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June 25 to July 23, 2016
We interrupt your regular diary programming to bring you...
The 2016 adventure has now
Saturday June 25, 2016
0600: Cassiopeia left her home dock at Port Sidney Marina on a flood tide with one on board, headed for Vancouver via Active Pass. It's a cool morning and we're glad for the protection of the full enclosure.
Slack water at Active Pass is expected at 0751 hours and the distance is about 14 nautical miles. We're on a beam reach at 6.5 knots and should be close if the wind holds up. The current builds soon after.
We made it to the Pass just after 0800 and found the current was still in our favour. Predictions are just that -- predictions. The rest of the route is straight north to Point Grey, then east into English Bay and into False Creek.
At first there was no wind and we motored, then the wind came up on the beam, carrying Cassiopeia along at a comfortable six knots. As the wind tapered off, we hoisted the cruising chute and carried on, but by the time we reached the Fraser north river mouth the wind had dropped again and we anchored in 10 metres of water for a break, then continued to Granville Island, backed into slip G20 and tied up at 1620 hours.
I went on shore for a visit with the Cooper folks, had a beer at The Vancouver Fish Company and returned to the boat for supper and a quiet evening on board.
Sunday June 26, 2016
We're in Vancouver today at Granville Island, provisioning and waiting to see if we will have crew when we leave for Nanaimo tomorrow or not.
Monday June 27, 2016
After we attended to some details and topped up battery water, Cassiopeia left Granville Island for Nanaimo at 1100.
We found good wind as soon as we entered English Bay. Of course it was on the nose, but we were making up to seven knots, tacking out past Point Atkinson and along Bowen Island.
The wind died mid-day and the rest of the trip across Georgia Strait was under engine power, with sails assisting.
Since we had no need to go right into Nanaimo Harbour, Pilot Bay near Entrance Island provided a perfect overnight anchorage.
This morning dawned sunny, breezy -- and cool.
The wind was from the northwest, on the nose for our course and the tide was running against us, too. After sailing at seven to eight knots into swells for three hours, and tacking several times we had only made ten actual sea miles towards our destination at Hornby Island due to adverse currents and headwinds.
The tide turned, the wind shifted a bit and we made better progress, but after Nanoose Bay, the wind dropped and the rest of the trip was made under engine power. At Nanoose Bay, overreaching, I dropped one of my $125 winch handles overboard. Ouch.
Around 3:30, we arrived at Tribune Bay -- a better choice than our planned stop at nearby Ford Bay in northwest conditions -- and dropped anchor.
The bay features a beautiful beach and the locals were taking full advantage. I dinghied in and walked to the co-op store, then returned to the boat and spent the evening lounging in the cockpit and swimming off the stern. I love this place. I'll be back.
Again the wind was against us, but we made good progress sailing until the wind dropped. We made Heriot Bay by 5:30 and dropped into the Heriot Bay Hotel for a beer, then motored over to Rebecca Spit to anchor for the night. Again, the water was warm enough for swimming and in I went.
Tomorrow, Surge Narrows and Blind Bay.
Thursday June 30, 2016
The slack tide at Surge Narrows comes just after noon, so this morning is a lazy one, with time to catch up on notes.
The trip so far has been perfect, with sunny weather and decent winds -- even if they were against us. So far, there are a few people wanting to come aboard for the outside of the Island, but it seems I am alone at least as far as Port McNeill unless others join up in the next few days.
The predictions varied and we decided to go through a bit early and see how that went, remembering a previous visit when a sailboat went through an hour early and reported only three knots of current against.
The current against this time was stronger than expected, running up to six knots in spots, but Cassiopeia is powerful and steers well. We never lost our track or our confidence.
Turning on a dime and running back was in the back of mind if forward progress dropped near zero, but we went through without being twisted around. We did slow to a knot and a half for a a few metres at one point, though. The spacing between the dots on our track at right shows the speed. Closer spacing indicates slower speed.
After Beazley Passage, Okisollo Channel was calm and beautiful, with what little breeze there was, coming right on the nose and a slight current against. By the time we reached Octopus Islands, it was nap time and we anchored in ten metres of water for an hour or so. The water is cooler here, but still tempting, but Blind Channel is the goal for tonight and it is best to arrive before too late.
I had half-forgotten about the upper an lower rapids in Okisollo Channel, but by the time we arrived the ebb was underway and we got a nice lift through them both. These are simply rapids and the eddies and whirlpools are not normally an issue for a 42-foot boat. The channel is wide there and there are few hazards, but a counter-current can slow progress to a crawl.
We passed four fish farms as we approached Discovery Channel and then motored out and around the Chatham Point light into Johnstone Strait, all familiar territory. Cellular Internet coverage came and went along the way.
It was another two hours before Blind Channel Resort came in to view. We had plenty of time and sailed lazily into the channel under the spinnaker, then cruised past the resort and scoped it out, electing to anchor across the channel at Charles Bay and dinghy across for supplies.
So far, we have covered an estimated 187 miles since Sidney.
July 1st, 2016
We stopped for lunch at Billy Goat Bay on Helmcken Island, then carried on. The winds continued to be light and up went the spinnaker and we made good time. When we passed Port Neville we did a chicken jibe, then sailed on down the middle of the Strait. When the wind began to build, we doused the main and then I went to the foredeck to douse the spinnaker.
Cassiopeia has an ATN sock that easily pulls down over the spinnaker, completely dousing the sail in seconds and if all had gone as expected, there would be nothing more to tell, but today the sock refused to come down, leaving the huge sail billowing and overpowered as the wind continued to rise.
The autopilot that had been tending the helm and holding us on course kicked off and Cassiopeia broached several times as I dropped the sail and stuffed the wet sail into its sack.
Then, when I had the sail stuffed away I discovered that the sheets and control lines had somehow gone under the boat and were caught underneath somewhere. Starting the engine confirmed that if they were not wrapped around the prop, they were at least close enough to be touched by the prop. I did not want to run the engine and risk wrapping them badly. Rope is not cheap and a prop balled up with line won't do much.
We carry a wetsuit, goggles and fins, and sharp knife in case of such events, so I tested the water temperature and considered heaving to, tying a rope around my waist and going in right out there in the Strait, but decided to sail into calmer water for the job. Although the wind had died again, we'd still be moving at up to two knots and any boat speed at all would make the job difficult. Anything more than a knot could make it dangerous, even if tied on.
Looking for still water and an anchorage suitable for the task, we sailed in, almost to Port Harvey before the wind died down to where we were just drifting. Not making any headway, and dead in the water, it was a question of anchoring there for the night, using the dinghy to tow or push (possible, but not simple when single-handing). I dressed up in my shortie and snorkel gear, tied a rope to myself, and jumped in.
The water was cold, dark and murky. At first I could not see the prop, and although I have gone under this boat and others to cut lines or scrape barnacles before I was not confident about my ability to hold my breath long enough to do much.
Soon a dinghy appeared and my new friend offered sage advice and moral support -- and held the lines so I could pull myself under and back out.
Once far enough under, I could see a bit and, sure enough, one line was wrapped a few times around the prop shaft, but not too badly since I had not gone into gear for more than seconds and at idle. I could have unwrapped it if I could see better and had time, but decided to simply cut the line and did so. It was getting late, the water was cold, and I had scratched my hand on barnacles. Good enough is good enough.
From there, Cassiopeia motored the remaining half-mile into Port Harvey and anchored off the docks. I had thought of going ashore, but the place is not the same since the store sunk and I was tired and a bit chilled.
A check of the water depth before bed showed that we were in shallower water than thought at the time of anchoring, and with a low tide coming in a few hours. As I was looking at the depth gauge, another neighbour came by in his dinghy on the way to shore and confirmed my judgment, so we moved deeper. Sailors look out for one another. Well, he was a powerboater, but its all the same.
Saturday July 2nd, 2016
The trip was uneventful except for rain and bit of fog. We had planned to spend the night at Telegraph Cove, but a phone call to reserve a berth early in the day revealed that they had no room.
We looked for nearby anchorages as we passed by Telegraph Cove, but found nothing suitable, and continued to Alert Bay. On arrival, a call to the marina got no answer, so we anchored in the bay and dinghied in to shore.
By the time I got to shore the best restaurant in town was closed, so I went up the street and ordered a mushroom cheeseburger at a take-out. After a long wait, I received my burger, with fries. It turned out to be the strangest burger I can recall ever eating. Strange, but not entirely bad. I ate it and threw the fries in the trash.
Sunday July 3rd, 2016
Cassiopeia spent the day at anchor in Alert Bay resting up and planning.
After being there overnight and using battery power for heat and light, we decided to charge the batteries by running the engine. When I tried advancing the throttle in neutral, I found a small part in the throttle lever was missing.
At any rate, I jury-rigged a workaround and by the time I decided to give that restaurant a second try, I saw that it was almost 2000 hours and they were closing again. Next time. Maybe.
Monday July 4th, 2016
The rain continued overnight, but by morning, the sky cleared and at 1000 we raised anchor, bound for Port McNeill. The bottom where we were anchored in Alert Bay proved to have been very weedy and It took fifteen minutes to clear the weeds from the anchor chain by alternately raising and lowering it until they floated away and the chain and anchor came up clean.
After a short motor/sail, we arrived in Port McNeill before noon, found a space at the dock and went uptown to provision and get a few supplies. I tinkered and remounted the outboard crane. It is an essential item for lifting the outboard safely and easily when the dinghy must be put on deck for offshore or for towing the dinghy on rough passages. The dinghy tows much better without the outboard on it.
Tuesday July 5th, 2016
Today, we mostly motored over calm seas in a warm enclosure. As we are having extreme tides lately, we encountered logs and sea weed floating all along the route.
We arrived at the Quarterdeck Marina at 1600 and refueled, and we bought and filled a jerry can for insurance since we have a long leg with possibly no fuel stops coming up and winds are predicted to be opposing us. Then we tied up for the night.
I was again in the mood for a restaurant meal and ordered a Rueben. It turned out to be the best Reuben I can recall eating. I don't recall many meals, but I do recall my best burger. It was at Harbour House in Ganges, and I recall my best Caesar salad. It was at The Beacon Landing Restaurant in Sidney.
We are one day behind due to the off-day in Alert Bay, but have flexibility, and have only one firm date to make.
It is said the deadliest thing to have on a sailboat is a schedule.
So far Cassiopeia has covered 290 miles of the 600-mile trip
This has been Day 10 out of 26
scheduled for the trip from Sidney to Sidney,
Wednesday July 6th, 2016
Today is bright and sunny. We'll be leaving the dock for Bull Harbour sometime this morning and bucking the tide as we go. The wind is predicted to be against us, too, but there is no hurry. The trip is only 23 miles or about four or five hours. We are one day behind at present and will catch up sometime down the road. The only firm date we have is Tofino on the 16th, ten days from now.
We left Port Hardy at 1145 and sailed out of the bay into Queen Charlotte Strait.
After an hour of sailing, then drifting west the wind died completely, so we spent a lazy afternoon motoring out the Strait on autopilot. The weather turned from sunny and warm to cold and rainy and the cockpit enclosure was much appreciated.
We reached Bull Harbour at around 1900, found a spot and anchored well out of any weather. Along the way, we stopped for a siesta in a small bay at Balaclava Island and the rest of the time watched the scenery pass or read up on crossing the Nahwitti Bar as we motored along. We had to be alert, though, as there was an amazing amount of seaweed and driftwood along our path.
Now, anchored in Bull Harbour, we are ready for tomorrow. The dinghy is lashed on deck.
I have not been over the bar for a decade, but recall it was no big deal at that time, almost a non-event except that we were greeted by dolphins that followed us a ways cavorting and racing the boat. I'm sure the skipper did all the worrying and timing for us that time, just as I am worrying and planning now.
Maybe there were smaller tides at that last time, though. We went through mid-day. I don't recall, but today tides are at their very maximum range and the more favourable turn comes at 3 AM. Sunrise is at 5:45, and we are overcast here with a new moon to boot, so the chances of seeing well enough to get through the debris-strewn channel to the bar around the turn are slim. We have an alternative plan, dodging behind the reefs, but for either strategy, timing close to the turn is better, and the ideal turn would give us a three-knot boost for a few hours as well. The next turn, at 10 AM, would give us a late start and an adverse current all the way to Cape Scott.
We'll see how early we wake up, how much light there is, what the forecast and buoy reports say, and what the sea conditions outside the bar look to be. A strong west wind and big swells outside would make us think twice, but that is not in the forecast.
Thursday July 7th, 2016
I slept lightly and woke up at three, but it was dark and raining, so I slept until about five and got up.
We turned on the radar, but a big bogey ahead in the middle of the bay where we could see nothing through the fog and the amazing amount of debris in the water made us think twice about proceeding. With low visibility, the certainty of hitting a log sooner or later was too high, and the strain of watching through the fog would be exhausting. We returned to the anchorage.
I lay down and slept until nine, then saw that the fog had lifted, so we motored back out at 0948 and across to the reefs. Between the reefs and shore is said to be a quiet channel and it was. By the time Cassiopeia arrived there, the currents were slackening and the ride out was smooth, with a knot or two of current pushing us along. As we crossed the Strait, we saw a sailboat going straight out over the middle of the bar and maybe all our worry was for nought. At any rate, the exit from Queen Charlotte Strait was a non-event, although there was a a fog bank over our route for a few miles and we turned on the radar and fog horn for safety.
Out in the Sound, another whale surfaced briefly beside us and the sea was covered with small birds spaced out evenly over the surface. A sea otter was lounging on his back, but dove as we approached.
The day continued to be cloudy with fog patches and occasional rain. Approaching the Cape, the swells became confused and turned from rollers into chop superimposed on rollers. We almost ran into a sleeping whale, but he dove just as we turned to avoid him. He looked like a big smooth grey rock, surrounded by birds.
After rounding the Cape another whale surfaced nearby and was gone. The seas turned rough and the wind reached the promised twenty-five knots briefly. Of course it was right on the nose so we motored on, then raised some sail, but found that unpleasant and went back to motoring. Winter Harbour looks more and more like a possibility, but why rush past all this beauty. We are going by far to quickly as it is. Each mile of coast deserves a week at least.
Having come 37 nautical miles in good time, we turned in and entered the Cove, at 15:43, circled like a dog lying down and anchored, then let out 110 feet of chain in six metres of water, set the anchor alarm, had a snack, and lay down to catch up on lost sleep from last night. This cove is fairly open to the southeast and that is the predicted wind direction.
Around five PM, I woke up and shortly after things began to rock. At first we just rocked a little, then the boat began to horse around the anchor. One minute the anchor buoy was almost at the starboard beam, the next, it was on the port. We tightened up the lines and the enclosure and glanced at the wind indicator. The reading topped 20 knots, here in the somewhat protected cove. If we had encountered these winds early in the day when at the bar and before rounding Cape Scott, as feared, we would have done things differently.
As for continuing to Winter Harbour, that would have been a rough ride, but probably bearable. Nonetheless, staying here was the prudent decision since we would have been halfway there when the gale hit. We encountered gusts over twenty-five knots while sailing earlier, and this boat can handle quite a bit more, especially motoring -- as long as the seas don't get too choppy or start breaking, but why take chances unnecessarily?
Friday July 8th, 2016
By 1000, things had calmed down in Sea Otter Cove and we got underway for Winter Harbour. By then it was low tide, with 0.5 metres over chart datum and careful navigation was in order to avoid the shallows. At one point, the depth sounder read zero under the keel, but we did not touch.
The wind indicator read up to twenty-seven knots on the nose as we motored out of Sea Otter Cove, into the swells in San Joseph Bay and out a safe half-mile and more off the rocks of Cape Palmerston and Topknot Point.
Seas were rough and confused, rising to two or three metres at some points along the 27-mile route and the wind continued on the nose, so we motored until we were a mile from Kains Island. At that point, the wind dropped and shifted in our favour, the seas calmed, the rain stopped and the sun came out.
We raised sail, but the winds continued to shift, began gusting again by the time we reached the Island, heavy rain began. We again hurriedly doused the sails, cleared the Island, and turned into Quatsino Sound and then Forward Inlet. The wind dropped and we ran downwind a ways, but then the wind dropped further and we motored the remaining distance to the Government docks and tied up.
Winter Harbour is popular with fisher-folks and the docks and bays are full of trailered boats. I went ashore and found nothing much of interest and returned to the boat for supper and to read up to plan the coming days. After reading books, it seems we should have chosen to tie up at The Outpost., which has more facilities.
Somewhere on the way in, my phone connected and I see that Doug will not be joining me here. That is too bad. Another hand to take turns at the helm would make the trip easier and double the distance comfortably covered in a day. Even on autopilot, a constant careful watch is necessary because, even off the coast a mile, we encounter the occasional log.
We now have one week and roughly 165 sea miles before we are to be in Tofino to meet Bob, who will be on board from Tofino to Victoria, and we are currently one day behind schedule. That uses up the free day at Tofino which was inserted in the plan for just such an eventuality. Simple arithmetic says we have to make 25 miles a day in the direction of Tofino and, for reference, the shortest distance without stops is 135 miles. That does not leave much time for exploring. I'd love to spend a week here in Quatsino Sound alone.
From here on further images and charts will be coming...
Saturday July 9th, 2016
Rain was heavy overnight and the morning is mostly clear with a few fog patches visible across the bay. The weather forecasts have changed completely and we now have to plan the rounding of the Brooks Peninsula to coincide with predicted favourable conditions. That will determine whether to linger or go for it.
We have no phone or Internet here (coverage is shown at right) and we'd like to get a phone connection somewhere before going south, since the next few days will be totally out of contact. So, a trip a bit further into the Sound may be in order. We can get Internet here, but having phone would allow us to receive any texts waiting and check messages. Skype can be used to check voicemail and make calls, but not receive texts.
We decided to check out the Outpost and stopped for fuel and a look around. We took on 43 litres of diesel at $1.42/litre, a much higher price than at the previous stops. The engine hours read 2123. Last reading was 2102, and in between we did some hard motoring and used the Espar cabin heater. That fill calculates to 43 litres in 21 hours -- about two litres per hour -- and that seems hardly possible. Perhaps We did not completely fill the tank. The breather did spit a bit as it does when the tank is full, but the nozzle at the dock here is bigger than normal and perhaps it blocked the escaping air sufficiently to create a false signal.
Although we are tempted to linger in this inlet and venture further in, conditions look good for clearing the Brooks Peninsula and we are one day behind, so we are headed south to make up the miles. We're told we may encounter good cell signals near the lighthouse. If so, that will be the last contact for a few days. We'll chance it.
The sea was glassy with rollers as we left the inlet and came to the lighthouse and sure enough, we had a strong Telus signal long enough to send and receive messages and make a few calls. As we turned and proceeded towards Cape Cook the signal was gone.
What little breeze we found out there was was on the nose, so we motored and were pleased to see we were making seven knots much of the time, both on the water and over the ground.
As we approached Cape Cook on the north-western tip of the Peninsula , we encountered rain as we passed through what seemed like a stationary rain cloud, then encountered confused but comfortable enough seas off the Cape.
We saw clouds ahead and blue sky behind as we motored past Clerke Point at the south-western end of the Peninsula and out into the open water of Checleset Bay. The sun came out and we almost found enough wind to sail, but the side to side rolling made sailing impossible and what progress we made under sail was to slow to be practical.
We had planned on just clearing the Peninsula and anchoring somewhere near the south side, but saw a clear shot at making Union Island and catching up the lost day, so kept on, arriving at Walters Cove around six.
After circling the cove several times and seeing nothing to stop for or any place to tie up (anchoring is s discouraged), we left the cove and were pondering where to anchor when a local hailed us and suggested tying to the government dock, so we did and hiked the shore trail to Java The Hutt and back. On the walk, we encountered a couple who were on another sailboat and they came aboard for an hour or so to chat. By then we realised that this dock does not float and there is no real way to tie a floating boat to a fixed dock when a two-metre tide is expected to come and go overnight. We left and anchored in an outer bay.
Sunday July 10th, 2016
Morning dawned bright and sunny and we motored out into the ocean, bound for who knows where, but some place closer to Hot Springs Cove. We are back on schedule.
After drifting a while, deciding, we headed south, thinking to go to Nootka Sound and find a place to explore and spend the night, but along the way, reading the guidebooks, we realised that the landmass in Nootka Sound is an island and that in fact Espeanza Inlet joins Nootka Sound and provides an inland alternate route. That route is forty miles as opposed to the twenty by ocean, but it also takes us past Zeballos and Tahsis, two places that I remember well from when I ran a mail order business. These isolated communities on the West Coast were well served by mail and the inhabitants found mail order an ideal way to buy supplies.
The ocean was rolly and the only wind we saw was the wind created by the swaying mast. As the mast tip rocked from side to side, sweeping arcs in the sky, the indicator spun and falsely reported five knots of wind.
We motored through the rocks of the barrier islands to the north entrance to Esperanza Inlet, and as soon as we turned in, we found enough wind to make seven knots downwind on genoa alone. That wind petered out halfway down, then resumed and took us around the bend into Hecate Channel. By Esperanza settlement, we were again motoring and did so right to Westview Marina at Tahsis. As we arrived at the marina at Tahsis, the wind began gusting strongly again and made docking very difficult.
We tied up, had a beer, then I walked into town for a few basic supplies and back, managing to get well scratched in a bramble patch while taking a shortcut.
Later I had a beer with two fellows who arrived several hours later a Beneteau I had seen in Walter's Cove. They had left a few hours after Cassiopeia and reported strong wind all the way.
The captains of the other two other sailboats we met at Westview thought it a good day to go to Hot Springs Cove and the forecast was not too bad. The wind was southeast and they were headed southeast, but the seas and the predicted winds were not too threatening, so they were going. They figured the coming days were not looking as good. I didn't much care one way or the other, but enjoy company so decided to make the jump.
Meantime, our conditions worsened as sailed for the point. While the fjords had been calm and the currents co-operative, as Cassiopeia exited Nootka Sound, the wind on the nose and the swells increased and a slight current ran against us.
We motored, then sailed close-hauled and heeling under 1/3 sail at five to seven knots out to the tip of Estevan Point. As we reached the Point, the winds increased to almost thirty knots. The seas built to two metres and became confused.
We happened to round the Point right around 1330, the time a new forecast is issued daily. That forecast was much less optimistic than the one from 0400 that had encouraged out departure. This one promised high winds and rough seas.
We tacked and soon found we were not making much way as the current was running north around the tip, closing the angle to sixty degrees or less from an ideal ninety and dropping any headway (VMG) to less than half the boat speed compared to the seventy percent achievable with a better angle. It was clear that under sail we would be a long time making the last fifteen miles, but that, motoring, the time to arrival at Hot Springs Cove would be a bit over two hours. Sailing at six knots, the time would be double -- at least.
The rest was quite boring. We bashed over and through the mixed swell and chop. occasionally, slamming and sometimes taking water over the bow. Finding the right speed to minimize slamming took a bit of experimenting, but it turned out that full throttle was best for timing the swells and gave the least grief. Cassiopeia is very sea-worthy and never causes the least worry. The enclosure is reasonably dry and protects from wind and spray, so all there is to do is sit there, check the plotter regularly and look ahead.
We arrived in the Cove, rafted with Rinpoche a while to visit, then drifted away a distance to anchor.
Tuesday July 12th, 2016
This morning, we are anchored in Hot Springs Cove and back on schedule. We are also in a more relaxed portion of the trip and into the section where the plan is make small hops and explore more. Today is dull and rainy and Cassiopeia will likely, not go anywhere. I'll catch up on some tidying and business.
What I had not noticed until now and no one mentioned to me is that I omitted the 14th in the previous published schedule and as a result, the dates and days do not correspond after the 13th. Moreover, I find I have the 'lost' day as a spare. I'm correcting the error here and in the main page.
Here is the old plan:
After corresponding with Bob, who is planning to board at Tofino, the agenda from the 15th onward is flexible. There may be another person as well. From Tofino to Sidney, the actual agenda will be decided by those participating or wishing to do so at the time and the weather. For that matter, I could be in Tofino five or six hours after deciding to leave here.
Here is the revised and extended plan.
We will be close to locations where we can pick up or drop off people to connect with public transit or floatplane service. The only constraint is that Cassiopeia must be in Sidney by the night of the 22nd.
I eliminated the trip to Vancouver and back at the end, seeing as there is no demand for it and we can therefore spend more time in the west sounds if we wish.
I heard from the office that we have another sailor with us from Tofino for a few days, Franck.
Walter and Reiner dinghied over to the Hot Springs early and were raising anchor mid-morning, headed for another cove. I have decided to stay the day and get things done. Why go fast when you can go slow?
When the main came out yesterday, the mainsheet was pulled through the clutch and out of the boom. I was sure I had tied a stopper knot on that rope, but it must have shaken out. At any rate, the line is now out of the boom and has to be threaded back in before the main is available again. The problem is that the boom is sixteen feet long and the rope has to be pushed or pulled through horizontally. Not possible. I have to find a way of fishing it through. After scratching my head, I recalled the mousing wire I bought for securing clevises and behold, it is eighteen feet long. I played with that for an hour and decided it is simply too soft to push through without kinking. Still McGyvering...
The weather cleared. I decided that I might have some luck across the bay at a fishermans' dock there and motored over. No one was around except two women waiting for the floatplane. I asked if anyone would mind if I looked for a piece of wire and they said go ahead. I did, and the closest thing I found was a roll of barbed wire. The barbs would prevent it moving through the pulleys and tube, but that was all I found, so I took a piece and spent the next hour or two removing the barbs while listening to CBC on my phone, connected to the Bluetooth stereo on board. It is Stampede time in Calgary and Calgary had some extremely heavy downpours, snarling traffic all over the city. The radio crew were eating all the new junk food available at the concessions and talking about it.
A boat came in and was about to drop anchor right in front of me, right where they would back down on me as soon as the wind shifted a bit. I pointed to my anchor marker, seventy-five feet in front of me and quite close to them and they were surprised. They moved farther out.
I finally removed enough barbs and straightened the wire enough to pass it through the boom, attached the outhaul and pulled it through, then tied a stopper knot. That part took only five minutes.
That was the day aboard Cassiopeia...
Tomorrow, twenty miles to Ahousat -- or somewhere. The next night Tofino. The next day there will be three on board by nightfall.
Wednesday July 13th, 2016
The morning is bright and sunny here in Hot Springs Cove. It is now 0815 and the float planes are arriving. The hot springs will be over-full with tourists soon and then the tour boats will come. The batteries are down to 50% from two nights of use and it is time to either motor a while or find a dock to recharge them. Time to move on.
Our schedule says Ahousat, and that is a pleasant trip and a good stopover, but there are many many more possibilities, enough to spend weeks between here and Tofino. After weeks of cruising, though, it is time to take it slow and easy.
Ahousat it is then, but which way? The inner route, or the outer route? We went the inner route last time. Forecast is for light wind this morning, then stronger winds from the NW this afternoon. Sailing would be very straightforward on the outside, but the inner route is more challenging and interesting, and should have local breezes.
This is an adventure, after all, so the inner route it will be.
Cassiopeia left the cove around ten and turned into the channel. There was a breeze, but too weak to sail and we motored down to Hayden Passage and continued on to Millar Channel. Halfway up, there was enough wind to sail. It was on the nose, but we were able to make 90 degree tacks and sailed up to the channel leading to Ahousat. We tacked up that narrow channel just for the fun of it. The wind was shifty and gusty and the sensible thing to do would be motor, but we made it just about to the docks, then put down fenders and landed at the ramp.
The dock is quite exposed and there is nothing to do there, plus there is no phone coverage -- and there was wind -- so we moved on. Marktosis sounds more like a disease than a place, but it is a settlement just up the channel from Ahousat and we went up to take a look.
Marktosis turns out to be a pretty busy place with boats and planes coming and going. The planes landing and taking off play chicken with the boats. As I motored slowly and carefully up a narrow, shallowing channel, a plane came almost straight at me. Airplanes have the right of way, but in my case, I had about ten feet to play with giving me right of way, but there is no way to convey that fact and I found myself being forced into the shallows. Quick action saved the day, but the rocks were close. Good thing this boat can spin on a dime if you know how. We had no room at all.
From there, we returned to Millar Channel and tacked on towards Tofino. We had no intention of arriving at Tofino tonight, but to generally go whichever way the winds favoured.
The wind took us towards Tofino. Out in the open, the wind built to fifteen knots, gusting to twenty, at about thirty five degrees to my course. We upwind sailed on Genoa alone for a while, with good balance, making five and a half knots but added some main after a while for a little extra push and soon was going six and a half.
We decided to duck down Calmus Passage, and figured we'd better reduce sail early for the potentially tricky entry around buoys and reefs. Better before we need to than after.
The job was fairly violent as it was, tying the genoa sheets in knots at one point. The dinghy on the bow is a real nuisance. By the time we finished and were ready to bear off, we were down to 1/3 genoa and no main -- and still going five and half knots.
The turn was uneventful and the trip down the Passage started off fast, but the wind died, even though out behind us in the bay it was still roaring from the looks of things. Soon we were wing on wing, and then, after turning into Maurus Channel, on the engine.
The water around there is a lot shallower than it looks and the currents can be strong. While we were distracted tidying up the cockpit after the run downwind, we set the autopilot to run along the channel which is bounded on the starboard by a large, shallow bank. We happened to glance at the plotter and saw 1.5 metres depth below the keel and saw immediately that we were drifting slightly off course over the edge of that huge sandbar.
Immediately, we slowed to a crawl and turned away from the bank, watching carefully. No sense running hard aground at speed. We knew we were on a rising tide, which is good, but also that depths vary on bars and they also can change due to silting and currents. We made it out to the channel again with the lowest reading being 0.7 metres below the keel, and proceeded down the channel until, voila, at Schindler Point, Tofino came into sight.
Although Tofino was in sight, we had not planned an anchorage or arranged a dock. We are. after all, a day early arriving, and arriving somewhat by chance.
Seeing as the tide was up and rising, we decided to cut the red buoy off the Point and, although we had plenty of water concluded that is not a good way to stay relaxed. We then ran on the genoa down Heynen Channel and turned onto a reach at the green buoy and sailed in to Deadman Pass.
That little segment is not for the faint-hearted as it is shallow, narrow, and subject to current, but the wind was strong and at a good point of sail and the engine was ready to take over in a heartbeat.
After navigating the Pass without incident, but with no time to take eyes off the depths to look at the famous eagle's nest, we cruised by the Tofino docks and decided on the anchorage across the bay east of Arnet Island where two sailboats were already anchored.
Although the bay is generally shallow, the anchorage was 12 metres in the area available. We anchored for the night, putting out all the chain. The anchor dragged at first, but finally took a solid bite. The wind was gusting in the anchorage, but not seriously enough to be a concern. We set the anchor alarm, closed up the enclosure and called it a day.
Thursday July 14th, 2016
The night passed quietly after the wind died. Cassiopeia circled the anchor in the changing tide and at one point triggered the anchor alarm, but was still in line with the other boats, so we reset it and went back to sleep. We have 150 feet of chain out, so can make a big circle.
At 0800, the bay was obscured by fog. By 0900, the sun was out and the cockpit, protected by the enclosure was toasty warm.
We are here at Tofino a day early, but that is a good thing. At some points along the way it seemed we might be held up by weather. Today, the 14th, is the day that was omitted by error from the original plan. No matter, we have lots to do, including paying bills seeing as we have good cellular Internet, and at some point, a dinghy ride to town across the way is in order to scope things out for possible dock space later.
Mid-morning, we launched the dinghy, mounted the outboard, and went over to Fourth Street Marina and asked about space. The Harbourmaster said Cassiopeia could have space at the end of the dock and the price was a dollar a foot. Considering what we have to do and the convenience, we took the space and went back to haul anchor and motor across. By then the wind was howling and being at a dock looked prudent. The space assigned was on the downwind side.
By the time we got to the dock, a fish boat had sneaked in and we had to take an alternate spot, which turned out to be against the posts and protruding off the end of the windward side. We were blown off the dock on the first try, but managed to make a good landing on the second try. Arranging fenders was a job, and there will likely be some tar on them tomorrow. The power is twenty amp and we had to borrow an adaptor, but the manager was very helpful.
I walked up to town and bought some basic groceries.
There is a gale warning for tonight with winds up to forty knots. Now, at 1800, the wind gusted over twenty knots in the few moments I looked. The depth gauge reads 1.2.
We have 2.3 metres of tide at the moment and expect 1.1 at 0500 tomorrow, a range of 1.2 metres, so if we don't touch, we will come very close, right here at the dock. This marina is known to be shallow.
If we touched bottom at low tide, there was no sensation. The bottom is likely soft mud and the keel would just sink in a little before the boat rose again with the tide a short time after the low.
The day is starting off cloudy and cool. Cassiopeia is tied up on C Dock at Fourth Street Marina in Tofino, waiting for two crew arriving this afternoon and evening. There is much to do this morning to get ready for the next phase of this adventure.
You'd have to have been out there to appreciate the rough conditions, but fortunately, visibility was good. Obtaining the location in the first place was key, and the software predicting drift was also critical to success. By the time the rescue boats arrived, the victim was far away from the original spot. Amazingly, he was alive.
The day passed doing laundry and miscellaneous chores. Cassiopeia moved to a better spot, over on A dock and an hour was spent cleaning tar off the fenders and marks off the boat from being moored against the posts.
Both Bob and Franck were delayed, but arrived at the boat and we had a chat, then called it a day.
Saturday July 16th, 2016
After much discussion, we decided that, rather than provision in Tofino and putter around the area, we'd go directly to Uculet, provision there and spend time in Barkley Sound the next day.
The crossing was routine, with virtually no wind and moderate seas. Once we left Tofino and were clear of the rocks off the point, we stayed a few miles off the coast and motored the whole distance. Swells ran up to two metres at some points but were mostly smooth except for a few places off points and shoals. Skies were overcast until after we tied up in the marina, at which point, the sun came out and the breeze picked up.
The marina we chose is quite crowded. Boats are rafted together along the docks and we were assigned a spot alongside Wolf Willow, a boat of similar size.
Once Cassiopeia was tied securely to the boat beside us, we walked uptown to the co-op store for groceries, stopping at a liquor store along the way. The co-op has a delivery van and for $7, they drove us and our supplies back to the dock.
Although rafting can be an uncomfortable mooring arrangement that requires us to walk across another boat to reach ours, potentially invading our neighbours' privacy, in our case it worked out well. The neighbours proved to be very pleasant and shared a lot of local knowledge that will be helpful for our time in Barkley Sound tomorrow.
We walked to the restaurant beside the docks for supper, then returned to the boat and visited a while before bed.
Sunday July 17th, 2016
This morning is overcast with little prospect of wind. We are a bit late getting going, having slept in and then taken the time for Franck to make an omelette.
Our destination tonight is Bamfield, about twenty sea miles across the sound, so we have about three hours minimum of actual travel if we motor and about five hours to play around if our goal is to be settled for the day by 1800 hours. Being settled by six allows three or four hours until dark.
We motored out of Uculelet with Bob at the helm. The plan was to anchor for lunch at Effingham Island in the Broken Group, then continue to Bamfield.
We arrived as planned and anchored, had lunch of salmon and broccoli, then mounted the outboard on the dinghy for exploring. Franck and Bob headed off to look around and I stayed on board to rest up and deal with a few items.
They returned about 1530 and we resumed our trip, under sail this time, with Bob at the helm again. Franck handled the sails.
Bob charted the course for Bamfield and we arrived there in good time. We were undecided whether to find a marina or anchor.
We passed a dock or two, then came to the general store and tied up there to go in and ask. An ancient, moldy sign on the dock said that the store charged fifty cents a foot for overnight. We went up and chatted, bought some supplies and moved on. We could stay there, but not until after eight and we'd have to leave by five in the morning. They did not offer power or water either.
Bob had found info about a marina farther up the inlet that appealed to him and as we proceeded slowly along the shore it became obvious that there were quite a few more facilities of various sorts.
At that point I spotted Rinpoche anchored near the government dock in East Bamfield motored over, and cam alongside. We rafted up for a few hours to visit, then drifted back a few hundred feet and dropped anchor.
Monday July 18th, 2016
The morning was grey and cool, but there was no fog. We motored out of the inlet, then out of Barkley Sound and turned south towards Port Renfrew. Seas were quite smooth for the most part, but we found ourselves in thick fog that only dissipated as we reached Port Renfrew. We turned on the radar and the fog horn and proceeded. We had enough visibility to see small boats and logs should we encounter any, but peering out into the fog is tiring, and of course we missed the scenery.
When we arrived at the bay entrance, we were a mile and half offshore, and although we were in the clear, a cloud still lay over the land and bay. Equipped as we are with live charts, radar overlay and a fog horn/listener, I'd have gone in regardless, but the wind came up and Frank wanted to sail a bit so the guys did a few tacks of the bay and I had a nap.
Then the fog cleared and we started in. Rinpoche appeared on the far side under full sail. We had seen them leave Bamfield after us and they raised sail before the fog settled in, so perhaps they sailed the entire way, but I doubt it.
We sailed together a while and they chose anchorage in the middle of the far end of the bay. As is my policy, we cruised around. We were looking for the pub and Franck wanted to buy fish for supper.
We had considered a marina for the night, and called several times on VHF. We had no cell coverage or Internet. Initially, none of the marinas answered calls on VHF, but as we circled near the public dock and were calling the dockmaster, the new marina, Pacific Entrance Marina called us and offered us a berth, but with no power and for ten dollars more than the public dock. We were already at the public dock and could see fishing boats unloading catch, and the pub was 200 yards away. Our choice was obvious. We tied to the public dock.
Bob paid the mooring -- forty dollars cash, and Frank went looking for fish, returning soon with a nice salmon in a bag with ice. We then went up to the pub, which turned out to be a very nice place with an outdoor deck set against a wall of tall, lush cedars on the west and the cove on on the north and east. We had a few beers and Franck went back to cook supper.
Supper was excellent. We sat and talked a while, then I went to bed around dark. The guys were up late and I slept soundly, only awakening briefly once when I heard sounds of walking on the coachroof above me.
Tuesday July 19th, 2016
After emptying the Jerry can into the diesel tank and preparing for the next leg of the journey, we untied from the Port Renfrew government dock and motored out of the bay. Sooke was our destination.
By now everyone was better acquainted with the boat and with one another, seas were calm and we stayed close to the shore to enjoy the scenery. At Magdalena Point, we were so impressed with the shoreline that we motored close and dropped anchor. The water was clear and we could see the sand bottom down seven metres. Frank rowed in with the dinghy, was gone a half-hour and returned with mussels he found on the rocks. We resumed our course for Sooke and arrived there mid-afternoon, motored in and started our customary exploration.
The government dock had some empty space, so we landed and asked around, then walked Cassiopeia further down the dock and tied up. Apparently we are about as close to the town as anywhere there and we had fresh water and power at hand, plus we had six hours until dark.
No sooner were we tied up, it seems, than Franck had come up with some crab from a returning fisherman whose lines he caught. We had a beer, puttered around awhile, then Franck laid out the spinnaker on the dock. We straightened it out and dried it, examined the lines, and agreed that we could not properly use it until the lines are either spliced or replaced and that would be at some other time.
Come supper time, we started walking uptown and came on the best restaurant right away, according to the locals nearby, anyhow. We went in and asked for a table outside but the larger one they had was in use and the other too small. Looking around inside, we were not inclined to be confined in a warm, noisy place after being in our pleasant cockpit enjoying the ideal weather. Besides Frank had seafood on board and was willing to cook, so we went back the boat sat in the cockpit and ate as good a meal as many I have had in restaurants.
It does not get much better than this. A good boat, good people, friendly dock, beautiful country, warm weather, good food and drink...
Wednesday July 20th, 2016
I was up at four, had breakfast and coffee, checked the weather, tides and the course, then went back to bed.
We have about a four hour trip to Victoria and would like to arrive at two. Currents at Race Rocks, an hour and a half away from here, can be strong, and there is an ebb tide until noon, so leaving early would not get us to the Passage -- or Victoria -- much sooner than timing our departure to get us to the Passage at slack. Ten-thirty looks ideal and gives us time to enjoy the morning before untying. Going earlier would be unnecessarily slow and unpleasant.
This is the last day aboard Cassiopeia for Bob and Franck. They get off in Victoria. It will be another day or two before Cassiopeia crosses her wake at Sidney to complete the island circumnavigation.
We spent some time figuring the best place to drop the guys in Victoria and also get fuel, either along the way or in the vicinity since Cassiopeia is down near a quarter tank. A nearby marina proved to be too shallow, so eventually, we decided on the fuel dock at Fishermans' Wharf in Victoria.
We cast off a little before ten-thirty, motored out, and found a glassy sea. The current, however was with us. Apparently there is a back eddy along shore and we made good time right up to Beechey Head where the current changed from pushing us forward to opposing us as expected by the time of day.
Nonetheless, about then the wind picked up and we sailed across Becher Bay mouth and tacked out at Bedford Islands. The current slacked, the wind dropped and we motored through Race Passage and on towards Victoria. With Victoria in sight, the wind again picked up and we sailed, then drifted a while before starting the engine and motoring the last short leg to the fuel dock.
Franck and Bob disembarked at the fuel dock as I filled the tank. We said our farewells, I paid the fuel bill, and Cassiopeia returned to the Strait, with only one aboard now and Cadboro Bay as destination.
159.9 + 20 = 180 litres and 2175 -
2123 = 52 hours
Cassiopeia rounded the breakwater lighthouse, turned east and was not far offshore as we passed my old home away from home, the Surf Motel on Dallas near Ogden Point where I used to spend a few weeks each March before I bought this boat. Now I sail in March.
We raised sail and discovered that the currents were running three knots in our favour towards Trial Island, carrying Cassiopeia along at up to eight knots. As we approached the Island, the wind died and we motored through the turbulence between the Island and the shore, soon finding ourselves drifting along off Cadboro Bay.
We had planned to anchor there, but it was only three. Six hours of daylight remained and the current was running strong in our favour, so we continued through the passage and turned toward Sidney Island and home.
The current continued strong and there was a good wind at first, but the breeze soon died and we motored for the last hour and into the bay at the Sidney Spit where we chose a deep spot and anchored, knowing the tide will be down to 0.5 metres at noon tomorrow.
People were dinghying to shore and hiking around. I looked for swimmers and saw none. If I had seen any, I would have gone in for a dip myself.
I made a stew, then went to bed at sundown.
Thursday July 21st, 2016
I slept until 0930, then got up and had breakfast and did some writing and figured out the fuel usage over the entire circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.
Average consumption over the entire trip: 3.15 litres per hour
Estimated Sea Miles under power at 5.5 Knots/hour: 638
Intuitively, there seems to be something wrong with the estimated mileage since I had estimated the entire trip at 600 roughly nautical miles, and we did a fair amount of sailing. Of course, there were diversions in and out of bays and inlets, and maybe the actual distance was much greater. Maybe the average speed under engine was less than 5.5. I had gone more slowly at times when alone and in no hurry. I have a track of the entire trip recorded and maybe will check that at some point when I have time on my hands, but the day is hot and when I dip my toe in, the water feels okay for swimming.
No one is actually swimming on the beach, but kids are puddling at the edge not far from me and I'm, going in. Later today I'll travel to Fulford to have dinner with a friend, then return to Sidney tomorrow.
On the way to Fulford, moving at just above an idle and moving at four knots on autopilot, I sat on the foredeck and pulled out the spinnaker lines that were cut back up at Port Hardy and spliced them. The splices are not a thing of beauty, but they should be functional.
I may re-do them sometime, but we'll see how they do tomorrow. The problem is that this rope is soft and also a braid, not a weave, so conventional splicing does not work; it took me three splices to become good at it, so on close examination the first splices contain visible errors. However, the splices are strong and as long as they slide well in the sock and through the pulley and horn, they should serve.
I tied up at the Fulford public dock, had supper with Bruce at the Rock Salt restaurant and called it a day.
Friday July 22nd, 2016
With a very low tide at Sidney today, I was in no hurry to get back. The winds were variable leaving Fulford and gusty as I crossed to Schwartz Bay. With time to kill, I sailed and motored into Swartz Bay and looked around, then proceeded into Canoe Cove.
Canoe Cove is a popular spot, with a large marina and shore facilities. I had often visited it by road, but never by boat. Surrounded by rocks and currents, it always seemed risky for a deep-draft sailboat like Cassiopeia, even though it harbours many sailboats and I see them coming and going. Today, I was feeling bold and decided to learn the harbour.
The entry from Schwartz Bay was pretty straightforward, following the plotter and watching the shore, and I ventured all the way down the very narrow passage between docks and boathouses to the fuel dock, spun in the restricted space, tied up and topped up the tank.
By then it was low tide, 0.5 metres above datum and the shallowest time to leave, but also near slack. I decided on Page Passage. That might not have been the best choice, and I could have planned it better, but that went off without a hitch.
My policy is to try to keep at least a metre of extra depth under the keel and preferably more. I worry with anything less than two metres to spare. What was notable here, today, was that the plotter became erratic right when I needed it most and as a result, I ventured over two spots which, although safe, came closer to the keel than I normally like. Lesson learned.
From there, I sailed to the Sidney Spit to wait out the low tide at the marina docks and anchored in the deepest spot I could find. The Spit area is shallow and I saw zero metres under the keel at times as I motored in, but did not seem to touch. The bottom is sand and mud here, so there is no worry of harm on a light touch when moving slowly or stopped anyhow. I was not worried about getting stuck since the tide was out and due to rise shortly. This was is a good time and place to experiment.
Again, I found the plotter to be jumpy and deceiving (see chart left). Maybe this is just one of those days the satellites are not in the optimal positions or some propagation factors were affecting the fixes. These things happen. At any rate, what the plotter said and what the eTrex GPS recorded (above) are not the same. Also note that the charts indicate a depth that is shallower than my draft, even though I did not touch when there was a scant half-meter of water above the datum.
I sat anchored a few hours. There was a fair breeze and boats came and went. I sat a while watching wives try to catch mooring balls while their husbands (I assume) tried to motor up to them. It was a gong show. One boat named Persistence spent fifteen minutes trying. Me, I had just dropped the anchored. Done deal.
At three, I returned to Port Sidney Marina, tied up and the saga ends.
Once the sun was up, I raised the spinnaker and verified the splices run through the sock and the block without any problems, then stowed it away.
Just before noon, I caught a cab to YYJ and checked a bag for my flight home.
We lifted off at 1305.
This is the end of the log for 2016, but I expect to add pictures and more narrative when time permits -- and maybe begin planning for next year.
My goal in writing this log has been to share the experience and to also share lessons learned or lessons already learned, but reinforced by circumstance. Of necessity, many details of the journey remain unreported. Rest assured, it was a most memorable trip and one I plan to do again, only allowing more time to stop along the way.
These logs will be corrected an enhanced with pictures as time allows in coming days.
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