Boat Weekends

It is a long weekend and naturally that must mean we will be on the boat…. right??   Well it is November and we don’t yet have heat installed so I guess we are staying tied to a dock… oh and did I mention the forecast is for rain… alllll weekend??

We made it down Friday night just before the rain started…  2 hours later I finally had pillows and duvets out of their winter ziplock bags, the bed made and dinner almost ready.  It was an early night…  Owen was sound asleep on the settee by 9:30 and I think I made it to 10:30 before I realized I had read the same page several times.  Such is boat life.

Luckily, with fleece sheets, our boat is a cozy place to be – so cozy that, at about 2am, realizing that the rain had momentarily stopped, I opened the hatch just to cool us down!!

Saturday morning dawned with a lull in the rain but a frigid interior… I snuck out of bed long enough to fire up the spaceheater and then dove back into bed.  An hour later the need for coffee finally drew me out…  and what could be better than warm blankets, strong coffee and a good book on a Saturday morning??


Owen decided that we should take a break in the rain to pump out the boat and move it to the visitor dock (our winter home).  Unfortunately a very strong wind and current made that difficult – my attempt to put us on the pump out dock was a miss and Owen took over to try to correct the situation…  unfortunately the wind and current had different ideas and we ended up kissing a piling before making it out of the fairway… he decided to opt for the windward side of the pump-out dock figuring it would be easier…  after nearly taking the emergency station off with our anchor, we were finally secured and could pump out.  Now we had to move to our spot on the dock…  about 42 foot space for our 36 foot boat and the spot was on the leeward side of the dock…  this should be fun.   We enlisted a boat neighbor to help who nearly ran away when she realized where we were putting the boat…  luckily the spot was more protected and with our neighbor and I to catch lines, Owen expertly drove her into the tight spot.  Another hour of tidying, tieing down the dinghy and filling water tanks and we were settled for the winter!!

We have now enjoyed a delicious (if I do say so myself!) enchilada casserole and are listening to the rain pound on the deck… maybe tomorrow will be slightly more productive… or maybe not!!

This is what I love about boat weekends… if we don’t accomplish anything, we can call it a vacation!!


Friends and Turkey!

This past weekend was the Bluewater Cruising Association’s Annual Thanksgiving Rendezvous.  As the Rendezvous is held at Thetis Island Marina – only an hour or so away from our home dock, it is an easy one to participate in.  This year was our third visit, and the second with Julia and Charlie (the pup!) on board.

We headed over on Friday night with overcast skies and winds that changed directions every few minutes.  The wind finally tucked in once we got out of the harbor and we took the opportunity to throw out the head sail – with rain coming and knowing we would be coming in after dark, we opted to not put up the main.  As it was, we were trucking along at 5.8-5.9 knots under the headsail alone – we were going so nicely that I nearly missed the entrance to Thetis Island!  We did have a bit of a downpour as we were heading over but the beautiful sail more than made up for it.  We got to the docks and I backed us in while several members of the BCA came to take lines and help us get secured.  And with that we were there and the weekend could begin.

The festivities were not set to begin until Saturday so we took Friday as a nice night to cook on board and curl up with our books – we had the little space heater going and lots of blankets to keep the cold at bay – our next project is definitely to install the heater though!

After a cozy sleep (polar fleece sheets are the best thing ever!), we had breakfast on board and then headed up to check out the day’s itinerary and check in to the Rendezvous.  Saturday included a visit from the local Coast Guard Auxiliary – of which Owen was a member for 17 years.  We had all toured the boat previously so instead we took off for a nice long walk, followed by some more book time.  Saturday night was a potluck dinner – we went easy – opting to fry up some bacon and onions and cook up some perogies – as easy as it was, they were a hit and were gobbled up in no time.  As is usually the case, there was a ton of food and it was all so tasty!

The club put on a couple of presentations in the pub Saturday night and then we all retired back to our boats to get ready for a packed day on Sunday.

We started with a breakfast potluck, followed up by a walk for us and then a scavenger hunt had us scrambling around deciphering signal flags, hunting for stones and tying knots.  The hunt was intended to take about an hour but nearly everyone was done within a half hour – leaving a bit of downtime before the Turkey Dinner – prepared and served by the Pub.  As usual, the Pub prepared a wonderful meal, made even better by visiting with club members.

Monday dawned overcast and completely windless – and not at all warm.  We joined the club again for a coffee and a pastry and then headed out.  By noon we were tied up at the dock and the weekend was over.

Once again I couldn’t quite bear the idea of packing the boat up entirely so we took what we needed and decided we will stay down there this coming weekend.  The weather forecast looks wet and cool so it will be a great weekend to hide out below, get something yummy going in the oven and read a book or two – maybe even bring down a movie!  We will need to take bedding, etc. off after that so that Owen can start to work on heat install, but it will be nice to have one more weekend of lazing away down there!

Thoughts on returning to the house… for the time being!

We moved everything aboard on July 20 of this year – all set for a 2 week holiday.  Last night we finally moved back to the house.  When we returned from our holiday it was hot and it had been a long day and I suggested that we should just stay at the boat for a day or two – a day or two stretched to one week, and then another.  I am not sure what would have finally driven me home – other than the arrival tonight of one of our favorite furry house-guests.

We have been on the boat for seven weeks!  Seven weeks – and I loved it.  True we were not “true livaboards” in that we did have the house to go back to to do laundry – but that is the only reason that I went home in the last 7 weeks – Owen was there more, as he works from home much of the time.

I cannot say how much I enjoyed being down on the boat – being able to sit out in the cockpit and enjoy a nice fresh breeze when our house was baking away up the hill, or curling up below deck with my book – yes, I know that I can curl up at home with a book but a lot of time, we walk in, turn on the TV and then it is on all night.  It is so easy to get sucked into some stupid show that you are not even really watching, or to watch a rerun you have seen 3 times.  On the boat I read, or I did crosswords, or I sat in the cockpit and watched the stars.  Perhaps it is a lesson to take back to the house – watch less TV!  The other thing that I did not do on the boat was scroll through Facebook for hours on end – the wifi at the marina is not great, and combine that with a steel boat and I could not log on at all – so if I wanted to be online, it was on my data – so I just didn’t sit there reloading Facebook or Pinterest.

The marina is also so social – walking down the docks you are stopping to chat with the liveaboards who are on the same dock, or to chat with visiting boaters who are moored on the visitors dock or tucked into temporarily vacant slips.   There was music on the docks a couple of nights each week – I would often find myself pausing to listen for a bit before I headed to our slip.   Of course I will chat with my neighbor if we happen to come home at the same time, and occasionally a neighbor will stop to chat if we are working in the yard and they are out walking – but that is the exception – not the norm.

Oh – and did I mention that I can vacuum the whole boat with my dustbuster!?  And our head is tiny – much easier to clean.  I didn’t even miss the dishwasher (most of the time!).  I spent a couple of nights this past week getting the house back to a passable state – cleaning the bathroom took me most of one evening – vacuuming another.    And we have so much STUFF at home!  Every time I consider that at some point all that stuff either needs to go or go to storage, I get a little pang of anxiety.

And then there was the coffee – for 7 weeks I have had wonderful french press coffee – this morning I had the drip maker all set to go and the coffee was ready for me when I walked into the kitchen – but it was terrible – tasteless, bland…   maybe I didn’t make it strong enough this morning but maybe, it is that I really, really love French Press coffee – I think my drip maker might have just been retired!

Okay – one more thing that I already miss from the boat – walking up the dock in the morning – it is such a refreshing start to the day to have that short walk up the dock – even when you get scared by rogue Otters like I did yesterday!  I didn’t even consider the fact that it was raining this morning as a reason to be happy that I did not have to walk up the docks.

I know it would be a whole different animal being down there all winter – when it is pouring rain for days on end, or (please not this year!) snowing – but then it would also be so cozy to be curled up listening to the rain on the deck with the heater going!  So that is the next project – get the heater installed – so that maybe at some point this winter we can take a “staycation” to the boat.

I also recognize that dealing with laundry would be far less enjoyable if I couldn’t just run home and throw it on there – but then hopefully, when we are living aboard, the volume of laundry will be far reduced!

Being at home now means we can get a couple of projects done there (paint the outside of the house) and on the boat (heater, dodger hopefully before the winter sets in!).   Maybe once a couple of those are done we can head back down for a week or two… we will see!


Summer Holidays Come and Gone

We are back from holidays and sadly back to work – two weeks is just not long enough – I can’t wait for the day when I can say there is no end date!  We had a wonderful cruise, heading up through Desolation Sound, north through Yuculta Rapids, to Shoal Bay and back south again.

The weather was perfect – almost too hot – though the wind was not always there when wanted.  It was there on our delivery north however – it was there in spades!  We sailed from the north end of Gabriola Island to Desolation Sound – no really – we sailed!  The first day was a georgous downwind run in 15 – 25 knots of wind – hitting boat speeds of over 8 knots.  We were on the hook in Sturt Bay on Texada Island by suppertime – having had a wonderful day.  Day 2 was a bit more exciting – 20 – 25 knots of wind on the nose – big seas, tons of tacking, water over the decks – and us – all day.  We finally arrived in Roscoe Bay around 6pm – completely exhilarated to have sailed all the way to Desolation Sound.

Desolation Sound

That is when the fun really began – after negotiating the narrow, rather shallow entry into Roscoe Bay, Owen went forward to set the anchor.  He took the lashings off the dinghy, lifted the dinghy up – and the pike pole followed along with it – our poor dinghy had been impaled!  Of course, as he pulled out the pole, the air rushed out of the front chambers of the dinghy – we then began a search for the patch kit, panicking for a few moments when it was not immediately found.  Luckily it was located, the patch was put on the next morning and after a very long day stuck on the boat, the dinghy was inflated and all was good!

From Roscoe Bay, we hopped over to Pendrell Sound for a swim – stopped the boat, jumped off, marveled at the crystal clear warm water – got back on the boat and we were off again!

We headed up through Yuculta Rapids, stopping at Big Bay for a night on the community docks before heading out the next morning, north through Dent Rapids.  By 4pm that day (Wednesday) we were anchored in Shoal Bay, enjoying a margarita on the deck of the “pub” and marveling at the view up Phillips Arm.  We stayed put in Shoal Bay for another night but then were faced with a dilemma – what now?? – our whole trip had been planned on the premise that we would make it to Shoal Bay – but here we were on the first Thursday with no definite destination in mind!

The urge to go further North was strong, but planning passages through some of the tidal passes meant for some long days, and we knew we couldn’t get as far north as we would like to get (hello Broughtons!) in the time we had left.  As such, the decision was made to head south again – the Friday saw us head back through Yuculta just a tad late – by the time we went through, we were fighting huge current and barely made it through.  Waiting to get through Hole-in-the-wall, to get to Octupus Islands and Waitt Bay would have meant a wait of several hours, so instead we just kept trucking South, eventually landing on Read Island in a private little bay.

Owen actually cast the fishing line once we cleared Yuculta, and caught a fish!  Well it was a little guy, and he let it go – but he got it!

Owen and his fish

Somewhere along the way in our wanderings, Owen managed to get a spinnaker rigged – we have had the spinny for years – but with no way to properly fly it.  He had cobbled together a spinnaker pole before we left and installed a ring on the mast for it to attach to – combined with some Frankestein-like rigging, we managed to get it flying – and actually used it a few times when the wind was directly behind us and too light for any other sailing.

Owen admiring Spinnaker

Our trip continued south with stops at the Gorge and Squirrel Cove before heading back to Pendrell Sound – this time to stay for a night.  This was attack number two on our poor dinghy – while going to take the dinghy to shore to attach a stern line, the dinghy bumped into barnacles and promptly sprung a leak – that repair took slightly longer (well it took two tries over several days) but she is once again sound, if slightly less pretty.

After Pendrell, we headed to Galley Bay and then did a looong trip from Galley Bay to Garden Bay.  The forecast had been for 10-20 knots from the Northwest so we were looking forward to a screaming sail downwind – the reality was no wind for hours (6 before we managed to sneak up the spinnaker for a couple of hours and then another 2 before we were finally anchored), lots of smoke from the inland forest fires, and heat – so much heat!

glassy calm on delivery to Garden Bay

We spent a couple of days in Garden Bay and then hopped over to Jedediah Island (Boom Bay) where we met up with Mike and Alli.  Finally, we made a long trip, with no wind, from Jedediah to Ruxton Island and spent our last night in Herring Bay.

As of now, we are living on the boat – because I flat-out refuse to go home (that involves cleaning and packing and I just can’t manage it right now!) – we will probably stay there until the weekend and then make a move back to a stable home – for a couple of weeks anyway.

There is a bit of work to be done on the boat – transmission issues were cropping up again so it looks like a possible rebuild there.  Additionally, we were having some issues with one battery (that thankfully only showed itself on the second day in Garden Bay after the smoke had been keeping the solar panels from charging fully) – we were glad to have had the second solar panel, as we did not plug in for the entire time we were away.

Next trip may well be our delivery to Maple Bay for the long-weekend regatta.

Perfect Long Weekend

Sometimes having an older car sucks – like when you lose 3 weekends of sailing to Owen trying desperately to save my baby (which he did! Yay Owen!).  After being away from the boat for way too long, we finally managed to get out for 2 weekends in a row…

The weekend before last we met up with friends back at Herring Bay – no wind to sail unfortunately, but a wonderful weekend of hanging out on the boat and visiting with friends.

This past weekend, being the Canada Day Long Weekend, seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a bit further out.  We settled on Ganges on Saltspring Island, knowing that they were having fireworks over the harbour.  After a stop off at Tent Island on Friday night, we headed out Saturday, dead into the wind, with not quite enough of said wind to sail.  We rounded Tent Island and headed towards Southey Point (on the North end of Saltspring – I know – who named that?!).   As we got closer to Southey, we could see that the wind in Trincomali Channel looked pretty fresh – sure enough, we rounded the corner to find white caps greeting us – we got the sails up asap, and had a rocking sail all the way from Southey Point, around Nose Point and into Ganges Harbour.  The wind ranged from about 12 knots to 20 or more at one point – fishies were definitely looking in the windows at that time!  The sail couldn’t have been more perfect – lifts on every tack, sun – what more can you ask for?

Perfect tacks

reefed head sail

Our reach around Nose Point had us hit over 8 knots of boat speed!  Remember – this is a heavy steel boat – we don’t do 8 knots!!

We were happily sailing downwind into the harbour and realised that the anchorage had somehow morphed all the way down the harbour and right into the float plane landing zone – apparently we were not the only people who had the idea to go to Ganges this weekend!  We did finally manage to find a little hole not too far out from town, and after one failed attempt, got the anchor down in 20 knots of wind.  Almost as soon as we got the hook down, the wind eased, and we were able to get the dinghy launched and head into town, where a friend was docked.

A great afternoon visit led to a wonderful dinner overlooking the Canada Day Festivities, followed by fireworks seen from the marina.   A perfect day!

Sunday was a lazy day – we finally made it into shore around noon.  After completing our usual rounds of bookstores and bakeries, and venturing a little further out of the main village to see what might be hiding down the side streets, we headed to the Taco Truck that we had spotted the day before, enjoying a spectacular late lunch.

So after such a perfect weekend, what could go wrong on Monday?  Well – first we had to get the anchor (and 25 pound ball of lead that Owen had attached to keep the chain from lifting) up in quite a lot of wind.  Owen was working hard at that while I kept the boat relatively over the anchor to make things easier.  After a couple of backs and forthes, Owen asked me to back up – I put the boat in reverse and the engine died.  Hmmmm… weird – okay – fire up, put the boat in reverse – dead engine.  Oh, oh.  Owen’s first thought was that he was swimming because something might be wrapped on the prop.  Luckily the go-pro that he bought me for Christmas and which I had only thought to bring to the boat that weekend, saved him a swim.  The camera, mounted on the boat hook, allowed us to get a good shot of the prop and confirm that nothing was wrapped around.  Alright, good – no swimming – but what now?  Owen took a peek below and asked me to put the boat in neutral – umm – it is in neutral – cool, okay – so the transmission is stuck in forward.  Well I guess we are not getting diesel – hope there is enough wind to sail home!  We headed out and sailed (not quite so fast) back out of the harbour, back around Nose Point (no 8 knots this time!) and about 1/3 of the way back up the Island before the wind shut off for good.  Fired up the engine – at least we have forward – and continued on.  At one point the engine noise changed pitch – put the boat in neutral, then reverse – everything good!  An hour later – change in pitch again – slide it into reverse – dead engine.  This happened 3 times on the way home – finally, we were coming into the marina – having called a friend to warn him we may come in hot!  Put the boat in neutral (phew!) and coasted around – but I had done that too early – now we are not going to make it back to our slip – back in forward (please let it go back to neutral, please let it go back to neutral) and luckily, just as we coasted into the slip, I managed to fire it into reverse and we stopped right where we needed to be.

Owen has dumped the oil and cleaned everything up and hopefully it was just a piece of gook jamming things up.  So far it seems to be working.  However, we will be bringing the come-along and rebuild kit with us on holidays – oh the joy of boat ownership!

We finally made it in the door at 10:30 on Monday night – we definitely did not waste a moment of this perfect Long Weekend!

Racing on other people’s boats

We have always said that racing is best done on other people’s boats – there is a lot of cost involved in racing – better sails, entry fees, broken bits – why do that yourself when you know other people crazy enough to subject themselves and their boat to that!?

This past weekend was the Schooner Cove Regatta – an approximately 42 mile race around Lasqueti Island – and what a race it was.  Snakes and Ladders is the only way to describe it!  I raced on Runaway Girl and Owen was out with Dilligaf – always fun to compete against each other and this race actually put us in the same division!

The day started with fluky winds that had us barely moving one moment and then flying along the next – only to be standing upright and running right out of the wind the next.  By the time we got to the bottom of Lasqueti, we were getting the feeling that this was going to be a challenging day.  Every other time we have done this race the wind has been from the Northwest – this year it was mostly from the Southeast – when it could make up its mind as to where it was actually coming from!

Rule number one in this race has always been to avoid the south end of Lasqueti like the plague unless you fancied driving straight into a windless hole – so we stayed well south of the Island, and then watched a fantastic band of wind fill in right along the shore.  As we wallowed our way between two bands of wind, we watched the “big boats”, who had started an hour later than us, race along the south shore – followed by the boats that had been lucky enough to not drive themselves so far from the wind that they couldn’t get back to it.  One by one boats passed us – leaving us frustrated and looking for wind.

We finally picked up a band of wind that had been filling in from the South and took off downwind on nice long jibes – we were about 3/4 of the way up the Island when we realised that all those boats that had passed us earlier were now parked in a big hole near the top of the Island.  Phew!  Pretty much the entire pack rounded the top of the island (and passed the halfway mark) at the same time.  And just like that the wind piped up and we were shooting upwind in 15 knots of wind – and then 12 – and then 10 – and then 8 – oh boy – here we go!

The pack split, the wind died and built, boats took weird flyers that weirdly worked and we inched our way south.  The day stretched out, our idea that dinner would be had at the docks was abandoned and the lasagna went into the oven.  The sun set, the day got cooler – still we plodded our way South.

The last 6 miles was the convergence point – the boats that had gone over to the Vancouver Island side started to meet up with the boats that had stayed on the Lasqueti side – we had hoped that all those Vancouver Island side boats were stuck in no wind but suddenly they were popping out on a track that would put them in front of us!  In a last desperate effort, and in the black of night, with about 3 miles to go, we threw up the Spinnaker – and passed one boat, and then another.  We watched one of the boats in our fleet take a strange flyer that drove then right out of the wind, and another boat decide they had had enough and fire up the engine.  We were getting excited.  The boat we couldn’t find was Dilligaf – we were all hoping they were well behind us.  Our skipper said “wouldn’t it make us crazy if they suddenly call in that they are five minutes out?”  when not two minutes later, they made a call to race committee to announce that they were five minutes out – how had they gotten ahead of us!?  There was some less than ladylike language going at that point!

We finally wound our way past a reef and narrowly missed a rock right at the finish and crossed the finish line.  And then the math started – how long ago had Dilligaf finished?  Did we beat them on correction?  Who else had crossed the line already?  Were the boats behind us far enough behind?  We were pretty sure that, after a day of starts and stops, we were first in our division and that was thankfully confirmed the next day!   Dilligaf took third in our division so we got them again!

It was a long day (14 hours racing) but so much fun and so challenging!

Sunsets, mosquito hunting and dinghy boondoggles

After the rush getting the boat ready to go to the Thetis Island Regatta, followed by a long weekend of sailing to Montague Harbour to meet-up with our Yacht Club for a night, and then a trip to Bedwell Harbour to meet up with the Bluewater Cruising Rendevous for a couple of nights (and a 6 1/2 mostly motor home), we decided this past weekend that we needed a quiet weekend on the hook to recharge.

We left after work on Friday and were on the hook in Herring Bay on Ruxton Island by about 8pm – just in time to get the burgers cooked and to eat in the cockpit while watching the sun go down.

A quiet night on the hook turned a bit panicked when we realized that a horde of mosquitoes had followed us below deck – where did they come from?!  We don’t usually get many mosquitoes around here but I suspect that our looong, rainy, cold winter was the perfect breeding ground for them.  I managed to hunt a few down on Friday night, but much of Saturday was spent dispatching them.  Owen was working on something in our rear cabin and could hear the “thwack” followed by a “gotcha”, every time I went hunting one down so he had a pretty good idea as to how many I had crushed.

At some point on Saturday afternoon I managed to drag myself up on deck to re-do the lashings on our lifelines and Owen accomplished tons – installing a light in the rear cabin and installing the new oil pressure sensor.

Feeling we had accomplished quite enough (and realizing that we hadn’t actually left the boat for the day), we decided about 6pm to do a quick boondoggle in the dinghy – that turned into a 3 hour, 6.8 mile circumnavigation of a couple of nearby islands.  The engine suddenly dying when we were at about the furthest point possible from our boat led to a few panicked moments but luckily it had just overheated thanks to the seaweed that had gotten wrapped in the prop.  A couple of minutes to cool down and we were off again – thank heavens – that would have been a heck of a row against current!

This time we managed to get the hatches closed and the citronella candles out in time to prevent the influx of mosquitoes.  We had caught the sunset while motoring back to our anchorage but once the sun had gone down fully (and the mosquitoes had gone away) we sat in the cockpit and watched the sliver of crescent moon follow the same track that the sun had taken only a few hours earlier.  That left a perfect black night sky for star-watching – even the Northern Lights made a dim appearance!

Sunday morning started just about as lazy as the rest of the weekend, and then we were joined by friends who had been out on their boat all week and were on their way home.  After a quick visit, they sped off home.  Owen had made the mistake of saying that if only he had his wet-suit on the boat, he could dive and replace the nearly non-existent prop zinc – well lucky him, I remembered that it was in fact in the bow – so into the not so warm water he went!  That job being complete we finally set out for a bit faster motor home (barnacles scraped off the prop makes quite a difference in our speed!)

All in all a perfect, restful weekend and just what we needed.

Next weekend we are out racing on other people’s boats, so no cruising for us – though maybe we can make some more headway on the galley upper cupboards on Sunday.

sunsetting at Herring Bay