Vancouver to Sausalito
22 October 2016
Now that we are home, getting back into the rhythm of life ashore, I am compelled to chronicle the last days of our cruising adventure. We had a busy final few weeks in the Pacific Northwest; attending the Victoria Classic boat show and Blues festival and enjoying final visits with our cruising friends in Canada. We made Landfall in the USA at Roche Harbor where we walked a fabulous sculpture garden. There we had a fun surprise running into a sailor we knew from SF Bay and Mexico, amongst the trees and sculptures. At Griffin Bay on San Juan island, we hiked around historic parkland, gathered seaweed, and saw orcas from the cliffs. Heading to Port Townsend, our motor died in the middle of the the narrow pass.....luckily the current was pushing us towards safe water, not rocks, and the motor restarted after Barry bled the air out of the fuel lines. We went to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, another event that is among the highlights of our voyage! It was three days of boats, seminars, and demonstrations, ending with a sailing parade that was a feast for the eyes with massive schooners and gorgeous little sailing dinghies, all on the water together. While there we made new friends, Don and Charlene, friends of Barry's father, who treated us to delicious meals, showers and laundry. It was tempting to linger in that lovely place, but with Fall coming, it was time to head west, back through the Straits of Juan de Fuca towards the West Coast and Neah Bay. This was our first landfall from Hawaii in july but we had not been ashore, thus it was our first visit to an Indian Reservation. We had sailed by and anchored nearby many of them in British Columbia, but we always respected their territory and had never even landed our dinghy on the beach. It seemed to us their land should be a safe place away from the hustle and bustle of "Western" Civilization.
We had heard a few negative comments about Neah Bay, home of the Makah tribe: "there's nothing there", " its a dump", "service is bad, of course, because its a reservation".......and yes, we saw real poverty there, but also natural beauty, nice people, and a slower pace of life.
We had also heard that there is an excellent museum, the Makah Cultural and Research Center, so on a rainy day, we traipsed through town in our foul weather gear with our good friends Tom and Britta and spent a wonderful afternoon there. It houses artifacts from the village at Ozette, which had been buried by a mudslide some 300 years ago and was frozen in time til the 1970's. It is one of the most significant native American archeological collections in existence. But it is not only a place to see the objects of the ancestors, it also shows how the discovery of the site at Ozette gave the current day Makah back their identity, through the art and tools their ancestors. There are culture, language and art programs at the museum, which have revived a way of life that was not only forgotten, but actually forbidden by the missionaries and school teachers. The archeological items have even given them legal rights, in the case of preserved fishing net fragments which were used in court to prove that the Makah engaged in net fishing pre-contact with whites. The Makah are now allowed to net fish though it has been outlawed for other fishermen. The next day, we met the artist Greg Colfax (whom we had seen in the museum film) at his pizzeria/espresso cafe. Chatting while he made salmon lures, he spoke of his great grandpa, Skylar Colfax, the whale spearman in a photo at the museum. It was fascinating to have a contemporary connection to the history we had learned about. In the cafe there was a human sized statue; a mask with body of grass, a whale's dorsal and side fins that he had carved and hopes that the Smithsonian, Burke Collection or another museum will buy. The piece depicts a whaler's wife, partially metamorphosed into a whale. He told of the custom of Makah whaler wives to take to bed when the men went to sea to hunt. Their relatives would cover her with mats, and she would stay in bed for the week or so he was gone. It was believed she was spiritually tied to the whales, and if she was busy working and moving about, the whales would also be moving fast thus harder to catch. Also, she could become a whale and thus be in danger herself. He also explained the carved wooden whale dorsal fin we saw at museum. It is inlayed with hundreds of sea otter teeth, each of which represents a whale kill in that family. The carving was handed down through generations and used for family ceremonies. It is the only one remaining, anywhere, in existence.
His great grandma had told him about leaving Ozette for Neah Bay, to attend school, where the children were punished for speaking their language.
His father who had fought in WWII, told him a story of meeting Maori soldiers at a party, then being "adopted" as an honorary Maori, and how they seemed so familiar to each other. It affirmed our intuitions that Polynesians and Native Americans are somehow related, if only spiritually. I left the Pacific Northwest with a strong impression that the seas we have sailed and islands we have visited on our Pacific voyage are quite connected, with similar art, culture, religion and a shared history of colonization and subjugation.
After the rainy days and southerly winds associated with a low pressure system passed by, it was time to start the final passage down the coast, to home. Short windows of favorable and light winds necessitated breaking the 5 or so days of sailing into three passages. We were in good company with 4 other boats that were making the same passage. We first stopped at Newport Oregon to wait out more strong south winds and big seas. The entrance to that harbor can be treacherous and was even closed for a day to recreational vessels under 40 ft. We enjoyed the forced time at the dock with beer tastings with our cruising pals at the local Rogue River Brewery, walks across the historic bridge and through the quaint old town.
Our next hop was to Crescent City, California. We had light wind, which means lots of motoring, which was actually a good thing in this instance because of the many whales we encountered. It is said that having the engine running will alert a nearby whale so there is less likelihood of colliding with one. Whales can sink boats. At any rate, it was in the pitch dark, at around 10 pm, watch change, that a whale surfaced just about 10 ft from Iolani. Barry had heard it breathing behind us, then suddenly we saw, heard, smelled and even felt a spray of water from its exhalation.....Waaaaay too close! Believe it or not, that was actually the scariest moment of the whole trip.
The following day we sailed past St George Reef which has a lighthouse a few miles offshore, marking the many reefs and rocks that make it such a dangerous coast. Another lighthouse close to shore, while still functioning, is now also a museum which is accessible only at high tide. It has been operating continuously since the 1850s. Instead of full time keepers, it rotates monthly visiting volunteer keepers. It costs nothing to stay there, but the duties include giving daily tours. After a short stay in Crescent City, we had a final overnight to San Francisco Bay. Not wanting to sail under the Gate at 6 am, fighting an ebb tide, we tucked into Drakes Bay in the dark at 4 am, for a four hour nap, then woke to a glorious, sunny and calm morning. The wind picked up to a perfect 12- 15 knots, as we approached Pt Bonita then headed towards the Golden Gate bridge. Barry's parents were waiting on the Marin Headlands to photograph us as we sailed under the bridge. It was so fun to sail into the Bay, to Sausalito, waving to sailors we know and to be met by dear friends Susan and John who dinghied out to greet us! It was a great final day to an amazing 2 year sail!
Gulf Islands continued
01 September 2016
The last post ended with a dash off to a beach party on Gabriola. It was a calm and sunny afternoon of swimming in a calm bay, then warming up by laying on the
rocks at waters edge. We created a buffet from the scattered driftwood logs and enjoyed the sunset and another superb potluck. That memory is quite a contrast to todays scenario; we are cozied up on Iolani with fuzzy clothes on, hoping for the rainclouds to move on so we can hike up Mount Norman on South Pender Island for views of the anchorage and south towards the San Juan Islands, for that is where we will soon be sailing. It will be sad to leave Canadian territory, as it has been a treat to see the island life through the lenses of our local friends both on North Pender and Gabriola.
Dave, Anna and Madeleine brought us to see Pender's Recycling station where Anna works part time. It is a bustling, convivial, creative and artful waystation for the items that people would put in the trash, leave on the curb or take to the dump on the mainland. Here, as everything needs to be taken away by boat, it is vital that the trash and recycling be handled with utmost efficiency. The task is undertaken with good cheer.; here one sees neighbors and friends, catching up on news and making a pleasant time of a necessary chore. There is a "free-store", where items are nicely displayed, as if at a thrift store, but no money is needed, (I found a potato masher and a book). Next, we swung by the Fire station, where Anna also works as a paramedic. In what we have come to see as the typical helpful island spirit, the man on duty offered to loan Barry a scuba tank when we inquired about filling our tank after diving to clean Iolani's underbelly. Finally, we had a garden tour of the community plot that is advantageously located on a sheep farm, and an orchard of plum, pear and apple trees in full fruit that the owner has opened up to share with the community.
We saw this type of congenial living on a smaller island, Gabriola, as well. Here our cruising friends Dave and Rose, whom we met at the beginning of this voyage, are homesteading. They bought a plot full of trees years ago and are now felling trees, some of which will be milled for timbers, preparing their homesite and creating the gardens that will sustain them, while living onsite in a trailer about the same size as the 34 foot sailboat they sailed to New Zealand. Just down the street there is an artisan bakery where, in exchange for repairs to the owner's truck, they have an account kept track of on a chalkboard. As Anna has done on Pender, Dave and Rose have also found work by meeting folks, becoming not only useful but vital parts of the island community. On these small islands, people must be creative to support themselves as the economy is small. Seeing how they have found such good opportunities gives me inspiration for my own return to the working life.
After leaving Gabriola, the northernmost island of our Gulf Islands cruise, we have often shared anchorages with Tom and Britta on Desire, and Lee and Shelli on Astraea, two boat couples we met nearly two years ago while on The Baja HaHa. We all stopped at Thetis and Kuper Islands, which are separated only by a narrow and shallow passage for dinghies. The Southern Island, Kuper, is a First Nations Reserve, Penelakut, as the people there are known. While anchored in Clam Bay, a local Penelakut artist paddled up to Iolani, where we were socializing with "the gang", to show us his carvings. They were too big for our boats, so we arranged for him to return the next day with smaller carvings. He came the next night with a fabulous orca which Britta purchased for Desire. Barry and I did not fall in love with the others he had, so we will keep looking and hopefully find a nice carving to display onboard.
Next we returned to Genoa Bay, one of our favorite spots, and there we were treated to a fabulous meal at the home of May Fong who had done the HaHa and sailed to the south pacific as well. She picked us all up at the dock, took us to her house and served us a feast of salmon, local lamb, many delicious vegetables, then a dessert of apple pie followed by local raspberry flavored icewine in chocolate shot glasses.
The following morning, perhaps inspired by all that good food, we motored to Ganges Harbor, Saltspring, to go to the big saturday market. It was a bustling street fair with gorgeous though quite expensive produce and very good art. From Saltspring we had a lovely light air sail down here to Bedwell Harbor between North and South Pender where we currently are anchored off Medecine Beach, a quiet spot with a bird preserve. We were again treated to a beautiful and delicious meal cooked by Madeleine. She made a gorgeous flower design with the one artichoke they harvested from the garden plot, the leaves framing a mound of rice and the heart cut into pieces at center. There was also a lovely platter of roasted vegetables with exotic spices, and a green salad dressed with a sunflower seed, lemon and coconut oil dressing. Though Dave jokingly muttered something about wanting a hamburger, we enjoyed the meal so much.
We hiked to the top of Mount Norman on south Pender, where the islands to westward were alternately obscured in mist, then magically clear the next instant. We looked towards Sidney Spit and Vancouver island, our next stops as we work our way back to Victoria to a Classic Boat Festival and a Blues Bash on Labor Day weekend. Sept. 9-11 is the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival, then we will look for a weather window to sail down the coast back to San Francisco.
Gulf Islands fun
19 August 2016
We have been in Canada for 4 weeks, in a whirlwind of social activity. We were greeted at the dock in Victoria, simultaneously, by our dear old friend Dave Reed and his lovely daughter Madeleine ( who was just about 6 years old when we saw her last, now a gorgeous and intelligent 16 yr old) , and our new friends from Maui, Doris and Gordon who were visiting Victoria for just two days. All before we had even taken our first real shower after three weeks at sea! Sylvia's parents flew in a couple days later for a fun and delicious week of enjoying the cultural and culinary attractions in Victoria. The BC museum was the highlight, followed by a day at the Butchart Gardens. We had no idea that the food scene was so hopping here with the farm to table and artisan food ethos firmly established. Jean and Charlie, aka Mom and Dad, flew out on saturday the 30th, so we left the dock in Victoria to sail north to the Gulf Islands. We literally saw their plane take off as we sailed up Cordova channel to our anchorage at Saanichton Bay. We spent just one night there, anchored off an Indian Reserve where we had front row seats for the canoe races which reminded us of all the pirogue and outrigger racing we have seen since arriving in Polynesia. A gorgeous daysail past many little and some large forested islands brought us to secluded little Genoa Bay. It is secluded as far as onshore development, but very popular with boaters with folks coming and going, rafting up and partying on the dock. After the calmest night sleep on board, with not a ripple on the water or puff of breeze, we headed ashore in the morning to catch up with the world. We called our constant cruising pals from Lady Carolina with whom we had been sailing with and sharing meals for a shy year. " Oh , you are just a few miles away, we will see you in 10 minutes!" They fed us, took us hiking, let us do laundry, take showers, and just hang out at a house, all big treats for boat bound people. The social whirl continued with a visit by Sylvia's friend Sheila and her two kids, Taj and Kira. We visited Sidney on Vancouver Island, Saltspring, Prevost and Galiano islands. Having a couple of kids on board was such a fun change: Games, knot tying lessons, more time ashore and special menu planning which included Kira making raviolis. Sheila and the kids became adept at boat chores and habits; Taj and Kira mastered paddeboarding; Kira convinced Sheila and I to swim in the icy waters; they taught Barry and I to play disc golf; we had late night card games, knot tying lessons, and special dinners which included Kira making raviolis. I think we packed more crazy fun into one week than the previous month! We had a few days on North Pender, catching up with Dave, Anna And Madeleine. They showed us all their favorite spots on the island and Madeleine made some truly fabulous food. She is a very talented young chef! We are now on Gabriola island, hanging out with longtime cruising friends on the sailing vessels Desire, Adesso and Rose and Dave of Aussi Rules who now live here. Gotta run, off to a beach party. This cruising life is so fun! We are enjoying it as much as we can in our last few weeks of sailing life
One day of sun.....
15 June 2016
We are still at Hanalei Bay, Kauai, prepping the boat for passage to Vancouver. Frequent rain showers allow us time to enjoy reading our books without feeling guilty. Sylvia does more cooking while it is rainy; curries, soups and today, BLT and avo sandwiches, instead of big bowls of salad with a rainbow of farmers market veggies topped with macadamia nuts that we eat on sunny days. Todays lunch prompted the overdue epiphany that chopsticks are the best way to turn your bacon in a nonstick pan, duh!
We thought we were going to leave last week, around the 7th of june, but serious boat issues and a rethinking of the current weather up north have kept us here at anchor. We discovered during a routine winch cleaning, that the bases which hold them onto the mast are cracked! It's a very scary thing to contemplate, the possibility that those winches could pop off the mast under load. We have ordered replacement bases which are sandcast, and thus stronger than the originals. We were told that 75% of used Barient brand winches have this problem. Meanwhile, we are installing jam cleats which will bear the load of the halyards, and are devising alternative ways to lead the halyards to other winches. Our dinghy fuel system has failed, allowing water into the lines and tank, which has fouled the carburetor. 4 days of fiddling with it..........between rain showers, and we think we have fixed it with a new fuel tank cap. We have 2 gallons of bad gasoline which it turns out cannot be recycled or deposited anywhere until October 2nd! We are still trying to figure out a solution.
One of the most magical days we have enjoyed since leaving the grandeur of the Marquesas was a daysail along the Na Pali coast with a boat full of friends who live here on Kauai. 3 of them had never seen those cliffs and valleys from the ocean, and it was a joy to be able to bring them, on a perfectly sunny and calm day, to see that amazing place. There are no roads in this area, just hiking trails which require a permit. It is a rigorous walk, and one would need to carry overnight supplies, making it even more so. We drifted awhile, off a pretty cove with caves, waterfalls and white sandy beaches, and dove into the clear water, 50 ft deep.
On the sail back, we caught an Uku, also know as Jobfish. We had enjoyed eating this fish in the Tuamotus. Cut into small peices, and quickly sauted in coconut oil with ginger, and a wasabi soy dip, it was a perfect afternoon snack; thank you little fish.
That day, almost 2 weeks ago, is the last sunny day we can remember, and sometimes it's a struggle to stay energized while cooped up on board. After more than a year of being away from the USA and the news stream, it has been disturbing to be "tuned in" again. I am tempted to act like the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand, to not allow the sadness to penetrate my feelings.
23 May 2016
We arrived at our final island in the Hawaiian chain, Kauai, after a relaxed overnight sail from Oahu, which was nice because getting our final chores done and departing the Ala Wai Marina in time to get to the fuel dock before it closed, in gusty winds and passing sprinkles, was a challenge. We headed off to the west, skirting the restricted Naval operations area around Pearl Harbor under jib and mizzen, ensuring we would have moderate speed and not arrive at our destination before morning light. At 8 am, we actually hooked a small yellowfin tuna, after many months of not even a nibble on our lines. We entered Nawiliwili harbor midmorning, and dropped our anchor on the edge of the channel, just barely within the crowded mooring field. After some welcome napping, we readied the boat for guests. Barry's college friend John Takakawa is from Oahu, but has settled here where his grandparents had emigrated from Japan, working at the plantation store.. Sylvia's friend Andre, from way back when she lived in Napa was also here on the island catsitting, and had brought our winter clothes from California with him on the plane. To round out the festivities, Andres friend Robin, who we had met years back when she came for a tuesday night race, had gotten badly slapped by the mainsheet, and actually trusted us enough to set foot on our boat again. Barry ferried them all aboard between rainshowers. Dinner was ahi tuna poke sushi rolls. What a nice first day on Kauai! In the days following, John and Andre both took us around the island in their cars, to see the beaches and bays on the South shore, and gorgeous Waimea Canyon. We took Iolani out for daysails and trolling for fish twice, with no success but nice scenery. We had several cook outs with Dan and Mary, more college friends, taking part in the universal Hawaiian culture of beach barbecueing. People have been so nice and helpful, inviting us over and even taking us out to dinner, loaning cars, and even their sewing machines. Sylvia spent a day at Charlie's Upholstery shop, squeezed in amongst piles of cushions with Charlie, a Phillipino immigrant, who had no time to sew our weathercloths ( panels of canvas attached to lifelines to hopefully keep out waves and spray) , but allowed me to use his awesome professional machine. These things mean so much to us cruisers! After about ten days at Nawiliwil, on Barry's birthday, we sailed up north to Hanalei Bay, a place that we had been hearing was the most beautiful in all of Hawaii. It certainly is, and is also full of fun things to do. We have dinghied up a river, paddleboarded, swam, walked along the beach and through town. Now we will borrow a car to access the sights and hikes that are further afield. We have less than two weeks or so to enjoy this island and also get Iolani ready for the upcoming ocean passage, which will be as long as the Mexico to Marquesas passage. While the rhumb line distance is around 2400 miles, we will probably sail about 2800 miles to skirt the edge of the Pacific High, the area of light winds that sit between Hawaii and the mainland in summer.
Molokai and Oahu visits
09 May 2016
Our time in Hawaii has flown by; here's some highlights of our adventures after the 10 weeks spent on Maui. We had a quick 4 day stop on Molokai, and spent 2 busy weeks at the Ala Wai Marina in Waikiki.
Molokai is very different from the other islands, with virtually no tourist infrastructure and a strong desire to keep it that way. It reminded us of place we had been in the South Pacific. We met a couple who had cruised a boat for 18 years and now live on Molokai, but have really not been accepted. Their neighbor yells racial epithets at them across the fence daily. The locals are friendly enough if you visit respectfully, then LEAVE! We had a nice time there, catching up with boat friends we have known since Tahiti, snorkeling with dozens of turtles at once, buying veggies from street vendors and watching hundreds of outrigger canoes finish a 25 mile race across Paliolo Channel from Maui. The aforementioned cruisers who live there took us on a day tour of the island, so we got to see the Leper colony from the lookout as well as the gorgeous beaches on the west side.
Too soon, it was time to sail to Oahu and the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. The channel crossing was plenty windy making our sail past the iconic Diamond Head quite exhilarating. In our two weeks there we got a lot of boat work done and had time for fun excursions, like a visit to Pearl Harbor, a drive around the island to see the north shore, playing in the waves at Waikiki, a visit to the excellent Bishop museum, lots of stops in Chinatown for great deals on veggies and the Asian food court. On the down side, the water in the harbor is vile, there are tons of homeless and unsavory folks about, and the van we had borrowed from a friend got towed one night, taking up most oft he next day with the hassle of getting a notarized letter to the towing co, so they would release it to a non owner.
We had carried a life raft for friends in Maui to deliver to their father at the Waikiki Yacht Club for his upcoming Transpac Race. When we met Gib and Jackie they invited us out on their Santa Cruise 52 for a little sail. It turns out it was a dynamic rig tuning session with their rigger and Barry was given the helm that afternoon to run the boat through its paces while the others tuned the rig. The boat was stripped down so we just flew along doing 10 knots to weather and 17 off the wind with just an old main and tiny jib. It was amazing how balanced and effortless the helm was. The big coincidence turned out to be we had just delivered the life raft to the boat a group of our racing friends back home were going to do the Transpac Race on...Good luck Chasche-Mer