Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Commin' Home, I'm Commin' Home

"His confidence grew with each nautical mile. I knew I had to do something to keep him just a bit off balance. But I didn't want to break him" -Corleto

With weather forecasts sounding bad we went to sleep in Point Roberts knowing that no matter what the weather, one way or the other we would be headed home tomorrow. Point Roberts being very close to home so a pick up of the crew by car "rescue" was indeed in play.

I awoke early, and dialed into the 24 Hour marine forecast. As the clock turned 7am the updated forecast began. Light winds, rain. We're a go. Kinc and I were both up and ready within 30 minutes. This day would go smoothly,,, or would it?

I just got back from brushing my teeth when Kinc said " Murman, where's the key?"
"Its in the drawer on the yellow float"
"You mean this broken key?" he shows me the key float with just the stub of the broken key ( it had been broken by the yacht broker a couple of weeks back)
"But where's the good key they were on the same ring" my heart sank and Corleto I know was having  her classic evil laugh as she had to be the author of this rather nasty practical joke.
I immediately began to search the only areas where the key had been.
Kinc grabbed the waste basket.

"Here it is!" Kinc holding the waste basket. "It must have pulled off the ring when I grabbed it out from the drawer."
We both had a nervous laugh and I went straight to the ignition and fired up the engine. It started. Day two would be a go and the key incident was just Corleto's good morning prank.

Before long we were bidding farewell to Point Roberts. The tide was running against us, but we were making way, this time towards Point Grey and Vancouver.

My goals today were, One: don't get run over by a ferry- The Tswassassin -Ferry terminal was just North of Point Roberts. Two: don't get run over by a freighter- we were transiting through the main sea lane in and out of Vancouver- Canada's busiest port. And Three: not to run aground getting by Sand Heads at the mouth of the Fraser River.

We managed to avoid the ferries although we were crossing their path around 9am, I can only assume that the 9 o'clock boat was delayed in classic BC Ferries fashion on that morning because we crossed without incident.
As we travelled, the rain began and the visibility became reduced. Our GPS kept trying to put us up and onto the Roberts Bank. I could just make out markers and decided to just keep to the seaward of those markers regardless of what the GPS wanted to do.
It turns out that was the right call.

A bit of an indication of just how moist it was on that day.

A freighter came up from behind us out of the grey. We were not on intersecting courses and we made sure we stayed well to the starboard of any overtaking traffic. We watched this massive beast overtake us on our port side about 1 -2 NM away. Objective 2 was successful. It appeared that the crew of the Corleto- Kink, Jacques, Murman and Otto (the autohelm) were proficient in ship avoidance. A good skill to have in these parts.

Kinc trying to stay out of the rain as the freighter over took us during our final leg.

My years flying in CTV Chopper 9 paid off as well on this leg. The mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser is a very confusing cluster of markers and buoys around the Sand Heads. If you decide to follow your GPS and I dare say one's instincts on the wrong tide, you will run yourself aground or hit the Steveston Jetty. I have flown over this area a hundred times or more, my guts were telling me to bear off to seaward even though it would add more distance.
It turned out to again be the right call.

By this time it was raining and we were both getting wet. Kinc went below to tune the AM radio into the Jim Rome Show. No doubt that listening in on the Jungle and getting some of that Jungle Karma would be good for the crew's spirits. It was.
The bilge was dry and we decided to take 40 minute shifts on the tiller. "Otto" the auto pilot developed a problem just as we were passing Sand Heads, so for the rest of the way we had to steer ourselves.

With the tide running against us, it seemed that we were not making good progress. The seas began to get choppy. I could hear approaching aircraft and once they were directly overhead, I knew we were just off zero 8 left at YVR. That was encouraging.

Low cloud on the North Shore Mountians- it was a welcomed sight.

But the trip to Point Grey and the entrance to English Bay seemed to take forever. Finally we made it to the marker at the tip of the Spanish Banks. We could see the Bell Buoy off to our port side. We guided Corleto into English Bay. The seas began to subside and the trip in was as smooth as we experienced during this leg.

The Skyline as we approached False Creek- we were home

Seeing the North Shore Mountains, the ships at anchor and the skyline of downtown Vancouver lifted our soaking wet spirits. As we motored in, we made calls to those who were worried about us. To let them know we were in the home stretch. I also called my Mom who has a place on Beach Ave and a balcony view of English Bay. She came out to give us our welcome home wave from her place.
All that was left to do now was to call Canada Border Services and clear customs. That took a bit longer than I had hoped, and that dashed any notion of making it to Horseshoe Bay before dark.
We tied Corleto up at the False Creek Yacht Club for the night.

We were home.

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