Committee Boat

Most races are volunteer-run, cooperative, endeavours, especially if they’re a “series” like most clubs put on. For instance, we’re taking part in the racing series that happen every Tuesday night at our yacht club. It’s basically a bunch of boats of all shapes and sizes getting out and working on our skills and having a friendly rivalry while still having some level of formalism. As a result, each race, one boat is appointed the “Committee Boat” which basically means you set out the starting line and starts the other boats, and then watch them sail off while you wait for them to return so that you can get their elapsed time, start-to-finish, hand that over to the race chairman to do some black magic voodoo computer program stuff that takes into account handicaps for different size/makes of boats and comes out with winners in different divisions.

This week was Opus’ turn to be committee boat.

The wind predictions were anywhere from 6 knots to 30 knots. In other words, we had no idea what was going to be happening out there and were not looking forward to bouncing and rolling at anchor while the other boats hared off on the same course that we had sailed the previous week, but responsibilities are responsibilities.

1/2 the crew had called in with unable to attend, so we were down to three people aboard this week too, however it doesn’t require a full crew to hang onto an anchor and watch other sail boats, so it worked out well.

The starting line is marked by a float that is dropped by the committee boat at one end, and the committee boat itself at the other end, usually the “starboard” end of the start line is the committee boat. The line has to be long enough to give sailboats a chance to pass it more or less en masse.

Opus motored out after collecting the “stuff” from the race chairman (float, placards, etc.). Our usual helmsman was one of those that had called in to be absent, so it provided an opportunity to give others a chance at the helm. We dropped the float, backed off a bit and dropped our own anchor, paid out line, “set” the anchor, hung a red “5” on our port side (that tells the other boats that the course is out marker #5 and the red means you must keep that marker on the PORT side as you round the mark), made sure we had our timer set, flags ready and waited. At 18:54 we made our first “recall” sound as a courtesy (as per the suggestion of the race chairman. 18:55 was the “CLASS” flag going up and short sound. At this point boats should have their engines off and be purely under sail. 18:56, the PREPARE flag goes up with another short sound. This means all boats that are not in the class about to start should stay clear of the start area and gives the racing boats a second chance to synchronize their start timers to the official one. 18:59 and the PREPARE flag comes down with a LONG sound signal signifying one minute before start. At 19:00 the last flag comes down, a short sound signal is made, and the race is on! As we approach 19:00, our job is to keep a sight down the starting line for any boats crossing early, which none did for this start (technically, the start line goes from the float, to the mast of the committee boat, so you sight down that line).

About 5 minutes after the boats had started, there’s another sailboat frantically putting up their sails while motoring towards us. It’s another competitor there late. They got their sails up, engine off, crossed the start line, and were off chasing the others.

The winds were up, though nowhere near 30 knots and were the sort of conditions that were just made for Opus. It was doubly painful watching the other boats sail away. We hunkered down to wait, weathered a light rain shower, and watched. at around 20:39, the first boat back crossed the finish line (same as the start line, but in the other direction), to be greeted with a sound signal to signify official end of the race for them. 3 minutes later the second boat crossed the line. These were the only two boats from Opus’ division that were racing. The last boat crossed about 1/2 an hour later.

We took down the information of each boat as they crossed – name of boat, elapsed time – in an email, then it was time to pull up anchor, motor over to the float, pull it up, and head for home. Arriving home, secured, crew brought the supplies back to the shed, we cleaned up, and all headed home.

For acting as committee boat, we get our “average” number of points from previous races added into our cumulative score. in this case, that actually hurt us. If we had raced, the minimum points we would have gotten was 0.33 points but acting as committee boat, we only got 0.28 points. Hey, that 0.05 points might make a difference!

Well, mathematically, it might. In reality, it won’t.

And did I mention that I lost my hat overboard? Darn, I really liked that hat too.


It’s been a long, long, two years getting Opus to the starting line, but she’s finally competed in her first two races. Tuesday night, she raced in a local club race. Came in last in our division, but that’s not the point. The point was to take a crew that has never sailed on Opus before, most of whom have never sailed on a big boat before, and at least one who has actually never sailed before, and get us out on the water and moving the boat around the course.
The course had a time limit of 2 hours to complete, and we came in under the the time limit. While not a goal, it was very much appreciated. We’ll be concentrating on improvement now rather than our place in the standings. If we improve faster than the other teams, we’ll start moving up the ranks. We’re in it for the long haul, though I admit a win now and then would be nice.

This past Saturday was her second race. This was just a fun, semi-informal, race with pick-up crews consisting of race start at Bedwell Harbour, down around Gooch Island and back to Bedwell Harbour. It was interesting as the lead kept changing, which makes for a fun race. A race where the leaders run away from everyone isn’t interesting… unless it’s us running away from everyone. That would be interesting. To me, at least. In the end, it was Runaway in first, Opus in second, Scherzando in third, and Bacca Lele in fourth (or maybe Baca in third and Scherzando in fourth?)

The best part was that we got to fly Opus’ symmetric spinnaker for the very first time. It was glorious.

For those who know Spinnakers, I KNOW those sheets are too tight and the sail should be further out in front. It just felt good that it was up and inflated at all!

Picture of Navionics showing us across the finish line and making 7.6 knots
Crossing the finish line

Navionics used as evidence of our finish time – blasting over the finish line at 7.6 knots

Helming across the finish line with radio in hand to report the finish…

Opus is Home

Well, it’s been months and months. I had dropped Opus off at the boat yard in late October, expecting that it would be a month or two of work before I picked her up again. I’d still have time to make the late winter/spring racing season. Most of the work would be done while I was away helping a yacht delivery. I’d come back, pick her up and off we’d go. Tiddlywinks!

Uh huh.

December came and went. January too, followed by February. Finally Mid March the call came that Opus was ready and a date set to put her back in the water. I found a volunteer to help me bring her home. The plan was to go down on one day, inspect her late, after the yard had closed, spend the night in a Bed and Breakfast, get her into the water, do some in-water checks, and be on our way around 10:30 AM. The travel down went well, but the gate to the boatyard was closed, necessitating a bit of a hike to go in to see her. No big deal, and there was a ladder set up (Opus’ decks are quite high off the ground when she’s ashore!) which allowed us to climb aboard where she hung in the straps of the travelift all ready to be launched the next day. We did a small amount of inspections before stowing our gear and heading to the B&B for the evening.

A lovely dinner with some acquaintances ensued, and the following morning they arrived to drive us back to Opus. Upon arrival, she was already in the water and people were aboard doing the yard’s final checks, all the things they couldn’t check while Opus was out of the water. At last it was time for me to (re)take posession of her.

Before departing, I wanted to do some engine checks, for we would be in a narrow channel for a few hours, and if the engine failed there, it would be a surefire grounding with the tide going out. With her securely lashed to the dock, I started the engine. She was blowing a bit of black smoke, but that cleared up relatively quickly. Engaging the motor and advancing the power level, she started to blow more smoke and laboured and then ran really roughly before dying. We started to troubleshoot the system, but there was a deadline bearing down on us. The boatyard’s lagoon is fairly shallow and Opus had a limited window in which she could float. As that deadline approached, it was agreed to haul her back out. This time was a bust.

Fortunately, the dinner friends agreed to drive us back to the border and from there we were picked up and taken home.

A few days later the problems had been found and rectified. This time I would do it alone and make the trip home over two days instead of one. The boatyard had launched Opus and moved her from their lagoon to a Marina just up the channel from them, so there was no tide window looming. The plan was for me to take Opus from that Marina, up the channel to Anacortes, overnight there, and then come home the following day. Because of delays at the border, we arrived at Opus much later than had been planned. That meant a check of only the most critical components there at the dock, namely the powerplant and transmission, before departing La Conner up the Swinomish Channel. The trip should take about 2, or 2 1/2 hours. Maybe three since the current was against me.

The trip up went fine other than the cold weather. I actually was hit with a bit of sleet and rain, and I was very glad I had my foul weather gear and warm undergarments on, at least until I got past the swing bridge at the north end and was headed into the last stretch of the channel. The banks here are very flat meaning there’s not much slope to them. As a general rule of thumb, they are going to continue to do the same thing under the water as they do above the water. It took me over an hour of slow, cautious, probing with the new (uncalibrated!) depth sounder to convince myself that, yes, I really do want to come that close to the west shore. Truly it felt like another 6 inches and I’d be high and dry.

Finally past that impediment, it was a clear run to Anacortes. The 5 months away from Opus really showed when it came to docking. It wasn’t pretty, so on my to do list is a lot of practice getting to where I know the “feel” of her again. In Anacortes, I had an opportunity to again meet up with the dinner couple from the first attempt. This time they took me to dinner. Then it was back to the boat where I was looking forward to turning on the heat and enjoying a cozy evening.

Except the heater didn’t work. Temperatures were expected to be somewhere in the -2 to +1 (celsius) range. I did have a small electric space heater but there was no way it was going to warm up the whole cabin. Instead I had to bundle up. Fortunately, I had come prepared for this eventuality as the heater has been completely unreliable since it had been installed. So, wrapped in my mummy bag, with warm clothing donned and the space heater going, I settled in to sleep.

The next day’s departure was planned for about 11:30am, but looking at the state of things again, it seemed to me that departure as early as possible might be warranted to try to avoid the worst of the currents in some of the passes. Even though the fuel gauge said I had enough fuel – it had barely moved from the reading the previous day, I decided to top it up. Imagine my surprise when the final read was 25.7 gallons. Why so surprised? That tank only holds about 27 gallons (I normally calculate it as 25 gallons usable). I was running on fumes at the end, despite the gauge saying 5/8ths full. Apparently the gauge is currently broken. If I had tried to make it home on the amount of fuel I thought I had, I would have run out of fuel about 1 1/2 hours into the trip.

The rest of the trip was a combination of trying to figure out the instrumentation, new procedures for using the autopilot, and trying not to freeze. The skies were overcast and drizzly, and every exhale resulted in a big white cloud of condensation. However, as I approached Canada, the weather warmed up until I finally had to remove my jacket AND sweater. Maybe it was just the relative temperature, but it felt nearly balmy by the time we arrived.

More to come on this as I work my way through the systems, get them all calibrated and have an actual, thoughtful, and fair review of the work done by the boatyard!

Ah, the ignominy of it all

Opus has had her share, or even more than her share, of mechanical problems. And, while I’m willing to get my hands dirty and pitch in, there are only so many things I can do alone. For instance, I won’t climb the rig solo – I want someone there to help. That means not being able to replace the wind instruments.

Opus and I were planning to do a long trip this past summer up to Alaska and back. We actually did make it to Alaska, but just barely. She broke on the way north, shearing the bolts that connect the engine to the prop shaft. On the way south again, she broke her vee drive. We did make it home, eventually, after a bit of an adventure.

Last month she did the bolt-shearing thing again, despite having been certified as Ok by 2 different mechanics. Enough is enough, and I set out to find a shop to fix this problem once and for all. We settled on a boatyard but then came the problem of how to get her down there. It broke down into three stages:

  1. Get Opus out of the marina she’s in and into open waters.
  2. Get Opus from there to the vicinity of the boat yard.
  3. Get Opus into the boatyard.

The second stage was the easy one – sail her. We’re now in late October, the winter sailing season is setting in, and there’s plenty of wind to work with.

First stage was also, seemingly, doable. Jury rig a repair that would let the engine work for about 15-20 minutes to clear out of the marina.

Third stage would have to be handled by a tow since the approach to the Marina we convoluted and narrow, but that’s doable.

Unfortunately, things are not going to plan. The flange from the vee drive still had parts of the sheared bolts in it, so they had to be removed. In order to do that, the vee drive had to be removed to gain access to the bolts. And then it had to be re-installed, and therein begins the tale of woe. It simply would not go back on. After two days of fighting with it, the decision was made that Opus would have to be towed all the way to the boat yard. Unfortunately, the wind was not feeling at all cooperative.

Wind conditions that would have been fun and exciting to sail in are not good for towing. So Opus sat at the dock for day after day, hoping for the wind to abate. We finally got a weather window open on a Friday, plans were made on Thursday night, the tow boat showed up at 10am and we were quickly on our way. The weather gods took pity and the crossing was completed in about 7 1/2 hours, arriving at _a_ marina, but not _the_ marina, at 17:30, friday evening. Arrangements had been made to stay until Monday, and we’ll get another two for the approximately 2 miles to the repair boatyard.

The last part of the first tow took us into the northern entrance of the Swinomish Channel, through a railroad swing bridge, and under some power lines that took a bit of close examination of the air clearance. We figured that at the high tide, I would still, barely, fit under them. We weren’t quite at high tide when we arrived there, so we had a little bit extra margin. After that it was under some more, higher, power lines and then an uneventful cruise down the channel. Coming into the dock without power and no real way to stop had my heart rate up a bit, but the tow captain managed the energy perfectly and Opus glided up to the dock, where I jumped off and only had to do the tiniest pull on the lines to get her completely stopped, then walk her along the dock to tuck in tight against the line of boats and leaving room for another boat behind me.

Now we sit at the dock for the next few days until she can be lifted out on Monday and they do a thorough going over on the engine to get it to stop doing this bad stuff. They’ll also be doing some electrical work because the charging system for the batteries does not seem to be working properly (noted on the way down here to the intermediate marina), and a few other oddments.

By the time this is done, Opus is going to feel like a new boat. I hope.

A Gathering of Likeness

This past weekend was the annual C&C Rendezvous, a gathering of C&C yachts from the area. All in all, we had 25 yachts at the gathering at Thetis island — thank you to Telegraph Harbour for hosting us!

Because Opus is kept in the United States, I had to determine where to go through customs on the way to the gathering. I elected to go to Nanaimo the day before and go through customs there, then go to Thetis Island on Friday. The trip up to Nanaimo was thoroughly unpleasant — single-handed motoring straight into the teeth of the wind and waves for the slog up the Georgia Strait, and arriving at Nanaimo completely knackered. It lacked only rain and cold to make it one of the most unpleasant legs I’ve had in a long time.

Arriving in Nanaimo, I tried calling in to Canadian Customs while still 30 minutes from the dock. I had to wait on hold for 10 minutes before talking to an agent who, when informed I was still 20 minutes out, informed me that they couldn’t talk to me until I was at the dock and then hung up. So, I putted to the dock, jumped off, tied her up, called in, waited on hold for 10 minutes, answered 4 questions and was cleared into Canada. Why in the world couldn’t we have done that while I was still out in the bay? Don’t misunderstand, I’m not blaming the customs officer – they have to follow the procedures given to them. Anyway, immediately undock and move back out the way I had come, across the bay, and into the mooring field for the night. The moorings at Mark’s Bay, btw, are a great deal. $14.00 for the night!

Next day dawned bright and clear and beautiful and I resolved to sail as much as possible. Being single-handed, I usually will just sail on the headsail as it can be managed completely from the cockpit. Sure enough, there were a few other sailboats headed towards Dodd Narrows with their sails up as well, and we threaded through the ferries and other traffic plus the anchored freighter and a few logs floating in the water just to keep it really interesting.

We all arrived at the narrows just before slack time, which was perfect. One by one, the sails were furled and the parade continued onwards. I had wanted to try sailing through the narrows, but it was so busy, plus there was a Tug boat patiently and politely waiting for us all to pass before he went through with his long log tow, that I decided to power through. I was last in the parade, other than the tug.

About a mile past Dodd narrows, I hauled out my 140% genoa again. Ahead of me, others also started putting out sails. With the engine off, I checked behind me to make sure that the tugboat wasn’t going to catch up. No, we were slowly leaving him behind, so I turned my attention to the boats ahead of me.

5 boats headed to the east side of Thetis, 2 boats headed to the west side. West side was where I wanted to go, so the race was on! Relatively quickly, I and another left the 3rd boat behind. Not a word was spoken by any of us, but I think we all knew the game was afoot. I was either holding on or slightly catching up to the lead boat as we sailed down. All too soon, unfortunately, the entrance to the narrow channel I needed to use came up, and I turned out of the race to furl sails, put out fenders, and set my lines. When I looked over, the other boat, too, had done the same thing and, for the first time, I could see her in profile. She was, indeed, another C&C and was obviously headed to the same rendezvous.

The rendezvous was definitely enjoyable. I met a lot of other C&Cers, made a number of excellent contacts. I’ll post more about it in my personal blog (“Captain’s Corner”).

Next entry, the return home.

Shearwater to Campbell River

Or at least that was the plan…

Having done some simple preventative maintenance (oil, belts, filters) while waiting for Patrick, and then boarding him, we were ready to be on our way from Shearwater to Campbell River, our next marina stop, with a few anchoring stops before we reached there.

First night was slated to be at the end of Fitzhgh sound, either Fury Cove or one of the other safe harbours while we waited for good conditions to round Cape Caution. Note, however, that weather reports were good for the next few days. This will be important as our tale unfolds.

About 5 or 10 miles north of Fury Cove, which is at the mouth of the Fitzhugh Sound, the engine suddenly stopped. As long as it was out of gear, it ran fine. Put it into gear and it would stop immediately. Upon investigation, the engine room was filled with smoke, with no fire, and we eventually traced it down to the V-drive. Yes, the same V-drive that had caused the problem going from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan. Yes, the same V-drive that had been rebuilt in December. We were to find that the problem this time was far more serious, but that is getting ahead of ourselves.

With no other real recourse, we hoisted sails and continued onwards out into Queen Charlotte Sound. At first it was exhilarating, topping 7 knots. But, as predicted, the winds soon died down to a whisper. We continued on into the night, three hours on duty, 6 hours off, trying to make some way in the light winds, with me sleeping bundled up in the cockpit in case something else went wrong. I wanted to be right there…

My logbook shows speeds like 2.8 knots, 3.3 knots, 2.26 knots. Then, around 03:00, the wind pretty much dropped to nothing and we were posting speeds like 0.74 knots, 0.21 knots, before jumping up to around 2 knots for a couple of hours and then subsiding to 0.9 knots, 0.2 knots, etc. That was to be our fate throughout the day, posting speeds of of less than a knot for hours on end. Around 18:00 we finally climbed up over 1 knot again. However, with winds forecast to drop to nothing once more, the channel narrowing, and night drawing close, we once again called for a tow and were towed into Port McNeil, arriving at 03:30.

When a mechanic was finally able to come out and look at the system, we found that there were angle grinder cuts into the casing, and that the casing had worn through in one spot, letting out the lubricating oil. This hole was in a place that was, basically, impossible to see unless the drive was removed for inspection, and certainly was not there when we performed the earlier fix to the flanges. Further, it appears that it was worn from inside the case as nothing on the outside of the case has any scarring from rubbing.

So Opus is sitting in Port McNeil now. We contacted the V-drive manufacturer (Walter Machine Company in New Jersey) and they are sending out a factory refurbished unit for us to install. They’ve been delightful to work with.

Frustration, depression, anger, all emotions that are coursing through me at the moment. The mechanicals on Opus have let me down so many times and each time that we think it’s fixed, it finds a new way to screw me over.

Lest you think that it’s a maintenance issue, I’ll say that I’ve been religious about oil changes in both the engine and the v-drive. The V-drive was removed from Opus and serviced in December.

Patrick elected to return to his business, understandably, since we had no ETA on repairs. Hubert is able to remain for a few days, but he also has a deadline. Hopefully the repairs will be effected before he has to leave and he can at least make the trip to Campbell River, if not all the way home with me. Otherwise, I’ll be single-handing Opus home from Port McNeil.

Both Patrick and Hubert have been great throughout, shouldering their share of the trip and keeping a good attitude throughout. They’re welcome back any time!

Port McNeil to Campbell River would be the first long leap. It’s shorter than the Ketchikan to Prince Rupert leg I single handed by about 3 hours. After that, though, things become a lot easier, especially since I’ll be in my “home waters”. The legs are shorter and the navigation familiar to me. In fact, I probably don’t even need a chart plotter or charts from there on, though I am certainly not going to do without their aid! Still, I’ll hope that Hubert can finish this trip with me. It all depends on how fast the replacement v-drive gets here!

Oh what a night!

(by Frankie Valli)

It was the first leg of the long journey home, Ketchikan to Prince Rupert. This blog entry will detail the journey itself while the next one will detail the preparations for it.

The journey encompassed approximately 91 miles and took a little over 18 hours, all solo and hand steered. I departed the docks at Ketchikan at 17:30 and docked at Prince Rupert at 11:24 the next morning.

After departing the docks and moving to mid channel and checking for traffic, I let Opus drift while cleaning up the decks. I didn’t want anything out on the deck that might trip or trap me if I needed to move about later that night. This meant neatly coiling and stowing the dock lines and fenders, mainly, since everything else had been done before departing.

It was a warm, sunny day, and I was dressed in T-shirt, shorts, sandals, and of course my PFD. There wasn’t any real wind to speak of, though predictions were for it to freshen later that night. A bit of foreshadowing there…

Motoring down the channel, the Speed Over Ground(1) was well below what I had hoped for on average, but that was to be expected since the tide would be coming in and the current against me for a few hours before it turned and started to push me back out.

I was taking a different route out than we had coming in, in the hopes of encountering some winds later on. Opus is faster sailing than she is motoring, if there are decent winds. Thus, the route would get me into open water sooner, but added about 10 miles onto the journey.

About 15 miles into the trip, the channel opened a bit and I got my first taste of the swells coming in from Dixon entrance and Hecate strait. They weren’t much, maybe a meter at most, with an occasional one being 1 1/2 meters. It was a welcome change from the rougher chop I had been pushing through. The swell manifested itself more like a fore-and-aft rocking sensation, which is quite peaceful and comfortable.

A little further down that channel, I encountered a fleet of gill netters. Until I got close, I didn’t realize that’s what they were. I had passed a bunch of other boats anchored in some shallows, and thought these were more of the same. it was only as I approached that I noticed the white floats and red end marker and realized I needed to give these folks a wide berth. Thank goodness I encountered them during the day. I’m not sure I would have seen the nets in the twilight. Although, I would have given them even more wide a berth if it were night out, and I would also have seen the lights that signaled they were fishing(2) from a lot further away than I saw their net floats. Sorry fishermen, for getting so close!

Sunset was to be around 22:30, giving me about 5 hours from setting out to get out of the narrow waterways where things like logs might congregate. I wanted to be clear before it got dark and they would be difficult to see. Sure enough, the sun drooped below the horizon, the sky turned into all sorts of beautiful colours and there the sun got stuck. What do I mean by “stuck”? You know how when the sun drops below the horizon and the sky turns all those pretty colours of pinks and blues, and then they disappear and sky goes dark and stars begin to appear? Well, that didn’t happen. The colours just stayed there… and stayed there… and stayed there.

It was after midnight now and the colours were still there, so I took a picture:

Midnight Sunset

That’s looking north westerly. It was a bit darker than the picture shows. I guess my cell phone enhanced the image a bit, but I was still surprised by how light it was. I never needed a head lamp to see what I was doing. I thought that twilight-ish was going to keep me company through out the night, but the clouds moved in around 2 in the morning and then it got dark. I made sure my radar was on, my nav lights were lit, and my radio turned up loudly since it’s down in the cabin and I was up in the cockpit. Still, I was, intentionally, not near the shipping channels, so I really wasn’t concerned about other boats – though I did encounter a few early on.

As I reached the area where the winds were supposed to be, there was not a single puff, and all my flags were streaming straight back. This meant one of a few things:

  1. There was no wind
  2. The wind was from directly ahead
  3. The wind was from directly behind and slower than I was traveling.

In any other case, the flags would have been streaming at some angle to the boat. Cases 1 and 3 were utterly useless to me – I would make more progress by motor than by sailing. Case 2 was useful to me if there was a strong wind, which I would feel on my face and didn’t. Conclusion: there was no wind, despite the predictions.

As a result, I elected to put one of my options into effect and cut across and to the north of Dundas island as it shaved a few miles off the travel. Not as many as I had wasted getting to that point, but at least some, and at 5 knots, every mile is 12 minutes saved.

A few times I had to idle the motor and attend to necessities such as refilling my water bottle or taking care of the end product of eating and drinking, but for the most part we kept plugging along through an incoming tide and then it switching to an outgoing one. The incoming didn’t really help me any, but the outgoing one did shave about 1/2 a knot off my speed. That might not sound like much, but it was 10% of my speed and, again, every little bit helps or hurts!

Daylight came back up while I was heading along the east side of Dundas Island, which I could see on my radar (and of course, knew where it was due to the wonders of electronic/GPS navigation!). As my little world expanded again, I saw that I was in a bank of mist with greatly reduced visibility, of which I had been unaware at night. Immediately, I got out the air horn and started making the fog signals – 1 long (4-6 second) blast every 2 minutes. If I had thought that setting an alarm and having it go off every 15 minute throughout the night had been annoying, it held NOTHING compared to these air horn blasts.

I think there are boaters out there that take these sounds to mean “Hey, come home in on me at full power!” as that’s what at least two boaters did early that morning. No horn signals from them, just a sudden boat headed towards me. Fortunately, they, too, were sailboats, so we had plenty of time to turn away. Still, it would have been nice if they had been sounding fog signals too so that I knew they were out there. I miss my AIS receiver and transmitter that broke just before this trip. That _might_ have told me that they were there – if they were transmitting AIS signals.

The entrance to Venn passage was chock-a-block with sticks and kelp and a few logs. I was quite glad I had planned the trip so that I arrived at this last bit of water during daylight and could visually navigate around them. Eventually coming out the other end of this winding, narrow, shallow, passage, Prince Rupert met my gaze. Calling into the marina, they had a slip open and ready for me. All I had to do was put out all the lines I had taken in at the beginning, ditto for the fenders, and dock. It was even nearing slack tide, so I didn’t have to contend with their infamous currents. Just back into the slip, tie her up, clear customs, and thence get some rest.

Customs was easy – just calling in. They asked me a few questions and, as I had nothing to declare, they cleared me over the phone. No inspection or anything, and then it was time for sleep. I could afford to do Marina paperwork later when I woke up.

One other note I went through three outfits during this sail. I started in T-shirt and shorts, switched to thermals and long pants and shirt plus a windbreaker, peaked at thermals, salopettes, sweater, neck gaiter, and coat with rain hood and sailing boots, and ended up in t-shirt, salopettes (’cause I was too lazy to take them and the sailing boots off), sun hat, and sailing boots. It was a climatically varied night!

1. There are two speeds related to boat travel. The first is Speed Through Water (STW). This is, literally, how fast the wind or motor is pushing you through the water. The other is Speed Over Ground (SOG) which is a measure of how fast you’re actually getting somewhere. Imagine, for example, that your STW is 5 knots and there is no current. In that case, STW and SOG would both be 5 knots. Now imagine there’s a current moving at 5 knots against you. Your STW is still 5 knots, but your SOG would be 0 and you wouldn’t actually be making any progress. If the same current was with you, your SOG would be 10 knots.

2. A vessel fishing at night needs to display a red light over a white light that can be seen 360 degrees around the fishing vessel. In addition, they display a second white 360 degree light that indicates the direction of any fishing gear extending 150 metres or more from the vessel

Codville Lagoon

They predicted rain showers, and shower it did, until the afternoon when it just rained. Even my current foulies are not water proof, though they did keep me warm enough, thank goodness. Wet AND cold is a recipe for utter misery, so staying warm was a blessing.

Quijote untied from us promptly at 7am and we were on our way at 7:25. We’re getting this procedure down, including babying the windlass, finally. Kay piloted us out and were were smack-dab into a fog bank. On went the radar and we kept it on most of the day, even when not in fog. I took over the helm when I realized we were in Fog. However, throughout the day, Kay and Sam were very good and kind about taking turns at the helm, offering to relieve the person at the helm when they had been there for a while. Thank you both!

Along the way, a solitary whale was sighted by it’s blow, and then we saw the back arching and the flukes lifting up into the air. What made this even more exciting was that it all happened 100-200 yards away from us. Oh, and we also saw a BC Ferry plying its way up the Fitzhugh Sound, though that wasn’t as exciting as the whale.

I have some major concerns about the comfort (not safety) of our current anchorage [ed. note. concerns were unfounded – the night was quite comfortable], although I have confidence in our anchor set of 47 foot depth, 260 feet of scope. Quijote is rafted to us and everyone is over there playing cards. I used this time to re-figure our cruising plan from Ketchikan to Juneau and will work on the southbound legs another time. Right now, with no one aboard, it’s time to go clean the head.

Tomorrow I’ll need to refuel Opus, though only as a safety precaution. She should have enough fuel in her tank to get to Shearwater, but I’d rather not risk it. “Should” is just not comforting. The difficulty will be preventing rainwater from getting into the tank. Either it has to stop raining or someone will have to shield everything from the rain while we transfer one jerry can’s worth of fuel. We’ll figure it out.

Worked on fuel estimates


  • Fuel burn/hour 0.75 gal/hr @ 2500 RPM (we’ve been burning 0.71 galhr)
  • Speed over ground, average = 4.5 knots (we’ve been averaging 5.4)
  • 4.5 gal/container (actually holds 5 gal)
  • 12 cans of fuel (actually will have 15)

Using our actual numbers, we have 468 miles of fuel left. Shearwater to Prince Rupert is about 260 miles, so we have plenty of fuel without refueling in Shearwater. Ok, we’ll refuel in Prince Rupert, though I’ll probably fill the jerry cans just in case, to give us 15 jerry cans.

Fury Cove

Departure went without problems at 7:32 – only 2 minutes past plan – but at 7:59, surrounded by reefs, the helm iPad went dark, depriving the helm of guidance. One of our crew, who had said “Got it!” when requested to turn on power at the helm, hadn’t actually done so, and the iPad had run down its internal battery.

The iPad has been acting up, claiming that it is not charging while going from 10% charge to 78% charge over a couple of hours. Sounds like it’s charging to me! The iPad is the helm’s main interface to Opus’ guidance systems, so it has to work.

Okay, it should have some power now. Time to see if it is working again.

All fixed! Though I wish I knew what caused it or how I fixed it the “iPad Not Charging” problem.

There’s some big winds coming tomorrow night. It’s time to batten down the hatches, cover the sails, move lines, so that things don’t rustle and bang. Oh joy, more mast climbing with my hurt hip. Grit my teeth and just do it, Kevin.

Broke the lanyard on the sail cover zipper, to made a new one.

Fury Cove is beautiful. It’s a shame that the park is closed. Shore excursions are out of the question for crew. However, Sam and Matt took a dinghy over the sandbar (it’s submerged at high tide) and out into Fitzhugh. I said, in a previous post that they are crazy, and they keep proving it.

Because of the weather coming, we’ve decided to change destinations from Kitty Hawk to Codville Lagoon. Kitty Hawk just isn’t sufficiently protected for Rod’s and my peace of mind.

A fair bit of the crossing today was in a fog. We had our radar going and I’m definitely getting better at interpreting the display. Folks, don’t believe the movies. A radar display is nowhere nearly as clear-cut as they make it seem. there’s a lot of stuff to filter out! One additional plus of running our radar is that some of the big boats have systems where they “see” our radar pinging away and thus know where we are, even though we don’t have an AIS transmitter. That’s in addition to our radar painting them.

Turnbull Cove

A lazy morning start, with engine start near 10am and under way shortly thereafter. Sam started feeling ill yesterday, so we tried to let her sleep but she got up anyway.

I was on helm most of the day and, while underway, Kay requested a change of destination from Claydon Bay to Turnbull, as she remembered a hiking trail to a lake. Sam, Rod, and Matt took Quijote’s dinghy and did the hoke. Kay, because of her knees and I because of my hip demurred. Instead, Kay & I did boat chores, cleaning, and such.

With the dinghy on deck, I could begin repairs. I found the leak through the expedient of filling the dinghy with water and seeing where it came out. Success! However, now I have to wait for it to dry before gluing it back together again. Hopefully tomorrow. (Remember this hope!)

I put two jerry cans worth of fuel back into Opus’ tanks. Engine had been run nearly 24 hours since she was toped off in Campbell River and gauge was reading 5/8 of a tank. By calculation of 0.71 gal/hour, we should have used 16.6 gallons of fuel, leaving only 1/3 of the tank remaining. Obviously, the gauge is not properly calibrated. I’ve started a calibration scale inside the front cover of the logbook so that we can translate gauge readings to actual amounts of fuel remaining.

We are officially further north than I’ve ever been in my life by about 1 mile. If we had gone to Claydon Bay, as originally planned, the record wouldn’t have been broken today.

It felt odd to be motoring along in the warm sun (did I mention how nice the weather was?) while looking at snow-capped peaks. BC really does live up to the motto of “Supernatural beauty” and I think much of the theme for this trip will be snow-covered peaks.

We have covered more than 325 miles so far, all hand-steered. If we assume the total trip to be 2400 miles, then we’re more than 1/8th done already!

Sam and Matt went swimming today, the crazies. That water is COLD! However, if Sam is well enough to do the hike today and go swimming, then she can’t be all that sick, can she?

Okay, departure for Quijote is 7am which makes our crew call to be 6:30. It’s almost 10pm now, so time for me to try to unwind and get some sleep. Good night, Journal!