HUMPBACK BREACHING

Thank you Warm Springs Bay, I had a most enjoyable stay and the weather has been fabulous.  But after three nights alongside the dock it’s time to move on.  My friends, Steve, Bob and Noel have departed north and south and I was in the company of fishing boats and their crews last night.

We sailed at eight this morning to ride the tide up Chatham Strait.  The forecast was for southerly winds ten knots.  As it was a light wind forecast I left the dinghy in the water.  When we got out into the strait the wind picked up and the short seas from the quarter made life very uncomfortable.  It was obvious the dinghy had to get on deck or she would be lost.  I ran for shelter into Takatz Bay and in calm water hoisted the dinghy on deck and set off again.  What a relief not to have the pig dragging behind threatening to destroy the self-steering.

Once out in Chatham Strait again the wind increased and the rain arrived.  I knew it would rain, the forecast said ‘Chance of showers’ in Alaska that means it’s going to piss down.  Under the jib with wind from astern we made six knots and this attracted the Dolphins who came to play around the bow.  These were the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin variety, real show offs.  They stayed for about twenty minutes, I say on the bow shouting and whistling at them, which I am sure they appreciated and enjoyed.

A little further on I was surprised to see a Humpback Whale breach about a mile ahead.  A few minutes later it breached again but closer, we were sailing towards the whales who were moving slowly in the same direction as us.  I got a couple of photos, but when the whale breached very close by the camera didn’t take the shot.  Maybe I was too excited and didn’t tap the screen hard enough.  What a shame it would have been an excellent close up shot.

Humpback Breaching Photo Ray Penson
Humpback Breaching Photo Ray Penson

In all my time at sea I have never seen a Whale breach.  Being on a small boat close to the action makes you realise what a huge event this is.  The power required to launch that huge body out of the water is immense, the splash on re-entry is huge and the sound like thunder, crump.  A truly awesome experience and I feel privileged to have witnessed it.  I don’t know why but Dolphins and Whales make me feel so happy.

Tonight I have anchored in Appleton Cove at the top of Baranof Island.  Tomorrow I will plan a transit of Peril Strait and then down towards Sitka.  Total voyage distance 1,173.9 miles.

Logged 20th June 2016

PRINCE RUPERT – WEEKEND

Wonderful, it stopped raining – just a light drizzle now and again.  Slowly the damp from the last few days is drying up.

John, Jennifer and Hillary came over this morning with some fresh date and walnut muffins which we had with tea and coffee – very nice.  Whilst I had extra hands around I volunteered them to help me turn the boat around.  I am now facing outward for an easy exit tomorrow.

Last chores today before heading off to Ketchikan, topped up the fresh water tanks, did the library visit to get WiFi (so slow), Safeway’s for groceries and chandler for some rope and essential boat things.

I also called ahead to US Customs in Ketchikan to give them all details required for pre arrival.  Apparently I need a different visa if entering on a pleasure boat, the regular tourist visa is not good enough.  I asked why it was not publicised and the customs guy indicated that a lot of people were unaware.  Oh well I will plead innocence and act dumb as usual – it comes easy.

The evening was spent on a neighbouring boat which I last saw at the Bella Bella fuel dock.  They are also headed for USA tomorrow and we had a drop of red wine.  The wind blew during the night, not hard just from a funny angle and it pissed down with rain again.

The forecast for tomorrow is for winds from the south, just what we need.  Let’s hope they arrive in force to speed us into the USA.

Logged 28th May 2016

A VISIT TO ALERT BAY AND MYSTERY BILGE WATER

A visit to Alert Bay and mystery bilge water.  This morning being Sunday is the system check day, batteries, engine, bilge pumps and everything safety and vital. Upon opening the bilge I found water again. This is a mystery as I had fixed the small water leak. But, the water was fresh water, strange. It had rained heavily the day before – could it be rainwater? Seems unlikely. Anyway I dried the bilge and left it open to air.

Alert Bay Boat Harbour. Port Mcneil Canada. Photo Ray Penson
Alert Bay Boat Harbour. Port Mcneil Canada. Photo Ray Penson

I then hopped onto a ferry across to Alert Bay for a tourist trip. Alert Bay is an interesting place and in the past had a wild west reputation. The town has a major Nimpkish Indian village adjacent and is a cultural centre for the region.

Killer Whales frequent the place and the locals call it the home of the Killer Whales. No Orca’s around today, maybe they take Sunday off. One of the things I wanted to see was the museum (even Oprah has been) but I got talking to some of the locals and completely forgot about it. Maybe next time.

On my return back to the boat I found water in the port bilge, fresh water again. So I had been away for 4 hours and half a bucket of water had accumulated and there had been no rain. This time I dried everything out completely throughout the boat, I checked every fresh water hose and connection for drips, nothing. Four hours later it is still completely dry. I just don’t get it, I will have another look in the morning.

Alert Bay Home of the Killer Whale Port Mcneil Canada. Photo Ray Penson
Alert Bay Home of the Killer Whale Port Mcneil Canada. Photo Ray Penson

Killer Whales frequent the place and the locals call it the home of the Killer Whales. No Orca’s around today, maybe they take Sunday off. One of the things I wanted to see was the museum (even Oprah has been) but I got talking to some of the locals and completely forgot about it. Maybe next time.

On my return back to the boat I found water in the port bilge, fresh water again. So I had been away for 4 hours and half a bucket of water had accumulated and there had been no rain. This time I dried everything out completely throughout the boat, I checked every fresh water hose and connection for drips, nothing. Four hours later it is still completely dry. I just don’t get it, I will have another look in the morning.

The wind has blown hard all day from the NW which is where we want to head. Hopefully tomorrow there will be less headwind and the wayward EPIRB will finally arrive. I am looking forward to getting out of here and heading towards Prince Rupert.

Logged 8th May 2016

RAPIDS,RAIN AND A ROCKY BOTTOM.

Early start to get the slack water at Yaculta Rapids.

I slept in the salon last night as I didn’t like the anchorage but fortunately we had a calm and clear night, the starts are spectacular.  A clear morning but bloody freezing, thermals, 4 layers and sea-boots weather.  The layers came off later and by midday it was warm enough for shorts again.

The Rapids at Yakulta, Gillard Pass and Dent Rapids were transited without incident.  It’s quite benign at near slack water but I can imagine it can be tricky with the tide running.
After the Rapids we entered calm water, flat calm with no wind, so motoring again.

I stopped at Shoal Bay intending it to be the stop for the night.  I took a walk ashore and had a chat with one of the residents, his dog bit me. Only a puppy bite, but the bugger drew blood.

Dog bite
Dog bite. “Only a puppy bite but the bugger drew blood”.  

The anchorage there is on a rocky bottom and the chain made a terrible grating noise even through the snubber.

The sound was like rusty chain over cobblestones and gave a sensation similar to chalk on a blackboard.  Impossible to tolerate.  I picked up anchor and moved onto the government dock, then it rained, a lot.

Got tied up at the dock and found they wanted money for mooring, never though I was the only boat around.  By this time I was bloodied and wet and had my fill of Shoal Bay.

I let go from the dock and motored around the corner to Bickley Bay where I found an anchorage very close to the shore in nine meters mud and shale.  I dropped the anchor, it stopped raining and calm descended.  Took the dinghy out and set a crab pot.

The fire will be on tonight to dry out the damp clothes and get some warmth through the boat.  Should  be cosy, this anchorage looks good.

Tomorrow is another rapids day, this time Green Point Rapids.  Not sure where I will end up tomorrow but not looking for any more rocky bottoms.  Voyage distance 165.4 miles.

Logged 28th April 2016

SUN AND SHORTS DAY

Wonderful weather today, sunshine and sparkling scenery.  Had a leisurely departure from Squirrel Cove, what a great place to stop over.  Then motored up to Teakerne Arm Marine park.

There is a spectacular waterfall and close by a small float, just big enough to take a couple of small boats.  There are not many other boats around so was able tie up and go for a trek to the top of the falls.

The destination tonight is Francis Bay which is seven miles from the Yuculta Rapids.  We need to arrive at the rapids just before slack water at about eight tomorrow morning.  On the way from Teakerne Arm I sailed for a couple of hours in the lightest of breeze.  We didn’t make much distance but it was nice and peaceful with the engine off and great to watch new snow topped mountains appear around every turn.

I also tried my hand at fishing but obviously don’t have a clue about it.  Just as I was packing my rod a seal popped up next to the boat with a fish in his mouth, as if to say “is this what you are looking for”

Hoping for a calm night tonight as the anchorage is not too good.

Voyage distance 146.5 miles

Logged 27th April 2016

ENGINE PROBLEMS

Truce on a swing Mooring at Canoe Cove’ Photo Ray penson
Truce on a swing Mooring at Canoe Cove’ Photo Ray Penson

I departed the marina berth this morning and went to a mooring.  I am so relieved to get away from the marina and into some quiet space.  I am still waiting for courier packages so can’t completely get away from Canoe Cove just yet.

Also I now have an engine problem.  When I started the engine this morning it was reluctant, but eventually started to a great cloud of smoke, then a couple of minutes later it stopped.  Most unusual.

After many tries the engine started again and after running for a while I left the dock and went to a mooring.  This afternoon I decided to run the engine again (still not confident) and to also give the batteries a charge.

The engine was hard to start again but eventually ran but after 10 minutes shut down again. Seems like a fuel problem so checked the filters and all OK.  But now can’t prime the system, maybe the fuel pump is knackered.

Oh well, not much to do about it on a Friday night so will consult the rum bottle for inspiration.

On a positive note its been a nice day, the dinghy is in the water, the diesel cabin heater is working a treat.  Who knows the courier may arrive tomorrow, its only 10 days since it left New Zealand.

SHORTS AND T SHIRT DAY

Wonderful day, bright sun and no wind.  Broke the shorts out today.  Another day rummaging around the boat.  I have now found everything and been in every space possible.  Also set up and tested the autopilot ran OK after I cleaned the contacts.   I topped up the fresh water today and found where the overflow pipe is.  This boat has an ingenious system of water tanks and pipework, all designed to allow any one tank to be used at a time.

To separate the three water tanks is practical, particularly on a long trip.  However, the pipework and valves associated with the system are challenging.  Anyway as I was filling the tanks I was puzzled why the tank fill pipe was full but the hose was still running.  I reasoned that the water must be going somewhere – and probably not into the tank.

Inspection showed the overflow gushing merrily into the galley.  Good to find these things out.I went across into the boat builders shop this morning to see how the spreader replacement is coming along.  The new spreader is being fashioned out of a nice piece of spruce and was at the marking out stage.

The packages of AIS and Iridium Go still haven’t arrived, the couriers seems to be taking forever.  Still no joy in finding replacement cylinders for my lifejackets.  I had to throw out an old sail today,  we have a number of old sails on board and the locker is jam packed full.  Getting anything in or out is a mission and I had to free up some space.

Out went an old jib that will never be used gain and I still have a spare main, jib, staysail, storm jib and spinnaker. My Swedish neighbor departed north today after finishing his engine repairs.  I am eager to get going as well.

All is quiet at Canoe Cove as the sun goes down. Photo Ray Penson
All is quiet at Canoe Cove as the sun goes down. Photo Ray Penson

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.