Friday, September 13, 2019

Email hiccups

Hi folks... many of you have been kind enough to subscribe to our blog and receive the postings via email. Yet again, an old posting was sent out via email yesterday. This is a problem with the blog-to-email service that we have been using for years (FeedBurner). We are looking for an alternative service and hope to have it fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. CJ

Sent from my iPad

Monday, September 2, 2019

Park Host Follies...

Now that we're home, we have the privilege of volunteering as Marine Park Hosts at our beloved Pirates Cove on De Courcy Island. Being a park host includes some responsibilities as well as a small dock to tie up to (which is pretty nice when the NW winds are blowing). And of course, as a Park Host you do your best to set a good example of nautical prowess and calm, mature behaviour. We usually do pretty well at both....until today.

Today began well. We tidied up and left the Nanaimo Yacht Club guest dock in good time to make it to Dodd Narrows. This narrow spot of rock and current must be transited very close to the turn of the tide if one is to avoid whirlpools and hidden rocks. And, as I mentioned, it is narrow requiring boats going in either direction to heed the approach of opposing traffic. At this challenge, we did well; came through without a hitch, and were well south of it when numerous opposing vessels met up with each other mid channel.

We then carried on our merry way to Pirates Cove. On this day, we managed to arrive at the entrance to PCove almost exactly at low tide :-(. This is not a preferred time of arrival as the entrance, at the lowest tide, has only 4 feet of water (and we need 5' 7"). We did the math and checked it twice... and decided we would have enough water to get in... so in we went. Our hearts only stopped once when the depth sounder read 0.0 water below our keel. Fortunately we did not touch bottom but this confirmed we have a couple inches of "insurance" factored into our calculations. BUT, neither of these stories are why I'm writing about an otherwise ordinary day. Nope, there's more.

The next story is for Dave. Hope you like it. Let's call it: Park Host Follies.

As I mentioned earlier, setting a good example is important behaviour for a park host. You be the judge of how we did today. Picture this: We arrived unscathed, made a tidy approach to the dock, stopped, and hopped off with dock lines in hand. We tied the lines and reset the fenders in a very nautical fashion. I attended to the foredeck to tidy the loose ends of our bow line and spring while Kathy set about hauling out our folding chairs and setting them up on our little dock. Then I surmise she hauled out the umbrella that attaches to a chair, clamped it on and went below to prepare lunch. The ship's dog Maddie, at this point, was romping about on the dock, exploring every bit of wood, muscle shell, or moss she could find. She also found a bit of shade against the dock box and tucked herself in there... as well as a smallish dog wearing a big life jacket can tuck into anywhere.

The fun began as I turned around and noticed two things at once. The first was that the NW wind was gusting... the second was the beautiful blue umbrella, carefully clamped to one of our folding dock chairs, and starting to respond to the gusting winds. "That's a very fine parachute" or something to that effect, I might have said.. and then we both watched in horror as the chair with umbrella firmly attached, sailed off the dock and into the drink on the far side. It was right about then Maddie fell off the dock and into the water...same side as the chair but towards the far end.

You can imagine the pandemonium..... I dove to the deck with arms outstretched and just missed getting my fingers on an edge of the umbrella as the whole kit and kabutal sunk into the deep. Kathy fished the dog out (luckily she still had her life jacket on) and ran for the boat pole. Between the three of us we missed catching the sinking chair/umbrella combo and the dog had a good swim and was rescued safe and sound.

Sigh... now what about those hotdogs? Well, they weren't too charred and tasted great. With the help of sustenance (and maybe a beer) Kath devised a contraption that combined the boat hook at full extension and the clam fork, also extended, tied together and managed on her third sweep to hook a rung of the sunken chair. We took a bow to the nearest cruisers in the Cove who had enjoyed our antics. We explained we didn't normally provide such a comedy act but were happy to do so on this day. We all had a good chuckle.

Chair, umbrella and dog have all had a good rinse down and are currently drying in the warm sun and we are about to resume our staid and mature position as Park Hosts of Pirates Cove.

Wishing you all a pleasant evening... and don't forget to tie down your chair when the winds come up. 😀 CJ

Sent from my iPad

Monday, August 26, 2019

The tough life of a Ship’s Dog

This is the fifth day of our three week vacation cruise. The original plan was to sail to Vancouver, have our diesel heater installed and then spend the next three weeks cruising up the coast a bit or gunk-holing around the Gulf Islands. Before an update...a peek into cruising with a new puppy.

There's an old saying...something about making your bed and laying in it... Well who knew Maddie would be the first dog in either of our lifetimes who would be at least as, and often more, comfortable when we're underway... hanging out below in a bed of her own making, on the couch? It's taken us a while to figure that out as, while she's very vocal and loudly so, she only has a one word vocabulary - BARK! This word can mean "pick me up!", "I want my water!", "I want down, or over there, or over here!", "pat me!"....etc. Lucky she's cute and our fellow cruisers don't mind she's still learning :-)

"Yes, we're on the boat", and "Yes, we're having a good time". Maddie continues to impress us with 'most' of her activities...including sleeping through the night, not barking her face off when we've left her alone in the boat cabin (her cabin is now the aft cabin... which she shares with a multitude of bins and boating equipment... lucky girl), using the puppy 'mat' when necessary, and being as cute and mischievous as ever. I guess the main thing I wish she hadn't noticed was how chewable the lines are. All those 'ropes' running hither and yon look just like a perfect theme park for her personal enjoyment and persistent taste testing. Oh well... she's here to stay... and has only one baby tooth (aka flesh piercing fish hook tooth) left... yay!

On the nautical front... we did get to anchor behind Bute Island off Ladysmith for two nights and then moved in to the Ladysmith Community Marina. Yesterday (Sunday) Kathy returned from her event earlier than expected and so we cast off and headed for Pirates Cove. While we were under way we realized the tide would be too low the next morning for us to get out of PCove in time to get through Gabriola Pass at 0700 so we checked the Pass to see what it's slack times were for the early evening. Voila! We were able to get through Gabe Pass and head to Page's Marina in Silva Bay. We did all this because we knew a North Wester was predicted to come in on Tuesday and so Monday was the day to cross. Well, the Norther arrived last night and was blowing 19 knots with 3 second seas by 0600. After much consternation at the fickleness of Mother Nature (at times) we made the difficult decision to abort the mission to Vancouver and tuck in at Page's until the wind blows itself out. We expect to be here - possibly until Thursday.

Destinations after that? Unknown. We'll wait until the direction to go seems obvious.

For now, we are safe, cozy (a little cool without the heater 😏), and enjoying the beauty of Gabriola Island. We'll visit with a few friends while we are here, generally kick back, relax, and do some reading.... take a page from Maddie's book as it were....

Hope all is well with each of you...and your hatches are battened down for the next couple days. If your anchor's down, best ease out a few more yards of chain ⚓️

Bye for now, CJ, K and M

Thursday, August 22, 2019

SSpirit's Crew - first full grooming

AND... we're off on an adventure!  Yup, SSpirit is finally slipping her lines and heading out for 25 days of carefree wandering.  We know we're heading to the Ladysmith area for a few days and then across the Straits to Vancouver to have our diesel heater installed.  Being a California girl, SSpirit had no form of heat so now we'll be dry and toasty warm while we cruise BC.  We've made no firm plans other than the aforementioned so will keep you posted with anything interesting.  Hope you are all happy and well and enjoying the 'dog days of summer'.  Maddie even got a hair cut (her first full grooming) for the event.  The photos are 'before' and 'after'... we think she's pretty cute.  And, no surprise, she's changing colour... lightening up.  Just like the madrass shirts of the '70's... all we can do is wait to see what colour she'll be next.  For now, she's a smokey dark grey... very nice.

Take care everyone... enjoy every day. 
Photos by Kathy, words by CJ

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Learning curves... (with a new puppy)

Many may wonder where we've been.  Some of you already know. We have been caring for the newest member of our family - Maddie. It's been many years since either of us shared a home with a brand new puppy and, oh my, the things we'd forgotten. Suffice to say we no longer wear our best clothes or leave our shoes lying about. And, we've learned the hard way about winding her up and expecting her to calm down when we think she should. BUT, aside from our learning curve, having Maddie in our clan has been fantastic. She's a real trouper, game to try anything and go anywhere. She loves her backyard (and the leaves and little branches and anything else that moves in the wind:-), and she travels well in the car and truck... and seems to like the boat as well.  

The following photos were taken last week on her first cruise. We took her to Pirates Cove in case we lost her.  It's a small island and the chances of finding her again are fairly good.  We were quite amazed when we set up her sleeping crate in the aft cabin and then, at bedtime, put her into the crate and closed the door. We also closed the aft cabin door so we could continue our evening for a while longer. She went right to sleep and slept through the whole night, and every night thereafter. Yippee!  Sleeping: done.  Then there's the mat. She used it every day.  Mat training: done. And then there's hanging out with the big people... like on the dock.  Personal chair: done.  The photos will tell the tale of how she did during her first cruise. Needless to say, we're pretty happy.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Life with Maddie...

Now, some might say we've been MIA (missing in action) but I cry "NO" we've been living with a puppy!!  OMG how much we've forgotten. They're so cute! so cuddley! some might even say adorable!!  But, oh!, who remembered their razor teeth, short attention span, and.... did I mention.. their adorableness?

Inquiring friends have been asking... "How is Maddie doing?".  Well, I'm here to tell you she's doing fine. Us?  We're a little tired but holding up  :-) 

Even though I remember the phases of living with Sophie, where we went from being the moms, to being the sisters, to her becoming the aunt and finally like a grandmother (that'd be Sophie);...  this little one, this bundle of energy and inquisitiveness, and attention demanding,... and wonderfulness... has us back feeling like moms again.  The good news we're told is that this particular little nipping and demanding phase will pass... and so we study puppy parenthood, and work through the tantrums, and continue protecting her from herself.. and loving her, and setting boundaries, and working through them... and, and, and.

And then, wonderful things happen.  She starts to remember the area we've asked her to use in the back yard for (you know).  She goes to bed at night without argument and sleeps through the night. She is now telling us (sometimes more subtly than others) when she wants to go out.  And... wonder upon wonders... the very first time we took her to the boat.. she used Sophie's 'boat mat' (I'm sure I don't need to tell you what for :-). We've taken her down to the boat four times now and she's used the mat each time.....  which is a wonderful gift that will make life easier for all of us.... thank you Sophie.

And, just yesterday we took her to a beach for the first time.  We walked along the sandbars in one direction and then we walked back along the shore (it was low tide).  Maddie followed us into the water and waded with us and then, when Kathy went out a little deeper, Maddie continued after her and, without any hesitation, started swimming to stay with her.. SWIMMING!!  both front and back legs working at the same time!.. so awesome!

After our sandy and salty beach visit we went home and hauled out one of our homemade deck showers that we use on the boat.  Turns out it works very well for puppies too. Outdoor showers are great !!

So friends, thanks for your patience.  There are/were not a lot of photos. As you already know, black dogs don't show up well in photos... not with much definition anyway.; but we'll keep trying.

Hope all is well with each of  you.  We are fine and re-learning puppy speak.  TTFN

CJ, Kathy, and Maddie

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Life with Maddie is busy...

We've been asked for photos of our new crew member. Here are three of the many faces of Maddie... She's pretty amazing and adapting to her new life very well.... although she does keep us busy. Thank goodness she sleeps between 'play times'.