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!

Baby steps

11:49 AM and the morning was disturbed by the sound of a throaty diesel coming to life. It grumbled and coughed, like an old man waking up before he wanted to, but eventually settled into the day. It was left to its own devices to wake up while Kay and I attended to other mundane things such as disconnecting shore power, disconnecting the spring lines, and doubling back the bow and stern lines.

12:08 and Opus slipped into reverse, the last two lines were disconnected from the dock cleats, and the journey began. Kay scurried about the deck pulling up fenders, coiling lines, and basically clearing the decks of the detritus from leaving the dock as we motored along the exit from Point Roberts on our first leg of the Alaska voyage. The tide was low, so the banks towered above us, perhaps a mild hint of some of the things we might see later as we get further north.

The weather was one of those drab rainy days that make everything that much less comfortable. Normally, from the mouth of the Point Roberts Marina, we can see all the surrounding islands plus the northern shore of Washington. However, not this time. We could easily see far enough to be safe, but the rain prevented us from seeing anything other than water and a gray dissipation in the distance. We could easily have been at sea, for all the land, other than Point Roberts, we could see., It was back to depending on electronics and compass.

The first waypoint was the bell buoy off the south end of Point Roberts. On the way towards it, we noticed that our SOG (that’s Speed Over Ground – the measure of how fast we were getting to our destination) had plummeted from what should have been about 5.5 knots down to 3.5 knots. At first we thought perhaps it was the dinghy adding drag to us, so we drifted and brought the dinghy back onto deck from its towed position. Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to make a lot of difference, and a certain amount of anxiety rose in me as I considered whether, perhaps, Opus is not ready for this journey. However, as we proceeded, our SOG picked up. We, apparently, were simply fighting against the combination of headwind and outgoing tide. By the time we were half way to White Rock, our destination for the night, our speed was comfortably back up over 5 knots.

For once there weren’t any crab pots surrounding the White Rock jetty, nor were there people on the government dock with lines and traps hanging off. Still, it was going to be a bit of a challenge as there was a tail wind pushing us into the pier, but off the dock. With a bit of team work, though, Opus was made fast. We had arrived!

Next steps were successfully negotiating the customs system here, declaring all our items. They elected to send a pair of officers out to see us after I had to correct my customs declaration – I had read the unit prices of items rather than the extended prices, and so had to revise my declaration upwards. Meanwhile, Anne was standing on the dock with the wagons of things she had brought for us to onload – mainly provisions – looking uncomfortable in the rain. As we didn’t know how long it would be, we sent her home, to call her back after we were legally “in” Canada.

One more loading run and we have now loaded almost all the provisions, other than last moment items, is aboard. The cabin is once more a disaster scene while we figure where it all will be stowed, but Kay’s expertise will surely make short work of it.

Today we take opus off the dock and anchor her out west of the jetty due to the low tides that would have Opus in danger of grounding during the daily low tide. We’ll bring her back to the dock on Tuesday afternoon for the last few things and then on Wednesday we say goodbye to to White Rock, point our bow towards Montague, and there we will welcome aboard our next crew member and also join up with Quijote.

The eve of the voyage…

At some point the preparations are done, or at least as complete as they are going to be. All that remains is trying to sleep so as to be rested for the big day when the dock lines are untied and stowed, the gear shift is set to reverse, and you back away fr9m the place where you have sat for so long.

It becomes time to prove yourself and your ship.

Tonight is that night.

Tomorrow we leave Point Roberts to embark on a 3 1/2 month journey that will take us from the southernmost border of Canada, to the northernmost state of the United States and back. This is a trip that spans over 2,300 nautical miles, and nearly 10 degrees of latitude. It is the first long voyage of Opus under Anne and my command.

Day 2

Today was another day of getting the boat ready. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty, though they are all important.

A lot of today was taken with dealing with the makers of Opus’ primary radio/AIS system. A lot of crossed connections, missed communications, and just plain confusing information provided. However, eventually, a nice person called me and we worked it out over the phone. Due to the delays, though, Opus will have to sail without her primary radio. Instead, her secondary one will be put into service. Her primary one will be replaced at some point in the future while under way.

Other things that I did today was worm my way into the bowels of Opus’ engine room/stern to check the rudder quadrant and also look into setting up the pep wave to act as a data hub through the cellular system. That is still an ongoing project, but it can wait until we’re under way as well.

The dinghy is recommissioned. It still needs a bit of pumping up, but otherwise it performed well, as did the outboard engine when I took the two of them across the lagoon on a test run. It does seem to be taking on some water, so I’ll have to find that leak, but it doesn’t seem to be all that bad.

Also started to splice the new Genoa lines and made a proper hash of it. Still, I have some line to play with, so I’ll have another go at it tomorrow morning. Other tasks still to do is get the propane refilled, which I’ll do as late as possible, and put bow numbers on, as well as seal the decks.

Kay has been a whirlwind. I admit it, while working on other things, I had let Opus get a bit dirty. Along with that comes a loss of pride in her. Kay has spruced up the cockpit and with that comes a resurgence of pride.

We leave in two days for white rock. There are still things trickling in, but for the most part, Opus is as ready to go as I can make her. I still have those worries about things like whether she will fail us mechanically, whether we’ll have enough water or fuel, but we’ll sort that out, other than mechanical failure, as we go by keeping records of what and how much is consumed.

We entertained, briefly, the thought of heading for White Rock tomorrow. It’s still on the plate, but only a small possibility. There’s still so much left to do and having the resources of a dock, water, electricity, is nothing to sneeze at. Still, we might… I find myself eager now to get this started!

First night of the big sail

I moved aboard Opus yesterday in preparation for the voyage to Alaska. Moving aboard, also, was first mate Kay. Anne helped us move aboard and then did we tornado of activity straightening and organizing.

Kay, of course, was busy also, organizing, planning, working on storage and provisions, hand in hand with Anne. Together these two are the move-in dynamic duo!

We moved our personal effects and everything other than food aboard, which is still at home base while we put the finishing touches on Opus. There is still a lot to do, including a bit of requiring of the switch panel, adding storage nets, and of course stowing away all the tools and spares that currently clutter the cabin.

Last night was a very windy night, and the boom was creaking and squeaking, the foresail cover flapping and adding a vibration to the ship. Around 4:00 I woke up and went out on deck to lash the boom down. First time wasn’t enough and I had to add a second lashing. Not sure what to do about the foresail cover. Maybe have to just live with it.

Today is going to be a little more electrical work and installing the storage net in Kay’s berth as well as working on her reading lamp/usb charger.