After waiting all winter to sell the house, and re-insuring the boat and us, then finally getting rid of our 4 wheel friend, we are free!  To go where we want, when we want.

This page is a chronicle of our "learning" the cruising life before heading off to the big blue, and beginning  of "out there somewhere" adventures.

Last Update: August 17th 2009

To comment on these pages, or post contact info you can use the forum at , or you can contact us at

June 22nd 2009: Steveston to Montague Harbour
WX: 5-10 kts SE Overcast, clearing later in the day,13 deg C to 19 deg C
Hours: 9,  Hours on engine 27.4, Dist 40 NM (appx)
   We left the pier ( shown above) in Steveston, Richmond BC fairly early in the day, 9 AM, in order to beat the low tide out of the river. It's a little tight for us newbies and 6.5 feet of draw after the last foot of low tide. ANd this one was exceptionally low. As we had planned to go to Active pass, we'd need to goof around in the strait for a few hours until 5 PM to avoid going against currents that were 6+ kts against.
Early in the afternoon the winds died so we just bobbed around checking the electronics, trying to make heads of tails of the compass, and eating lunch. There was lots of ferry traffic at the mouth of Active, so we had to stay relatively clear. Suddenly the wind picked up and we sailed to the US border line and back, then it was time to go in. We arrived at Montague Harbor (yes our first anchorage last year!) at 6PM.
We have been anchored for several days, and plan a couple of more as we are, yes we can't help ourselves, doing more little projects...well some are" little!"

The secondary GPS, which is a DGPS, wasn't working once we came into the pass area and it was discovered that it skeptically placed location on the dash - inside - wasn't going to be good enough to receive all of the satellites. After we pulled it out of the hatch above the pilot seat and centered it, everything worked fine. We use this GPS because it is very accurate compared to the Furuno. The drawback is that it requires a PC running all the time. (Bad for anchor watch!) We have decided to use it and the PC only when in questionable anchoring situations, like the one tonight: a 20 - 25 kt wind and crowded because it is the weekend and the end of the school year!

When we arrived, the place was practically deserted (photo right)

 Tuesday the WX was great, warm and sunny, pleasant breeze, so we just did whatever we wanted. I rowed around the harbor in the dinghy for 3 hours, Gena relaxed and read a book. Eventually we had to try out the  new 6 hp motor on the dinghy, no problems. For the next few days, we decided to get rid of some annoyances.

Annoyances: The compass sticks. The BattCars on the main are jamming. The Tachometer is way wrong. The reverse position at the cockpit steering station stopped working. Somehow, the Jenny furling halyard is now too short!??
'Round Tuits: The firewire for the camcorder stopped working, the septic level not working, intermittant aft nav light (brand new!!), fish guts from marina VERY stuck to waterline. PC in pedistal keeps falling off the network.

  Raising the main has suddenly become very difficult, to the point one must stop and rest a moment, and nearing the masthead to the point the halyard squeaks on the winch. Something is wrong with the battcars! Today we pulled them all off and Gena cleaned and inspected all of the Torlon bearings in each car. We think that  all the mast drilling going on over the last 2 weeks to mount pendant halyards, lazy jacks, cameras etc. some of the filings may have fallen into the cars, thus jamming the little balls. Not much was found, but then it may have fallen out during the removal process. We'll give it a hoist once the wind and rain stops howling.

  The compass never worked properly on the shakedown either, but aside from the apparent 90 degree+ deviation, we noticed that it is sticking!

 Gena decided enough is enough and we must overcome our fear about draining the oil and pulling it apart. It's no good this way and who fixes compasses?

She devised a method of carefully removing all of the oil as shown in photo. She fitted some hose to a brass air compressor fitting ( lucky we kept that stuff!) then squeezed the silicone diaphragm to fill the pop bottle. We thought there might be a bit of brass stuck in the pivot axis as there were a few visible particals inside, but it wasn't that.

   I spun the card around while on the pilot table after Gena pulled it off the gimbals  and noticed it wasn't balanced. After putting on some "super magnifier spectacles" it was certain that it was way off. Probably enough to touch against the gimbals. At the factory, Ritchie paints on some heavy paint to get the thing balanced one way or the other. I think it must have been a Friday as that was the side that was dipping. After some liquid tape was painted on the other side, the disk became perfectly level again. Spinning it around verified it.
 After some adjustments on the compensators we can say there is a relatively increased degree of accuracy (excuse the pun!) and we hope that all this swinging around at anchor will further de-gauss the hull.

  The Tachometer was a little sneaky in it's portrayal of the RPMs the engine was running at. Because we're not seasoned mechanics, and we've never rigged a tach before, the problem went unnoticed. One day, last summer, we were motoring around in the strait with Ian from Ocean Rigging aboard. He thought it was kind of strange that we we clipping along at 6 knots while idling at only 700 RPMs. We began to question it too. Gena pulled out the instructions for the VDO tachometer, and re-calculated the formula for the contant that is to be entered into the little display. The alternator has 12 poles, and the ratio at the pulley is r, so r*12 = number to enter. That's what she did.  I decided to intervene yesterday with my oscilloscope under one  arm and a flashlight, small solar panel, and white sticky tape under the other. We taped the white tape on to the pulley on the main crank, positioned the solar panel in front, then aimed the flashlight at the pulley. The scope read a fine pulse every x mS! After one measurement at idle, we had it. 13.6 pulses/ second = 820 RPMs. How simple. Then we just guess-timated the number until the tach read 820 RPMs. AFter that a higher idle and new scope reading verified the tach is accurate. Yay!!

  The intermittent aft nav. light has been replaced by one of my concoctions of flux LEDs, 15 to be exact. We are going to try it out tonight  but I did the "lights the wall pretty bright" test comparing it to the original 10 watt bulb. This only draws 1.2 watts though. Big difference when you're trying to conserve power. The masthead anchor light is next. I made the thing but need to get a "real" bulb to destroy and solder it to the base. Gena won't let me destroy the one that's there now, a 20 watt guzzler.
 Gena fixed the reverse gear in the cockpit. Turns out there just wasn't enough swing, so the stop screw was adjusted a little wider, and everything re-positioned slightly.
Other problems, i.e. the firewire was just unplugged behind the panel, and the mysterious halyard shortening was just replaced with another, and finally the fish guts needed to be scraped then scrubbed off (took 2 afternoons to clean that up: avoid fishboat marinas!) were pretty easy to solve.

The PC in the pedestal loosing ethernet connection is still a mystery, but it wasn't really intended to do that anyway. It's kinda handy to have the charts displayed on it (from the dash PC inside) instead of needing to run in and out to check positions in a crowded pass. I have a few ideas, but that'll be next time.

The anchor has held just fine even through today's blow, not a problem. Things were pretty bouncy, but wind is back down and a peaceful light mist of rain is carefully cleaning off the topsides. Lights of other boats flicker in the flat water, and the stars are beginning to twinkle overhead.

To everyone out there who has faithfully followed us through this whole journey from then to now, thankyou. We are having the time of our lives! This lifestyle is definitely agreeing with us thus far. We are officially cruisers.


July 3rd 2009: Montague Harbor to Preedy Harbor
WX: 0-1 kts NW Sunny, 23 deg C to 26 deg C
Hours: 3,  Hours on engine 31.5, Dist 13 NM (appx)
   We ran the engine for a while to allow for battery charging (we ran up a huge deficit doing solder-type projects) Then head out at around noon. There was absolutely no wind, except our apparent +1, which has been rare these days!


 For the first time since 2008, the saltwater pump to the rinse hose at the bow was powered up. Suddenly water was spraying everywhere! It turned out the valve for the freshwater (which also connects in the bow) split down the side during the exceptionally cold winter. I guess that's one area we didn't drain before we returned to Alberta. Luckily, we stuck to the cruisers adage "Always have 2 of everything" and had a spare valve. It saved the day, or, well, a very dirty chain locker! The fresh water won't be used (wasted) spraying off the chain unless we are setting off on a passage.
  The water maker is about to get it's first test. It took about 4 hours to change the membrane and tighten up clamps and remount the casing. Gena did it all except recruiting me to be a vise holding the casing as she hammered at the caps with a pry bar.

The anchor came out surprisingly easily even though it had great holding power in the shell and mud. Once out in the channel we started making water! After 3 hours the port tank was over 1/4 full, that's about 15 gallons, so the 5 GPH reading on the meter was pretty much right on. Gena used a dissolved solids test meter to check it. After a few minutes it was at 47 ppm. I gave it a taste and wow! No chlorine/bleach just sweet water! Better than bottled (that has a plastic taste).

 Going up Trincomali channel into Houston Passage, we went by Wallace island a favorite from when we were taking cruising lessons with the thought of pulling in there, but it was packed. Boats stern tied side by side like a Safeway parking lot. Seems there's still a lot of boaters out there, especially from the US, despite the recession. Kept going.

  Coming into Preedy the charts showed a nice reef that was visible with the low tide, and we gave them a wide berth. Even though one knows the depths are adequate, it still gives the nerves a run when you see the depth meter tumbling towards zero!

Beautiful solitary evening in Preedy
  Preedy is fairly exposed, but offers decent protection from the NW winds. We were going to anchor in the north end but Gena didn't like the shallows, so we anchored with a  lee shore which made me nervous. The holding wasn't great either, but we set the anchor watch before bed, and there was no wind at all. The next day I wanted to take her out into Stuart Channel to check out the mainsail Batt cars and the new Jenny halyard block position as the wind had picked up to a brisk 20 kts. (Plus I wanted to re-anchor at the north end of the harbor) The Batt cars are almost back to themselves. We think that excessive amounts of grit and dirt was blown into them over winter in the workyard at Steveston, which in turn was jamming up the flow of the Torlon balls.

The Jenny is now too far aft and needs yet more tuning. Gena had also loosened off the backstays a bit to reduce the curve in the mast, so the forestay was flopping around a bit. After returning she tightened them up some.

  I wanted to just dive into the water off the swim platform, but noticed there were Jellyfish swimming around in the flotsam. I have no experience with those! After a little surfing on the net (Yes! Our fab antenna/ wireless actually works all the way across  Stuart channel to Chemainus!) we found out that they do indeed sting, but seem to be somewhat akin to a bite from a hornet. Not paralysis stuff, but I declined. Near shore there are none, but we read they seem to be increasing in numbers and are usually present around ferry terminals. There is a small ferry here that runs to Chemainus so... I wonder why? There were lots of Zooplankton in the area as well. They seems lifeless, perhaps sliced up by the props of the continuing ferry service, but then we didn't have the microscope out!

We spotted these 2 types for certain. Mitrocoma (Medusae) has a cross on it, while the other has long tentacles. Yuk!
  A funny thing happened while I was checking out a rubber fish lure on the rod. The weight had sunk to the bottom and I sort of forgot about it. When out paddling around in the dingy, I noticed the line off the rod and thought I'd give it a tug to fool Gena into thinking we'd caught a fish. That didn't work as she was inside listening to the radio and didn't hear. So I started pulling up the line, still in the dinghy, and it felt heavy. I figured it had fouled with some seaweed so pulled it up. Suddenly I noticed there was a large crab hanging on to my rubber fish with his giant claw and the other!  I called Gena and she said "just grab it" but it looked pretty feirce so I couldn't. I tried picking it out of the water with the line but it decided it didn't like air and let go. All I could do was watch it sink out of sight. How silly of me, and just at that moment I was wondering what I should make for supper, as if my wishes had been answered: It could've been crab!
We ended up eating wieners and beans. The rubber fish is pretty mangled too.

  Sandy's thought:
When rowing into shore yesterday, a large seal poked his head out of the water 5 feet in front of me. After a couple of seconds he playfully went swimming around and stopped for another look then disappeared! That got me to thinking about how us as humans are really wreaking havoc with the environment. The plastic bags we found and collected, washed up on shore along with nylon rope, fishing ties, tires etc. were all too depressing. I found 2 oyster shells joined with a length of nylon line. They had grown around it, which is ok. But the bright colored nylon line didn't belong. When you see all this nature, then human "stuff" abandoned amongst it, you really think....

The next night was fantastic as there was a big wedding, and a fellow in a sailboat nearby was playing the bagpipes. The whole harbor applauded his medley! What a suitable instrument for a sailboat.


July 6th 2009: Preedy Harbor to Ladysmith
WX: 15-25 kts NW-SE Sunny, 15 deg C
Hours: 2.5,  Hours on engine 38.1, Dist 8 NM (appx)
   We ran the engine to charge up as over past few days there hasn't been a lot of wind to run the gen. and the solars haven't been keeping up well with our land based electricity habits, then repositioning today as the anchor was dragging in mud and big wind from the SE. Resetting the anchor watch became tiring, but the couple with the boat shown above probably wished they'd had one. He took it in stride and got off when the tide came back up.
We could have moved back over to the south end of the harbor, but the weather got ugly and rainy so it was time to go!
  Ladysmith was on the itinerary as we had run out of milk, bread (although Gena could have made some) but also cigarettes which is next to safety gear in importance until we can kick the nasty habit!

You know the old advert phrase "I'd walk a mile for a Camel?" Well we'd sail 8 in a blow for any cigarette lol!

We did a fair bit of motoring as the rock on the south from Preedy didn't look at all inviting. It's amazing how fast she sails, but how sloggishly slow she seems under power. It must be psychological as the difference is only a couple of knots.

The anchorage we had planned on, Sibell Bay turned out to be rock and surrounded by many houses on the shore and no other boats. Kinda felt "glass bottle-ish". The 75 lb. CQR wouldn't hold more than a dinghy in a 10 knot wind in there so after several tries we opted to anchor a little north in the very narrow gap between Dunsmuir and Bute islands. (Bute island is for sale by the way, $995,000, a bit much for us!) It was narrow and shallow, but had a really good hold right away. Good enough for us. 30+ knots blew and we were fine.

The next morning, the first order of business was to dinghy over to the marina, hike up the hill into town, then do some shopping...which made us realize how out of shape we are. It was a rather hurried affair as the weather radio had predicted high winds later on again and  we didn't want to be so far away in case something happened.

On Bute island is some rather interesting rock erosion (some shown above at low tide). The best I could guess was that it was sandstone. Many years of time and tide had created a masterpiece! The shallower side of the island had similar but full of starfish. 100's of them. Up until now, the starfish we have seen are deep purple in color, but there were some tan speckled starfish as well. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera in the dinghy so no pics of that.
I can understand when people say tying up at a dock makes getting groceries much easier. We didn't buy a whole lot, but wow was the little boat ever crampo'd. For any serious haul, it'd take 2+ trips, or a mini barge lol. In this photo I'd already taken some stuff out already.
Had a lovely steak for dinner, used electric oven to cook in 30 AH. Not bad. I found that using the timer, at 5 minutes, then leaving it for 10, 3 or 4 times, uses less power for the same job.

As the rain is now falling non-stop ( I made a wish for some to wash off the salt spray accumulated from our spritzy voyage here) we'll just hunker down another day, then head for the notorious Dodd Narrows and Nanaimo beyond.



July 8th 2009: Ladysmith to Nanaimo Harbor
WX: 5-20 kts SE Overcast, rain in AM,13 deg C to 15 deg C
Hours: 5,  Hours on engine 41.1, Dist 19 NM (appx)

  Back in 2002 I steered Cap'n Mac's boat, Kinohi, through Dodd Narrows at full flood while he patiently stood nearby ready to grab the wheel if I fell off the "track". This was during our cruise and learn course, and was pretty exciting as I spun us around 180 degrees on a whirlpool lurking unexpectedly at the exit of the narrows!

We weren't totally up to all that excitement so waited until closer to slack tide. We left way too early as the wind was expected to be fairly light for the morning, and the time/distance was calculated based on that. At 7 AM, in the cold and rain, we pulled out of Ladysmith and into the "fast lane" up Stuart channel, shut off the engine, then pulled out the Jenny only for a pleasant run.. Suddenly the winds were honking at 20+ knots, and we had to reduce the Jenny down to 60%. The slack was at 11, and it was only 9 and we were almost there. We reduced to 50%, 40, 30...


  Dodd narrows is pretty tight, only about 150 feet of useable depth at the narrowest, plus it is a main route into Nanaimo via Northumberland Strait. It was amazing how many boats were lined up to go through, just on our side. I counted 12 nearby, and could see many more in the distance. The first boat, a big power boat went in, then a sailboat, so we figured we'd waited long enough so went next. Gena took her turn this time and I gave her a little guiding remembering all the way back to '02. Not nearly as exciting but there were still strong currents and she did fine.
Once in the Strait, the SE winds died, shadowed by the land now aft, and the traffic was heavy, so we had to rack up more hours on the engine. I turned on the water heater while we were making so much power, that way we can have a hot shower once arriving in Nanaimo (which is only a once a week thing now!) then into some warm dry clothes.

We have our survival gear, but our regular rain wear seems to be missing the pants parts. Gena mistook our ski pants for the rain pants and we ended up absolutely soaked within the first hour.

Gena commented that this trip in the cold and rain and wind was good experience for us, and it proved that we were ill-prepared for sailing in it.

Note to self: Make sure rain gear is really rain gear before pulling the anchor!
...we still haven't found those rain pants yet!

Running the engine is nice for charging batteries, not having to worry about sails, and getting hot water, but the boat rocks a lot, as do all sailboats, when no sail is up. Especially when some super cruiser flies by with a wake the size of surf in Hawaii. We watched this small sailboat, perhaps a 26 footer, steer into a huge wake at the last second. His bow went from 45 degress up to the same down, I'm not kidding! I thought they we going to pitch-pole, they didn't seem shaken, so must be accustomed to it. Our boat just bridged the waves so we didn't feel much. I wish I'd had the camcorder out for that!
Speaking of video, I posted an accidental video ( I thought I was taking a picture) on youtube just before Dodd.


  I normally would be happy nto see our next "spot" growing larger on the horizon, but this arrival involves a marina (which I don't much like) and fixing some more "annoyances" that have become bigger annoyances. Gena doesn't mind marinas, but I like my privacy, and "free"dom. Marinas make one spend money.

I was elected to drive us in, and parked her well in Nanaimo Port Authority's marina. It actually is a very nice marina here. Restaurants, pubs, shops, malls, chart stores, bookstores, and the largest chandlery on Vancouver island are all here! Gena called us in at 47 feet (LOA+++) which made the dock $50/night. Not bad as we have a pretty dire task at hand.

  The fuel/oil on top of the center tank has persisted and needs to be addressed. Gena came to the conclusion that it's the fitting that's used to "suck" bottom water out of the tank. The pressure during a fill, if the diesel gets up past the breather hose, can't release as the breather gets blocked branching off of the fill hose. Therefore it is finding a new exit point, through a tiny pinhole leak in the water-suck fitting.
She had tried to cover it with silicone but silicone doesn't stick at all to coaltar epoxy. So, after she removed the whole fan assembly from the front of the engine, I went down there and dremel-ground off all of the coaltar and silicone bits to bare metal. I then covered the whole connection with "Goop" and once dry, we'll silicone the goop to protect it from the heat.
After a brisk walk into the chandlery, we came back with, amongst other stuff, a longer hose to connect the breather to the proper fitting she had put in long ago. I think what happed there was the hose was moved as it might have interfered with the fan assembly, but Gena forgot that the big fill hose fitting was attached to a length of pipe going down into the tank to stop foaming during a fill! Wow, that's all pretty complicated hey?

  Another nasty was the fuel gauge on the same tank seizing to work last week. It turned out the wire potentiometer in the sender unit had caught on the stator, then eventually broke under the strain. That's why it would only read 5/8 of a tank, even when we knew it was full. A manufacturing defect.  We're praying that the 2 outer tank level sensors are ok, as they'll be very hard to remove. Once again, we had a spare sender unit and replaced it.

Because that repair basically incapacitated the engine, we didn't want to do it at anchor. Another job I have is to change the anchor light to all LED. Some mods are required, so must pull it down for a while.

Even though the sky was overcast, and it was a bit cool, we went out for dinner and really enjoyed the evening we arrived.

  When I came out of the boat on the way to go eat, Gena was stopped, talking to an RCMP officer. I thought "OMG! What has she done?" then "I should get my passport!"
It turned out he had been following our project on the site, and recognized the boat! We had a brief chat as he was about to board the speedy looking vessel pictured above. Thankyou for the kind words sir (Sorry we forgot your name!)  and happy to hear you have enjoyed the site. Also our friend Doug stopped by on the pier to say hi, turns out he's working here so we'll have him over before we leave.

A great view in Nanaimo! We want sunshine!

Many people have been curious about our boat here. I guess she does look different. We've even given a tour or two of the interior!

  We have done some "replacement" shopping in the way of groceries, but must do a bit more to stock up before we head north. The plan on how far north to go is still up in the air. Exiting over the island involves some  challenging passes, narrows, and locations. But we have heard it is so beautiful up there. We're pretty tempted. I guess we'll just go and see how far we want to go.  Desolation sound is definitely on the list.

  One great change for us in recent weeks is that we are losing weight! We're not sure how much, but climbing up and down on the boat is definitely easier, and clothes we packed on the boat last year, some are starting to fit.

It's hard not to be active without a car. If we need to go shopping, not only is it a pretty long walk, it is also hauling everything back. We don't buy lots of "junk" as that would get even heavier if we did...which might burn up the calories created by the junk food?

Anyway, we went to London drugs and bought one of those plastic pull carts, which was really useful for going to the chandlery as ropes, cleaners, fittings, and rain pants were quite heavy.

July 12th 2009: Nanaimo Harbor to Newcastle Island
WX: 10-20+ kts NE veering to SE Overcast, 22 deg C
Hours: 0.5,  Hours on engine 42.0, Dist 2 NM (appx)

   There have been some pretty crowded anchorages thus far in our travels, but wow this one tops them all! Only experience will relieve the tension of anchoring in such close quarters. When we arrived, a lightwind was coming in from the ENE, but then veered to SE later in the evening. Suddenly we found ourselves within 30 feet of the sailboat next to us! What made matters worse, a boat, now ahead of us, was directly over our anchor, so we couldn't even move. The wind started pumping up to 20 kts, so it was a pretty worrisome night. All we could do was put on some fenders where we figured our boats might bump in the night. We also reduced the scope on our anchor by 30 feet, which made us even more nervous. Luckily I had made a "snubber" for the anchor chain the other day, so that was added to the ground tackle. Both our boats were veering back and forth, sometimes close enough to toss a beer over, but we didn't hit. I slept well actually, but Gena was up a few times.

  Because she did "watch" last night, I decided to cook her a nice old fashioned bacon and eggs breakfast, complete with "real potato" hash browns. As you can see she was pretty happy about that!

Later the next day, the weather calmed down, the sun came out, and we were able to pull our anchor the next morning to move into an open spot left by a boat leaving.

I hope the further north we go, the less crowded things will be. Now we can leave the boat and go ashore to Newcastle Island.

A Big Brekkie!

  Way back in the 20's and 30's, mill stones were cut and finished here. We were attracted to the sight by a row of large (3-4 feet) round stones sitting along the pathway. These stones were used for grinding up wood to pulp (I thought they were for grain, but Gena corrected me!), and must weigh 2 tons each at least.

  The amazing part is the machine devised to cut the stones out of the ground.( Shown right) It's basically a giant hole saw! And here we thought our 3 incher was the epitome of drill bits ha ha! The drill would take 3-4 hours to cut down  3 feet, then they would use controlled dynamite explosions to break the "rock" free. There was also a lathe to do final finishing before they were rolled away onto a boat destined for mills all over.

Millstone cookie-cutter on Newcastle

There is also a beautiful park and picnic tables/benches, many more sights, and even a country style restaurant, so we'll be going back over today for a picnic for sure. It's a beautiful calm day, but hope the winds will get up soon for sailing.


Protection island would be part of Newcastle island if the shallows were about 6 feet shallower. We knew about the floating Dingy Dock Pub from our visit here with Cap'n Mac years ago, and little has changed. Still great service, marvellous atmosphere ( the way it should be done!) and popular enough that tourists (we're not tourists) can come across from Nanaimo on the "Dinghy Dock Pub ferry" which leaves every hour for a taste of the good life.
Every Wednesday, a sailboat race departs from the pub, and is kinda informal, but the boats, some up to 35 feet, will take on crew to gain an advantage. We missed the opportunity, only remembering that after the race had begun.

Some of the boats, weaving in and around anchored boats,  came awfully close to us only to tack at the last second! It made for a fun evening in any case. There'll be a video on youtube when I get the chance to upload.

Monster log washed ashore!
The next day we went exploring the east side of Newcastle island, and found a great little beach with warm water, and rocky shallows. We, of course, didn't bring swimsuits!

The hike was 4-5 km's which isn't a great distance, but we decided to do it in bare feet just to make it interesting! "Ouch, oooch, ouch" was the bulk of the conversation as pine needle turned to gravel, then back to pine needles. Sand was a welcome relief!

We hadn't considered the pitch from the needles sticking to the soles of our feet, which will take a while to come off. Anyone know of a good cleaner to remove pitch?

In the photo (left) is part of a giant log that washed ashore, who knows how long ago, and was impressively big.

Inland along the trail is a lake depicted on the map pamphlet of the island. It appeared more to be a swamp to us, but it was beautiful none-the-less. Lily pads spread out over 3/4's of the lake and some where flowering. Ducks happily splashed around, and there wasn't another soul in sight.

Next on the itinerary is Lasqueti island (north up the Strait of Georgia), a fair hop from here, and it's many nooks and crannies. Not sure if we'll get the 'net but I'll post here whenever I can! Fair winds all*S&G


July 23rd 2009: Newcastle to False Bay, Lasqueti Island
WX: 5-20 kts SE Cloudy, clearing later in the day,18 deg C to 32 deg C
Hours: 10,  Hours on engine 51.1, Dist 45 NM (appx)

For days and days we had planned to leave the anchorage at Newcastle in our wake, but a new thing would always come up. Need more fresh greens, the bread went moldy, ice for the second cooler, deciding to buy some snorkeling gear, deciding to buy another solar panel, Gena throwing her neck out, the great times we're having...

On the day we finally decided to go, military zone "WG" became active. This added to the length of our next leg considerably. Setting out at 7 AM we rounded the south side of Protection island as WG is actually further south. The wind was coming out of the south contrary to the predictions so it ended up being a broad reach to run scenario. Problem was, the wind died down and we kept blowing towards WG. A few gybes  along WG kept us out, but when we were heading towards the line, the coast guard started calling "sailing vessel 4 knots on NW course you are entering a restricted zone". I keyed up and ensured them we knew where the line was.

There's a little video on youtube from the trip at ___ . 

The wind veered some almost directly in line with Lasqueti Island, so we tried a "wing on wing" with the sails. This is where one puts each sail out on either side of the boat. We picked up speed, but keeping in line with that track is requires a lot of attention! We had been using the Furuno Autopilot, but I don't know if it would've done the job here.

When I gave the helm to Gena, she was amazed at how finicky the helm was. I wonder how the the spinnaker will be?


The last 5 miles we had to motor-sail as the wind had died, then wouldn't you know it, it picked up to 20 knots at the last bit, allowing us to beat a couple of other boats into the anchorage!

The lazy jacks definitely need to be modified. The back of the sail spilled again causing the rest of it to flake all wrong.

Well we're here! And a lovely spot it is. Fist order of business was to go for a row and do some exploring around our end of the bay.

The are numerous small coves that are very shallow, but not too shallow for a dinghy or kayak. We've been thinking on perhaps buying a couple of small kayaks as they are so much faster with less effort.

Oysters are everywhere here, but the oh-so-too-common bi-valve warning signs are up. Red tide or just effluent, we're not sure. We won't risk eating them anyway!

The next day everyone left, leaving the whole bay to ourselves! What a contrast from busy busy Nanaimo.

There is a public dock in the section of the bay to the east, also used by a locally owned ferry, and the occasional seaplane. There's a small store there, which is hard to find (we walked right by!) if you don't know it's there, a restaurant, and a hotel.

Walking down the road we thought would lead to the store, we discovered numerous other small businesses. The post office, a flower shop, and the "free store". It was closed, but we had a look inside. Almost a pawn shop where one can bring unwanted items, and others can take them. I'm not sure where the profit is, but judging by how much is there, business is booming!

After asking a young teenager at the bottle depot for directions, we were on our way to doing some groceries.

Every place we went to had lots of island character, and it seems there are lots of artists here, you can see art everywhere, in all forms.

The weather is still very hot, 32 - 35 degrees in the afternoon, so we were glad to get back to the boat for a nice swim! There are jellyfish here too, but they only come with the tide changes. So we had to wait a wahile. We think they are harmless, but still not sure. People seem to be oblivious to them as if they are a new phenomena.

Another sea creature of a more pleasant kind has been coming to visit us every day. A new-born seal pup showed up the other day, trying to suckle on our dingy!

We were pretty concerned as he was always crying out as if he had lost his mother, so we started phoning around to see if anyone could help.

One woman told us that sometimes the mothers will abandon the sea pup because, like humans, some just aren't cut out to be  mothers. I tried to feed him some fish, but he had no palette for it yet. A couple of evenings later, we saw his mother coming in, watching cautiously as her baby went from boat to boat. Eventually they were re-united.

"What's this on my leg??" Gena picks up a stowaway
He is pretty pudgy so is in good health, and the nearest we can guess, his mother must go out fishing all day. There are no other seals here, so we have become his babysitters.

Upon jumping into the water with him, he came to us right away! What a little cutie!

He climbs all over us trying to nurse, but also very curious and not one bit afraid. Youth knows no boundaries, a true statement here.

We couldn't help but think about past incidents of people beating seal pups to death. How could they be so heartless as to commit such an act??!

Love at first sight! We are so lucky to meet this fellow!
I'm sure this one has no worries about that, only props of small boat that occasionally zip by on the way to the docks.

We have both learned a whole lot about seals from this little guy, as he has probably learned lots about humans. I just hope we haven't made him a little too brave.

We have a little video  on youtube (click )  if you want to see/hear this cute little bugger.

As I am typing this, a day later, I can hear him squeaking against the hull, asking " come out and play guys!"

Every night there are huge splashes on the other end of the bay. We're not sure if it's whales herding fish, or perhaps porpoises, but the splashes are really big!

We were going to leave this paradise today, but will stay a couple more days as the long weekend is upon us, and anywhere that we might go will likely be very crowded. Why not? we're not in any hurry, and this place is fantastic. A few jobs have been done ( covered in projects aboard page) including making a riding sail, and getting some bug screens for the hatches made up, and we're still fairly well provisioned in the cooler (beer, milk, fresh greens etc). Gena made some bread in the bread maker for the first time. It smelled like a bakery in here for the better part of the afternoon, but being 35 degrees out, a hot bakery! Fresh bread afloat, I recommend it.

Until the next post, S&G


August 4th 2009:  False Bay, Lasqueti Island to Garden Bay, Pender Harbour
WX: 5-10 kts NW Sunny, smoke haze,,16 deg C to 26 deg C
Hours: 8,  Hours on engine 60.5, Dist 29 NM (appx)

  After spending some 10 lovely days in Lasqueti Island's False Bay, we decided that the conditions were right to bid farewell to this memorable place.

Where to go next has been the topic of discussion for several days as I wanted to go straight north towards Cortes Islands and Gorge Harbour, even if it meant staying a night at Comox. Gena, on the other hand, didn't like the idea of going to Comox at all as there are dangerous shallows and it doesn't look very well protected from the wind. Not to mention getting perishable supplies ( which we are in need of badly ) would mean long distances and inconveniences. I guess my destination of desire will have to wait!

I suggested we head north east to Pender Harbour as it appears all of the amenities are close and there's some shops to pick up parts and maybe some groceries at mainland prices. Gena agreed, so up came the anchor the next day.

  Bun break:
I mentioned Gena had made some bread the other day. Today was "bun day". The alcohol oven worked great, along with the kneading the bread maker did, and we have buns! The boat was hotter than hell with the temperature soaring over 32 C outside in full sun, but hey, if you can't take the heat...

I know this isn't really amazing enough to post on the blog, but I think it is really cool! No more need to stow bread until it's on the verge of going moldy, or purchasing it at $5/loaf only to have it go moldy the next day.

Gena's on-board bakery!
  Anyway, back to the voyage at hand. The forecast (take it with a grain of salt!) predicted that the wind would switch from NW to SE 15 early in the morning which meant we would going directly against it all the way down Lasqueti.

When we got out there though, the wind was still blowing from the NE at 10 so we had a pleasant downwind sail with just the Jenny out.
As we had predicted, once we started to round the south end of Lasqueti, then Texeda Island, we lost the wind completely. The motor was turned on for 45 minutes, which was ok as we were making water at 20 amps/hour.

After clearing the islands, the wind started picking up from the SE. Perfect! We just blew along towards the entrance at Pender, which was kind of hard to see because of the smoke in the area from a record number of forest fires burning in the interior.
As clarity increased the wind picked up even more. We pulled in the Jenny and went under full main sail alone. One thing about going on a reach is one doesn't notice how much the wind has picked up until looking at the indicator and figuring in the speed one moving through the water!

  We decided to sail right up to the entrance, but the wind was up to 25 knots. We'd need to turn into the wind to drop the main, so I was considering turning into the narrow entrance (the largest of 3 ) which would put us into the Lee of Charles island where we could drop the sail in comfort. There were boats going in and coming out everywhere around us as this is a very busy area, so we both agreed quickly that this may not be a good idea.

I swung us around hard and Gena let the main bugger flop down. Thank god for the lazy jacks! It was a bit of a mess, but the sail would've been over board without them. Once we went in, only a couple hundred feet away, that 25 knot wind was gone, the entrance was clear. It would've been cool to make the original maneuver, but safety first! After weaving our way by all of the other anchorages, we found Garden Bay, which was predictably packed with boats, so we anchored just a little outside of the bay. It's somewhat windier, but we need the power generation anyway. The dinghy went in, and we had a cup of tea and played some tile rummy. (chits we call it!)

  Problems, problems, problems. Under the engine there seems to be a demon. He is a little sympathetic of us, but always popping up to present nasties to the weary crew of Dulcie-Darlene, usually after a long day of sailing.
Today's presentation by the engine room demon was:
(1) more tar under the engine fan
(2) fresh water in the tar (and possibly oil?) but not antifreeze
(3) a continual airlock when drawing water from the starboard tank (pressure pump was stuck on)
(4) water in the main bilge that wasn't there before.

The electrical demons also came out with not only the Horizon knot log working intermittently (this has happened before) but also the water temperature then the depth display on the same unit not working at all.


  Yesterday, Gena crawled under the engine to clean up the sticky tarry mess that has mysteriously appeared. The tar has been popping up from time to time and is the result of a mistake we made when putting in the septic tank. One of those "it seemed like a good idea at the time" moments. Somehow the tar has found a tiny pinhole in a weld along the join from one from to the next, and flows out onto the top of the main fuel tank. Then it stops for weeks. We think it's temperature changes from the engine running or how full the tank is or both. One day it'll stop as there's only so much tar around the tank!

  The real bummer was the water on top of the tar. Suddenly Gena noticed water up on a frame near the port side water tank. She found this (photo right) fitting off of the solenoid from that tank!

It must've also been damaged last winter from the freeze. It's amazing more water didn't squirt out as it's under pressure when we're pumping from one tank to the other (which is what we were doing when making water on the way here).

  This also explained the constant airlock problems and the water in the bilge. A "T" and a plug was used as a replacement so we're back in business. It turned out there was no oil on the tar, the water just looked like oil.

The electrical issues haven't been solved yet, but we know that there is a wiring issue at the knot log sender unit, or the unit itself has failed. We have a backup unit, but while in the water it's a bit of a pain to replace it.
The sonar has us baffled thus far as today it's working again.
August 10th 2009
  Had a real blowdown today, gale force 30-35 knots. Our anchor held much better than our nerves. Lots of other crews were out in the rain re-setting, letting out, reeling in etc. so we feel lucky all nice a warm inside reading and watching "House" on TV. :))
It has been raining quite a bit as well. More rain than we've seen in the past 2 months combined. Great! No need to worry about washing the salt off the ropes, halyards, sheets, and decks. It's all been done by mother nature.

Stay tuned for more!


August 12th 2009:  Garden Bay, Pender Harbour to Musket Island (and Hardy Island)
WX: 0-5 kts NW Scattered clouds, ,16 deg C to 22 deg C
Hours: 2.5.  Hours on engine 69.4 , Dist 13 NM (appx)

  Not all sailing days are perfect, today being one of those, we had to motor the distance. The wind was predicted to be blowing 5-15 from the SE right up until the night before we left windy Pender Harbour. The 5-15 knots from the west was wrong as well. I should have gone with my own prediction based on satellite images of the low crossing over the north end of Vancouver Island. Of course, I didn't predict 0 knots either!

  We had run the engine a few hours while under overcast skies ( no solar power, little wind power) to charge up the batteries which were getting dangerously low. Also Gena doing some engine work required so run time.

  Going up and into Blind Bay seemed confusing to us, and if we hadn't had the GPS, we probably would've made mistakes. There wasn't a lot of buoys or landmark  features to go on, and our charts for this small area aren't really large scale. Somehow all of our chart books missed this area with 1:50000 being the only chart.

 The terrain is beginning to look markedly different, the islands seem more vertical, and have much higher cliffs, and even the mountains are much larger and higher. The whole area is amazing, and having traveled  the mountain highways so much in the last year, always in a hurry, it seems kind of special to be able to stop and admire the views. The sea meeting the mountains is truly unique in itself as well as the wildlife, flora and fauna.
  The postcard-like photo is part of the protection to the selected anchorage we have chosen in lieu of the busy Ballet Bay to the south (un-named). Musket island is a marine park that is undeveloped, but more importantly, in conjunction with Fox island and Oyster island.

  At first we anchored in the center of the area, but noticed the CQR was just dragging along the (obviously) rock bottom. Eventually we obtained a satisfactory hold. There were no other boats at that time, but suddenly a procession of sail and power boats came pouring in on after another, and most were stern tying to Hardy island.  (the shore to the  north.)

Our first stern tie...soon to be followed by the second
Eventually we were rather crowded in, and we couldn't perceive how we could have enough rode out to deal with the rock bottom and not hit 5 or 6 boats if the wind changed in the night!
This spawned our first stern-tie experience. The photo shows the first attempt. There is something very unsettling about this. Rocks, and certain paint job damage/ rudder damage are less than 50 feet aft. The anchor slipped, so we had to re-set it, but this time a little further out. Some other boats were having difficulty getting anchors to seat as well, so it wasn't just us. This time it seems to have seated well (Gena reversed 3 or 4 times on it while I pulled the rope over to a tree on shore) and the wind is non-existent.

Where there's smoke there's......steak!
  Still I am very nervous. Our friend Doug rolled his eyes on the subject and said "don't stern tie, it opposes the shape of the boat in wind, and doesn't feel right". He was right, but it might have been better if I hadn't heard that! The afternoon turned warm and sunny, so I went swimming and flipped some baked potatoes and giant steaks (note to self: must limit steaksize for small BBQ) on the barby, then went for a solitary pleasant row into the nooks and crannies around the area. Beautiful!
  The next day, today, it is raining once again (Enough! The boat is clean already!!) and there are forecasts of   T-storms all up and down the coast, so this evening may prove interesting. We could have left this morning for Desolation Sound, but didn't sleep well (being worried) and the wind is...well..not. We can't/won't  motor that far! There is no internet here (as predicted) so this update may appear with lots of others.
Lessons learned: Make sure we know what the bottom is comprised of before going there!
                         Need hand signals for stern tying maneuvers, to lessen the "show" for other boaters.
Sandy & Gena in Jervis inlet*

August 15th 2009:  Musket Island to Sturt Bay
WX: 15-25 kts NW Sunny w/clouds, ,16 deg C to 21 deg C
Hours: 4.  Hours on engine 74.7 , Dist 20 NM (appx)
  Sailing in a NW direction with strong NW winds and reefed main, in such a narrow channel can get frustrating fast! As can be seen on the little chart we tried. The wind was honking and tacks weren't working so well first thing in the morning. When we tack, we must partially roll up the big Jenny, This takes good timing when so close to the wind because once the Jenny is in, knots drop fast. We botched the second tack and decided this was going to take forever so the engine was started yet again. ( Notice I said "we" no use blaming each other hehe) We were kinda tired from anchoring jitters the night before, so this way was easier.  

Some water needed to be made anyway, and I kind of wanted a hot shower when we arrived at Sturt Bay. This was supposed to be just a quick stop, but it's so agreeable here, we've stayed a couple of days more.

Gena on the shortcut trail to the store

Blackberry bushes everywhere!

Evening at the marina

  Upon going into the town of Van Anda, we discovered there is a nice big "real" grocery store. Like with freezers and displays etc.
Everyone here is so friendly, and the village is really homey.  We're in heaven!

 The first thing we were asked after stepping off of the dock was "where's your bucket?" The blackberries grow wild here and are everywhere. They look totally ready to pick, as indicated by the locals standing in bushes along the roads.

The warfinger, Ted, offered us a map but his wife hadn't returned with them yet so he told us a little history and Gena, of course, was full of questions.

There's this large kiln that Gena thought was for burning scrap wood, but it in fact was used for drying limestone.

He pointed out the stone/cement pillars at the marina entry. These supported a large hotel at the turn of the century and this was a famous and well known place back then. Van Anda also had the only opera house north of San Francisco, and was originally a gold & copper mine town.

This would be a fine place to retire, or just have as a home base. We fantasized about a couple of houses for sale, and imagined how it would be. The marina, long term, must be fairly reasonable as the guest dock is $30/night for our boat. That's by far the lowest we've ever seen. And those docks fill up in the afternoons too!

We are one of the 4 lucky boats able to anchor here. There isn't a lot of room, but the anchor is well dug in and there's enough swinging room.

I rowed up the shallower end in the dingy to check things out ( love that! ) and found a beautiful tidal zone that boasted bright moss, lichen, and rocky shallows glimmering in the sunlight. There was no wind, and it was like entering a different world, or one of those conservatories you see at some zoos. So perfect it seemed to have been purposely made by someone, mother nature perhaps.

Tomorrow we will be going on a straight run to Desolation Sound, our ultimate destination north, if the winds are kind and switch to SE as predicted. We have delayed an extra day because of the northwesterlies being so strong. Not good when motoring or sailing as it's a long way up a narrow channel.

The furthest one can go by car is Lund (after having crossed Howe Sound then Jervis by ferry ) on highway 101. We're really up in the sticks!

This will be the last update for a while as we know for sure there'll be no 'net up there, so see you all when we return south!

August 20th 2009: Sturt Bay to Grace Harbour
WX: 0 to 35 kts SE Sunny w/clouds, ,18 deg C to 28 deg C
Hours: 7.  Hours on engine 82.5 , Dist 29 NM (appx)

 At last we have arrived at Desolation Sound! We'd heard a lot about this area, and just had to check it out ourselves. We waited at Sturt until SE winds were forecast, but as is more the case than not along the BC coastline, the wind died shortly after we pulled out of Sturt Bay. We ended up motoring pretty much all the way.
Just before we exited Malsapina Inlet to enter Grace Harbour, the wind kicked up to 35 knots from dead ahead! We felt a little short-changed on that one.
  Being the end of August, the inner harbour was pretty full. 30+ boats if I recall, so we just anchored near the entrance. It wasn't very comfortable, but we didn't move at all, then later that evening the wind died down. In fact, that was the end of wind for the week we spent here.

The weather was absolutely wonderful and we did a lot of things at Grace. Hiking was high on the agenda as we need the exercise.

  Because Desolation Sound is parkland, there is no real development, but the established trails are easy to traverse.

We went up one less traveled path and ran into a large truck, all pulled apart and strewn through the forest. We could only deduce that it was from the early 60's for logging before the area became protected. Gena, having much mechanical knowledge, was quite amazed and gave me a tour of what each part was named, and used for! It was like an easter egg hunt sorta. hehe.


Gena with brain freeze
Further along there was a beautiful little waterfall. Believe me the photo (above) pays it no justice. It was like a really elaborate display in the zoo, or at a conservatory. I always figured that kind of landscaping was overly idealistic, but perhaps not! This is the real thing.

  While chatting with another sailor, we discovered that there are oysters at the point entering the outer harbour, so rowed over in the dinghy to check it out. A few oysters were collected, but what we found on shore was even better! Tons of blackberries (I love them!) totally ripe and ready to pick.

Not knowing much about them the first day, I picked quite a few "not ripe" ones, but the next day was heaven.

While I picked those, Gena picked lots of apples and plums. Fresh fruit was a welcome change to our diet.

Gena back from "shopping"
  Speaking of food, Gena made her first on-board cinnamon buns, which came out great.

She's also been making bread with the breadmaker. Making the dough there, then cooking in the oven uses much less power.

A few projects were also done while at Grace Harbour which can be seen on the projectsaboard page.


   I mentioned earlier in the page that the white jellies are pretty harmless, but watch out for the red ones. Well we finally met some and, yes, they look a bit more dangerous! These were 10" across.
These are Lions Mane jellies. Why they are called that becomes evident at first site. Any swimming was carefully timed ;)

September 2nd 2009: Grace Harbour to Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound
WX: wind 0  kts, sun/clouds, ,23deg C
Hours: 2.5.  Hours on engine 93 , Dist 12NM (appx)

  At long last, *my* ultimate destination north has been reached. (Gena puts up with me hey?)
 Prideaux Haven is usually a very crowded anchorage, but since it took so long to get here we're now in the shoulder of the off season so it wasn't crowded at all. (as can be seen above!)

The beautiful backdrop of mountains makes this a very scenic place, but also makes this a fairly windy anchorage prone to more frequent rain squalls. It did rain a lot, but the scenery was amazing! The photo below taken from the aft port side is testament to how easy it is to get a photo that looks like a painting here.


  The water is very clear, and surprisingly warm too. The small fish are noticeably larger too, about 4" as opposed to 2" everywhere else we've been. We tried fishing on the way here but no luck. I'll be the first to admit I don't know a thing about saltwater fishing. I know lake fishing but this is totally different.

I didn't even know how to open an oyster until Grace Harbour, and even then I'm probably not doing it right!

Speaking of oysters, there are tons here, and red tide's off, so off I went to the cut between Eveliegh anchorage and here where there were sure to be lots.

I was right as can be seen in the photo! Tons of them weren't even stuck to a rock which made for easy pickin'.

Actually, I've never seen so many in one spot. They were piled in heaps on drying rocks as well.
I discovered that the bigger the shell, the bigger the oyster, and these were bigger than any canned variety. They tasted really fresh too! If it weren't for the threat of e-coli (sewage) we could eat them all the time. It just seems a little risky to us yet.

Oysters galore!!
  Because it became rainy and cold for a few days, we ended up doing some repairs, computer work, and even baking. There's nothing like the smell of bread baking in a boat, in the rain, in a beautiful anchorage. Anyone nearby that got a whiff would've been envious I'm sure!
Some of the apples we picked at Grace Harbour were used to make my first apple pie. I guess it's not rocket science, but without a recipe it needed some thought! It came out great! I'll be making more as there's lots of apples.

  Time went by all too fast, and we realized that we need to start heading back south in order to get supplies, another solar panel and something to make mounts with, oil for the engine, and get to a location to wait for weather for the passage to Hawaii.
Watching the weather fax every day has revealed that we are still in hurricane/tropical storm season, but that should subside by the end of September. We have lots of miles to cover and still want to gunkhole around the Gulf islands a bit.

   This page has mostly been for family and friends, so if it was a bit long winded you can understand why. This is a really big deal for us! We have become less nervous/anxious about anchoring, sailing in rough seas, and handling the boat, since the top of the page. Anchoring around was a really good idea as experience comes only with time.

The next page, cruisingaround2, will include info on preparing for the passage and any interesting places we visit along the way. Until we get there, we bid everyone all the best in whatever you're doing, and I hope that us sharing our experiences made your day a little more enjoyable!

Until next time,
Sandy & Gena   S/V Dulcie-Darlene

P.S. Mom & Carl, Dad & Donna, Mom & Wilf, Scotty (where R U?), Laura & John, Bill, and all the kids, wish you were here. Not all at once though haha!


Page by Sandy Sims, crew S/V Dulcie-Darlene