We’re back

After almost four weeks and over 600 miles of cruising, Farley and I made it back late yesterday afternoon. Megan left us in Vancouver on Sunday to help with a close friend’s medical issues. In any case, all’s well, and we’re all back home.

Yesterday was the first day the sun didn’t shine on us. We even got rained on a little in the morning. But it’s always pretty no matter what the weather.


I’m not sure if I want to do a comprehensive narrative of the trip, so I’ll just share some random thoughts and photos.

Here’s one of the unforeseen bonuses of the trip. While pulling up the anchor in Gibson’s Landing, I was getting concerned about how hard the windlass was working. Usually it’ll grunt a bit when breaking the anchor loose, but then it’s easy work. Not so this time. It was laboring all the way. I was getting concerned that something was broken or getting burned out. Here was the issue.

gibsonsanchorNotice the chain wrapped around my anchor? Attached to that chain is 30 kg Bruce anchor. I spent more than an hour salvaging the chain and anchor. If you think it should have been easy, you should try wrestling 66 lbs of anchor and over 150 lbs of chain while standing in a dinghy! New, this stuff is worth almost $1000. Maybe I can get half of that at a swap meet or on Craig’s List. Sometimes boating is a hole in the water you pull money out of!

Princess Louisa Inlet was probably the highlight of the trip. It’s gorgeous, with waterfalls, mountains and lots of water. Even though the water is pretty chilly, we went swimming a couple of times. Farley went too, but he wasn’t real happy about it. I think (hope) he’s forgiven me for pushing him in.


The world-famous Chatterbox Falls not far from where we anchored. If you can find room, it’s a good place to anchor because the constant flow of the falls keeps the anchored boat pointed right at them. Or you can tie up at the usually full dock. Otherwise, it’s really tricky to anchor in the vicinity because the water drops so quickly from the shore. I’ve seen water over 100′ deep 10′ off shore. You have to go through the Malibu Rapids to get into the inlet, and that can be exciting if your’re not patient enough to wait for slack current. I think Megan was actually a bit disappointed (but relieved) at how easy it was at slack after I told her how rapid the rapids could be.


Here’s Rinpoche with a mega-yacht in the background. The name of the boat is After Eight, and according to Google, is (or was) owned by Don Wheaton, a familiar name in car dealerships in Edmonton. Apparently he had eight kids, and after eight, he bought something for himself. On board were a whole slew of teenagers, playing on their jet skis and water skiing behind the high-powered zodiacs. I thought this was more than a bit inappropriate in such an idyllic setting, so I complained to the park ranger when I saw her. She explained that, yes the land around the Falls is a provincial park, but that the waters were under federal control, and therefore she had no jurisdiction. She had complaints from others, but there wasn’t much she could do. So I put on my best grumpy old man face and took my dinghy over to have a chat. The guy I talked to was 30ish, but was obviously in charge. He was polite, so I didn’t get to do my unhinged rant. They slowed their play down a bit, and after the ranger went out and complained, they stopped all together.

Here’s a shot of PLI looking away from the Falls.


Something seen in PLI that I’ll keep in mind the next time I’m shopping for something for Baby Elina.


Here’s a scene from Powell River, a lumber mill town on the coast. Big log booms get towed to the mill to be processed. The interesting thing is that they built the breakwater to the mill by sinking a bunch of WWII vintage boats. The tugs towing the booms go in one side, drop off their loads, and head out the other side. Logging is not a pretty business, but I think the breakwater is cool.


And then we’ll go from rusting heaps of steel to the moon rising over Ganges in the Gulf Islands.


This was taken on Sunday after sailing across The Straits of Georgia in 12-18 knots of wind. I love it when I can sail faster than I can motor. At cruising speed with the engine, the boat speed is a little over 7 knots. With the wind I had on Sunday, I was doing 7.5 most of the time. I could have gone a bit faster, but was edging out of my solo-sailing comfort zone when the winds got up to 18 or 20. So I under-trimmed the sails a bit but still had a fast, comfortable sail.

And here’s Farley and I having a bit of a chat.


He may not like it much when the boat is heeled over and getting thrown around by waves and wakes, but he’s a very forgiving dog. He does like land better though. So much so that when we docked at Roche Harbor to go through American customs, I had his leash tied to a winch on deck so he wouldn’t jump off before I’d finished docking, or so I thought. We got to within about 2′ of the dock, and he went for it. It turned out that his leash was just long enough so that he could hang from his neck over the side of the boat in the water. Kinda like a canine fender. Fortunately there were fenders on either side of him, so he wasn’t in danger of being crushed by the boat against the dock. I stopped the boat and hauled him out as the customs agents came out to help handle the boat and Farley. Usually customs guys are gruff to the point of being rude, but Farley’s incident helped break the ice. They were very friendly and helpful, and I breezed through the process.

Not all the time was spent lounging around. Here Farley is keeping Megan company while she does a bit of work on a project she’s been working on.


As usual, boating is not always a non-contact sport. No, I’m not showing off my love handles. This is a pretty good boat-bite I received while falling through an open hatch on deck while I was messing bringing down the mainsail. And yes it hurt!


This was a good trip. I had a few boat issues (navigation, refrigeration, and a failed shower sump pump) to deal with, but as it turned out, non of them stopped us or even slowed us down much. I think a month sailing north every summer could become a Friesen-Bond family tradition.

Ps. And then just to annoy me, WordPress changed their whole template. It’ll take me a while to figure it out, but in the meantime, you’ll have to live with lousy formatting.

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Lund, Gaza, Israel, etc.

We are now in Lund, the last stop before Desolation Sound. What a depressive jerk George Vancouver must have been to name this area Desolation Sound. It’s absolutely gorgeous, even if the sun isn’t shining as it is now. I don’t know what communications will be like in Desolation Sound. Not good, I’m guessing, so this may be the last post for a while.

One thing that is totally unrelated to this trip, but happened on this trip is the Facebook war I got in with Joe and Brad and others about Israel and Gaza. I didn’t express myself very well, but I think that most responders weren’t hearing what I was trying to say. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to bring a moral context to the war. Any time people are killed, morality is involved, and that cannot be denied. Even if you go to war for moral and just reasons, how that war is conducted has moral implications. Even if your enemy is evil, you can’t kill all those surrounding the evil and be moral. If you’re firing ineffective rockets at civilian populations, that can’t be moral, even if not that many people are killed or injured. Intentions do matter.

I will stipulate that Hamas is an organization that hates Jews and will do anything to kill Jews, drive them to the sea, and expel them from the Middle East, even if it means a kill ratio of 1000:1 or more of their own people. I will stipulate that Israel has a right to exist, that it is the only democracy in the area, and that Israelis generally don’t want to pave Gaza. There’s not much good to say about Hamas, but in spite of Israel’s Western-style democracy, there’s lots of not-so-good stuff to be said about Israel’s policies. Yes, Israel left Gaza in 05, but it has been anything but a free state since then. Israelis control power, water, and anything that goes in and out of the place. Gazans couldn’t have their own state under anything but the strictest of Israeli controls, and that’s not a free state my anyone’s definition. You can’t build a real economy through tunnels. With their policy in Gaza and with their settlements policy, the Netanyahu administration is rubbing Palestinian noses in the dirt every chance it gets. Netanyahu lied about the killing of three Israelis that started this whole mess. Even the government now admits that the killings were done by a lone cell not under Hamas control.  Hamas may be evil, but the current Israeli government is giving Palestinians every reason to hate them.

On the subject of proportionality – isn’t that the basis of all morality? Isn’t the Old Testament doctrine of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” all about proportionality? The last numbers I saw are something like 1700 Gazans dead versus 70 Israelis. Most of the Gazans are civilians. Most of the Israelis are soldiers. There is something wrong with that picture, no matter how you look at it.

I am not the only one questioning the morality of all this. Read this article from The Jewish Daily Forward, hardly an anti-Semitic screed.

Another thing I wonder about is how the Israeli government, far and away the most powerful military force in the region, has tried to transform this battle into an existential struggle with the least powerful military group in the area. Israel cannot be defeated militarily by Hamas, but if the Israelis lose at least the semblance of the moral high ground, their long term prospects are not good.

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Pender Harbour, again

We’re back in Pender Harbour after a couple of days in Princess Louisa Inlet. It’s an amazing place, even without cell phones and internet.

Since I have my laptop, but unfortunately not my camera, I’ll post a few pictures from our earlier adventures.bathtubHere’s the Committee Tub for the bathtub races in Nanaimo. I didn’t get a good shot of an actual racer. They are very small with a bathtub-like thing on a planing hull. I think the maximum horsepower is 10, but the little things are pretty fast, and very unstable.

And this is what caused all my navigation difficulties.


As you may recall, my display seemed to have random orientation, making it difficult to figure out exactly where I was. That’s a can of spray lube on the shelf. The heading sensor (an electronic compass) is immediately beneath it in the closet. As the can rolled around, my heading would change, driving me nuts! With the can gone, and my system recalibrated, everything is fine.

All my pictures of PLI are on my camera, but here’s one I took on the way there. We had done our laundry in Egmont, but had to leave before it was fully dry in order to get to the Malibu Rapids at slack tide.

laundrySo Megan did her First Mately duty and pinned it all up on the lifelines. Most scenic clothesline ever!

We reprovisioned our larder and will be heading north to Desolation Sound either today or tomorrow. No schedule, no firm destination. Life is good!


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Pender Harbour

We’re here in Pender Harbour after a great sail from Nanaimo. I would post some pictures, but it seems that the pub internet we’re on doesn’t like downloading pictures. I’m not 100% sure that this post will download.

In any case, all is well, Technical difficulties are over with, for now at least. I’ll post more another time, but skippers out there – do you know where your heading sensor is? I was wrong about the location of mine, and that, and a can of spray lube, caused all my problems

We had a great time in Nanaimo, complete with fireworks. We thought that they were in honour (I’m spelling Canadian) of our arrival, but we found out they were really for the annual bathtub races. And then we had a great dinner and a great time with Ilsa and Buzz last night.

Tomorrow we’re off to Princess Louisa Inlet, and after that probably Desolation Sound. I’ll post more another time, complete with photos,  if we ever get a real internet connection.

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Technical difficulties, Part II

Health-wise, I’m fine and back to “normal” or whatever passes for normal these days.

The technical difficulties are with Rinpoche. Faithful readers may recall the fuel and head issues I had on last year’s trip north. Those problems have long since been solved, but new ones have popped up to take their place. And I guess that Murphy’s Laws extend to boats as well, with a minor modification. Anything that can go wrong, will. Especially if you’re on an extended trip.

This time it’s the navigation system. It appears that my heading sensor has either died or lost its mind. The chart plotter works, the radar works, and I have course and heading arrows, but none of it works together. The plotter charts function, but the orientation is not correct. The radar radars, but it doesn’t overlay on the chart. The heading and course vectors are all over the map. As a result, it’s hard figure out exactly where I am, and the auto pilot will either have me spinning in circles or send the boat 90 degrees or more off course. That means hand steering all the way, which on a rainy day like today is more than a bit annoying. Thank goodness my old-fashioned compass works.

We’re in Roche Harbor right now, the scene of the fuel issues of last year. I called Raymarine in New Hampshire yesterday for support, but they limit hold times to 20 minutes and then ask for a number to call back on. They promise a return call within 12 business hours. Great. It’s like calling Comcast. Why are all these help lines the same? Are all tech companies evil? I called the local marine service shop here, and even though he was friendly enough, he didn’t have anyone who could troubleshoot the problem with me. He did give me the name of a company in Sidney, BC, about 10 miles from here. I talked to someone there, and they do have the technology to figure this out. Today I’ll try to do an initial calibration (as if it were a new installation)  of the sensor. If that doesn’t work, we’ll head to Sydney and let the pros take care of it.

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Due to unexpected technical difficulties…

We left Seattle by boat yesterday as planned, but turned around an hour and a half later due to technical difficulties. No, it wasn’t the boat. Rinpoche is fine. It was these little buggers -stonesFor a size reference, I put a penny in the cup with a filter in the bottom. The gravelly-looking things are kidney stones. You may have heard stories about how painful it is to pass these things – they are all true! Women with their childbirth horror stories have nothing on me! It’s hard to believe those little things put me in here for a few hours last night -erA little morphine killed the pain, and drinking a lot of water flushed those little bastards out this morning.

So now I’m back to normal, but just to be sure, we’ll wait until tomorrow to try again on our northern boating adventure.

With a bit of luck, the bill for all this will disappear into the ozone while we’re gone. I hate to think what a few hours in ER and a CT scan will cost with my super-duper high-deductible catastrophic insurance plan.

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Now that was fun!

Yesterday evening was a gorgeous evening in the way that makes gorgeous Seattle evenings the best anywhere. Unfortunately I have no photos to share – I was too busy racing. It was a great night for another installment of the Downtown Sailing Series. As you may recall, my last venture ended up with us in 3rd place out of about 45 boats. We had a great start and a good crew, and we were near the front most of the way, getting to the clubhouse before there were even any lineups for hot dogs and beer.

Not so last night. The winds were 8-12 knots from the NW, so we had a broad reaching start. I decided we should fly the gennaker, but since we had never done this before in “racing” situation, and since half the crew had never done it before at all, and since the last time I did this, we had a really violent round up, I wanted to do a practice run. We were running short of time, but we did it anyway. All went well setting and snuffing the sail, but I had a hard time getting back to the starting line in time, and as a result we started about 50th in a class of 54.

As we crossed the start, we set the chute, and we started making up for lost time. By the time we got to the first mark, we’d passed several boats, and passed even more on the next leg, a run downwind. At the next mark, we snuffed the chute, and settled in for a long upwind leg. Rinpoche sails really well to wind, so once we got the sails trimmed properly, we started picking off boats like they were standing still. We passed a few more on the last leg, and ended up 11th out of 54!

By my reckoning we passed about 40 boats, including a few “friends” who said “bye-bye” to us at the start. Very satisfying indeed. Great thanks to my ace crew of Roger, Rainer, and Lee.

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