Dammit's done it again! After more than two weeks aboard, never showing the slightest interest in escape or even supervised shore leave, we dropped our guard. Pulling into Lund for lunch and to re-supply, Dammit departed the boat right behind Dona as she began tying off the stern. Problem is that he decided to leap on, rather than over, the four inch diameter pipe rail Dona was tying us off on. Dona claims his eyes got as big as saucers, he said "not again" and all four legs went straight out as he grasped for anything his claws might sink into. From my position in the pilothouse the only indication I had that something was amiss was a cat howling like his tail was caught in a fan belt and that the bow being blown away from the dock. Fortunately Dona had put the harness on the old man before her departure so was able to tie off the stern, snag the cat out of the water, toss him into the aft cockpit and tie off the bow before returning to dry off the cat. I guess he'll never learn, but he keeps our voyages that much more interesting.
This May trip isn't supposed to be happening to us, but it is. I had November and January vacations allocated and felt certain I could take my third in February or March. We were taking Free Flight to Mexico for the winter. After 36 years I felt certain I was finally going to be able to pick and choose what I wanted to do. That was before the management of United Airlines decided to ground 25% of our 747s. All of a sudden they decided to eliminate some of their vacation "liability" and here we are with an assigned vacation in May instead of next winter. Oh well, maybe I'll be senior enough next year.
April 15th I returned to San Francisco from Hong Kong and met Dona at the boat in Sidney B.C. We immediately left for Friday Harbor for the night, departing for Edmonds at first light in the morning. We had an appointment to have a new dinghy and davit system installed on the 17th. We got about 2 miles out into the Strait of San Juan De Fuca when I told Dona to put everything on the floor that wasn't already on the floor. Coincidentally, almost simultaneously, the weather service decided to "upgrade" their forecast which was now calling for gale force winds throughout the Strait and down Admiralty Inlet. If the boat didn't have to be in Edmonds that day and if the installer wasn't doing me a "big favor" to squeeze me in like this we'd have picked a smaller than average wave to turn around on and spent the day in Friday Harbor. But, I will be off for 6 weeks, we do want to use the new system this year, it's only about 6 hours to Edmonds and we didn't buy no stinking Nordhavn to run from a little wind. Well, lemme tell ya, it took us about 10 hours with the gps sometimes indicating a speed over ground of less than 2 knots. When you're going into the outgoing tide, a 30-40 knot wind, up and down or through an 8-10 foot wall of water every 3-4 seconds, you don't set any speed records. A few hours late and a few Bonine later we arrived. The installation would begin in a few days. When will I learn?
By the end of the week the installation was complete so I took Free Flight over to Bainbridge so Dona could load her "provisions". I kept telling her we were only going to be gone for about 5 weeks, but once again that must not have made any impression. She can leave home for 6 months with 2 sets of underwear, 2 tops, a pair of jeans and a sweater, but don't even think about trying to restrict her gourmet provisioning. We left Bainbridge, passed through the locks and into Lake Union for 600 gallons of fuel and to have the heating system repaired. It was now April 30th and we were ready to leave on vacation, almost.
Months before we had some stainless steel rails and rain gutters Fabricated. They were done and scheduled for installation on Thursday the 2nd. We were also going to have the new dinghy/davit system fitted for a canvas cover at the same time. Considering all that, we had a leisurely 2 day trip back to our slip in Sidney, stopping in Port Ludlow for the night and timing the tides just perfectly. Arriving in the early afternoon on Wednesday we met with the stainless steel fabricator who asked if we wanted the gutters powder-coated white; they'd be ready at 09:30 in the morning. Thursday came and went without as much as a call from the stainless guy. And, it was "too windy" to lie out the pattern for the canvas cover. Still too windy/busy on Friday for the canvas, but were promised an appearance at 07:15-07:30 on Monday. The stainless was finally installed late Friday afternoon, just before his "tee time". We spent the weekend visiting Victoria and doing some more last minute provisioning… what are we going to do with all this food? At precisely 09:00 they began fitting the pattern and 30 minutes later were done. And 30 minutes later we were off on our vacation, finally. Boats and those who work on them!
Our first night out, Monday May 6th, we spent on the east side of Saturna Island at Little Cabbage Island. We had a great time playing with our new dinghy and provisioning the boat with oysters. We put them in a mesh dive bag; over the side (high tide) while at anchor and in the cooler (low tide) while cruising, one long high tide and an even longer low tide per day. That should really mess up their circadian rhythms, jet lagged oysters in the larder.
We had intended to see the town of Sturdies Bay and maybe play a little golf while anchored in Montague Harbor, but the season had not started yet so neither the taxi service nor the motor scooter rentals were yet available. We did however, meet up with friends in Montague on Tuesday evening and then again the following night in Pirate's Cove, just south of Dodd Narrows; leg of lamb for dinner. Thursday we transited Dodd Narrows and into Nanaimo where we got fitted for a salon sliding screen door. It'll be ready on the 29th (another appointment, but he's not a boat guy so we'll see). Later in the day we went into Silva Bay. We had dinner (Dona's duck tamales) with Andre and Carole Lemieux that evening and played golf the following day. After a brilliant round of golf (Dona, not me) we hauled the prawn trap we had dropped off before and had about 25 really nice prawns. It was nice seeing old friends once again.
Saturday morning we topped off the water tanks, leaving Silva Bay at 06:00. We had hoped to beat the forecast winds and seas for our crossing of the Strait of Georgia and not have to chip salt off our windows when we arrived in Egmont. Unfortunately the swell from the north, coupled with the shallow waters just outside Silva Bay and a 10 knot breeze dashed those hopes; several miles off shore we had a pleasant ride. Approaching Egmont the weather was marvelous and, at the present pace, we would be on schedule to enter Malibu Rapids and Princess Louisa Inlet an hour before slack water. Electing to continue, we tied up at the float below the falls at 18:45. We had intended to wash the salt off, but the water was still disconnected; season hadn't started. With no water to wash down we anchored at the base of the falls, cruised Princess Louisa in our dinghy, picked more neurotic oysters, and thoroughly enjoyed the cloudless, windless 80 degree day. Late in the afternoon we saw, and heard a huge avalanche of ice and water fall several thousand feet from the cliffs above. It seemed as if the near freefall was in slow motion, a long slow drop and thunderclap followed by a glancing blow off the rock wall and another long drop to the valley floor. It was spectacular.
The fellow at the dock put the water system together and began washing his boat so we returned to the dock, washed Free Flight down and enjoyed a fried oyster dinner with our new found friends. We left the falls at 05:20, caught Malibu rapids at slack water and headed down Jervis Inlet expecting to make Lund later in the day. The barometer had begun falling during the night, but we had been too isolated to receive a forecast that past couple of days so we didn't know what to expect. When we finally did get a forecast it was for moderate to strong northwesterly winds and an increasing sea state. I didn't want to wash the boat again so we turned southwest for Pender Harbor. It was really nice being tied to a dock as it blew and rained hard; almost didn't mind the $43 moorage fee. A combination of almost not minding the fee, the thought of spending another day at the dock and a forecast of the winds easing made us decide to stick our nose out and move on up the coast. We made it about an hour. The winds increased to over 30 knots and the seas rose with them. Right on the nose; forget about the clean boat. We ducked into a cove behind Musket Island for another day on the hook. Dammit would have to wait until tomorrow before he'd attempt abandoning ship in Lund.
May 15 - After leaving Lund we headed north, anchoring in Galley Bay for a nap before heading off to Refuge Cove and a rendezvous with the Surbey's aboard "Patience". Found nothing open in Refuge Cove until June 1st, not even water at the dock and Free Flight really needs a bath. We departed Refuge Cove fairly late in the morning, anchoring in Tenedos Bay for lunch and a siesta. Later in the day we'd pass up Prideaux Haven and Melanie Cove (other boats at anchor) in favor of having Laura Cove to ourselves. We launched the kayak and dinghy for a little exploring and to pick up another bucket of oysters. Like I said, we always go home with lots of food. After dinner it began to rain and Free Flight was clean once more.
It's now May 19th and we've spent the last three days in the Gorge (3 hours west of Laura Cove) visiting friends from the Campbell River Yacht Club and Power Squadron. It's the annual Victoria Day long weekend when they all congregate here for a big BBQ. We were going to leave early this morning, but got talked into staying another day. The weather has been glorious, the clamming bountiful, the companionship enjoyable and we're easy.
Late May 2002 - We've finally gone and done it, joined a yacht club. We're really ready for retirement now that we belong to a country club and a yacht club. Who'd have ever thought we'd sink so low? We have sponged off these folks for so many Victoria Day barbecues that we kinda felt guilty; even joined the Campbell River Power Squadron. Now we've got to get the yachty paraphernalia which means cork boots and brush cutters around here. Dona and I left the Gorge with 4 other boats (they had sails, but didn't use them) and headed north to Waiatt Bay. We set our 110-pound Bruce and the 4 other boats rafted up to us. And, yes the appropriate remarks were made about the stinkpot slumming with sailboats and Canadians clinging to Americans for aid. The 9 of us spent yesterday afternoon and this morning clearing/cleaning and rerouting a couple of trails from the head of Waiatt Bay across to Small Inlet then up towards Newton Lake and Granite Bay. Last winter a storm passed through which really dropped a lot of trees. The chainsaw was busy. We accomplished a lot and really had a good time to boot. About noon today the 5 boats took off in 3 different directions, all constrained by heavy currents. Dona and I headed out through "Hole in the Wall" for Walsh Cove. Arriving in Walsh we found the combination of our not being willing/able to stern tie or anchor in 130' of water with the increasing wind untenable, so we continued down towards our alternate "Roscoe Cove" only to find a big logging operation going on just outside. There was a mother ship for the workers, 4 helicopters, 2 booming areas and they would probably be going til late and start up early. We kept on going. Went by Laura Cove again, found someone in our spot, so we checked out Melanie Cove only to find what seemed to be the whole Sequim Yacht Club (maybe 8 boats) practicing "stern tying". Stern tying allows you to pack 10 boats into a place where there ought to be 2 or 3 (a lot like mooring in Catalina). As a collateral benefit the line determines the arc your boat will travel through (which boats or rocks you'll hit) when your anchor breaks free. If you like to "get away from it all" while meeting new people, being able to listen to their dinner conversations and generators from the comfort of your own boat I recommend stern tying in Melanie Cove during August. We opted to remain in Prideaux Haven about a hundred yards from a sailboat. We've been here before, but least it's quiet. I can smell the roasted potatoes, so I'd better get with it and cook the rack of lamb.
May 22 - We left our anchorage headed for Squirrel Cove. From a hot tip the night before and the chatter on the radio it became apparent that the mob from Melanie was going to be headed for Squirrel Cove, apparently for more stern tying practice. If we didn't get in before they did we'd once again be looking for another spot. I picked up the lead boat, a 42 Grand Banks, on radar showing him 1.5 miles behind doing 9.7 knots to my leisurely 6.6 knots; this was not good. Remembering that the Lugger manual says we should run the engine at max continuous power once in a while I pushed the throttle up from 1350 rpm to 2100. While neither the fuel flow nor the noise was good and I still was almost 2 knots slower, my radar and charting program had good news; we'd beat him. No stern tying practice tonight. That evening, over wine aboard the Grand Banks, "Catharsis", John asked, "What speed does that Nordhavn 40 cruise at?" We both had a good laugh, discussing our electronics, its capabilities and our "non-race".
Today we wandered over to Teakerne Arm to see the falls and walk to Lake Cassel. Since there is no good spot to anchor and leave the boat unattended we decided to go in shifts. Dona dropped me and the dinghy off about 5 miles out. I raced in at full throttle (the new dinghy really flies), tied up at the dinghy dock, climbed to the top of the falls, walked to the lake, back to the dinghy and met Dona just as she was pulling in, 400 yards off the beach. We swapped boats so Dona could make the trek in and I'm glad she took the hand-held radio with her because she was being entertained with a chorus by a pair of Loons, taking quite a while for the return trip. She really handles Free Flight very well and has a good feel for her (can spin her on a dime), but shies away from doing much more than watching things when I take a nap or while I'm on the bow hauling/cleaning anchor chain. This was the first time she had to go from A to B alone; can't wait until she'll agree to try docking. She'll probably do better than me, but then I'll have to learn to tie the boat up and that learning curve may be too steep for me. Once we were all on board again we continued up Lewis Channel towards Von Donop Inlet. Picking up a good cell phone signal near the north end of Cortes Island Dona rescheduled the screen installation and got a tee time for us at the Fairwinds Golf Course in Schooner Cove. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to find out if I've ditched my November vacation for one in August.
Right now we're anchored in a tiny cove inside Von Donop Inlet. After lunch we were taking our obligatory naps, Dona on the pilothouse berth and me on the salon sofa, when one of 4 ravens that had been worrying a pair of eagles perched on the ledge just outside the window and started squawking at me. He wouldn't leave until I got up. It was time to move anyhow, the weather was perfect and the tide was in so we wandered around all the little nooks and crannies in the dinghy. The inlet is 3 miles long and very calm with numerous camp sites, fire pits and even picnic tables along the shore; looks like a great spot for a person's first kayak adventure. As I sit here typing, Dona is out in the kayak under sunny skies, 72 degrees outside air temp, calm winds and a sea temp of 61 degrees (about 10 degrees warmer than we'll see all year at home). The beef tenderloin is thawed, a bottle of cabernet is open and it looks like I'll have to barbeque.
We bought an Apple "IMac" and we've been editing our 4 hours of video from last year's Alaskan junket. For anyone who may be forced to actually view this award winning documentary, you'll be happy to hear it has already been cut to about 1:30, with more to go. Dona is also planning to cut/dub some of the existing sound tracks, substituting something more "appropriate", whatever that means. It's all been fun and we'll probably play with either the video or the stills after the sun goes down, but the sun is staying out later and later as we go along.
We left Von Donop and found our way to Drew Harbor (Harbour in Canadian). It's been one of those lazy kinds of days; the weather's changing. After more than a week of sun it's beginning to drizzle, sounds like meatloaf tonight. We anchored in 55' of water just west of Rebecca Spit, taking the dinghy into Herriot Bay to buy an ice cream cone and a newspaper after lunch. Returning to the boat we read the paper, took our siestas and generally vegetated throughout the afternoon. It's almost 5pm, almost high tide and I'm almost motivated enough to run (the dinghy) into shore for a little walk before dinner. When Ole Dammit sees us reaching for the rubber boots he disappears, but we know all his hideouts. He knows the blue harness, leash and dinghy ride are coming next. Anytime I begin thinking he's not too terribly bright I have to remind myself of how perceptive he is: can't call the vet's from the house, pack 2 suitcases or busy ourselves in preparation to leave together because he knows he's headed for the "spa" and makes himself real scarce. Tomorrow we begin our trek southward.
We left Rebecca Spit at 6am under rainy skies and headed for Deep Bay. As the day progressed the weather got worse; not a day for exploring in the dinghy so we pressed on, arriving in Schooner Cove at 15:30. We changed our tee time for the following day, had a pleasant dinner in the resort's restaurant and went to bed early. Schooner Cove, Fairwinds golf course and the homes within the complex are first rate. The course is very nice, but tough. We dodged a few rain drops, but generally had a pretty good round. The following morning, May 27, we were off to Nanaimo for the installation of the salon screen; Dona's thrilled with the results.
Next day it was around to Silva Bay and the Gabriola Country Club for another grudge match with Carole and Andre Lemieux. About 10 minutes out into the Strait of Georgia, Environment Canada issued a revised forecast, calling for gale force winds SE at 40 knots for the morning; not again. The sky was ominous, but the seas flat all the way around and as we tied up in Silva Bay, it was down right balmy. As a matter of fact we made lots of jokes about all the boats staying tied up at the dock, weather forecasting in general and Environment Canada in particular… that is until the 10th tee, with egg salad sandwich in hand, the skies opened up. We lasted 2 more holes where with our tails between our legs we returned to the comfort of our dry boat. Leaving Silva Bay this morning we caught the 0600 slack water at Gabriola Pass, enroute to Ganges on Saltspring Island for the day and then back in our slip tomorrow.
We'll take a few days cleaning her up, scheduling some maintenance and enjoying some of what South Vancouver Island has to offer before heading home on the 2nd and back to work on the 9th. I just spoke with someone in the flight office and there is no vacation allocation for 747-400 captains in the month of August. It's beginning to seem that each time we get out for a month or more it becomes increasingly difficult to think about returning to work; 35 months, or less, to go.