July 30, 2014

Our adventure begins: part lll

It really felt like we were living the cruising life when we left Ladysmith.  We were living off of our provisions, anchoring in a different bay every night, and voyaging through waters I had never been in.  This included the security that both Bob and Bill had been there/done that, many times, so they were experienced, and Polly who had lived the cruising lifestyle with Bob, was a competent and understanding partner to give advice from a female point of view.

The weather cleared up and was wonderful almost all of the way up the Canadian coast.  A typical day would begin with coffee, putting the oats and hot water in an insulated mug.  Bill would begin the "flight plan", (keep in mind the previous owner who left us with INCREDIBLE complete documentation was a fighter pilot in the Air Force, and a commercial jet pilot for Continental).  The plan starts with the engine checks that are made before every startup, and my job is to secure cabins and turn on instruments.  Once the anchor was pulled, or the lines cast off, we would get underway, get comfortable, and eat our oatmeal with the various nuts and twigs added.  The rest of the day was spent enjoying the scenery, watching for wildlife, checking out the other vessels on the water, and reading up about the area in the cruising guide.  Bob, whose trawler is a bit faster than us, would usually arrive at the prearranged bay first, set his anchor and when we arrived, we would tie up to Vahalla's side.  Polly, who is a Canadian citizen, could fish, and would usually have her line out, which would sometimes provide the evening meal.  Yum, fresh halibut and crab direct from the ocean, nothing better.  Thanks Polly.

After an excellent meal, we would take out the charts, and books, and discuss the route and destination for the next day.  A day's milage would be anywhere from 20-60 miles a day, depending on tides, currents, weather, and the best place to anchor in safety for the night.

Rafted up for the night

Bob and Polly relaxing on their stern deck

This boat is using their asymmetrical spinnaker sail.

Denali Rose motoring along, picture courtesy of Bob.

Someone's vacation home on an island

Bill put the dinghy in the water for the first time, and the engine started on the first pull..YAY!
We stopped in Shearwater, Canada for fuel, and have a day off of the boat on land.
It was very crowded, with boats 2 deep at the dock.  We tied up to Vahalla again.

About a half an hour out of Shearwater, Bill discovered that the regulator on the engine alternator was not working, and the batteries were not being charged.  He pulled out the list of spares, and YAY, we have another one on board, (thanks to Jack), and we have a map to where it is stored.

Under the lower dinette, a warehouse of spares, everything perfectly in it's place.

So, while we are underway, Bill is in the engine room connecting the spare regulator, that worked perfectly after installation.  

We spent a couple more days with Bob and Polly.

Vahalla underway next to us.
Because I had a plane reservation for Anchorage out of Ketchikan, we say goodbye, and we head north right away.  Vahalla will try out some more fishing spots before meeting back up with us in Ketchikan.  We anchored in this calm little bay for 2 days, the wind/weather dropped in on us, and we had other boats come and join us until it lifted.

Kumealon Inlet

Looking out towards Grenville Channel
Next we headed for Dundas Island, and Brundige Inlet, which is the last stop before leaving Canadian waters and entering back into the US.  Many boats stop here, because they have to transit Dixon Entrance, which is open to the Pacific Ocean, and everyone waits for the best weather window to cross.

Passing large ships at anchor outside of Prince Rupert.

Canadian weather station on Green Island.
We pick the BEST weather day ever for our crossing Dixon Entrance! Absolutely calm except for a little swell coming in from the Pacific Ocean.  I was very glad, since I was feeling a little bit apprehensive about this.  The good news: it was no problem at all, the bad news: it can only go downhill from here. (unless it is always like this...fat chance)
Looking out on the Pacific Ocean.
We head into Ketchikan with a few days to spare.

Ketchikan ahead. Notice the BLUE SKY! It was 75 degrees.

The view from our slip in the harbor.

I'm back in Alaska, it's a celebration!
While I am spending 10 days in Anchorage, and Fairbanks catching up with family, Bill is installing a new battery bank in Denali Rose.

New batteries are good to have.

And celebrating the batteries....
Ketchikan is a very busy place during the summer.  They have docking facilities for up to five large cruise ships at a time, and others anchor out.  When the ships are in, it's like you are trying to walk in downtown Disneyland, instead of a small community in Southeast Alaska.  To help the tourists enjoy themselves, there are float plane tours of the area, and starting at 6:30am they take off and land every 15 minutes or so, and this doesn't stop till 10:00pm.  Vrooom vrooom vroooom, all day long, whew. By the time I returned back to Denali Rose from my trip north, Bill was OH SO READY to get out of there!  The next morning, we cast off our lines, and headed to Wrangell, our new home.

Headed north to Wrangell from Ketchikan

Heritage Harbor Wrangell, Alaska

Denali Rose, in her home slip, Wrangell.
Mission accomplished, we made it to Wrangell.

July 1, 2014

Our adventure begins: part II

Ahoy: The first in a series of four-letter words commonly exchanged by skippers as their boats approach one another...   (Sailing Pocket Dictionary by Henry Beard & Roy McKie)
So, after settling our truck/camper/trailer in my brother's back yard, we returned to our new home, Denali Rose in Anacortes. We are very grateful that Ralph and Gloria graciously offered us that option, it means that we don't have to think about the security of the Wagon Train.

It was now time to leave Washington, we had spent enough time, effort, and money, and we were arranging to "buddy-boat" with our good friends from Fairbanks, who now live on Gabriola Island, Canada. We joined 50 of our closest boating "friends" for the night, in Prevost Harbor, the last bay before crossing into Canadian waters.  It was the first anchorage using our new windlass and chain, and we were very pleased with how nicely it ran.

The next day we head to the closest customs office for cruisers, Bedwell Harbor, and with passports in hand, we check-in for our stay in Canadian waters.  It was a beautiful day, but a long afternoon.

The customs officers said that since the boat was new to them, and we to the boat, they would need to do a thorough search this time, and then we would be in the data bank, for subsequent visits.  (We are applying for our Nexus cards, to make it easier on everyone in the future...)

They found one [out of 6...] can of bear spray, that wasn't labeled correctly, and we voluntarily gave it up to the officer. After the paperwork was completed, they did comment on how organized, and well prepared the boat was.  My efforts at putting items in rubbermaid tubs of various sizes, and labels on the front paid off.

They released us into Canadian waters, and off we went to Gabriola Island, Silva Bay, and Bob/Polly's house.  It was Canada Day, and we heard over the radio at the bay, someone razzing us because our U.S. flag was so big and our courtesy Canadian flag was so small.  It just happened to be the largest one we could find, and it was better than not flying one at all. (we thought) There are rules about Maritime Flag Etiquette, most of them date back to early sailing days, and they are very specific about what flags, where to fly them, how big, etc.  We bought a bigger one in Canada, as (duh) they have a larger selection than the US stores.

The view from the deck

A tug (on the left) pulling a raft of logs, called a log boom.  Something to watch out for when navigating Canadian waters.
After the weeks of hustle and bustle, it was really nice to relax with good friends, Bob and Polly, and enjoy their comfortable, spacious, and beautiful home for a few days.  Gabriola Island is a delightful place to visit or live.  It is filled with farms that sell produce and meat, lovely scenery, and windy roads that seem to take you "over hill and dale".  We provisioned up with local foodstuff, and took Denali Rose over to Ladysmith Harbor at Nanaimo to meet up with the Vahalla.

In Ladysmith Harbor, note our large Canadian flag. (Especially next the the dinky one that Vahalla has. Hey Canadian friends, whats with making fun of us anyway?)

Since Bob was on the docks to help with the lines, Bill was behind the wheel, steering us into the slip. We had some difficulties, (read: very tense moments), getting into place when the engine died on us several times as Bill was getting the boat to turn into the slip.  We had everyone who was nearby, helping to fend us off from bumping into other boats, and grabbing lines to pull us into the dock.  I was VERY glad not to be at the wheel that day.  Bill later found that the idle on the engine was too low, he adjusted it up, and the engine has purred obediently since.

We finished our shop for groceries, and boat items in Nanaimo, packed it all into our lockers and holds, and headed north with our ultimate joint destination of Ketchikan Alaska.
Cool store front.

Motoring by a log boom, as we leave Nanaimo, watching carefully for stray logs.

New barbecue, a necessary item on a boat.

Leaving Ladysmith, it was a rainy day.

Large Canadian flag waving in the wind. (just wait till you see my new Alaska flag)