Squirrel Cove

We almost didn’t get here today. That wasn’t due to any failure of anything, we simply almost decided to sit for another day in Melanie Cove. However, let’s start at the beginning.

I had intended to declare yesterday a “No Boat Chores” day and thereby give myself a day to get ashore. Unfortunately, yet another “need to deal with this today!” event occurred precluding me from any excursion. This morning, when Kay and Sam announced they were going for a hike with Matt, I hopped on the opportunity to go as well.

We hiked over the great divide, through the old forest, to the far shores. Ok, that sounds like some Lewis and Clark expedition, though the reality is nowhere near as grandiose as the round trip was, maybe, 2 hours long.

I loved the walk through the old forest. Branches generally started 20, 30, 40 feet in the air and the dense leafy roof keeps underbrush from getting too much of a hold. This makes the walk quite pleasant, especially when you add in the footpath that has been etched into the forest floor by the countless feet following the blazed trail before us. Still, there were many downed trees across the path which necessitated some scrambling, including one area where there were so many that I named it the log maze.

Along the way we saw stumps that bore evidence of logging activities at some point – places where springboards had been used, or fallen logs with smooth, flat, “breaks” where they had detached from their trees.

It is interesting, to me, how different people experience the forest. With my loss of hearing, my experience is very different than my crew’s. For me, the forest is experienced visually and through touch, the feel of the air in qualities such as humidity and temperature, or sense of footing along the path, the roughness of the bark of the trees that we are passing or clambering over. It is populated with the ghost of the bear and spirit of the animals and people that have passed through it over the centuries, as well as the more fanciful inhabitants such as branches that looks like dragon heads. My companions spent a lot of their time with their cell phones out running an app that identifies the various bird calls that they hear but I do not. They hear the birds or the snap of the twig underfoot, the rustle of a breeze through the canopy. I’m sure that they also sense the things I do, the tactile, but perhaps to a lesser degree since it occupies a smaller part of their senses, proportionally.

I had resigned myself to our staying in Melanie Cove again that night, but Rod called and proposed that we move on to Squirrel Cove that afternoon. We agreed and the process of bringing up the anchor commenced. This time I brought it up (almost) solo, just to prove that I could since it will be necessary when Kay and I are two-handing Opus back from the north. It was a long, drawn-out process, but we proved it possible. In the end, when the anchor came up, it turned out to be more mud than anchor, which made it quite heavy, so we steamed around Melanie Cove with it hanging in the water in order to wash off a lot of the mud before recovering it fully.

Sam was at the helm and she took us back out the way we had entered. Today was a day for me to keep my hands off and let them handle Opus, which they did all the way into Squirrel Cove. My only criticism would be the speed at which they took Opus through the narrowed entrance. They place a lot more confidence in the charts than I do, so I take it a lot more slowly just in case something has shifted and we strike bottom.

As Sam and Kay are new to determining an anchor spot, Quijote was first to drop anchor even though they were behind us entering. In the end, it was decided to raft up to them and I took over helm for the last bit of the approach and docking. Tonight is going to be a bit of a talk about low-speed boat handling, i.e. prop wash and prop walk, although those are something that have to actually be played with to truly understand.

Dinner was a communal affair again, with a round of the Monopoly card game to introduce Rod. Kay, present, refused once again to join in the game.

Melanie Cove

Our original plan was to go to Otter Island this morning. However, last night, during our evening talk, Rod offered up another cove he knew about. It’s a bit further away, but it’s more secure and, with a wind warning coming, that sounded like a good idea.

There wasn’t much about the trip to write about – it was relatively short at about 2 1/2 hours long, and rather uneventful except for the arrival. Melanie Cove is nestled in behind some islands, which offers a few ways in. Using the Canadian Hydrographic charts, I picked one route. However, as we approached, Navionics said that a section was not passable. I still think that it would have been OK – we were at the top of a 14 foot high tide, but prudence dictated that we be cautious. We elected to turn around and use a different entrance that both Canadian Hydrographic and Navionics agreed was navigable. It required that we thread our way through a narrow opening, thence through a bay, through another entrance that was wider than the first (and that we would have had to thread even had we gone along our original path), ending up in Melanie Cove.

Inside Melanie Cove we had another experience at stern tying, though this time it had nothing to do with procedures on Opus. There are chains that have been anchored into the rock wall shore though which the stern tie line must be passed and, apparently, this did not go smoothly for some reason.

In the afternoon, crew went ashore for a hike and/or nature walk while I stayed aboard to, yes, do some more boat chores. After dinner we dinghied over to Quijote for a little more socialization before turning in.

Grace Harbour

We may be back to our previous weather pattern again. Clouds started moving in late yesterday and we are in solid overcast this morning. I’m hoping it’s just a marine layer rather than presaging more rain.

Breakfast this morning will be a Dutch Baby, our first try at baking aboard Opus. While the oven is hot, Kay will bake muffins and brownies in order not to waste propane heating up the oven again.

Rod and I have a radio net every night at 20:00 on channel 69 to arrange the details of the next day. Of course, if we’re rafted, it’s easier to just hop over to the other boat and have a conversation face to face.

Dutch baby came out undercooked and didn’t rise. It was more of a breakfast cookie than a fluffy pancake, so we’ll have to try something different. First thing is to cook it longer so that it’s more done all the way through, though that doesn’t solve the rising problem. For that, I think more air needs to be beaten into it.

Grace Harbour is another idyllic place. No one was here when we arrived, so we had the lick of anchoring spots. Quijote entered as we were testing the set of our anchor and rafted up. Our turn to host the anchorage!

Crew is headed to hike the trails. I’d love to go, but there is plumbing that needs attending to. My boat, my job, I guess. It’s been 6 days and, except to refuel, I’ve not been off the boat yet. Each time the crew goes for a shore excursion, there is always something that needs doing on the boat. However, the number of boat chores is dwindling and I think I’m due for some down time myself. Maybe I’ll declare tomorrow as a no-boat-chore day and go ashore to do some hiking myself. I certainly could use some exercise!

Opus hosted dinner last night. What was originally going to be a simple hotdogs meal became something far more elaborate. Yes, there were hot dogs done on Opus’ grill. There was fresh made potato salad. There was grilled onions. There was Caribbean Chili. There was steamed vegetables. For dessert, there were brownies and oranges. A feast!

Afterwards, Sam, Matt, and I played a monopoly card game. It’s a lot faster than the monopoly board game, as we got two games done in the space of an hour or so, and yet it’s influenced by the popular, but time consuming, board game.

Copeland Islands

Left Dol Cove early this morning, although not as early as we had planned. The windlass is giving us problems hoisting the anchor. In the end, we ran the rode back to the winch on the mast and hauled it up until “some” chain was on deck before transferring the load to the windlass gypsy. Even then, the breaker popped twice. We’ll be working on this procedure in the coming days.

However, the rest of the trip to Lund went quickly, arriving just after noon. Docking in Lund also went well – I’m really getting the hang of docking her, although conditions were nearly optimal so it wasn’t much of a challenge, truth be told. Only the breeze pushing us off the dock prevented it from being completely optimal.

Sam and Kay went to the bakery and store to get cinnamon rolls, some fresh meat, and fruit pie. However, it seems the store doesn’t have what we wanted, as they returned with cinnamon buns, Nanaimo bars (as a thank you to Quijote for previously hosting us), and hot dogs. Maybe some fresh vegetables too – I lost track.

Meanwhile, I tended to boat chores such as enlarging the holes I previously had drilled into them the day before.

We pulled out of Lund and was clear of the entrance as quickly as possible since we only get one hour of grace period before we’d have to pay for 1/2 a day of moorage. Once out into the channel, we shut down the engine and drifted while attending to the urgent business of unconsumed cinnamon buns, with side notes of apple slices. A true sugar shock to the system, but one we happily endured. It was nice, drifting with the waves, sun on my back, sugary snack on my plate.

Just as we were finishing, Quijote was coming up from the south, for they had left later than we. Sam saw them first. I didn’t think it was them, but after a bit, Kay was also convinced it was them, so we checked the AIS. Never bet against the ladies, for it will burn you a majority of the time. It was Quijote.

We joined in trail and approximately 15 minute later arrived at the intended anchorage. Quijote went in first and dropped anchor. Meanwhile, Opus hung back to let some kayakers pass between us. They were politely waiting for me to pass, but I wanted to wait for Quijote to set up, so it was polite to let them go by.

After looking the place over, I didn’t like what I saw. The bottom was very, very steel, going from 75 feet to 25 feet in a heartbeat which would have made it very difficult to get enough scope on the anchor. The mouth was wide and opened into a busy channel. We were likely to be hit with the wakes of passing boats throughout the night. There was also a low island or big rock, cliffs all around. No place for a stern tie in a congested (due to the rock island) spot.

I decided this was a big “nope” for Opus. Meanwhile Sam was talking to Rod on the radio. He also decided it was better to haul up the anchor and try elsewhere. Off we went to the next anchorage north.

This one is more protected, but it was smaller and there were already three boats there. However, we inserted ourselves in between two others, dropped anchor and backed up to start stern thing. Sam, volunteered to be the one to row in the stern line. Unfortunately for her, a huge tangle ensued and it took us forever to detangle it while she was standing ashore. Eventually we got it done, but the procedure still needs some work, to be certain.

This afternoon Kay and Sam went ashore while I did boat chores, mainly line repairs. I would also have sealed the decks, but the skies were clouding up and I was concerned about it raining, so that particular job is off for another day.

Dinner tonight is more of Sam’s delicious dinners. Guess I’m on dish duty.

I realize I’ve not written much about the scenery, the feelings, the impressions. Mostly that is because I’m not really yet into the mindset for that yet. I’m still worried about what will go wrong next. For instance, there’s oil in the bilge and I don’t yet know where that is coming from.

Engine might be using more oil than it should (is that where the oil in the bilge is coming from?) and I’m not sure about fuel consumption either. I’m glad for the extra 25 gallons on deck just in case.

Still, there is the excitement and challenge in undertaking a voyage of this size. Even attempting it is significant. I am glad, though, for Quijote’s presence.

Mmmm dinner smells good, time to go,

Dol Cove

Absolutely gorgeous weather today – sunlit, clear skies. Scenery was, to use an all-too-common adjective, “majestic”. It was all motoring, though, at a cruise setting of 2500 RPM.

We arrived at Dol Cove in the early afternoon. Kay helmed us as we looked for a good spot. Finally I decided to settle us into a nook and we dropped anchor in 35 feet. Unfortunately, due to the necessity of a stern tie, we could only let out 140 feet of scope. However, we were in a tiny but well protected nook, inside a larger, protected bay, both well safe of major currents, so 4:1 scope would have to do.

Running the shoreline turned into a major production. The line did not unreel very well. We will have to work on that process some more.

We dinghied over to Quijote for a bit more socializing. Sam and Kay both had Pina Colada, while I stuck to water. 2 games of cribbage ensued, split with one game going to Opus and one game going to Quijote – a very satisfactory way to game. After social hour, it was back to Opus for dinner, Yummy leftovers!

Our bilge pump seems to be oily. For now we have turned it off and will manually clean out the bilge when we get to Camp ell River where there are, hopefully, facilities to dispose of it safely. That’s going to be a messy, thankless, job, but it has to be done.

Tomorrow is another early start so we can stop off in Lund for some stocking up on treats and fresh food stuffs like meat.

Another task done today was radical modification of the oars that West Marine sent to me. They were oars for oarlocks instead of oar posts. However, a bit of modification with a hand drill (thank you for the loan, Rod!) and the oars… still didn’t work. We need a bigger drill bit. That will be a task for Lund, however, as a second round of aluminum shavings in the cockpit is not at all appealing.

2030, time to go to sleep despite my nap this afternoon on the long settee. I proved you can sleep there, though I don’t think it would be all that comfortable for the night.


Quijote, our buddy boat, anchored in Dol Cove. isn’t it idyllic? However, it’s an illusion as we view the bumper to bumper Saturday afternoon commute below…

Meanwhile, the druid of Opus keeps watch…

Next up is Opus and Quijote flirting with each other:

and then there is the majestic scenery…

Boho Bay

Departed Dogfish at 6:30 – a bit before slack. Quijote needed to clear customs in Nanaimo and, truthfully, Opus could use some fuel. I say “some” because it ended up being over $625 fuel bill. However, we now had our full complement of 100 gallons. 25 in our tank and 75 in Jerry cans on deck.

We motored all the way to Nanaimo. People at the fuel dock were quite helpful and friendly, which was appreciated since the winds were blowing us off the dock. We could have handled it ourselves, but the extra muscle was appreciated.

After departing Nanaimo and clearing the nearby islands, Quijote elected to continue up the coast while we went further out into the Georgia Strait in (vain) hope of finding some winds. Though Opus will sail in a breeze, she won’t sail very fast. 1.2 knots VMG was just not going to work for us, so it was back to motoring.

We traveled up the west edge of the military area, but it wasn’t in use today.

Anchoring in Boho Bay, we passed lovely cliffs. If we have to motor, then these are the scenery I want to have.

We ended up rafted to Quijote. It’s wonderful to see her and meet up with Rod again, not only because of the 45 gallons of fuel he had for us. Matt, his crew, is also as nice as you would expect.

After tying up, we went over for a visit where they treated us to Brownies. We also had dinner there, with each yacht providing dinner for their own crew but Quijote supplying desert (fruit pie) for us all.

Tomorrow is a 0800 departure. It’s a short run into Dol Cove.

Sleeping in the quarterberth is warm enough in my bunny suit with a sleeping bag unzipped and used as a blanket. However, I’m still working out the best arrangement of “stuff” in my berth.


Yesterday was a ”layday”, sitting out the winds in Montague. Things were even worse than predicted, as another boat recorded 70 knot wind. Opus would occasionally heel over from the wind force on her bare mast. However, the promised rain never came, prrhaps frightened away by the high winds. in fact, the winds knocked out power to the island for the day, though it was back on late afternoon.

We did get a lot of things done. Slowly Opus is transforming into a ship for the cruise.

Today the winds are projected to be right on our nose, so its another day of motoring, then meeting up with Quijote tonight. We will transship fuel to us from them, 9 fuel containers, which id twice as much fuel as Opus carries in her internal tanks!

Dogfish Bay

We had a good start this morning, casting off from Montague at 7:30 this morning, and then an uneventful motor up the west side of Galliano island. Portlier Pass was running and gave us a decent shove westward, but we were soon past that, with more motoring up. Valdez island.

With arrival at Gabriola Passage projected to be about an hour before slack, we put up our sails and tacked the last few miles into the wind and right up to the mouth of the cut. Quijote was in sight, having caught up to us from their departure point in Bedwell Harbour, and we motored through with us in the lead and Quijote astern.

Arriving at Dogfish Bay, we find the place cluttered with private mooring buoys, making it difficult to anchor out. We gave it up as a bad business and instead used a buoy from a club with which we have reciprocal privileges.

Kay and Sam dinghied to shore, soon after joined by Matt, crew member from Quijote, in their dinghy. Tired, and a little stressed, I was in my berth around 20:30.

Frantic Departure

Our original plan was to depart White Rock on Wednesday and spend the night at Montague. so, if course, the weather gods decided to give us a storm. winds ranging up to 30 knots. That gives us a few options.

One would be to ride it out at anchor. Unfortunately, Boundary Bay is completely open to Georgia Strait, with no protection from wind or wave. The inshore winds would have presented a very real danger. Second would have been returning to the dock in White Rock. Unfortunately, with low spring tides, there was not enough water to float her during the day. she would have been grounded. Third would have been to go to Blaine (or return to Point Roberts) and weather it out there. That would mean customs twice more (once into the USA and hen back into Canada).

Instead, we departed early and went to Montague – our planned stop for Wednesday. we’ll sit here for two days, picking up Sam on Wednesday and then departing on Thursday after the storm has passed. However, the hasty departure has left Opus in disarray with a few critical tasks undone. Today we will be tackling those as well as getting the cabin back into reasonable shape.

We are supposed to meet Quijote, our buddy boat, here at Montague, but they have had a wrench thrown into their works too. unfortunately, they are holding fuel that Opus will need to proceedon the original itinerary. we’ll see what happens…

On the way we had an opportunity to refuel at sea, testing out one of the procedures. the shaker siphon performed wonderfully, and we transferred nearly 5 gallons in just a few minutes. Refueling opus from fuel jugs will be reasonably easy even for one person to do.

I didn’t sleep well Monday, frantically planning our transit, so after arriving at Montague, I slept most of the afternoon and last night. The last 48 hours took a toll! unfortunately, that leaves a lot to do today. Time to get cracking!