Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shields Up!

When I was a boy, I used to love camping- what young lad didn't- Be it camping with my family or going to Scout camp, yes even my summer in the Military, I loved the experience of camping. But the one thing about the camping experience, that always was an annoyance of mine was,,,,,,,,, MOSQUITO'S!

These blood sucking MO FO's always found me and seemed to prefer filling up on some premium O Negative rather than dine on anyone nearby. And when settling down for the night, lights off and eyes closed, tucked away in my sleeping bag, there was always that one little SOB who could find their way near my ear and wake me from near sleep with their buzzing little wings.

Boating, call it camping on the water, surely would be different. Well that depends I suppose where you anchor or tie up. We found that even at Horseshoe Bay the little buggers like to come out just about the time you want to sit down and enjoy a meal or drink as you watch day turn into night.

We needed a solution. Our man Richard told us that he closes up for the night and uses a cover to go over his companion way to keep the bugs out from the cabin below. But what about being on deck?

The crew of Corleto thought about this problem. We could I suppose get some mosquito netting at a camping or boat store with it's insane Recreation/ Marine markup or we could use traditional repellents and candles to try to combat the little pests.

As we drove home one Saturday from the dock, Charlene says out of the blue, "Lets stop at IKEA, I think they have a solution to our problem."
I'm thinking, well when last I checked IKEA did not have a Marine section, I don't think they sell a FLURG sail or a POYNG anchor or a dingy that can only be assembled with an Alan key.
But I humour her and turn into the parking lot and in we go. And damn, don't you know my Chief Engineer heads right to the bedroom section and bam, she chucks a hooped thing into the basket, lets get two. Two hooped things into the basket. We head to the checkout and we are on our way.

A day or so later we are headed back to the boat with a new MAGMA BBQ and our magic IKEA hoops. We decide to enjoy our first BBQ on our boat when our day on the water is over. The evening is perfect. But wait, the smell of the grill and the fading daylight bring out those little buzzing insects and it is then I see the brilliance of Charlene's hoops of wonder. As we hang one from the boom over top of the Cockpit.

The magic hoop as it hangs from Corleto's boom

We sit down and enjoy a nice meal with zero bug interference. 
It is when we are away on our Schooner Cove trip that the icing on the cake comes when a number of boaters who see us with Mosquito canopy deployed, complement Charlene with what a clever idea it is. Some ask, "What marine store did you find it?"- Charlene answers "IKEA - 9 bucks." For a couple of boating noobs, we are pretty proud of our Mosquito Shield.

Chief Engineer and Idea Lady Charlene preparing to enjoy her morning Coffee under the protection of the SHIELD 

You can enjoy a bite free book, and a relaxing beverage under the SHIELD

So now whenever we settle down for the evening to enjoy some time on Corleto's decks with a nice meal and a glass of wine or a nice cold one, we put the Shield Up and sit back and enjoy our bug free evening.
Bug free and lovin' it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Whale of a Tale

Every weekend on the boat had brought us to a new learning level, be it chores around the dock, sail skills on the water, or how we could better interact as a crew,  we both learned something new each and every time. This growth was pointing us toward our first longer cruise. Up until now 4 hours on the water seemed to be the limit of Charlene's tolerance. No matter how I planned the best case for this trip would take about 6.5 hours to transit from our dock at Horseshoe Bay to Schooner Cove on Vancouver Island. This would test us both. For her, endurance. For me, patience and being able to confidently pilot Corleto into a strange and new harbour.

We were making the trip to visit one of Charlene's friends, who had recently moved to the Island. I chose Schooner Cove as it was close to our final destination. The entrance into the harbour looked fairly straight forward and for my first "cruise" it appeared to be a good destination.

All we needed now was a good weather window to align with my vacation time and we would be off. For a week prior, I watched the weather and predicted winds. I was hoping for a steady breeze that would not be hitting me dead on the nose as we made our crossing.

We set our sails on the morning of Monday July 22. The reports called for diminishing winds later in the day. I was ok with that as there were no wind warnings in effect for our part of the Straight. I set up a couple of GoPro cameras to record our adventure.

On our way for our first crossing of the Straight

The wind filled our sails as we set our course toward a point on the charts just off Cape Roger Curtis. I wanted to use this passage to work on my Charting skills and kept busy making notes and recording fixes and GPS coordinates and comparing and plotting them on my chart.
Charlene kept watch, read her book and enjoyed all that surrounded her.

"Wouldn't it be nice to see a whale? " I said to her
"That would be fantastic." She answered.

We had seen dolphin on a previous sail within the confines of Howe Sound. But had never encountered a whale.

We were making decent speed as we headed int the Straight, Cape Roger Curtis now abeam of us. Charlene spots a curious seal checking us out just off our starboard bow. I make note of the GPS and time of the sighting. The temperature is rising as the sun gets higher in the sky. This is going to be a warm one.

Round about 11:00 the winds die right off, so much so that the sails struggle to capture it. I decide to take the headsail down, but keep the main up. It's helping us along but barely. If anything the main acts as a shade. Its shadow a welcomed post for Charlene as she keeps a sharp eye, on the lookout for wayward logs or if we're lucky a spout from a surfacing whale.

Charlene under the shade of the main- her favorite spot on the boat.

Corleto's Universal engine is pushing us along at about 4.5 kts. By now the Vancouver side is looking smaller, and Vancouver Island is getting bigger. We are definitely making progress toward our destination.
I glance at my watch, it is time to make another plot on my chart. I go below to extrapolate the numbers in my notebook and plot them on the Chart.

Suddenly, "Murray get up here quick!" screams Charlene her voice pitch nearly giving me a heart attack.
I scramble up to the helm. She's pointing to a dark object with a dorsal fin less than 25 meters directly in front of my bow! Its a WHALE!
"Oh my God, it's wonderful!" Charlene still in an excited voice marvelling at the encounter.

I immediately grab the helm and bear the boat off in a 90 degree turn to port and slow the engine down to almost an idle to avoid the great beast. It's shadow I can clearly see off our starboard beam as it swims around and away from us. I went below to grab my camera, but when I returned it was gone.
Charlene saw it surface twice, I only saw it arch its back and dorsal fin and its shadow.
I quickly made note of the GPS and wrote it down.
We both strained our eyes to see if we could spot it again. It did not show itself to us again, and just like that the encounter was over.

I was kicking myself for not having any of the cameras rolling at that moment. There simply was no time. Not even a shot on the iPhone. I now have to hold my News Photographer manhood cheap, not even a single shot, I suck.

But the encounter was the high light of the crossing. It brought a nice boost to the crew during what could have been the dullest part of the day. It brought smiles and a realization that we are only guests on the oceans and it reinforced the notion that we must take care of these waterways.

On approach

It was not long before we were entering the barrier Islands as we approached the entrance to Schooner Cove. The islands were a nice change as their features made for a nice contrast from dark waters.
Before we knew it we were tied up, without incident and our first crossing was now in the log book.

Here is the video of our crossing. Please enjoy.