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Two Inches, plus, of Snow at the End of May!

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Thursday May 20th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

The gale warning extended to eleven AM, at which time, conditions were sufficiently settled that we headed out again, this time Blakely Island was the destination.  It was cold and we bundled up, then tacked up the Bay.  Around one-thirty, the wind died and the weather turned warm.  We motored the rest of the way up to Peavine Pass and into Blakely Island Marina, and arrived in time to have a barbequed pork supper before the sun went down.

Today, bee inspecting in Alberta last week and the world outside this boat is just a dim memory.

Friday May 21st 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

We awoke at our dock in Blakely Island and had a leisurely breakfast.  The weather is overcast and calm.  We're expecting NE winds switching to SW later in the day and are planning to run down to Anacortes tonight. Tomorrow, we sail back to Bellingham to pick up Jeff and meet the rest of the flotilla.  Jeff arrives in Vancouver, so we have to drive up and get him.

We arrived in Anacortes in the afternoon after fighting a current up the channel.  We moored at G8 near water, power and a pump-out.  We had a supper of leftovers and wandered up to McDonalds to get email.  We discovered that there is a Trawler Festival and we get to stay for $12.  Bonus!

Saturday May 22nd 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

From Anacortes, Rick and I motored and sailed back to our slip at Bellingham, stopping to check out Inotti Bay on the way back.  We arrived in plenty of time to get a few things, then I drove to YVR to pick up Jeff.  He arrived on time, flying Westjet, and we were back to the boat by around nine.

Our course -- Rick's and mine previous to getting Jeff -- over three days is shown at right.

Sunday May 23rd 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

We, all three now, left our slip in Bellingham around ten.  Our destination was Blind Bay on Shaw island, a distance of 26 Nautical Miles.  We averaged 6 knots and the sailing was good.  We arrived in the afternoon and anchored comfortably, then Jeff and I dinghied around to visit the other boats.  There is a quite a range of designs, ranging from the large 40-foot plus charter boats to the 26-foot Macgregor and Catalina 250.  The FACS group are nice, unpretentious, fun-loving people.  I'm glad I found them.

Monday May 24th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

The sun came up, the day was looking good and all our boats left for Roche Harbor.  Some took the shorter route, but most wanted to get out and do some sailing, preferably rail-under. 

Personally, I don't find helming a huge thrill, and I'll keep my rail above water, thanks.  I have spent many, many nights behind the wheel, through squalls, wind shifts, fog and swells, and trying to figure which way huge ships a half-mile away are going.  Reef early.

Don't get me wrong.  I do like the helm, and sometimes there are rewards beyond simple expression. Sometimes ghostlike, fluorescent dolphins race by the bow for hours keeping unspoken companion.  However, at other times and far more often, the helmsman on night watch has no companion but rain and wind, and lightening in the distance.  Air blows hot then cold as fronts come and go.

I just like the onboard lifestyle, and the actual sailing is just another part of it, but some of the guys really want to be at the wheel.  Let them have it.

We started off with good wind, but with mid-day came the doldrums.  The helmsman also cut in too close behind the headland and we were sailing a circle until the engine was started and we motored in the last few miles.

At Roche, we had our pot-luck supper and a get-together on the dock under a tent.  Rick got out his guitar and we sang for a while, then called it a day.  Have I mentioned what a nice group of people they are?

Tuesday May 25th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

 The weather deteriorated over the next few days, with periods of rain and little wind. 

The plan for today was to go see whales down the coast, and then go to Garrison Bay to anchor overnight, so that is what we did.   We motored out of the harbour and tried a little sailing but there was little wind.  Then the word came that there was a crowd of boats south of us and that this must be where the whales were feeding.  We motored down that way, and sure enough, L-pod was feeding there. 

We knew it was L-Pod because three conservationists in a red Zodiac ran over and held out some brochures on a pole and told us the rules.  No approaching the whales, etc.  Apparently dead or alive, whales are a huge attraction. 

We watched whales for a while, or at least the puffs of steam and the occasional dorsal fin, then headed up to Garrison Bay.  Once there, we went ashore and hiked up the hill.  I only went as far as the cemetery, but some went right to the top and the viewpoint.  It was hot and muggy and I was overdressed.

We decided, given the negative tides, that anchoring might mean bottoming at some point, so the bigger boats went back up Mosquito Channel to Roche.  We figured the docking fee was worth not having to ferry back and forth with the dinghy, so we tied up close to our berth the night before.

Wednesday May 26th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Friday Harbor was today's destination, meaning a short sail followed by lots of time on shore.

Friday Harbor is a sizable town, with quite a few stores and we hoped to pick up a few items there.  There were also rumours of free Internet and we were promised a tour of a winery in the afternoon.

As it turned out, there was no free Internet, that I could find, and there was no winery tour in spite of our group having made prior arrangements.

We did ride a bus to a wine-tasting shop and were offered sips of wine for a dollar a sip, but it appeared to me that the facility is a blending and bottling house at best.  It did  not look to me to be much of a winery, if indeed they made any amount of wine there at all.

Thursday May 27th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

This is our last whole day and we decided that after the race and a visit to Rosario for lunch, that Salus and crew will make for Bellingham to tie up for the night.  The weather looks gloomy and the prospect of a side-tie and power, and lots of time to pack and leave the boat makes sense.

We left Friday Harbor in overcast and motored the whole way up to Rosario.  Jeff and I looked over the mansion, then we all had a lunch and a group photo. We dinghied back out to the Mother Ship and Rick set course for Blakely while Jeff and I napped. 

At Blakely, we circled a time or two and downloaded email (love Blakely's free Internet), then continued on to Bellingham. Once into the Bay, we were able to sail and Jeff, who hadn't gotten much sailing in was treated to a front-row seat at a local race night.  The local boats flew colourful spinnakers and moved swiftly in our direction.   After they passed, we motored into the marina, fueled up and pumped the holding tanks.  By eight-thirty, we were tied up in our berth, BW-24 and Jeff an I ran uptown to get a few items.  By the time we got there, the stores were closed.

Friday May 28th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

We spent the night on the boat and this morning we were Calgary-bound by 10:45 after a quick stop at West Marine.

As I write this, I am nearing Sicamous on the Trans Canada.  I'm in the back, Rick. is driving, and Jeff and I have full internet much of the time, using the Rocket Hub.

We dropped Jeff off at about eleven, then Rick around eleven-thirty. 

I was home by twelve forty-five AM Saturday.

Saturday May 29th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Here is my welcome home (left).  After a rainy week in the San Juans, snow greeted me this morning when I got up.  I have been planning to do some bee work this week, since I head east next week, so I'm hoping it warms up.

The thymol arrived while I was away.  Still no word on the arrival date for the (BeeMax) boxes, or whether the HFCS I sampled and sent to U of M is fit to feed.  I'm told my friends have some queens and cells this week, so I'm hoping to make some more splits.  We'll see how the bees have come along.  The weather was wet and cool while I was gone.  Some Mays are hot.  This one has not been.

I was following some links and came across some videos from Martin Braunstein.  Martin is a most interesting and creative beekeeper.

Sunday May 30th 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

If I can believe Rogers' website, I have, with Jeff's assistance, and Ellen's as well, used about a GB on the Rocket Hub since Friday noon.  That included Windows and program updates, long Skype calls, email, my normal multi-window browsing and website updating.  I did use our other high-speed, Airenet, some of that time as well though, since the computers discover it and connect sometimes.  At this rate I would be using about 15 GB per month.  That fits with my reports from Airenet.

Rogers charges me $35 plus some minor fees and taxes for 3 GB of data.  From there, the bill goes up in stages to $45 and $60 as usage increases. If usage is greater than 10 GB, $5 per additional GB will be charged.

We can move our home phone, keeping our number, to the hub as well for $15/mo and add unlimited Canadian long distance for another $20.  That LD is necessary if the hub and phone are to travel around the country much, since the phone is considered a cell phone and incoming calls from out of area are considered long distance when travelling.

Last night, I was talking to Jonathan (California) and Ellen (here at home) on Skype from my computer (Skype makes it simple to call multiple landlines simultaneously) and noticed the call quality was poor.  I checked and found that I was using the Airenet connection.  I dropped that connection and hooked up to Rogers hub and the call quality improved vastly, despite the fact that the Rogers connection needs an external antenna and was only running three bars, and sometime dropped to two.

We drove to Red Deer to meet jean, Chris, Mckenzie and Sarah S for lunch.  Jean and Mckenzie went to see Robert Munch and the rest of us went to Lacombe.  Ellen & I stayed for supper, then returned home.

Monday May 31st 2010
May past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I have my work cut out for me.  I leave very early on Saturday and have quite a few tasks to do first.

The weather improved in the afternoon and I got out to look at the bees and worked through all the hives.

I've been away since the 17th and last worked the bees on the 15th.  At that time, I wrote: "If I had queens or cells, I could split more now, but it would be stretching things.  In two weeks, the weather will be more settled and maybe I can get another 40 splits...", so I expected to find the hives exploding and healthy.

Instead, I found four hives dead or dwindled and several with virgins.  Quite a few were light and one or two appeared to have starved.  These duds were mostly laggard hives which I had been babying, which goes to show that getting rid of the weak ones and not wasting effort on them makes sense, but some decent  splits were lighter than I like and many queens in good hives had shut down for the past week or more.  This behaviour has been typical of the Kona black queens for as long as I have used them and that is decades.  I also spotted more varroa mites in several hives than I like to see.

Five hives, however, were strong enough to split again!  Of those five, three were in (BeeMax) boxes, and all the hives in (BeeMax) and Swienty boxes looked good.  In a spring like this, the styrofoam makes a difference.  I have not seen this obvious a  difference in previous years, before I drilled the auger holes.    (Last summer, I drilled a 1" hole in every Styrofoam box and I left them open all winter, even on hives with four boxes).  In the past, these hives lagged the wooden hives initially in spring, but caught up later.  With auger holes, though, they are far ahead of most of the wooden hives all spring and yield twice as many splits.

I recently ordered 100 (BeeMax) boxes.  They are easier to get here in North America than Swienty.  I actually prefer the Swienty boxes because they are one-piece and also denser (stronger).  Recently, I was told the (BeeMax) are denser than Swienty, so I'm hoping that (BeeMax) has improved their product in the past eight years.  I did not paint the ones I have in use or glue them, but I plan to use glue and paint on these ones.

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