Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Email from the crew

Dear friends,

Rikki-tikki-tavi joined long-time friends on Juniata, Valhalla and Millennium Dragon on August 28 at Rebecca Spit, Heriot Bay, Quadra Island. Rikki-tikki tried to sneak up on the group to arrive unannounced and unexpected. We left French Creek under sunny, cloud-decorated skies, smooth seas on the Strait of Georgia, after 25 to 30 knot winds the previous day. RTT was away from the crowded marina at 9:30 AM. Motorsailing up the Strait, we were overtaken by a freaky-looking thunderstorm that poured rain and frightened crew (Nina) with thunder claps and lightning.

The sun came out about 5:30 PM just as Rikki-tikki approached Rebecca Spit from the outside. We spotted our quarry through a narrow break in the trees. We knew everyone would be there because we'd heard them on the VHF while still south of Hornby Island. We weren't going to call; we wanted to surprise them all.... just then the VHF crackled "RIKKI-TIKKI-TAVI, RIKKI-TIKKI-TAVI, Juniata". The tone in Dave's voice was gleeful. He'd just happened to glance up while sitting in the cockpit of Juniata sipping wine, and he spied the top of RTT's mast. We were found out! Our cover blown, we returned the call, and soon rounded the corner of the spit to anchor off Juniata's starboard quarter. We threw a few things together, launched Darzee and rowed over to big hugs– and a great porkchop dinner! What a memorable occasion– we talked and sipped wine until 10 PM. Next, Desolation Sound in company of friends.

Fair winds,

Clark & Nina

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Border to BC

August 25, 2005 Darzee sends his apologies for monopolizing the writing time of Rikki-tikki’s crew with his running about. In contrast to the many nautical miles traveled in one long leg at a time off the West Coast of the USA, distances between stops here in British Columbia are much shorter. There is much to do, people to see, shore visits to enjoy. In these first three weeks, we’ve spent a few days at a time in some anchorages, not because of nasty weather but because it was pleasant! Quite the change, and a much welcomed one. We've done much running about. We must have crossed some demarcation line at the border in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, because the weather has been just lovely since we arrived in Canada. We know it’s August, reputedly the best month for cruising BC, but we are enjoying it immensely. It has actually rained only once, kindly at night, and Rikki-tikki was given a much-needed freshwater rinse. Back to our Canada arrival... We were excited to learn that, after our long journey, some truly wonderful friends were close by in Sydney Harbor! So, the day after we were made official visitors, we took Darzee for his first runabout under outboard engine power around to Sydney's lovely marina, filled with fancy yachts, in search of Valhalla, a Catalina 34 that has seen sixteen summers cruising in British Columbia. We found her without crew aboard, so we left our card and wandered off to explore the flower-festooned town on foot. We had the most fabulous lunch at a cute little place called “Fish on Fifth”. Everything about the food was outstanding– its presentation was artful and beautiful, the flavors unique and yummy, the price excellent. We had fish ‘n’ chips– choosing cod, chips replaced by salads. The ambiance was fun and colorful, just like the garden salad. We gave this establishment a score of 11, on a scale of 1 to 10. Wow– no ordinary fish ‘n’ chips here! Back on the docks, we visited with Johnie, Bev and guests, grandaughter Alica and friend Carly, on Valhalla. We all drank a toast to Rikki-tikki-tavi and his upcoming adventures. We made it back to Tsehum Harbor anchorage just at sunset in little Darzee. Our chance meeting held much significance for us all. Our friends and supporters through the entire building of our trimaran, and friends of Nina's parents when they sailed a Catalina 25 back in the nineteen-seventies, Johnie and Bev were the first fellow sailors to greet Rikki-tikki-tavi in Canadian waters. They brought Valhalla into Tsehum, rafting next to Rikki, and stepped aboard in unison. What a terrific way to end a journey and to begin a new one. We are so grateful for a safe journey and for such good friends. We spent the next day in Darzee exploring every nook and cranny in Tsehum harbor, then prepared to leave for Saltspring Island and the harbor of Ganges, where we would meet both Valhalla and friends aboard Bankrupt for cocktails. We had just started the engine to leave Sunday morning when a dinghy arrived carrying a fellow asking if we were friends of Dave and Marcia. Yes, we said, and he climbed aboard. Shortly, another dinghy arrived with a fellow asking the same. It was great fun meeting Adgard and Jim, both of whom had been told to keep a lookout for us. Jim even brought us some smoked salmon, though not the white King salmon from Neah Bay we had longed for. Two hours later, we motored out of Tsehum, bound for Ganges under sunny skies. We rowed Darzee from our anchorage into Ganges Marina, climbing aboard Bankrupt to enjoy more hugs and warm greetings from Dick, Sharon, Spud and Betty. After a lively dinner, we hunted for Rikki out in the dark harbor full of anchored boats. We'd forgotten to hang out the anchor light! Bankrupt and crew came over to tie next to Rikki next day on their way to Montague Harbour Provincial Park on Galiano Island. We followed later after visiting with Mark, another trimariner anchored nearby on a Piver design. While at Montague, Johnie and Bev went over their well-used cruising atlas and pointed out some good spots for us to stop along our journeys. We stayed another night and then headed back to Ganges for groceries and internet access. The Saltspring Island Public Library has free wireless access and everything in the little town is within walking distance from the dinghy dock. There is a very nice grocery store, two liquor stores (you can't buy liquor in a grocery store in Canada), pharmacy/drug store, little specialty boutiques, galleries, bookstores, a hardware store, coffee shops, and, on Saturday, a street market. Everything a cruiser needs. The laundromat at the Ganges Marina only has two washers and two dryers though. Luckily, we've learned how to make less laundry– high tech fibers that dry quickly and using a synthetic chamois instead of a bath towel help tremendously. We have better things to do than sit and wait for the dryer! Ganges Harbor dinghy dock with the usual crowd. Just putt right in, shove the other dinghies aside! Large boats have large dinghies that take up a lot of dock space, like the three on the left. The big yacht at the top of the photo was called "Attitude Adjustment". Its uniformed crew off-loaded three motorcycles using a crane that came up from inside the foredeck! Using the free wireless in Ganges to send/receive email made it possible for family to coordinate a visit with Nina's mom from Sacramento and aunt in Vancouver. Our Cingular GoPhone, we discovered, didn't "go" in Canada, but we found some prepaid phone cards at the drug store with very low rates to call the US. Between the two, we set the meeting for the following week on Galiano Island, where Betty has a home overlooking Montague Harbour. After adding more groceries to the ship's stores, we took off to explore some likely wintering spots. We were looking forward to some fair winds for a day's sail to Maple Bay on Vancouver Island, but we had to motor over smooth water under a sunny sky. Oh, the tribulation we've had to endure while here in BC! Maple Bay Marina turned out to be a charming place– pristinely kept, a lovely nature walk, very nice washrooms and showers. But there was no room on the docks for Rikki-tikki for the winter there. Anchoring-out was still a possibility. Next day, we continued down Sansum Narrows to Tod Inlet, where we anchored at the very head of the narrow bight beyond any other boats. It was so warm that I went swimming! Clark watched from the deck as he prepared to row out a stern anchor to keep Rikki-tikki from heading over the really shallow parts when the tide went out eleven feet. Tod Inlet is part of another BC Park. It has trails and a dinghy dock. We walked the trail along the head of the inlet, picking juicy blackberries along the way. One of the trails leads up to the road that ends at the main entrance to the famous Butchart Gardens. We walked up to the entrance gate to find out the fee to go in– $22 each. On our way back to the boat, we stopped to talk to Nick on his pretty junk-rigged wood boat. We took this photo as we left the next morning. Tod Inlet would be a very protected anchorage for a winter. There is bus service around Vancouver Island. No place to keep a car though, if we were to bring ours from California for some winter land cruising. Motoring back to Montague, with another stop on the way for water at the Ganges public wharf, we had a heck of a time getting Rikki-tikki off the dock when a brisk beam-on wind sprang up while we were ashore for one hour. The adrenaline surge lingered after we barely escaped unmarred, so we elected not to sail across to Galiano even though we now had enough wind. Montague was glassy calm the following morning when we took Darzee ashore to meet Mom and Betty. The years of patience for the time when family could board Rikki-tikki-tavi in Canada were awarded with gleeful smiles. Betty's grandson, Gareth, had explored every locker and cubbyhole before the ladies could get below! He was everywhere at once, but I managed to grab a photo of him as he popped up from a deck hatch– like the critter in the carnival game, Whack-A-Mole. With Batty, Gareth and Mom, we motored a calm circumnavigation of Prevost Island, stopping for lunch in a bay where we watched the big BC ferries go by between Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island, and Tsawwassen on the mainland. That evening we celebrated Clark's birthday at the Hummingbird Pub for dinner, then enjoyed some St. André cheese and Silent Sam vodka (thanks for introducing us to this, Karen!) as we watched the sunset from Betty's deck up at the house. Mom joined Rikki-tikki's crew for three nights. It was lovely having her aboard and, even though she and Dad didn't explore the Gulf islands in their many trips on boats to BC, she said it felt like "home". First, we took Rikki up Trincomali Channel, Houstoun Passage, Stuart Channel, to Telegraph Harbor. We anchored him near the mouth of the inlet because it was pretty crowded inside. We watched the seaplanes take off next to us, covering our ears from the noise, then a full moon filled the sky. On our way north to Ruxton Passage Cove, we went into Ladysmith Harbor, where we hoped to find the boat canvas ladies we'd been told about. Rikki-tikki still needs his cockpit enclosed before the winter rains come. We arrived a half-hour after they'd left for the weekend, plus the harbormaster wanted $10 just to tie up the dinghy, and the grocery store was a long uphill hike into town. Ladysmith was awarded "Most Beautiful Community" on Vancouver Island. The waterfront apparently wasn't considered, because it's industrial and ugly, with very limited access for recreational boats. Log booms fill a large portion of the harbor and we spotted a large deadhead among the many errant floating logs. A deadhead is a log that has sunk on one end, becoming vertical in the water, and gotten itself stuck into the bottom. It was low tide when we spotted this one and its top was a foot above water. When the tide came in, well, that deadhead would still be there waiting to rip into any boat that had the misfortune to hit it. We went dead slow on our way out, making sure we followed our GPS track to avoid the now-unseen danger. After a quiet night in the cove at De Courcy Island, a short hike ashore to stretch our legs, we timed our arrival at the south end of Dodd Narrows, where the current runs up to nine knots, for slack water. Other boats were assembling for passage at either end. Powerboats were coming through before slack but we waited until the first crush of boats had passed before we announced on the VHF that we were entering northbound. We'd spotted a barge on the far end and hoped he would also be waiting. It was low tide, which makes the Narrows even narrower, and it narrows even more at its north end. Luckily, there was only one small powerboat entering from that end as Rikki-tikki reached the very narrowest part. As we exited, the tug pulling the chip barge announced he was going through. On to Nanaimo, a bustling city with numerous ferries, seaplanes, shipping, and LOTS of other boats– every size and persuasion. We anchored across from the city in front of Newcastle Island, another park, on the fringe of the expanse of other boats. It was windy and choppy, but it didn't look like any space big enough for Rikki was farther inside. Clark and Mom launched Darzee to hunt for better conditions. Space looks real big from Darzee, but when Rikki gets there, it has shrunk! But Rikki took a spot closer in where the water was a bit shallow. We hoped the wind didn't shift and blow us toward shore. I was still concerned, so I set the anchor alarm and placed the depthsounder where I could see it during the night. Winds gusted up to 15 knots but remained from the northwest; we were okay. The BC Ferry to Tsawwassen would take Mom back, the end of her visit. We expected there would be a bus to the ferries from the marina. No such thing in Nanaimo. One might suspect that the taxi lobby holds a monopoly on getting foot traffic to the landings. So, we hugged goodbye and loaded Mom into a cab. Still a bit concerned about Rikki out there in the stiff breeze, we made a very quick trip to Thrifty Foods and splashed Darzee back. We've been hanging out at Newcastle Island now for four nights, catching up the blog, prepping photos, meeting new friends, watching boats come and go, and making trips into Nanaimo for food, propane, water and internet access at Literacy Nanaimo– $1 for all day. We bought 600 feet of floating poly rope on a spool for a stern line. When we get to Desolation Sound in September, most boats anchor off the bow with a line tied to shore from the stern. We will be heading north again soon, stopping at French Creek to visit the fellows we met while confined in Noyo Harbor, then meeting Dave and Marcia at Rebecca Spit, Quadra Island. Johnie and Bev on Valhalla, dubbed "Mother Duck", are headed there also with friends Wes and Patti aboard. It will be fun tagging along. We'll be flying our duckling pennant!

Hammond to Canada

We were treated to a visit to Mount St. Helens following Rikki's relaunch after the repair. What an awesome sight it was, a beautiful day, and wonderful new friends to share it with us. The very enthusiastic Park Naturalist/Ranger has everyone in the crowd visualizing where the mountain's top used to be. Next leg of the journey– Hammond, Oregon, to Grays Harbor, Washington. The tight spot on the Grays Harbor Westport Marina transient dock between the red sailboat and the charter vessel "Hawk"– just a few feet to spare! As all marinas have been since leaving San Francisco, this is filled with commercial fishing and work boats. Like these... Three particularly ominous looking bottom-draggers in Westport, GraysHarbor. And for contrast, just across the way from Rikki-tikki, a fleet of plastic paddle boats await tourist renters. They resemble Dutch wooden shoes, don'tthey? Still at Westport Marina, up on the wharf, I spotted this pickup truck laden with floats for crab-pots. We wish the floats we had to dodge out there onthe ocean were as colorful– they'd be easier to spot! As we left Grays Harbor the following morning, the fog was so thick we couldn't see 50 feet– thank goodness for our radar and our recorded track onthe Garmin GPS! The fog lifted just barely off the water so we could snap this photo as we cleared the harbor entrance. The entrance to the Quillayute River at La Push, Washington, is tricky and tight. In a word– thrilling. Inside tiny Makah Marina at La Push, Rikki-tikki is in stark contrast to his "picturesque" surroundings. The fog lifted as we approached our long-sought-after goal of Cape Flattery, in the background on the right. The little island with the lighthouse on itis Tatoosh. We toasted our rounding of the Cape with wine. The sun came out in Port Angeles, Washington, after a thick fog plagued our journey eastward down The Strait. Rikki-tikki anchored off Hollywood Beach,which was covered with Makah dugout canoes. Port Angeles was host to the Makah "Journey to Elwah". These three canoes were tied to the side of a large fishing vessel. A literal jumble of large Makah canoes on the beach in front of the Red Lion Hotel. We missed the races. The Makah women performed dances wearing colorful black and red robes whilethe men drummed and sang. Darzee makes a new friend when Small Fry comes to visit. We enjoyed Ira's company aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi for the night. "Red sky at night, a sailor's delight," it is said. Tomorrow we cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada. August 4, Nina raises the Canadian flag to the starboard spreader as we warnings for The Strait, we had glassy smooth seas and sunny skies– aharbinger of the weather to come!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Greetings from British Columbia!

It is hard to believe that two weeks has already slipped by since we rested atop a trailer in Hammond, Oregon, ready to be returned to the water after our repair odyssey of twenty-three days. That time seems distant, etched among our fondest memories. Our relaunch was attended by many of the new acquaintances we made, those folks who literally helped Rikki-tikki get back on his claws again, and those who shared their cars, homes, and friendship with us. We hope to return one day, for it is people like those in Ilwaco, Hammond, Warrenton, and Astoria who make our journey worthwhile. The day following our immersion, we were treated to a visit to Mount St. Helens by car. What a grand and awesome sight! It was a beautiful, clear day for viewing the smoking volcano from Johnston Ridge Center. Thank you Karen, Roy, and Gerty for your generosity and company. We were hoping the Columbia's incessant winds would die down for our departure out the mouth of The Great River. They did, replaced with a thick fog. The water was flat with negligible swell as we followed a fishing vessel over the bar, losing sight off him in the mist. A large freighter was stopped in the eastbound lane blasting one long and two shorts on his horn, meaning, "Restricted in ability to maneuver." We were very glad for our radar. It took us eight and a half hours to reach Westport Marina in Grays Harbor, WA. The wind was very light, the water smooth, so we were able to spot three mola-mola, or sunfish, as Rikki made tracks under power. Molas are so funny– flapping their pointed fins just at the surface with apparent lack of direction. We passed a sailboat slowly sailing along and read the name– "Imagination". We thought, someone has told us about that boat... We passed it again (how'd he do that?) as we entered Grays Harbor. I thought that it must've been Dave on "Juniata" who told us about "Imagination", as the boat looked like a Crealock 37. There would be an older sailor aboard singlehanding, I bet Clark. It was crowded in Westport; the transient dock appeared full. We circled while the Harbormaster searched for a spot to put us. Several people on the dock yelled over that we could pull inside between a red sailboat and a big charter fishing boat. Looked pretty tight, but with people to help, we headed over. Clark put Rikki-tikki right up to the dock & I tossed our docklines over to the growing crowd. As we were secured, one fellow yelled, "I saw your boat on the internet!" Our reputation (?) precedes us. John had been told we were on our way into the harbor by his friend, Jenny, who is captain of the MV "El Matador", a ferryboat, passing us on its way out. He threw on some shoes and hot-footed it to the marina just in time to catch Rikki's dockline. They are rebuilding another trimaran, a Searunner 37. "Imagination" was coming in too, conversing over the VHF. The harbormaster put him several docks over and I ran over to help him tie up. He looked very tired and declined our offer for dinner on RTT, opting for a long nap after two days at sea. I told him we'd watch for him in BC, wishing him a safe journey. I spotted some interesting photo subjects lit by the late afternoon sun and went back for my camera while Clark put supper together. Fog again– very, very thick fog. Fishing boats blasted by unseen until they were upon us as we tried to follow our track back out of the harbor early next morning. We could hear the bell buoys but could not see them. The small boats fanned out toward their fishing spots and the fog lifted slowly as Rikki-tikki-tavi gllded northward. The snowy peaks of the Olympic Mountains were revealed slowly and I napped in the sun. A long gray bank of cloud slowly descended to hide the mountains again. A humpback whale sounded very close to Rikki-tikki. Ten-and-a-half hours later we tied up at La Push, a Makah Native American settlement, on the Quillayute River. This river entrance has to be one of the most spectacular on the West Coast, if not the world. Several people told us it was too tight for us. Yes, it was a squeeker, but, wow, it was so exciting and beautiful. A large rocklike island (think Morro Rock) guards the river's mouth, while a rock jetty is close to starboard. The approach is to pass the island on your port (left) side, head straight for the beach over the building swells, then make a hard left turn when even with the river's mouth. Then ride the waves between the rock and the hard place into the shallow water, and immediately make a hard right turn upriver, all the while watching the depth like a hawk. Once in the tiny marina, it doesn't get any more roomy. We spotted a place inside a double-wide slip that housed only a small runabout– room enough. We backed in, got tied up and were summarily advised that the owner was on his way in after three days out fishing. We'd have to move, but where? The only spot we could see was between the dock and the parking lot berm. Once we got in there, a fellow on shore said we'd be sitting high when the tide receded. We figured that, actually, only Rikki's starboard ama would be gently residing on the mud, but we moved again. This time, we took a spot without cleats in front of a fishing boat just returned from fishing. We were advised he would NOT be going out in the morning. Creative line securement was in order. We ran ropes across the dock to the pile rings. You know, those big, fat half-circles that let the dock ride the pile up and down with the tide. I put on some orange noodle pieces so people wouldn't trip. A fellow came over with metal strapping and we nailed the docklines down. No electricity, $24 for the night!– most expensive moorage yet, but no place to on the river anchor that we knew of. We left at low tide the following morning, a USCG 47 MLB tailing us out with a helicopter to follow overhead. We turned north toward Cape Flattery– our long-awaited goal! At about two in the afternoon, Rikki-tikki's track turned east down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was sunny, though bumpy, no breeze, as we lifted our wine glasses to the moment. Our attempts to snap a photo with the sentinel island of Tatoosh in the background were made difficult by the choppy seas and tidal currents. We'd made it! Neah Bay, also part of the Makah lands, beckoned. This harbor is a well-used stop for both northbound and southbound boats rounding Cape Flattery. The wind picked up briskly as we entered and made our way to the fuel dock. Some succulent smoked white king salmon was high on our list to obtain while here. Leon, at the fuel dock, gave us directions to the smoker's home, then we went out to anchor in the bay. The fates wanted to give us some anchoring practice in the wind, so they threw our depthsounder into a tizzy and made it read less than five feet each time we dropped the Northill and got it set. We kept heading farther away from shore, out farther into the wind, which would make rowing in difficult. We finally decided, upon dropping for the third time, that the sounder was wrong, but that we'd have to forego the smoked salmon procurement because of the wind. Perhaps on our way South in a few years? The next morning brought more heavy fog for our trip eastward along the south shore of Juan de Fuca. Radar to the rescue, we crossed our fingers and motored along, keeping a sharp lookout for crabpots, logs, and kelp, not to mention other boats! Picture this– you can't see more than fifty feet in front of you but you are roasting in the sun from overhead. That's what it was like as we neared Port Angles about seven hours along. I was so relieved when it cleared up to see the harbor as there are ferries that come and go, plus freighters to avoid. We anchored (again twice because of a healthy crop of sea lettuce on the bottom) off Hollywood Beach, which was lined with Makah dugout canoes, assembled there for the "Journey to Elwah". Our phone began working again so we were able to tell family and friends we'd arrived. Next day, we walked our feet off looking for a place to send email without any luck. Port Angeles has much to offer and we amused ourselves for hours. I found a terrific handmade wool hat and a roomy carryall bag. We watched Makah singing and dancing, photographed canoes. There was a lovely little classic open boat at the public wharf. It was powered by an antique one-lung Everhope engine (my Uncle Bob would've loved it!). I took a photo of it while we watched the dancing. Later, as we prepared dinner, we heard the pop-pop-pop of the Everhope heading out toward Rikki. Its operator wanted to know the depth and what the holding was. I asked him where he planned to sleep. The answer was, "Aboard in my sleeping bag." We immediately offered a berth and dinner aboard RTT and he tied little Small Fry behind Darzee and passed up his kit for the night. What stories Ira told! We laughed and laughed. A treasured evening to remember. The big day had arrived for our crossing into Canada. Winds had been forecast to be gale force on The Strait for the days preceding and for this day. We were sure they were wrong– it was flat calm, no wind, nothing. We spent a leisurely morning with Ira, saw him off on Small Fry, then weighed anchor at 11:30 AM. The currents were with us and we made it to Tsehum (see-um) Harbor by 4:30 PM. I rowed in and called Canada Customs. We were instructed to bring Rikki-tikki to the Customs dock and await the inspectors. Three hours later after many questions, we were granted "status". Our lovely friends, Kent & Tracey, gifted us a special bottle of wine at our bon voyage party. We stowed it carefully, intending a celebratory end to our journey,. On August 4th, we opened that bottle of Sofia and toasted Rikki-tikki-tavi''s Big Adventure, both the one just ended and the one just beginning! Fair winds to you all, Clark & Nina


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