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.


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