Wednesday evening, remaining at Pender

It’s Wednesday evening here on the hook, and I’ve stayed in Pender Harbour in order to rest the foot and not stress things. I’ve been taking it easy, keeping the foot elevated, using a cold gel compress (that normally lives in the freezer portion of the Adler Barbour refrigerator unit) on the foot every couple of hours, so it’s been a quiet day.

Yesterday I got the dinghy launched (takes much longer when you don’t want to stress things!), and took a pair of scissors to the side-wall of one of my dinghy-going-to-shore tennis shoes to create a nice big gap in the shoe such that it would not bear on the unhappy part of the foot, and dinghied over to the Port Authority Madeira public wharf/dock.  The Port has two docks that one can tie to, they also will accept trash ($5 for big bag = leaf lawn size, $2 for small bag = kitchen trashcan size), and have WiFi available – they gave me the password and there’s no charge to use it; it’s odd that the network is password-protected, perhaps this is just a way to make folks ask for it?  Having the WiFi has made many things possible, as it’s been problematic to get the SSB to connect to Friday Harbor or San Diego stations – sometimes it works great, most of the time there’s tons of static and I can’t get through.

Armed with my new knowledge I went back to Beetle and up-anchored to move around the corner and anchor in 55′ of water in the small patch in front of the Port Authority.  I’m with three other boats here, while most everybody else goes over to Garden Cove and then dinghies across.  With connectivity I’ve been able to download new books to the Beetle Kindle (NASA history of Apollo, for example), use VOIP to make some phone calls to the USA at no cost, and generally provide some entertainment with the computer.  Sure beats just laying in the bunk…

Odds are good I’ve impacted the big joint that is at the base of the big toe, as there’s still a red blush on the skin surface.  The swelling has gone down, though it’s still tender to the touch and I’m careful to not put weight on that area.  Hopefully tomorrow it will be further improved.

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The water inside the Gulf Islands, in particular at Preedy, were really calm.  Thetis Island is the bit to the right, with houses along the periphery.  Water this calm makes sleeping easy!

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The next day I’m headed across the Strait of Georgia, and there are lots of hills and bumps and green all around.  It’s also fairly calm to the east of Texada Island, which is where Pender Harbour is located.

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And a magnificent moon-set from inside Pender Harbour.  This is the picture I was taking when I kicked the winch!  I think Venus is also in the shot, the little white spot in the blue sky center-right.  I like this picture.

So not too much news to report, other than I’ve been not doing too much.  I hope everyone else has had a good day as well.  At the rate the swelling is reducing, I expect to be here several more days, and that’s ok.

– rob

Monday evening Beetle report from Pender Harbor

The day started on kind of a bummer note – last night I managed to kick a winch hard enough with my left foot that the foot is sore; I decided to take the day off and not go to town, opting instead to take it easy on board, keep the foot up, and not stress it as walking is somewhat uncomfortable if I step funny on the foot. Rats!

But this is a fine place to hang out, and instead had a good day reading and keeping the foot elevated.

Had a hilarious moment this morning on the VHF radio: I was keen to find the VHF weather channels with information suitable for this area, and I wasn’t sure which one to use (there are 10 channels to select from). Some of the Canadian broadcasts are in French then repeated in English, and I got ahold of a good clear broadcast on WX 7 in French, I listened for about five minutes, then the English version started. Part way through the English broadcast the fellow says, “…tomorrow and Friday…” and I think to myself, Hmmm… today is only Monday. Did someone type in the wrong day? (I believe the broadcasts are voice synthesized based on submitted typewritten text – in the USA Perfect Paul does that). And at the very end of the broadcast is a statement that Environment Canada is working on their system and this is a test, the data may be out of date or invalid… I have to think that’s kinda of strange to put out perfectly plausible data, and only at the end point out it might not be right. Would be much better for a test if they were broadcasting nonsense so at least no one would mistake it for real data.

I later found WX1 – Comox Coast Guard, broadcasting from Texada Island and Alert Bay in English, covering exactly the area I am in, and they said they are also broadcasting on WX 3 from Port Hardy. The WX 1 data regarding, say, Halibut Bank, was quite different from the data I heard earlier on WX 7. I guess you need to pay attention to your weather data report in full before determining if you should believe it or not!

It’s now a fine peaceful evening, the wind from this morning has moved on and it’s entirely calm again. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep, and hopefully a more productive day tomorrow.

– rob/Beetle

Deferred Message

It’s a lovely evening out on the water in Pender Harbor – a large (for these parts) natural bay with a series of small indented coves ranged along the perimeter, and each little cove has some establishment or other which makes each cove somewhat unique. I happen to be anchored over near the Sunshine Resort adjacent to Wellbourn Cove; Wellbourne has Madeira park, which is supposed to be the shopping district in the area and my intent is to run the dinghy over to the public wharf there and bring on board some additional provisions from the nearby grocery store.

There must be a road to here from Vancouver, as there’s no ferry and there’s lots of houses and things here, which suggests some form of transport that isn’t immediately obvious to the person sitting on his boat.

The day has gone very well for Beetle, we departed Thetis Island around 10-ish this morning and made a slow motoring path through the top end of the Gulf Islands, timing arrival at Gabriola Pass for an hour before slack-going-to-flood. Given the wind that’s been out on the Strait of Georgia, I was wondering if a lot of people would be lining up there to get through the tidal gate, and turns out there weren’t – really just four other boats. The run through the pass was straightforward, not exciting – which is exactly how one would like it to be.

Once clear of the little rocky islands surrounding Silva Bay (on the Strait side of Gabriola Pass) the wind died off to not much, and with one foot light chop I simply pointed the bow at Pender and off we went. The wind stayed light, there was a bit of adverse current along the way (1.5 knots max was what the instruments stated, and that only for a little while). The Whiskey Golf torpedo testing area was not active today, according to Victoria Coast Guard, so everyone out on the water could safely transit the area – apparently the Canadians, and possibly Americans, test fire torpedoes in that section of the Strait, and there is a variety of sensors and equipment installed to measure whatever it is one measures when test firing torpedoes. And six hours later we were in Pender.

The harbor is not particularly full, which is a nice thing, though the small marina docks do look well populated. There must be a reason people really like to tie up for the night rather than anchor out, particularly when it is possible to anchor out; what it might be somewhat escapes me at the moment as I’m hook down astern of a large metal work-boat looking vessel that was inshore of me back at Montague Harbor. Looks like the northbound fleet is here, as there’s also a couple of other boats nearby that I recognize from Montague.

Getting to Pender is the first big hop north towards Desolation Sound, the area south of Desoltaion is termed the ‘Sunshine Coast’ and while that name doesn’t appear on a chart I imagine I’m about halfway along so must be in the middle of it. It was definitely worth waiting for pleasant conditions on the Strait of Georgia – no need to pound to weather going slowly if I can wait a day and tool along in comfortable t-shirt conditions.

And now it’s time to back topsides and watch the sunset; there’s lots of WiFi in the area but none of it is usable from onboard, so this note is going out via SSB. Perhaps there is an internet cafe in town that I will discover on the morrow.

– rob

Saturday night at Preedy Harbour

it’s a super nice evening here in beautiful downtown Preedy Harbour, on the west side of Thetis Island. I had departed Montague intending to run through Porlier Pass on the slack – when I arrived at Porlier and looked out with the binoculars I could see three foot chop, white caps in abundance, and outside a sailboat bashing along to weather with too much jib and main, both sails flogging up top. At that time I was in flat calm water, four knots of breeze, and it was warm. So I elected to open up the guide book and figure out where the good anchorages are around these parts, rather than run through the pass and spend all day bashing up to Pender.

Turns out that Thetis Island is nearby, and has a place called Telegraph Harbour, so I went there. The book indicated this was a super popular place, so I was thinking there might not be much room to swing on the hook. When I got there I was surprised to see a) nobody there, and b) realize that what looks like a large harbor in the drawings is in fact a narrow inlet with two small marinas in it, and there really isn’t enough depth to let Beetle enter. OK, switch over to Plan B: open the guide book, and figure out where one might go if one doesn’t fit into Telegraph Harbour. I find that literally around the rocky reef from Telegraph is Preedy Harbour, which is precisely where I am for the evening. This is a super anchorage, there are five of us here and this place could easily hold 100+ boats, though one does need to leave room for the little BC Ferry to run through to the ferry landing/roadway on one side of the harbor.

After dropping the hook in Preedy I launched the dinghy and went back around to Telegraph to see what’s there, and that’s how I know it’s a narrow shallow inlet set up for boats to come in and spend the night on the dock at one of two marinas – there is no room to anchor in there. I suppose one could anchor in the bowl in front of the ferry landing (there are two ferry landings, one in Preedy, the other around the corner at Telegraph, the same ferry runs between Vancouver Island and stops at one landing, then zips around to the other landing, then heads back to Vancouver), and that looks completely uncomfortable.

It also gets super hot up here in the late afternoon, particularly when there is no wind blowing. So I took a siesta at 5pm and woke up again at 6:15 and the air was much cooler. It’s now 10:30 at night and we’re finally getting down to pleasant temperatures on deck. Somehow this feels more warm than Panamint Valley in May, even though temperatures in Panamint are typically in the 90s and can top 100 degrees that time of year. I believe we had high 70s here, so perhaps it is more the expectation that makes things seem too hot (after all, when going to the canyon next to Death Valley you expect it to be roastingly hot, and somehow it ought not to be so warm in the cold waters of Canada, eh?).

The weather has laid down outside the islands this evening, and the plan is to run through Gabriola Pass tomorrow and continue on towards Pender Harbour. Hopefully that actually works this time!

This note is going out over SSB/Sailmail, and as such no pictures tonight. Given I do not have high voltage power lines running north and south of me, perhaps I can get through to the Friday sailmail station tonight. And the sky was clear tonight, resulting in a fairly mundane sunset – clouds sure help dress up the sunsets for photographic purposes!

– rob

Friday night and ready to roll north in the morning

It’s been a pleasant day on the hook, I worked for a while on cleaning some of the green algae from the aft end of the hull right where it meets the salt water – the algae seems to like to grow just above the salt and is darn difficult to scrub off – it sort of makes a dark green smooth surface that is somewhat impervious to white 3M nylon scrubbies.  I had tenacity, and eventually the algae gave up.  Also spent some time polishing the stainless steel monitor wind vane, it definitely looks brighter this afternoon than it did this morning.

Environment Canada’s forecast is holding steady, with reduced winds tomorrow and the lone buoy report and lotsa land reports are backing up the forecast.  To that end, I have the outboat motor stowed on the stern rail, dinghy upside down and lashed in place on the foredeck, headsail is ready to go, and interior is stowed.  Hopefully tomorrow (Saturday) Beetle and I will be headed northwards.

The intention is to go through either Gabriola or Porlier pass around slack (12:15PM and 12:22PM, respectively), the choice of pass depends on how well Beetle does going upstream against the ebb; if we have time in hand to run up to Gabriola then that’s super, if we’re extra slow then Porlier will be on the right hand side about half way up and I’ll duck out that way.  What would be no fun is to get up to Gabriola late and discover there’s too much current flow through the pass to comfortably navigate Beetle around the bends and rocks.

Once through the pass, Pender Harbor is the aiming point; assuming I can make reasonable time then arriving there before dark should work.

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Here’s the marina this afternoon, as seen from my vantage point on Beetle – the building on the left is the store and cafe, to the right is a gift shop of some sort (that I didn’t go into).  The marina makes available WiFi for purchase ($5 Canadian for the day), and it’s over their WiFi that I can post these pictures.

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The float planes also visit the marina dock, and here’s the fellow driving out past Beetle on his way to a take-off.  Kinda fun to wave at an airplane pilot and he waves back at you.  This is a particularly pretty plane, I like the paint scheme, and I’m happy to report that the pilot did not do the daredevil take-off through the fleet.  Instead he taxied out beyond the anchored boats before opening up the throttle…

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and then promptly flew beneath the power lines before climbing out and turning right to head for somewhere else.

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And here is tonight’s wonderful sunset – just took the picture a couple of minutes ago, it’s 9:55PM and it’s now beginning to get dark.

Good night!

– rob

Wind is up in Strait of Georgia, staying at Montague today and Friday

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Beetle on the Canada Customs dock in Bedwell Harbour.  The folks up in the Pacific Northwest don’t go in much for metal cleats on their docks, and instead utilize 4×4’s running the length of the dock.  As a result, I find the ‘normal’ dock lines don’t see much use and intsead almost always go for the much longer 45′ dock lines – you need a lot of line to make the loop (or double loop) around the x4 follwed up with half-hitches to tie on.

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The Customs shack at Bedwell Harbour – you walk up the ramp and the phones are outside the building.  If the Customs folks are here, you’d see a black hulled boat tied up on the inside of the dock – but there’s no boat here so perhaps they are out checking up on the visitors to their country.

Well, I was up bright and early, I had put the boat to rights the night before what with stowing the dinghy, the outboard motor, mainsail cover off, all set to go, and the Pacific High came in strong and now there’s plenty of wind out in the Strait of Georgia (23 knots from the NW according to Environment Canada report coming in over the VHF radio, based on the readings at Entrance Island which is more or less precisely where I will be going by), and that wind blowing from where I want to go (NW towards the south end of Texada Island). Combining the breeze with the significant flood of water pouring northwards into Desolation Sound makes for a wicked chop and 25 knots of wind on the nose.  Going to the Farallones might be more pleasant, but strong chop with a headwind is not much fun… so I’m going to hang out here in Montague for today and tomorrow.  Environment Canada marine waters forecast for Strait of Georgia north of Nanaimo calls for  the wind to drop off to light on Saturday/Sunday/Monday; I suspect there will be a bunch of boats heading northwards Saturday morning, and I am looking forward to being one of them.
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Sunset at  Montague  – lots of fun clouds, it’s warm, and you can see one set of the power transmission lines that span the north entrance to the harbor.  The float planes fly in UNDER these power lines, and they’re not that high above the water; I think you have to be a little crazy to be a float plane pilot.

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Beetle at anchor in Montague – it’s sunset, and Beetle does have haunches when viewed from stern-on.  The pole poking out to port is what I use for raising and lowering the dinghy – the control lines and pole make it easy to manage the relatively heavy dinghy when moving the dinghy onto the foredeck, which I do most nights up here (and every night in Mexico).

In the meantime I’m putting fuel back into the tanks from my jerry jugs (11 gallons into port tank, 5.5 gallons into starboard tank, day tank is full up again), the sun shower is heating up some water on the side deck in the superb sun we’re having, and the water is so flat that last night it felt like Beetle was resting on concrete – absolutely no movement of the boat.  That changed abruptly this morning when the first float plane landed astern of Beetle and taxied by at high speed.  The float planes seem to use a technique to make up not going very fast through the water but do go very fast through air: bring the plane in for a landing and at 15 feet altitude line up to go through the anchored boats but keep the plane in the air so you go fast, as you approach your final landing point power up th engine and pitch the nose up so the rear of the pontoons touch the water but power on so the aircraft is on plane, and at the last moment drop the nose down and come to a very slow ‘motoring’ speed and drive in to the airplane dock.  The fellow this morning went by the transom of Beetle in the nose-up-revved-engine-dragging-pontoons mode making all kinds of noise.  However, I was already up and busily listening to the Canadian weather report & forecast for the area.so he didn’t actually wake me up.
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Got to put fuel back into the tanks, there are four jerry jugs, and the siphon makes for a very clean way to transfer the diesel to the tanks.

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The total luxury electric air pump that does the job of inflating the dinghy (and fenders when I need them) to a consistent pressure (should be 2.8 PSI, according to Achilles) without a lot of foot pumping.  As I partially deflate the dinghy when it’s on deck, the little pump gets a fair workout.

As the VHF weather forecast suggested it was not a great day to depart, I instead re-inflated the dinghy, put the mainsail cover back on, then motored over to the fuel dock/marina to see if they would make available their WiFi signal for me to use.  And for $5 Canadian I can use it all day long, though the password does change.  I was given the current and future passwords, and now can post this via WiFi rather than going through SailMail.  The SSB radio is definitely having fits with the overhead power lines, and oddly enough it easier for me to connect on 13mHz to San Diego than on 5 mHz to Friday Harbor.  San Diego is a lot further away than Friday Harbor,  21 miles to Friday Harbor as compared to 1007 miles to San Diego, but I suspect the radio noise coming off the power transmission lines kills ground-wave reception on the lower frequencies.  Something to check out later on.

Today was my first issue with the NIssan 9.9 4 stroke outboard motor, fortunatly a simple that was easy to fix: I pulled the starter cord to turn over and start the motor and while it did start it also made a nasty rattling sound and the pull cord didn’t retract.  There is a flying set of pawls that allow the pull cord to disengage after the motor starts, and it sounded like that was somehow stuck (imagine starting your car and the starter motor pinion gear doesn’t retract from the flywheel – my outboard sounded like that).  I shut off the motor as fast as I could and went below to fetch the handy metric socket set, extracted the three bolts attaching the pull cord housing to motor’s the flywheel, and discovered it is indeed possible for a loop of the pull cord to get lodged beneath the wheel that the cord normally winds back onto.  Easy enough to fix, though I was extra careful to not drop anything in the water; working on the outboard while it is attached to the dinghy transom is a recipe for losing parts, I’ve done that before so I’ve learned to be extra careful when holding metal parts over the water (metals almost always fail the float test).
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Dinghy read to go to the fuel dock, after fixing the motor.  Often it’s easier to run back and forth with the jerry jugs and dinghy, rather than up-anchor and run Beetle over.  Kristen and I are considering naming the dinghy ‘Flea’.  Haven’t committed to this yet, I’m kind of liking Lady Bug, though one could certainly flee in flea.

With the now-operational outboard it was easy to run over to the marina and fill up the diesel jugs with new fuel and had another issue with my Schwab VISA card, as it was declined at the fuel dock.  I then spent some time on the telephone with Schwab and hopefully they can sort out issues with VISA that will allow my card to be usable on this trip.   Never had a problem before, but this time VISA is certainly being stingy about letting me use it!  Trying to make phone calls over VOIP back to the USA is not the best way to go, as VOIP uses a fair bit of bandwidth and the connection will fuzz in and out depending on what other people are doing over the wireless network your voice traffic is trying to also use.  Took a couple of calls, and finally held the connection long enough to have a meaningful conversation, and was then able to pay for my fuel – which makes everybody happy.

All-in-all a most pleasant day, did some reading, dinghied about the place, and read notices posted on the bulletin board outside the marina office.  I like to think that notices on bulletin boards are a way to gauge what’s going on in the area, particularly the ‘for let’ notices should you need an apartment/house/room in a house, and the ‘for sale’ items  should you need a guitar, small fish boat, part of a radar antenna, that sort of thing.  I learned that we’re not supposed to eat the shellfish in the area, as paralytic shellfish poisoning can be a problem.  I’m not a big filter-feeder fan, so no issues thre for me.

Now it is evening, the anti-panga light is on over the cockpit and the masthead anchor light is on, the neighbors on their large 85 foot power boat are watching a movie on their big screen tv inside their main cabin; if I got out the binoculars I could probably watch along with them as they have a huge screen!

Enjoy the evening.

Wednesday evening in Montague Harbor

Hola! – tonight Beetle is hanging out at Montague Harbor, for tomorrow’s run up through Garbiola Pass and across the Strait to the other side. The tidal gates are not ideal, as in it is ebbing in the morning and I would like to go the other way on the flood. Best way, it seems so far, to do that is to run up towards Gabriola from here in the morning (against the ebb, but inside the islands), slack water is at 11:07AM and then we have flood. Hopefully I will be at Gabriola around the time of slack water; kind of depends on how much ebb I will be working against for the 22 mile run to the pass…

Today was useful at Port Browning, launched the dinghy and popped over to the small marina & pub to tie up and walk in to the small shopping area. Had an issue with using my credit card at the market; I have one of the ‘new’ cards with the fancy chip in it, and those cards work here in Canada. However, for some reason VISA declined the card; conveniently I had a second card and it worked, so I could get my groceries. Upon return to the boat I telephoned the bank (using a VOIP application on my little Samsung Note 2 that works between Canada and the USA provided there is a WiFi connection available), and was informed that the card should have worked except that VISA flagged the transaction as likely fraudulent. When I asked Why? I was told the bank doesn’t really know what VISA does, but it is possible that a fraudulent transaction had recently happened there and thus VISA was flagging transactions… I did learn that I could have tried to use the same card as a debit card, and that would have come to the bank directly. I don’t know if Canada accepts international debit cards, though the Canadian bank over in Brentwood Bay did when I was there the other week. At least it was nice to have access to a phone system that works, albeit in a somewhat convoluted way.

Through the morning boats were arriving at Port Browning at about the same rate they were departing. I decided to be a departing boat and move over to Montague Harbour in order to knock out 12 miles of the trip today; that should shorten up the trip tomorrow morning to Gabriola. Nice run along through the water, very little wind, and more sneak ferries were observed hiding out at their landings or scooting by on their way to somewhere else. While ferries are quite large and painted bright white, they do have a habit of suddenly appearing from around corners, therefore they are referred to as sneak ferries.

The high season is definitely on, and Montague has many boats here. I expect that there will be many more boats as I move further north towards Desolation Sound. I’m hoping for tomorrow to have a straight forward run across to the east side of Texada Island, possibly Pender or somewhere similar as the destination. This will depend upon wind direction and waves; if it’s lumpy and breeze I will probably not get that far north and instead angle across the Strait, if conditions are flat then I will aim at the south end of Texada. Forecast looks reasonable either way.

So now it’s Montague for the evening, I’ve cooked up dinner on the fancy new barbecue my brother gave me for Chistmas (works great!), the water is flat, the air is warm, and it’s pleasant to be here.

Now it’s time to launch the dinghy, stroll about the anchorage for a bit, as it were, then put away the outboard motor and stow dinghy on the foredeck in preparation for an early out in the morning.

– rob