REST, RECUPERATION AND TIDY UP IN OPUA

Today was dedicated to clean up and chores on board Truce and taking it easy.  In beautiful calm sunny weather, I set about tidying the boat.  Stowing all the bits and bobs that I had been using on passage and stashed in the quarter berth for convenience and ease of access from the cockpit.

On the passage from Tonga we used the engine far more than usual to get through the extensive calm patches.  All the running meant that the scheduled one-hundred-and-fifty-hour oil change became due sooner than expected.  Changing the oil isn’t a job I like, it’s always messy sucking the old oil out of the dipstick hole.  With a bag full of rags, the job was accomplished and Mr Yanmar now has clean oil and a new oil filter to keep him happy for a while.

Another session at the laundry means that we have fresh bed linen and towels on board.  The last laundry session was in Honolulu and the supply of clean sheets and towels had been exhausted – laundry was definitely due.

I don’t know where the day went, time flies when your having fun, but soon it was happy hour and time for some refreshment.  I got myself cleaned up and headed down to the Opua Yacht Club – just a short walk away.  Nice to sit out on the deck overlooking the harbour as the sun goes down.  The sand-flies also enjoyed dining out on my body.

I was back on-board Truce in the early evening as I plan to sail south tomorrow.  I checked the weather, tides and put a course on the chart, with a list of available stops and shelters on the way.  Not sure yet where I will go tomorrow.  I am heading south down the coast towards Auckland, first I need to get around Cape Brett and then have an idea I may stop in Whangarei.  We shall see tomorrow how it plays out.

DAY 13 ONWARD FROM TONGA

This morning the wind finally died at ten, just ripples on the water.  We now have a huge spreading calm patch to get through before picking up the strong north westerly winds that will take us the final step to Opua.

The Yanmar engine has been running since the wind left us. Maybe it will be running for the next day as well – if the diesel lasts out.  So, we are making slow progress and now expect to arrive on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night.

I haven’t seen much bird life today.  I think the birds like some wind to play with, just like us sailors.  In the distance I saw another boat this morning, don’t know what it was, not a big ship or yacht so maybe a fishing boat.  The first boat I have seen since departing Minerva Reef on the 15th.

When making pasta last night one of my gas bottle ran out.  One that I had refilled in San Francisco back in June.  Amazing how long these gas bottles last, must be the best value fuel out there.

My food stock is getting low now, at least the stuff I want to eat.  My diet for the next days until port will be boring pasta, noodles, cereal and the occasional tin of something.

Last night we changed clocks to Summer time in New Zealand.  To celebrate this occasion, I am having an extra tot of Mount Gay Rum for sundowners this evening – I still have two fresh limes from Nuku’alofa.

RESORT TO MECHANIC POWER

All through the night and up to one this afternoon we had a beautiful sail.  Steady wind twelve to sixteen knots and running very comfortably towards Hilo at between five and six knots.  Then suddenly the wind stopped blowing.  We went around in circles a few times and then nix, nada, nothing.

By four in the afternoon I gave in trying to sail.  On came the Yanmar engine and we resumed a noisy voyage to the south.

I am disappointed as the wind was forecast to be steady and at this time of year should be blowing trade wind style day in day out.  Oh well, no use complaining, can’t beat nature.  One thing you learn quickly when sailing is patience.  The wind will return in its own time.

In the meantime, life on board goes on.  The usual daily routines and checks.  The usual long debates about what I will eat.  I have no fresh fruit or veg on board now, it’s finished.  My thoughts are turning towards Hawaii, what to do, where to go and fresh food.  Anyway, mustn’t get ahead of myself, need to get there first.

In view of health and safety and the increasingly warm temperatures experienced, beer o’clock has been moved up to midday.  The need to keep hydrated has necessitated this move.  Five o’clock will now be called sundowners or cocktail hour as appropriate.  Voyage distance 1,707 miles.

A PLEASANT SURPRISE!

Weather turned out well today, a bit of rain and drizzle in the morning but then it cleared up and I could feel the suns warmth through the clouds.  The sun didn’t get to be serious or cast any shadows but it was there in the background, behind the clouds.  The forecast wind didn’t arrive and it was a flat calm, glassy sea all day.  We motored on, Mr Yanmar doing a fine job again.

Not much wildlife today apart from Dalls Porpoise – the most boring of animals.  It’s dolphins that are fun but I haven’t seen any so far this trip.

Coffman Cove Harbour. Photo Ray Penson.
Coffman Cove Harbour. Photo Ray Penson.

The destination today was Coffman Cove, it looked a decent anchorage on the chart.  Surprise, Surprise.  It’s actually an inhabited place and I tied up at the dock on the third attempt after someone took my lines as I kept being blown off the dock.  The population of Coffman Cove is about 150 but this swells during the summer months as tourists and holiday makers come in.  They get a monthly ferry call.

An exploration ashore discovered an ATM, Post Office, Store and Bar.  Yes, a real bar complete with pool table and tap beer.  Bar population included fishermen and loggers.  I am learning a whole new language, quite difficult when I only understand one word in three and every second word is a swearword.  Style here is ZZ Top beard, baseball cap and serious braces (Suspenders) to hold pants up.

So far I am liking this place.  The people are friendly and open and this is my first experience of the real Alaska.  I may stay another day to soak up the culture.  Total voyage distance 819.1 miles.

Logged 4th June 2016

GRENVILLE CHANNEL

Hartley Bay is an interesting place, I went for an explore last night.  it’s a small Indian community with access by boat, helicopter or seaplane.  There is no road access and in fact no roads.  The village is connected by raised wooden boardwalks upon which ATV’s, quads and Polaris whiz around.  The ground is quite wet so buildings are elevated off the earth and connected by bridges to the boardwalks.

Hartley Bay, Image Google map
Hartley Bay, Image Google map

This morning we caught the tide up Grenville Channel, first we sailed, tacking up the channel against the wind.  We covered quite a distance from side to side but didn’t make much actual progress up the channel so Mr Yanmar was called into action, his mighty 24 horsepower soon has us scooting along, helped by the current.

Grenville Channel British Columbia
Grenville Channel British Columbia

I have been up and down Grenville Channel in the past on big ships, navigating between Prince Rupert and Vancouver.  I must say, after a few transits on a big ship the channel is quite boring, just water and trees on hills.  The perspective from a small boat is quite different, I am now happy that the weather forced this route on me.

This evening we are anchored at Lowe Inlet which is the first anchorage northbound on the channel.  Only one other yacht, the American boat from Harvey Bay, came up the channel today.

A number of local fishing boats have popped into the inlet for the night as well.  Tomorrow will be a late start to get the lift of the ebb towards Klewnugget Inlet where there is supposed to be the ‘most beautiful’ anchorage.  We will probably have to motor again as the wind will be blowing down the channel towards us.  Total Voyage distance 582.2 miles.

Logged 23rd May 2016

Image: bcmarina (Grenville Channel British Columbia)

 

 

NARROWS, RAPIDS, WHALES

Rain, Rain and more rain
Rain, Rain and more Rain

The rain continued overnight and this morning was wet and miserable.  I forgot about going for a walk and had to bail out the pig who was half full of water.  My options were to stay and wait for the rain to abate or move on.  As a North Westerly gale is forecast I decided to move on otherwise I could be trapped for days.  Kent Inlet is an interesting place and it would be good to return in fine weather for a look around.

Departing through the narrow passage to Kent Inlet was exciting, the current was running at 6 knots and Mr Yanmar needed all his power to get us through.  We crept through going full speed as the water swirled and rushed past us and between the rocks at each side.  I would like to have taken a video but my hands were full of boat.

Once clear of Kent Inlet we headed up Laredo Channel under motor and rippled seas.  There was a promise of Southerly winds, it finally arrived at midday when we set all available sail.  The next 4 hours saw us ticking off the miles as we headed up Estaban Channel with the wind vane in charge.  So nice to be sailing.

The weather brightened up in the afternoon although it didn’t warm up much.  The afternoon also brought the first whales of the trip.  There were Finback whales swimming up the channel.  They didn’t get too close but it was clear to see that they were finbacks.

I saw a yacht in the distance this morning, the same one I had seen two days previously.  Apart from that there was absolutely no other shipping to be seem and no ships appeared on the AIS all day.  There are not many people around here.

The choice of anchorage for the night was limited and I chose Gillespie Channel as having a couple of options.  Going into Gillespie Channel was another exciting narrow rapidly flowing passage.  Again we needed full power to get through.  Once inside the first anchorage was too deep, we would have needed a stern moor and doing that is much easier with two people.  I moved a couple of miles further in and found a small pool with 12 meters depth.  We are anchored between Bernard Island to the south and Trutch Island to the north in a small pool tucked behind Tennant Island.  Hopefully it will be secure in the upcoming North Westerly gale.

Rum and Coke.Yacht Truce
Rum and Coke.Yacht Truce.

Once we had anchored the sun finally came out at seven this evening.  That prompted a sundowner and the realisation that I am down to my last lemon for Rum and Coke.  The forecast for the next few days is looking horrible for going north with gale force winds on the nose.

  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.  Total voyage distance 514.8 miles.

Logged 18th May 2016

A HARD DAY FOR SMALL GAINS

I woke up this morning feeling great.  Green Island anchorage is the best so far, like being in a big wild garden anchorage, sheltered and safe.  As today is Friday the 13th I considered not going anywhere today – sailors are superstitious.  In hindsight staying put and exploring may have been a good option.

Green Island Anchorage - Just Perfect. Photo Ray Penson
Green Island Anchorage – Just Perfect. Photo Ray Penson

We set of in the normal morning calm and headed out into Fitz Hugh Sound.  The place was littered with logs, easy to spot when its calm but more difficult when there is a sea running.  Well we hit one, a sickening dull thump that goes right through the boat.  I was in the cockpit and looking out but I just didn’t see it.  The log was about 4 meters long, old and weathered and low in the water.

I was hopeful for a good days sailing as the forecast talked about southerly winds.  But of course the normal N Wly wind arrived mid-morning and blew solidly in our face all day.  We ended up only doing 29 miles in nearly 9 hours.  Progress was so slow I reckon I could have walked faster.  Mr. Yanmar buzzed away all day, drinking valuable diesel but for not much gain.

So far we have had either calm or headwinds.  Its very tiring and I don’t want to have this all the way to Alaska.  We need a break.

Coming up Fitz Hugh Sound there was a steady procession of motor launches heading north, most were from the USA.  I suppose the large cruise ships will start appearing soon for the annual Glacier Bay trips.

Apart from the headwinds and seas the weather was perfect today.  The sky was clear and the sun shone all day.  The temperature got up to 18 degrees and was of course much hotter in the sun.  The scenery was stunning.

Forest Flowers along the Shoreline Codville Lagoon.Photo Ray Penson
Forest Flowers along the Shoreline Codville Lagoon.Photo Ray Penson

This evening we are anchored in Codville Lagoon.  It’s a bit blustery with winds attacking from all directions off the hills.  There is a warm water lake about 20 minutes’ walk from the anchorage and there is supposed to be a trail leading to it from the beach.  I packed my towel and shampoo and set off in the pig to find it.  Really looking forward to a warm wash and shampoo.

Floating log with friends in Fitz Hugh Sound. Photo ray Penson
Floating log with friends in Fitz Hugh Sound. Photo Ray Penson

I got to the beach in the bay but could find no trail.  I made a couple of attempts to get inland but there was no way and I didn’t really know the direction to take anyway.  I got acquainted with a couple of million sand-flies, covered in smelly mud and arrived back at the beach hot and sweaty.  I retreated back to the boat in a worse state than I had set off.

Blustery Anchorage in Codville Lagoon. Photo Ray Penson
Blustery Anchorage in Codville Lagoon. Photo Ray Penson

After a cockpit shower and a beer, I am back to normal.  Total voyage distance 387.3 miles.

 

Logged 13th May 2016