Monday, November 27, 2006

A Pacific Northwest Winter - Part III

"You Haven't Yet Seen Cold"
February 7 to March 23, 2006
Dear Friends,
A beautiful winter scene – warm, cozy homes nestled amongst tall trees, whose drooping branches are lightly tipped with freshly fallen snow – brings a glow to one's heart. Visions of lounging before a toasty fireplace, feet propped up on a cushy pillow, float serenely in front of the eyes. It's Valentine's Day, dreams of champagne and soft music, a lover snuggling...
Wake up! You are really in that boat anchored out in the ice-covered water in front of those cozy homes! There is no fireplace, no champagne, and you get to bundle up, go out on deck and remove the heavy load of snow that has covered the solar panels, clogged the access to the hatches- your frozen fingers aching. Your lover, however, is with you and she hasn't yet threatened to abandon ship, so it's not as bad as it could be! So get out there and shovel that snow with your little plastic dustpan while she takes QuickTime® movies of you doing it! On your way out, turn up the cabin heater so icicles stay on the outside of the boat. The foreground reveals the true nature of the situation. Photograph of Rikki-tikki-tavi anchored in snowy Port Ludlow Inner Harbor by Del Jacobs. As a weak sun begins to peer over the trees, we awake to find Rikki-tikki cloaked in soft white snow. Okay, so it wasn't a lot of snow that fell that night, just over an inch or so. And the previous week in Port Ludlow had been sunny and clear. We'd gone shopping with Dave and Marcia in their little Honda, had Polish sausages at Costco, were able to get in some computer time on the marina wi-fi, where Juniata was moored for the winter. Best of all, we delighted in some great camaraderie with our friends. We were enjoying our first week at Port Ludlow quite a bit. The Inner Harbor is lovely and very protected, with sticky mud on the bottom- all the better to hold you with, my dear. We liked the Inner Harbor. Marcia unloading the latest goodies from the trunk. We loaded the Honda so tight we had to hold stuff on our laps! We were soon to discover that the snow was only the beginning of our winter fun in the Inner Harbor. The VHF weather announcements gave little warning of what was to come. The electronic voice said the night temperatures would fall into the 'teens. The voice didn't say our little watery parking lot would freeze over, so we blithely hung on our anchor and watched the hail and snowflakes blow by. In the middle of the night two days after snowy Valentine's Day, we were awakened by loud sounds very much like the squelch on the VHF gone into overdrive. Immediately, we knew it was the sound of surface ice being crunched and broken up against the hulls as the breezes gently pushed the boat from side to side. No worries, it was thin ice. The low winter sun just couldn't seem to warm up the air during the day and temperatures barely reached into the 20s, then dropped again into the 'teens night after night. On the morning of the 17th, we awoke to 18 degrees. Lucky for Rikki, there was no wind because he was frozen in place- solidly. The ice was so hard that Clark couldn't punch through it with the boat hook. The entire Inner Harbor was frozen over with about 5/8" freshwater ice- and Rikki-tikki was stuck in the middle. Darzee to the rescue! Clark got the outboard started, let it warm up, then managed to break a hole large enough to back up a little way. It was easier to go backwards because the spinning prop helped break up the crust of ice. While I attempted some video clips of the action on my Canon PowerShot, Clark ran our Porta-Bote-turned-icebreaker up on top of the ice a few feet at a time, waited for it to break, backed out, took another angle of attack, and then ran up on the ice again, repeating this action many times. It took about an hour to make a narrow cut completely around our trimaran. Then he took Darzee on a few merry-go-round turns to widen the ice-free circle. The hard, freshwater ice laid thickly on top of the saltwater of the Inner Harbor. Dave and Marcia were expecting us to arrive at the marina, a half-mile away, for a car trip into Silverdale for shopping or, as we call it, provisioning. We hailed them on the walkie-talkie over the racket of Darzee breaking an icy highway for us to get out of the Inner Harbor. There was no way we could move Rikki-tikki until the ice softened a bit, which we hoped the sun would do during the day. The shards of broken ice were sharp and we feared damage to the paint. So we went shopping. Little Darzee broke a path through the ice. Wow, what a racket! We returned from our excursion into Silverdale just as the sun was touching the tops of the trees. We rounded the tip of the island into to our bay and saw that the highway Darzee had forged remained unchanged. The ice around Rikki was as hard as ever. Clark dropped me and our goodies off at the boat, then turned to run Darzee back and forth along the edges of the path, widening it enough to drive Rikki out to the main harbor. With just enough light left to see, we anchored in liquid water to wait for warmer weather. We were determined to go back into our private bay as soon as it was possible, we liked it that much. A few days later we found ourselves sitting in the Honda again. We were just leaving the marina parking lot for another trip to the shopping center. Marcia's cell phone rang. She missed the call as she searched inside her backpack for the phone and the call went to voicemail. Unable to retrieve the message, she merely returned the call. A friendly female voice answered but said she hadn't made the call. She asked where Marcia was calling from because the area code showed California. Marcia explained that they were aboard their boat in Port Ludlow at the marina. The woman exclaimed, "We live in Port Ludlow!" After many questions, Shirley realized that her husband, Del, had called the marina trying to find the owner of the trimaran that had been anchored in snow and ice in front of their home on the Inner Harbor. Would Marcia know these people? Yes, we know them, and they are with us right now. Would you like to talk to them? And so we met Del and Shirley. Del had taken photos of Rikki-tikki-tavi over the last week and he wanted to make sure we received copies, so he hunted us down! He owns the only trimaran in Port Ludlow, an F-31A, and was very interested in our multihull. We invited them to dinner aboard Juniata and a tour of Rikki-tikki when we came into the fuel dock. We sure enjoyed their company! Shirley and Del treated us all to a lovely dinner at their fabulous home. Listening to Del's wonderful stories, we were fascinated by the rich and adventurous life this couple has led. We are grateful for the photos but the real pleasure resides in meeting such interesting and generous folks. Thank you, Del and Shirley. Frozen solid. Photo by Del Jacobs. Our enjoyable memories don't end there! Del invited us to attend a meeting of the Northwest Multihull Association in Seattle as his guests. It was a great day to ride the ferry between Eagle Harbor and Seattle- the views incredible. Del took us to Fisheries Supply, where we found a couple of terrific rain hats, and REI's flagship store, where Del bought a tent (we just browsed). The NWMA meeting was great fun. Del introduced us and passed around an 8 x 10 photo of our iced-in trimaran. We met a whole roomful of multihull enthusiasts, some cruisers and a lot of racers with "F-boats", most of the names fleeting. We were invited to write a story of our trip up the coast for their April newsletter, which we did. It is available online from the NWMA website- Thank you again, Del and Shirley. We hope to meet you on the water, sailing your trimaran. The rest of the story is that our heater decided to quit just as the cold weather was at its coldest. We had just spent, you may remember, about $500 to have a new fan installed in Vancouver. They did other maintenance too while it was in the shop. Clark reinstalled the overhauled unit in January before we returned to the U.S. Now it was only mid-February and the heater was belching blue smoke in attempts to fire up. We sent for more parts from Seattle. A tiny zipper sandwich bag with a little screen and a couple of gaskets arrived in the mail- $120! Clark took the unit over to the marina and, with the blessing of the staff, he disassembled the entire heater, part by part, on their worktable. After cleaning the burn chamber and installing all the new parts, he hauled the heater back to Rikki in the Inner Harbor to see if it would fire. Yes, but our confidence that we had reliable heat aboard was considerably eroded. By now, we were making regular trips in Darzee across the 1/2-mile of harbor to the marina. Some days it was very choppy with wind-blown waves. The wind never bothered us in the landlocked anchorage behind the Twin Islands. Other days we were assailed by sleet, hail, rain– you name it. We wanted kayaks and were spending time researching online for what was available at a reasonable price. I remembered that Costco in Sacramento sold kayaks last year, but we'd been to Costco in Silverdale many times- no kayaks. Then, one day, we went to Costco with Marcia and there, stacked up high, were bright orange kayaks! The one-person sit-insides came complete with paddles, spray skirts, and a cartop carrier (smart of them to include this!). Guess what we loaded onto the car? We went back to Costco and bought another kayak! After a bit of practice, my kayak became less tippy. I devised a way of safely getting into and out of the kayak from the stern steps. Two lines, one fore, one aft, tied onto the handrails, keep the kayak from scooting out from under me! We are going to enjoy having these and, Rod, we now have a way to rescue Darzee if he ever decides to go on walkabout again. In March, Dave and Marcia took Juniata to Port Townsend for a haul-out. We visited them with Steve and Myndy from "Enchantress". Dave was lucky to have good weather for painting the bottom and removing a thru-hull. I took a walk around and shot some photos of other boats there for work. Port Townsend has a very busy boatyard, there are vessels of every size and description, commercial and otherwise, though we saw no trimarans. Juniata on the hard in the Port Townsend boatyard. Boatworks in the boatyard. One of the murals in the Port Townsend boatyard. We began getting ready to leave for our Spring Cruise of South Puget Sound. The weather was definitely showing signs of improving! Just to remind us that winter wasn't yet over, it snowed again on March 8th. March 27th, we would head south into Puget Sound to meet Juniata in Port Madison.

A Pacific Northwest Winter - Part II

"Two Windy Weeks In Friday Harbor In Which Darzee Goes On An Adventure" We awoke to this view of Mount Baker across San Juan Channel from Friday Harbor's North Cove. Late that afternoon, as we settled ourselves and Rikki-tikki alongside the little barge in Hong Kong Basin, we met the caretaker of the barge, Jim, a very reserved fellow. He is known in Friday Harbor as a creative- local art galleries sold his jewelry and very-much-in-demand, fantastically detailed miniature buildings built inside bottles. He even designed and built the special miniature tools that this kind of weensy construction required. Now he writes stories and articles from the confines of his little boat moored out in The Basin. We marvelled at the tales he had to tell of past experiences living in a myriad of boats- all very tiny- a canoe (would you believe?), a West Wight Potter, now an 18' powerboat named "Patna". Our view of the Port of Friday Harbor from The Barge. We had been to Friday Harbor once before- in the company of two other boats, four of us aboard a chartered Catalina 36 named "Norma Jean". It was 1995 or thereabouts, 4th of July, and we had a great time watching the local Independence Day parade featuring kids towing their dogs and smaller siblings in decorated wagons. There were brass bands, lots of waving flags, firetrucks demonstrating their water power. It was truly small-town America stuff. Hot dogs were on the grill and lawn games were played in the sunken park. The community egg toss was especially fun. Dozens of participants were defeated, impossibly and at long last, by a very small boy whose egg, despite hitting the grass many times, simply refused to break. At the end, his egg had to be broken by the judge to prove it wasn't hard boiled! Our 2006 visit was cold, windy and gray most days, it being January, not July. The crowds of boats waiting to get a slip were absent, as were the lightly dressed sailors wearing sunhats. Friday Harbor residents had their town to themselves for the winter. We tried to blend in. It was our good furtune to have made the acquaintance of two locals while at Nanaimo's Newcastle Island back in August. Rod and Barbara live right off the main street around the corner from the big grocery and they wanted some advice on remodeling their home. They also desired our opinion on several homes that were under construction with the idea they would purchase one as a rental investment. Since building is Clark's area of expertise, they "hired" us to do some consulting. We enjoyed many hours of discussion, friendship and were given the opportunity to see a couple of very nice homes, plus a little of the island itself. Washington State Ferries call several times a day, leaving a rolling wake with each passing. We were invited to a Super Bowl Party. We don't enjoy football and neither does Rod, so we spent the time walking along country roads with our hostess and enjoying great conversation. We met several other sailor folks- our hosts were long-time SF Bay Area sailors and owned Bird Boat #18 for 25 years. They later owned and raced a Farallone Clipper, a classy classic wooden sailboat. We felt like newborns talking to Dan and Eileen about sailing. Their home on San Juan Island is cozy and filled with books, a lovingly built wood dinghy resides in the shop. The rooms feature a terrific view over Griffin Bay and San Juan Channel. On one of the two days we had sun, Clark and I filled our rolling insulated bag at "The Marketplace". In between our forays away from Rikki-tikki with new friends, we endured unpleasant weather, both while tied to The Barge and in the marina. We backed into two slips at the Port of Friday Harbor (they only charged us for one). Big winds were forecast and the minus tides would have set us into the mud in Hong Kong Basin, so we sought refuge of a sort tied to pilings and docks in deeper water. Sure enough, the winds reached 55 knots- that's 63 mph! The waves leaped all the way over the docks even inside the breakwater. When the winds ceased, we moved back to the barge and went back to rowing Darzee into the dinghy dock. It was cheaper. Our double-wide "G Dock" slip in the Port of Friday Harbor. Local color inside the Port docks. The Port of Friday Harbor before the wind began. Back on The Barge, another rainy windstorm blew in overnight. Clark got up in the morning, made coffee and sat down in the settee to enjoy it. He usually sits on the starboard side where we tie Darzee up between the vaka (the main hull) and the ama (the outer hull), using a three-point arrangement to keep him from banging into the hulls in the wind and waves. I arrived in the galley just in time for Clark to take a look outside to find that Darzee was gone! Darzee had taken a "walk", gone on an adventure of his own, without us. It was raining. The wind was blowing very hard. Lucky for us it was blowing toward the shore behind us. How did Darzee get loose? Unbeknownst to me, Clark had moved Darzee to the barge before we went to bed. Whatever knot he used, the waves had managed to untie. I grabbed the binoculars and searched anxiously along the shoreline. The tide was extremely high and lots of flotsam was piled up against the land. There, among a bunch of large logs, bobbed our lost tender, but we had no way of getting over to him. We thought, no problem, the tide will go out and leave Darzee high and dry. We can have Rod go down to get him later. Just as we voiced our solution, the wind shifted completely around and Darzee started to float out away from shore. I started to get very worried and fetched my drysuit from the ama, intending to swim to shore and retrieve our little taxi before he was blown out into the channel. Clark nixed my swimming. I got out my new dock hook and posted myself on deck, just in case Darzee was close enough to snag on his way past. Meanwhile, we called (we still had our GoPhone!) and left voicemail for Rod- could he come rescue Darzee? The morning before the storm that blew Darzee away. Nice and calm. With every gust of wind, we crossed our fingers that the jetsam surrounding Darzee would hold him close enough to shore for Rod to reach him- that is, when he arrived. The waiting was tense. After what seemed like forever, we saw our friend, without even a hat on, walking along the backyards of the homes that line the shore. Darzee was inching his way out of reach and we knew Rod hadn't seen the dinghy yet. He couldn't hear our shouts against the wind. We waved our arms and Rod finally spotted our wayward workhorse. Through the chop and rain, our rescuer brought little Darzee home. We are forever grateful and promise to never let it happen again, Rod. Thank you. Not calm now... Rod rescued Darzee and returned him to us. When the weather cleared enough for us to get out of Friday Harbor, we did just that. It is a great place- convenient access to everything a boater needs (except decent laundromats, more about that later) and the Washington State Ferry system. However, we've pretty much concluded, Friday Harbor is a wind-hole. Enough said. February 6- a calm day to leave Friday Harbor. Stopping at the fuel dock on our way out, a very pleasant couple hailed us from the wharf. They wanted to tell us how much they admired Rikki-tikki, so we invited them for a quick look-see. It turned out that Davey and Ziggy are circumnavigators, with wonderful stories we hope to hear when we meet them again. We are so glad they stopped to introduce themselves. Then we motored down through Cattle Pass and across the Strait of Juan de Fuca over relatively smooth seas, dodging the many logs and congealed islands of debris carried into the waters by the high tides and storm waves. The rain threatened but did not fall, we finally reached Point Wilson on a course for Mystery Bay. We carefully threaded our way through the complex winding entrance to Kilisut Harbor, between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island, spotting our first-ever long-tailed ducks- beautiful. A quiet night on anchor was a welcome change from the boisterous and busy days we spent in Friday Harbor. Point Wilson. The next morning, a very cold crosswind cut through our woolies as we rounded Marrowstone Point, but then it turned against us. The day was gray but the high clouds allowed a great view of the Olympic Mountains as we approached Port Ludlow, where Dave and Marcia on Juniata were holed up for the winter. We thought we might pay them a visit. It was February 7, 2006. Our view of Hurricane Ridge as we head into south Admirality Inlet. The condos at Burner Point, the entrance to Port Ludlow, the Olypmic mountain range in the background. Dave and Marcia wait on the dock to take our lines at Port Ludlow Marina. From their slip at Port Ludlow, Dave and Marcia enjoyed this view of the Olympic Mountains. Yet another chapter begins in our life on the water aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi. ... (Your patient indulgence for the belated nature of our journal entries is humbly requested.) Clark & Nina s/v Rikki-tikki-tavi

Monday, October 02, 2006

RTT's Ports of Call

News from "Rikki-tikki-tavi,"
31 July 2006
Fury Cove, Fitz Hugh Sound

Of the 212 days that have so far slipped away this year, Rikki-tikki-tavi traveled on sixty-eight of those days, spent forty-one of the nights tied to a dock, with the remainder side-tied at anchor to Juniata, with whom we began buddy-boating at the end of March. Rikki-tikki has covered 1145 nautical miles, with many more miles remaining to slide beneath his hulls before we are back in the USA.

Our season of cruising the Central Coast of British Columbia must be
cut a bit short. Rikki-tikki-tavi has been accepted to be a part of
the 30th Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival! The Festival runs
September 8-10, so we will be heading back to Washington over the
last three weeks of August. It is an honor to join the ranks of the
many beautiful wooden boats that have participated in the Festival.
We are thrilled and looking forward to the event with great

After the Festival, we will find a safe place for Rikki-tikki while
we go back to Sacramento to see Nina's first grandchild. A beautiful
boy, Merritt Maui, was born June 25 to Michael and Samantha Bailey.
It has been difficult to be without communication for such long
periods while cruising the farther reaches of BC, but we have been
able to see photos of the baby on the internet and spoken to the new
parents on Skype from Ocean Falls and from Shearwater, where we found
that these two remote outposts recently began providing wireless
internet access.

We have found that cruising brings new challenges each day. Be it
unpredictable weather, navigational problems and hazards, finding
comfortable anchorages, or the hours required daily to hunt for food,
prepare food, clean up after food, store food– the tasks necessary
to keep the boat running well and ourselves content are innumerable.
We find new interests taking the place of old. We are discovering
what works for us and what doesn't. Above all, we are learning and
enjoying life aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi.

We find time to kayak the shorelines at low tide, discovering new
creatures that we've never seen before. Clark fishes and sets traps
for prawn and crab. He has caught more fish than we can eat so we
release most of them. He brought a beautiful 33.5", 18# Chinook
salmon back from fishing in the dinghy off Hakai Passage. We've found
new and delicious ways to prepare all the wonderful seafood and have
experimented with harvesting and eating seaweed. Bull kelp makes
delicious chutney for our fish and the blades of winged kelp, which
can only be found in areas with very fast moving water at a very low
tide, is tasty fried. The rib in the center tastes like shitake
mushrooms in soups and stir-fry.

The interesting people we've met on other boats are always one of the
best parts of cruising. Everyone has a great story to tell and the
vessels they inhabit are all so very different. Living on water seems
to attract those who enjoy solitude and wildness, relish the
challenges of being self-sufficient in remote areas, and find reward
in successfully handling the natural forces of weather and the ocean.
We feel like such newcomers to the community but we look forward to
experiencing at least a small number of the places these wonderful
folks have travelled in their boats.

Our travels so far this year have been inspiring, enlightening,
tranquil, breathtaking, sometimes daunting and demanding– we are
living Rikki-tikki-tavi's Adventures. The task of transcribing our
experiences has become more taxing to us than all the other
challenges we face each day. So, for now, we beg your understanding
as we send this missive merely listing our Ports of Call. We promise
more details of Rikki-tikki's adventures as soon as we have some
long, uninterrupted time to write them down. Meanwhile, we are on the
move nearly every day and are entwined in the adventure itself.

Ports of Call January 1, 2006 to July 31, 2006

January 1-21   Montague Harbour, Galiano Island, BC
  Montague Harbour Marina
January 21-23  Winter Cove, Saturna Island, BC
   10.93 NM
January 23  Return to USA across Boundary Pass
   20.37 NM
January 23-February 6 Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA
   Anchorage, Hong Kong Basin & 4 nights at marina.
February 6  Mystery Bay
   37.6 NM, cross Strait of Juan de Fuca
February 7-March 26 Port Ludlow Inner Harbor
   19.6 NM
March 27  Port Madison
   22.69 NM
March 28-29  Poulsbo
   9.03 NM
March 30-April 2 Port Madison
   9.01 NM
April 3   Eagle Harbor
   10.07 NM, dock behind "Bacchanal"
April 4   Gig Harbor
   27.77 NM, city dock
April 5-6  Penrose Point State Park, Mayo Cove
   16.08 NM
April 7-9  Olympia, Swantown Marina
   21.54 NM
April 9-11  Jarrell Cove
   19.23 NM
April 12  Filucy Bay
   16.74 NM
April 13-14  Horsehead Bay, Carr Inlet
   8.15 NM
April 15-16  Gig Harbor
   16.39 NM, city dock
April 17  Port Madison
   26.74 NM
April 18-19  Port Ludlow Inner Harbor
   23.7 NM
April 20-23  La Conner
   43.38 NM, through Deception Pass, city dock
April 24-25  Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
   30.42 NM, Hong Kong Basin barge 
April 26  Tsehum Harbour, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
   19.83 NM, enter Canada
April 27-29  Tod Inlet, Vancouver Island
   13.82 NM
April 30-May 1  Pirates Cove, De Courcy Island
   35.81 NM
May 2-3   Silva Bay, Gabriola Island
   5.18 NM, through Gabriola Pass Rapids
May 4-8   Smuggler Cove, Sechelt Peninsula
   28.98 NM, cross Strait of Georgia
May 9   Green Bay w/stop at Madeira Park, Pender Harbour
   17.79 NM
May 10-15  Princess Louisa Inlet Marine Park, dock & mooring
   39.19 NM, Happy 2nd Birthday, Rikki-tikki-tavi!
May 16-17  Harmony Islands
   35.29 NM
May 18-19  Ballet Bay
   12.36 NM
May 20-24  Drew Harbour, Quadra Island
   49.49 NM, via Strait of Georgia, cruise around Mitlenatch Island
May 25-28  Octopus Islands
   14.02 NM, through Surge Narrows Rapids
May 29-30  Handfield Bay, Cameleon Harbour, Sonora Island
   17.17 NM, through Okisollo Channel
May 31   Beaver Inlet
   24.75 NM, through Green Point Rapids
June 1   Port Harvey
   40.05 NM, through Whirlpool Rapids
June 2   Lagoon Cove
   13.08 NM, through Chatham Channel & The Blow Hole, dock
June 3-4  Potts Lagoon
   8.8 NM
June 5-6  Beware Cove
   5.39 NM
June 7   Dead Point Cove
   1.82 NM
June 8-9  Crease Island Cove
   4.04 NM
June 10-11  Waddington Bay
   11.7 NM
June 12   Echo Bay
   6.53 NM, dock
June 13-14  Laura Cove
   5.53 NM
June 15-16  Lady Boot Cove
   10.05 NM
June 17-18  Port McNeill
   23.66 NM, marina
June 19   Blunden Harbour
   25.46 NM, Queen Charlotte Strait
June 20-22  Fury Cove, Fitz Hugh Sound
   49.42 NM, around Cape Caution
June 23   Philip Inlet, Fitz Hugh Sound
   9.08 NM
June 24   Kwakume Inlet, Fitz Hugh Sound
   13.41 NM
June 25-27  Codville Lagoon, Fitz Hugh Sound
   24.21 NM
June 28-29  Ocean Falls
   22.03 NM, dock
June 30-July 1  Forit Bay, Gunboat Passage
   14.44 NM
July 2-3  Gunboat Lagoon Cove
   4.03 NM
July 4-5  Discovery Cove, Troup Passage
   11.34 NM
July 6-8  Nash Passage Cove, Spiller Channel
   21.26 NM, through Troup Narrows & Bullock Channel
July 9-13  Morehouse Bay, Chatfield Island, Return Passage
   17.77 NM
July 14-15  Shearwater & Whisky Cove, Denny Island
   14.26 NM
July 16   The Hunter Group, Lama Passage to Hunter Channel
   8.5 NM
July 17   Cultus Bay, Cultus Sound
   11.16 NM
July 18-19  McNaughton Group, Queens Sound
   7.38 NM
July 20   Kayak Cove, Queens Sound, Hunter Island
   2.66 NM
July 21-22  Spitfire Channel, West Cove
   6.03 NM
July 22   Hurricane Island, 1-boat nook on south end
   4.54 NM
July 23-24  Watt Bay, "Domestic Tranquility" cove, Hunter Island
   6.46 NM
July 25-27  Lewall Inlet, Stirling Island
   9.54 NM, Clark caught 33.5" Chinook in Hakai Passage
July 28   Pruth Bay, Calvert Island
   9.98 NM
July 29   Kwakume Inlet, Fitz Hugh Sound
   11.11 NM
July 30-31  Green Island Anchorage, Illahie Inlet, Fitz Hugh Sound
   6.89 NM

Harmony Islands, Jervis Inlet

Our best to you all,
Clark & Nina

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Pacific Northwest Winter - Chapter One

A rather belated catch-me-up blog... Where, you’ve probably been wondering, has Rikki-tikki and his crew been all winter long? Here it is officially, by the calendar, summer, and you’ve seen hide nor hair of the little mongoose on the blog since November. So here we go, trying to catch up to that curious creature from where we last left him. It was a long winter– Rikki-tikki’s first in The Pacific Northwest. As you remember, we found a dock at Montague Harbour for Rikki to go into hibernation while we returned to a life on land for a little while. We slid easily into routine in the cozy house perched above the harbor on Galiano Island. One TV channel with nothing worth watching, and only a couple of movies on the shelf that we hadn’t seen, kept us from sinking into complete stupification during the dull, gray days that dominated the next few weeks. Instead we found other things to keep us busy. Clark attacked the repair jobs in the house that begged his attention, while Nina cleaned and organized. I called one day from the spider-inhabited pay phone down at the marina to my son, Michael, who broke the big news that I would become a grandma. He sounded so excited! What wonderful news. He and his love, Samantha, wanted me to paint the nursery in a Winnie-the-Pooh theme. We were coming “home” for the holidays, weren’t we? Of course, we made plans to drive to California for the month of December. The things aboard Rikki that could be damaged by the dampness and cold were moved to the house where we went through everything with our list in hand. What to take back to California? What to bring back with us that we’d left behind? Some things were obvious. Our parachute sea anchor would be useless to us in the small waters of British Columbia, so it began the pile labeled “Sacto”. It was joined by our bright orange “Gumby” survival suits. We decided to replace them with our Harvey’s drysuits, which would be useful when we cleaned the bottom and were more comfortable to wear. “Fishing gear” began the list of items to retrieve. We hoped we would be catching fish in 2006, though we feared what we had in Sacramento wouldn’t pass Dave’s keen inspection as being appropriate. Dollar signs whirled through my head at night thinking about the lures he’d want Clark to purchase. We ordered a Honda generator to augment the power bank on RTT. We found that a week of overcast in an anchorage frustrated our need for amps when we wanted to be working on the computer or doing other power-hungry jobs. We also ordered an 80-amp Balmar alternator, which Clark installed while in Montague after Becky and Brian delivered it to us. Our lists grew. The idea of doing some exploring and buying groceries at Vancouver Island’s supermarkets and at Costco spurred us to buy a book of ferry rides to Swartz Bay. BC Ferries has it figured out- it’s free to leave Galiano, and any of the other Gulf Islands, and go to Vancouver Island. Tolls are collected only on the return trip. Good plan! Most people want to go back home, but buying a book of ten trips saved quite a bit of money, and we already know where the Costco is, right? It’s way over past Victoria in Langford, so provisioning would consume an entire day on ferries and driving. We ended up only doing this twice and didn’t get in any exploring at all. On Galiano, we found that the small natural food store had the very best heavy cream we’d ever tasted! Packed into thick glass bottles, it was also the least expensive we’d ever found- only $2 Canadian, plus a one-time $1 deposit on the bottle that we’d bring back in exchange. Their selection of veggies was excellent and they carried my favorite moisturizer, Kiss My Face “Filthy Rich”. It is one of my trusted remedies for seasickness, used as aromatherapy. Every time I go below to use the head while underway, I come back with another dollop to spread on my hands. It has a nice lemony verbena perk-me-up scent. Internet access is one of our most sought-after items. The BC government provides public internet access on Galiano at the local school. There were hours available every day, mostly in the evenings. Our iBook was regularly plugged into the ethernet hub with two old iMacs and three ancient IBM machines as we kept in touch with family and friends. Our phone, a pay-as-you-go affair, doesn’t “go” in Canada. Are you getting the picture? No phone, no TV, no newspaper, no shopping, no movie theater– not much of anything but peace and quiet. All we had was email down at the school and the pay phone at the harbor to contact the “outside world”. We had another visitor to our little abode on the island- Ira from “Small Fry” came to Galiano. You remember the fellow who spent the night aboard in Port Angeles? He sailed his Columbia 26 (actually he motored in pea-soup fog) from Tsehum Harbor to tie up at the Montague Marine Park dock. We enjoyed a wonderful steak dinner while listening to Ira’s stories. Ira is a great storyteller! He’d brought his movie camera with fantastic footage of the Tall Ship Festival in Victoria. We watched as “Small Fry” buzzed around the impressive ships as they waited to enter the harbor, punctuated by Ira's exited monologue. It was truly awesome to see the crews in full dress uniforms lined up on the yardarms. Wish we’d been there! Back in August at French Creek, we’d missed seeing Captain Stan, so we emailed him to set up a visit. We took the BC Ferry to Vancouver Island for the long drive “up-island” to Parksville. Captain Stan and his lovely wife, Rose, treated us to dinner, bed and breakfast. Stan entertained us with stories of his adventures aboard various boats, both his own and those on which he was a delivery skipper. Rose, whose finely crafted baskets and paintings decorate their home, told us all about the active arts guild in the area. Thank you, Rose and Stan! On the few days when the sun made an appearance, we explored Galiano, driving to its far south end and the overlook at Active Pass. We were lucky to be there when two ferries passed in the narrow channel between Galiano and Mayne Islands. But mostly it just rained. It rained for days and days. There were a couple of memorable evenings when the sky opened just enough low in the west for colorful sunset across Trincomali, making for a great view from the windows of the house. But mostly it just rained. We started parking our car at the top of the winding, 1/4-mile long, forest duff driveway and walking down to the house from the road. It was too steep to drive up, the ground was so saturated, we just spun the wheels. Islanders started complaining about all the rain. Fantastically, Galiano is advertised as the driest of the Gulf Islands, even claiming to have a Mediterranean climate. We are skeptical that the Med grows mosses and ferns with the density and variety that we found on Galiano. On our departure day, we awoke to snow. As we got ready to leave for California, Clark loaded the car in the rain, making numerous strenuous treks up the hill to the car. Then it started to snow. Very pretty, but we were concerned. Would we be able to get down to the Sturdies Bay terminal to catch the first ferry to Tsawwassen? We were pretty sure that the roads are not plowed on Galiano. At our predawn departure, we gingerly drove down the hill to the marina to make one last check on Rikki out at the end of the dock. Clark found the snow on deck and in the cockpit littered with the paw prints of curious raccoons. We made it to the ferry terminal without skidding and drove onto the Queen of Nanaimo, newly refurbished and just put back into service. We were the first aboard. The renewed ferry was very snazzy with its just-stocked gift shop, new seats and carpeting, fancy restrooms. The gift shop was overflowing with new merchandise. We bought a book on BC Marine Parks. The decks were clear- it was cold! It was snowing on the Mainland when we drove off the big ferry and it was very, very cold! We stopped at a Costco to return some items and found a tiny military surplus store just up the street. We garnered a spot to park between the piles of snow and went in, hoping to find some heavy wool pants. Another couple was perusing the very small selection in the far back corner. We hung back waiting for them to take their choices to the dressing closet. I went through every single pair and found one almost small enough for Clark. It had a couple of small holes in the back of one leg, but I figured I could repair it when I took in the waist to fit. The leg length was perfect. I found another pair that looked like it might fit me- scratchier wool and darker green. That pair didn’t have any holes but the waist was too big. We bought both- $30 each. They’ll wear like iron and be water resistant and warm for up north. When we joined the queue at the US border, the Canadian Customs officials were building a snowman in front of the Peace Arch. We were welcomed back to the US and made a beeline to Seattle to find Seattle Fabrics for some polar fleece and neoprene, with a quick stop at Fisheries Supply thrown in. At rush hour, we got onto the freeway to drive to Clark’s cousin Betty’s house in Olympia by 7 PM. We dawdled, not wanting to arrive before she got home from work. Betty had been home all day not feeling well and had prepared for us a fabulous roasted turkey and vegetables dinner. We watched some really weird reality stuff on TV- something about a white British guy who goes to live with a couple of tribes of natives, one in the Amazon jungle, one on the African savannah. He trains for stick-fighting, gets pierced, gets “fitted” for an elaborate codpiece. Some parts were painful to watch, but incredibly interesting. Next day, the amount of snow remaining on the ground was amazing. It was a true cold snap. We visited Olympia’s famous Farmers Market, sauntered through a couple of art galleries, and enjoyed a tasty meal on the wharf. Back at Betty’s cozy home, which is literally packed to the gills with the artifacts of all the places she’s traveled and lived, her art and that of artist friends, and lots of spherical rocks of all sizes arranged cleverly in every room, Betty taught us to play a rummy card game. What a great time we had. There is a great view of Mount Shasta across I-5. The drive to Sacramento was uneventful but we were tired. We had a long list of tasks to do; things to find online, order and buy; a computer part to order and install; people to visit; the Pooh Room to paint. There was also Christmas with its family get-togethers, gifts to assemble, food to cook. Then I got sick. I am sure it was the guy at the gas station in Grants Pass who declared with some glee, while leaning into the car window to hand back our credit card and receipt, that it was his first day back from being flat on his back in bed for three weeks with a nasty flu! I had been ill the last time I came back to California and was determined not to repeat that, but Purell and every other precaution failed. The Pooh Room was delayed. I couldn’t risk infecting my pregnant daughter-in-law. We went through all Rikki-tikki’s photos and chose some special ones to frame for holiday gifts. Two dozen nice plain frames at a good price were waiting for us at Joanne’s Fabrics. Costco’s quality of digital prints (and low price) brought it all together for us. We ticked items off our lists slowly, enduring the California traffic as best we could. Doggedly we worked at locating some hard-to-find products like dried coconut milk and large containers of coconut oil. What would we do without the internet and UPS? If only we could have internet aboard the boat while we traveled... sigh. Finally I felt well enough to start the Pooh Room. My son, Michael, has chronicled it all on his blog ( Clark and I enjoyed painting the characters and they are very cute, but they ended up being the cartoon versions rather than the original A. A. Milne drawings. Back at our little studio apartment behind Mom’s, we’d built piles of all the things we wanted to take back to the boat. Clark began loading the car for the journey back to Rikki-tikki and quickly ran out of room! The Honda EU2000i generator we’d ordered, the drysuits, this and that.... filled up the available space right away. We had to start thinning what we’d hoped to take. Reluctantly we put the case of assorted wines back into the cupboard– we had too much to bring into Canada anyway- only 40 ounces per person is allowed. When we left for Canada, the rear of the Honda dragged over the sidewalk, we were stuffed so full. Nina with her mom at a family holiday gathering. Photo by Peter Ban-Weiss. Christmas and the Pooh Room complete, we found the weather on the return trip considerably nastier than the pleasant conditions early in December. The rain turned to snow briefly over the mountain passes into Ashland where we stayed at The Palms, a lovely little cottage-style motel with fresh flowers in every corner, a kitchenette and wi-fi. We used our new VOIP SkypeOut on the iBook to call Mom and let her know we’d made it okay. We even talked over the computer with three family members at once. Skype is very cool. Never having been to Ashland, we explored a bit downtown before we got back on the road. Ashland is a college town, reportedly has good restaurants, lots of art activity and plays (The Shakespeare Festival annually), it’s not too big, has lovely old neighborhoods, pleasant natural surroundings- a nice place to live, we suspect. I found a well-stocked yarn shop and it occurred to me that I could easily crochet baby things and other projects on the boat. Yarn and hooks weigh next to nothing and don’t take up much space. Though I’ve never had much luck finding good-looking crochet patterns because knitting is so much more popular, at this shop, I found two books of patterns for very creative baby clothes. Continuing north on I-5, the torrential rains all across Oregon caused us to be late getting to my aunt and uncle’s home in Estacada. It was wonderful to spend time with them, sharing meals and conversation. Next stop, cousin Betty’s in Olympia again where Scott Lake was threatening to spread far enough to reach her home. A few weeks later, it did, and she had a nasty time of it. As we drove up to the border entry gate at Canada Customs, we were hoping that our jam-packed car with its California plates wouldn’t get searched. It being January 1st, we wished the agent a Happy New Year. Customs always wants to know where you’re going, who you’re visiting. When we told him we were on our way to spend a few days in Vancouver with my Aunt Betty, he asked as he looked into the overflowing back seat, “Are you visiting or moving?” Of course we told him it was boat stuff and that our boat was on Galiano Island, that we would be taking it out of Canada in a couple of weeks. He waved us through, wishing us a nice visit. We were late getting to Aunt Betty’s too. Though glad to see us, cousin Ken and his mom looked very hungry- dinner had been ready for an hour. Cousin Kelly, Bruno and the kids came for dessert and a quick visit. Next day we drove into Vancouver to see Ken’s high-rise condo, walk the promenade around False Creek and have lunch at the pub. We had a great time just ambling along, gawking and chatting. On the way back to Delta, Betty took us by the Richmond Costco where we stocked up for the next few weeks on Galiano. Where in the Honda would we put it all? Clark managed to stuff it in somewhere, along with our diesel heater that had been repaired in Vancouver. We’d surely need that! Back on Galiano, I made a Sunbrella cover for the generator. I altered Clark’s “new” wool pants. (I still have to alter my pair, but Clark’s now fit him great!) I cleaned the tub, which was extensively stained rust-red by the water on the island. I’d brought along Barkeeper’s Friend expressly for the purpose and left the can under the sink for Aunt Betty. The right product for the job can work miracles, with no scrubbing necessary! The tub looked almost new. We also took a side trip to Van Isle to see the holiday light show at The Butchart Gardens. The last day for the display was January 6 and we took the opportunity to visit Costco one more time before arriving at The Gardens just before dusk. We wandered twice around but had to leave before the carollers and entertainment began at dark in order to catch the last ferry back to Galiano. I managed a couple of shots... Life-size marionettes play in the courtyard. These "Twelve Days of Christmas" maids stand ready to milk a glowing cow. Clark donned his wetsuit and changed the zinc anodes on the boat. He was blue with cold. He reinstalled the diesel heater. We loaded all the stuff we’d removed from the boat for the winter, readying Rikki for entry into the USA and us for life afloat again. It was still raining on Galiano, so we made runs down to the boat with everything wrapped in plastic, including us! On January 15th, we moved back onto the boat. The little house up on the cliff was clean and put back together after serving as a spot for all our boat projects. Three days later, we drove our Honda back across the border to Mount Vernon, WA, where friends would store it for us. We planned to take the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to Sidney, hop a bus to the Swartz Bay terminal and the Southern Gulf Islands BC Ferry back to Galiano, carrying all our stuff. Then we’d walk the 5+ miles to the marina. We were hoping it wouldn’t be raining. We packed our rain gear. As soon as we arrived at Dick and Sharon’s, they informed us that the Anacortes-Sidney BC Ferry didn’t run in winter! Oh no! We were surprised and chagrined. They generously said, “Don’t worry. It’s no problem.” They would drive us all the way back into Canada to drop us off at the Tsawwassen ferry landing. Oh my. We had a great visit, though it was peppered with a multitude of apologies for the imposition. Clark cooked a terrific salmon dinner and we took a very long walk up the hill behind their home to see all the new houses. On the way back to Canada, an unusual thing happened- the sun came out! We waved good-bye to Dick and Sharon and walked into the terminal to bask in the sun streaming through the windows while waiting for the Queen of Nanaimo to arrive. The unusually wet (isn’t it normal for ferns and moss to grow where it’s wet?) weather pattern had finally ended. It was January 20th, my birthday, and it had been raining for 28 days straight. Waiting for the Queen of Nanaimo at the Tsawassen BC Ferry terminal on January 20. We watch as cars drive onto the ferry. Even though it wasn't raining, we were hoping one of them would give us a ride when we got to Galiano. We stuck out our thumbs as soon as we hit the pavement on Galiano, Sturdies Bay. It was my first time hitchhiking so I was a bit shy about it, but the sun was out and the folks on Galiano were all smiling. A little car pulled ahead of us and stopped. We joined a gal who gave us a ride to the natural foods store. Her parents own the island at Retreat Cove and built the wood schooner we saw when Becky and Brian visited. Boat people. We started walking again, enjoying the sunshine. Soon a BMW stopped and let us in. The talkative driver turned out to be manager of Eagle’s Nest Inn, which is owned by a friendly cruising couple (more boat people) who we met on the dock next to Rikki-tikki. Their boat is in Mexico where they enjoy time in that warm climate during winter when the inn is not busy. Barbara is such a dynamo though, we bet they continue on to the South Pacific leaving her in charge. She drove us all the way to the marina. Thanks for the rides, it was great to meet you all. This is the view from Rikki-tikki's stern window on our last evening at Montague. What a lovely sunny day it was. We made final preparations for leaving and just relaxed, recuperating from all our running around. Next day we motored to Winter Cove at Saturna Island, just beating the arrival of some more wet, windy weather. As a celebration for my birthday and being back at home on Rikki-tikki-tavi, we opened a gift that Clark’s Aunt Mary had made given us at Christmas. She’d asked us to wait until a special time at anchor in a secluded, beautiful place to open it. It was perfect! Our evening was made festive by a string of tiny lights operated by batteries and three votive “candles”, each also on a battery, packaged with a personal note. The candles even flickered like real candles, with no flames to worry. We stayed at anchor for two nights. The sky didn’t look like it was going to to go back to sun any time soon, so we upped the anchor and motored around Saturna into Boundary Pass, loping over the waves into the cold, stiff breeze on Rikki’s nose. We crossed into the US at 2113 UTC on January 23rd. The lady Customs officer at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island viewed us on the surveillance camera and Clark went up to the office to pay the $25 Entry Fee that is charged to US boaters when they come back to their own country. US citizens crossing the border on land don’t have to pay a fee to return, but boaters do! Welcome back to the USA. Pulling away from the customs dock, we anchored in North Cove for a quiet night. Clark checking us into the Customs Dock at Friday Harbor using their phone as the cameras watch. The North Cove at Friday Harbor was quiet after our boisterous crossing of Boundary Pass from Saturna Island. The next morning, the sun greeted us and we launched the dinghy for a row into the town for provisions. We called our friends, Rod and Barbara, from the store. Turns out, their home was only two blocks away, so Rod came to pick us up. He'd made arrangements for us to move Rikki into Hong Kong Harbor, the enclave of local color shoreside of the Port of Friday Harbor marina. As the sun sank low on the horizon, we motored in to tie up alongside a "barge". And so we began our two-week visit to San Juan Island. May your winters always be mild


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