Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Corleto Kiss

Finally, the day had come. I was about to embark on the adventure of boat ownership. I had been fortunate enough to have the boat delivered to Bellingham a few days before. Bad weather had been conspiring against me since. But it was now Monday, surely the weather would improve. At least that what the forecasts seemed to indicate.

With Kinc's wife Nanci at the wheel, we headed down the highway towards the junction of BC 91 and BC 99, Boundary Bay was nothing but whitecaps, a very unusual scene.
"I don't think we'll be going anywhere today" Kinc remarked.
"That doesn't look pleasant." added Nanci.
All I could do is stare in disbelief.

We continued our drive to Bellingham.

Arriving at the dock, the rain was driving near sideways. We loaded up our gear onto the Marina wheel barrows, and the three of us made our way down the dock toward what I had hoped, was a boat still afloat. The sound of the near Gale winds was deafening as they howled though the rigging of the boats already tied up.

And then all at once, at the very end of the dock, was Corleto, patiently waiting for me. I retrieved the key to open her up and get our stuff in out of the rain. She greeted me with a whack on the head, as I descended into the companionway. A welcome kiss I suppose, a gesture that was to remind me who really was in charge of this operation.

Kinc and I took stock of what was aboard. He suggested we should perhaps get some supplies at the nearby Marine Store, since we would not be casting off in this horrendous weather. There was a bilge issue that the delivery Skipper had informed me about, so that was to be a priority.
So off we went to grab some supplies.
The staff at the Marine Store were very helpful. We picked up a few tools, a space heater and some other assorted odds and ends that we thought we would need to make the repair.

Spirits were high although the weather was foul. As I re boarded Corleto, she kissed me again on the noggin.
We began to work on the bilge pump and attempt to find the problem. We replaced a fuse, reconnected a hose and just like that we had a working bilge pump.
Kinc, methodically checked out other systems. Electrical, plumbing, and heating. I watched as he explained what went where, and how important organisation was for the smooth operation of a boat. In the course of these little lessons it was determined that we needed a working BBQ lighter. So off to the Marine Store we go.

"Hey' its you guys again." a friendly voice greeted us as we entered the store. That phrase would be echoed many times before we left the dock. But we found what we needed and proceeded to get back to preparations for an early departure on Tuesday morning.
Again, a kiss to the melon greeted me as I climbed onto Corleto. Maybe she didn't like me. Who could blame her. Her new owner was pretty confident and sure of himself. Perhaps too sure. She thought it might be fun to teach a few more lessons and humble him down to size.

Confident that we had solved the bilge pump issue, we treated ourselves to a nice hot meal at the Pub and then retired to the boat for a celebratory drink and snack before getting some shut eye.

Kinc gives a congratulatory toast for my purchase of my first boat.

In the morning the Marine Forecasts did not include a Gale Warning, so it looked like we had a window to depart. The winds were predicted to be 15-25 and we decided to give 'er a go. As I emerged, Corleto kissed me again, this time to say good morning. Man I was beginning to tire of her strange affection. We started the engine and motored to the fuel dock and filled up and then headed out with confidence that we would soon be headed north to Point Roberts.

Corleto at the fuel dock in Bellingham- no idea what was waiting for us on the other side of the breakwater

As soon as we cleared the breakwater, the seas were choppy, but nothing that the two of us couldn't handle. The tide was not in our favour, but we continued to head to our first waypoint before turning north through Hale Passage. The seas began to build, the farther we ventured into Bellingham Bay. It was going to be a bumpy one. Winds began to build and waves began to show their white caps. Kinc noticed that we had water coming out of the bilge. He went to investigate. I stayed on the helm dodging an endless number of Crab Trap Buoys.

"The pump's not working!" reports Kinc.
He begins to use the hand pump to clear the water, almost making himself sick. The boat pounding through the waves at this time. This was not going to come easy.
Waves broke over the port bow. Salty spray hit my face. Kinc was below bailing. This was not the scene I had envisioned when I bought this girl.
It was about 15 minutes later when we were almost to our first waypoint and I got a look up the passage. There were whitecaps on whitecaps. As skipper my responsibility was the safety of my crew. It was then I informed Kinc we were turning around and heading back to Bellingham Harbour.

The trip back was less bumpy with the sea at our stern. Kinc took the helm and the fresh air helped avert his nausea.

We would have to regroup and wait for better weather. I felt a bit defeated by mother nature. I took comfort that I had made the right decision to turn, and that the boat handled very well. I was just feeling the pressure to move it north.

We arrived back at the dock tired and perplexed that the bilge pump had failed us once more. After we got out of our weather gear, we set to figure out the problem once more. No doubt another trip to the Marine Store was in our future. This time a replacement pump would be on the list.

As I emerged from below to go see our friends at the store, Corleto kissed me for the final time, her lipstick mark (actually my blood) squarely on the top of my head. I was beginning to think she hated me.

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