Sunday morning – it’s maple bacon and scrambly eggs

Kristen has got the galley stove going gangbusters with bacon, scrambled eggs, and the bacon must have maple in it as the boat is filling up with a nice maple smell. It’s a bright crispy morning outside, we’re on what I hope is our final day at Discover Harbour, and we’ll walk over to Canadian Super Store (not to be confused with Canadian Tire – another giant Kmart kind of place but they also have a car service garage, so I guess they really do install tires) and do the food shop later on this morning.

Weather forecast is for SE 25-35 this afternoon going 10-20 around midnight and going lighter, and then back up to 15-25 Monday afternoon. Looks like the last cold front and associated cloud (and rain) band are going to move through the area today. Current thinking is to hang here for the day, set up the Beetle, then boogity on out Monday morning and be somewhere reasonable to stop by Monday afternoon.

Yesterday was big winds up here, and a fair bit of chatter on the radio as people lost kayaks, lost various dinghies and RIBS, and generally had problems with the seas and chop and wind. Heard one 70 foot power boat calling in to the marina looking for a place to tie up as the captain said, “We’re blown off the water, time to get off the water.” And if you need yellow or blue kayaks, there are more than a few of them floating about up here on their own. The folks that lost them called Comox Coastguard to report the loss, with the idea that the Coastguard would know that a person wasn’t lost with the kayak, just the kayak itself. However, as the kayaks had no individuallly distinguishing features other than, ‘Yellow plastic?’ ‘Yes’ it meant that a kayak found without a person next to it meant a presumed person in the water.

While this was going on the weather cleared a bit in the afternoon, so we went for a walk over to WalMart (there’s a huge WalMart superstore across from Home Depot just up the road) to see if they had The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel available; Kristen had an opportunity to watch part of that film on the Air Canada Rouge flight from SFO to Vancouver, and she thought it would be fun finish it. I checked online and WalMart didn’t actually have a copy in their store but we walked over there anyway as it was sunny (sort of) and not raining. On the shelves we found The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on DVD, so we put that in our basket – but not exactly what we were looking for. Then Kristen spotted a round bin of ‘for sale’ DVDs and we poked about in there… and moments later Kristen pulled out… The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – amazing to find exactly was wanted from a bin of random films. So last night we had movie night and watched the film – lots of fun, I would highly recommend it.

And just now we’ve had our first game of musical slips – turns out the 57′ powerboat behind us last night was here on the guest slip as their regular end-tie was occupied by a transient, and the regular slip boat cut their trip short due to weather; this morning both boats have swapped spaces and we have a new boat tucked in behind Beetle. Unfortunately the new boat, from Anacortes, is hauling out tomorrow to work on engine problems (transmission cooling, burning too much oil) and genset issues (generator died). I don’t know why that would necessitate a haul out, but they have an appointment with the yard in the morning, and we have an appointment with Desolation Sound in the morning.

Time to go shopping!

– rob

Breezy morning in Discovery Harbour Marina

It rained a good deal last night, and we’re having the second band of the incoming fronts sweep through.   Woke up this morning to calm winds and gentle rain under a big black cloud drifting in from the south.  Not so bad.  We checked forecasts, and Environment Canada had decided we were going to have lots of wind today (20-30, later building 30-40), but nothing like that showed up in the buoy and lighthouse reports.  I more or less decided that we would stay here for the day, and needed to let the marina know that was my intent.

About then one of the marina folks came by and knocked on the hull, to ask when we were leaving?  I pointed out I wanted to stay, he checked on his radio and said that would be fine provided we could please move forward to the end of our side tie finger as there was a 120 foot boat coming in today and he needed to be behind us to reach the power receptacle – so we walked the boat forward.

At that point the black cloud moved away and the wind came in strongly, strong enough to heel Beetle in the slip quite nicely, folks were up double-checking their dock lines and fenders, and we flipped on the instruments to watch the wind readings. Winds basically hung out around 20 gusting 25, and then it started to build.  Max windspeed we saw was 48 knots, lots of VHF calls from boats out on the water looking for a marina to tie up at (conveniently we’re already in one), and at least one boat came in under marginal control and he did a mild crash-landing into the now-empty section of dock behind us.

Upshot is Beetle is snug as a bug in a rug, Webasto heater is running and the cabin is quite comfy, and wind has backed off to a relatively mild 25 knots.  I’ve paid up for tonight and Sunday night, and we’ll get on the move Monday morning – that’s the plan so far, and we’re sticking with it!


Now Beetle is way out at the end of the dock, adjacent to a huge real wooden boat that hails from Seattle.  The wooden boat uses axe handles as a way to secure the dock lines, something I’ve not seen before.  We’re heeling over in the slip, as it were, with winds whistling in from frame-right.


The mooring lines are huge, with a large eye spliced into the end.  Looks like their approach here is to run the loop around the 4×4 and pop in a cut-down axe handle to use as a bone to hold the eye in place.  This would certainly be a fast way to tie up, though I do wonder what would happen if the line went slack – wouldn’t the axe handles fall out?  Perhaps the prevent line stops that from happening.


Max wind gust observed on the instruments was 48 knots, here it’s reading just over 40.  The dodger is great to sit under when it’s raining and windy.  Kristen is working away with her camera, watching the wind gauge.


Lots of fenders and dock lines are out, even though we’re being pressed up against the dock.


And looking to the south we can see blue sky through the cloud bands.  And now it’s raining again.

So we’re going to be here for today and tonight, and see what the forecast becomes for Sunday.  Nice to have a warm dry boat to hole up in when it gets nasty outside!

– rob

Friday evening – Discovery Harbour Marina

It’s Friday evening and Beetle is settling in for a second evening of pleasant docking at Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River. It rained last night, not terribly hard, and by mid-morning the wind had picked up, a stable 20 knots gusting to 28 (max I saw) out of the southeast. Now that it is 10PM the wind has backed off to the 10-15 knot range.

Two of the big powerboats have departed, and one really large one (perhaps 80 feet) came in. He spent 40 minutes working against the wind (he arrived when it was most windy) to line up and back in for a sidetie on the downwind side of one of the long guest docks. I learned a bit about sidetying a powerboat with a bow-thruster: aim the stern of the boat at where you want to tie to the dock, back in towards the dock and keep backing until you can get a stern line to the dock – in this case there was a deckhand on the swim step with a dock line in hand, and he tossed that line to a fellow waiting on the dock who made the line fast to the 4×4 cleat system. As soon as the stern line is made fast to the dock, kill any aft motion with the main engines and use the bow thruster to push the bow laterally upwind to the dock. This requires a good size bow thruster and being willing to use it for a long time. I was impressed with how the captain brought in that big, tall, high-windage boat with the wind blowing against him. And he missed the Nordhavn in front and the Selene behind the area he wanted to side tie to. Took him quite a while to get everything lined up, but he and the crew were patient, took their time, and when it all looked good they simply backed in and put the boat right where they wanted it.

Kristen has arrived, she made it to Vancouver on time and was able to catch the earlier flight from there to Campbell River – getting here several hours ahead of the original schedule. We’ve had some dinner, took a brief walk along the waterfront to establish where we can easily get supplies (there’s a big supermarket type place across the parking lot), and now we’re both kicked back on the boat. I’m tired, I think she is tired from a long day of traveling.

We’re considering options for tomorrow, based on weather and what we feel like. it’s supposed to be windy out of the south east Saturday morning and evening (20-30), with less wind (10-20 knots) noon-ish through to early evening, and Sunday is still calling for 15-25 building to 25-30. One option is to simply enjoy being here in Campbell River, another is to run for somewhere else Saturday mid-day when the wind is down, then hunker down thru to Monday morning. Will check the forecasts in the morning and see if there are any changes. So far we haven’t made any plans in any directions, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we hang out here in Campbell River for another couple of days. We shall see!

– rob

Thursday evening at Campbell River

It’s thursday night, we’ve had a bit of drizzle so far, and there is a series of frontal systems due to spin through here over the next couple of days – wind is from the south and I’m more or less at the bottom end of Johnstone Strait (or the very end of Strait of Georgia north of Nanaimo, you choose).  Forecasts are for rain tomorrow with wind building tonight from the south.  Kristen is due in via aeroplane tomorrow evening here at Campbell River, the plan being for her to jump on board Beetle and we can go explorate the area some, and Beetle needs to be somewhere useful for jumping-on-to.  The original idea was for me to be here tomorrow morning, but I decided that I really would prefer to not be going into someplace new and sidetying to unknown other boats in a building southerly, so I elected to hop over today in flat calm conditions and procured a transient side-tie in the fancy marina – Discovery Harbour Marina.  The alternative is the Campbell River Harbour Authority Marina, which has a policy of sidetying boat on boat as needed, which is a good thing as it becomes a port of refuge (nobody gets turned away), and I elected to not get involved with sidetying onto a tug boat (there were more than few there) or similar, therefore I’m at the marina facility a mile up channel from them.

This is a nice facility, I even plunked down the extra $6/night for 30amp power (if you’re going to go big, go big), and I’m surrounded by power boats/yachts that are much bigger than Beetle.

As part of a conversation I had with the harbour master in Gorge Harbour yesterday, he mentioned that he thinks it would be easy to see 20 knots out of the south on Friday, and if that happens I should be careful around Cape Mudge (south end of Quadra Island) when Seymour Narrows is running full flood – 15 foot chop would not be unexpected in that area.  It’s approaching full moon tonight or tomorrow, which means the tides are running near max which means currents are running near max.  Seymour Narrows is about 11 miles north of where Campbell River is in the channel, and tomorrow the current prediction calls for an -11.5 knot ebb reversing into a +13.8 knot flood.  That’s an enormous amount of water flowing through the channel, and I can see how that would produce a big standing washing machine of water at the outflow into the Strait of Georgia when the wind is coming up strongly from the south.

This morning, before departing Gorge Harbour, I took the dinghy out and went looking for a petroglyph that is noted as being carved into the rocky wall/cliff at the Gorge entry.  I looked and looked and couldn’t find anything that vaguely reminded me of a man-made drawing.  Either I didn’t know what I was looking for, looked in the wrong place, or the rock face has disintegrated sufficiently that the drawing is no longer apparent or obvious.

And now it’s 9:40PM, I’m reasonably sleepy, Beetle is all snugged as a bug in a rug, and hopefully it doesn’t rain too much tomorrow.


Wednesday evening around Cortes Island to Gorge Harbour

Good early evening – Beetle and I are here at anchor at Gorge Harbour, following a round-the-island motoring tour of Cortes; essentially I’m simply on the other side of the island from Squirrel Cove, which while not so far, is a different and interesting place.

I departed Squirrel perhaps around 11AM (maybe it was earlier, I would have to check), very light breeze and flat water in the channels between the islands.  I could have turned right or left, so I turned left to take the long way around the Cortes and see what was on the other side.  Had a nice tour, saw a number of areas that had been clear-cut logged at some point in the past; it’s pretty easy to see the clearcuts as the taller fir trees that were not taken as part of the operation look like tall thin white toothpicks on top of which is balanced a bunch of green; the white is where the old branches have fallen away from the tree when growing in a dense forest, as there’s no light down below the tree canopy.  Trees that grow on the edge of a forest retain their green leafy limbs all the way to the ground.  So when you see a wall of white  trees fronting a clearing, you’re looking at a clear cut.

At the top of the island I turned to port and looped down the other side, not much more to see there other than continuing green trees along the rocky shoreline.  And at the bottom of the island the space opens up and you’re between Cortes and Quadra Islands, and a small orange run-about was out hovering in the water with paying passengers on board.   Spotting whale watching boats sitting still is a good way to spot whales, and in short order a pair of humpback whales surfaced not too far off.

There is a fair bit of aquaculture in the air area, primarily oyster ‘farming’, from what I understand.  Here’s what one can find floating in a cove of a small islet as one passes by.  I think the big floats are holding up strings of line on which are growing oysters; I read that it takes two years for an oyster to be of reasonable size for harvesting.  So if you like Canadian oysters, this could be where they come from.

The entry to Gorge Harbour is pretty cool – you’re going in through a large slot cut through the island, the rock wall to port on the way in in perhaps 200 feet high, and then pop! you’re inside the relatively large bay, which is ringed by the tall surrounding island.  The anchorage is quite deep, unless you try and go into the far northwest corner, only to find that the boats nestled in back there are all on moorings – so it’s back out to the deeper section.  Those of us out here (7 of us) are in 80 feet of water, and we’ve all got a lot of chain out to have a resonable scope.

There’s a nice resort/marina on this end of the bay, along with several small rocky islets in the middle, and more floating aquaculture sets of floats (more oysters, most likely).  I was hoping to use the WiFi at the marina, so dinghied over and was informed by the person operating the marina office that they didn’t really ‘sell’ WiFi, but he very nicely gave me password and noted there were 217 devices hooked up to the network at the moment so don’t expect blazing anything from it.  In fact, it has not been possible to upload images directly to wordpress (the uploader fails on a time-out), but the zenfolio uploader worked and I’m experimenting to see if wordpress can handle a link from zenfolio.  Will be interesting to see what the result it…

That said, the network has been good enough for me to check email, check weather (may start raining off and on come Saturday), and post this note (with pictures!).

All is good at this end, I’m thinking tomorrow to take the dinghy and go explore what is supposed to be a sandy beach up just outside the entrance to Gorge Harbor, at the base of Marina Island.

Enjoy the evening!  Let’s hope the mosquitoes remain at bay tonight.

– rob

Tuesday at squirrel

It’s been a calm day in the anchorage at Squirrel Cove; I took advantage of the time and greased the windlass capstain, it doesn’t take that long to dismantle the unit (I’ve done this one before), and have it reassembled and ready to go for use in lifting up the chain and anchor.

And heard as part of this morning’s weather broadcast that Area Whiskey Golf is active -the Canadian military uses the area (located out in the Strait of Georgia off Nanaimo) for torpedo testing.  Given that WG is directly across an area that recreational boaters like to cross (Dodd Narrows and Gabriola Passage heading across to Pender Harbour or Vancouver), Environment Canada includes that bit of informaiton in their weather broadcasts on WX1 and WX3.  And later on in the afternoon a trio of fighter jets went by overhead, something you don’t see or hear that often up this way.  Thats completely unlike being in San Diego, where there is a constant stream of Navy aircraft roaring by.

Elsewise not much to report, still working on my insect photographs, and the weather forecast is for mild south-easterly wind in the area through to and including Saturday.  Perhaps tomorrow I will head out on Beetle and take a tour of Cortes Island.  There’s another protected-looking anchorage at Gorge Harbour – haven’t been there and it might be fun to check out something new.


The showers.laundromat.washrooms building that has the best reception for checking email!


It has been calm all say, and it would be a nicer run than yesterday across to west redonda island and refuge cove. That’s directly across in font of me sitting in the dinghy on the eay over to the general store, refuge is to the right in the picture.

And now it’s time to head over to the Squirrel Cove store, use their WiFi to send up this note, and check in for news from the outside world.- robI recommend not using T-Mobile.

A lovely Monday at Squirrel Cove

It’s been a particularly pleasant day here in Squirrel Cove, light breeze wafting through, clear blue skies above, a bit of movement as boats departed this morning and now that it’s getting toward evening new boats are arriving.

I started the day by not getting up at 6:30AM, and actually didn’t get up until 8:15 and feeling well-rested.

Part of the day was spent working on images on the laptop, and then I took the dinghy out for a short tour of the area: visited the Squirrel Cove General Store.

This store seems to have most everything one might want, there’s a hardware section in the basement, post boxes are set in the wall next to the blue telephone box, the community bulletin board is up the stairs on the left, and they have done two new things: diesel and gas are now available on the small dock in front of the store (fuel used to be only available in the parking lot I’m standing in to take the above picture), and they now have WiFi available – best to go over next to the “shower.laundry.restrooms” that are off to one side. So I’m typing this note up on my Sansumg Note II device (using fancy Apple bluetooth keyboard), with images coming from the Nikon camera and the Note’s onboard camera. Then I’m going to dinghy over to the store again and hang around in front of the shower.laundry.restrooms and sit on the log there while sending this out, plus I can check for email from HP: the new laptop may be on its way and I would like to delay its arrival until I return to Orcas Island. There’s also a for sale sign in the parking lot – not clear if this is for the whole store, or just the dock, as the sign is something you see when walking back to the dock. Would anyone actually purchase a dock in located in someone else’s parking lot?

I also went over to visit Refuge Cove, two miles across the channel to the next island over. The little RIB dinghy and outboard motor make it relatively easy to visit areas outside the immediate anchorage. However, it’s a little dinghy with a little motor, so I did charge up the handheld VHF radio and take it with me; if something went wrong with the engine I could get somebody to tow me back over to Squirrel Cove.

Refuge is a fun place, it’s an interesting amalgam of store, marina, fuel dock, artist studios, pizzaria, and bookstore – all rolled into one setting connected by a haphazard and interesting collection of docks, stairs, steps, and boardwalks. I picked up a half-dozen books at the un-manned outdoor book store (though the shelves are covered with a roof – it rains here a lot during the winter, perhaps the books aren’t outside during the winter), the fellow in the general store was serving up ice cream to visiting boat kids, and while the docks weren’t completely full they were busy. Water also seems to be more clear in Refuge than in Squirrel – perhaps there’s better water exchange given that Refuge isn’t as protected as Squirrel.

Later I popped back across the channel, a new bag of potato chips in hand, to sit in the cockpit and have a good read in the sun.

Not a particularly busy day at all, just relaxing and pleased to not be going anywhere.

This is the entry to Squirrel, as viewed from my vantage point inside the cove. The power boat has just entered and is turning to his right to head over to the east area to anchor – it’s shallower to the east and deeper to the west. The entrance is really narrow, with a rocky shelf coming in from the right side of the image. I go through closest to the left side. The general store is off in the distance where the government wharf is on the other side of the cove.

Here’s the the east end inside of Squirrel – for whatever reason most boats like to crowd in to that end, which leaves just a few of us out this side in the deeper water.

Lots of people tow their dinghies or small auxiliary boats around behind them, as there is now ocean swell to speak of and any significant waves are fairly well forecast and could be avoided easily. I’ve never seen a boat being towed like this before:

He’s got a fairly large run-about with a pair of big Honda outboards being pulled along behind, and the boat being towed is literally directly behind the big boat. There must be some sort of mechanism to prevent the towed boat from swinging sideways when the big boat stops, but I don’t see one in the picture.

And this is what happens when I’m busy cleaning winches – lots of pieces parts all over the place, and it’s really important to not mix any of them up. Didn’t do any winches today, there are three of the big 3-speed winches to go and I might get into one of them tomorrow.

And now it’s off to the Squirrel Cove General Store for purposes of email (with pictures, no less!) To the word press posting mechanism.


– rob & beetle and a total lack of actual squirrels seen

I recommend not using T-Mobile.