Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 18th... after Wildernest

From Toba Wildernest resort we headed to Refuge Cove for some supplies (and more beer of course) and from there we crossed over to Squirrel Cove where we dropped our anchor near Top Brass for one last visit with Susan and George before they headed north.  Squirrel Cove is a beautiful spot... unfortunately it's being targeted for major development as a marina for larger (over 44') boats.  While the application for this development will take time to go through the hoops, and will likely change in some ways, the attention and energy it is garnering continues to build in the boating community. Only time will tell.  Until then we sit, wait and write. 

After Squirrel Cove we were fortunate enough to have 3 wonderful days in our very favourite Laura Cove.  With the reduced number of boats out and about at this time, we had Laura Cove to ourselves for 2 of the 3 days. The water was warm enough for swimming but the 'tomato soup-like' algae bloom kept us from doing so.  We did however, enjoy some jigging and kayaking and much laying about (and chores of course... always chores). 

Sadly our calendar continued to run and we finally had to haul anchor and head south... the first stop being Lund where we met friends for a great dinner at the Lund Hotel Pub/Restaurant. From Lund we stopped one night in Sturt Bay (on Texada Island) and then continued south to Pender Harbour.  The winds for this part of our journey were either light or flukey so we didn't get as much sailing as we'd hoped for. June 27th saw us at Newcastle Island on a mooring bouy and visiting with friends Bob and Ann James on MV Silver Fox and on June 28th we moved in to the Nanaimo Boat Basin for some much needed shopping (just love that Nanaimo Chandlery and Thriftys!) and laundry.

It's June 29th today and we are moored at the Ladysmith Marina. We're here for several reasons, the most important being the celebration of Kathy's father's 88th birthday on July 3rd. We've also got our friend Larry coming to discuss some issues we've identified with certain systems on the boat, and our surveyor is coming to complete his survey of Shannon for our pending off-shore insurance assessment. When that is done, and on the morning of July 4th, we shall head home to our slip at the Maple Bay Yacht Club. That's even new.  It's been replaced while we were away so we're looking forward to seeing the new format.

Unless something significant occurs, I'll stop reporting our daily activities for a little while.  We've a lot to do in a short period of time and there'll be little time left for pondering over a keyboard. I should tell you too that our plans have changed a wee little bit. After meeting so many folks over the past month.. folks who had harbour hopped both up and down the US coast... we've decided to return to our original plan of doing the same.  We're excited by the prospect of travelling in our own time, of visiting small villages, towns and harbours along our route, and of doing the journey basically on our own. It will be a different journey, using short hops between harbours rather than one long loop down to San Francisco.  It will take longer and/but it will allow us the option of staying a little longer in some places and of skipping others altogether.  It means we'll be closer to fueling stops (which is a good thing as our tank is small and we'll probably be motoring more in lighter winds)... and, of course, we'll always have the option of heading further out should we wish to. So, with all this in the works....  to work we must go. Some of the major projects left to complete are: scraping, sanding and varnishing the exterior bright work; re-building the propane tank system; building the new cabin table; finishing the cockpit table set-up; adding the extra anchor chain and new anchor rode line; improving the chain stripper on the anchor windlass; converting the hanging locker to pull-out veggie baskets and storage shelves; building new companionway boards; completing the life-raft installation; installing new 12V outlets for our cabin fans; completing SSB fine-tuning; registering the EPIRB; setting up the kits (first aid, ditch bag, maintenance, parts); obtaining health and boat insurance; etc.  As you can see we have our work cut out for us.  So... until we write again.. bye bye for now. 

NB:Kathy will be posting photos on the Blog as soon as she has time. We've got some great pics of the places we visited in Desolation Sound.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Sophie - Shannon's smallest crew - ready for anything

A dog and her hoodie....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Ready or not… it’s ‘shakedown’ time…

There comes a time when, ready or not, it’s time to shove off and see which pieces of the new equipment work and which parts need tweaking.  That time has come for us and our little ship and so, on May 27th we headed out from our home dock at Maple Bay to spend the next several weeks continuing new projects, finishing existing tasks and testing ourselves and Shannon’s equipment.
We began our journey by raiding the storage locker and shoveling as much ‘stuff’ on board Shannon as we could fit (perhaps not the wisest of decisions as we still haven’t found proper places for many of the  items) and then traveled across to Vancouver and to the Vancouver Rowing Club.  There, we showed off Shannon to members of the Daley family and clan, and Ron Kolody kindly spent many hours with us finishing off the installation of the SSB Radio system (during which time Kathy had her first experience at travelling up the mast… and she liked it!!). It does seem tho’ that each task has its own set of rules and challenges.  For instance, our new propane BBQ that had waited patiently in its box for months was finally pulled out for installation…only to find that we needed yet another part to allow us to attach it to the BBQ mounting arm. After many phone calls and ‘negotiating’ with local chandleries, we were finally able to acquire the part and to pick it up, thanks to the kindness of Brian Schouldice, an old friend who moors at the VRC and who had his car at hand. Other jobs went more smoothly and many more remained on the ‘list’ as we shoved off on June 1st and headed under the Lions Gate Bridge…bound for the Union Steamship Marina on Bowen Island and a chance to visit one of our old haunts from our mainland days.
On June 2nd we slipped under cloudy skies and after waiting for the incoming ferry to make its turn into the Snug Cove ferry dock and then being knocked about by the wake of a very rude and impatient vessel operator helming one of two school-bound water taxis (Old School Marine), we carried on across the Straits to Schooner Cove.  The crossing was comfortable with SE winds between 8 and 12 and we were able to try using our Voyager wind-vane for the first time.  We’ve still much skill to acquire but we did get it to work with our sails nicely balanced.  What a thrill to be under sail with the boat steering herself, with only the wind and this miraculous invention called a wind-vane.
Our purpose for going to Schooner Cove was to show an old and dear friend (Ed Estlin) the newly rededicated Ontario Yachts half-hull trophy (rededicated to Ed and Peggy Estlin for their continuous support and service to the Ontario Yachts fleet of BC) and to present him with a miniature ‘keeper’. Sadly we lost Peggy not too long ago but it was wonderful to see Ed and to spend some time over lunch with him (and Sheila Boucher and Don Butt who had joined us for the get together).
We left Schooner Cove and headed over to Jedidiah Island on June 4th .  We had planned to visit Jedidiah for several days but the winds were brisk and we knew we wanted to be in position to head to Gorge Harbour on the 8th , so we spent one night in Boho Bay and then 3 days in Scottie Bay where we were nicely protected from the NW winds.  Scottie Bay has a very interesting collection of residents… all living on things that float… some might be described as float homes (altho’ they’re obviously pulled together from wood and fabric collected above and below high water mark) and others are a combination of old boats and barges lovingly tacked together.  The folks were nice, and polite, and didn’t seem to mind us plunking ourselves into the midst of their colony.  I think if we’d stayed just one more night, we might have been invited to happy hour at Franks… but we’ll never know as we pulled out very early on the morning of June 8th to make our sojourn up to Gorge Harbour on Cortes Island.
The Gorge Harbour Marina is beautiful.  New owners Richard and Michelle Glickman, along with their great staff and local support, have created an artistic and welcoming refuge.  The docks are state of the art and brand new and the fore-shore gardens and flag-stone patio with fire place provide great gathering places for visiting groups or small family gatherings. Their restaurant is as good as ever and continues to serve a select and varied menu.  Kathy’s parents (Marg and Ken Mulholland) met us at Gorge Harbour and stayed at the marina’s small campground. It was great to see them and we had several days of good weather and good visiting.  One upset was that on the first day, whilst traversing a rather rough and steep forest path, Marg lost her footing and fell.  The good news is she is one strong lady and was back on her feet and heading home under her own steam very quickly.  The not so good news is she put her teeth through her lower lip and required 6 stitches to close the wound.  What a trouper. Marg didn’t even slow down but continued with our visit and showed us all how to deal with an unexpected upset.  Friends Susan and George Marshall, on their sailboat Top Brass, joined us at the marina on June 10th and it was great to spend some time with them too. One of the important tasks we accomplished at Gorge Harbour was to first of all recognize that our anchor chain was twisting as we set and retrieved the anchor, and then figure out why and fix it. Discussions with Ken led us to consider the question of swivel vs shackle and  research produced information that half the folks out there think swivels between anchor and chain are a waste of time, and the other half think they’re essential.  Well, for us, with a Delta 35 and 5/16th HT chain, it seems they’re essential and so Carolyn made a trip to Campbell River and picked up a honking big swivel to replace the shackle between anchor and chain.  With this new addition (we hadn’t replaced the old swivel when we upgraded the anchor – due to public opinion at the time) we hopefully have solved the twisting chain problem.
Top Brass and Shannon slipped their lines on the morning of June 12th (Sunday) and headed out of Gorge Harbour, up through Uganda Passage, and into Von Donop Inlet – setting our hooks down in the bay at the head of the Inlet.  The NW winds whistled through the anchorage for several days and we put our ground-tackle through a good test.  It seems to be working well.  While we were there, Kathy made her debut into the world of SSB radio and morning nets.  Every morning at 0730 and 0800 a group called the “Great Northern Boaters Net” check in with a moderator (Bill or Barb) providing their location, weather, plans, etc.  It’s a great service as Bill or Barb actually keep track of the boats and can be of great help should someone go missing or if someone needs to send or receive urgent traffic (messages). These folks will be able to follow us all the way down the coast and when we leave their ‘range’ there will be another net to check in with… and so on.  It was also nice because you meet people and/or hear folks you already know and then learn where they are, etc. Anyway, it’s a good service and we’ll be continuing to stay in contact.
I should mention that where we are cruising is not ‘just next door’.  For instance, Cortes Island is having a problem with black wolves right now.  They’ve been targeting peoples pets and it’s quite a concern, particularly since Sophie weights about the same as a good sized salmon (eagles love salmon).  Marg and Ken sadly witnessed two large black labs chase a new-born fawn into the water and kill it at Squirrel Cove (we reported it) and, although these two were definitely dogs… it’s pretty spooky. This kind of activity gives you cause to pause… as you wade into the forest for a walk.  In Von Donop Inlet there are signs at the trail heads warning visitors of wolves and their presence.  We’ve learned to sing quite loudly as we walk along trails these days… and we keep our bear bait (er I mean little Sophie) on a tight leash… no more running loose for her.  So between wolves, bears, cougars, eagles and the like…we’re having to shed our city-folk blinkers and sharpen our eyes and our ears as we visit beaches and forest paths.
As well, we basically have no cell phone coverage.  Thanks to Kathy’s diligence with our communications system, we have been able to receive and send e-mails fairly regularly…. And, with the use of our Magic-Jack number, we’ve even been able to make a few phone calls a couple of times.  So, that being said, our journey continues.
We left Von Donop and headed to the Toba Inlet Wildernest (resort) on Thursday, June 16th. There we met Kyle (owner, manager, greeter and generally nice guy) and joined Top Brass and two other boats on their small docks.  What a wonderful place. It’s rustic, it’s a bit rough, and it’s great. We sit in our cockpit looking right out to the entrance of Waddington Channel and there are eagles wheeling over-head and fish jumping in the bay. This morning we hiked up a trail (singing loudly the whole way) all the way up to a wonderful waterfall. We had to use ropes to scale the last rocky bits but it was worth the effort.  CJ tried her hand at jigging for cod… caught one too small and then lost her lure… oh well. Cabbage for dinner J  This place is so beautiful we could sit here forever… but, instead… tomorrow we’ll head out in search of a bit of food and looking for new adventure.