Friday, April 29, 2011

Yacht clubs

I've never had aspirations for the blue blazer and yachting cap lifestyle, and I'm thinking that the fact that I spend most of my cruising life in pajama's probably disqualifies me anyway.  Even so, Nicole and I have belonged to several sailing clubs since buying our boat, mostly for the social aspect, but also for one of the perks of club membership.  Many of the clubs have their own marina, or reserved dock space at a marina, and maintain a reciprocal policy for visiting boaters.  You can stay at their dock for free, in exchange for them being able to stay at yours, and many times they also have showers, laundry facilities, and a bar and/or restaurant on site.  We always think this will be a great money saving deal, but year after year realize that we are usually happier anchoring in some remote cove than tying to a dock, and the perk goes unused.  This trip has been a bit different in that regard.  Leaving Seattle somewhat unprepared for the open ocean (lots of gear un-stowed, totes of stuff on deck, cockpit filled with spares....) has meant that docks are a welcome relief to unpack and repack the boat trying for some sense of organization, but our budget is such that we cannot afford to pay for time at the dock.  With the reciprocal moorage agreements we have access to, we have been able to finish many of the projects on the boat, get a handle on our storage issues, and not kill our budget.  So far this trip, the stops we have made that offer one or more free nights at their docks include: Port Madison, Port Ludlow, Port Townsend, Victoria, Sidney and Nanaimo.  Seven free nights at the dock, where most marinas are charging $40-50 per night to tie up, has been a real relief to our savings.  With Nanaimo Yacht Club being the northern-most club we have a reciprocal agreement with, we are on our own for dockside luxuries from this point north, but are thankful for the hospitality we have been shown so far.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Nicole and I have always enjoyed the time we spend in Nanaimo.  It seems to be a very boater-friendly place, with just about everything you would be looking for within easy walking distance to the harbor.  There is a good sized supermarket and liquor store just across the street from the government docks, a well stocked chandlery (boating supplies) one block further, and several ice cream/gelato shops right on the water.  The harbor is protected from bad weather by two islands, Newcastle and Protection, making it a decent place to wait out any storms passing by before crossing the Strait of Georgia.  Newcastle Island has docks and (new this year) moorings, as well as room for anchoring, and the island has an extensive trail system that offers welcome relief for stretching your legs.  Protection Island is mostly private homes, but does feature the Dinghy Dock Pub, a floating bar/restaurant accessible by private boat or via the walk-on ferry from the town dock.
We decided because we usually spend a couple days in Nanaimo re-provisioning that we would have our mail sent up from Seattle.  Along with bills and other things we probably don't want to see, our mail contained a replacement part for the boat that we wanted to get installed before continuing north.  Unfortunately we forgot that it is Easter weekend, and in Canada this means a four day break from life's luxuries, including mail service.  Thus, we are here until Tuesday, enjoying all the area has to offer, and trying hard not to spend our entire savings in one place.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Money-Every Little Bit Counts

You may notice that along the right hand side of our blog there are now advertisements.  This has nothing to do with our blog readership exceeding 10,000 hits per day (it didn't) but instead is another small way for us to make some extra money.  It's simple, if you see an interesting ad, can't believe there is an ad for a particular thing, or are bored and want to help out, click on the ad(s) and Google sends us a bit of cash.  Every time you click it adds a bit to our cruising fund and helps out the businesses that advertise through Google.  I'm not saying you have to click on the ads, I'm pretty sure that is against the fine print I didn't read in setting up the account, but it's there if you want to.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pirate's Cove

Our choice to visit Pirates Cove involved looking at the charts, figuring distances, listening to the weather forecasts and reading the guide books.  It did not, and should have, involve looking at a tide chart.  The guide mentions the entrance to the cove being somewhat tricky, which I didn't really think it was, but I don't think it mentions it being shallow.  Going in at low tide does help to show where all the rocks and reefs are, and it makes it very obvious why the navigational buoys are placed where they are, but I'm never all that crazy about any passage where I have to stare at the depth sounder as it quickly counts down to zero.  I'm guessing the calibration must be a little bit off, because the depth read zero several times but we never felt the boat touch bottom.  Probably good to keep it that way so we have a little margin of error.  The guide book says this is one of the most popular destinations in the Gulf Islands, which is probably referring to a time of the year when it is not pouring rain and the temperature is above freezing, because we had the place to ourselves.
The next morning we left a little early to make sure we had a bit more water under the keel going back through the entrance, and anchored again just outside in the cove in Ruxton Passage to wait for slack tide at Dodd Narrows.  This turned out to be a nice anchorage as well although it wouldn't be that great if the wind was out of the south.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Butchart Gardens

While in Sidney we decided we were just too close to Butchart Gardens and had stop in for a visit.  Luckily for us they have an entrance to the gardens accessible by boat, so after a quick trip down Saanich Inlet we anchored in Tod Inlet for the night so we could spend as much of the following day as we wanted touring the gardens.  Butchart also offers several moorings right in front of their dock, but the water depth looked a little iffy for our boat if we wanted to spend the night, so we chose to anchor around the corner and take our inflatable in to the dock.  The admission costs for the Gardens is a bit outrageous, but our timing was perfect and much of the area was in peak bloom.  We also lucked out with the weather, and after several days of gusty winds, cloudy skies and periodic rain, our day in the Gardens was sunny and warm.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oh Canada

We finally made it out of the country.  Not that we are running from anything and need to get away, more that we are running towards something, or in this case very slowing moving towards something.  That something is Alaska, eventually, but for the near future we get to spend a bunch of quality time with our good friend and neighbor to the north, Canada.
Our trip across the Straits of Juan de Fuca was not exactly pleasant.  We left Port Townsend with 25 knots of wind out of the southeast, which made for an interesting departure from the dock, and should have meant smooth downwind sailing to Victoria.  Instead, the wind died off just about the time we were getting things worked out to sail, and was replaced with a growing wind out of the west, pretty much where we wanted to go.  It got to the point of being uncomfortable about an hour out of Victoria, uncomfortable meaning wind increasing and the odd wave coming over the bow or side of the boat.  Not really a big deal for us but our cat Hope has taken to sleeping up forward in the bow when we are traveling, and I could see the bow rising and falling 10 feet or more on some of the waves which gave me the mental image of the cat hovering in mid-air up forward as the bow plunged into the trough behind some of the bigger waves.  Kind of a Wile-E-Coyote over the cliff type of thing.  She didn't seem to get injured or sick from the experience, but was even more ornery than her usually teenage self for the next day or so.
We cleared Customs in Victoria, a truly painless 5 minute process, then headed over to Esquimalt to the CFSA marina to meet up with some new friends and take a couple days to continue organizing the boat.  We decided to stay an extra day here which allowed us to see Carol and Livia's boat S/V Estrellita 5:10b go back in the water after several weeks of work in the boat yard.  The weather forecast has included gales for some portion of Vancouver Island pretty much every day since we left Seattle, so the next couple weeks will either be very exciting if we venture out, or very relaxing if we sit and wait.  It is nice to not be on a schedule.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Still in the USA

The last couple days in Port Townsend have been really nice.  My birthday was spent in perfect PT fashion, a starter beer at the brewery, pizza at the Waterfront, Ice Cream at Elevated Ice Cream, and a final beer at Sirens.
Yesterday was a free day at the marina (reciprocal moorage is nice when it works) so we headed to Port Townsend Sails for some supplies to put our mainsail back together so we can finally sail again, bummed around town a bit, and got some more small projects done on the boat.  Because of our stops yesterday at the brewery and Sirens, I didn't get a chance to consume my birthday beer, so last night we watched some TV (being at the dock has other advantages) and polished off a special bottle of Surly Smoke, smuggled back from our last trip to MN.
This morning Nicole is hitting the grocery store while I change oil on the boat, then we will head over to Mystery Bay for a day or two, waiting out some crummy weather headed our way and finishing our taxes so we can drop them off before leaving the country early next week.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Heading North

Today was a typical "Greg cruising day".  We started out with the intention of spending one more day cleaning up the boat, but I starting waffling about heading somewhere new.  A decision was made (possibly not unanimously) to move on, this was discussed and changed in favor of staying, then changed again and we were off and heading north.  The weather was lovely, with a beautiful grey sky merging with the grey water, luckily the wind was blowing enough so the very prominent white caps helped to differentiate the two.  We were too late for the tide to help us, so we slowly plodded along watching the boat speed slow more and more.  I think the near freezing temperature really helped things, meaning that once it started raining, it could turn to sleet and hail, giving me a perfect preview of things to come as we head further north.
The highlight of the day was spotting a whale near Foulweather Bluff.  I'm going to call it a Minke Whale because Nicole was the only other one there and she wasn't very convincing when telling me I was wrong.  With several more whale identification guides on board this trip I have a much better chance of really confusing myself when trying to identify the various marine mammals we see.  The day ended in Port Ludlow, one of our favorite anchorages in Puget Sound, with the heater going and a good book, so at least things ended well.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


We made it off the dock on the day we said we would.  The boat was pretty much trashed, but we had planned a quick trip across the sound to Port Madison to meet up with friends, so breaking our rule of not leaving until the boat is shipshape was pretty minor.  Waiting for us in Port Madison were our good friends Tor and Jess on S/V Yare, friends Dave and Judith drove over to meet us, and Paul, a former customer and now friend showed up with a friend on his boat Phoenix to help us celebrate our escape from the dock.    Dave and Judith left Saturday evening, starting the sad goodbyes that continued Sunday as everyone else left to head back to reality.  The next several days we stayed anchored in Port Madison sorting through boxes of stuff and finishing projects on the boat.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time is running out

The boat is completely torn apart, there are boxes and bins of stuff everywhere, several of the most important pieces of equipment on the boat are currently non-functional......  Guess it's time to leave, 'cause our timer isn't slowing down just because the to-do list is growing.
By the end of the day today (trying not to jinx myself by saying it) both our vehicles will be gone, I will be completely moved out of my work space in Everett, and we will have all our worldly belongings aboard the boat.  Of course, all our worldly belongings doesn't include the various keepsakes and trash/treasure items we have stored with parents and friends, but we felt it important to save a bit of "start-up clutter" for when/if we ever move back ashore.
Hopefully the next post here, and many others to follow, will be more interesting and have a bit more of a nautical theme.