STILL IN THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)

Today turned out to be a bit of a non-event.  The intent was to sail south, pick up the easterly traded and then carry on to Christmas Island.  But, events last night and this morning have postponed our breakout from the ITCZ for another day.

Firstly, last night turned into an epic of calms blows and torrential rain.  We appeared to be in a giant rain cloud arena.  Every time we got into the vicinity of a rain cloud the wind picked up and we ended up a couple of miles further west than when we started.  Then the wind died completely and I had to take all sail off the boat as we were rolling in a choppy sea, the sails were on a mission to self-destruct.

The second saga started this morning with torrential rain, no wind just buckets of rain from eight to mid-day.  Now we have plenty of fresh water on board, have taken showers, washed hair and are smelling civilised again.

All this palaver meant we didn’t sail out of where we were parked up.  I have tried to lay a course south but the wind is coming from that direction and we just keep getting pushed west again.  Predict Wind is advising I go south west and then south.  This seems a risky proposition so I have decided to head east for a few hours (if the wind holds).  When the wind comes around I will see it and can then head southwards towards Christmas Island.  It’s only a couple of hundred miles away but proving difficult to get to today.

We haven’t seen the sun for twenty four hours and the batteries missed their their solar fix.  So, in had to run the engine again.

Yesterday I made a couple of small loaves of bread.  By breakfast this morning it had all gone.  I will need to make bigger loaves next time.  Making bread on a moving boat must be great exercise, sure to strengthen the core body muscles.

The Truce film club watched ‘Groundhog Day’ last night.  I have seen it a couple of times but it was a premier for Jessica.  It was good fun.

I think we set a record yesterday for the lowest daily mileage at fifty-three, noon to noon.  Well that’s if you don’t count the day I went backwards a few miles off Oregon.  Voyage distance 967 miles.

INTO THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)

No sooner had I written the words ‘ I think the fun will start this evening’ in my log yesterday afternoon than the wind suddenly died.  We had entered the ITCZ, the doldrums of old.  I had to drop all sail as we were sitting stationary and rolling around with sails slapping back and forth

An hour later a southerly breeze set in and we sailed slowly through the night in beautiful calm conditions under a canopy of stars.  In the early hours of the morning it became quite cold and I had to reach for a long-sleeved shirt to keep warm.

The day has been spent trying to keep the boat moving and heading in the right direction and avoid getting to the west of the track.  Everything we try always sends us back to the west, making it more difficult to reach our destination.  But, we are not getting too stressed about it, the right wind will come when its ready.  Its an enjoyment to have calm weather and some nice flat sailing in sunshine after being on the wind under a cloud for so long.

Our mileage today noon to noon was not that flash and I expect tomorrows will be even shorter if the weather forecast is correct.  Our track on the chart is starting to look like hieroglyphics.  Jessica and I discussed trying to write our names on the plotter with the ships track.  But concluded we would actually need to have some wind to achieve that feat.  Voyage distance 766 miles.

BECALMED, A 3% CHANCE

Last night at sunset the wind started to decrease.  First I had to bring down the main, it couldn’t hold the wind and was flogging about as if to self-destruct.  Shortly after the staysail came down.  I carried on until one in the morning with the jib, but the wind disappeared and the jib finally got furled.  What a disappointment, I was expecting the forecast fifteen knot north westerlies to hold.  So, we were becalmed.  The last thing I expected on the Washington Pacific coast.

After one I drifted and tried to get some rest.  The residual sea and swell caused Truce to gyrate abominably.  The sort of wild movements people pay good money to experience at theme parks.  At four I could stand it no more and started the engine to see if the movement would be less under way – it was a bit better and we were at least moving and I got to see another sunrise.

I hand steered until eight as the seas were too bad for the autopilot, then stopped for some breakfast and to get the latest USA weather reports.  The forecasters are now calling for light winds in this area for the next two days.  Unbelievable.  I checked my routing charts and there is a 3% chance of calm weather in the month of May!  I just happened to hit it.

Looking at the large swells rolling in from the west is a bit surreal, they are moving hillsides of water, perfectly smooth a and glossy, like liquid glass.  Looking at it from sea level is a beautiful sight and quite unusual.

So I have been motoring all day, rolling along.  Much as I hate motoring at sea there is no option.  The barometer has been stuck at 1024.5 for the last 30 hours.  This must be an unusual weather event for this area.

Any thoughts I had about being in San Francisco on Sunday are just dreams now.  On the positive side the day has been beautiful and sunny and I am starting to feel a bit warmer, time to break out a beer.  Voyage distance 252.1 miles.

EL CAPITANO PASSAGE

We anchored overnight in Marble Bay, where there is a mine, marble I guess.  The day started flat calm and the sun shone.  The air was cool but by nine in the morning it was warm enough for shorts and t shirt.  Taking advantage of the warmth I opened up the boat, all hatches, carpet and bedding out in the sun, a good cleaning and airing and now everything is fresh again.

Prince of Wales Island.
Prince of Wales Island.

Also did a bake, had fresh bread with cheese for lunch, sitting in the cockpit, with a Lighthouse Special Bitter Ale.  Perfect.

Today was an afternoon sailing to transit El Capitano Passage.  This passage is little known and has a seven foot depth for a twenty meter width.  It seems a lot less than twenty meters wide but its well-marked, we transited at high tide so there was plenty of water.

Along the passage are numerous bays and islands with Sea Otters and Eagles everywhere.  We were the only vessel in the passage and I only saw one other boat, a fishing vessel, all day.  I really enjoyed this passage, a very beautiful and magical place, its one of the highlights of the voyage so far.

El Capitano Passage, Dry Pass. Feels less than 20m wide. Photo Ray Penson
El Capitano Passage, Dry Pass. Feels less than 20m wide. Photo Ray Penson

It was another motoring day, what little wind there was came from ahead.  This evening we have anchored in Sarker Cove, off a long abandoned gold mining town called Deweyville.  From the boat I can’t see much of the town, just a couple of rotten huts.  I will explore further in the morning.

Deweyville Anchorage where I hooked a wire. Photo Ray Penson
Deweyville Anchorage where I hooked a wire. Photo Ray Penson

When coming into the anchorage I was just about to anchor when there was a great commotion just astern.  A seal had got a fish on the surface and an eagle was trying to get it.  I am not sure who got the fish first, the Eagle I suspect.  Whatever, the seal won the prize and the eagle took off and perched in his tree just astern of where we anchored.

There are deer on the edge of the trees, they come out and munch on the grass by the shoreline and then retreat back into the woods.  I saw them doing the same thing in the early evening in Red Bay a few days ago.  Total voyage distance 904.3 miles.

Logged 8th June 2016

OTTERS AND JELLYFISH

The weather blew all night and into today.  A gale warning in place so I decided to sit another day in the cosy anchorage and carry on doing bits and bobs.  The sun came out and the weather was beautiful out of the wind.  I completely filled my day with activities and the time flew by.

River Otter
River Otter

I spent some time watching a River Otter fishing around the boat, he came very close and didn’t see me in the cockpit.  I wanted to take a photo but knew if I moved he would be gone.  There are also some weasel like creatures running around in the woods.  I don’t know what they are but there entertaining.

The mother of all jelly Fish turned up, never seen anything like it.  It looked disgusting, like a big blob of putrefied matter, the colour was yellow changing to orange and red with long thick dark red coloured tentacles.  The thing was very mobile and swimming around not like the usual blobby Jelly Fish.  Just the one.

Some Jellyfish. Photo Ray Penson
Some Jellyfish. Photo Ray Penson

I bought some petrol in Bella Bella to try running the outboard.  Hey presto, it ran this afternoon.  I now need to check the gear oil and get some two stroke oil and I will have a motorised pig.

It’s a full moon tonight and a near five-meter tide.  I reckon that means the weather will be calm tomorrow morning before the forecast North Westerly gale sets in.  If it looks good I will get away early and make some headway before the headwinds kick in.

Logged 20th May 2016. Image: http://www.mnn.com

OVERCAST, WET, COLD AND DAMP

A really grey and overcast morning and raining but nice and calm.  We caught the tide through Jackson Narrows this morning and proceeded up Jacksons passage – sounds weird.  The highlight of today was a call at the village of Klemtu.

Klemtu is a village on the inside passage route.  There was not much going on, a couple of guys sitting around in the café and not many people out and about.  Very quiet, not really surprising for a wet Sunday.  I got some WiFi at the café and paid for it by ordering a Chinese takeaway, I should have known better and it became fish food.

Klemtu Welcome - seen better times. Photo Ray Penson
Klemtu Welcome – seen better times. Photo Ray Penson

I took the opportunity to top up with fresh water from a hose on the dock.  There was a salmon fish farm boat at the dock as well.  I had an interesting chat with the skipper who showed me how they syphon up the salmon, stun them, cut the gills to bleed them and load them into a cold water hold.  This hold gets sucked ashore through a huge hose into the processing plant.  All this activity is mechanised, truly industrial fish farming.

After exhausting the attractions of Klemtu I set off north and into a position to transit Meyers Narrows tomorrow.  Meyers narrows are at the bottom of Princess Royal Island and will take me out to the West Coast and away from the usual inside passage track.  The tidal information is a bit confusing for the narrows, I have two different times of slack water.

Boat Bluff Light. Photo Ray Penson
Boat Bluff Light. Photo Ray Penson

To further confuse matters the tide at my anchorage, 3 miles away, is turning 3 hours before high water.  I will just give it a go and if I have to wait for slack or more water that’s OK.  It’s quite a shallow rock and weed infested passage according to the chart, looks challenging.

My anchorage this evening is quite exposed between an island and the shore.  The bay that I had chosen to anchor in proved too deep unfortunately.  I am now perched on a rocky outcrop for the night.

Klemtu Village and Harbour. Photo Ray Penson
Klemtu Village and Harbour. Photo Ray Penson

Total voyage distance 457.1 miles.

Logged 15th May 2016

WARM ALL DAY

This morning started with a beautiful sunrise over the mountains and flat calm weather.  The anchorage at Takush Harbour was very peaceful and I had a great nights sleep.

Takush Harbour at Six Thirty in the morning. Photo Ray Penson
Takush Harbour at Six Thirty in the morning. Photo Ray Penson

It starts getting light at five in the morning now so no excuse for lying around in bed so had an early start. I made some scroggin last night, this is a kind of super size energy packed muesli bar.

Scroggin Loaf. Super food. Photo N Penson
Scroggin Loaf. Super food. Photo Ray penson

Its made with all the dried fruits you have, crystallised ginger, oats, peanut butter, honey, oil, butter, brown sugar and a couple of eggs.  No measures necessary just mix it up until its sticky but not wet.

Then it gets pressed into a tin and baked for 40 minutes at about 190 degrees C.

I gave this one a dose of rum essence and nutmeg on top.  When I took it out the oven I realised that I forgot to line the baking tin with tin foil.  The scroggin had welded itself to the side of the tin like toffee to a blanket.  It took some serious energy to get the tin clean again.  Anyway, it tastes excellent and is the kind of food that Shackleton and Scott would of approved of I am sure.

Today we headed towards Green Island up the Fitz Hugh Sound.  No wind early so motored until 10:45 when a bit of westerly breeze sprang up.  Sailed under Jib and main for a couple of hours but it was slow going until the wind died away completely.  The sun has been out all day and it’s the warmest day of the voyage.  What a contrast, yesterday I was cold all day and had my heavy jacket on, today was spent in shorts and nothing else.

This evening we are anchored in Green Island, its just about the perfect anchorage and very pretty.  The pig is back in the water and hopefully will stay there for a while as we are in fairly protected waters.  There is a seal in the anchorage, he seems quite inquisitive.  I went for a row and explore in the pig and the seal kept popping up following me.  Maybe he just wants me off his patch.

There are three Bald Eagles flying high overhead, very gracefully circling around.  There are also seagulls sitting in pine trees – most strange.  The gulls are landing and sitting on the tops of the trees where they droop over at the top.  It’s not easy for them to land and some take three attempts before they manage it.  I don’t know why they are doing it, maybe just showing off.

I put the crab pot down but don’t hold out much hope as the seal has been checking it out.  Total voyage distance 358.3 miles.

Logged 12th May 2016

PORT MCNEIL WELCOME

Nice clear cold morning and the rain had finally stopped. Had an easy trip across from Alert Bay to Port McNeill with the outgoing tide.

Port McNeill Harbour Canada. Photo Ray Penson
Port McNeill Harbour Canada. Photo Ray Penson

On arrival at Port McNeill the dock crew offered to help me with the lines which was welcome as the wind was quite blustery. Once tied up and secure I checked in at the Harbourmasters office and paid for 3 days berthage.

Later in the morning I had a walk around town, it’s quite a small place so didn’t take too long. Everyone is very welcoming and friendly. I also found ling life milk which is the good news, the downside is that its $4.65 per litre which is an outrageous and five times the NZ price.

Later I visited the laundromat and now have fresh bedding and clothes again. I have quite a long list of chores to undertake here and I will start with an engine oil change tomorrow morning.

Yacht Truce at Port McNiel. Photo Ray Penson
Yacht Truce at Port McNiel. Photo Ray Penson

This evening I was invited to an American boat for dinner. I had a really nice time, good food and pleasant company. They are leaving tomorrow but also headed towards Alaska so we may meet again further up the track. Total Voyage distance 266.5 miles.

Logged 4th May 2016

ONE MONTH TOGETHER

Time has flown by but it’s a month today that I became the owner of Truce. It has been a time of learning, discovery, fixing, installing, repairing and maintaining.

Truce pre purchase inspection at Canoe Cove Marina Vancouver. Photo Ray Penson
Truce pre purchase inspection at Canoe Cove Marina Vancouver. Photo Ray Penson

We have not done much sailing due to lack of or contrary winds, what little sailing we have done has been a pleasure and Truce is clearly a boat that is built to sail. I like just about everything about the boat, she is well built, stout and staunch. She needs some TLC in some areas but there are no urgent projects and I will work to improve and maintain. What I don’t like is the dinghy – renamed the ‘Angry Pig’. It nests beautifully on deck as a good dinghy should do.

The problem is it weighs a ton and is built so solidly it damages just about anything or anyone who gets in its way. Launching the pig is impossible without the use of a halyard and winch, not fun when the wind is blowing. Because its so difficult to launch and retrieve its either spends too much time in the water or on deck, it takes courage to launch and retrieve single handed.

Once in the water the pig tries to attack the stern, rudder and anything else within range. Often when at anchor it will clatter into the side of the boat for no apparent reason, it seems to take pleasure in doing bumps at two in the morning. I am not a fan of inflatable rubber duck dinghies. But unless I can come to terms with the pig, she may be replaced with a rubber ducky.

Today we had a Maintenance Sunday, both boat and personal. The bilges, pumps, batteries, engine and all essential systems get checked on Sunday. As for myself, I had a ‘sanitation Day’ as they say in Nigeria. Beard trim, haircut, cockpit shower and even some deodorant. So all in order, we had an easy motor from Burial Cove through the Chatham Channel to Cutter Cove.

Again we are the only boat here and have the place to myself. This is a very tranquil cove with abundant wildlife swimming and flying around. It’s also supposed to be good for crabbing so my crab pot has been deployed. I am not too hopeful as the crabs don’t seem to like Walmart cat food but we will see the results in the morning. Total voyage distance 229.6 miles.

Logged 1st May 2016