glenthorne Pass we anchored for the night. Out came your collapsible drink cups, the one’s with the sail boats on the lids? We toasted you with Absolute Citroen on ice. The cups held together well. I wonder how many years it had been since they had been used for such a good cause.
As we sail, with each schooner or ketch sighted, I will think of you.
Fair winds and following seas my brother.
"It won't snow."
We are new to the islands so when a Local (note the capital L) tells me it won't snow, I refrain from sharing my opinion.
You see, I think it will snow.
The low thirty-something temperature and a beautiful sun dog at sunset reinforced my opinion. But again, not my place to question.
By three AM it was raining so hard the very sound defined your dreams. But as the world turned and dawn approached, the world softened. It wasn't quiet, it was soft.
With a smile, I teased Sarah into looking.
Wishes do come true.
Merry Christmas to all our friends.
Fall is a week away and the air is laced with its scent. The sun isn't as hot and the days grow shorter. Even the trees see it coming, orange and red highlights color the otherwise green hills. There has been little rain so far, not enough to ease the water restrictions, but it’s coming. We can feel that as well.
Our journey hasn’t been what I expected, yet more then hoped for. To go, to head out ‘there’ looking for adventure. To explore as far as possible is the dream of many a sailor. But a funny thing happened in the last four months. We have been learning so much. How to sail, how to anchor safely, how to live in such a small space. It seems I had to learn about exploring. We are no longer novices to the islands, and what we have found is that the drive to explore doesn’t require miles and miles under the keel. We have seen amazing things, experienced sunsets and cities, tidal streams and vast expanses of calm dark water. We have watched otters play next to the boat, endless schools of tiny fish ripple the bay at sunset. This too is exploration.
The things that have broken are fixed, the unused let go, the needed acquired. We are safe and comfortable and love fills each day and each path in front of us. And this is exploration.
The future follows the weather report and tides. I study these looking for safe passage, and no matter how long or short, after each we celebrate,. This is how we explore.
We have been fortunate to meet so many interesting people. Some will be life long friends. This happens at the dock, in port. You may not think of this as exploring, but we do.
I have never traveled so slowly for so long, seen so much wildlife, made so many friends, learned so much, loved so unconditionally. Each morning I awake and want to explore more.
Pot of Gold
Ok, I know it’s just a toilet, but come on. A $1200 bronze throne should work. What a travesty. I tried. I wanted it to work, I wanted it to be as good as every dollar hinted it could be, and we tried. Weeks and weeks on anchor. In the end, I had to pay the marina a $5 fee to dispose of the thing. In hind sight I knew the designer was a mad man, or possibly a devious devil. Let’s review.
At first glance it looks like a regular toilet. But don’t be deceived. Using it requires flushing it. Stay with me here. You have to take a handle from some mounting place, on the wall nearby, and insert it into a jack point. If you have ever used a jack to lift a car up and change a tire you know exactly what I’m talking about. But this is just the start.
It would be acceptable if, handle inserted, you could just pump it up and down and that would be the end of it. Never mind why the handle isn’t just attached to the toilet, or why it’s necessary to insert and then remove the thing. A toilet needs water to flush. I didn’t make up this rule and I’m not sure any man did. But without water, well, it just wont work. And on this amazingly expensive work of art, what do you think you need to do to get that water delivered to the right place at just the right time?
Understand that I’m not making this up. You can check online yourself.
As your right hand is holding the jack handle and pumping up and down, you need to lift your left foot up and push down on a lever at the base of the thing. Now, understand, this is designed for a boat. You know, a moving, floating, rocking thing? So, right hand pumping, left foot off the ground to open a valve, this is how you must operate the damn thing.
I’m a gadget kind of guy and for the life of me the only reason I can think of that someone would design such a travesty is for the joy of the frustration it would cause the rest of us.
If you have never had the pleasure of using a K toilet I’m not sure you can understand. My advice? Don’t. Please, just don’t.
Find another toilet (Jabsco), that has a built in handle (Jabsco), and a small lever to add flush water (Jabsco). At a fourth of the price why would you mess with anything else? Did I mention that to service the other thing you have to remove the entire bowl and disassemble the pump? Stupid.
I can buy an entire Jabsco pump assembly for about a $100 and change it in 10 minutes.
Whew, glad to have that out of my system.
Let’s talk about water.
It’s been a dry year so far for the Gulf Islands. Really dry. When we came into Ganges Harbor they warned us the water to the dock could be shut off at any time, and it was. You could still shower and do laundry, but you couldn’t fill your boat tanks up at the dock. Luckily, we did find a way to fill our tanks, and then we headed to Montague Harbor. It turns out that they not only had a dock water restriction, but showers and laundry were shut down as well. I wonder how much business they have lost because of the water shortage?
We are fortunate to carry several weeks of water and can pick and choose where we will be when we need to fill up.
On the Oregon coast many people who learned of our sailing plans asked if we were heading south to warmer climates.
No one here in Canada asks that. Why? Because it’s warm here, too warm at times. The sun is hot and drives you to find shade wherever you can. Throw in the reflected light from the water and you could crisp up a turkey by setting it on the deck. Thank goodness it wont stay this way!
We had left the safety of Ganges Harbor for a new anchorage, Glenthorn Pass. It wasn’t far, a couple hours max. The bay from Ganges turns into Captain Passage, complete with a bit of ferry traffic and tidal streams. As we headed out I remember telling Sarah “This is a great place to sail. Great wind, not too much.” But we had a goal. A new anchorage for us. Would we find room? How about the holding? If the wind came up in the night would we be able to sleep? These things the captain thinks about.
We spent the week there without any problem, even when NW guests demanded I check our position in the middle of the night. Pulling anchor with a light wind and calm tides we headed back to Ganges to resupply. Once again I found myself telling Sarah how nice the area was for sailing. But we didn’t sail other then letting our headsail out while motoring.
We’ve talked of this, Sarah and I. How do you balance the desire to get from point A to B with the mechanics of sailing? We need to sail, we want to sail. When I study the tides and weather I plan for the best passage. I don’t plan for the best sailing passage.
The area we’re in is known for a reliable daily wind pattern. Downwind sailing rules for boats heading to Ganges, all others tack to make headway out to Captain Passage. After modifying Odyssey’s rigging for sail control at the mast, it’s time for us to see what she can do. Now we can take her out, push ourselves by giving her all her sails, see where she stiffens up. We need to learn to trust ourselves in higher winds. She is more then capable of handling anything the Islands have to give her, even in the worst winter storms.
For the next several weeks Sarah and I will be sail training. It’s time for us to let our sails take us to new places.
We do this because the spaces here are too great for us to do anything else. Of course we will be careful. I’ll watch the tides and winds. The difference is, I hope, that all sails will be out, sheets tight, wind on the beam.
Thank you Bob for your comment. We understand each other.
I’m a bit sorry for the lack of posts. I’ll try and explain.
I’ve been a blog follower for years. I followed who is doing what and where they were this week and where they were going next.
Now I’m losing track, but not getting lost.
I spend less and less time wondering what others are doing. They had been the tie to my dream. If I could watch them, feel what they were feeling, it was possible my dream may come true. They were the magic carpet in a children's story.
There comes a time, if you’re lucky, where life fills you up. All the way. I noticed this months ago.
I’m sitting now on that magic carpet, and I’ve found that dreams can come true. At first I wanted to share that joy with everyone I know. But as life simplified and focused, a cup of coffee on deck, a sunny morning of a perfect anchorage, stretching to a second pot. Nothing else mattered.
When full, you have neither the need nor desire to share that with anyone other then the person you’re with.
Blogs are forgotten as life fulfills all the need to rejoice. You live the experience in the moment, and that becomes enough. There isn’t a need to hold up my life and proclaim “Look what I’ve done!”
Doing it is now enough. Living for a reason is now enough.
Given a warm summer night I’ll be happy to swap tales of hard weather and unforgettable sunsets. In winter, if you can find us, a warm tea will help the dark hours pass. I’ll share what I know with you.
For now we travel, love, and explore.
We enjoyed Sydney. A busy place, amazing food, friendly folks.
The Canadians are very proud of their heritage. They have a right to be.
Headed north we slipped into Otter bay for the fourth of July. Another world.
We find this often, each place we go has it’s own charm. Everything here is island. Boat or plane defines their world and to view it for a few days only adds to the respect felt for these people.
Across Swanson channel into Captain passage, rough seas tested us. We had to smile at how easy Odyssey took the waves. For her, this was nothing. The captain and crew were the ones needing experience. We set the head sail for practice. I’m sure she was beautiful from a distance.
The further north we go the broader the strokes of life styles. Ganges is a mix of hippies and artists and entrepreneurs. Laid back and lovely their Saturday market puts any big city’s to shame.
Today we shopped for fresh produce, duck eggs, art supplies and tacos. We created, painted, fixed, changed filters, and filled water tanks.
What did you do today?
Monday we head out.
Where? I don’t know yet. So many places call to us. Some just a mile away, some hundreds.
We have no schedule so all are possible.
If you don't hear from us for awhile, please don’t worry.
Our cup is full. To live this life is enough. We will share when we can.
As a Post Script.
Come to sail. We have found more wind then could be hoped for.
Those who say otherwise have never crossed these waters with mast and cloth.
We head out early tomorrow morning for Port Sydney, B.C.
Off to Canada!
Quite a few things shaped the day we picked. The weather and tides foremost. We have been out on the hook most of the time. There was a long stint at the dock in Friday Harbor due to weather and then a long stretch in Reid Harbor on anchor because of just loving the place.
But we had a problem though. What to do about the upcoming holiday week? Canada Day is July 1st and is BIG. Forth of July kind of big. Of course we also had to consider the Forth of July here in the states. Where to go to avoid the crush of weekend boaters?
We could provision in Roche Harbor and run back up to Reid. It was big enough that we could sit out the crowds. Some of the areas around Roche sounded possible as well. About this time Sarah said “what’s wrong with just going to Canada?”. Well, I tried to explain that the gulf Islands are sure to be packed and every dock would have been booked for months. But at her urging I agreed to consider it. The turning point was when she suggested we embrace the celebrations and crowds. Forget about finding a way to hide, just go tourist and enjoy it.
Now why didn’t I think of that?
Sydney sounded amazing, a three day celebration with street fairs, music, and fireworks (in the bay). I was enthusiastic but doubtful any slip would be available, but called all the same. The gal at the harbor office confirmed that they had been booked for quite some time and there were waiting lists for every singe slip size. She apologized and then hesitated. She wanted to check one thing. It turns out there was one slip available just our size. It was still open because it has no power available. Yes!! I told her we didn’t need power and so in a mater of minutes we had a slip with a front row seat to Canada Day.
It’s a two hour sail from our anchorage in Roche Harbor to the breakwater of Port Sydney Marina. Then I’m thinking shower, lunch, and three amazing days helping the Canadians party.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.