Kingston, WA to Florence Cove, BC
Monday, May 31 - 5:38 am - I departed our slip at Kingston on Corleto with Isabella lashed to the deck and the new autopilot at the helm in light rain. Corleto is a Catalina 27, Isabella an 8-foot, strip built, tender. By 6:30 the wind picked up enough to sail for an hour, but as speed dropped below 4 knots, I resorted to using the diesel again. This first day, I wanted to make it to Stuart Island in the San Juans. I had broken the trip up into legs that would compress a trip that should really take 30 days into 20, so a 4-knot speed was the minimum I could afford to go if I was to arrive before dark in all my anchorages. A big bull sea lion rose up alongside me. He blinked and yawned as I motored past.
The lighthouse at Turn Point.
There had been gale winds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca the day before, so entering the strait on a strong ebb current, I expected some rough water past Point Wilson but I wasn't at all prepared for what greeted me. There was a wall of breakers, about 10 feet high and I could see that a large powerboat was making a 90 degree course change to avoid them. By altering course myself, I was able to avoid them for a while but eventually I was surrounded. Isabella worked herself free and was starting to bounce on the foredeck and to my horror I could see that the forward line had completely slipped free. I had the jack line installed but it took a while to get my harness on. I had visions of chasing Isabella off through these seas, trying to grab her and pull her back up on deck. She managed to wedge herself sideways between the lifelines until I could get forward. With my added weight in the bow, the waves were breaking over the bow pulpit at times. Fortunately, our forward speed was slowed so much by the waves that when the water did come up waist high on me a few times, there wasn't much force, it was more of a dunking than trying to sweep me off the deck. I was able to run a line between the forward and aft lashings got her all cinched down so I didn't have to repeat this on the rest of the trip. Through all this I could see splinters of wood on the deck, so I knew Isabella had suffered some but had no time to inspect her or to figure out where the chocks had gone.
Shortly after the breakers, the wind suddenly kicked up to 30 knots and we were heeled rail under. The strain on the rudder caused the autopilot mounting pin to break out of the tiller. Water damage had softened the wood around the pin and it had all crushed from the loading it had taken. I headed up and let the jib back wind, lashing the tiller to lee. I dropped the working jib, lashed it down, put a double reef in the mainsail, wore around and we were off sailing again on a beam reach. Corleto really moves on a beam reach and the knot meter was showing a fairly steady 7 knots, with the double reefed main and no jib. I wondered how I could continue the trip without the autopilot, how to drill a new hole, should I go home to make repairs and start over? I decided to try to make Stuart Island and sort it out there.
Approaching the west side of San Juan Island I could see other boats. There were five private boats and eight commercial whale watching boats. These are large inflatables with a pair of huge outboards and a hard vee bottom. The passengers are all donned in bright colored flotation suits and are strapped in, looking like rows of dummies as they speed past. I've noticed that nobody ever waves back from one of these boats. Perhaps they are too busy looking for whales? I had to change my course as the whales were headed to the same spot that I was. Meanwhile, a pod of Dall porpoises surrounded Corleto and gave us a show of our own which lasted about 10 minutes. I could see an Orca jumping clear out of the water about a quarter mile away while all this was going on.
The wind died and the sun came out as I rounded Turn Point on Stuart Island. Things definitely seemed better.
Sorting things out at Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island, I decided the damage to Isabella was superficial, my new lashing technique should keep her firmly on the deck, and I was able to lash the tiller pin in with wraps of tarred marlin. Not a very pretty repair, but solid enough to last until I got home and I would be able to use the autopilot again.
66 mi - 13 hours - rain
Tuesday, June 1 - 7:00 am - Motored over to Bedlow Harbor for my
customs number. Talked to two US couples who had also anchored at Prevost Harbor
in their two boats. One was from Wenachee and they were both headed for Alaska.
We all sailed north but I lost them going around Prevost Island and never saw
them again. I arrived two hours early for the slack at Gabriola Passage so I
pulled in and anchored in Pirates Cove Provincial Marine Park, just to the west.
This is a beautiful spot, and I had a relaxing dinner and motored through the
pass at slack tide.
The Copeland Islands
There was a strong northern set as I emerged on the other side so I angled about
30 degrees with the autopilot and that kept me on course while I tried getting
some pictures of this gorgeous setting in the evening light. I wasn't watching closely enough and the side current quickened and carried me over Rogers Reef where I managed to bump! I only bumped once and it was a squishy crunch which
sounded more like crushed mussel shells than crunched fiberglass. None-the-less, I quickly inspected the bilge for any signs of leakage and set the shallow alarm on the depth sounder, which I should have set before. The alarm is a real nuisance in sailing in deep water as when the depth sounder sees water over 600
feet it gives erroneous readings which set off the alarm. Silva Bay is a pretty spot and anchorage is good, and it offers good protection from wind and waves. I slept well.
40 mi - 11 hours underway - engine hours for the 2 days was 14
hours - another rainy day
Wednesday, June 2 - I motored out into the Strait of Georgia at 5:35 am and quickly got under sail. A pair of porpoises welcomed me as if on cue. Had to dodge a cruise ship, two ferries and was about to tack for a tug and barge when he changed course. These Canadians are sure courteous. If only the logs could do that. I must have seen a hundred logs or large chunks of wood in the water this day. Tried to tack through Welcome Passage. There was enough wind but it was too tight and too rocky, so motored on through.
The sky was clear and no rain, but I was dogged by a 1 to 1.5 knot adverse current all day so I only averaged 4 knots for the day. I did manage to get into a tacking duel with a sailboat with a red inflatable lashed to it's stern. Just when I'd get close it would furl up it's sails and fire up it's one cylinder engine and go popping away to windward.
Westview was shut down for the night when I arrived. The pizza place, the fish and chips place, the harbor office and the store all closed. I looked in at the showers and saw they took loonies, so walked up town again as I didn't have any. Got ice and loonies and went back to the boat, leaving my quarters and picked up my towel and soap. The door was locked on the shower I'd looked at first, so went to the second shower room, which was open. After getting all undressed and set for my shower I discovered that this shower took only quarters! Back to the boat, and now with six quarters in the slot the water started flowing, I got all soapy with a nice shampoo lather and then the water stopped!! The coin return released one of the quarters but after trying it again, no water and no more quarters back. One minute for $1.50? Fortunately, there was a sink and hot water there, so I was able to finish my bath at the sink. A nice batch of scrambled eggs with onions tasted good after a long day at the helm.
I called Annamarie at 9:30. The marina was full and lots of people were working on boats until midnight. Engines were being run hard at the dock and I heard a loud crash at one point with lots of conversation following, none of which I could understand. I eventually did fall to sleep.
56 miles - 14 hours
Wednesday, June 3 - I slept in and got a late start.
The Copeland Islands are quite beautiful, although the channel is narrow and the shallow alarm kept going off. Not because it was shallow, but because the sounder would get confused in the deep water.
Just past Sarah Point at noon, I called John on VHF. We agreed to meet up at Florence Cove at 6 pm. Since I only had 12 miles to go in 6 hours, I read some of "Iberia," which I had hoped to finish on the trip.
I heard the now familiar popping of yesterday's sailing companion as they motored past. I eventually realized around 2 pm that I wasn't making any progress at all as my speed was canceled by the flood current. I hadn't expected this much current. It worsened as I motored through Lewis Channel, and I hugged the east shore as I wound my way through. A 400-foot Canadian Navy warship passed me as I proceeded through the channel.
Hole-In-The-Wall Channel was no better, the current running around 2 knots, but I arrived around the point to a waving John right at 6 pm.
They invited me to dinner so I let down the anchor in 60 feet, unlashed Isabella
and broke out the oars. John and I had taken a shake down cruise out to Hot Springs
Cove in "Manali", his 29-foot sloop only 5 weeks before, so this was a reunion of sorts
except that this time we had the pleasure of Barbara's company. As we were eating,
the wind became stronger and it became obvious that Corleto was dragging anchor.
There was a Coast Guard cutter anchored down wind and by the time I got back, we
were painfully close to it and now in 90 feet of water with only 150 feet of scope
with the wind making her sail at anchor. I hoped it would all settle down, but
after spending an hour on the next days navigation, I could see no indications that the wind might not blow all night and possibly get stronger. The final kicker was when a fishing boat with a loud generator moved in just upwind of me, so I decided to haul anchor.
My anchor rode consists of 10 feet of chain, 30 feet of nylon line, 30 feet more of
heavy chain, and then 200 feet more of nylon line. In most situations, I anchor in
30 feet or less of water, so being able to hand in that 30 feet of chain, which
weighs around 35 lbs., without having to also lift the anchor along with it, is a
real blessing. In 90 feet of water, however, it means hauling all 60 lbs. straight
up. But, this was more than 60 lbs. I could only get it so far. Here it was 10 pm, almost dark, and me with a fouled anchor. I got it up as far as I could and cleated
it off and tried to drive it off under power. Corleto could not manage! My god, had
I snagged an underwater cable? I wondered about hailing the coastguard for assistance. Maybe I could catch them in the morning. At least I wouldn't drag except now I was even closer to the racket of that generator.
I would have no time to spare in the morning, as I wanted to hit the rapids at slack. I let Corleto back off and made one more charge at it and she broke free. Back to the bow and up it all came along with 30 lbs. or so of weed, piled up on the anchor. I had to cleat off and motor around the CG boat and finish the job down wind. I should have spent a peaceful night anchored away from the racket in 30 feet, but with all the excitement in getting re-anchored, it took me several hours to get to sleep.
40 miles - 10 hrs underway - no rain again