Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Christmas Project

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

I must admit to a certain sense of accomplishment for Mags and I, in being able to write that address. We arrived on 10-Dec-14 to get Mags on her flight to Vancouver for some long awaited grandma time. I feel a bit like the kid who got a detention and had to stay after school to finish his homework.

Neighbour's mast and La Paz from our mast
As most of you know, we went to sea in an unfinished project. But in my defence, if you wait until it is perfect you will never go, get the safety stuff done and go. In the nineteen days since arriving, I have been busy getting to know La Paz and, more importantly, sourcing the marine suppliers and food stores in a fairly large city. The bike has been working hard going from the big box stores in the South and East and the numerous marine stores in the marina area, to the small, old hardware and specialty stores of the old town, north along the Malecon. You know I am loving it…..

So after washing a month’s worth of salt from the boat and helping to tote laundry, I managed to plumb a dual filter canister system for our dock water hose. This was especially sweet because I got the two canisters at the Club Cruiseros swap meet for a bargain price. After throwing the old filters, fittings and hoses away and some elbow grease on the canister housings, new filters, new fittings and potable water hoses, it looked great. The test was less than stellar. I used a charcoal filter and a 5 micron filter and did a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) test and got a 625 reading. 500 is the FDA target number but I had never bothered to test any of the previous marinas so I have no basis for comparison. The people on the dock are mixed between buying delivered bottled water for their tanks and those who use basically what I have made and adding a quantity of bleach for chlorination. Consensus seems to be 1 tablespoon bleach per every 5 gallons.
Well, the fish in our marina seem to think the sea water is pretty good. They thrive, the water is quite clear, several feet of good vis and the tide does a good flush twice a day. Furthermore, the TDS meter mentioned is just one piece of a pile of stuff we bought as a group of Bluewater Cruising Association members who wanted to build their own watermakers with readily available, off the shelf parts. Credit goes to Colby Vaughn, Dennis Giraud and John Gleadle for spearheading this thru design and acquisition.
With filtration not working on the marina water, the watermaker became my priority Xmas project. Well, today the system produced water! The TDS readings after the requisite start-up flushing of the reverse osmosis (RO) membrane were 85 ppm on the in line meter and 97 ppm on the hand held meter in a sample collected in a glass. What, is this more criticism of my dish washing abilities – the glass was still dirty? Or just the variation of the meters. Whichever, the water tastes great! I made a measured gallon in 3 minutes 13 seconds and then added about 6 gallons to the main tank on the boat. Sweet.

Now, that is probably all that most of you want to know about watermakers so you can stop reading. For the few of you wanting to know more: design considerations, installation location issues, and so on, I will continue. I love the convoluted details ‘cause the devil lives there….

Watermakers are like real estate, it's all about location

The challenge - where to put a 40" long Pressure Vessel

Welcome to the Devil’s Lair

First a disclaimer, my knowledge is theoretical, the only system I have built is Kanilela’s and I would possibly make some fundamental changes to what I did. I have never owned a watermaker and never sailed on a boat that had one. I was of the conserve and minimize the systems which are prone to failure school of sailing. On Tangerine we intentionally sailed into squalls. It was simple, they had water and we needed water, or soon would, on a 45 day crossing. Her storage capacity was not sufficient to carry enough and we did collect a lot of water. Last summer in the BC Gulf Islands we had a new revelation. We could not fill our tanks at all of the marinas both due to shortages they were experiencing and at some their wells held only sulphur water that you would not want in you tanks. If it was this bad in the rain forest area of the Pacific Northwest, the Pacific Southwest to we Canadians, then how would we fare in the Caribbean?

Purchase a Brand Name System or DIY?

We have all heard stories of certain brands whose filters are a unique size and are not readily available other than through the manufacture, and priced accordingly. Another theme, encountered a little later in the life of the system, is pump or motor replacement parts are propriety parts and again, priced accordingly if the company still produces them. There are some other, more recent entries into the market, who have recognized the off the shelf philosophy and unless you are wanting to build a very specific system then I would recommend looking at one of them. Start with Cruise RO. Secondly, unless you have a fairly large boat and can fit a fully constructed unit that is essentially plug and play, you will need to do a lot of individual installations of the various parts whether Name Brand or DIY. It was the uniqueness of our various systems and the desire to build with readily available, from the shelf parts coupled with the savings from some level of bulk buying because there were eight of us committed to the project that led us to go forward with the project. In the end, possibly that should read “Eight of us that should have been committed”.

Quantity of Water You Require

Most of us were wanting production in the 20 gallons per hour range and a few wanted more, the 30 gallons per hour range. This had all of us using a very common membrane size of 2.5” diameter by 40” nominal length, either singly or two in series. We all chose to go with the Chinese made pressure vessel as opposed to the more expensive US made vessels. The Winder name is well regarded and used throughout the world in countless large commercial systems but what we assumed was a 3/8” NPT thread was probably a British or metric standard. Although we tried all available fittings, none were perfect so we had them re-machined to the US NPT standard. I am not at all disappointed with the product because we met Ed, Tony and Herman in Chula Vista California, as noted in a previous post, getting the machining done. The membrane was the Dow SW30-2540, a readily available membrane in the $180 range.

Only the back half of the lower shelf was used
The membrane housing rotates down using only the top back corner space of the drawers

Power Supply

Quite simply: belt drive from you engine, an AC motor or a DC motor. There were a couple of boats that had the space to do the pump driven directly from their engine which is probably the most efficient energy transfer but does necessitate running your engine to make water. An AC motor driven from a generator or the main engine thru an inverter was the most common choice. Several boats had generators already built in with capacity to run the pump. Another choice, which is the mainstay of the Cruise RO watermakers, is to use a Honda EU2000 to power the motor. It has the capacity and is economical on fuel. Most of us carry 4 cycle outboard motors so gas is not an additional fuel, only a little more quantity is needed. For most smaller boats the Cruise RO system with the Honda is probably the best way to go. My reservation was only that I did not want to be that guy in the anchorage who destroys everyone’s peaceful afternoon/evening with a running genny.

The 12V DC motor option is usually limited to much smaller production rates than our 18-20 gallons per hour, typically in the 6 to 11 gallons per hour range to keep the motors smaller and the amperage draw down. These tend to be less common membrane sizes and the pumps, generally are proprietary which defeats the original objective. Kanilela has 2 – 250 Watt solar panels with an 850+ Ahr battery storage capacity. The 1HP DC motor draws 80 amps to run the 1500 PSI pump. The numbers seemed to work so I ran with it. I should add, I was the only one who did. This June and July, cruising Vancouver Island with sunshine from 4:30 am to 10:30 pm the solar panels hardly noticed the 4.8 Amps for the Nova Kool frig/freezer (yes, I confess, I’ve become a power pig!) that I was certain I had the right combination for the watermaker – let the sun do all the heavy lifting…..

John Gleadle did a great job on the panel
Well in Mexico in December, the sun is surprisingly low on the horizon even though we are at the tropic of Cancer, and sunrise is about 7:00 am and sunset is about 5:00. Throw in a few clouds and an anchorage that casts the masts shadow onto the panels and those Ahrs become pretty elusive. We have a 100 Amp Balmar alternator so I can produce the Amps and on this trip with light airs the motor has been used a lot so the power was available.

Today, to prove the system, I used shore power through the Zantrex Prosine 2000 to charge the batteries. It was at 135V AC putting out 50 Amps (these Mexican Marinas are the opposite to our Canadian Marinas with their constant low voltage brown-outs) and with some additional input from the solar panels the system was at a slight negative production running frig/freezer, the lp feed pump and the hp pump. The system works. I have more real estate to be able to add to the solar array and wind turbines are getting near silent, so those are viable future options. I do not have a cruising kitty to support more AGM batteries nor do I want to bench press their 130lbs into some yet to be found location on the boat. For now, I guess we keep chasing South to get that sun more overhead and motor onto and off the hook. It sure is nice water.

 My Parts List:
1 - 1” bronze thru hull
1 – 1” bronze ball valve
1 – Vetus FTR140/19 Sea Strainer
1 – Johnson CM30P7-1 12v feed pump
1 – Check valve
3 – Watts 10” Filter housings
2 – ¾” 3Way valves
2 – hose spigots
1 – 1HP Leeson DC motor Model C4D17FK28
1 – WM Series General WM2315C 1500 PSI HP pump
2 – HP hoses 1 – 6’ 1- 8’
1 – Winder 2540 HP Membrane Housing
3 – Dow Sw30-2540 Membranes (2 would have been good enough)
1 – Pressure Valve
1 – Stauf Pressure Gauge
1 – Accutec Vacuum Gauge
1 – Dwyer GPH Flow Meter
2 – Cole Hersee 58312-R4 SPST w/LED switches
1 – Hobbs/Honeywell 98303 hour meter
1 – panel fabricated to fit all the controls and gauges
1 – HM Digital inline TDS Monitor Model SM-1
1 – HM Digital hand held TDS Meter Model TDS-4
1 – ½” vent fitting as a thru-hull drain
1 – sink spigot for testing, start-up drain and filling water bottles
6 – Charcoal filters
12 – 20 Micron Filters
12 – 5 Micron Filters
Endless ¼” OD tube and slip fittings, ½” ID CMS tube and fittings, 3/4” ID hose and SS Hose clamps   and bushings and adapters to fit it all together    

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We're in the Sea - Sea of Cortez of course....

Tuesday, 23- December 2014 - La Paz

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 – La Paz, Mexico

I have no excuse not to work on the blog. Kanilela is in Marina Cortez with power and the Rogue Wave is providing a good internet connection. Mags has returned to North Vancouver to spend some much missed “Granny Time”. It sounds like Ojies’s welcome was everything Mags could hope for.

I am staying with Kanilela to finish the watermaker, install the amp hour meter, find out why the anemometer quit giving wind speed and direction and finally, determine if the holding tank does have a pump problem or a gauge problem. What kind of Xmas vacation is that?

First, to back up to Ensenada.

The flag is about 1 km away from our moorage - huge!
It has always been my favorite “near” border town in Mexico and although it has been several years since I last visited, I really enjoyed the shops and people in the old city. People were helpful and friendly. Shopping was great and prices were good. Ensenada has 3 larger marinas and a few smaller docks that can be used. Anchoring inside the breakwater area is not permitted. Cruiseport Village Marina staff help boat owners prepare their entry paper work, including accompanying you to the Port Captain’s office so, knowing we had some issues, we decided to stop at Cruiseport. The huge Mexican flag that welcomes you into the port definitely announces the start of a new adventure.

As you may have heard, last year many US and Canadian boats had problems in Mexico due to a multitude of documentation issues. Hull identification numbers were one of the major problems because some of the inspectors did not know that boats made in the 1980’s and before did not have a HIN and incorrectly assumed there was a problem and impounded many boats. I won’t go into our details beyond recommending that people do not use the online application. Do everything in person and Ensenada is probably the best port because they handle so many boats and all the offices are in one large room. In some cities the offices are spread throughout the town. Fortunately Jonathan and Enrique from Cruiseport and the very helpful staff in the four government departments located in the Port Captain’s office helped us to the successful conclusion with all the necessary forms in place. Although we had to pay twice for the TIP and four times to receive one tourist visa, we are here and happy.

Dawn at the point outside Bahia San Quintin
We left Ensenada planning to sail through the night and spend an afternoon and night at Bahia San Quintin. By late afternoon we had no wind and a thick fog bank enveloped us until about 2:00 am, the fog then receding to the coast as a light South wind developed. Bahia San Quintin is a bay protected from the North or Northwest wind by a point with only a few fishermen’s houses on the beach. The ocean swell can make it a rolling anchorage and the bay is so shallow you have to anchor about half a mile from shore. An open roadstead anchorage. We dropped the hook and after seeing it holding well, I immediately went to sleep. Two hours later, I was awake with Kanilela pitching in a strong wind and swell coming from the south. Surf was breaking off our stern even though we were so far from shore and in 20 feet of water. We quickly pulled the anchor and headed south.

We continued through the night and next day with two possible destinations. One was at a fairly exposed anchorage beside a sea lion colony on Isla Cedros close to the Baja coast. Our other option was a small group of three islands, Islas Benitos, further out in the Pacific. The Benitos are small and rocky with a fishing village on the west island, an elephant seal colony on the low center island and the east island uninhabited rock. The best anchorage was off the elephant seal colony so we decided after all the sea lion noise we had put up with from San Francisco down the California coast we would try the Elephant seals as neighbours. I can’t say they were quiet but they definitely were a different noise and were almost quiet at night. The water was clear with 25 foot visibility and the stars bright until the growing moon rose. A beautiful relaxing anchorage although we did not see the elephant seals up close because there is concern for their colony and beach landings are discouraged.

Bahia Tortuga - Turtle Bay

Bahia Tortuga Church and Maria's on right edge of picture

Our fishing boat neighbour and Enrique's fuel dock

The Catholic Church in Bahia Tortuga
A downtown street
The next day we made the southward crossing to the Baja coast to Bahia Tortuga, Turtle Bay, and were at anchor by late afternoon. We spent 3 days wandering the dirt streets comparing the numerous tiendas, small grocery stores, buying something from all of them and being treated very well, with a quiet curiosity being evident. These people are used to cruisers because this is the first of two stops that the Baja Haha makes which had passed through with 175 boats a month earlier. Four other boats shared the anchorage with us and one was north bound after having sailed down in the Baja Haha. They were amazed how empty the bay and town were. There used to be two fuel docks but only Enrique’s was open. Fuel is delivered to your boat in a big square plastic tank carried in a panga. A gas generator runs an electric pump to fill you tank. There is no measurement system so the age old cruiser’s complaint is the quantity was less than charged. We just considered it a cost of travel on a remote coast and had a really enjoyable time. Maria, Enrique’s sister, and her son Victor, run a restaurant with wifi so we had a few excellent dinners there. We became so friendly with them there were hugs all around as we had our last dinner and prepared to leave. The Bay is one of the largest, most protected anchorage on the west coast of the Baja.

Bahia Sta. Maria

After the relaxing stop in Tortuga, we were feeling Mags’ pending flight to Canada looming and decided to have any spare days in the Sea of Cortez in case we lost our weather window on the outside. We had mixed wind and no wind, sailing and motorsailing for the two day trip from Tortuga to Bahia Sta. Maria. En route on the second day Mags saw a big turtle swimming by and our usual dolphins often kept us company. Bahia Sta. Maria is a more open anchorage than Tortuga and has no village but is well placed and easily entered. We had the full moon for our night at anchor but had to pull up the anchor at 4:00 am to set us up for a daytime arrival in Cabo. 20 miles south is Bahia Magdalena with both a village and a town but both located several miles from the entrance to the Bay so we saw their lights at night but passed the entry to the bay during the day on our way to Cabo San Lucas. Another milestone on the sail was the crossing of the Tropic of Cancer.

The start of the Cabo Condos and s/v HooRoo
Through the night we followed the progress of another boat, both by the lights in the distance and the track on radar, that we thought was probably a sailboat. Come dawn we realized that it was the big Aussie catamaran, HooRoo with Jill and Jim who we met earlier back in Ensenada. We visited by radio and went our separate ways, ships passing in the night, well more accurately in the dawn. We have seen a lot of fishing boats at night on the trip but not many sailboats.

Cabo San Lucas

It does not matter how prepared one is for the tourista development of Cabo San Lucas, after the dusty small town of Turtle Bay and remote, unpopulated anchorages like Islas Bonitas and Bahia Sta. Maria, it is a shock to the senses. The location is beautiful, the Arch, la playa, the jagged rock formations and the clear water are everything one hopes for. The condominium developments and all the beach activities, glass bottom pangas by the dozen, parasailing, sea-dos, and the hustling for the restaurant trade were overwhelming. We spent two nights at the marina and walked all over the downtown area. Workers were everywhere trying to rebuild after hurricane Odile, about 30% of the marina space is destroyed. The small harbour was chaos with the pangas, the cruise ship shuttles, the sports fishing boats and the tour boats. The trip up the inside coast to La Paz brought a welcome tranquility.

 La Paz - in the next post

La Paz means peace - a sunset from s/v Spinnaker

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We're in Turtle Bay, Baja California South, Mexico

Her we go again, another quick chronology.

San Francisco to Halfmoon Bay where we anchored and hid from the 35 knot winds for the night behind the breakwater and the big radar ball on the hill. This was the first time to see pelicans flying with military precision, a regular strategic command performance. A nice town that exists for the fishing industry, both commercial and sport.

To Santa Cruz for 3 nights to pick up the Rogue Wave Wifi booster that we ordered in Sausalito. It arrived 2 days late so we walked the town, the boardwalk and carny and love a lot of the old west coast coastal housing that has been well maintained. Unfortunately we saw a +/- 34 foot sailboat that had been at anchor washed up on shore. It was a Santa Cruz boat so we’re not certain why they anchored on the edge of the surf line with a lee shore. Their 27 foot buddy boat managed to get off the beach without washing up. Two days later they refloated her and towed it into the harbor past our mooring. A very dejected owner sitting in the boat, but she was floating. A very sobering image that will influence our anchorage choices.

Across the Bay to Monterey for 3 nights where the folding bikes again came into their own. The tourists have claimed Monterey and Cannery Row since we saw it years ago so it isn’t as quaint as it once was but a beautiful place for riding with lots of bike trails and bike lanes.

Then on to Morro Bay where we had a high anxiety moment when entering. We had furled the sails and were just at the first buoys when the engine died. It sounded starved for fuel but with the surf at the bar we didn’t have time for trouble shooting, just enough time to raise the genny and claw our way out to sea again. The day tank with the bulb pump came to the rescue and we got the motor going without really determining why the main tank feed failed. We took a Morro Bay YC mooring buoy with the tidal current sweeping us one way and the winds blowing us the other. At the Morro Bay YC dock were Kialoa with Scott and Tanya from Saltspring Island who we first met in Bedwell Harbour on South Pender in April and Serafin with Syd and Birgit from Seattle. Scott  used to live in Southern California and a friend in Morro loaned him a car so the four of us bundled off to Costco in San Luis Obisbo to re-provision the boats.

We followed Serafin out of Morro Bay by about 2 hours and had some beautiful wind to sail with for the first several hours but before we rounded the infamous Pt Conception in the night the winds had died so it was less onerous than anticipated. That night had the first of the oil rigs all lit up, looking very sci-fi like. We passed Santa Barbara and the Northern Channel Islands in the night and continued to Oxnard for a morning landfall. Oxnard has re-invented itself with an amazing foreshore development that permits cruisers to go by dinghy up a couple of miles of canals fringed with high end waterfront homes to a Vons shopping mall. You can wheel the cart to the dinghy which was a first since Port McNeil on Vancouver Island in the summer.

We had a fabulous Mexican dinner with Syd and Birgit and then said “see you later” the next day as they are moving much faster than us to the Panama Canal and probably on to Europe. Where next we meet can only be conjectured but they are such a nice cruising couple we will follow their blog and see when we are in the same area.

Oxnard is also the home of the best dinghy wheel manufacturer bar none! I had heard about Danard dinghy wheels thru Bluewater Cruising Assoc. and some blogs had mentioned them so I had ordered them in Vancouver along with some vg quality stainless parts and I had been really impressed with both the quality and price. So Saturday morning saw me onto the bike and off on an 8 mile ride to their address. I had a nagging suspicion that as they are primarily a web mail provider and not located near the water that they may be closed on Saturday. Sure enough, as I rounded the corner and could see the empty parking lot at their modern warehouse/office I knew it was a wasted trip. My traveller’s sense of curiosity kicked in and I went to the tinted window to see if there was any retail displays or just offices. So there I was, face and arms pressed against the glass peering in like a kid at a candy store when to my amazement there was a person at a desk inside jumping up to unlock the door. Steve is the nicest entrepreneur one could ever meet. He took me into the warehouse where I truly was the kid in the candy store picking out the quality stainless parts that are impossible to find. So after some hard negotiating where he beat me down to a price that even a cruiser (yes, you read that right) could afford I was on my way complete with a very heavy backpack. Check out the web site, you will be glad you did and their mainstay product, the wheels, are the best! Oh yea, Danard?, yes it is a play on the Oxnard name from Steve’s old surfing days.

Solastra with Lyn and Dean, who we hadn’t seen since San Francisco, and Kialoa with Scott and Tanya arrived and more good food and another mini BCA BURP occurred. Kialoa and Kanilela did an overnight sail to Cat Harbor on Catalina Island.

Kialoa, Sea Rover II and Kanilela in Cat Bay
We had just anchored when a dinghy pulled up beside with Bill from Greybeard, although we had asked numerous boats since we parted in Coos Bay 2 months previous, no one had seen him. It was great exchanging adventures. I did a good bike ride up to Emerald Bay with some incredible views down into the clear water. Bright golden orange Garibaldi fish could be seen in 30 foot deep waters. After a few days relaxing and greeting Sea Rover II’s arrival with Gary and Corina, we moved around to the Isthmus Harbour. After Mags showed her Bocci prowess in the men vs women game we all said “see you later” to Bill who was heading straight to Ensenada while the rest of us were heading to Avalon.

Scott and Bill's body language says it all, the girls were cleaning up!
Avalon felt very Mediterranean. The architecture, the harbour front, the dry vegetation and clear water but it was time to keep heading south, so after a few days we left for Oceanside and on to San Diego.

We had been given a contact person to get us in touch with an unnamed machinist who we could get to rethread our Chinese watermaker pressure vessel parts from John and Jennifer on Spinnaker. The contact, Ed, on B dock in Chula Vista, no last name and no number and Chula Vista has 2 marinas. John and Jennifer, gone to La Paz. Clearly some sleuthing had to be done. It felt like the start of a pulp crime novel. But the best part was we got to travel in past all of the San Diego marinas, thru the downtown, under the Coronado Bridge and wind our way down the 7 mile channel past the US Pacific Fleet to Chula Vista. Wow! There are some spooky looking craft in there!

After one night at the wrong marina, the Chula Vista Harbor Marina, we moved to the right marina, the California Marina and receiving our 3 complimentary nights from the Chula Vista Yacht Club, I went in search of Ed. Now waterfront people tend to be a little secretive when strangers are asking “Where’s Ed?” but to my surprise the first person I met at 8:00 am said: “There’s two Ed’s, which one do you want?” After determining the right Ed and that he would be on his boat because he hated to be woken up early but the stranger insisted I definitely should go wake him up. I felt my best defence would be to have the name of the ne’er do well who had sent me to Ed’s boat so I could at least throw him under the bus for causing my early morning arrival and so it was, I met Tony. When a wild head of long hair with a full greybeard held by a ponytail elastic, eventually rose from the hatch of a very sweet William Gardner designed ketch with immaculate bright work, I quickly told him John Gleadle sent me but it was Tony who said I should knock on the hull this morning, early… The name was like a bone being thrown to a dog, you knew someone would get chewed on.

Over the course of the next 4 days, Ed introduced me to the machinist, loaned us his Miata to go provision the boat and joined us for dinner a couple of times. The machinist, Herman, worked in a huge warehouse, down by the Mexican border, jammed with old dusty lathes and milling machines, all for sale. His friends, the owners, let him use the machines and he worked only in the mornings, some days. I was the kid in this group of players, probably by as much as 10 years in some cases, and all of them incredibly intelligent interesting people. The machining was done perfectly. Tony joined Ed for one of Mags’ dinners on the boat and regaled us with his living in the off the beaten path areas of the Caribbean. Damn, you meet some great people travelling.

Back up to San Diego, on the hook in La Playa Anchorage for the weekend. The clan was gathering. We had six BCA boats for dinner on Sea Rover II. La Playa is only available as a weekend anchorage so we moved with Kialoa to the SWYC for two days. Frank, a member with a boat at the dock, took Mags and I for a tour of Point Loma and San Diego and picked up our exit papers for the US.

Then we were off early for Ensenada, Bahia San Quintin, Las Islas Benitos (to be serenaded by an elephant seal colony for the night) and on to Bahia Tortugas, Turtle Bay.

We are leaving here early tomorrow so I will post this now and revisit the stops in Mexico later. We are almost half way down the Baja Peninsula and a couple more step will see us in Cabo.

No time to edit, sorry for typos and rambling content. Gord

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Where does one re-start a blog? 14 months ago our cruising plans were postponed.


Here is a quick chronology since the cruising re-commenced:

The Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island

Dolphins playing
22-June-14 we left Vancouver headed north on the inside passage. We wanted to get to the Broughton’s quickly, so by day 3 we were in Seymour Narrows, sight of the infamous Ripple Rock that claimed so many hulls until it was blasted in the early 1950’s. Our haste was rewarded with all our anchorages to ourselves.  The weather warm and sunny but winds were light so sailing was infrequent. The need to make schedule tide and current changes made for a lot of motoring. We were regularly visited by large pods/schools of Pacific Whiteside Dolfins, saw some bears, a few whales and enjoyed the tranquility of the Broughton’s. An incredible visit to Alert Bay and time spent with David’s family deserve an entry of its own that I must do.

Tuesday, 8-July-14, we left Port Hardy for the Nawitti Bar and around to Cape Scott. The tides were perfect, the seas calm and the sun was bright and warm. No fog at all on the top of Vancouver Island so we were able to see the Scott Island group right out to Triangle Island in the distance. We continued down to the entrance to Quatsino Sound and into Winter Harbour. The warm sunny weather continued down the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Again, these beautiful remote anchorages demand a future blog. Friday, 25-July-14 we were moored at Bob and Francine Charlton’s dock on Cheeha Island just off the Alberni Canal, where we had a great feast and visit at their beautiful home.

We rounded Cape Beale on the morning of Sunday 27-July, fog in the distance moving towards us but never catching us and had another bright, sunny day, this time up the Juan De Fuca to Victoria where we caught up with Lynn and Dean on Solastre to share our collective experiences and memories of the 2 boats journeys.

31-July-14 we sailed under the Lion’s Gate Bridge to our Berth at Coal Harbour, Vancouver to begin three and one half weeks of boat work and preparation for our sail to San Francisco.

The Big Left Turn

26 Aug -14, we again sailed under the Lion’s Gate Bridge, but this time we really had no idea when we might return. A night at Sidney Spit, a night in Port Angeles after clearing customs and receiving our cruising permit and a night at Neah Bay, and we were ready to make the big left turn south. We departed Neah Bay, Friday, 29 Aug, in thick fog but fortunately it burned off before we rounded Cape Flattery. 2-Aug, after several days of very light winds, often on our nose from the SW, which sent us out to 80 miles from the coast, and a few brief squalls blowing up to 25-30 knots, but never lasting, we decided to sail for Coos Bay, Oregon. The charging system seemed to be shutting down when we ran the engine and I wasn’t certain we would always be able to charge from the solar if clouds and fog rolled in. As we approached the coast and were again able to received Coast Guard weather we heard Cape Blanco, just south of Coos Bay, was expecting gale force winds and several of the bars for the port entries were being closed down. Fortunately, Coos Bay was only closed to craft under 26 feet so we entered and spent 2 nights while the winds howled outside. While there, we met Bill on s/v Greybeard who was single-handing from Friday Harbor and we had the best clam chowder ever at Miller’s Landing Pub and Restaurant. The charging issue was easily solved, after discussions with Bill, if the engine is on turn off the solar controller, otherwise they seem to compete and create issues. Not certain of the logic of this but it appears to work.

Friday, 5-Sept, with Greybeard a few hours ahead of us we left Coos Bay. We had good winds but again it was from the SW with enough changes we were tacking regularly to maintain some southerly gain. Finally it died….. again. Where were the NW’erlies the forecast promised? On the evening of 8-Sep after 3 days and nights of overcast skies and very little wind we turned on the motor and arrived in Drake’s Bay the following morning. After an incredibly relaxing day and night on the hook we rode the tide under the Golden Gate Bridge and up to Spoonmaker Point Marina in Sausalito, 13 days after we left Vancouver.

We spent 11 days in Sausalito, 4 at Spoonmaker Point Marina and 7 at the Sausalito Cruising Club (the SCC will be a blog in itself). Then it was up the lazy river to Sacramento. Although we were limited with a 6 foot keel, we had no problems with the Sacramento River by thinking like a Mississippi River Boat Captain and divining the deeper channels. Coming from British Columbia with our incredibly deep fiords it is quite unnerving having less than 2 feet under the keel for hours on end.

We first stopped in Benicia where two friends from Kiewit, Melanie Morris and Kelly Burnett met us at the Marina and Kelly took us for a great dinner. It was great catching up with them and Benicia is a beautiful small town. Then on up the river to Walnut Grove/Locke to see a place that has been locked in a time warp. The building look like it is a movie set. They date back to the early days of life in the delta, especially Locke with its Chinese heritage and Al the Wops Tavern. Then up to Sacramento where another great friend, Dale Davis, took us on a tour of Sacramento complete with Sutter’s Fort and the Native Indian Museum. We had an incredible time. What a way to drop in for a visit, up the river. Our trip down include some traversing the delta sloughs from the Sacramento River to the San Joaquin River.

Back in Sausalito, San Francisco Bay,  

Mags and I returned from Sacramento and the Delta and were at anchor in Sausalito for 3 nights. We made the trip with no groundings but often not a lot of water under the keel. Having 6 bridges opened for you is very cool, especially Tower bridge in Old Sacramento with the state capital building up the street about 4 blocks, middle of rush hour and you bring the city to a halt..... The bridge keepers are the friendliest people, all 12 times we requested an opening they were great. One was even dancing in her control booth when she knew the Canadians were coming back down river!

We moved to Clipper Marina to fuel up and then tied up in front of Dean and Lynn on Solastra. We were there for 3 nights as the Marina is fully booked for Fleet Week from Thursday on. Gary and Corina on Sea Rover II arrived and anchored in Sausalito. When the 3 boats got together for dinner it was the biggest BCA gathering for us since the rendezvous in Bedwell Harbour in May!  

We have met or at least seen Ted and Sue 0n Odessa 3 times now, first at the fuel dock 2 weeks ago, then we saw Adesso up at Horseshoe Bend Slough a few weeks ago and had a good visit with Ted when we were at anchor in Sausalito. Ted has been a great help/encouragement re: the Pactor modem stuff.

For those of you still north of San Francisco, two pieces of advise Ken Richardson, the BCA Bosun, gave us from his recent delivery to Sausalito that proved excellent - 1. stop at Drakes Bay for a good sleep on a calm anchor before entering San Francisco and 2. if possible get permission to moor at the Sausalito Cruising Club (this is not the Yacht Club, very laid back group just south of Spoonmaker Point Marina. They can squeeze 3 boats at the barge/clubhouse but entry can only be done at high tide. Anchor out and dinghy in to see John the Harbour/Dock master. We stayed 7 nights before heading up river, it was great. Some members are at the dock now so we just visited for the Monday night buffet and open Mic/ jam session last night. Good times.

Welcome to the Hotel California!

Sausalito Cruising Club will be a post of its own. The people were so good to us and the place is an absolute one off. More to come on that.

The Second Big Left Turn…

After more than a month in the Bay Area we finally slipped away to a beautiful anchorage at Half Moon Bay, then on down to Santa Cruz for three days and Monterey for another three days. Great places for sightseeing and the folding bikes were magic. From there we did an overnight down to Morro Bay and stayed for 3 days. We were on a buoy in front of the MBYC and were surprised to see Scott and Tanya on Kialoa from the Victoria BCA chapter. We last saw them In Bedwell harbour in May. We also met Syd and Birget on Sarafina out of Seattle. With a weather system pending we made another overnight trip passing Santa Barbara in the night and arrived in Channel Islands Marina in Oxnard. Syd and Birget preceded us by a few hours and we had several great visits over the week until they left for San Diego. This has been a great surprise with shopping from the dinghy in the canals, and lots of travelling on the bikes and a Halloween party at the Channel Islands Yacht Club.

So now we are caught up I will have pictures in future posts. Life is very good!