An evening in Silva Bay

Tonight Beetle can be efound on B-dock at the Silva Bay Resort and Marina – pretty impressive sounding, and the place does have a nice restaurant in addition to showers (2 loonies) and laundry (3 loonie token). Silva Bay is super-protected and features a seriously narrow channel to enter – I do not know if Beetle would fit sideways in the channel, probably would but I don’t want to find out. The result is this is a popular place to be and to fit in as many boats as possible the bay is essentially filled with moorings and that doesn’t leave much room to swing at anchor – so I plunked for a night at the marina.

I was up and out fairly early from Montague this morning, I met the 8AM sea plane on his approach as I exited. It’s pretty crazy that the pilots are flying beneath the overhead hi-tension power lines (38 meter vertical clearance from the water) to get into the bay, and they do this routinely, as in multiple times per day. That would explain the big colored spheres strung along the power lines to make them visible to the pilots. Those pilots must be some pretty wild people to do that.

The run up the west side (inside) of the islands to Gabriola Passage was straightforward, and I was hoping to time my arrival at the narrow pass to be around slack, but I was early. Current was running -4.8 knots an hour before I got there (6 hours later it is supposed to run the other way at +5.7 knots) and the pass is actually pretty narrow so there’s a lot of water flowing through. Going upstream against the flow made things straightfoward as the flow slow downs the boat’s speed relative to the shore so I had lots of time to consider where rocks are when comparing the chart to what I see in front of me – it would not have been so much fun to be flying through with the current as there would be very little time to sort out any issues with where the nose might be pointed.

And then it was up and around some small islands just outside the pass, and voom it’s back to lots of boats in a small space. The Royal Vancouver Yacht Club has what they call an ‘out station’ here as well, as they own Tugboat Island on the other side of the bay, complete with nice docks for the club members, and there are many boats there as well tonight.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be out and headed over to the east side of Strait of Georgia, weather looks to be good with a forecast by Environment Canada of NW 10-15 knots – might get in some sailing! I’m aiming for the area east of Texada Island, there’s Blind Bay and Pender Harbour over that way that look like good places to stop, perhaps find a store, and then continue wandering up into Desolation Sound.

Silva Bay is a nice place to be, people are super nice, and it’s pretty darn quiet – not bad for getting in a night’s sleep. I hope the sea plane that was here earlier today at the dock one over from me does not have a crack-of-dawn charter flight coming in tomorrow morning – the sea plane route is directly in front the docks and will be guaranteed to get everybody up if it arrives early!

- rob

A second day in Montague, headed north tomorrow

I had a quiet day in Montague Harbor – the water has been super flat all day and it gets really hot here when the sun is cooking away up top. One would think that British Columbia would not get particularly warm, but it does. Most interesting. I wonder if there are brisk sales of sunscreen up this way?

I got a chance to sort out the lifting, launching, and stowing of the new dinghy, it took several hours of messing about with knot adjustment to get the four lifting lines just right, and also discovered that it is useful to install the hull drain plug prior to launch as otherwise a lot of water runs inside and makes the boat much heavier when lifting. Conveniently, the water also drains out pretty fast if you suspend the boat vertically by the forward lifting lines. Note to self: do not forget to fetch the drain plug from the second galley drawer and install it on launch; I’ve been keeping the drain plug there (along with the windlass chain stopper catch) so it won’t be lost if it rattles out of the dinghy; perhaps not the best way to do it, but that’s where I am with the dinghy so far.

Launch is easy, up and over the side with the dinghy crane. Flipping the dinghy over from stowed form (upside down) to inflate and launch form (right side up) works pretty well by simply lifting the entire boat from the bow eye until it is vertical, swing the stern forward and lower again with the bow aft, which means I’m flipping the dinghy end over end rather than rolling it sideways. Sounds weirder than it is, as the bow eye is plenty strong enough to pick up the entire boat.

On deck stowage works out well as I’ve fabricated a simple wood 2×4 cross-bar that spans the foredeck hatch to protect the lexan hatch from point loading caused by the ‘V’ bottom of the fiberglass dinghy. When stowing the dinghy for the night the dinghy is upright; lift the dinghy up with the crane, swing inboard, and lower to the deck. The extra detail for this stowage is to place one of the flat square fenders on the starboard side deck by the shrouds for the front half of the hull to land on – the deck is protected, the hatch is protected, and the dinghy is not too heavy to move despite the motor, engine, and engine start battery in the dinghy – all works out rather well.

I also went in to the marina at Montague for a bit, there’s not a lot there but it was nice to walk about on the shore and listne to the Canadian English. I was also informed that one cannot simply purchase a Canadian fishing license from the store, instead this is done online. As I do not have internet access from here (you can get the marina network password if one has a slip in the marina, but I’m anchored out), I will have to see if I can get online in Silva Bay, my planned next stop some 25 miles north of here. Sometimes progress can be taken a bit too far, somewhat reminiscent of the US Customs checkin at San Diego – if you haven’t got a cell phone you can’t check in with US Customs, and here in Montague Harbor if you haven’t got a computer and a printer and network access you can’t get a fishing license. I have the first two, but not the third.

Altogether it’s been a pleasant day and a fine first stop on the way to Desolation Sound. Now to go listen to the weather forecast!

- rob

Beetle arrives in Canuckistan

Well, Beetle and I have been officially welcomed to Canuckistan, also known as Canada in some places, and it is nice to be here. We are anchored here in Montague Harbor, a bit north of South Pender, it is flat calm, there are a ton of boats at anchor here, and I figured out why there was a nice clear anchorage area in the path from the town wharf out to open deeper water beyond: the sea plane roars through at 80 knots upon take off from the town wharf. The sea plane is nicely behaved upon entry, it cruises by at 5 knots making lots of noise – and that is nothing compared to what happens when the pilot, upon departing the town wharf, decides to line up with Beetle’s nose and hit the throttle – the piston engine revvs up unbelievably, the plane starts to move, and then it’s flying by at 3′ altitude and banks left through the fleet at deck level as he heads out. I know the pilot wears a white shirt and a yellow and black spotted tie – I observed it through the windshield on his way out – most impressive!

I departed Westsound Marina this morning, having gone through many adventures as regards new dinghy for Beetle that can handle the barnacles that dwell upon rocks up this-a-way (Achilles HB 280-DX, the deluxe version), acquiring 600 feet of 1/2″ diameter floating polypropylene stern line that now resides perched upon the starboard bit of the transom, and fortunately not too much else. Mom and my brother’s children/minions ran me over to the marina so as to not leave a car there for the next month as there is not a lot of extra parking at Ian and Betsy’s marina, Beetle was ready to go as I’d spent a fair bit of time on board the prior two days, and Voom! – off we went (the royal we, meaning Beetle and I).

The Canadian Customs dock in Bedwell Harbor at Pender is perhaps not quite as far as the St. Francis YC guest dock is from Alameda, but it is on par. No killer whales in sight though there was plenty of USCG discussion on the radio regarding complaints received as to folks being within the 100 yard restriction of marina mammals – I suppose birds don’t rate quite the same protection as, say, the whales. Cross Boundary Pass, appropriately named as the border between the US and Canada runs right down the middle of it, avoid the gigantic BC ferry boats that look more like the boats in Baja than the small ferries that service Orcas Island, and appear here.

Lots of green trees all about, flat calm, perhaps 80 boats in the anchorage, and most everybody is using a hard bottom dinghy of some kind. I’m feeling particularly dinghy-acute as I figured out pretty darn fast that the hypalon rubber bottom of the dinghy I had was not going to stay in one piece for very long when being pulled up over the barnacle encrusted rocks of the ‘beaches’ that dot the sea-side of Canuckistan. So I acquire a 14″ shorter and 43 pound heavier RIB dinghy that now travels inverted upon Beetle’s foredeck. RIB dinghies are fun – one you try one you will never go back! So beware, those of you that have rubber-bottom roll-up light-weight dinghies that live in a bag stowed below – do not get a RIB.

So it’s on into the evening, I’m quite enjoying an episode of The West Wing upon the computer (not having had a television,let alone cable, in times past, I mised the whole thing when it came out), with sunset to follow. Not a bad start to exploration of Desolation Sound for the next month.

- rob/beetle

Anchored out at Pord Maddison

Yesterrday morning I was up and out of Port Ludlow relatively early.  It’s a deep-ish anchorage there, some 52′ down to the bottom.  Gotta hope there are no old logging cables on the seabed as there are a lot of those around here left over from the way long ago logging days and anchors are good at finding them.  Anchor came up no problem.

A relatively short 21 miles was left to arrive at Port Maddison – that’s where I wanted to get to as Kristen is flying today and my brother is in the area, will be fun to visit with everyone for the long July 4 holiday weekend.  Water was flat, wind close to nonexistent, and pulled in to Port Maddison early afternoon. 

There’s a community dock here, so I tied up there for a short while, got the dinghy together and assembled on the foredeck, then shoved off to drop the hook in the little inlet that is Port Maddison. 

This morning I have discovered something that is even more annoying than big powerboats running their generators at night: lawn mowers!  It seems that everyone has decided to mow their lawn this morning, and there more than a few lawns here to be mowed.  It was pretty funny to look about and see all the different shapes and sizes of lawn mowers that people have, and they all buzz away in their own particularly octave.  I wonder if one could write a Symphony 50:1 Mix for Riding Mower and then perform it annually at an outdoor amphitheatre built around a field, using different grass cutting devices to produce different sounds.  Something that one should probably not tackle, as I suspect reception would be less than enthusiastic unless you were, say, a John Deere officionado.

This morning has been boat cleaning up and organising, and I will be headed in to the beach in a while to go look for critters along the rocky beach – might be some earwigs in there that could be of interest.

And on the good news front, TMobile finally came through with their unlock code for my Samsung Note 2 – now I can be rid of TMobile.  Nasty company to do business with, and that’s over.  Even my tiny SIM card from the AT&T company works in the device, and I suddenly have a fancier phone to use.

- rob


Tiger Beetle arrive in Port Ludlow this fine evening

It’s way up north here in the Pacific Northwest (though we’re actually in the Pacific North East – the north west would be somewhere Valadivostok, Russia), and this means that evenings are real short and days are real long.  It’s roughly 7pm and there’s something like 3-1/2 hours of daylight left, and then the sun will be back up bright and shiny super early like tomorrow morning.  I wonder why the earth wobbles on it’s axis?

Beetle and I deparated Westsound Marina on Orcas Island this morning after a brief pit stop at the food store to fetch some foods.  Mom dropped me off at the marina, the idea being that my automobile would not occupy one of the few spaces available in the small-ish gravel-top parking lot that Ian has set aside for the boat-folk to use.

There’s a High up overhead and that means sun, which is a fine thing up this way as it is super green with trees and super green implies super wet, and it is by most standards.  Nice to have sun and dry and mostly  clear skies.  And being under the ‘H’ means no wind, which there isn’t.  Nice motor over at relatively low RPMs in the flat water of Puget Sound, listening to the dulcet tones of the US Coast Guard hailing repeatedly the boat with the bent propeller, after the operator of the boat with the bent propeller discovered that you don’t start with ‘Breaker Breaker’ on VHF 16, you don’t go in where the little dots and asterisks are on the chart (‘there are rocks here!’) and he also discovered that he doesn’t know what 22A or 83A means – so all of the conversation has been happening on VHF 16.  Friendly person, though, didn’t seem too bent out of shape over not moving once he’d had rediscovered the rocks with his propeller.

Port Ludlow is a bit more than half way to Bainbridge Island from where I started, and that makes this a convenient and most pleasant place to pull over and stop for the night.  It’s extra calm in this small bay, there’s a marina off to port that doesn’t even need a breakwater – that’s how protected this place is.

All is well is the world of Beetle, other than observing the chain stripper fall off the windlass whilst lowering the anchor and chain.  That was a novel thing to see, at least the chrome-plated bronze casting elected to fall into the anchor locker rather than overboard, it wasn’t bent, and I even found the two large metric machine screws that had abandoned their duty of holding the stripper in place (the screws were hiding, one in the coils of chain remaining in the locker, the other was found sneaking around the font of the locker after I had removed all the chain on to the deck – I caught the little bugger and reinstalled him).  Perhaps I need to use some loctite red on them!

- rob


In the San Juan Islands

As a quick note, Beetle has arrived happily in the San Juan Islands, having departed Alameda in San Francisco Bay at 2AM Thursday morning – we were at Cape Flattery Tuesday at 8:30AM – that’s a reasonably quick run up the coast.

The only real issue was not so clean fuel received from the fuel dock in Humboldt Bay; I was able to purchase a bunch of 2 micron fuel filter elements for the Racor fuel filter while at Newport, Oregon – and used two off those filters to get the 40 hours up the coast to Cape Flattery.

John has headed home, Kristen is hanging out here on island ffor a bit, and there’s lots of laundry to do.

Will write more later, and go through the photos to pull out the more interesting ones.

It was a nice run up the coast, starting at La Cruz in Banderas Bay; and it’s been nice to step off the water here in the San Juan Islands, a whole bunch of miles to the north!

- rob

Monday afternoon, passisng Gray’s Harbor, 100 milse to Cape Flattery

It’s been a super pleasant day today as Beetle tools along smoothly through the flat water off the coast; breeze has held at 0-10 knots from the NE and N, swell is running at 1-2′, and wind waves are on the order of six inches – makes for kindly traveling conditions.

The three of us have been taking turns hanging out in the cockpit to soak up the sunshine, read books, and tell stories. John’s Nikon camera lens has magically come back to life after several years of having the autofocus mechanism not work – now it works and he’s amazed! Kristen has been feeling better, brought Fred (the big beanbag chair) up to the cockpit and has been mountain-peak-spotting. I’ve been reading, along with resting/napping and keeping track of fuel usage – so far I’ve run two of the jerry jugs into the port tank as the port tank is the easier of the two tanks to fill, and we’re doing fine at this engine RPM.

There has been very little marine life visible out here, apart from the Murres and gulls. We did have a couple of people-related events today, namely a huge number of triple-float crab pots set SE of the Columbia River, and the case of the mysterious drifting bulk carrier. The crab pots were set in 450-500′ of water, which is real deep in the world of crab pots, and there were hundreds of the floats set about the place. There was also a longline flag that we saw, and then beyond the flag and pots was a great big blue fishing boat- at 100 foot or longer it looked like the kind of boat that would have set tons of pots out here. I called him the radio, he answered, and told me that we were seeing either crab pots or long lines, and either way the gear was not on the surface and therefore don’t be worried about running into any lines. There miles and miles and miles of pot floats! We only actually deviated course for two of them, which was not so bad.

And the Columbia River is a pretty busy port, lots of traffic in and out, including big full size container ships. We went by to the west of the pilot area, and watched on the AIS, and then later just by looking over the bow, a giant bulk carrier that didn’t seem to be doing much – circles, perhaps? – at speeds reported via AIS to be 0.2 knots. I called up the Zambesi and they told me they were drifting, I told them I would avoid them, and they were pleased I was not asking them to turn on their engine and move out of the way. So we got to motor right by their bow and got some fun pictures of their ship.

It’s now around 6pm and we’re organizing our gear after a decadent day of lounging in the sun, in preparation for running tonight. Fred’s bag has been put away, food bags are stowed, shoes have been put in their places so we don’t trip on them, and foulies and tethers and hats are being arranged so they can be found in the dark. Tonight should be our last night-run on this trip, and it would be good to go through the night uneventfully; at the rate we’re traveling we should be around Cape Flattery in the daylight tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, and then carry on to Port Angeles by early evening.

- rob