09/24/2011, Seattle, WA
Home. I've got mixed feelings about being 'home'. Home being our house. I came to believe that the boat was home. A moving home with a different back yard every day, but home none the less.
My friends are all asking what the trip was like. It was exciting, boring, fun, frustrating, challenging, relaxing, enlightening, fulfilling and exhilarating (but not all at the same time). Oh, I forgot one; expensive!
Groceries were our biggest expense. We found prices comparable to the US in Vancouver and Campbell River. All other places were probably 20% higher that what I am used to paying. Stores in remote areas had prices more than twice what I am used to paying. I paid $7.00 for a pound of butter more than once. Fuel was higher than in the US too.
I was amazed by the remoteness of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Even the north coast is sparsely populated. More than once we went for 3 days without seeing evidence of other humans. Although I am not the most social person in the world, I like to know that others at least exist! For several weeks we didn't even have FM radio.
I was surprised how my body reacted to the motion of the Pacific. I didn't mind the swell even when the waves were 11 feet high and 10 seconds apart. It was the weird movement in the troughs that we occasionally encountered that got me sick. We made a mistake of heading out on a stormy day and had to endure 5 hours of 9 foot swells, pouring rain, 30 knot winds on our nose and heavy chop. Not fun.
I was dissapointed by the weather. We had weeks on end of rain. Not periods of rain. Rain all day long, day after day after day. We ended the trip with 6 weeks of sun and there were smiles all around.
We'll do some things differently on the next voyage. We will get satellite radio and install speakers in the cockpit. We want to install a washer/dryer (keeping my fingers crossed on that one). I was frustrated by a lack of laundry facilities at the beginning of the trip. By the time the end of the season approached I had the laundry ordeal under control. We want to install an instant hot water heater. We currently have a 12 gallon hot water heater. It takes forever to heat up. I need to learn how to feed us while we are out in the weather and the swells. When I'm not feeling good and the boat is moving all over, I don't like to go below to make food and get water. We got too hungry and probably a little dehydrated because I didn't have grab and go food available. Our last passage was more than 90 miles and was at night. By then I had learned a little about making easy to grab and eat food available but I think that I can do a better job next season.
We didn't use our crab pot very much. Prawning was more fun but by the time you buy a trap and get a license, it is cheaper to buy directly from a commercial fisherman.
Overall we really enjoyed the trip. We found a few great hiking trails, one that really kicked my ass. We really like being out on the trails, getting our muscles stretched out. We met some awesome people and hopefully have made some lifelong friends.
The biggest challenges were making repairs on the go (Ken was my hero more than once on the trip), dealing without when needed, learning to cook when all the ingredients needed to make dinner weren't readily available, and keeping the cats occupied to prevent boredom.
09/17/2011, Sidney BC
We've got a temporary fix on the engine (for the 4th time this season) and will do a permanent fix once we are back in our home slip. It seems that our coolant has been leaking slowly, creating a vacuum in the loop that goes to the hot water heater. We've filled and bled the lines 4 times this season but have never found where the leak was. The mechanic identified a probable leak and we'll fix it when we get back to Seattle.
We'll leave Sidney tomorrow and will head for Roache Harbor to clear Customs. Then it's just a matter of heading home before the weather turns on us. We've got a few days of rain heading our way this week. I learned this year that I don't really like being on the boat when it's raining... At least our heater is fixed! Yay!
09/12/2011, Sidney, BC
Well, we've returned to Tsehum Harbour near Sidney. The darn engine started kicking up a fuss again (same problem that we've had all summer). We keep 'fixing' it, the 'fix' lasts about 3-4 weeks then we start noticing problems again. We're both frustrated so we've hired a mechanic. This will blow the September budget but we HAVE to get this thing under control before heading to Mexico next season.
Took the cats for a walk this morning. Two small, old dogs were out for their morning walk and Elliot (the brute) stared them down. The dogs took a route as far from Elliot as they could. Elliot didn't move. The guy walking the dog laughed the whole way, as did I! I'm glad that our silly cats can bring a smile to others.
We're going to walk around Sidney tomorrow as we've never spent much time seeing the town. Wedneday we'll move into a slip and the mechanic will take a look at the engine. He's perplexed by our description of the problem so that isn't a good sign. He's the authorized Westerbeke mechanic in town though so he's probably our best bet. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for us.
09/11/2011, Princess Cove, Portland Island
Our friends George and Daphne (Hi!) recommended Portland Island for its nice trails. We dropped the anchor in Princess Cover on the southern side of the island and headed for the shore at 3:00. We decided to take the coastal trail and when it came out to a beach we couldn't find where exactly it continued. We found a bit of a trail and followed it but half an hour later found ourselves lost in the woods (is this a continuing theme with us??) Oh well, we were on a small Island, how bad could it get? After an hour of beating back the brush we managed to come out on a real trail and got ourselves home. Ugh. I was in shorts and my legs are all scratched up and now I'm itchy.
The weather continues to be nice.
Ken lost the remote to the TV. How far could it go on a 44' sailboat? He watches Seinfeld every night while I fall asleep. I think he's seen every episode 3 times on this trip alone.
We must be getting used the the summer like weather that we have FINALLY received because instead of doing to play-outside-in-the-sun stuff, we are doing chores. Ken is working on varnishing the rails on deck and I am making bread. The cats are busy play/fighting and the fur is flying! Don't worry, the bread is covered.
Ganges has been a nice place to visit. They call it a village but it's more like a very small town. Everything we need is within walking distance of a dinghy dock. There are about 8 art galleries in town too. On Saturdays they have a market in the town center. We found vendors selling produce, bread, pastries, flowers, arts, jewelry, books and so much more. It was fun to visit. We bought a strawberry, rubarb, mango pie. Yum.
The weather forecast continues to be good but it sounds like we've got intermittent clouds coming our way. No rain in the forecast yet.
09/06/2011, Tumbo Island, Cabbage Island
We anchored between Tumbo and Cabbage Island this morning. It's a beautiful spot with unobstructed views of the Strait of Georgia. All of Cabbage Island is a park and most of Tumbo is too. We took the cats for a walk and a scratch on Cabbage Island, dropped them back on the boat and then headed up the bay to the trail at Tumbo. The trail is a loop that takes you through an area of 'historic' cabins (there was no explanation as to why the cabins are historic), a huge marshland and up into a second growth forest.
The walk on the trail was nice but became...uhhh...ummmm...shall we say...unusual when, in the opposite direction came a couple totally nude. Yup, naked. They didn't even have shoes. I wasn't sure how to act so as we passed them (on the foot wide trail) I said 'well, you don't see this everyday". Maybe I should have just said 'hi', or 'where are your shoes?" They said something about this being a popular island and that they swam to shore from the boat. Huh. Why is she out in a canoe, paddling around the bay without clothes right now then?
I wish I had a camera with me...
I love Canada!