Sunday, November 2, 2014

September Gifts

This has been a great sailing season. Less worrisome than the first. Certainly a more confident skipper this season.  I continued to throw little curve balls to keep him on his toes. There is always something new to add to the shit list. But the operative word this year was sail. And sail we did. -Corleto

As August drew to a close and fall was on the horizon, we were blessed with wonderful warm temps and sunshine. We did our best to take advantage of this September gift. We took a wonderful trip to Plumper Cove that included one of the best return voyages we have ever experienced in the Collingwood Channel.
Winds near perfect, keeping Corleto on a starboard beam reach for pretty much the entire journey back to Horseshoe Bay. Every time we thought we would have to tack the boat, the wind would make slight directional shifts to our advantage.  As the wind began to pick up, I reefed the main and kept the boat comfortable. We had been averaging 5.4 kts for the 90 minutes or so that it took to get close to Horseshoe Bay. Then we short tacked twice before dousing our sails and started our engine to make our approach into harbour. It was the gift of a good sail. Certainly one of my favourites of the season.

Perfect day with perfect wind in Collingwood Channel

The following week took us to Bowen Island, to an anchorage that we had visited many times over the summer, but it was now Fall and we found ourselves in the water having a swim! Yes, life is good on a boat. That trip also enabled us to use a new set of headsail sheets. The originals had lost their suppleness and had often bound up in the cars and cleats when tacking or gybing. It was a constant irritation. The new lines now slipped ever so effortlessly through the cars and made tacking so much smoother. That was the gift of new sheets.

The new sheet cleated as we head to Seymour Landing
Charlene, displays the new sheet/snap-shackle attached to the drifter

Big smiles after getting out of the water, and it's the third week of September!
But of course with all of that boat use comes maintenance. The hour meter on the engine screamed it was time for an oil change. It was also time for a fuel filter and transmission fluid change. We all know how the last one went- an hour job grew into a two day ordeal. I wanted to avoid that if I could. I also had to consider a situation that Dave and Pete had found themselves in when they were on their trip with Corleto. I would have to service the cooling system. I decided that the cooling system could wait until after the up coming ONN Weekend in October, but that fluid changes would and should be complete before we cast off again.

New Oil Extractor and a seamless oil change.

The last weekend of September was dedicated to the engine. This oil change went very smoothly. Acquiring an oil extractor was a big help over last years mess. Changing out the transmission fluid and adding the precise amount called for in the Op's manual would prove to make a huge difference with the shifting into forward and reverse. And changing out the fuel filter, the task which I feared most, turned out to be almost as easy as oil change. It's only hiccup being me forgetting to fill the new filter with clean fuel before the install. But I quickly realized it when I was not getting any fuel through the bleed screw, so with a quick top up of the filter and a re-installation, the engine was purring without any hesitation. The sound was the gift of a happy engine.

I emerged out of the engine compartment with a smile and a sense of new found engine confidence. I packed up and readied the boat for what will likely be her final big weekend before the New Year- ONN 2014. We shall see what gifts October brings.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Corleto's Affair

Skipper, I think I’d like to see other people -Corleto
Are, are you suggesting an open relationship?- SkipperMurman
No, no, I’m just talking about that weird old guy who was with you when we first met- Corleto

Kink? Oh Hell, sure. He’s harmless. -SkipperMurman

And so begins the Corleto Affair, a three night stand.

The first time, I thanked him.
The second time, I warned him.
The third time, I accepted his generous offer of the use of his beloved 27 foot Catalina sailboat, Corleto.

For the record my name is David Kincaid aka Kink or Kinc.
Murray and I met and became friends during our mutual employment at CTV British Columbia.
I was with Murray when he first laid eyes on Corleto and I may have played a small role in convincing him that she was indeed the one.

I was pleased to serve as first mate on Mur’s first voyage aboard Corleto as she emigrated from the US to Canada. Mur was appreciative of my assistance and offered me the keys to Corleto any time I wanted.
So when my older brother Peter announced a summer visit to Vancouver from his home in Australia, I decided it was time to call Murray's bluff. In an extraordinary act of trust and generosity he happily agreed and the plans for a brotherly bonding tour of the Gulf Islands was set in motion. 

On Sunday August 24, Mur met us on the dock at Horseshoe Bay to give us a familiarization tour of the boat.
However as we were moving our gear from the Jeep to Corleto, we realized Pete did not have a sleeping bag.

So while I drove back to Burnaby, Pete got a crash course in how to light the alcohol stove, reef the main and flush the head. Two of the three would prove vital to the success of the voyage.

With Pete’s sleeping bag acquired we shoved off and motored out of the marina.
We wanted to sail and even went to the trouble of raising both main and jib but the wind was not cooperative so after sailing north and south for an hour we gave up and began motoring west to our destination, Silva Bay on Gabriola Island.

Corleto’s wonderful 500 cc two cylinder eleven horsepower diesel engine pushed us along at a respectable five knots through the choppy waters of Georgia Strait.

In his youth my brother served in the Canadian Navy but that does not make him immune from seasickness. Like the great Horatio Hornblower, Pete finds the first few hours aboard a boat a difficult adjustment. So while I manned the helm, drank a beer and watched the GPS, Pete sat in the cockpit looking a bit green around the gills.

Six hours later we were alongside safe and sound in Silva Bay.

All tied up in Silva Bay

Around 9:30 we set off to transit the always tricky Gabriola Passage between Gabriola and Valdez Islands. For a boat like Corleto it’s best to negotiate the pass at slack water. Our homework paid off and we breezed through without drama.

Gabriola Passage

Our destination for the evening was Newcastle Island in Nanaimo harbor however we had time to kill before our next navigational challenge so we made for Pirates Cove Marine Park on DeCourcy Island. The entrance is shallow and tricky but I’d been in there before so had a little bit of local knowledge which served us well.

Pirates Cove Provincial Park
We dropped the hook and rowed ashore to explore the park. 

Dingy Dock, Pirates Cove, BC

Having places like this takes some of the sting out of paying tax. BC’s marine parks are a wonderful resource where wealthy Americans rub shoulders with dirt poor retired television reporters.

Like a lot of the Gulf Islands, DeCourcy has a fascinating history; most notably it was the home of the notorious Brother Twelve, a weirdo cult leader who came to the island in 1929.

Edward Wilson, better known as Brother 12

After lunch we weighed the anchor (can anyone tell me the origin of that saying) and motored out of Pirates Cove.
The sea was oily calm and the weather fine as we rounded the south end of DeCourcy but something about the engine sounded, well, different.
Corleto is not overburdened with dials, gauges, warning bells and whistles of any kind but it does have an engine temperature gauge which was pinned in the hot zone. Not good.

Then a few things happened quite quickly.

We shut down the engine.
We raised the mainsail.
We phoned the owner to ask his advice.

Mur told us about a new strainer he had recently installed on the cooling water intake. 
That proved to be full of the sediment we had stirred up in Pirates Cove. Pete then discovered the inline fuse for the water pump was cooked so we replaced it and confirmed we had good flow of sea water through the cooling system. We topped up the fresh water side of the system in case we had lost any during the overheating event. About an hour later, the engine once again perfectly happy, we were back under way feeling pretty good about ourselves.

Truth be told Peter and I have had lots of similar adventures over the years and actually relish the challenge of meeting a problem head on and dealing with it.  We sent a relieved Murman the following photograph.

Corleto- cool as a cucumber

We needed to go through Dodd Narrows at slack water which was five pm and through a combination of good luck and good planning we were exactly where we were supposed to be exactly when we were supposed to be there.

Dodd Narrows

About 7 pm we hooked up to a mooring buoy in New Castle Island Marine Park in the mouth of 
Nanaimo harbor.

New Castle Island

Downtown Nanimo from New Castle Island

That evening we might have spilled a little red wine on Corleto’s gel coat as we celebrated a pretty great day.

Tuesday August 26
Corleto’s alcohol fueled stove is a bit frightening as it requires an auxiliary fire in order to get going. After nearly setting Corleto ablaze during a previous voyage, I decided Pete would be the designated stove guy.
By now he had mastered it and we were able to enjoy morning coffee with Baileys on another chamber of commerce morning.
We motored out of Nanaimo harbor full of hope that the wind that fought us on the way over would help us on way back across Georgia Strait.
No such luck. Flatter than you know what on a plate.

The Ancient Mariner - working on his new rhyme

We rigged Murs bimini, let Otto steer and tried stay out of the sun.

Six hours later we pulled into Plumper Cove on Keats Island and again got a buoy, however this time no one came out to take our 12 bucks.
First night $50, second night $12 and the third night, FREE.

The Neighbours at Plumper Cove

We went for a nice hike through the woods to Keats Landing home to a huge Baptist church camp dating back to the twenties.

The sign at Keats Camps

By the time we got back Pete was hot and sweaty enough to do this……

Pete's all wet- a cool and refreshing dip in the cove

For dinner I prepared one of my specialities, Hamburger Helper. It was a culinary first for Peter and he now loves it almost as much as I do. As the night progressed we finished off the Scotch, the wine and the beer so clearly it’s time to go home.

Wednesday August 27

Still no wind so we motored down Collingwood Channel between Bowen and Gambier.
Very pleasant, but a little sailing would have been nice.

Flat calm on Collingwood Channel

On the northeast corner of Bowen Island is an islet called Finisterre Island which is owned by a retired lawyer. Some time ago he built a tunnel which can be accessed at low tide and is big enough to accommodate a Suzuki Samurai.

The home made Tunnel

My brother and I have long been fascinated by this ingenious bit of engineering.

Now we are heading for home. After nearly 30 hours of motoring the grumpy guy on the fuel dock was only able to separate us from 35 dollars to fill up with diesel.

Back at Murs slip we set about cleaning up the mess we had made. Just as we finished swabbing the decks, hoping to leave Corleto at least as spic and span as we found her Murman himself hove into view. Peter and I made a discreet departure so as to leave Corleto and her skipper to become reacquainted.

The Corleto affair was brief but intensely pleasurable.

Thanks again Murray for making it happen.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Siren

I have four dresses in my closet. There is my work dress and my nice dress for those light breeze days and then there's my party dress, my gown. My Skipper has yet to ask me to wear it. Until now. It was sure nice to get all dressed up and go dancing. -Corleto

The sailing this summer has been very good. We have cruised to places we haven't been before and done things we had never done before. Yet for me something was still missing.
In my sail bag arsenal I still had one that was calling my name. It was the Spinnaker.

The spinnaker sail is the one I loved to watch when I was land locked, looking at the boats on English Bay, wishing I was out there. It is a sail that a lot of cruisers shy away from because of its sheer size and its potential for disaster. They have heard the tails of broaching and wrapping, of tearing and tangling. Hell a young lady I once worked with told me a story of a spinnaker filling with water and almost sinking the boat. Well perhaps that was an exaggeration, but the story itself left me with some trepidation about sailing a spinnaker.

But the bag kept calling, like the Sirens of Greek Mythology calling out to Odysseus, I could not resist.

I would have liked to have tried flying it last season, but getting to know Corleto and how she sailed was really the main priority. Before I knew it the sailing season was over and the Spinnaker had only been taken out of the bag once and that was to wash it. So when this season began, I boldly stated on this very blog that I wanted to fly this kite before the end of the summer.

I had hoped to attend some course or clinic to learn about the mysteries of the spinnaker, but I was too late, they were filled or the courses weren't until the fall. So I did what everybody does now, turn to the Internet, YouTube and sailing forms to see if I could learn about this mysterious sail that sat alone in the V-berth.

During the past several weeks I watched, read, reread and re-watched everything I could on the subject. It was now time to see how this beauty worked.

I called my friend Kinc, the guy who helped me deliver Corleto home from Bellingham 18 months ago, to join me on this adventure. He too had never flown a spinnaker and was excited and willing to give 'er a go.
Before casting off, I briefed Kinc on hows and the whys of the rigging and pole. We went through the details of the hoist or set of the sail and basic trimming. And with a nervous anticipation we cast off and headed towards English Bay to go fly the kite.

The winds were inflow/ sea breezes of about 6-9 kn. Light by any one's standard, but perfect for two nubes with a spinnaker.
I went forward to rig the pole and attach halyard and sheets. Kinc opted to stay in the cockpit minding the helm and sheets. He handed the helm to our friend Otto (the Autotiller) as Corleto began to make her course downwind.
"Ready?" I said from my position amidships at the mast with halyard in hand.
"Ready!" Kinc replied.

I began to run the halyard. Kinc began to sheet in. The magnificent sail filled. I cleated the halyard and scurried back to the cockpit and tensioned and adjusted the after guy and pole. A quick glance at the sail and suddenly Corleto was alive. The boat accelerated. The spinnaker was set.
We looked at each other with nervous smiles, high five'd and shook hands. We had successfully set a spinnaker and it did not tear, the boat did not broach or round up. We were elated that we had both accomplished something that we had never done before. It was a magic moment.

Taken moments after the first "set"

We each played with our respective control lines to see how it affected the performance of the sail and the boat. I observed the speed of the boat was now 5.7 kn and climbing. We were having a ball. We could not believe how calm the boat was, very comfortable and sailing with speed.

Watching the knotmeter climb.
I sent a message to Charlene who was watching from Second Beach in Stanley Park. She answered back that she could see us.
By now we had been going about a half hour with the spinnaker blasting us along towards Stanley Park.
Kinc said to me, "This is great. But tell me again how we are gonna get this sail down?"
That was indeed a very good question and it was the part of spinnaker flying I feared the most.
I explained I would go and free the pole and guy by undoing the snap shackle at the sail, then I would free the halyard, while he was to haul in his sheet and the clew of the sail and keep hauling until the sail was down and in the boat. And that this would have to be done with some speed and coordination to keep the sail out of the water.

We got ourselves ready, but the wind began to shift or Otto lost his course and the sail began to de power. We just went into take down mode and surprisingly without a hitch. Kinc had that sail into the cockpit in about 10 seconds. We both kinda laughed as Corleto had dictated the takedown as we had not.

Well that was fun lets go back out to the mouth of the bay and come back! We agreed. I headed below to repack the sail. I had never done it in such a small space. I feared that I would pack it with a twist. Only the next set would I know if I had packed it right.

No twists on the second set!
The second set was as easy as the first. I had packed it right.

The second run, was even better than the first in that it was longer and we went a bit faster. The wind had picked up. The second douse went somewhat better in that we dictated the takedown, not the wind or the boat.

Now filled with new found confidence, we headed out to the mouth again for a third and final run. This time we set the pole on the port side of the boat. Again a good set, good speed and big smiles. Our course was now set for Dunderave in West Vancouver. We were going pretty good when the sound of a tug's horn got my attention. He was inbound with a barge in tow and his blasts were for a sailboat who was crossing his bow. We figured his distance at about 1.5 nautical miles off our port quarter. We would cross his course as well I figured and after observing him for several moments, I made the call that we would need to Gybe the pole and change course.
"Well he's still way back there." My helmsman replied.
"Yes but we have never gybed the pole before and I would rather do it early as opposed to wait. Slow and sure then there's no conflict"

The gybing maneuver was perhaps the most rewarding part of the day as we altered course and avoided a potential conflict with Theodore the Tug Boat and our new course now took us toward Kits beach. This gave us a nice sail pass by Charlene's position on the beach and my Mom's balcony on Beach Avenue. With a wave to Charlene on the shore and a call to Mom to get her binoc's, Corleto was a happy boat.

Kinc tending his sheet.
For all those years that I would look out from the shore and wish that I was out there, now the rolls were reversed. I was out there. Spinnaker full and looking good. And I got to share the experience with 3 of the people who encouraged my dreams of sailing. Two ashore and one with me on the boat. I can't stop smiling and I can't wait to get out there again.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gulf Islands Trip Pt.5 - Cheese Burgers in Paradise

The heat had been almost unbearable, so heading out of Ganges was welcome as the marine breeze would help keep us cool. Well that was the theory anyway. What little breeze that was out there soon diminished and we found ourselves on near flat calm water. Our plan was to head over to Galiano Island and check out Montague Harbour Marine Park.

Charlene on deck as we depart Ganges

This voyage was really the shortest passage of the trip. We were passed by the Mayne Island Ferry as we transited. I was curious if we could secure a mooring buoy for the evening. There was a bunch of American boats in the area. Vacations were now in full swing on both sides of the border, so I thought an early recon of the Marine park might yield a vacant buoy. 
We have tried in the past, unsuccessfully, to secure one of these coveted "tie ups" at a Marine Park closer to home for an evening. I was really hoping to avoid disappointment. 

As we approached the narrow entry into the channel that leads to Montague Bay, a couple of boats were making their exit. Charlene said "That looks encouraging." 
It wasn't long before Corleto had motored into the Bay proper. I got my binoc's and began to scan for empty buoys. 

"I think we are gonna be OK Charlene, I see at least 4." 
Another faster boat was about to overtake us, and with this first come first served rule, I was worried that faster vessels would beat Corleto to the punch. 
My fears were unfounded as we closed in on a row of about 3. I steered Corleto to one that was close to shore, but suddenly one appeared just ahead. 
I relayed to Charlene who was now with boat hook in hand up on the bow, that we would be trying for the closer one. 
I reduced throttle and maneuvered toward our target. 
Charlene reached out and hooked it on her first attempt. I put the engine in neutral and scampered ahead to help her secure the line. And Just like that we were tied up. Our first mooring buoy.

Corleto nicely tied up to a mooring buoy at Montague Harbour

The experience of tying up to a buoy and just relying on your boat systems was one we both had been looking forward to. We celebrated with a light snack and some relaxing on the deck under the shade of our makeshift cover. There was a slight breeze that kept us cooler than being in the sun. 
After a bit we got aboard our dingy to explore the park. It took us about 15 minutes to row to the dingy dock. Note to self for next time: Take a buoy closer to shore or get a small outboard. 
We explored around the tenting grounds and a bit of the shore line, but the heat of the day was just too much. So we headed back to Corleto for an afternoon snooze and some quiet time. 
After reboarding, I decided to perhaps go for a swim.

Thinking about jumping in
Again a new experience to jump off my boat into the water. I hesitated thinking what if I cannot get back aboard, why would I jump off a perfectly good boat? Because it's like 95˚ and I did this all the time when I was a kid. 
In I went with a rather big splash. 

The big SPLASH!

Damn that water was cold! It took my breath away. I swam right over to the dingy and grabbed a hold. Charlene said I had a smile that lit up the whole bay. I swam over to the swim ladder and climbed back aboard. That was fun. 

It's chilly!
We settled down and relaxed and watched the vessels come in an fill up the remaining buoys. It wasn't too long before a friendly couple who noticed our boat came over to introduce themselves and to invite us to next years Catalina Rendezvous. A short time later the park ranger came by to collect the park user fee. A bargain at $12. 

My Cheese Burger in Paradise- with extra cheese

As the sun began to fade, we fired up the BBQ and treated ourselves to two of the finest cheeseburgers we have ever made. We enjoyed a cold Corona and watched an amazing sunset. This place truly was a slice of heaven.

Thank you God.
Days like this are savoured. They are what vacations are meant to be, relaxing and restful to the soul. 
And one more- Heaven

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gulf Islands Trip Pt.4 - The Salt Spring Hat

After two nights tied up at Telegraph Harbour on Thetis Island, it was time for us to part ways with the crew of the Tarka. They would be headed to Maple Bay and then on to Sydney and we were destined to Salt Spring Island.

Another traveler as we head south in very gentle breezes.

We had a decent breeze to begin and enjoyed the feeling of being on our own. The routing would take us around the southern tip of Kuper Island then around the northeastern tip of Salt Spring. We had a gentile wind coming from the North West and this enabled us to enjoy a very long run with our drifter sail doing the lions share of the work. 

Rounding the point headed into Ganges

The heat was incredible and we kept ourselves hydrated. The passage was very pleasant. The 20 NM trip took just over 5 hours and we arrived at the Ganges Marina just after 15:00. 

First thing on the agenda was to get up a tarp for shade. Unbelievable just what a bit of shade can do for the overall temperature on the boat. 

Tied up in Ganges- you can see the tarp and the shades we used to keep out of the sun
Charlene was excited to be on the island as she was looking forward to going to a local museum and looking up an old friend who had roots on the island. This was my first time setting foot on Salt Spring, so everything was totally new to me. The marina was very close to any and all supplies one might need to restock the pantry. We found ourselves that first evening just to be content to restock our Ice supply and to sit and enjoy our boat treats watching the parade of American boats of all shapes and sizes come and tie up. There was no question Ganges was a busy marina. 

We had a great nights sleep and began day two on Salt Spring with a walk to the local museum. It was a kilometre inland and in the freaking heat seemed longer. But the walk was worth it as we arrived at this little homestead that now was the local historical society's museum. We were greeted by a rather friendly senior gentleman who bore a striking resemblance to Sir Richard Attenborough. I thought for just a second that we would be headed to Jurassic Park!

The Farmers Society Museum
Sir Richard gave us a personalized guided tour of the treasure trove of island artifacts contained in this little homestead. It really was quite the little gem and if you enjoy local history, then you got to go to this place if you find yourself on the island. 

Meanwhile, after returning to the boat for a afternoon snooze and some boat eats. Charlene and I broke out the backgammon board. Bets were placed and the skippers confidence was high. As you can see by the picture below, that confidence was soon shattered. (I'm playing white) It did not go well and as Forest Gump would say: "Thats all I am going to say about that."

The Ass Kicking - Charlene gammoned the skipper.

The other treat in Ganges is the Saturday Market, its less that a 5 minute walk from the berth and you really get a flavour of what Salt Spring Island is all about. People selling their wares, the only thing missing was someone singing "Sweet Molly Malone,,,,,, selling cockles and mussels alive alive O." Oh wait there was singing,,,,,,

The crowd at the Ganges Saturday Market
The trip to the market turned out to be a very successful one, as Charlene, who had been searching since last summer for a wide brimmed hat, was hoping to find her prize. It wasn't long before there she was standing before a mirror trying on hats. I had seen this movie before. 
This time the ending would be different as she found something that she liked, that kept the sun off her face and could be worn on the boat. It was the tri-fector. 

Charlene sporting her prize.

The market had pretty much everything, there was art, clothing, baked goods, jams, jellies, fresh farm produce, fresh meats, fresh fish and seafood. It certainly would be something I would return to during any future visit. 

We celebrated by treating ourselves to a local fish and chip supper from a food wagon just outside the marina. We would "take out" and enjoy with a nice cold one on Corleto's cockpit, again watching the parade of boats come and go into the Marina.

A toast to a great day
But as day 3 came to an end, Charlene in her hat, restocked ice and provisions in the galley, we both felt restless to leave. But where would we go? I had only planned and plotted to Ganges. 
Sunday morning came fast and we were anxious to get moving. 

We untied and cast off from Salt Spring and I set a course for what I hoped would be a little slice of Paradise. 
Where too?
We would not be disappointed.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gulf Islands Trip Pt. 3 - Pirates!

With the engine glitch of the Pass now behind us, it was time to sit back and enjoy what was before us. We had a 9kn breeze coming from the north and since we were headed south, running with the wind would be a nice comfortable change from the strong winds and seas of our Crossing.

Tarka- Hank going forward to adjust his headsail

It wasn't long before Tarka was way out on front with Corleto struggling to keep up with her working jib.
I looked at Charlene who was now nice and settled and said I think we should put up the drifter. She looked at me with that look and said, "If you think you should than do it."
I scurried forward with the drifter bag over my shoulder and doused the jib. I packed it tightly to the rail leaving it hanked on the forestay. Then I hanked on the drifter above the jib and then hoisted the halyard. The light breeze instantly filled the sail. The sail change gave us an extra knot in speed. We now could catch up, at least keep up and not fall behind.
It was not long before we had to make a starboard turn between the north end of Thetis Island and the Decourcy group of Islands. This put us on a very nice beam reach and Corleto responded quickly. That was some nice swift but, calm sailing after that turn and both Corleto and Tarka enjoyed the exercise.

But as all things do, this beam reach soon came to and end with another course correction making our heading due south towards Telegraph Harbour. Again we were running with the wind but our speed was of the 2.5 kn range.

Tarka closing in

I looked over at Tarka who was now closing in on us. It wasn't long we were running close parallel courses. Hank had this grin on his face as did Caroline. He had what looked like a boat hook in his hand, and for a minute I thought he was coming close to raft up or something. Then, all of a sudden, he points this boat hook towards us and lets fire a stream of water.

Tarka's crew using stealth as the close in- we didn't suspect a thing.

We were under attack! The only thing missing was Tarka flying the Jolly Roger!
Lucky for me Tarka's gunnery and range control systems were a bit off, the volley of cold water fell short of it's intended target. And now the element of surprise was lost.
Of course we all laughed like madmen at the hijinx.

Note to self: Arm Corleto with Kinc's long range potato cannon for next year!

Before long we were headed into the long channel up to Telegraph Harbour. I was concentrating so hard as we entered the harbour, as it is narrow and busy. A float plane landed next to Corleto and scared the shit out of me as I did not hear it until it was beside us.

Corleto tied up at Telegraph Harbour- Tarka in the background

Ah yes, Telegraph Harbour and what a treasure this place is. We pulled into the dock tied the boat down, and on the finger next to us, that Pirate ship, Tarka, her crew still smiling about the brief skirmish at sea. We all would laugh about the encounter again as we shared a meal on day two. Corleto's skipper would get his revenge on the horseshoe pitch.

Lots of laughs aboard the target vessel Corleto

Hank and Caroline are wonderful travel mates. We felt very privileged to have joined them to this point of our trip. Their humour keeps everyone entertained. But Telegraph Harbour is where we both went on our own courses. Tarka was heading to Ladysmith and Maple Bay, Corleto to Ganges on Salt Spring Island. We would keep tabs via texts.
We will catch up again at our home marina in Horseshoe Bay. I am sure there will be many stories to share then.
Telegraph Harbour Marina- If you get a chance- go there
Goin' for a row around the Harbour.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gulf Islands Trip Pt. 2 - Gabriola Passage

" I had thrown him a curve and he worked around it, but I knew it would bother him to the point he would have to act"- Corleto

As darkness fell on Silva Bay, we enjoyed the company of Hank and Caroline, the crew of Tarka our crossing mate. The conversation was all about what lay ahead around the Gulf Islands. What was not lost on us was the timing of the slack at Gabriola Pass.

Gabriola Pass is a narrow stretch of water  between Gabriola Island and Valdes Island and it links the Straight of Georgia to the protected waters inside the so called barrier islands of Valdes, Galiano, Mayne and Saturna. At a high tide the currents are too strong for Corleto's mighty 11 HP. The same for a low tide. So there is an ideal time that of course varies each day when the currents are such that they effectively cancel each other out, this is known as "slack" or the "turn".

Caroline, Charlene and Hank aboard Tarka for the post crossing debrief

Hank and I had both agreed that the best time to hit the pass was at 08:00 which meant an early morning cast off to get there. We said our good nights and retired to Corleto's warm and comfy confines. I went to turn on the 12 volt lights and nothing. Darkness. Other 12v systems worked, so it wasn't a battery. I cursed as this was the second electrical failure of this short trip. We relied on head lamps for our light and made ready for sleep. I closed my eyes with much on my mind, not the least of which was transiting my first narrow pass and whether I had an electrical fault that would somehow affect my starting battery. It was beginning to sound like I was about to repeat the Bellingham experience of multiple failures. I would have to draw on those lessons learned and deal with these nuisance problems.

During the night I figured what I would do to solve the 12v problem but it could wait till our next port of call. The main thing was to concentrate on piloting the transit through the pass safely and efficiently.

What I woke up to- anticipating the day to come

I woke to an amazing predawn sky. I was filled with anticipation and a bit of nerves. We had a breakfast of fruit and cereal. The excitement was palpable with Charlene eagerly going through our pre trip routine. Oil - Check. AC Electrical Breaker - OFF. DC Switch to Battery 1. Glow Plug count to 25. and IGNITION. My earlier fear of the engine not starting was for not.

The next thing I know we are headed out the channel toward Gabriola Passage. Hank calling on the radio asking if everything was OK.
"Yes we're good, over."
It is agreed that Tarka will lead as I figure experience out front is a good thing.
"Corleto, this is Tarka, is this speed OK for you, Over."
I looked at our speed, we were doing 5 kn and keeping up.
"Tarka, speed is good I am at about two thirds power, over."

We progressed into the pass. My smile was large and my confidence was high. I increased speed to keep up with Tarka. This was going smoothly.

Tarka off my port bow, just as we approach Gabriola Pass

That is precisely when Corleto decided to make the skippers heart beat just a bit faster.
I went to reduce RPM's on the throttle and nothing. That's strange, I thought. I turned the leaver the other way and Corleto's engine increased speed. Now she was running full on. My speed increased. I tried in vain to throttle down, but was unsuccessful. F bombs could now be heard on the deck.
Moments before F-Bombs
Just then Hank calls on the radio.
"Corleto, hows everything going, over."
Hank has impeccable timing.
"Tarka, we have developed a run a way engine, I cannot throttle down and I am increasing speed. I will have to figure something out when we get to open water at the end of the pass, Over."
"OK, we'll stay to starboard so you can overtake on our port, Over.
"Afirm Hank. Corleto Standing by, Out."

I quickly watched the temp readings on the panel. They were normal, so far so good. My mind began to race as to what could be the problem. Charlene who was remarkable, calm while her skippers heart was about to explode, said- "It's got to be something simple. Start with that."

Calm and helpful Charlene 
I explained to her that we would deal with the engine throttle when we exited the pass. There would be open water and room to make mistakes.
I smiled and accepted that Corleto was up to her old tricks and she would need attention.

We exited the pass and the first place I began to look was the linkage. I grabbed and held the cable and moved the throttle with my hand. The engine responded. Then I could see what had happened. A clip had come loose and the linkage cable had no leverage when it was being adjusted from the helm. It was a quick fix and it made for happy smiles.

The culprit clasp

All fixed and working A-OK.

All the while Corleto, smiled at her skipper. I hope she was proud.