Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Offshore Update: All is well

Its 6 pm local time and today has been uneventful. Pretty rolly seas with light air has made sailing difficult, especially without the headsail.  At least we have the iron genny which we've put to good use today.  Karina saw a bunch of wild life on her watch which included a turtle, humpbacks, sea lions leaping like dolphins and sunfish. I've been too busy checking the weather to see any of that.   I did see a sunfish though. If I come back in another life I want to be one of those!  Nothing to do but eat and bask in the sun. I wonder if they get seasick in these conditions?
Enough rambling for now.

Monday, September 29, 2014

All for a 10 cent washer

Headstay in hand, calling the rigger
Lesson learned.  Doing a rig check is more involved than just going up the mast and checking all the pins, cotterpins, halyards, shackles screws, nuts and bolts.  Apparently you need to take your furler apart and give it a look as well.

Things we going well on our first night out on the west coast.  Sea's were a bit rough but we were both getting good sleeps (4 hour shifts) and we were sailing downwind with the hydrovane.

At about 2 in the morning the wind dropped so I furled up the jib and started motoring.  Without the pressure in the sails it was pretty rolly and by 5 am the wind had picked up enough for Karina to try sailing on her watch.  She got the headsail partially furled out but then it got stuck.  She called me up and we went on the foredeck to have a look.  Something didn't look right.  I figured the foil (which holds the sail in a track) had dropped down on the stay and things we jammed up.  We furled the sail back up, threw a second halyard forward for good measure and left it until daylight.

At 8 am I came onto my watch and first job was to have a good look aloft to see what the problem was.  In the light we could see something was very wrong.  I had Karina ease the jib halyard and when she did requested that she very (there might have been swearing) quickly retighten the jib halyard.  It was now clear that our headstay had parted and the only thing holding our rig up was the cloth on the headsail.  Many more halyards went forward and we starting plotting our course into the closest port.  Unfortunately that was the famed Columbia bar.

Picture one of the largest west coast rivers flowing out into a big open spance of the pacific ocean that has thousands of miles of fetch for waves to build and build flowing east.  The two meet and have a party (not the good kind).  Add that to the fact that its one of the busier freighter ports on the coast and you understand why it is feared (and avoided) by most sailors doing their first trip down the coast.

Luckily for us all was calm and we only had a 300 ft dredger take a run at us so we were able to arrive in Astoria safe and sound.

We lowered the stay onto the dock and found the reason our stay came free.  The sta lock mechanical fitting had unscrewed at the top.
Gary way up with no headstay to hold things up
After a good nights sleep we tackled sorting out what the problem was.  Up the mast I went to remove what was left at the top.   We then re attached the fitting, and raised the furler back up.  We removed the sail without using the furler (around and around) and then using slings, and knots known from our climbing days were able to attach it back into place at the top.

Back at the bottom of the stay we realized it was much longer than it should be.  3 screws and 4 bolts later we had the furler unit apart and realized our problem.  The mechanical fitting on the bottom had also come free.  In addition it was missing a very important 10 cent washer (which Harken demands you put in) that keeps the foil from undoing the mechanical fitting should it ever come lose and bottom out.  The good news is we know why everything came undone and will be able to fix it completely when we find a good rigger in San Francisco.
Before (wrong!)
After (right!)
Many milestones have been past over the past 48 hours including 1st night in the big scary ocean, just the two of us, first rig failure, first rig repair, first west coast bar crossed.

All in all a good few days.

I must get to bed for our 3 am departure to get back out the bar so the story of Astoria will need to wait for now.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

We are off!

Well, its 5 in the morning. Still dark and scary but we are just about to pull anchor from Neah bay and head out into the great blue yonder. We'll try to post here a few times over the next few days to let everyone know how we are doing. If we don't, just check the "Find Us" page to see where we are.
Have a great day

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The real adventure begins

Our "adventure starts now" picture
Its now been almost 5 years since I verbalized my interest in sailing to new and interesting places.  I can remember clearly when Karina verbalized back that I had lost my mind.  Looking back over the years since, I think we've approached this adventure like all our others and are now as prepared as we can be.  Sure there is lots that we'd like to do on the boat and more we could learn about sailing.  We'd love to have more money, we would really love to have learned spanish.  Oh well, I'm sure we will figure out the rest as we go.  We both feel that now is the time to go, and we are as ready enough.

Saying good bye to Canada (for now)
Even the birds said good bye

On Saturday we sailed away from Canada.  It was an interesting moment for us both as we realized it may be a while before Sea Rover see's her home shores again.  Knowing that we'll be back in under 8 months makes it easier.  Knowing that lots of people will be more than willing to come down and visit us in order to get away from the Canadian winter makes it even easier.  A couple of birds stopped by for the voyage across the strait.  They waited until we crossed into US waters and then realizing they'd forgotten their passports, flew off back home.

You need to be a bit different to live here
We've spent a great few days hanging out in Port Angeles.  We wandered around the quaint town with a fantastic history.  It was once considered the "western capital" of the USA.  You can tell its now struggling a bit with its identity.  A local who gave us a ride to the grocery store put it best:  "Port Angeles just needs to get over that its no longer a resource town and embrace the fact that tourists like to come here."

We haven't only been sitting around.  As usual there have been lots of boat projects.  It seems that when ever we work on the boat the windlass craves attention.  This week was no different but hopefully we've now given it enough love that it can do its thing without our intervention for a while.

The first hurtle will be getting down to San Francisco.  We maybe pushed the good weather window a bit by not going in early September but then again the experts are calling the weather now "November weather" so I expect if we had tried to leave earlier the boat gods would have simply moved up their timetable further.

It seems we aren't the only ones who've delayed leaving south and we've met 5 other boats who will probably be traveling down the coast with us.  Two notable ones are Aussie Rules and Coastal Drifter.  We've had a great couple of evenings hanging out with both and Im sure we'll be bumping into them all the way.

No need to go there today!
Tomorrow morning we will leave Port Angeles and head to Neah bay.  There's a nice winter storm brewing off the coast that we've been waiting on to pass us by.  We'll post when we decide to start the real voyage.  Those that know us, know we are cautious.  This being our first voyage offshore alone together, we certainly wont be pushing the limits of our abilities.  If we have to motor all the way to San Francisco, waiting out each storm in a new and interesting place along the coast, so be it.  Sea Rover will take care of us way better than we'll take care of ourselves anyway so there is no need to worry.

Going forward, be sure to check out our "Where to find us" page.  We are using all sorts of tools to keep those that care updated as to our whereabouts.  We figure with 4 methods, if one doesn't show an updated position (due to the boat gods keeping us on our toes) one of the others will.
Sailing away into the Sunrise (A new beginning for us both)

Monday, September 22, 2014

The last month

So what have we been up to this last month as it has been quite a while since our last post.  In a nutshell, we’ve been up to everything.  We spent a week anchored in Nanaimo harbour doing boat projects (thanks for all the woodwork, Dad) and visiting my parents on Protection Island. 

Although she was an awesome boat dog all summer, I think Charlotte was happy to be back on land.



My Mum’s oldest childhood friend, Christa and her husband Horst, arrived from Germany mid-August for a visit with my parents.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         As they are keen sailors, my parents had arranged to rent a boat for a weeks trip through the Gulf Islands.  We buddy boated with them for the week and visited all our favourite spots – Silva Bay, Montague Harbour, Winter Cove, Long Harbour, Ganges and Telegraph Harbour. Tanja and Brad, and Brad’s brother John and his wife Pam joined us for the weekend on John’s boat s/v Passages, so we had quite a clan by the end of the trip.

The weather was perfect and we actually sailed every day (unheard of for the Gulf Islands in August).  





We left my parents at the end of the trip and sailed back across to Vancouver with Tanja and Brad as crew.  After 6 frustrating attempts to anchor in False Creek (we snagged a huge metal object on the bottom the first try and couldn’t get our Rocna anchor to drop the right way for the next 5 tries…and did I mention we broke the windlass again on try #4???), we settled just off David Lam park. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         We spent a very busy 4 days in Vancouver attending all our final appointments, shopping, sorting our garage, catching up with a few friends etc.  Unfortunately we only got to see a fraction of the people we wanted to see, as we simply ran out of time and energy. 

While we enjoyed our time in False Creek, an expected visitor at 5am on our last day in town reminded us that it was time to move on.  I was awakened by a small splash outside the window, and being the paranoid sole that I am, I poked my head out to make sure all was well.  To my complete surprise, I watched as a man clad only in his nickers slithered out of the water and into our dingy.  If I’d been more awake I would have grabbed the flare gun or the pepper spray, but I only managed a “Can I help you?” as I popped out of the hatch and stood on the deck (with Gary close behind).  The man paused, looked at us, and then slithered silently back into the water and disappeared.  He re-appeared about 20 feet away from the boat, turned, gave us a cheeky little wave and swam off.  We watched him swim back to David Lam park, where he stripped off his wet drawers, put on his dry clothes and sauntered back into the urban jungle.  Gotta love the city…

We moved the boat to Blaine at the end of August, and spent the September long weekend sailing with Gary’s cousin Karen and her husband Rob. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         They are always wonderful to have on board – they are keen for anything, always want to complete a ‘job’ (thanks for fixing the sail cover!), and are great cooks and great company.  We had a lovely time cruising through the San Juans for 4 days.  We all tried out our new inflatable stand up paddleboard, even though the water temperature was 13oC!  Good incentive not to fall in.  Charlotte likes the board as well, and it will be a good tool to get her to shore when we are down in Mexico. 


We left the boat in Blaine for a week while we went back to Ontario to surprise Gary’s Mom for her 70th birthday.  She was surprised (pleasantly, I think). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         In addition to our surprise, Gary’s auntie Lee (Karen’s mom) planned a surprise lunch at the Grand Tappattoo Resort on the lake with 20 guests.  It took a lot of fibbing and outright lying, but we got her to the resort unaware that anything other than a lunch with one of their friends was planned.  She was almost speechless when all her friends from the lake came out to greet her. 

We got extremely lucky with the weather while at the cottage – Ontario actually had summer for a few days!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The water wasn’t exactly toasty, but we did go swimming in the lake a couple of times (19oC water).  We made better use of the hot tub though.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         We helped helped Gary’s parents do a few ‘cottage-closing’ chores and had a nice relaxing visit.


We arrived back in Vancouver on Sept 11th and made a quick visit to Nanaimo for the weekend.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Then it was back to the boat for 4 days of intense work while we completed the “must do” list of boat projects.  We finished on Sept 18th and had a celebratory/goodbye dinner with our friends Malcolm and Dina (who will be driving our car down to Guyamas, Mexico where their boat is currently moored) and Jim and Kathy (who’s boat happily survived the recent hurricane in La Paz). We look forward to seeing both couples down in Mexico!