Saturday, December 22, 2018
Friday, November 2, 2018
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Monday, October 29, 2018
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Friday, October 26, 2018
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Monday, September 17, 2018
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Friday, September 14, 2018
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
I forgot to blog this morning. There was too much going on with finally getting internet, changing doctor's appointments in Honolulu since we will be getting home later than we anticipated three months ago, being able to video chat with Lori in Portland, catching up on email, etc.
Thankful got a nice slip in the transient section of Ganges Harbor that even included WIFI. We were surrounded by similar sized power cruisers, both Canadian and American, out enjoying the Gulf Islands.
Ganges Harbor was a busy place with all manner of pleasure boats coming and going, three Canadian Naval vessels in for the evening, and float planes constantly landing and taking off. It is a town definitely tailored for tourists, with lots of art galleries, coffee shops, and boutiques. Team Thankful had a good time exploring, and we went out to the Oyster Catcher restaurant for a great dinner.
We stuck around this morning so we could catch the open market early this afternoon. They had lots of good produce there, but we were concerned that fresh products aboard might create a problem when we cross the border into the US tomorrow, so we didn't buy any. I used the slack time this morning to go get a long overdue haircut.
We are on our way to Rum Island, just this side of the border. We will dash across tomorrow morning and reenter the US in the San Juan Islands.
Monday, September 10, 2018
We've had remarkably little of what I'd always considered typical Pacific Northwest weather, clouds, wind, and rain, over the past three months. The spell finally broke thirty six hours ago, and we have been living in dreary damp chilly conditions ever since.
We stayed put in Montague Harbor yesterday and had a sedentary day. Matt and Vicki went ashore for a while all dressed up in their foul weather gear and boots. I didn't feel like getting wet and stayed aboard Thankful.
It isn't hard to stay busy even when there's no action outside the boat. There are lots of books in the ship's library, I'm writing a lot, and there are three meals a day to cook and clean up after. Following dinner every night we have "entertainment", cycling between a couple of card games, scrabble, and movies. Last night we watched episode six in the "Horatio Hornblower" series. It is about an English Naval officer aboard an early nineteenth century sailing ship. Matt and I find ourselves imitating their manner of speech and saluting each other after watching, "As you were, sir!", "It is an honor to serve with you, sir!", stuff like that. It is making Vicki crazy.
The weather still sucks, but is showing signs of improvement. We have decided to give Ganges a try and are on our way there now. Steady as she goes, sir!
Sunday, September 9, 2018
Team Thankful had hoped to make the short hop down through the islands to Ganges Harbor yesterday where the cruising guide said there is lots to see. We encountered continued strong southeasterly winds after departing Pirate's Cove though, and Ganges is a poor anchorage with winds from that direction, so we revised our plans and headed to the more sheltered Montague Harbor a few miles away.
Along the way we passed six massive empty grain carriers lying at anchor. Ships aren't making money if they aren't carrying product, and we wondered why these were idle. Perhaps they were waiting for the season's grain harvest to be delivered to the coast for export? I can see why they would choose to moor here to kill time though. The water is shallow, but not too shallow, and the anchorage is totally protected by all the islands. It seemed out of place to see a bunch of large ships parked up in this otherwise pristine cruising wonderland.
Al Hughes and I were college sailing teammates forty five years ago. We lost track of each other after he graduated and I transferred schools, but we reconnected six years ago when he sailed in the Pacific Cup to Hawaii. I learned that Al was going to be cruising up here on his boat this summer, and we have been exchanging emails for the past couple of months hoping to bump into each other.
Al and his wife Lou's boat, Mary H, was at anchor in Montague when we arrived, so after getting settled in we dinghied over for a visit. Mary H is a unique fifty five foot steel powerboat. It looks to me like the designer just decided to add an extra deck level to a more conventional power boat. As a result she is quite high out of the water, but has as much living space aboard as many houses ashore. Mary H has three double cabins, the same number of house sized bathrooms, a huge galley, and lots of lounging space. They bought her three years ago and live aboard in Seattle's Shilshole Marina when they aren't cruising in Canada. It was great to meet Lou, catch up with Al, and tour their floating home.
After our visit with the Hughes we dinghied ashore and caught the "Pub Bus" to the Hummingbird Pub a few miles from the harbor. The pub was OK, but the real attraction is the transportation. Bus driver "Tommy Transit" is famous for his antics during the ten minute drive to the pub. He has most of an entire drum kit set up at the front of the bus which he plays with one hand while he drives the bus with the other on the narrow curvy island road. Musical instruments including tambourines, bells, rattles, maracas, etc., are handed out to boarding passengers so they can participate in the music making during the ride. It was good fun, stereo blasting, Tom skillfully accompanying one handed, passengers playing along as well.... and we didn't crash. Between songs he regaled us with stories of meeting Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis Jr., and Ella Fitzgerald.
There were four other passengers that got off with us after the bus ride back to the marina and we noticed that they walked to a car, got in, and a drove away. They could more easily have driven straight to the pub, but chose to park at the marina instead so they could catch the bus and enjoy Tommy's performance.
Saturday, September 8, 2018
Thankful pitched and heaved for six hours yesterday as she worked her way down the coast of Vancouver Island directly into a fifteen knot headwind and lumpy sea. Things really would have become interesting if the wind had shifted further to the east, putting us on a lee shore, but fortunately that never happened, and at 1PM we were entering the shelter of the Gulf Islands.
Canada's Gulf Islands are a part of the same group that include the US's San Juan Islands. They would likely all share the same name if not for the international border that cuts right down the middle. There are hundreds of closely packed islands in the two groups, and with little distance between the islands there is not much room for seas to build. The forecast calls for continuing strong winds for the next few days but it won't have any impact on our cruising here.
There was one bottleneck, Dodd Narrows, that we needed to negotiate at the north end of the Gulf Islands to get into the group. The tide can run through the pass at up to nine knots, so most boats time their passage for slack water when there is minimal current. We were shooting to arrive there at 315PM, slack high water, but ended up arriving about forty five minutes early.
Dodd Narrows is a busy place, and boats were stacked up on either side waiting for slack water. A similar sized cruiser that arrived right ahead of us didn't even slow down. He powered right through against four knots of current and made it through unscathed.
The pass is only wide enough for one boat. If boats heading in opposite directions were to arrive at the throat of the channel at the same time things could get very interesting. There are no rules on which direction has right of way either, so the potential always exists for some real entertainment as boats traverse the narrows. A group of hikers were standing on the shore to watch the fun.
Matt decided that the time was right after a couple of boats successfully made the passage in both directions. We went through while the tide was still flooding at three knots, but we didn't provide the audience ashore with any interesting stories to tell their friends.
We decided to stop for the night in Pirate's Cove on De Coursy Island. The island was the home of one of the twentieth century's most notorious cults, and its leader is rumored to have amassed a treasure of forty three boxes of gold coins weighing close to 1,000 pounds. When the cult collapsed in 1934 the gold mysteriously disappeared. Perhaps it is buried here in Pirate's Cove? It didn't feel like Thankful's anchor hit any boxes of gold when I dropped it in the harbor yesterday.
Speaking of anchors, as I write this the Thankful crew is watching a thirty five foot double ended sailboat pull up its anchor here in the harbor as she departs. The male skipper is standing on the end of the bowsprit with a hose washing the mud off of the anchor chain as his female mate works the handle on their manual anchor windlass. An electric pump is providing water pressure for the hose.
We've noted that the systems are the opposite aboard Thankful. Our windlass is electric and we use a bucket to scoop water by hand for washing mud off of the anchor chain. At least the skipper of the sailboat has delegated properly by having his mate do the heavy lifting....