Log - 8/07/2001 to 8/20/2001
Naniamo to the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Barkley Sound, BC, Canada

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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.