Thursday, April 29, 2010

#3 Snug Harbor

OK so Alex slept in a bit and we didn't get underway until 9-ish. Well by then the wind was about 15 knots from the northwest and there was an uncomfortable wave chop in Vancouver's ocean just outside False Creek entrance. Of course Pat reminded Alex about sleeping in on cruise days.

There is a kite surfer going 20+ knots and doing circles around the Wild Blue.

We continued out a couple miles and noticed a kite surfer. He was doing circles around us at about 20 knots, like a mocking bird. Just about the time we arrived at Vancouver's inbound sea traffic lane, the wind whipped seas built up into a nasty 6-foot chop. Spray was coming over the bow, then green water across the pilot house windows. Then green water was regularly filling the Portuguese bridge deck, rolling out the scuppers. Pat reminded Alex about sleeping in on cruise days.

A clear view from the pilot house in calm seas.

The same view today in Vancouver's ocean. If you look closely you can see fish swimming on the window!

The inside was a mess. The fruit basket tipped over with tomatoes on the floor, which mixed with garlic pieces that decided to become independent cloves. If the floor was heated we could have made a great pasta sauce. The F-word was uttered more than once. Pat reminded Alex about sleeping in on cruise days.

Instead of Smugglers Cove on BC's Sunshine Coast, we made a unanimous decision to divert to Snug Cove in Howe Sound. Snug Cove was only 30 cruising minutes away, and the name sounded reassuring. Plus we had stayed at Snug in the past and it has quaint shopping, something that was necessary payback for..... sleeping in.

So after a 65-minute motor, which seemed like a half-day journey, we tied up to the dock in the calm waters waters of Snug Cove. It took a good 30-minues to rincse the salt off the boat but we relaxed and exclaimed how well the boat handles big seas, and it always the crew that has the issues. We're having a better day now.

Moored in the calm waters of Snug Cove. One owner is visiting the shops in town.

#2 Chemainus and Vancouver

On Monday morning the barometer had dropped to 1008 millibars with a further downward trend. The forecast called for big winds by mid-afternoon. We pulled the anchor at 9AM and headed for Chemainus on Vancouver Island, about 30 miles north of Victoria. It was an easy 3-hour motor along the Island's east coast, through Sansum Narrows, past Crofton and we pulled into Chemainus just after noon. The wind built, the barometer dipped to 992, the rain started, and we were happy to be tied up to a dock.

Chemainus is a touristy town with a small marina that's filled all summer but was open for us this spring.

Our neighbor, a large water dog mix, controls the fordeck of this 36 foot sailboat. The skipper said this guy can jibe the pole with the best of them!

Chemainus is a small touristy town with a large lumber mill. It has a renowned theater arts program and venue. It was quiet and we enjoyed a nice lunch at the Dancing Bean Cafe between rain showers. The wind built all day but we didn't see more than 35 knots throughout the night.

On Tuesday morning the seas were flat, but BC Weather forecast a windy day. The barometer had started a slow upward climb, so Alex convinced Pat that it was OK to cruise. We cleared the dock at 9 and headed to False Creek in downtown Vancouver. If the winds developed we decided we could anchor near Gabriola Island before crossing the Georgia Strait. Soon after departing Alex noticed Koinonia on the AIS transponder about 10 miles away. Koinonia is a Selene 59 which we knew was cruising along with two Selene 53s. We made visual contact with this 3-boat fleet just as we started to cross Georgia Strait. We learned via VHF radio they were headed to Princess Louisa Inlet, wind or no wind! They had another 5 hours to get to Pender Harbour and we wished them luck. As it turned out, the winds never built and our crossing to Vancouver was piece of cake.

We pulled into Quayside Marina in Yaletown Vancouver just after 1PM and tied up in the choice moorage at the end of Davie Street. Our view from the boat is the hustle and bustle of busy Vancouver in the hippest part of the City. We spent a couple days here, dined at Goldfish restaurant, shopped Granville Island and bicycled around Stanley Park. It's become our favorite city cruise destination.

Just part of Vancouver's skyline on approach to False Creek marinas.

This is Pat's favorite Vancouver building because of the full grown tree planted near the top.

While shopping on Granville Island which overlooks the False Creek main channel, we noticed a green-hulled Selene motoring into the marina. Turns out it was Seeker with Mike Minor and crew. Mike is from SLO town and we all dined together in the City. We also ran into Derek and family on Sea Pal a new Selene 55 who were docked near Procyon II, yet another Selene. The Sea Pal crew is here for the upcoming Vancouver Marathon. We'd all socialized together last week at the Selene Rendezvous. The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

On Tuesday it was sunny, then it rained, and finally it hailed! This was the hail cloud.

Today, Thursday we're headed north to Smugglers Cove on BC's Sunshine Coast. The barometer is still rising at 1010 millibars but 20 knot northwest winds are predicted. Let's hope the Sunshine Coast lives up to it's name. Have a great day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

#1 - The 2010 Cruise Starts

Today Wild Blue, with crew Pat and Alex, started their summer 2010 cruise itinerary leaving from Roche Harbor, Washington and entering Canada near Sidney, British Columbia. It was a sunny day as we and many other Selene Trawlers departed the 2010 Selene Rendezvous, headed to various destinations.

The 2010 Selene Rendezvous attracted over 40 Selene Yachts.

Selene Owners in the Pacific Northwest gather once each year to share, learn, and socialize. About 40 Selene yachts and owners met in Roche Harbor for this year's event. During the 2-day event we learned more about engines, long-range cruising, and boat electrical systems. We also socialized with other owners and crawled all over each others boats, admiring and questioning along the way. The highlight of the Rendezvous was Howard Chen's keynote address presented at the annual banquet. Howard, Selene company owner and president who flys in from China each year, always delivers a loud, rousing speech, in broken English, and patterned much like an American presidential politician. Of course we owners respond in-kind, interrupting his oratory multiple times, with roaring applause. Selene continues to build and sell many boats, delivering them worldwide, and domestically in China. Howard hopes to turn Selene into a stock corporation and become a much larger company in the next year.

On today's cruise we passed Washington State ferries and British Columbia ferries. On which ferry would you like to travel?

A rusty Washington State ferry. Yuk!

A near new, well-maintained BC Ferry.

Today after clearing Canadian Customs in Tsehum Harbour, we continued over the top of the Saanich Peninsula to Brentwood Bay and anchored in Tod Inlet just before noon.

Wild Blue anchored in Tod Inlet next to Butchart Gardens

Tod Inlet is adjacent to Pat's favorite place in the whole world, Butchart Gardens. After a quick lunch we launched the dinghy and buzzed about 1000 feet over the Butchart Cove, tied up and entered the Gardens. WOW! There was an HUGE EXPLOSION at the Gardens today: it was a massive tulip explosion, and the variety and brilliance of color was breathtaking! Hey, we're talking thousands and thousands of amazing tulips.

A sample of the tulip explosion today at Butchart Gardens follows:

It turned out that today was our 29th wedding anniversary and we enjoyed our two favorite pastimes: visiting the prettiest garden in the world, and boating in paradise. We are so lucky!

Gulf Island Fall, Vancouver and Princess Louisa Winter Cruises

This past Fall we cruised the Gulf Islands and Victoria with Sid and Virginia Findley. Pat also got her Butchart Garden fix in October. In Victoria we met Susie and Mike Minor who have a Selene named Seeker. The Minor's also happen to be from SLO County so with the Findley's it was like we never left town. The highlight of the cruise was lunch and tour of the BC Parliament, which is open to the public subject to advance reservation. We lunched next to the Speaker of Parliament and then watched him in action afterward. The big political dilemma of that day: non-Canadian wine being sold at the upcoming Vancouver Olympics. Scandalous!

In December we had a family cruise to Vancouver and Howe Sound. Ryan and his girl friend Cailin, along with Max enjoyed the sights of the city in Yaletown on New Year's Eve. We also visited Gibsons and Snug Harbour in Howe Sound.

Mt. Baker was showing off during our winter cruise.

We visited Vancouver's University of BC Museum of Anthropology, a must see. The history of European China is the most spectacular display. Of course this is a famous Haida sculpture built in a WWII gun turret room.

After family and friends left, we joined two other Selenes bound for a snow cruise into Princess Louisa Inlet. We met Ron and Bonnie on the Selene Z-Worthy, and Mike and Becky on the Selene Freyja in Pender Harbor, then proceeded up to the Inlet in search of snow. The weather this year was too warm for the white stuff, but we did have fun navigating Malibu Rapids at slack tide in the dark! We highly recommend it. Later in this cruise, we crossed the Strait of Georgia in a storm with BIG seas and empty fuel tanks. Imagine a cork bouncing about in confused seas. We DON'T recommend that!

Malibu Rapids was too brisk to cross, so we waited for slack water which turned out to be long after sundown. We entered the Inlet near dark!

Freyja makes it through the rapids with full running lights!

Our fleet enjoyed the dock near Chatterbox Falls.

Our 15-day winter cruise was too short!

Spring Maintenance

In mid-April, Alex motored the boat down from Anacortes to Port Townsend and Townsend Bay Marine. While on the hard in the yard, the broken forward looking sonar sensor was replaced, a new NEMA 2000 speed-depth-temperature sensor was installed, the cap rail teak was stripped and varnished, and the bottom was repainted.

Just outside Port Townsend there is lots of US Navy activity. We gave plenty of room to this munitions ship!

Wild Blue with maintenance completed, heads to the launch area

The 56-Chevy Spring Cruise

When the boatyard work was completed, Gene and Al Gray of SLO crewed with Alex for delivery of the boat back to Anacortes. Gene, a classic car collector, also had another reason to be in Anacortes: he had won the winning eBay bid for a 56-Chevy sedan located in town. Mechanic Philip joined the group to help drive the Chevy back to SLO town. Before they left, Phil the mechanic found just one problem: the 56-Chevy had lots of water in the oil! Yuk! So not wanting to pay $20,000 for a car with a questionable engine, Gene flew he and his crew home via Vegas! What a nice guy. Before they left, we did make an overnight cruise to Friday Harbor, and dined our way throughout the tiny town.

Our 2010 Itinerary: Alaska or ?

We've spent the last two seasons cruising to Northern BC and Southeast Alaska. It's been great fun, we really enjoy Alaska, and will do it again. However for this season we wanted something different, and maybe a bit more adventurous. So we'll visit the less cruised west coast of Vancouver Island. Yes, I know. This is the big-pacific-ocean-swell side of the Island. But when you look closely at a chart, there are dramatic inlets and waterways that cut deep into Vancouver Islands interior. In fact, these same inlets lead Capitan Vancouver and others to believe that one of these could be the long-sought-after Northwest Passage. Anyway, by picking good weather, you can spend just a little time in the Pacific Ocean, with the bulk of cruising on the calm inlets, waterways and interior of the Island.

This season's cruise is a counter-clockwise circumnavigation of 300-mile long by 50-mile wide Vancouver Island. In August, we will cruise deep into southern Puget Sound. And in late September we hope to cruise down the Pacific Coast to San Francisco.

The Weather is Deteriorating

This weeks' BC weather forecast calls for a low pressure system moving into our cruising area. Low pressure = big winds and rain. Big winds = big seas. Today at noon we had 1026 millibars. At 11pm we have 1018 so the low is moving closer. 40-knot winds are predicted for tomorrow afternoon-evening. Our plan is to get to Chemainus, and be tied to a dock. We'll let you know what happened.