A change in plans
Don/Stuffed from a wonderful meal with Katie
07/19/2010, Blind Channel, BC
Blind Channel Marina
I am sitting on our boat in the evening, wondering how my brother Dave writes a new blog post, before he goes to bed each night. He never fails and I really enjoy his description of their adventures as he and his wife, Mary, sail around the world in Leu Cat, a catamaran. He was the inspiration for this attempt at describing our adventures this summer. Dave and Mary's blog is linked at the side of this one. His posts are amazingly descriptive and entertaining. How he does this each day, with photos no less, is stunning. If you have not read his blog, you should. It is a daily read for hundreds, if not more, cruisers and would be cruisers, around he world. Dave and Mary are exceptional cruisers.
Today, Katie and I slept in. We deserved it after such a long day, yesterday. Determined to get up to Port McNeil in time to do a little fishing and crabbing, before Debbie, Sarah, and John arrive, we are trying to make time. Thus, a few long days are scheduled.
We began what was to be another long day with a healthy breakfast, one containing all of the important food groups: nuts, whole grains, and fruit. Cookies!!! We had provisioned a bunch of exceptional oatmeal, raisin, and walnut cookies in Bellingham. Today we made the most of that decision.
We did not have to depart until 11 am today. We needed to wait for the tide to be right at Seymour Narrows, a place with tidal currents up to 15 knots. Before a major feat of engineering blew Ripple Rock up, this was the most dangerous place to navigate in North America. (To read about Seymour Narrows and the blowing up of Ripple Rock see: http://www.vancouverislandabound.com/tamingof.htm) Slack water was at 12:50 pm and we were just 8 miles away. No need to leave early.
Before we lifted anchor, we checked the weather report for Johnston Straight. We were headed for Port Neville today, a somewhat remote anchorage, out of the winds of Johnston Straight. Bad news, though. A front was coming and gale force winds, over 30 knots, were forecast for Johnston Straight in the late afternoon. Since we had to depart late, we would be in the midst of that gale if we wanted to anchor at Port Neville. We poured over our books and sources for an alternative. Nothing seemed to be described except for the admonition, "You do not want to be in Current Passage (part of our route to Port Neville) with outgoing tide (there would be) and winds of 30 knots. The seas will reach 6-10 feet in an instant. You will feel like you have been in a washing machine."
Not having planned for that particular feeling on this trip, we found what looked to be a great place - Blind Channel Marina - just a few miles off of our route. The weather is scheduled to continue to be bad for the next few days, with lighter winds in the morning (15-20 knots). Our plan is to stay at Blind Channel tonight. Then, tomorrow, we will leave very early and try to make Port McNeil, arriving on schedule. If the winds are bad, we will pull into Port Neville and attempt to make Port McNeil the next day.
We headed for Seymour Narrows, the site of Vancouver's discovery, fighting currents of 4-5 knots. As we approached, the currents lessened, as predicted, and we went right through, saying thank you to the engineers who blew up Ripple Rock. They drilled a tunnel under the narrows and right up into the heart of Ripple Rock. Then, they placed nearly 1,500 tons of explosives in the heart of that rock and blew it up. See the photos at: http://www.vancouverislandabound.com/tamingof.htm
We went quickly through and made it down Discovery Passage. A photo of Katie, taking down Discovery Passage, appears above. We hung a right (I mean Starboard) and found Blind Channel Marina. It seems a little rolly polly here at the dock, but it will do for tonight. Katie and I had a wonderful meal of Lamb, Greek salad, and home-made pita bread and humus up a their restaurant. (The marina is run by several families, sons and daughters, of the original owners). We split a 4-berry crumble and lemon-thyme ice cream. Ummmmmm.
We are now checking the weather in hopes of making it to Port McNeil before the winds pick up again tomorrow.
By the way, a few people may think that Katie and I are underpowered when it comes to the technology tools we brought brought onboard. They may be right. The photo below shows that we only have three laptops, one iPad, and two iPhones (one took the picture.) One never knows when you might need to check weather! ;-)
Never enough tech gear!
Now, what else do we REALLY need????
Inverted Inverter: Adventures from Silva Bay to Gowiland Harbour
Don/ 80 degrees and good winds
07/18/2010, Gowiland Harbour
We had planned a long leg today - from Silva Bay to Gowiland Harbour, over 90 miles. Often this stretch is a slog, directly up the teeth of the summer Northwesterlies that blow down Georgia Straight, right on your nose. The Canada Marine Weather forecast said it was going to blow 20-25 knots down the Straight but gradually lesson to 5-15 knots as the day went on. (We have to hand to the Canadian weather forecasters - they have been incredibly accurate so far on this trip!)
We left Silva Bay, avoiding Shipyard Rock (named because it has long kept the local shipyard in business) as we left the harbour. (The photo of our departure appears above.)
As we headed out into the Straights of Georgia, it was clear that the weather forecasters had earned their salaries. It was 20-25 knots right on our nose. We had really large and exciting hobby-horse swells as we left land, caused by the rebound effect of the waves, bouncing off land and peaking up the opposing swells coming from Northwest. Some swells were six feet or so, with short intervals (about 3-4 seconds). Katie and I were at the upper helm station and felt like cowboys riding a bucking bronco. Great fun! The wind kept at us at about 20 knots but we could feel it gradually lessening as we watched the apparent wind speed indicator drop from 20, to 19, then 18, then 17.
About this time a large, strange-looking ship appeared on our stern, out in the main channel. At a distance, and in the early morning light, it looked too large to be a ferry, more like a troop carrier from the 40's. As we both converged on the Nanaimo harbour entrance, it was clear it was a very large BC ferry, about the largest we have seen. Fortunately, it went its way and we went ours without any issues.
As we headed north, ever hopeful the winds would keep dropping, Katie was at the helm most of the day. I went below to check on how the batteries were charging. Goodness! The inverter's red error light was blinking. (An inverter is one of those magical instruments that converts DC from the engine to AC for some parts of the power supply, while it also charges the DC batteries -- the engine starting battery, the house batteries, and even the generator battery. It is a miracle gizmo.) Unfortunately, our inverter panel is one of those deep, dark secrets that is hard to fathom. And, our manual is a perfect example of how NOT to write an instructional manual. We dare anyone to read a page and tell us what it says. Moreover, we have been told not to mess with the settings for fear of making a catastrophe of things.
Well, of course, being the type to always follow directions, I messed with the settings and made a catastrophe of things. I even turned off all of Katie's instruments up on the top deck for a short period, while we were underway. Try as I could, I could not get the darn error light to go out. Finally, I screwed things up so badly, the inverter ended up off and it was not charging our batteries at all. Time for a lifeline call -- I called Debbie back in Connecticut. Her suggestion was to take a look at the manual and see if there was something, even a paragraph, related to the issue and try and make some sense of it. You know, what? Her idea worked!! I went to page 1: On and Off Settings. It showed how an underscore character indicated if the inverter was ¬On, Off, etc. Given the display, and the angle, you had to look incredibly close to see the underscore and determine which setting was set. Guess what? It showed Off! I quickly read the second paragraph and discovered how to move the underscore and then moved it to On. Bingo!!!! It was inverting and the error light was now off! Miracle of miracles! It is amazing what reading will tell you about!!! (Said as a professor of reading education, who seldom reads directions for gizmos, preferring instead to just mess about.)
I reported my success to Katie and we high-fived our way to more adventures that I will, no doubt, soon cause! I also reported in to Connecticut and told my lifeline that, no, we had not won a million dollars but, even better, we would soon have charged batteries at the end of the day!
About this time the wind was continuing to ease. It was exceptional, nearly flat. We went by Tribune Bay on Hornby Island. We had planned to stop there if the waves were taking a toll on us but, given the conditions, we decided to head for Gowiland Harbour at the northern end of Georgia Straights. Tribune Bay looked like a great place to anchor for the night. We should come back there.
Yesterday, on the way to Silva Bay, we listened to Katie's "Thinking Mix" with Cold Play and others. It was great music to and we pumped up the volume at the upper helm station to enjoy her music. Today, we got to listen to my somewhat eclectic tastes. I popped my iPhone into our ipod player on the ship's speaker system, shifted it to "Shuffle" so it would sample, randomly, from my random collection. Here were the first few selections, in order: 1) A hop-hop song about men and women that repeated, among other "interesting" refrains "Put you back into it!" 2) Simon and Garfunkle's "Bridge over Troubled Waters," 3) an opera selection by a soprano who sure seemed to hit high C once every few seconds, 4) Martin Luther King delivering his "I have a Dream" speech from the Lincoln Memorial, 5) a Christmas song my Manheim Steamroller, 6) Johnny Cash, ...well, you get the idea. It did keep us thinking! ;-) (Like what the heck will the next genre be????)
We approached Discovery Passage (Where George Vancouver and his men first discovered tide flowing south, indicating that the land mass to their left (now called Vancouver Island) was indeed an island. The wind/wave combination off of Cape Mudge was not bad so we plowed right through, found Gowiland Harbour, and set a great anchor among Mouse, Fawn, Doe, and Crow Islands. We had just passed 50 degrees north!! I fixed another incredible meal - this time of brats, cous cous, and salad served with a chilled white wine from the Okanagan Valley. We were so tired that we crashed before 8 am. It had been 94 miles and 12 hours of cruising.
From Sucia to Silva Bay
Don/ Over 80! degrees and glorious
07/17/2010, 49 09.21'N
Up at 7 am today to beat the rush to Canadian Customs in Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island. It is Saturday.
Katie had foredeck duties as we hauled anchor, cleaning it off with the salt water washdown hose. We departed by 7:15 and headed across Boundary Passage to Pender. A big freighter was heading out to sea from Vancouver, so we gave it lots of room.
I learned a great new lesson today. Send your daughter ashore to clear customs and they do not ask how much beer and wine you have (we exceeded the limit by just a little bit) or if you have any fruit (we did) or veggies (we did). We got through without incident. From now on, Katie and Sarah, you are going to do the honors for us. I think Canada Customs knows me too well!
Then we headed up through the Gulf Islands, north. It was a very warm day so I wore bandito clothing again. And, holy moly, were there a few ferries going north and south through Active Pass today. It must be because it was Saturday and there were a lot of people going from Vancouver to Sydney and Victoria. Trying to dodge 3 ferries at the same time is not easy. We made it through fine, though and then headed up Trincomili Channel to Gabriola Pass. We saluted Porlier Pass, renamed Dr. Irwin Kirsch Pass for an exceptional job of seamanship, on another trip, bringing us through safely when the current was raging with whitecaps.
Katie took a short nap until we got to Gabriola Pass, right on time for slack tide, when we could sneak through. Then on to Silva Bay where we did a little shopping, had a great fish and chips dinner, and topped that off with blizzards for two!
Tomorrow we have a long run up Georgia Straight and the weather may be a little dicely. We shall see. We are going to try to make Gowiland Harbour to anchor for the night and wait for the tide to be slack at Discovery Passage. It can run over 10 knots there so timing is important. Then, we plan to make Port Neville and, the next day, Port McNeil. We will be out of wifi range for several days, until we arrive at Port McNeil. I will catch you up from there.
A busy day! Provisioning and then off to Sucia Island Marine Park
Don/ 73 degrees and glorious
07/16/2010, 48 45.62'N
I awoke and, remembering where I was, suddenly was so very thankful for so many things but especially being able to spend several weeks with my family aboard Change of Latitude. Katie and I have a very special time together, bringing the boat North where everyone will join us. I can hardly wait!!
We went to Fred Meyer's (A Washington grocery store with all kinds of other things to) to provision the boat. Beer was high on the list! So, too, were steaks and good meats that we will put in our freezer and take north with us. We filled two shopping carts and then, Doofus that I am, started processing the groceries and, after about half had been rung up, the clerk said, "You know you are in a 15 item express lane, right?" Another time this professor of reading failed to read a sign! The clerk was incredibly gracious and fortunately it was 7:30 am and no one else was around. I was more than a little embarrassed. Oh, did I mention that we stocked the "Treat Drawer" in the boat pretty well. ;-)
We then went back to the boat and took Chuck Kinzer, Rita and their daughter Alexandra out for breakfast at the Web Locker, a local breakfast place in Squalicum Harbor. It was wonderful to see them and catch up a bit. Chuck has been on sabbatical. He and Rita rebuilt their summer cottage in Birch Bay int a 4 season home. It is stunning!
Next it was off for a little fish gear shopping, probably the main reason for the trip. I so enjoy looking at gear. We went to Yeager's, an exception outdoors store that is even older than me! They have great stuff and, of course, I made sure to pick up some Smelly Jelly. (You put this on lures and it brings the fish right in --- Well, at least that is what it says on the label!) We also picked up a portable shovel for clams. It will fit nicely in the boat's Lazarette. And, we also found a few other items for the fish gear box.
Then back to the to drop things off and then out to the airport to drop off our rental car.
By the time I got back to the boat is was about 2 pm. We packed everything securely, especially the Smelly Jelly!, and made ready to depart. Katie did an awesome job, handling lines and fenders and we departed the harbor. Katie also took up all the finders and coiled the lines and took the wheel to take us out to Sucia Island Marine Park. She handled captain's duties like a pro. I sat up on the top deck trying on my new clothing I got so that I would not have to put on sun screen (It always drips in my eyes). I think you may like my "bandito" pose.
We arrived at Sucia and got a great set on the anchor. Then I grilled steaks on the back deck, and fixed couscous and a tossed salad. I served the this meal to the Captain with a wonderful Cabenet. Then, I served individually sized watermelon for desert on the top deck as the sun was setting. It was, I might modestly suggest, an incredible meal. And yes, for inquiring minds, I also did the dishes. ;-)
We were both pretty tired after a busy day and hit the hay early, after first seeing how things were going at the British Open golf tournament. (Katie made me watch this!)
Out to Bellingham
Don/68 degrees and sunny
07/15/2010, Bellingham, WA
Katie and I started from different locations but met at SeaTac at 8:30 pm. I had a pleasant flight from Hartford to Dallas to Seattle. The highpoint for me is always the sight of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and then Mt. Ranier. I try to sit on the southern side of the plane and get a window seat to see these mountains a the plane begins its decent into Seattle. I attach a photo of Ranier.
Katie arrived early and took the new light rail into Seattle to hang out. I hear she had a pedicure. Maybe I should try that sometime. Hmmmm. No, maybe not. ;-)
Katie and I met at the airport, grabbed a one way rental to Bellingham and headed off. We arrived at 11 and, after calling Debbie for the key code for the dock, got in and collapsed for the night. It was a long day for both of us. So good to be aboard Change of Latitude. It was in immaculate condition. El and the good folks at Northwest Explorations always keep it in pristine condition.
Don/Nearly ready to leave WoooHoooo!!
07/15/2010, Waterford, CT
I still have some loose ends to tie up, like packing and getting all of the fishing gear together that I want to take out with me (Of course! What would a summer trip be without fishing gear!!!!). I depart at 10 am today for the Hartford airport. I wish Debbie were coming with me but she will be helping Dan for a few days, here at home. She will join Katie and me in Port McNeil on July 25th when Sarah and John will also fly in. Then, we will all cruise the Broughtons and then head South.
Katie and I will take Change of Latitude north from Bellingham to meet everyone in Port McNeil. We have a few days planned for wilderness cruising, fishing, clamming, crabbing in the Walker Group Islands, before everyone arrives. So exciting to be able to spend time on the boat with Katie! It will be a great trip North and it looks like the weather may be nice. Nanaimo weather is looking good for a long stretch we need to do up Georgia Straight on Sunday, a typically windy and rough section of the trip and a long one for us that day. First things, first, though. I need to wrap up this paper, submit it, read and review a dissertation proposal and then get the packing started. Change of Latitude....here we come! See you at SeaTac, Katie!!!!! Travel safe!!!
The image of humpback whales bubble-net feeding that appears at the top is courtesy of Bill Douglas.
The image of Change of Latitude that appears on the left is courtesy of Dr. Charles Kinzer.
Thank you, both!!
Don/full of anticipation
07/11/2010, Waterford, CT
I begin this blog of our 2005 42' Grand Banks Classic, Change of Latitude. Change of Latitude is berthed in Bellingham, at Squalicum Harbor. We currently keep it with Northwest Explorations, a wonderful group of friends who run a charter fleet of Grand Banks.
Today, Don is trying to complete a number of tasks at the New Literacies Research Lab and wrap up an article for the Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics so he can depart for Bellingham on Thursday. Katie is also preparing to leave from the DC area. Both will meet in Seattle, drive to Bellingham, provision the boat, and depart for the northern end of Vancouver Island on Friday. We can hardly wait!!! Back to that article!!!