Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 57: Turtle Island to Bamfield

Off to Bamfield today. My plan is to spend the night in Bamfield, then probably head into the Strait of Juan de Fuca tomorrow early in the morning. The forecast looks great.

The trip into Bamfield was easy, and surprisingly not foggy. The autopilot worked, kind of. From Turtle Island to Dodger Channel (~6 nm) the AP performed well. Then I disengaged it to explore Dodger Channel (a great anchorage!). When I reengaged it, the erratic behavior resumed. I’m quickly developing a list of additions/changes to the boat that I’d like to make, and a replacement autopilot is looking like a priority. I’ll check with Raymarine when I get back to see if there’s anything I should try.
Dodger Channel
I emailed Les at EQ about the problem, and he hadn’t seen it before. He suspects the course computer. It’s either that or the pump. Either way, I have trouble dumping many hundreds of dollars into this AP when a new, much better unit can be purchased for not too much more. This isn’t too big of a problem right now, since the AP does steer me to the next waypoint. It just uses a bit of extra gas because of all the turning.

Bamfield is a neat little town. A big university lab is at the entrance. Then many homes, lodges, and marine businesses. The only way to get from the west side of town (the side with the road) to the east side is by water, so the harbor is busy.
Bamfield Marine Science Center
A sea cave at the entrance to Bamfield Inlet
Tomorrow I’m planning on heading to Port Renfrew. Then Sooke the next day (Thursday). I may go to Victoria or I may head into the San Juans…

12.7 nm today
1077.3 nm total

Day 56: Pinkerton Islands to Turtle Island

Time for mom to head home. We cruised back to Ucluelet and I dropped her off. Then I headed out for Turtle Island. I’d visited Turtle Island once before, but the anchorage was full.

This time I had it all to myself, which was good, since it’s a one, maybe two boat spot. I explored a bit by kayak. It’s a really neat anchorage, almost exposed to the ocean swells. From inside, the swells crashing ashore were audible.
Turtle Island
Then the fog rolled in...
By late afternoon fog started to roll in. By evening I was surrounded. I thought about exploring more by kayak, but was worried that I could quickly become disoriented and lost if a really heavy fog rolled in and obscured the view of Retriever.

A relatively minor boat problem has cropped up, one that seems to happen periodically and then fix itself. The S1000 autopilot has developed a mind of its own. It kind of holds a course, but often veers to starboard when engaging. I’ve tried holding a course for several minutes before engaging the autopilot, but the result is the same. When navigating to a waypoint, cross track errors (the distance the boat is from the intended course) rise to 150-200 feet in one direction, then 150-200 feet in the other. Very sloppy. The hydraulic steering system is full and steering is normal when using the wheel. I’ve tried messing with the settings, a factory reset, and autolearn (always fails…error code 6) to no avail. Sometimes it works great, other times it doesn’t. Weird.

21.8 nm today
1064.6 nm total

Day 55: Jacques-Jarvis Lagoon to Pinkerton Islands

We took a somewhat difficult route to the Pinkertons today, through much shallow water. I think we surprised a couple of kayakers at one point. They probably couldn’t figure out what a “big boat” was doing in 2.5-feet of rock-studded water!

Exploring the shallow areas is pretty cool. Lots of sea life is visible in the clear water, and there aren’t any other boats.
Is that a rock ahead?
When we arrived in the Pinkertons, we were the only boat. Nice!

More relaxing aboard. I napped. Perfect afternoon.

Before dinner we took the kayaks on a lengthy paddle through the Pinkertons. Not much wildlife, but beautiful scenery. Somehow I manage to inadvertently hit rocks regularly in the kayak. Thankfully I haven’t yet had that propensity when driving Retriever.
Paddling through the Pinkertons
Three other boats filtered into the anchorage during the evening. One anchored really close, just 170-feet away (I turned on the radar). It was a charter sailboat out on a training trip. A licensed captain runs the boat while paying guests learn how to operate a sailboat. Evidently the captain realized they were too close, and moved farther away soon after anchoring. I’m glad he didn’t train everyone to anchor so close!

3.8 nm today
1042.8 nm total

Day 54: Joe’s Bay to Jacques-Jarvis Lagoon

The first stop today was Hand Island. I’d stopped there before and explored a bit. The sand-and-shell beaches are perfect for relaxing with a book (or Kindle), and we did just that for several hours.

Then we headed for Jacques-Jarvis Lagoon. Two sailboats were anchored and rafted together and the 40-foot powerboat Santara was anchored. Again, thanks to shallow draft, no problem. I anchored in 10-feet of water (4-feet at low tide).

The sun was shining and the weather was warm, so I decided I’d clean the bottom of the boat. I have no antifouling bottom paint, and I figured there might be some growth after almost two months in the water. I didn’t have a dive mask with me, but I figured one of the other boats would have one, since they’re inboard powered and might need to dive to clear lines or kelp from a prop.

I’d met Nancy and Alf on Santara in the Pinkertons and in Ucluelet, so I paddled over and asked if they had a mask. Sure enough, they did. They also had lots of prawns, which they generously shared.

Back on the boat, I warmed up for a bit then dove in. Brrr! Much colder than my last swim at West Whitepine Cove.

After a couple of minutes I was used to the water temperature and dove under for a look. Growth actually wasn’t bad. Quite a few small barnacles, but hardly any green stuff. The deck brush was useless on the barnacles, so I broke out my American Express card. It worked perfectly! Normally when someone says they did a boat project with their credit card they mean they paid someone else to do it…not this time! (Aside…AMEX is lousy for international travel since they charge a 2.7% foreign exchange fee. Plenty of other banks offer cards with no annual fee and no foreign exchange fee. They can save a lot of money when travelling.)

Half an hour later I crawled out of the water. I didn’t realize how cold I was until I got back in the boat. After a warm (not hot) sun shower, a cup of hot tea, and an hour in the sun, I finally warmed back up.
Warming up in the sun...the kayaks are great for lounging. (Yes, I am wearing a lifejacket...a fanny pack inflatable.)
One other lesson learned…if you ever fall into cold water, control your breathing fast! It’s easy to take really short, panicked, breathes. Slow down, think logically, breathe deeply. Then figure out how to get out of the water.

Nancy and Alf invited us over for drinks, which morphed into dinner. Alf is a retired vet from Vancouver and he and Nancy have been boating in Barkley Sound longer than I’ve been alive. Nice people (most cruisers are) with a wealth of knowledge.

6.3 nm today
1039.0 nm total

Day 53: Ucluelet to Joe’s Bay

After breakfast and grocery shopping, we headed out to the Broken Group. Conditions were a bit bumpy, but not too bad. Going the other direction, into the conditions, looked pretty uncomfortable aboard some sport fishing boats, though.

Right out of Ucluelet we found several gray whales. They didn’t come quite as close as a couple days ago, but they definitely turned around and headed straight for us. Mom wanted me to move the boat away from them when they abruptly turned around and headed for us. “I can’t, it’s illegal!” I told her, truthfully. Since they were already within 100 meters of us, we had to wait. On the other hand, nobody seems to obey the whale regulations here (commercial operators included) and there’s no apparent enforcement.
This one came right for us!
Always fun to see some fluke
First stop was Wouwer Island. We kayaked ashore and walked to a beach on the open side of the island. Tons of sea glass. More interestingly, it seemed as if a boat had washed ashore here. I found a bent prop shaft with a mangled propeller on it and lots of fiberglass. It’s spooky finding this kind of stuff. I always wonder how the boat ended up on the beach and if everyone aboard survived.
Mangled prop, bent shaft
Prop shaft and one of many pieces of fiberglass
After a couple hours on the beach we walked back to the anchorage. The westerly wind had really picked up, and Retriever was rocking and rolling. I’m glad I set the anchor well!
Mom setting out on her kayak
We then made our way over to Effingham Bay. Thanks to the shallow draft of Retriever, we anchored right near the trailhead, behind all the other boats. We lounged, read, and enjoyed the sunshine.

Late in the afternoon we paddled ashore and hiked to the other side of the island. The hike didn’t start easily. Evidently I chose the wrong trailhead, and we bushwhacked halfway across the island before we found the actual trail. More beachcombing, though Effingham Island was less interesting than Wouwer Island.
Uhhh...where's the trail?
Eventually we found the beach
Xtra Tufs and shorts are my new favorite fashion
We got back to the boat and cooked dinner. Unfortunately the westerly wasn’t dying as quickly as I expected and the 1-2 foot chop rolling through Effingham Bay wasn’t too comfortable. I decided we should scoot over to Joe’s Bay, which would be more protected.
Last light in Joe's Bay
Sure enough, it was. And much emptier than when I’d visited last week. We slept much better than we would have at Effingham Bay.

15.5 nm today
1032.7 nm total

Day 52: Ucluelet

I spent most of the day catching up on emails, working, and wandering around Ucluelet. I had breakfast with Doug and Kathlyn from Penguin and learned more about living aboard. I’m definitely onboard. So now I want a liveaboard boat AND a truck and trailer for the C-Dory. Oh yeah, that money thing…

Mom arrived around 5:30 pm. We decided to stay another night in Ucluelet so we wouldn’t be too rushed to head out to the Broken Group. After drinks and much conversation aboard Penguin, we had a late dinner before turning in for the night.