Off the Grid With Mother Nature – Part 2

After our earlier adventure in the Broughton Lagoon tidal rapids, we really thought the rest of the day would be uneventful. I mean how much craziness can Mother Nature dish out in on day???

 

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The day started so peaceful and beautiful …just high, fluffy clouds.

 

Well, she had more in her…Around 3:30 pm the weather shifted and it was evident a squall was headed our way so we closed up all the canvas and batten down the hatches! Around 4:30 all hell broke loose, no real wind but the thunder was incredible. The first lighting and the huge KABOOM …it was like dynamite going off over our heads. I didn’t even get past counting one one thousand…Sucia and Bentley were both shaking and running for cover. …I uttered a WOW..WHOA as the squall crested from the direction of Broughton Lagoon…Is this an evil place and it’s telling us to beware???

Lighting has a unique smell especially when you are right under a strike. The ozone layer feels alive…within minutes of the first huge kaboom we could smell something burning. The lighting went on for about 20 more minutes and each kaboom got progressively farther away.

As the squall moved away, I stepped out on to the swimstep and noticed smoke drifting out from Ruth opening of the small creek at teh back of the cove. WHOA, WOW… the lighting had hit a tree about 200 years from us on shore and tree was on fire. We listened to the snap, crackle pop and could see smoke but no flames coming from deep with in the forest. After some deliberation, Wally hailed the Canadian Coast Guard on the VHF radio as we had cell reception. He reported the strike and fire as the intensity of the smoke had gotten worst…it was that orange-brown color that unseasoned, pitchy fire wood puts off.

 

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Yep, that’s how close the lighting strike was to us.

 

Wally was on the VHF radio several times as the Canadian Coast Guard took information and relayed it to the Ministry of Forests.  Within another hour, a second rain squall came through damping down the potential fire. There was no threat to us but boy howdy had it been an exciting day…crazy tidal gates, rapids, thunder, lighting and a fire strike just 200 yards away.

 

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We were still game for a bit more adventure so after dinner when the rain let up we took Bentley in the whaler for a cruise up into Greenway Sound. Moody dark skies, with light pockets made for a beautiful vista. We found the decrepit marine park dock and took Bentley for a short walk up the trail but the misty, dark forest was just too creepy so we headed back to the safety of the warm, crazy Beach House.

 

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Wally had a final radio call with the Canadian Coast Guard scheduled at 6:00 am the next morning. Geez, don’t they know we are retired…who gets up that early???

It rained off and on all night so the fire danger passed and Wally happily reported no concerns to the Canadian Coast Guard at O’ Dark Thirty in the morning. After all this crazy fun in Greenway Sound, we decided to head for cilivilation…Sullivan Bay Marina was our destination, where we were planning to meet friends from Anacortes, do laundry and some provisioning.

 

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Off The Grid with Mother Nature – Part 1

Since my last post, we have been totally off the grid in Simoom Sound and Greenway Sound. No cell service, no wi-fi, no people, no houses, just a few crappy Atlantic Salmon Fish Farms. They actually litter the coves here in the Broughtons and believe me, no one I talk to about them likes having them in the bays but that’s a whole different post!

The joy of exploring the Broughton is the remote, beautiful areas that you often have all to yourself. Don’t worry, we still have VHF radio access to the Canadian Coast Guard should anything happen.

We spent our Fourth of July, peacefully hanging on the anchor in O’Brien Bay which is in Simoom Sound. For two days we explored the area in our trusty 13 ft Boston Whaler that we tow behind the Beach House. We did a bit of fishing and prawning but neither produce any dinner options. The kayaking in the bay was awesome, so much to look at on shore and in the water. I spent about 30 minutes just floating and watching a beautiful bald eagle in a snag tree just up on shore.

 

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We checked out an abandon logging camp in hopes of finding a road that was walkable but after finding some fresh bear scat, we decided maybe to get back on the water. Whistles, an air horn, and bear mace are in our arsenal of “Hello Mr. Bear” greeting tools. We have been told that there aren’t many Grizzly Bears in this area, especially on the islands as there isn’t enough territory for them here. But black and brown bears are definitely in the area although we haven’t seen any on our Bentley shore leaves yet.

 

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Those are all full barrels of jet fuel…interesting since this logging road hasn’t been used since 1986.

 

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That is a very fresh pile of bear scat…it was actually larger than the picture depicts.

 

Getting Bentley to shore for some exercise and constitutionals has been a challenge up here in the Broughtons. The shorelines are steep to and have no little if any real shoreline. We look for small islets or sometimes big rocks that we can get teh whaler up to. Bentley is really sure footed so he can climb up and over the rocks.

 

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Bentley is leaving some scat of his own!!!

 

We headed over to Greenway Sound for one night and anchored in a sweet little cove, behind an islet where the small tidal outflow from Broughton Lagoon rippled out just behind the Beach House. 

 

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Broughton Lagoon is a quiet, secluded, uncharted saltwater lake approximately three miles long.There are dolphins that fish and play in the lagoon so we decided to go exploring in the whaler. 

While this lagoon sounds calm and peaceful is guarded by tidal gates where turbulent, fast-flowing water, hazardous rocks and restricted space for maneuvering make things difficult. We had read that the best time to transit into the lagoon was high water. After consulting the tide tables, the closest one being quite always from where were but we knew it was not HW slack. As we puttered around exploring, a small boat headed into the channel for the lagoon. So off we went, blissfully unaware of just how crazy Mother Nature can be.

They didn’t come back so we figured it was okay to go…the first part of the channel was whirlpools but no serious rapids but as we turned the sharp corner, holy crap Batman it was a raging torrent of water for about 100 yards. I was sitting on the bow of the whaler taking video when Wally said, “there is a tight turn ahead so hold on”. I immediately saw the turbulent water ahead and a wall of water. For a spilt second I thought about getting up and going around to the seat next to Wally but the water was pushing so hard and fast that I knew that would be a crazy move. Plus, I was worried about Bentley who was standing next to me. I quickly stuck my iphone under my left butt cheek, grab onto Bents and the railing of the Whaler…just in time … as we hit the first wall of the waterfall. Then the swirling, whirling mass of water turned into a 2-3 foot wall of water. Wally didn’t lose his cool and powered the whaler through it, thankfully we have a 50 hp engine. Bentley was thrown down as I held on for dear life…in what seemed like an eternity but was really just a few seconds we crested over the huge outfall and into calmer water, then into the lagoon itself. WOW….I was shaken but we were all okay. Okay, that scared the crap out of me, not living to you!!! We took a nice leisurely cruise around the lagoon, got Bentley to shore for a break and tied off to an overhanging tree in the shade to regroup. 

Thanks to limited wifi bandwidth at the marina we are staying at, there is no video so sorry, you will have to believe it was as terrifying as I make it out to be 🙂

 

Meanwhile the other boat roared around for about 20 minutes and then headed back out again…Well, not following that crazy boat again, so we decided to hang out for at least an hour and wait for the tidal exchange to slow down.

While motoring around we saw 4-5 porpoise and followed them for a bit while they fished. It would be crazy to have seen them in that small, narrow  channel coming or going. I bet they have a better sense of timing that we did! 

After one peek down the raging channel, it was evident that the water was definite less turbulent but we gave it another 20 minutes then headed through. I was tense as we approached, ready for another death-defying pass. So we started in, this time I was in the back seat beside Wally, with Bentley tucked between my legs. It was fast-moving and turbulent but no huge walls of water. We might have dropped down over a small outfalls but it was actually fun this time …wow, what a difference 90 minutes makes!!!

The water was calm in the bay as we motored back to the Beach House. After a stiff drink and showers, we all felt good again. Just in case you are wondering, Bentley didn’t have a stiff drink but he sure deserved one too!

Later we explored Greenway Sound in the whaler and found a marine park and trail but headed back to the boat as there was rain coming and what looked like a serious squall.

 

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The dock at the marine park was a disaster but Bentley found this brand new outhouse??? Guess the BC Parks Service has its priorities!!!

WOO-HOO, We Made It!!!

Yippee Skippee…we are in the Broughton Islands but thanks to limited cell and internet services (welcome to the wilderness) along the way, I haven’t posted any news for several days so I will try to catch you up.

Our last big hurdle to getting this far north was based on the temperament of Johnstone Strait. Many a mariner has had their ass handed to them on a platter when the ferocious winds howl down this 110 km (68 mi) channel along the north-east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The strait is between 2.5 km (1.6 mi) and 5 km (3.1 mi) wide so the water and wind channel right down through there. It is a major navigation channel on the west coast of North America.  There are ways to limit ones passage through Johnstone by taking some more sheltered routes through Desolation Sound but at some point you have no choice but to get your bow out in the strait.

The weather looked great on Thursday the 28th, light and variable winds in the morning as opposed to the 10-20 knots it often is. Johnstone is well known for the winds building to 20-25 knots by early afternoon. We got a very early start to take advantage of the light wind and the ebbing current to help carry us along faster. We also opted to take the route through Blind Channel into Johnstone, up past Race and Current Passages. This route put us in Johnstone longer but with the great weather forecast we were willing to take the chance, get an early start and off the strait before the afternoon winds could whip it up. We were rewarded with very light chop, less than 5 knots of wind and a very pleasant day on the water. No ass whoopin for us…that was cause for celebration!!!

In route, we saw Randy and Rusty  (that we met at Blind Channel Resort) on Johnstone Strait near Port Neville. We tooted the horn and gave them wide berth as not to swamp them with our wake. They were flying along, sails up taking advantage of the ebb current too. No ass whoopin for Randy and Rusty either!!

 

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The Beach House was anchored in Cutter Cove which is well into the Broughton Islands by the early afternoon. On a fair weather day, this anchorage is calm and protected plus we were the only boat there.

 

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Beach House on the hook in Cutter Cove.

 

We took the whaler out to explore and did a fast cruise in the light misty rain that set in, over to the now defunct Mistral Bay Resort. We have heard lots of stories about this resort when it was in full swing as a friends family once owned it. The resort is just a shell of aging buildings and crumbling docks now – so sad. The docks can be used at your own risk for free and we chatted with a couple who were tied up there for the night. The whole place was just depressing and I was glad we were on the hook at Cutter Cove.

 

 

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Defunct and decrepit Mistral Island Resort.

 

A celebration dinner was in order…Grilled Lamb Chops with Argentina Chimmichurri Sauce, Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic along with Grilled Red and Yellow Peppers. Chef Brenda served a Cabernet Sauvignon from Upchurch which is in the Walla Walla Valley.

We swung on the anchor that night, peaceful and quiet so we slept great.

The following day, not in a big hurry anymore, we motored out of Cutter Cove around 10 am with Kwatsi Bay routed as our destination. It was only 22 nautical miles so we dialed back the engines to putter speed, about 8 knots. It was raining and misty but the water was calm and flat. – no real wind.

Our cruise got quite eventful about 5 nautical miles from Kwatsi Bay … eventful in a good way. We spotted Pacific White Sided Porpoises fishing and frolicking in groups all around us. I would guesstimate that there was easily 50 of them. Soon we were the source of their fun. It was unbelievable… they jumped, leapt and sped through the water next to the boat on both sides for miles.

 

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I was hanging out the salon window clapping and laughing as they performed  their aerobic water ballet for me. I just focused the camera near the side of the boat doing burst shots in hopes of getting one decent picture.  It was an amazing show as porpoise sped by the salon window, often three at a time, leaping out of the water right in front of me, then dashing under the bow, leaping out across each other. I swear they knew I was there watching their beautiful show.

 

 

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Wally watched their show off the bow from the flybridge as he just motored along on autopilot. The porpoise seemed to really like the wake our boat was throwing up. They would cue up in the smaller wake the whaler was throwing, then gain speed as the wake got bigger along the side of the boat. Did I say it was unbelievable and beautiful…truly the most amazing thing we have experienced in the boat!!!

 

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I was so bummed I didn’t get the whole porpoise in this shot but I love the reflection in the water.

 

Kwatsi Bay Marina is rustic to say the least but in a charming way. Max and Anka have built this place up from scratch over the last 20 years. Just one 400 ft aging wood dock with no power. There is a tiny gift shop and a gathering place for the evening potluck happy hour. Cold, clean water abounds… Hydro power, that they installed is generated from the enormous waterfall that cascades down from the 4,500 ft peaks behind the marina. We love these kinds of places, quaint, charming and intimate.

 

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Quaint Kwatsi Bay Marina.

 

It was a rainy day for sure, but we got a break from 2:30 to almost 10 pm. We spent the afternoon exploring the beautiful bay in the whaler and on foot as well. There is a short hike to the lower part of that enormous waterfall, which is actually just one of many that ring the bay.

 

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Bentley loves exploring too…

 

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Happy Hour was at 5 pm back on the dock. We spent a few hours easily chatting with our hosts and the other two couples that were staying on their boats on the dock. Everyone was happy to share with us their favorite anchorages and places not to miss exploring. The next day we are off for Pierre’s Echo Bay Marina and Resort.

Broughton Islands Here We Come…

Our trip north so far has been filled with mostly smooth seas but some crazy events. Crossing the Straits of Georgia, taking on water in Desolation Sound, a crazy parts run to Campbell River  and transiting four sets of major rapids just to get to Desolation Sound.

I can’t tell you how relieved we were that our last repair went well and the Beach House is running even better than before. The split hose was a result of the starboard engine overheat that happened a few days prior. The overheat was caused by the sea strainer getting clogged with eel grass. The overheat also caused our raw water pump impeller to get chewed to bits as no water was passing through the pump. Wally had to fixed the impeller on our first day out.  One event caused a series of issues but that is all behind us now.

After the crazy parts run, Wally installed the new hose and tested the engines.  Everything looked great and the starboard engine was running at its desired temperature. That said, we decided to spent an extra day in Refuge Cove on the dock so that Wally could clean out the engine room that flooded with sea water and spray all the now dry but previously soaked connections with an anti-corrosion solution. I spent the day doing chores and laundry.

 

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Looks like a scene from the Wizard of Oz!!

 

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Got all my herbs replanted into one planter…basil, thyme, parsley, oregano and chives.

 

Up early on Wally’s Birthday, we had a 3 1/2 hour cruise route planned to Blind Channel Marina where we had a dinner reservation at the Resort Restaurant. Our route takes us through a series of rapids that we have to transit at slack currents to avoid the dangerous whirlpools that can open up three foot deep holes over thirty feet across. Get into one of those whirlpools and I guarantee you that we would not have made our dinner reservation.

 

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Found this picture of Devils Hole in Dent Rapids… we have actually seen it bigger. Holy Crapola Batman!!!

 

The Beach House cruised through the rapids with no problems and other than the small rips and swirls around Dent Rapids it was a smooth cruise. For the most past we saw very few other boats and it was a beautiful, peaceful, event free cruise. That alone was the most perfect BD present Wally could have gotten!!!

 

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This is why we time our trip through Dent Rapids…No rapids a good thing!!

 

We have been to Desolation Sounds before but never this far north so it was thrilling for us to say the least. The steep mountains come right down to the water and the scenery is just stunning. We saw three orca whales, Dall porpoises  and bald eagles …none of which I got a picture of – sorry!

Once we were tied up to the dock at the marina, its was time for some exploring on land. It is a treat this far north to find a marina with access to hiking trails and a first class restaurant. Birthday Boy, Bentley and I enjoyed stretching our legs and wandering through the heavily forested trails.

 

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These trails are a cool collaboration between the resort owners and the BC Forestry Service. They are well marked and had great signage along the way about the flora and fauna.

 

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We had a great BD celebration dinner at the Resort restaurant our first night there and enjoyed a final beverage, sitting in the cockpit of our boat looking out over the water towards the rugged, snow-capped mountains. This is why we boat…yes, there are sometimes  “events” that happen along the way but the payoff is days like this!

 

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Fresh wild caught BC Salmon over a crispy Polenta Cake …yummy!!

 

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We met the nicest people at Blind Channel Marina.. a special shout out to Grant and Lesley for their Johnstone Strait route planning help. Happy Hour is on us when we meet up in the Broughtons! Another big shout out to Rusty and Randy who are paddling/sailing from Anacortes WA to Ketchikan AK, yes that’s ALASKA, on their cool Hobie vessels. We are hoping to buy them a beer and dinner somewhere along the way or back in Anacortes!

 

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Rusty and Randy heading out again from Blind Channel Marina.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles…and the Kindness of Strangers.

Not sure if you ever watched the Steve Martin comedy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles where two men battle the elements and a series of unfortunate events. The goal is to get from New York City to Chicago. What results is anything but the simplicity of that sentence.

Well, our quest to find a simple elbow hose that split open in route on our cruise to Blind Channel in Desolation Sounds BC. remained me of that movie.  Frightfully glad we survived the ordeal of taking on water.  Once the Beach House was tied up to the dock in Refuge Cove and Wally removed the offending hose,  the quest to find a new one began in earnest. Little did we know how much the kindness of strangers would get us to our goal.

 

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We carry a lot of spare parts on the Beach House but that one simple hose was not one of them – Damn It! All of our fellow boaters on dock at Refuge Cove and the Marina owners scoured their spare parts to see if they had anything that might work. Alas, they had nothing – Damn It again but thanks everyone for trying and for all the kind words of support.

We started making calls locally to the one boat repair shop that we knew of …no answer and no return call… ever – Thanks Lee.

Next idea was to start calling places in Nanimo, Powell River and Campbell River B.C. as they are major boating stopovers. We connected with a great guy, Cody at Marine Parts Supply who worked with Wally over the phone for at least an hour to try to find the correct hose. Yes, they had them in stock, so we discussed how to get it to Refuge Cove…mail it to Campbell River and fly it over on the next seaplane charter? Might get it by Tuesday and the cost would be way more than the part or put it on a parts run boat going across the Straits of Georgia to Lund, then take our dingy (a 13 ft Boston Whaler with a 50 HP outboard) 10 nautical miles to Lund on Tuesday and pick it up. That’s sounded great but in the end Wally wasn’t confident it was the correct hose as inside diameter was not the same at both ends.

Frustrated and knowing that places were closing for the weekend, we thought we would be stuck until Monday and the we would have to start calling places again. I had a last minute idea, why not call an auto parts store…they have hoses for trucks that might work??

Score… we found Lordco ( I am not at all religious but kinda thought it might be a good omen) Auto Parts Store in Campbell River was open for 10 more minutes so Wally gave them a call. Yes, they had flexible  1.5 inch diameter industrial water hose that he could use to make a temporary fix and YES…they were open on Sunday. Double Score, break out the wine, we are celebrating!!

 

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Thank you Chuck and Carolyn for the delicious, fresh oysters from Tenedos Bay.

 

Well, once we were done be excited about that…the real challenge was how to get over to Campbell River. It is 21.3 nautical miles and would be doable in the Whaler…except it meant crossing the Straits of Georgia to get over to Vancouver Island. NO GO…far too dangerous in our dingy. I don’t care if the company mantra for the boat is “the unsinkable whaler”.

Well, hells bells, this was getting harder by the moment and knowing the damn hose was there in Campbell River made the tenacious “I can figure this out” side of me really bristle.

As I was looking at google maps, I noticed there was a ferry from Cortes Island to Quadra Island and Quadra Island to Campbell River. Woo-Hoo, now we are getting somewhere. Refuge Cove is on West Redonda Island and I could see Cortes from the end of our dock. Woo-Hoo, again, Wally could easily get to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island in ten minutes. Well, the biggest problem was that the ferry dock was on the other side of the island. I called the store at Squirrel Cove and the nice dude there said no problem leaving the whaler there but no public transportation was available to the Whaletown Ferry Dock.  WAHHH, so close but then he said “everybody just hitchhikes, never a problem getting a ride”. Well alrighty then, but if Wally didn’t score a ride on a Sunday morning that would mean a 9.1 mile walk to the Ferry Dock.

The other option, was to take the dinghy around Cortes Island  to Whaletown Ferry Terminal which meant navigation around Sutil Point where the shoals and strong flood currents can make for a wild ride.

After looking at the Ferry schedules for Cortes Island to Quadra Island, Quadra Island to Campbell River we were confident that if Wally could just get to the first ferry dock on Cortes Island in the early morning he would have plenty of time to get to Campbell River and back that day. It would be a challenging day but….CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

 

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Whalers, automobiles and ferry’s… the adventure movie is coming out soon!

 

We went to bed relieved that we might actually get this train back on the tracks!!! Up early the next day, Wally was in the dinghy and off to Cortes Island. He made an attempt to get to Whaletown in the dinghy but standing waves at Sutil Point turned him back. Off to Squirrel Cove!

 

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The government dock at Squirrel Cove.

 

Thanks to the kindness of strangers, this whole adventure came together. It started just outside Squirrel Cove General Store where Wally docked the Whaler and began the 9 mile walk to the Whaletown Ferry Dock.  An elderly man stopped just a quarter of a mile out from the store and Wally asked where he was headed. Turned out he wasn’t going far to pick up his Daughter and wouldn’t be anywhere near Whalertown – no worries, Wally told him but thanks for stopping. About 5 minutes later the same gentleman and his daughter stopped and offered him a ride to Whaletown. Turns out they’re decided that it just wasn’t right to leave him out there without a ride and they needed to take a scenic drive that just happened to go to Whaletown.

 

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Whaletown Ferry Dock on Cortes Island…glad Wally brought his rain gear! He missed the 9:40 am ferry but was able to wait in that little tan building for the next one.

While waiting for the ferry in Whaletown, Wally struck up a conversation with a nice couple with two young children. They were headed to Campbell River and offer to drive him across Quadra Island from the Heriot Bay Ferry Dock to catch the second ferry at Quathiaski Bay. Again, the kindness of strangers…how did they know Wally wasn’t an axe murder?

 

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On the ferry…barely in time. Thank you nice couple from Cortes Island!!!

 

Wally said they chatted about this, that and the other thing on the drive across from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island to the second ferry dock at Quathiaski Bay, including why he was hell bent to get to Campbell River and back. When they cued up at Quathiaski Bay, it didn’t look like their car would make it on the ferry so they advised Wally to get out and run, he could make it as a walk on. Run he did and the next ferry ride was just a short ten minutes to the Campbell River Ferry Dock.

 

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Ferry docking at Campbell River on Vancouver Island BC. It was a gray, rainy mess all day going both ways.

 

On the short ferry ride from Quadra Island to Campbell River it poured buckets of rain and by the time Wally met up with the Lord, okay arrived at Lordco Auto Parts he looked like a drowned rat. The staff inside chatted him up and they were totally amazed that he had come all the way from Refuge Cove in West Redonda Island. After some discussion, the nice man who was helping him apologized and said he was sorry that someone told us that the flexible hose would work for what we wanted, WTF!!! But, he thought he had a 1.5 inch diameter elbow hose that was rated up to 275 degrees for water and coolant.

After some time, the amazingly nice man with a halo, whose name Wally doesn’t remember came  back with an elbow hose, that with some modification would work just fine. What a relief when he texted me that he had the part!!!

 

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The new elbow hose on the right , all modified and ready for installation. Isn’t it a beautiful thing!!!

 

After a quick espresso and sandwich at a nearby Starbucks, Wally got to the Campbell River Ferry Dock with his sack of booty just in time to board the ferry to Quadra Isand. So the entire trip would begin in reverse. Time to look for a ride back across the Quadra Island and hopefully on to Cortes. As he was knocking on car windows, looking for someone who was doing both ferry’s and going all the way to Cortes Island, a gal approach him and said she would take him there. He though she meant to the next ferry on Quadra Island and was thrilled for that.

 

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Looking up Sutil Channel form the Straits of Georgia…wow, was it calm compared to earlier when Wally tried to come around Cortes Island.

 

Turns out this lovely woman drove him all the way to the Squirrel Cove Government Dock, which was actually the long way around from where she lives on Smelt Bay. She recently finished her last chemo treatment for breast cancer  and was going home to rest and recuperate. She told Wally she need to take a nap in her car on the 45 minute ferry ride from Quadra to Cortes and so he went up to the salon on the ferry until close to Whaletown. On the ride to Squirrel Cove, they chatted about her treatment, life on Cortes, her work as a part-time care giver for a man who was paralyzed and how she looked forward to going back to that work. Our trials and tribulations seemed small in comparison.

The kindness of strangers…these simple acts of kindness are what can make this crazy world right again. We will certainly pay it forward in honor of Wally’s new friends and all the other Canadian strangers who helped us.  I hope you will too if you have a chance!!!

 

 

 

OMG, We Are Taking On Water…

Those are words no boater every wants to hear or shout out. The connotation of taking on water in a boat to me means sinking, drowning and meeting a watery grave.
Well, luckily for me (us) that wasn’t the ending that happened a few days ago when I heard those fateful words being shouted up at me from the lower deck.
We had a route and timetable all figured out for our trip from Tenedos Bay to Blind Channel. We were geared up to transit three major rapids to get there and had a marina reservation confirmed. The weather was spot on perfect, not a cloud in the sky or a ripple in the water as we motored out into Desolation Sound.

 

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Motoring out of Tenedos Bay.

The Beach House was running about 10 knots pushing against some current when there was a strange shift in the engines…seemed they were not syncing well through the Mathers Electronic  Controls. Wally went down to do an engine room check and that’s when I heard the words every boater fears….
“Stop the boat…the engine room is filling with water”….
Wally literally flew up the flybridge ladder and started pulling things out from under the seats…the bilge pumps were working overtime but water was still flooding in. He flew down the flybridge ladder again with a 1000 gallon per hour emergency pump and hose in his hands.  After dropping the emergency pump into the engine room, we got the generator started to run it and started pumping water overboard.

 

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I love this pump….

My heart is racing again as I write this but I can honestly say that neither of us panicked. It actually took us at least 5 minutes or more to get all that going and we both knew water was flooding in.

 

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The starboard side of the engine room sans the water…really didn’t have the time to take photographs in the middle of our emergency!

The calm, flat water in Desolation Sound afforded us the ability to easily let the boat float unattended with the engines idling while we started troubleshoot what the hell was happening. My first thought was that the raw water pump repair that Wally had done a few days prior had somehow failed, we both agreed that was a good place to start troubleshooting and decided to shut down the starboard engine.
Meanwhile, I was monitoring the water level in the engine compartment. The water was up to the top of that step stool in both engine compartments. Tick tick toc, tick toc, after what seemed like an eternity and a whole hell of a lot of water going overboard…YES, the water was receding…my racing heart started to slow down too.
Ironically, there was not a boat in sight for miles and I had been thinking about what we would do if the water continued to pour in. I really didn’t want to call a mayday or pan pan on the VHF radio until I was sure we needed help or that this was a full-blown emergency.
The port engine was still idling in neutral, so as the water continued to pour out of the engine room and overboard, we pull the engine hatch in the salon of the boat to get a better view into the area that the repair had been done. All looked well there, no evidence of any failure and the hoses were all intact and attached.
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So now we were a bit stumped, since the water was receding rapidly and we weren’t taking on anymore it was unlikely that we had hit something, sheared off a prop or strut so now what???
Wally suggested we start the starboard engine again to observe it and see where the water was coming in from. Okay, I hesitantly started the engine and we both looked at the repair area again…no water…I went to the back engine hatch in the cockpit of  and looked around the far side off the starboard engine. A HUGE stream of water was flooding into the engine room again. WHOA…Shut it down…The starboard engine was indeed the source of the issue.
Once all the water was out of the engine room and the bilges had been pumped dry, we started to motor on one engine for Refuge Cove. We knew there was a dock there where we could stay for a few days. Seriously, yes Refuge is just what we needed, well and a big shot of Deep Eddy Vodka.
I am not sure how many gallons we took on but I know is was hundreds. Yes, the boat could have sunk eventually had we continued motoring on, obvious to what was going on.  I doubt we would have drowned and sunk to a watery grave because we have a dinghy we could have early gotten into and been safe.
Later, after we were securely tied up at the dock in Refuge Cove and had that drink, we talked about what happened and how we reacted. While still a bit shaken, we both agreed we did all the right things. Being prepared, with plan of what to do should the boat take on water afforded us the ability to stay calm and follow the plan.

 

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Turns out this 1.5 inch elbow water hose from the heat exchanger to the exhaust riser had a 3 inch split in it. WOW, talk about an adrenaline rush kinda day. Now we just have figure out where to get that hose as it one of the few spares that we don’t have onboard.

 

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The tiny community of Refuge Cove is all connected via boardwalks along the water…no cars on this island.

One Big Hurdle Crossed…

Crossing the Straits of Georgia is kinda a big damn deal…Every variable from flat as a pond to down right dangerous is possible. Stories of how Georgia handed them their ass on a platter is common in the boating world, perhaps more so than how flat and calm the crossing was. I think most boaters like the “platter” stories way more than the calm and smooth story, it’s a crazy rite of passage.. That said, I am way happier with the calm and smooth version and we had a most excellent crossing, our ass is still in the same place it was when we started – rite of passage escaped!

We look at multiple weather reports, we angst on the weather and we discuss it at nauseam but at the end of the day our threshold for ass whooping in the boat is low. Today was like a golden halo, from the time we motored out of Montague Harbor on Galiano Island BC to pulling into Westview Harbour Marina.

 

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Motoring out from Montague Harbour in the morning.

 

There are several challenges along this passage in addition to the big mother, the Straits of Georgia. Heading north from Montague, Dodds Narrows is the first challenge. It is a very narrow little passage–perhaps 60 meters wide at its slimmest point—and contains a slight dogleg which make it a bit tricky!

Depending on the lunar cycle, currents can ebb or flow in the Dodd Narrows at up to 9 knots, or nearly 150% of an average sailboats speed. Timing is, obviously, everything. Even a current of three knots will throw a slow boat around and can make it considerably harder to steer. A current of 5 knots against will virtually stall a sailboat; more than that and they will likely move backwards. Add the complications of transiting these narrows with tugs pulling logbooms or inconsiderate powerboaters that zip through at high speed hitting slower boats with abnoxious wakes, and you get a sense of the drama that this passage can involve.

I was too busy piloting the boat to take a video or photo at Dodds but the one below that I found on the web shows the beginning of the rapids …when the tide isn’t at slack current.

 

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Even though we are a power boat with considerably more speed and better handling capabilities than a sailboat we still time our transit through Dodds. Today we went through Dodds with an ebb tide pushing us northbound through the narrows at around 2 knots. For us this is a very gentle push and saves us some fuel.

Because Dodds is so narrow, it is best to transit the passage one boat at time. Protocol is that the captain uses channel 16 on the VHF radio to let other boaters know their intent. When a marine radio transmission begins with the phrase “Sécurité, sécurité, sécurité” it means that what follows is important safety information.

“Securite, Securite, Securite, this is the motor vessel Beach House entering Dodds Narrows northbound. Any concerned boaters please respond on channel 16”. Since we had been monitoring channel 16 upon our approach to Dodds, we knew there was pleasure boat traffic southbound waiting to enter. Most considerate boaters wait and cue, like a roundabout, letting boats transit each direction. Lucky for us there was not any huge tugs with logbooms coming through, only pleasure boaters.

Uneventful, was what is was…yes, it’s a tight passage but not a big deal if the timing and weather are in sync. After Dodds, the bay opens up to a view of a big lumber mill on one side and logbooms on the other. What’s this means for us, is that we have to dodge large logs, often the size of telephone poles for the next few miles.

 

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All that junk is the water is actually really big logs!

 

The next big hurdle is Whiskey Golf Military area which is just a few nautical miles away outside the passage of Nanaimo. CFMETR is an important test facility for both Canadian and US Navies. Operations focus on torpedo, sonobuoy and underwater testing. Most testing operations are carried out in the adjacent area in the Strait of Georgia known as “Whiskey Golf” aka WG.

Don’t know about you but the last thing I want to encounter with motoring around Canada on my boat is a torpedo. Okay, it’s not armed but does that really matter if it hits you broadside and sinks your boat???

If WG is not active, then the prime area to cross the Straits of Georgia is open. If WG is active then the passage is severely restricted and passage must be made outside the boundaries which are heavily patrolled. Venture out into the restricted area and you will immediately be hailed on the radio and give a stern dressing down.

In our case, WG was active and there was no other options but to motor north and shirt the area. We learned this by calling the military control center and listening to channel 16. Luckily, the weather gods had granted us a smooth passage no matter where we crossed so the extra miles to skirt the possible torpedoing were not a problem.

 

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That said, had the wind and tides been different this route would have taken us almost straight across the big strait which could have left us open to being broadsided by wind waves. And this my friends is when the ass Whooping happens. 1 or 2 for chop is no big deal. 3 foot chop starts getting uncomfortable and 4-7 chop, which can happen on a windy day is a recipe for a serious ass whoopin!

Our transit across the Strait of Georgia took less than 2 hours…that was 2 hours of silky, smooth water and we loved every minute of it. The only hazards that we encountered were logs, dead heads and lots of junk floating in the water. Hitting a deadhead or a big log could have been another disaster but we had great visibility and used teh binoculars to scan the horizon. Imagine how hard it would be to see these kinds of hazards had the waves been 4-7 feet and you are unlucky enough to get caught in that or are just plain dumb and go out knowing how bad it is. With a low wind wave situation, you will likely see these hazards and have some time to react to avoid them but in heavy seas, good luck to you!

 

 

Once we crossed big, bad Georgia there was still the Malaspina Strait to deal with. Again, favorable weather continued and our passages was a piece of cake. At this point we had several plans of where we might go should Miss Malaspina decide to start whoopin on us. We took the fair weather luck card and continued on through Malaspina to Westview near Powell River on the mainland BC side.

 

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We knew there was a decent marina there with an easy walk into town for dinner plus the pets could make the 6 hour total cruise there without any duress. Bentley was offered a potty break on the back swim platform of the boat out in the calm straits but he decided he could wait. Don’t worry, he had his life jacket on as did Wally when I brought the boat to an idle in the calm waters.

 

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The marina at Westview.

 

All in all it was a long day but an easy day on the water and we were thrilled to have had such a smooth crossing. The only real glitch today was that the starboard engine wouldn’t turn off when we arrived into the marina but that is a whole other story!

 

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Yay for Craft Wednesday!!!

 

 

 

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Yikes, We’re Listing…

 

Since we have been back in Anacortes it feels like I have made a hundred trips to the store. And there has been an Amazon delivery of the day. I have never provisioned the boat for a two month cruise and my motto is more is better!!!

 

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That’s one full little cart!

 

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Hmm, ordering two-stroke oil via Amazon may not happen again even though it was such a great price. Good news is they were awesome and refunded us for the damage gallon.

 

 

 

Wally gave me strict orders not to put all the heavy stuff on the starboard side of the boat but I can only do so much with the space I have. It’s not my fault the best place to store 3 ½ cases of wine is in the starboard side lazerette. It’s also not my fault that the galley is on the starboard side and that’s where the huge under counter storage area is.

 

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This space is actually quite big 24 in x 24 in and 16 inches deep. I use small plastic tubs and wire baskets to create a layering system. These are staples that I need access to frequently and yes, the Mac Nut Chocolate Carmel’s are on the top for a reason!

 

I did manage to store all our beer in the guest stateroom locker, which is on the port side along with 10 lbs of coffee beans so that made him happy! Yep, I aim to please!!!

 

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Good thing there are no guests leaving with us… That big green container is one of three holding cat litter.

 

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Repackaging the 5 lb bulk bags into 1 lb bags. Love Walla Walla Coffee Roasters!!!

 

RVing is so much easier as you are never that far from a grocery store or a restaurant. I typically, shop for about 5 days when we are on land but since we are going so far north on the boat this year I had to come up with a provisioning plan. Trust me, we will be taking advantage of every marina pub or restaurant we can find too!

Using an excel spreadsheet really helped me get my head around what I needed to purchase. I geeked out and create formulas to calculate how many meals to plan for, how much pet food to buy, how much cat litter and most importantly how much wine to load on board. Can’t you buy wine in Canada one might wonder and yes, that is true. North of Nanaimo the choices get quite limited and unfortunately I don’t like Yellow Tail or Black Box Wine. Call me a wine snob, but hey I like what I like, so what ever!

 

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I am usually not a canned vegetable fan but for this cruise I wanted a backup option if I can’t find fresh veggies,.

 

Buying all the stuff is one thing but remembering where the heck I put it all is not being left to my good memory! In addition to using my Paprika app which has a groovy pantry feature, I geeked out some more on the excel spread sheet and created columns for where the items were stored and coded it with the location. Now all I have to remember is what the code means!!! Was GF galley frig? What is FF?? Oh yeah, that’s the flybridge frig Leslie!

 

The biggest food challenge on the is cruise is going to be getting and keeping fresh produce. On our recent 10 day shakedown cruise, I cooked through all of our fresh veggies. There are a few small stores in the Broughton Islands but keep in mind everything is brought in via boat or float plane. Timing is everything…get there right after the boat shipment arrives and the choices can be pretty good. Get there the day before the boat shipment arrives and you might score a few bruised apples and an old head of cabbage.

We have a decent sized refrigerator in the galley, an ac/dc freezer-refrigerator on the flybridge and a huge cooler. All of which will be packed when we headed out. I have one final Costco run to do and that will conclude the provisioning.

I made some of our favorite condiments and froze them in flat bags so they stacked evenly in the freezer. Pesto, Cilanto Sauce, Chimmichuri, Smoked Red Peppers and even some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. The key to getting the most mileage out of the freezers is to have things as flat and uniformly shaped as possible.

 

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He’s in his own storage dilemma hell!!!

 

Not only do we have to have food but the list of non-perishables is huge too. Seriously, I can’t believe that I found room for the Costco size package of TP and paper towels in addition to extra dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, shampoo….yikes, that’s why we are listing.

Oh, and don’t forget all the spare boat parts, belts, oil filters, fuel filters and tools. Plus the toys…2 kayaks, fishing gear, prawn traps, crab traps, the electric pot puller (which better not be on the starboard side or some guy is going to catch hell).

 

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The underbed storage area is now full…so it must be time to go!!

It’s Not Always Smooth Seas…

A big part of plotting our cruise course is understanding what the wind, tides and currents are going to do before we head out. Wally  is our designated weather man and gets to make the final call on go-no-go. He usually checks the weather the night before we want to head out and then again in the morning, looking at both where we are and where we are headed. It’s amazing how different the weather can be just a few miles away.

He uses a NOAA app, a Windy app and the local area reports to help him make a decision.  Wind and current can cause standing wind waves which creates a very uncomfortable cruise. Couple that with a bottom that has pinnacles and it can really get ugly quick.

We knew it would be a bit “snotty” out there today and we would have a wet ride. But based on the winds speeds and wind direction, the “Weather Man” said it was a go. FYI, snotty is definitely a nautical term!!!

 

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The Beach House has custom under hulls and a hull extension that make her run a bit smoother through rough water. These customization take some of the roll out which makes for a less uncomfortable ride.

 

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Point Lawrence at the NE corner of Orcas Island is well known for being a place that gets ugly if the conditions all come together. Today was no exception and I would rate it a three out of ten on the ugly scale today! Yep, we have been through much worse.  I knew Bentley and Sucia might be a bit worried so I sat with them in the main cabin. They did just fine in case you were wondering.

 

 

Make sure your sound is turned up for the full effect on the video. You might notice that the waves are mainly hitting the starboard (that’s the right side for all ya landlubbers). That is because the wind is coming from the south, which we are open to as we cross the north end of Rosario Strait. Because of the distance and size of this area, on windy days the waves really fetch up. Once we crossed the strait and got past Sinclair Island the water got smooth again.

The rest of the cruise was uneventful and we motored around Guemes Island to avoid that rough water all the way down to Anacortes. Had we turned right at Point Lawrence and came down Rosario Strait or came down Bellingham Channel the water would have been hitting us on the bow and we would have been pounding through those waves for the last 45 minutes of our cruise. NOT FUN…

 

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Now that’s better….smooth as a pond again as we motor down Guemes Channel towards our marina. Boy, do we have a salty boat after that crossing!!!

Karma…

 

Some kinda karma going on. We snagged another princess spot on the dock at Sucia Island today. I am three for three on the docking and dock spots!!

 

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This leads to the question…do you believe in karma?

kar·ma
noun
  1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
    • informal
      destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

Well, I am not a Buddhist but the principles sure speak to me so I can honestly say I do believe in karma. More along the lines of be a good person and good things will come your way. Be kind and kindness will come your way. Be gratefully and practice active gratitude.

 

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That said, I was sure happy to motor into Fossil Bay at Sucia and get the Beach House snugged up to the dock. Working on my docking skills with an audience, of mostly men BTW,  is a bit nerve-racking. Thankfully the young couple that roared into the bay ahead of us, kicking up a big wake in their smaller boat were kind and grabbed our dock lines from Wally as I inched us over to the dock. Yes, they redeemed themself’s with that act of kindness!

 

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