Log - 8/07/2001 to 8/20/2001
Naniamo to the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Barkley Sound,
Katherine and Alan (Morning of 8/19/2001)
I'm surprised at how long it's been since our last log entries.
I thought I was only a week behind, but it looks like almost two
weeks have past since the last entries.
After a few days anchored near Naniamo (getting surprisingly few
chores accomplished) we brainstormed and decided to head up to Barkley
Sound for one last attempt at solitude and beauty. The one possible
hitch - we need to change the place where we meet the crew (Wally
and Pierre) to isolated Neah Bay. On August 8th we headed south,
stopped in Ganges, and called Wally; he sounded confident about
finding a ride up to Neah Bay to join us. So we left Ganges at 6:30
AM; Sooke inlet (near the southern tip of Vancouver Island) was
the destination for the first of three legs of our journey to Barkley
Sound (on the southwest side of Vancouver island).
We estimated that the leg to Sooke would take eleven and a half
hours. We made good progress against light wind, current, and patchy
fog until we neared Victoria. At Race Rocks the currents interacted
with the headwinds top produce steep, choppy, confused seas. The
bowsprit of our rocking vessel buried and green water funneled down
the bulwarks most of the way aft to the cockpit. Water on the deck
is okay, but we did not adequately seal up the hawspipes and anchor
locker, so some of the seawater dampened the linens in the forward
V-berth. After race rocks the patchy fog filled in behind us and
we were sloughing through grayness into wind and chop; our progress
slowed to 2 knots at times. This is our first time with real dense
fog - we praise Poseidon for inspiring us to install radar before
departing Portland. We made it to Sooke harbor 13 hours and 45 minutes
after departing Ganges.
We rested up in Sooke for two and a half days waiting out Gale
warnings and fog. We reflected on our journey around race rocks
and decided that giving a wider berth to race rocks and tacking
with a double-reefed main may have made things a lot less trying.
On August 15th we did the next leg from Sooke to Port Renfrew (in
the Port San Juan bay) was an 11-hour journey with a headwind and
fog. But the reefed main (later double-reefed) made the ride a lot
more comfortable. We loaded the storm trysail onto its mast track
after when we heard a weather forecast for 30 knots in the Straits
of Juan de Fuca. Shortly afterwards the wind died down.
Previously a sailor returning form Barkley Sound recommended that
we pass Cape Beale before the afternoon winds and seas build, so
we hoisted anchor and left Port San Juan at 4:30 AM. Leaving the
bay we were frequently dodging crab pots/floats in the dark. During
this final leg up to Barkley sound we taveled in fog much of the
time, but there was little to no wind. We rounded Cape Beale at
noon with no troubles and headed into Bamfield (on the East side
of Barkley sound) and tied up at the government dock.
This trip up the Strait de Fuca has been valuable in learning how
to navigate in fog. We are very glad to have this part of the journey
behind us; we are also glad to not have wasted any crew's time on
this unpleasant stretch of water.
With all of this fog my hopes for Barkley Sound have been damped.
The condensation is annoying (although not enough for us to get
out our generator and try the electric heater). We've considered
purchasing a ceramic propane camping heater; but want to try before
we buy, so we'll be moist for a few more days. We have also considered
just finishing our offshore preparations and heading down the coast
NOW! I feel much more confident after the slog up the Straight.
It would be 48 hours to Newport from Neah Bay, and not much more
from Barkley sound. But we've got crew to consider and we've changed
our minds so much already - we'll wait.
After a drizzly night, we had a few hours of sunny weather in Bamfield,
so we headed to Fleming Island and tied up for the nigh at the Port
Alberni Yacht Club. This atypical Yacht Club is not in Port Alberni;
it consists of a couple of well-maintained docks and a clubhouse
in the middle of nowhere. There were two club member powerboats
and two visitor boats (counting us) tied up at the docks - this
is a real crowd for Barkley sound. We poked around a couple caves
in the craggy basalt shoreline, wandered around a scenic trail,
and relished the best shower anywhere [2 loonies (Candian dollar
coins), no timer, lots of HOT water, and space to waltz in].
Yesterday we headed to Turtle Bay in the Broken Islands Group.
You proceed across Imperial Eagle passage (named after a ship) with
numerous eagles about. They perch on low rocks, just above the high
tide line, instead of the safety of the trees. Entering Turtle Bay
required a zigzag course around shoals and rocks, but our previously
entered GPS waypoints were right on and guided into the bay with
no fuss. This area is has the tranquility and beauty we hoped for.
We aren't alone, but it is very quiet here. Kayakers are the most
numerous sign that humanity exists.
This morning we enjoyed a misty morning at low tide. It was magical,
in a primeval way. With my coffee, island reflections, and squawking
ravens accompanying baroque music we wonder that we even considered
the fog to be a hassle. We think we will hang around Turtle bay
a while longer.
Even with fog and condensation, this is the place for a peaceful
escape - better than the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands, or Desolation
Sound. The calm isolated beauty is mesmerizing. I suspect the best
time for visiting Barkley Sound is in July. June is probably too
cool and August you have varying degrees of fog.
Katherine (Morning of 08/19/20)
For those who want to know about my cooking, there isn't a ton to
report (I've been more interested in learning how to handle the
boat). Mostly, I've been working with different bread recipes. Since
my oven doesn't get hotter than 375, I use recipes that work in
that range or cooler. I've made 2 mildly sweet, yeast breads. An
almond braid (which is a lot of fun) and a raisin bread with light
rye. The latter has a texture similar to a bagel. The almond bread
is great for breakfast or making smaller loaves to give as gifts.
I'm starting to get the hang of kneading. It can be somewhat of
a meditation. You get a rhythm going and after 10 minutes, the dough
just "feels" right (although the Moosewood Lodge - New
Recipes, gives the best short-version explanation).
Otherwise my cooking revolves around what needs to be used up before
it's past its prime. I may have said this before, but I never thought
I would purchase fruit and vegetables that we're as unripe as I
could get away with. On land, I would want them and want them perfect.
Now it would be disaster if everything was ripe at once. Well, since
the amp meter on the solar panels gauge says 2 amps, the fog must
be lifting - I'm going outside!
Katherine (Afternoon of 08/19/20)
Our leisurely day has changed into an afternoon of preparation.
We received our weather fax (for the first time in 4 days) and discovered
that a nasty low-pressure system is headed for the northern tip
of Vancouver Island. Our plan had been to proceed to Ucluelet (in
the major town near Barkley sound) tomorrow to reprovision, plug
into power for a day, and do some boat maintenance. However if we
have to wait out the predicted bad weather, we may have difficulty
meeting our crew in Neah Bay on time. We decided to try to head
to Neah Bay tomorrow morning in advance of the storm, with a bail
out plan to head back to Bamfield, if weather conditions are nasty.
So we pack everything up and button it down tight. We made GPS
routes, ate well, and spent the rest of the evening relaxing (or
trying to). I took my Bonamine early so the side effects will subside
earlier. My concern is the wind direction. I would hate to be 2/3
across the strait and then the wind clock around to the SE - this
will make life miserable and too late to turn back.
Katherine and Alan (Morning of 8/21/2001)
Yesterday morning weather buoy reports showed wind direction from
the SE, which is exactly the direction to Neah Bay. It wasn't even
9am, so the low pressure system may have been moving faster than
we expected. The head wind, combined with the nasty approaching
front, made us decide to abort the crossing to Neah Bay. Instead
we proceeded to Bamfield and tied up at the government dock (US
$10/day, no power or water) to wait out the storm. Katherine wanted
to follow the wind reports to see how rapidly the ocean wind speed
picked up - but, for some strange reason, most of the weather buoys
weren't reporting. We had 7:30 AM reports and the hourly reports
until 4:30 PM were unavailable. Here in Bamfield the weather didn't
seem to start deteriorating until dusk. It felt mildly disappointing
to be in a port with fine weather. We got our vindication last night
when the wind and rain assaulted us with a deluge.
Our propane detector alarm woke us up off the night before last
- the solinoid valve had been shut off but we had neglected to turn
off a stove knob. Katherine woke up this morning (wanting coffee)
and made a beeline to turn on the propane cylinder. She thought
she smelled propane when she opened the cylinder; so she performed
a test using the pressure gauge and no gradual loss of pressure
was detectable, but Katherine thought she smelled propane after
she opened the cylinder.
Katherine (Afternon of 8/21/2001)
The day progressed and our spirits and boat are rather damp.
To top it all off , the weather faxes show more lows pressure systems
near Alaska heading our way. Will we ever get down the coast?. Alan
went to use the Internet and I thought about being brave enough
to use the stove. When I opened the propane cylinder, I KNEW I smelled
propane (which it didn't use to do), so I chickened out. We decided
to perform the soapy bubble test (equal parts dishwashing detergent
- with no ammonia - and water). No bubbles anywhere, but Alan also
smelled the propane near the propane locker. Alan discovered the
leak existed when the valve at the propane cylinder was being turned
on (he heard a subtle "hisst"). When the valve is wiggled
in-between the open and closed position it leaks; also the propane
cylinder is almost empty. Alan removed the cylinder and plugged
in our spare. The books do a fair to good job on how to test for
leaks along the system, but they emphasize the tubing, not the pressure
gauge or cylinder itself. It is tempting to be complacent even with
our propane sniffer (it senses propane at levels lower than flammable
and not detectable by humans).
Other Maintenance stuff: I helped Alan change the oil & fuel
filters (which were not excessively dirty this time). Alan also
did a preventative replacement of the impeller for the seawater-cooling
pump. We are very glad that we dug into the pump because the vanes
on the old impeller were cracked in a couple of places. Our refrigeration
also seems to be turning on more frequently than it used to; but
since the frig is cold enough, we are going to put of digging into
this issue unitl we reach California; I'll just leave it off some
of the time when we need to save battery juice.