LEAVING NZ – A NEW CHAPTER

I am on the way back to Truce in Canada and writing this on the plane.  Eleven hours from Auckland to San Francisco and then on to Victoria in Canada.  It’s going to be a long flight but an even longer journey when I return to New Zealand with Truce in a few weeks.

Leaving home is always an uneasy time, there is the anticipation of new adventures ahead tempered with the leaving of loved ones behind for a while.  I will also be leaving a nice soft bed, home cooking and the easy domesticated life.  I have been through this cycle many times but it never gets any easier.

Before leaving home I checked out the weather forecast for Canoe Cove, seems there will be a few days rain and temperatures struggling to get into double figures during the day.  I don’t like wet cold weather and it’s not the best to be getting the hull anti fouled.  I am hoping the winter has not been too harsh on Truce and that the BC green mould has not taken over.  Whatever, I expect that there will be a lot of cleaning up, airing out and warming through to be carried out.

My priority is to get the hull anti fouled and then launch Truce back into her natural environment.  Then I can really get going on the seemingly endless job list of commissioning for the trip back to New Zealand.

I am flying on United Airlines from Auckland to San Francisco.  What a useless airline, I am very unimpressed.  The inflight food is just awful, service is aggressive and inflight entertainment is like something out of the seventies and the touch screen doesn’t. Then came the bizarre ice cream snatch.  I was given Ice Cream with my meal and just getting into it when a cabin attendant snatched it from me!  Why?  Because someone on the plane had a nut allergy!  Just Bonkers.  To cap it all my seat won’t recline, the cabin attendant informed me it’s broken and nothing can be done – but I could try complaining.  Clearly the Cabin Staff don’t anticipate any result from complaining and as there is no free seat I can move to – looks like I will just have to suck it, sit upright for 11 hours up and make a note never to fly United again.  I suppose the equipment on the flight deck works better than my seat.

Working on the theory that everything happens for a reason and that every action has an opposite and equal reaction – I am expecting a stroke of good luck to come my way soon.

REFLECTIONS ON ALASKA TRIP

The trip was a wonderful opportunity to get to know the boat and the systems on board.  In the early days of the trip I had to undertake a lot of maintenance as the boat hadn’t been in use full time.  During the trip I suffered no major failures and am confident the boat is strongly built, sturdy and a capable offshore cruiser.

The Dickenson cabin heater was wonderful on cold nights as were the two oil lamps in the salon, without their warmth it would have been tough on cold wet days.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get in any really consistent sailing for prolonged periods of time that is essential to really get a feel for the boat under sail.  But the sailing I did showed the boat to be well balanced and able to steer with the wind vane self-steering quite easily.  Not having a fridge on board was no problem in Alaska and BC, but I do worry how I will keep the beer cold when I venture into warmer climes.

A couple of people have asked me if I would do the Alaska trip again.  The answer is a qualified no.  I really enjoyed the experience, Alaska is an awesome place, wild rugged, scenic and spectacular and populated with some very interesting people.  The people I met along the way were predominantly American and Canadian with a few other nationalities thrown in.  The Alaskan people are very friendly, but there are quite a few who don’t really conform to mainstream America, characters, odd balls, eccentrics, or miss fits – call them what you will, but all were welcoming, generous and good fun.

An experience and adventure not to be missed and without the interaction of the local people the trip would have been merely a scenic cruise.  Alaska is also a place that can be wet, windy, foggy and cold, it’s not a soft place for single handing a sail boat.  As for wind, it tends to run up and down the channels and straits, a sailing boat usually has the wind on the nose according to sods law.  Significant motoring is required to make any significant headway.

To get the most out of a trip by boat to Alaska a motorboat is preferable, many people use heavier displacement trawler type motor yachts where they can be sheltered from the elements and still have a good view of the outside world.  It’s interesting to note that the people I met on motor boats reported more bear sightings than people on yachts.  I think this was due to the fact that the motorboats had good views from protected environment when at anchor.  A motor boat with a decent speed of around nine knots also makes passages between anchorages possible in a small weather window and allows strong tidal flows to be handled easier.  So Alaska is a place not to me missed.  Now there are so many other places calling and so little time.

Some facts and figures from the Alaska Voyages: –

Total distance – 2,753.7 miles (4,432Km)

Ports and anchorages – 97

Sailing time – 134 hours (non motor sailing)

Engine Hours – 563

Fuel Consumption – 764 Ltr (202 gals.)

Oil Changes – 3

Costs of living – NZ$35 per day

I will continue to post occasional blogs and updates throughout the year until I take off again in March on the next leg of the journey, south and west.

BAMFIELD, AN EASY DAY.

Easy day in Bamfield.  A great little place and very laid back.  It’s a holiday town but there is no rush or bustle, everything is neat and tidy and well laid out.  There are some nice houses lining the inlet with their private docks and well-tended gardens.  I like the look of the place.

Well I did a bit of housekeeping today and rested my ribs which are hurting less now, but I am still frightened to sneeze.

Tomorrow I will continue on down the coast to Victoria which is only a couple of days away now.  I am looking forward to sailing down the Juan de Fuca Strait, I have done it many times before in bigger ships than Truce.  I hope I get lucky with the weather and the notorious fog stays away.

I can’t remember going through the Juan de Fuca Strait in daylight.  This is because the arrival is usually timed to pick up the pilot early morning for the trip up to Vancouver, likewise coming out from Vancouver the pilot is usually dropped off late afternoon.  Total voyage distance 1,001.2 miles.

BEAUTIFUL BARKLEY SOUND

The West Coast of Vancouver Island is turning out to be one of the best parts of the trip down from Alaska.  After leaving Ucluelet this morning I headed over to the Broken Group of Islands in Barkley Sound.  Many of these islands form part of a Marine Park and are much used in the summer months by Kayakers and Campers.  The islands have sheltered coves, bays, sandy beaches and protected waters for kayaking, a beautiful area.

Clarke Island in Broken Group Barkley Sound. Photo Ray Penson jpg
Clarke Island in Broken Group Barkley Sound. Photo Ray Penson

I anchored at Clarke Island for lunch, just off a sandy beach in glorious weather.  The Canadian summer has been turning on the charm in the last week.

In the afternoon I picked up the anchor and headed over to Barkley, a small town clustered around an inlet.  As you enter the inlet one of the first things you see is the store / Post Office with its own float out front.  So convenient to tie up the boat and get stores, no long distance bag carrying.  I took advantage of the opportunity and bought a few treats, fresh fruit, tomatoes and blue cheese.  So good to see home grown fruit and veg in store and not the long life, everlasting, tasteless variety that persists up north.

I also made a contribution to Stanley Park in Vancouver, one of the best city parks in the world.  I bought some Stanley Park ‘Windstorm’ pale ale.  Part of the proceeds from each sale goes to support the park for future generations.  The beer tastes good as well, so it’s a win win situation.  Total voyage distance 1,001.2 miles.

SPREADER REMOVAL DAY

Woke up this morning and it was warmer, did the breath test and only a bit of steam came out. Turned out to be a sunny and warm day, could have worn shorts but I was too busy to get changed. I turned out the lockers under the cockpit today and laid everything down in the sun to get rid of the damp.

Spent another hour on the phone to my lifejacket supplier in Vancouver trying to get a replacement gas cylinder.  They have now contacted the UK office for help, at this rate I may just have to buy new lifejackets and get on with life.

The big event toady was the removal of the port spreader, luckily it came away easily and it was quite a quick job.

As you can see from the photo the rot is quite extensive and close to the tip.  It could have lasted a bit longer but it would have failed in heavy weather when under high stress – not a nice thought.  I feel much better now that the job is underway and an new spreader will be fitted soon.

Not long to go now before the boat is ready.  One of my neighbours is just finishing his engine repairs and will be heading out tomorrow, going north.  We may meet up again on the way.

Removing port spreader
Removing port spreader
Nasty rot on spreader
Nasty rot on spreader

 

MORE RAIN AND PLANNING

It rained all night with some wind and a nice fresh cold breezy day today.  I am trying to get a reasonably priced ERPIB and expected I could get one from West Marine in the USA.  Unfortunately, although the price is great they are only programmed for American boats.  I then spoke at length with West Marine in Vancouver and they say theirs are only for Canadian boats (seems unusual) and their price was double the USA price.

So, eventually I contacted Burnsco Marine in New Zealand, they have an EPIRB at a good price and will ship to Canada.  If only I had known before I left NZ – hindsight is a lovely thing.  Thank you Burnsco.

Got frustrated today with the mobile phone.  The system here in Canada for non-Canadians is pretty poor.  My credit ran out mid call to a supplier this morning.  I then tried to top up with my phone, not possible.  I then tried to top up from my laptop, again not possible as I don’t have a Canadian address.  The only option was to get on a bus down to Sidney and top up at the seven eleven.

An hour later I purchased a top up and it didn’t load, the guy at the counter said that happens all the time and gave me a number for customer service, but this number could only be called from a landline!  Eventually, thirty minutes later I managed to top up.  On the bright side my trip to town was not wasted as I managed to find a coffee plunger and brewed up some decent coffee this afternoon.

I have been in contact with New Zealand’s best sign man, Bryant Thompson, for a new port of registry sign on the transom.  I will also get some signs for the new NZ Callsign and MMSI number which go above the chart table.  All being well the signs will be here later this week and I will try my best to get them applied straight.

During a sunny spell this afternoon I tried to figure out a way of launching the dinghy without crippling myself.  The dinghy is cold moulded and built like a battleship, apparently Ernest considered that it would be his lifeboat as a last resort.  Its heavy.  I may try rigging a spare halyard and using a short spinnaker pole as a davit – needs a lot more thought really.

Off to do the laundry tonight, its nice and warm in the laundry which is a bonus.  Then back for a low flyer and a chat to my neighbour.

Still can’t find long life milk.

Logged 4th April 2016

Hectic Times

Its been a hectic few days and I have run the full gamut of emotions.

Inspecting Yacht Truce Rig. Photo Ray Penson
Inspecting Yacht Truce Rig. Photo Ray Penson

I left home in Auckland on the 26th March, one day before my official retirement time and flew into Vancouver on the same day thanks to the date line.  Then over to Vancouver Island where the prospective purchase was to be surveyed at Canoe Cove marina.  Canoe Cove is a great spot, just next to the BC Ferry Terminal from Vancouver, its very sheltered and has a wide range of practical types available to fix, repair and build boat things.

The boat was scheduled to be lifted out of the water on the 30th for underwater hull inspection and a surveyor was arranged to start on the 29th to carry out in water inspection.  The survey went well on the 29th with nothing serious found.

I also organised for a rigger to climb the mast and do complete rig inspection.  All went well and no major problems were identified, the rigger was most impressed with the quality of the wooden mast.  There is a touch of rot on the outboard end of the port spreader that will need attention at some stage, I climbed the mast later to check it out and its only superficial but I may fit a new spreader this year just to be 100% certain all is well.

Yacht Truce Lift off
Ready for lift out, backing into the travel lift – Photo Ray Penson

On the morning of the 30th the engineer turned up to check the engine and mechanicals.  He spent some time working around the cold engine before starting up for the hot check.  With the boat tied up securely to the dock he tested the engine on load at high RPM and ran up to working temperature.

I am sure the engine hasn’t been worked that hard in its life but it held up for 10 minutes before being pulled back to a more moderate power.

Yacht Truce Underwater profile – Photo Ray Penson
Underwater profile – Photo Ray Penson

On the engine side we found some corrosion on the exhaust mixing pipe and a hose that needs replacing due to chafe – otherwise all is sound.  I will replace the hose and exhaust mixing section before heading north.

I will also get a set of spare belts and another spare water impeller.  These spares are easy to get elsewhere but will be more expensive further north.