Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Another New-to-Us Experience

Tuesday morning we left Nanaimo at 8:15 to time our arrival at Dodd Narrows for the 9:10am slack tide. An hour later we texted Aaron and Julie to tell them we'd arrive Montague about noon. 

Wind and waves rose to 16-18 knots and  close to 1 meter, conditions we and Phoenix handle easily. 

Approaching a passage between Tree Island and Pylades Island at the north end of Trincomali Channel, we spotted what looked like a strange log with 2 or 3 large birds on it. 

Getting closer, we realized it was a CANOE with 3 people in it, and closer still, using binoculars, we saw they were waving their arms at us and yelling for help. We slowed to approach within shouting distance, and it was clear they were in trouble: the canoe was half-swamped in the white-caps, their clothes were soaked, and only two of them wore life vests. 

We asked if they wanted to come aboard, they did, and a tense hour ensued. It's hard to explain how difficult it is to bring a canoe to the swim step, which is crashing up and down in the waves, and transfer 3 cold people and all their camping gear into our cockpit, without smashing hands between the canoe and swim step or capsizing the canoe. Fortunately all 3 were young, agile and strong enough.

Turns out they'd canoed across from north of Chemainus (12 miles) the day before and camped overnight on Valdes Island, unaware the weather would get rougher this morning. Eliza (age 24) explained that Joseph (16) and Kenzie (20) -- brother and sister -- both had to be at work at 5pm, so she was trying to get them back. Then we learned a fourth member of their group, Kayla (21) was in a tiny 5-foot "sport" kayak and couldn't manage it in the wind and waves, so Eliza had instructed her to go ashore and look for help. Kayla was alone, they weren't sure where. 

We asked enough questions to ensure everyone was cold but uninjured, wrapped them in dry beach towels and began the search for Kayla.

Bob drove Phoenix as close to shore as safely possible, and Cathryn and Eliza scanned the shoreline with binoculars. We finally located the blue kayak and an orange life vest on shore, then Kayla 300 feet away sitting on a large rock. 

Eliza yelled and motioned Kayla to swim out to our boat, to which Cathryn responded "If she tries that, I'm calling the Coast Guard for help. Tell her to go back to the kayak and paddle to Phoenix." Short version: Kayla made it to Phoenix in the kayak and safely boarded. We tied the canoe in our cockpit, the kayak on the swim step, and headed 12 miles to Chemainus where Eliza had called her Dad and asked that he pick them up. The marina agreed to let us tie up to drop off people and gear.

So for an hour, Bob drove Phoenix, fuming over the abysmal lack of knowledge and preparedness these 4 exhibited (3 life vests for 4 people, no one knew where they were, no whistle, flares, VHF radio, first aid kit, out of food and water, all barefoot with cuts on their feet from rocks with barnacles, and in vessels suitable for small inland lakes, not big bodies of cold salt water with wind and waves) while Cathryn gave them dry clothes, food and water and talked with them. 

They seemed cheerfully oblivious to the dangers and risks they'd faced, despite two of them were shivering uncontrollably and Eliza described Joseph as "not a strong swimmer". Joseph looked like he might be in shock, saying nothing except one-word responses to questions directed to him. Eliza laughed a lot, perhaps out of embarrassment that she'd been the leader of this expedition. Turns out the 3 girls were roommates in Nanaimo. 

So Dad met us on the dock in Chemainus, handed Cathryn a bottle of nice wine as a thank you, all the kids hugged us and thanked us, and off we went. Whew!

Mostly, we know from our own experience of a boating accident with severe injury last summer that anyone can get in trouble on the water anytime. And anyone in a position to help can and should offer assistance. We've been in a position of needing help and know how desperate it can feel. We just think Eliza, Kayla, Kenzie and Justin were lucky we happened along when we did, as no other boats were in sight. We're glad we could help and that all ended well. Aaron and Julie certainly understood why we were several hours late meeting them at Montague.


Monday offered a typical forecast of a calm morning with rising afternoon winds, and we wanted to get across the Strait of Georgia, so left Pender Harbor at 6:30 as soon as it was light enough to see. The view was distinctly different depending which direction you looked as the next 3 photos show, all taken within 2 minutes:

Unlike Sunday in Malaspina Strait, winds never surpassed 10 knots nor waves above 0.5 meters. Four hours later we pulled into Nanaimo, a great provisioning stop: easy walking distance to groceries, liquor store, chandlery, and a hardware store.

Bob was able to get a new propane hose, valve and fitting as the original brass fitting had cracked, jettisoning all our propane and leaving us without use of the stove and oven for 3 days (choice: grill or microwave?)

For some reason they parked us on the "Big Boys' Dock" where Phoenix was dwarfed by the $7.2 million dollar boat "Polar Bear" for sale across from us. 

We got a SPOT satellite message from friends Aaron and Julie on "Eight Bells" showing they were nearby, so we texted back and forth, agreeing to meet at an anchorage in Montague the next day. And we got most of our preparations completed for the next set of visitors arriving Friday morning. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

One of "THOSE" days

Sunset in Lund last night (Saturday) was gorgeous (unfiltered photo) . . .

but the forecast for today was winds 10-15 knots in the morning, rising to 20-25 knots about noon. We wanted to travel 42 miles to Pender Harbour so knew we needed an early start. At 6:25 a.m. we were off the dock, when it was just light enough to see crab pots or deadheads.

Malaspina Strait adjacent to the Strait of Georgia has always been kind to us, but not today. 25 knot winds arrived an hour after we left Lund. There's only one photo from today:

Seas were 4-6 feet the entire 4 1/2 hours, with occasional 8-footers that swamped the bow 3 times and left the windshield awash in green water for 10 seconds before the windshield wipers could clear them. Phoenix performed beautifully, and we were never scared, but we don't like these conditions and can't safely walk around the boat. 

The final insult after we got safely anchored in Garden Bay at Pender Harbour: we heard an unusual noise and figured out the fresh water pump was running continuously. Uh oh; it's not supposed to do that! A quick system check revealed an empty water tank despite Bob having just filled it at Lund. We have a shower caddy that holds shampoo and conditioner, and it turns out the rough seas had knocked the shampoo and conditioner out of the caddy. One or both must have hit the shower handle on the way down as the water was on, and the last water from the tank was dribbling from the shower head. Sigh. 

So anchor up and into a marina we went to refill tanks. I think we'll go out for dinner too.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Prideaux Haven

Bob and I anchored in Prideaux Haven two summers ago and liked it so much we stayed 3 nights, so wanted to bring sister Susan and her husband Bob here. It's a huge anchorage made up of many little islands and coves, but so popular it still gets a bit crowded. The weather turned sunny and hot (80s) which called for a little swimming in the 70+ degree water.

Cannonball off the boat!

We took the dinghy 3 miles across Homfray Channel to East Redonda Island   at low tide to harvest oysters,

and got a 5-gallon bucket with 46 oysters. We could have gotten hundreds, but what would we do with that many? 

Grilled them with a touch of olive oil, butter, garlic and salt; yum!

Susan and Bob dropped and pulled the prawn pot several times, so that meant prawns for dinner another night.

We toured the whole anchorage by dinghy one afternoon,

and sat on the flybridge with a glass of wine at night, long after it was too dark to see anything but anchor lights everywhere.

We still like Prideaux Haven in Desolation Sound.

Lund again

Six days in Desolation Sound with sister Susan and brother-in-law Bob, then back to Lund to get ready for their flight home. Susan's birthday is two days from now, so we celebrated a little early.

Martin picked us up at the marina to go to the Laughing Oyster restaurant on Okeover Inlet. His 1947 Hudson was a great taxi!

We got a front row, open air corner table.

The wasabi-lime-balsamic-aioli salmon was fabulous. 

And the live music guy played "happy birthday to you" when they brought Susan's dessert.

A perfect last evening to wrap up the trip.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Toba, Day 2

We'd never traveled up Toba Inlet before so spent Tuesday morning making the 40-mile round trip to see the 8,000-foot mountain scenery. 

Brother-in-law Bob and Cathryn went fishing in the afternoon, and Bob brought home another lingcod.

Susan adores the visiting seals.

Bob's lingcod made great fish tacos.

Toba Wildernesd was a good stop!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Toba Wildreness and Inlet

It's 33 miles from Lund to Toba Wilderness. Scenery along the way is beautiful, and it was sunny and warm (high 70s), a welcome relief to Sue and Bob escaping from 100+ temps in Houston with high humidity. 

As soon as we tied up at the remote marina (no electricity, restaurants or town), Sue and Bob took off in the dinghy to drop a crab pot and explore.

When they returned, we all hiked up to the waterfall. 

Bob S took off in the dinghy by himself and came back with a small blue ling, just enough to make good fish tacos for lunch one day.

Happy hour followed by crab dinner makes any evening exceptional.


We crossed the Strait of Georgia and arrived at Lund early as the marina doesn't accept reservations, the wind was forecast to rise to 30 knots in the afternoon, and that's where sister Sue and brother-in-law Bob were scheduled to arrive at 3:30pm. But an early morning text from Sue said the Houston airport was closed due to thunderstorms and they'd keep us posted. The pub at the Lund Hotel adjacent to the marina is an amusing place.

Long story short, the Houston airport re-opened too late for them to make their Vancouver connection to Powell River, but they got another flight followed by a taxi ride to Lund and arrived at 6:00pm. 

7:30 dinner reservations at the waterfront Boardwalk Restaurant made for a great evening. The 30-knot winds materialized and kept boats rocking much of the night, with so many boats coming out of anchorages to get out of the wind that they were rafted 3-deep in the marina. 

Breakfast at "Nancy's Bakery" was exceptional as always, and we took off for Toba Wilderness.

Lund was a good start to our time together.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Campbell River

So we pulled the anchor, heavily laden with mud, and left the Octopus Islands, passing a kayak along the way with a dog who appears to enjoy kayaking with his owner.

It was sunny with light wind and strong opposing current coming into Campbell River, dropping our speed to 4.2 mph.

Not many photos for the next 2 1/2 days. Campbell River is a nice town and good stop, even for a future vacation which could include whale watching and fishing charter trips, and a huge selection of waterfront restaurants with nice views.

But we have relatives coming aboard, Cathryn's sister Susan and her husband Bob flying up from Texas, so we're in Campbell River for cleaning and provisioning. No photos of boat washing, laundry, grocery shopping, the chandlery or hardware store. We did stop at a "fresh seafood daily" float and pick up 4 Dungeness crabs.

And the full moon rose,

and we had beautiful sunsets.

We're headed to the east side of the Strait of Georgia to connect with Susan and Bob, then play for the week together in Desolation Sound.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Octopus Islands

This is our fourth trip to the lovely Octopus Islands Marine Park. For the first time on this trip, it was too hot to sit in the cockpit Sunday afternoon, so we climbed up to the shade of the flybridge where a cool breeze blows with all windows open. We were mesmerized by warm sunny weather, a great anchorage, and interesting exploring by kayaks, so unexpectedly stayed 3 nights.

For the fourth time (first with Greg and Terry on "Gold Rush", then with buddy boaters Aaron and Julie on "Eight Bells", then by ourselves last summer and now), we kayaked over to the little cabin on a private island referred to as the Cruiser's Cabin or Driftwood Museum, depending who you talk to. Cruisers create art and install it in the open-air cabin using mostly natural materials. Here's a tribute to the Octopus Islands!

We left a "Next To Me" installation last year, but didn't find it this year. And here's this year's "Phoenix" installation, made from driftwood collected on Blake Island near home and using a wood-burning tool borrowed from brother-in-law David. A simple piece compared to many here. 

We found the art from friends on "Gold Rush" and "Eight Bells".

So we relaxed, explored, read books, kayaked, and did a few boat chores. 

And watched the full moon rise.

And eventually decided we had to move on, so did.