After a nice later morning departure from Egmont, we made the easy trip down to Smugglers cove where we anchored with a stern tie to the rocks.  I’ve seen pictures of larger vessels than mine own on the cover of Northwest Yachting, but from a 1st party perspective I have this to say.  HOLY COW THAT’s A TIGHT ANCHORAGE!!!!

The place is tiny, albeit well protected from most directions.

Shortly after we were in and settled, a guy comes in on a sailboat, anchors right on top of us (like most sailboats) and then starts loudly complaining about the fact that I’m running my generator.  It’s 3pm for crying out loud, and the generator is not going to get turned off until that wonderfully smelling bird roasting in the over is done.  Cliff had the bright idea of starting up the mains and letting him smoke on that.  Honestly, some folks just go out of their way to find a problem.

The thing is, there are a lot of sailors out there that for some reason look to find fault in any powerboater they can find.  Make no mistake, there are enough of the know nothing cocktail cruiser crowd to feed into the stereotype, but something in the sailing culture goes out of its way to try to cause problems and today I’m next to one.  Egads!

In the end, the chicken came out of the oven, the generator was shut down and our formerly feathered freezer food was devoured with the utmost zeal, alongside a perfectly shaken gin martini with two olives.

Have you ever been to Egmont?

We had an absolute capitol time in Princess Louisa.  Monday finds us heading back through Malibu rapids and down to Egmont.  We ended up joining 5 other boats that had spent the past few days in Princess Louisa.

Upon arriving at Egmont, I thought that I had never been to this particular marina before.  It’s a nice place, great pub, good food and had some rather familiar looking cabins on the shore as well.

Exploring further I ran into this little door, at which point I had to say that I stand corrected.  I HAVE been to Egmont before!!!


24 years ago I very nearly had the opportunity to see Princess Louisa Inlet, but a trip to Malibu via Young Life fell through.  Today will be the day that I see Malibu Rapids and Chatterbox falls for the first time and upon my own vessel.

We departed at 5:20 as we will need to make Malibu rapids at slack and I expect a 5 hour run up at a fuel efficient 8 knots.  Words really can’t describe the beauty of this land.  The most I can say is that the description of Princess Louisa is not oversold.  If you have never been, you need to.

Stop the ride, I want to get off

I’m midpoint in the Straigth of Georgia and there is a 6+ foot wave bearing down on me presently.  Goose the throttles, I think we can get ahead of him, miss the crest and eek right over the shoulder somewhat gently.  Whoops, there’s an even bigger one behind him and I did not even notice.  Chop the throttles, were at a dead idle and we take the crest right on our bow.  The bow goes up sharply and we come down with a crash.  It’s actually not that bad, no suddering, just a lot of water splashes over the bow, we bled our speed off pretty quickly.  Still, I took this one head on and I’ve been doing a pretty good job of picking and choosing as I call it.  See, waves are not uniform.  Take the worst looking wave and chances are that fifty foot to the left or right, the wave is not near as big.  It’s just a matter of reading the situation and making a decision.  A quick decision.  If you decide you can get in front of the wave, don’t be late.   Picking and choosing allows you to “minimize” the sea state that you actually experience.  If its running 4-7, than your seeing hopefully 4’s and 5’s.  The advantage is not just less sea state, it also means that I can take the 4’s & 5’s closer to my beam.  I want to go east, but the wind and seas are out of the North.  The quicker I can make my easting, the sooner I will be out of it.  The catch of course is to not get caught in a wave at the large end of the spectrum on your beam.  That’s what we call bad.  We don’t like bad one bit.  Right now, I’m picking and choosing just to keep the sea state down.  My eastward progress has slowed considerably and I’ve been at this for 3 hours now.  I just made a mistake because I’m getting tired and a little complacent.  But this is the defintion of committed, the only reasonable option is to simply keep going.  The ride will be done, when the ride operator says so and my job is to make the best of it.

We left Nanaimo around 6:45 with the flags in the harbor flying as gently as I have seen them this week.  I want to get well into my crossing before the sun gets high in the sky.  In years past, this has been a good strategy.  I have no idea how to predict weather this year.  As we pulled out of the harbor we were called by a vessel on her way in.  We spoke briefly on the radio, he was asking what the weather report said.  I think he knew well what the report said and was being polite.  He had stuck his nose out and turned back.   It WAS a little disconcerting I admit, but I had a good ten foot on him and while I won’t state the brand of boat he was on, I’ll just say it was more of a cocktail cruiser style than a sea boat.  I also know that the waves out of the North are going to bend around and pile up just outside the channel entrance.  It’s worth sticking your head out and going just a little bit further to see if things calm down.

Immediately  we were seeing 4-6 foot conditions and pretty steep.  I was not much more than idle just outside the channel past protection island.  They were stacking up pretty good, and pretty close.  I figured we would not lose the height, but they might spread out a little and that’s just what they did.  Still, it was no cakewalk.    Fast forward three hours and just as I get out in the middle of the Straight, were in the worst of it.  The tough part was that the further we went, the most our track started to head North and not East.  Looking at our track across (the west most track is the way out, the east track is our way back), you can see how as the waves built, our track changed.

There were three other boats that went out near us in the morning (I doubt many others went at all that day).  Early on, I did not cut as eastward as I wish I had.  There was some confusion on my part as to whether the Whiskey Golf range was going to be open that day (it wasn’t), as it had been active two days prior, so I did not immediately press across it.  I wish I had.  A 45 Bayliner we ran with for a brief time went straight across and as a result got a significant lead on us, easterly at least.  Around the 3 hour point, not only did we converge, but he was running significantly to the North of us.  Had I achieved his early easting advantage, it would have helped enourmously.  Still, as the waves increased, the edge was in my favor as my Tolly hull is deeper than his.  In short, I can take more than he can.  I had also been running slow for the first two hour.  When things got rougher as we moved further into the straight, is the point I took a much more active role at the flybridge helm and increased our speed to about 9.5 knots.  The only way I can run at that speed is very actively picking and choosing and by actively working the throttles.  At the three hour mark I so wanted to get out of things, was just getting tired, that if anything I was even more agressive at trying to move our tack eastward.  I’d seek out the worst waves and just narrowly miss the worst part, invite a little roll off the backside as often I could momentarily run almost beam on before the next big wave would come.  This went on for another hour before we finally started getting benefit from the islands to our north.

All in all, it was a fun passage.  Cliff kept repeating over and over that he was suprised it was not really so bad out.  All I can say is tha the might have had a different opinion if he were at the helm the entire time, but I take it as a great compliment.  My preference though would be for a bit shorter passage this way.

By the time, we reached the opposite shorline, I was convinced that after the crossing we just had, I very much wanted to get a little further than secret cove since we had already lost a couple extra days in Nanaimo this week.  We ended up in Pender Harbor.

The public dock was both full and not answering their VHF (which they later apologized for).  There were a lot of boats in the harbor, given the weather situation.  We ended up over at Garden Bay  Hotel & Marina.  It only cost us $53/night and I would heartily recommend staying there again.

The restaurant/pub had great food and there was a band playing.  We had a great lunch, but I admit that  come nightfall I did not venture up for the music.  I was early to bed that night!

Wind wind go away, come back some other day

It was just under six hours from Ganges to Nanaimo.  We were underway from Ganges by 7am cooking breakfast along the way.  We made Dodd Narrows in good time and transited without incident.  There was a light breeze but nothing notable and we had good water up to Dodd.

The further we went up Northumberland channel, the more we felt the seas bending in from the Straight of Georgia.  It’s fun to note my bread crumb trail and see how I eeked out as much room as I could before making the rounding turn west into Nanaimo.  It was running about 4 foot even in the channel and I really did not want to have to ride it on my beam, so ran as close as I could before turning to take them on my stern.  Today would not have been a good day to try to cross the Straight of Georgia and we were a little concerned on how many boats we might find in Nanaimo.

We pulled into the inner harbor on Tuesday and settled just down the dock from the floating Mexican restaurant.  Nanaimo is a great town to visit, but two days later and we have still not seen a pleasant weather window to get across the Straight.  On Thursday evening I met a nice couple in a Tolly who had just crossed in under two foot of seas.  The forecasts are still iffy, but Friday looks to be better.  We are definately starting to suffer from cabin fever and want to get across.

The good news is that we have had good net connectivity in Nanaimo.  I  might get to meet up with a boater I’ve known on Boatered for years but never met in person.  He lives in Secret Cove and offered us a round of beer if we can get over there.


With the boat repairs completed to our all important generator and windlass, we were up and underway at the crack of about 9:15 heading North.  We cleared customs without incident at 11:15 at Bedwell, something that this season will not be taken for granted after the last horrible experience at Bedwell where every inch of the boat was searched by two agents for a full hour.   

My goal this season is to spend as much time at anchor as possible, but already I’m second guessing that thought as the weather is looking a tad unstable.    After the two hour run from Bedwell, I’m pulling into Ganges harbor.  I’ve spent a sleepless night in Ganges at anchor before.  I have some information that suggests Maronna bay may be a better anchorage, but I’ve never been in there before and my comfort level with unstable weather and an unknown anchorage gets rather thin.  I decide that if we can find a spot on the public dock, we will stay safely there, but otherwise will not spend the money to stay at Ganges marina. 

I spot an open aread of dock that I think we can fit into, though it will require me to back down the length of the fairway before I’ll know for sure.  Luck is with us and we are able to squeeze in without incident.  The flipside of course is that since I’m at the deep end of the fairway, we will have the least amount of traffic going by us and won’t have to jump to fending off other boats every few moments.  It’s a nice spot and we are in Ganges harbor, a fantastic place to be on this planet!  The nightly rate on the public dock is $41/night and they now have both power and water. 

The public dock is one of the best places to provision in all of the Gulf Islands due to its proximity to a good sized and well stocked grocery store that is mere steps from the top of the ramp.  We shopped there twice on our way back to the boat, careful to only fill up one of their mini carts each time and leaving us with only as many bags as we can easily carry.

Around 10pm I noted the winds starting to kick up, though strangely not from the South as I expected.  I noted the flags which had been flying suddenly changed direction over about 30 minutes just after the sun went down.  That’s the kind of thing that gets my attention and not long after they were flying just as strong as before but now from the North.  I did not feel that we were in any danger whatsoever on the dock, but just the same I went and put on an extra bow line and a long outside stern line, while also adjusting our springs to give a nice long arc.  This way the boat would be able to ride parallel to the dock but without any short lines to jerk upon.  This way I could get a nice nights sleep without feeling like being on a roller coaster.   An hour later the winds were up to a good pace and with satisfaction I notice a few other boats tending to their fenders and lines.  It was not too long after that the real gusts started coming over the hill.  They came in waves as they pushed over the mountainous hillside just to our North, spilling straight down into the marina with considerable force.  Around midnight things were really roaring and I was glad that I was not anchored in the harbor.  See, its not necessarily your own anchor that  is going to give you the most grief.  Most of the boats in the harbor had set their anchor to the south and now that the wind was roaring in the opposite direction, many of these anchors would pull out as they changed direction and some of them would not set again.  Not all of the boats in the harbor have someone on them either.  In the darkness we watched as a large steel vessel slowly dragged from one end of the harbor to the other.  We could see other boats dragging as wel, watching their small white anchor lights slowly move across each other.  This was not a night to be anchored downwind!

I helped three boats land sometime around midnight and they were all glad to spend the rest of the night at the public dock.  In the morning the harbormaster told us that he had clocked 45 knot winds.  He was concerned that the same forecast was supposed to repeat again the following night, so we stayed another day, but the winds never showed.

Stuck in Parks Bay

I’ve been spending more time at anchor this year, a week ago I had spent some time rafting with other boats all sitting on MY anchor.  That’s been a first for me and I noticed that my ground tackle appears to be capable of holding my boat, but drags with others attached to me.  One of the contributing factors for this is finding that I only have 1/4 inch chain.  Hi test is strong stuff, but 1/4 is really marginal for a 22 ton boat.  So while I was home last week I went down to Washington Chain and purchased a couple hundred feet of 5/16 to try out.  The added weight of the larger chain should significantly help to keep the anchor burried properly.  So would have a kellett, but upgrading to chain that can actually hold my boat in a good blow is appropriate. 

We need a new Gypsy!
Ghost has an electric windlass for pulling up the chain.  The part of a winlass that the chain runs through is called a gypsy, and a gypsy is a something that gets matched to a specific type of chain.  When you change your chain, you change your gypsy.  My prior gypsy always appeared oversized for the 1/4 inch chain, but it was not marked for its type.  I drew an imprint of the chain size on the gypsy and it appeared to match perfectly with my new chain.  Pulling only the weight of the chain, it ran though the gypsy just fine.  But as soon as I tested pulling up the chain with a little weight on it, it wanted to skip every other link.  We could pull the chain up, but not easily, or efficiently.  We need a new Gypsy!

We need a new impeller!
Our generator exhaust cooling water is not flowing like it should.  This is something we have seen before. An impeller is a flexible rubber wheel surrounded by rubber vanes.  It turns in a housing to pump water which cools the motor.  When they get old, the vanes crack and the water does not pump properly.  A few years ago in Desolation sound while sitting in Melanie cove, a kayaker came by and alerted us to the very same symptoms.    Which is why I knew immediately where the spare generator impeller was located when I failed to find it up in the parts store up in our bow.  We had failed to replace the spare impeller, so our spare was the one currently failing in the generator.  Pulling the water pump off the generator confirmed the diagnosis when we found cracked vanes.  This little part can easily fit in the palm of your hand, but without it we can’t run the generator, can’t recharge our batteries and that means that in a couple days we can’t keep our refrigerator or freezer food cold.  To get a couple days on the battery means we will need to cut back and conserve energy, so no watching movies at night. 

My favorite place to shop for marine parts is Friday Harbor
It’s early on Friday on only our second day and were stuck in Parks bay until we can get some parts.  The good news is that I have experience in sourcing parts out of Friday Harbor and my friends I actually DO recommend it.  A couple years ago, I lost an alternator in of all places, Parks Bay.  After trying to source one from the auto/marine stores in Friday Harbor, we got them from Fisheries Supply in Seattle and had them flown up via Kenmore air.  Fisheries is one of the largest marine parts suppliers around and they happen to be located about two miles down the road from Kenmore air, who has regular scheduled flights to Friday Harbor, which is only about a 30-45 minute flight.  Fisheries also has a very good ordering website where finding the products you need is as close as your nearest web browser. 

Sitting in Parks bay, I did not want to fire up the computer as its a pretty big power hog, so instead I reached for my iphone and finding a good internet connection, was able to get a definative part # for my broken impeller within a few minutes and place an order at Fisheries.   Later as Cliff and I spoke we realized that as we spoke, our wives were in fact in Seattle, in their car and in fact on their way to the Pike waterfront.  A quick phone call, a LOT of gravelling and we convinced them to stop by Fisheries, pick up the part and give it a quick ride down to Kenmore air.  Unfortunately fisheries dropped the ball when they became too busy to want to actually go pick the part for my wife when she arrived.  Actually refused to help my wife.  The saving grace was that I actually remembered where they kept impellers on their retail floor and in less than a minute my wife had found the part sitting on the shelf and she was on her way.  In an hour, we ran the dingy from Parks bay over to Friday harbor and picked up the part from the float plane.  I tell you again, other than dealing with poor customer service from Fisheries supply, the time it took to get the part was less than to have driven down to Fisheries and back if I were home. 

Now the windlass was almost a better story.  RC Plath is located in Portland, well actually Gresham.  I found this out talking to them that they are just down the road from Mt. Hood where my parents live.  He had the right gypsy on the shelf, but it needed just a little machining.  When I hung up the phone Plath, I was expecting to get a gypsy quickly, say maybe by Tuesday or Wednesday the next week.  Instead my cell phone rang on Saturday with the Friday Harbor post office calling, they had a package for me.  Plath had finished the machining the same day, then DROVE the package to the Portland airport so that it would go out quicker than in Gresham.  Folks, that’s probably a 45 minute drive one way.  Then he had the nerve to call me on Monday to make sure I got it.  I tell you, there is no such thing as customer service like that anymore and RC Plath deserves a major award for it. 

So in the end, we had our boat put back together by Saturday afternoon, while still sitting in beautiful Parks bay.  I did not even have to move the boat once and we enjoyed our time there.  If your boat ever needs parts, I highly recommend Friday Harbor, or even nearby Parks Bay if you have a good dingy.

I just love boating like this!


Adventures at the fuel dock

Stardate 15:30 hours.  The boat is packed and Cliff my father in law are ready to go.  Were heading north and the only structure to the plan is twofold. 

 1.)  Were not going any futher than Princess Louisa Inlet.  We want to stay closer to home and not end up running day in and day out.  This is to be a relacing and enjoyable trip.  Princess Louisa will be adventure enough.

2.)  We are not coming back until the calendar says August. 

Other than the above two guidelines, the sky is the limit.  We have not affixed plan and we aim to keep it that way.  But first we need fuel.  Ghost will hold 600 gallons but we won’t need that much.  More to the point, I don’t want that much.  Leftover fuel has to sit in the tanks and old fuel is the chief cause of fuel related problems.  Dipping the tanks shows we have about 160 gallons on board distributed in 4 tanks.  to be safe I’m going to bring on an additional 250 gallons, leaving us with about 400 gallons of fuel.  We will likely burn a little over half of that. 

It should only be a short 30 minute trip over to Cap Sante, leaving plenty of time for an afternoon cruise to somewhere.  When we get to Cap Sante though, they are out of fuel.  The attendant says he thinks he can get me 150 gallons out of the bottom of the tank. Uh…no way.  The last thing we need to do is find ourselves changing fuel filters every day for the next week from dredging the bottom of the barrell.  I call Skyline marina and they have fuel.  They are open until 5 and its 4 now.  I throttle up to a fast cruise speed and flying down Guemes channel at 7 knots!  Wait, that’s not fast.  We have a head current and while I could push all 48 feet up on plane, we would literally be burning 4 times the rate of fuel and the whole point to this trip is to relax.  There are two outcomes now, we make it to Skyline or we don’t.  So we chuckle about our race for the next hour and make the Skyline fuel dock at 4:55.  I admit to the attendant that I want to bring on 250 gallons and he is graceful enough to welcome us with open arms.  The fuel is 24 cents a gallon more expensive for the privelege of taking on fuel today.  It’s Thursday and waiting another day to depart on our trip would bring us to Friday.  I’m not that superstitious but they say to never leave on a trip on a Friday.  Given were going to be out for the month, I see no reason to take any risks.  Besides, I’m ready to go and nothing is going to hold me back, cept maybe a broken barbeque or some other absolutely critical piece of sensitive equipment commonly afflicting boats.  …but I digress

I pump my 250 gallons of precious diesel while Cliff mines the poor college student for information about his life experiences.  It’s a pretty entertaining tale.  This local gas pump hero was born and raised in Anaocrtes and is currently enrolled in a well known California school.   I think Cliff and our new found fuel pump hero had a great time. 

We got back underway and headed across Rosario straight and on through Thatcher pass.  There were a few discussions on exactly where we were going, lightly colored by the need to go somewhere.  Finally around 8pm we pulled into Parks Bay. 

We spent the night in a familiar anchorage and slept soundly under a clear sky.  Where to next?  As Jimmy Buffett would say “I don’t know.  I don’t care.”

Parks Bay

I pulled out of Tod inlet just after 10:30.  The weather is nice and the seas are calm.  I cleared customer at Roche harbor.  I need to return to Anacortes, but not just yet.  Parks bay just outside of Friday Harbor was an easy run from Roche, so off I went.  I put the anchor down in 35 feet of water and put out 150 odd foot of chain.  I’m going to sleep well!

After a bite to eat I put the dingy down and ran over to Friday Harbor to see what was going on.  We had not agreed on a destination upon leaving Tod with Teaghlach and Jollymon, but we must have been on a similar wavelength as I found them on the guest dock along with Dem Bones and Papakea.  After visiting for awhile I ran back across to Parks bay and enjoyed a nice quiet evening at anchor.  I’m telling you, when the wind is not blowing there is no better sleep than in a quiet cove floating on the hook.

Tod Inlet

Tod inlet is finally growing on me.  I admit I avoided the place for years after two rather interesting achoring attempts, one over ten years ago.  For my sake, I won’t talk about it here!

I accompanyed Teaghlach and Jollymon from Ganges to Tod inlet.  The weather was great and I had a nice easy ride down.  We spent two nights.  Tried to raft, but the anchor is wanting to drag with a 48, a 40 and a 28 all rafted together with a little wind.  I’m going to look into upgrading the chain on Ghost.  Otherwise, again an amazing time.  We dingy’d over to Brentwood bay for dinner and beers one night.  The jelly fish in the bay must number in the millions.

A fantastic time and I plan to be back