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Overwintering hives at the end of February

Saturday March 1st 2014

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I rolled over and looked at the clock.  4:00.  My plan was to awaken a 4 am and my internal alarm is working, it seems.  I had breakfast and packed and I'm off to the airport.  It is minus Thirty-five!

My plane was late and that was a good thing since the baggage lineup would have made me miss it.   I landed at YVR at 0900 and Syd picked me up.  We bought provisions and drove to shelter Island Marina to meet Colin. 

By noon, Syd and I were underway in a Beneteau 435. Simply Irresistible, on our way to Powell River.  Our plan was to overnight at Gibsons and we arrived there around 1630, riding in on the rising tide.

After we tied up, we walked over to Gramma's Pub for supper and a pint.

Tomorrow, we plan to leave at first light.  The remainder of the trip will take ten hours -- or more.

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
George Orwell

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Sunday March 2nd 2014

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I was up at 0400, had breakfast, studied day's planned course, and checked the weather.  I tried to check my home, but the cameras would not report back.  One of my cameras' remote watch site had sent an email at 2300 hrs that it had lost touch with the camera.  That probably mean a power outage, an Internet outage or that my cat had knocked something over. It is minus thirty at home and a power failure could cool the house off quickly.

At first light, we left our slip and motored out over the shoal and into the Strait.  It was snowing lightly and a gale warning was posted.  We sailed a bit, but the wind was shifty and we decided to motor to make Powell River mid-afternoon.

I waited until Shirley was up and gave her a call.  She said she would go over to my place and check on things.  I also got a brainwave and called Carolyn.  She looked out the window and reported that smoke was coming out of my chimney -- a good sign.  She also checked and found that our Internet service was down.  Whew!

We had an interesting morning.  Syd went below and saw water sloshing over the floorboards, so he called me down.  I tasted it and it was fresh water.  It was also warm.  I told Syd, "Don't worry, we are not sinking.". 

Somehow he found that hilarious.  Anyhow, as it turns out, our hot water tank leaks.  We knew there was a pressure system leak, because the pump kept running, but had not guessed it would be that bad. One of our water tanks is now empty.  If we were days from shore on the ocean, a leak like that could be deadly if we did not have reserves.

The bilge pumps did not work, either, so I checked the filters.  Both were clogged and I had to clean them both many times before the bilge was dry since the bilge was full of lint.

So, we're presently east of Texada Island in six-foot seas, motoring north with an ETA of 1530.  Syd is at the wheel.  I'm below, having just made lunch and I'm catching up on email.

We arrived at Powell River, changed boats and had supper.  I checked my coal bin camera at home over the 'net and decided the fuel would not last the night.  It was minus thirty with a 20 KPH wind in Swalwell.  Even though it was 2130 MST in Alberta, I called Shirley and texted Elijah and they took care of the problem.  More later.

Write drunk; edit sober.
 Ernest Hemingway

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Monday March 3rd 2014

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I'm up before dawn, aboard Gena II at Boat Harbour in Powell River, planning the day. I like to check out a boat well before leaving and we did not do so last night as we were tired after the day's travels and after moving from Simply Irresistible to Gena II.  We had gone up to the Tree Frog for supper and gone to bed early.  I don't even know if we have fuel, or how much.

At dawn it was raining steadily, and chilly, and Syd was not awake at our planned 0630 departure time, so I decided to set our departure back to 0900. he got up shortly after and went uptown for grub while I checked out the boat and did various planning preparations.

At 0900, it was raining and miserable, but we pulled away from the dock and got underway.  This boat has only a dodger and a bimini, so is quite open to the weather.

When we untied, I had quite a surprise.  We had a narrow exit from our place on the dock and this boat, in spite of the saildrive, went almost straight sideways to port when shifted into reverse.  Saildrives usually back up quite straight, with little propwalk. Anyhow, we got it done, and without any bruises.

The fuel gauge said 5/8, but I was taking no chances on running out of fuel for heat and power.  The wind was predicted to be on the nose, so we needed to run on the engine for the whole day.  We pulled into the fuel dock called the attendant and waited for him to come down.

Gena took on 110 liters.  Since the tank holds 158 at best and we start sucking air and losing cabin heat at 1/3 tank.  With the gauge showing 5/8 full, we were effectively near-empty and would have run out during the day.

We'd then had to rely on sail alone (and warm clothes) to take us safely to a suitable overnight anchorage or dock -- and fuel.  My policy of never passing a fuel dock with the gauge showing much less than full paid off once again.

The wind was on the nose all day, and we had moderate swells, so we motored straight down to the southern tip of Texada Island, bypassing possible stopping points along the way as they were either closed for the season or too far out of our way -- and we did not need to stop.

As we passed the southern tip, we had to decide, and we chose Newcastle.  We did not need food or fuel and could go without beer for one night, so we motored across the Strait, explored the channel on the north side of Newcastle Island, and tied up at the marine park dock.  We were alone there, this being off-season, and spent a quiet night.

If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you.
What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.
Mary Pickford

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Tuesday March 4th 2014

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Today, we run over to Shelter Island and finish our deliveries.

By now, Syd had decided to book off work and go with the flow.  He had only allowed four days for the job, but could now see that rushing in cold, rainy weather is uncomfortable and unwise. 

Actually, rushing is always more risky than taking it easy, especially when short-handed.  For a trip like this, in these conditions, three or even four hands would provide more relief at the helm and more eyes and minds on the navigation.  On the other hand, more people take up more space, provide more complicated interpersonal relations, mean more agendas, and a boat can feel crowded.

We could now sail and take our time, however the forecast said we had another day of light winds on the nose and rain.  I decided to just motor straight for the final destination and go.  ETA was 1530 from my estimates.  From Nanaimo, we motored pretty well straight to Sand Heads and up the South Arm of the Fraser River.

As we arrived at the South Arm of the Fraser River, the wind picked up and rain pelted us hard and we encou8ndered swells running with us.  The current slowed Gena to a crawl as we dodged shipping and fishing traffic.

At Steveston, we stopped to fuel up in the rain, and took on 74 litres, proving again how wise we had been to have bought fuel at the start yesterday.

We pulled out of the shelter of the breakwater and again resumed our crawl against the current and up the River.  Instead of our usual 7 knots (8 MPH or 12 KPH), we were lucky to make 3.9 knots and often were down to 2.5 knots or less. 

I was below checking the charts when I heard the engine change tone.  When I got back up on deck, Syd explained that we had been almost stopped by the current at one point, so he had pushed our engine up to 2850.  Personally, I never exceed 2650 for more than a few minutes, but know that redline for a D2-55 Volvo is 3000, so did not worry about running the engine that fast for a while. 

At 2.5 knots, and a trip of 15 nautical miles up the River, one additional knot of speed will reduce the time required from six hours to a little over four hours.  Fuel consumption climbs, though, from 3 litres per hour at 1800 RPM to 10 litres per hour at 2800!  Burning more fuel also means producing more heat and a greater load on the engine cooling system.

I took the helm, and after a few minutes saw fog coming up the companionway from below.  Strange, I thought. 

Then the penny dropped.  I killed the throttle, handed control to Syd and checked the engine.  Sure enough, it was puking out antifreeze.  We had overheated the engine.  Oh, Oh!

Slowing down stopped the eruptions, and although the coolant overflow tank was empty, all seemed well and we soon reached a branch of the River where the current was less and we could make time with less throttle. 

Eventually, at 1600 hrs, we found our dock and I made a beautiful approach that overcame any doubts that Syd might have acquired about my ability (and sanity) in our four days together.

We tied up, climbed into Syd's car, drove through a boatyard and he dropped me at the Tssawassen ferry terminal.

I caught the 7 PM ferry to Schwartz Bay, flagged a cab, and here I am back home on Cassiopeia for the night.

It feels soooo good to be home.

Good night.

He would make a lovely corpse.
 Charles Dickens

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Wednesday March 5th 2014

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Today, I'm weary, and my lips are chapped after 170 sea miles in the rain and snow on boats with only dodgers and biminis for shelter at the helm, but I'm happy.

I had an excellent night's sleep on my own boat in Sidney. There's nothing like spending time on someone else's boat -- no matter how new or nice -- to make a person appreciate his own.

I enjoyed the deliveries, but the weather was wet, the seas confused and the winds uncooperative. Many marinas along the way were closed for winter. The last four hours were spent slogging up the Fraser against the current in wind and rain, dodging logs and other debris.

I'm not complaining. It was fun and I'll probably do it again.

Today, I'll borrow the truck and visit Mom.  Seeing her was a main reason for coming over, rather than heading home after the deliveries.

I met with Howard, the new Cooper dock manager and then took the boat out for a short sail. I had some concerns about the compasses, but when I swung them, they turned out to be close enough.  Sems my earlier work on them paid off.

Following that, I drove downtown, did a little shopping and proceeded to Mom's residence.

We visited for a few hours, then went to Howard Johnston's for supper.  I was exhausted and dropped Mom at her door, then returned to the boat. 

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself
- and you are the easiest person to fool."
- Richard Feynman

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Thursday March 6th 2014

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Today, I plan to return to YYC.

I did.  I flew Westjet, scheduled for 1340 departure, and of course the flight was delayed.  De-icing in Calgary was blamed.  We landed late and by the time I had my bags, it was 1722, not 1622 as It should have been.

When I got off, I had a text from Maddy saying the roads were terrible and they hoped to cancel supper tonight at my place.  Being there for supper was a major reason I flew home when I did.  Oh, well.

I worried about the roads and phoned Carolyn, my neighbour across the tracks.  She said there is lots of snow, but nothing to worry about, so I drove home.  No problem.

Everything is AOK at home, but I see the cat started clawing furniture again, so we had a stern talk and he spent a bit of time out in the snow and the cold to think about it.  I may have to give him away if this happens again.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,
then they fight you, then you win.
 Mahatma Gandhi

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Friday March 7th 2014

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I'm home and catching up on things.  Tonight I'll have ten people over for supper.

People showed up around 1800 hours and we ate around 1900.  Ruth and Dave brought Zippy back and Zippy was very happy to be home.

Everyone left around 2100 and I went o bed, leaving the mess for the morning.

We turn not older with years, but newer every day.
Emily Dickinson

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Saturday March 8th 2014

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We are into a warming trend now, with above average temperatures predicted for the coming week.

I'm cleaning up after last nights party and expecting Jean to show up around 1000 hours. 

All wars are popular for the first thirty days.
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

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Sunday March 9th 2014

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The warm spell continues and snowdrifts are shrinking. Our days are growing longer and soon the days will be longer than the nights and the increasingly direct heat of the sun and warmth of the days will overpower the cold of the nights.  Runoff was traditionally around March 17th, but may be later this year due to the amount of snow and cold we have experienced.

I have to start thinking about water running off and into the basement.  The water runs by some of the drains. I have done nothing about it in the past, but really should do something before this spring.

 

In the late afternoon, I decided that I should go outside, so took my kites and went for a drive in the 4X4 to see how far I could get.  I wanted to reach the quonset and also the hives there, but the snow was too deep and I got stuck down at the rail shed.  I dug a bit, with no luck, so I tried flying the 3.5 metre kite.  No luck.  There was just not enough wind, so I walked back to the house.

An hour later, I returned and in the meantime, the truck had melted itself out and I drove away.  By then, the wind had shifted to the west and I was able to fly the smaller kite, but the wind was extremely gusty. On moment I was almost lifted off my feet, and the next the kite was dropping to the ground.

Holding the kite bar was good for my bad shoulder and provided some of the right sort of exercise.

Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.
 Rudyard Kipling

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