Vancouver Island
Circumnavigation Adventure
aboard

Cassiopeia
a fully equipped 42-foot Bavaria Cruiser

Captain's Log
June 25 to July 20, 2016
written by
Cassiopeia's Captain, Allen Dick

The 2016 adventure has now ended. 
It is now time to start dreaming about next year.
Skip to end

This page is still under construction with more pictures to come soon.

Saturday June 25, 2016

0600: Cassiopeia left her home dock at Port Sidney Marina on a flood tide with one on board, headed for Vancouver via Active Pass.  It's a cool morning and we're glad for the protection of the full enclosure. 

Slack water at Active Pass is expected at 0751 hours and the distance is about 14 nautical miles. We're on a beam reach at 6.5 knots and should be close if the wind holds up.  The current builds soon after.

We made it to the Pass just after 0800 and found the current was still in our favour. Predictions are just that -- predictions. The rest of the route is straight north to Point Grey, then east into English Bay and into False Creek.

At first there was no wind and we motored, then the wind came up on the beam, carrying Cassiopeia along at a comfortable six knots. As the wind tapered off, we hoisted the cruising chute and carried on, but by the time we reached the Fraser north river mouth the wind had dropped again and we anchored in 10 metres of water for a break, then continued to Granville Island, backed into slip G20 and tied up at 1620 hours. 

I went on shore for a visit with the Cooper folks, had a beer at The Vancouver Fish Company and returned to the boat for supper and a quiet evening on board.

Sunday June 26, 2016

We're in Vancouver today at Granville Island, provisioning and waiting to see if we will have crew when we leave for Nanaimo tomorrow or not. 

I had originally, planned to do the whole trip single handed, but decided to offer berths to anyone interested.  Cooper Boating liked the idea and we did some last-minute advertising. 

It seems that everyone dreams of doing a trip like this right up until the opportunity is at hand, and then discovers reasons not to go.  We're offering to pick people and drop them off anywhere on the Island along the route, for a cruise of several days to weeks, so we'll see what happens.

Monday June 27, 2016

After we attended to some details and topped up battery water, Cassiopeia left Granville Island for Nanaimo at 1100. 

We found good wind as soon as we entered English Bay. Of course it was on the nose, but we were making up to seven knots, tacking out past Point Atkinson and along Bowen Island.

The wind died mid-day and the rest of the trip across Georgia Strait was under engine power, with sails assisting.  Since we had no need to go right into Nanaimo Harbour, Pilot Bay near Entrance Island provided a perfect overnight anchorage.

Tuesday June 28, 2016

This morning dawned sunny, breezy -- and cool. 

The wind was from the northwest, on the nose for our course  and the tide was running against us, too.  After sailing at seven to eight knots into swells for three hours, and tacking several times we had only made ten actual sea miles towards our destination at Hornby Island due to adverse currents and headwinds.

The tide turned, the wind shifted a bit and we made better progress, but after Nanoose Bay, the wind dropped and the rest of the trip was made under engine power. At Nanoose Bay, overreaching, I dropped one of my $125 winch handles overboard.  Ouch.

While underway a constant watch is necessary to look out for logs and traffic.  While most logs are small and harmless, some could do real damage when encountered at cruising speed, so, after lunch and miles from shore, we turned off the engine and drifted a while to rest and nap.

Around 3:30, we arrived at Tribune Bay -- a better choice in northwest conditions than our planned stop at nearby Ford Bay, and dropped anchor. 

The bay features a beautiful beach and the locals were taking full advantage.

I dinghied in and walked to the co-op store, then returned to the boat and spent the evening lounging in the cockpit and swimming off the stern.  I love this place.  I'll be back.

Wednesday June 29, 2016

The destination today is officially Campbell River, but with no commitments to meet anyone there, Heriot Bay looks more attractive.  Again the wind was against us, but we made good progress sailing until the wind dropped.

We made Heriot Bay by 5:30 and dropped into the Heriot Bay Hotel for a beer, then motored over to Rebecca Spit to anchor for the night.  Again, the water was warm enough for swimming and in I went. 

Tomorrow, Surge Narrows and Blind Bay.

Thursday June 30, 2016

The slack tide at Surge Narrows comes just after noon, so this morning is a lazy one, with time to catch up on notes.  

The trip so far has been perfect, with sunny weather and decent winds -- even if they were against us.  So far, there are a few people wanting to come aboard for the outside of the Island, but it seems I am alone at least as far as Port McNeill unless others join up in the next few days. 

Either way is fine by me, since I was prepared to do the entire voyage single-handed and enjoy my own company, but I am surprised that there is not more interest, considering the perfect weather and low cost.  This trip is cheaper than a cheap motel, and meals are included.

We sailed and motored to Surge Narrows and arrived anywhere from several minutes to an hour and a half before the predicted slack water, depending on which prediction I wanted to believe. 

The predictions varied and we decided to go through a bit early and see how that went, remembering a previous visit when a sailboat went through an hour early and reported only three knots against.

The current against this time was stronger than expected, running up to six knots in spots, but the boat is powerful and steers well and we never lost our track or our confidence. 

Turning on a dime and running back was in the back of mind if forward progress dropped near zero, but we went through without being twisted around.  We did slow to a knot and a half indicated for a few metres at one point, though. The spacing between the dots on my track at right shows the speed.  Closer spacing indicates slower speed.

Would I intentionally do this again?  No, not if I anticipated the currents I encountered.  I only relate this story to show how easy it is to make assumptions that turn out to be incorrect and how non-official sources of information can lead us astray.

The general rule is to not attempt currents greater than one half the boat's maximum motoring speed on the water.  For Cassiopeia, that would be just under four knots of current, either with or against. I would also rely on the official tables and wait for slack, especially if I had others on board.

This experience is a reminder that the official tide and current tables are the most reliable source of information, as are the official charts. Even then, the predicted times of slack are just predictions.  Many factors can skew the reality we experience. Even when the predictions are correct currents and eddies may still be present. Slack does not mean still water.  Moreover, in some passes there may be more than one slack near each predicted slack, with currents in beteeen.

Nonetheless, many of us get accustomed to using mobile devices and websites. While these unofficial sources may be good enough for local cruising in familiar waters, when far from home it is wise to consult the official sources and double-check. Occasionally, as in this case, unofficial predictions can be an hour or more off the official predictions.

We carry the official tide and current tables for the southern region and also for the north end of the Island, as well as a full set of paper charts for the route.  Although people protest that the tide and current tables are hard to read, using the official printed tide tables is actually very easy after the first few times.


A good chart plotter is a great asset  for such passages, but at times like this, we must remember that plotters depend on GPS to show the boat position and that GPS has variable accuracy.  The boat location shown on the display can be off by a considerable distance and that matters in narrow channels with currents and hazards if the GPS is the only source of position information.  A smart sailor does not just depend on a single information source or method of determining position.

Some GPS displays like my little eTrex handheld show a circle of possible error that varies with the number of satellites received and signal reception quality, but chart plotters do not, it seems. The only hint that there is some uncertainty is the way the boat sometimes jumps around or freezes on the display at higher zoom levels.  If this happens or the GPS loses its fix, this inaccuracy or loss of position information can be very disconcerting and dangerous in tight quarters.

That said, we have a split screen -- showing both a close-up and an overview of the bottom -- plus a backup unit running at all times when in close quarters.  Although we rely on it to pick the course, we also plan our route and watch the surroundings.

After Beazley Passage, Okisollo Channel was calm and beautiful, with what little breeze there was, coming right on the nose and a slight current against. By the time we reached Octopus Islands, it was nap time and we anchored in ten metres of water for an hour or so.  The water is cooler here, but still tempting, but Blind Channel is the goal for tonight and it is best to arrive before too late.

I had half-forgotten about the upper an lower rapids in Okisollo Channel, but by the time we arrived the ebb was underway and we got a nice lift through them both.  These are simply rapids and the eddies and whirlpools are not normally an issue for a 42-foot boat. The channel is wide there and there are few hazards, but a counter-current can slow progress to a crawl.

We passed four fish farms (right) as we approached Discovery Channel and then motored out and around the Chatham Point light into Johnstone Strait, all familiar territory. Cellular Internet coverage came and went along the way.

It was another two hours before Blind Channel Resort came in to view.  We had plenty of time and sailed lazily into the channel under the spinnaker, then cruised past the resort and scoped it out, electing to anchor across the channel at Charles Bay and dinghy across for supplies.

There is little value in dropping $60 or $70 to tie to a dock for a few hours if all that is planned to do is chill and sleep. If people on board want shore time and the convenience of stepping on and off at will, that is different.

So far, we have covered an estimated 187 miles since Sidney.

Friday July 1st, 2016
   Canada Day, eh? 

The night passed calm and rainy. In the morning, we raised anchor and set out for Port Harvey.  The run was downwind and winds were light. 

We stopped for lunch at Billy Goat Bay on Helmcken Island, then carried on. The winds continued to be light and up went the spinnaker and we made good time.  When we passed Port Neville we did a chicken jibe, then sailed on down the middle of the Strait.  When the wind began to build, we doused the main and then I went to the foredeck to douse the spinnaker.

Cassiopeia has an ATN sock that easily pulls down over the spinnaker, completely dousing the sail in seconds and if all had gone as expected, there would be nothing more to tell, but today the sock refused to come down, leaving the huge sail billowing and overpowered as the wind continued to rise. 

The autopilot that had been tending the helm and holding us on course kicked off and Cassiopeia broached several times as I dropped the sail and stuffed the wet sail into its sack.

Being far from shore and in smooth water, this was of little concern, and more amusing than anything.  As I wrestled the sail into its bag, I wondered idly what might have jumped off the counter and shelves below.

Respect for lee shores is paramount when boating and when it comes to distance from shore and reefs, more is better.  I am especially careful to be far from shore and hazards when flying the spinnaker to allow time to recover from just such unexpected events.  Closer to shore, or in steep chop, this would have been a serious problem, rather than just another little surprise, but we were more than a half-mile off the nearest shore.

I follow the 'time to disaster' principle.  Knowing how fast the boat is moving or likely to move, sailing, motoring, or drifting, and the distance to nearest hazard -- boat, rock, floating log, shore, etc. -- it is a simple calculation to figure, worst case, how soon we could have a collision.  That length of time, minus the time to avoid the hazard, is the longest the helmsman can afford to be distracted, and we all get distracted by the chart plotter, other crew, personal needs, etc...

Example:

A boat moving parallel to a shore one half-mile away at six knots has 1/2 mile 6 miles per hour =  1/12 hour or 5 minutes until impact if the autopilot quits and the boat turns ninety degrees.

The same boat going the same speed (6 knots or 600 feet/minute) when 200 feet off the shore has 200 feet 6000 feet per nautical mile 6 miles per hour = 0.0055 hours or 20 seconds until impact!

Obviously, the wise thing to do is stay away from shore whenever possible, and be sure not to get distracted when near shore.  That is hard thing to get people to understand and accept.

Then, when I had the sail stuffed away I discovered that the sheets and control lines had somehow gone under the boat and were caught underneath somewhere.  Starting the engine confirmed that if they were not wrapped around the prop, they were at least close enough to be touched by the prop.  I did not want to run the engine and risk wrapping them badly.  Rope is not cheap and a prop balled up with line won't do much.

Not using the engine is not a problem if there is wind, as this is a sailboat and the engine is simply an auxiliary source of power. If becalmed, the anchor can hold, and if there is a need to move, the dinghy can pull the boat in a pinch.  No worries.

We carry a wetsuit, goggles and fins, and sharp knife in case of such events, so I tested the water temperature and considered heaving to, tying a rope around my waist and going in right out there in the Strait, but decided to sail into calmer water for the job.  Although the wind had died again, we'd still be moving at up to two knots and any boat speed at all would make the job difficult.  Anything more than a knot could make it dangerous, even if tied on. 

I checked down below and in spite of what had seemed almost like a knockdown from the foredeck where I was playing with the sail, everything was in place inside.  Nothing had fallen.  Cassiopeia is a stout and well behaved boat!

Looking for still water and an anchorage suitable for the task, we sailed in, almost to Port Harvey before the wind died down to where we were just drifting.  Not making any headway, and dead in the water, it was a question of anchoring there for the night, using the dinghy to tow or push (possible, but not simple when single-handing).  I dressed up in my shortie and snorkel gear, tied a rope to myself, and jumped in.

The water was cold, dark and murky. At first I could not see the prop, and although I have gone under this boat and others to cut lines or scrape barnacles before I was not confident about my ability to hold my breath long enough to do much.

Several boats were anchored nearby, and sailors are always curious about other sailors and helpful.  When in Mexico I was told that if I wanted to meet the locals, all I had to do was open the hood of my truck and look in.  So it is with sailing. Do something provocative like sailing in and circling with virtually no wind at dusk, then jump off your boat into cold water in the middle of a narrow channel, and the neighbours just have to come and get a closer look. 

Soon a dinghy appeared and my new friend offered sage advice and moral support -- and held the lines so I could pull myself under and back out.

Once far enough under, I could see a bit and, sure enough, one line was wrapped a few times around the prop shaft, but not too badly since I had not gone into gear for more than seconds and at idle.  I could have unwrapped it if I could see better and had time, but decided to simply cut the line and did so. It was getting late, the water was cold, and I had scratched my hand on barnacles.  Good enough is good enough.

From there, Cassiopeia motored the remaining half-mile into Port Harvey and anchored off the docks. I had thought of going ashore, but the place is not the same since the store sunk and I was tired and a bit chilled.

A check of the water depth before bed showed that we were in shallower water than thought at the time of anchoring, and with a low tide coming in a few hours.  As I was looking at the depth gauge, another neighbour came by in his dinghy on the way to shore and confirmed my judgment, so we moved deeper.  Sailors look out for one another. Well, he was a powerboater, but its all the same.

Saturday July 2nd, 2016

It rained all night. I slept in until 0915 and awoke to a dull day.  At 0939, we motored out to the Strait and set sail for Telegraph Cove. 

The trip was uneventful except for rain and bit of fog.  We had planned to spend the night at Telegraph Cove, but a phone call to reserve a berth early in the day revealed that they had no room. 

We stopped for lunch and rest at Boat Bay along the way.  The bay is sheltered, but full of debris, being apparently in a back eddy. It was good enough for our purposes, though.

We looked for nearby anchorages as we passed by Telegraph Cove, but found nothing suitable, and continued to Alert Bay.  On arrival, a call to the marina got no answer, so we anchored in the bay and dinghied in to shore. 

After my adventure yesterday, I was in the mood for a restaurant. I don't much like restaurants but suppose it was from being alone so long and eating healthy vegetarian food that the idea of a hamburger appealed tonight, rain or no rain.

By the time I got to shore the best restaurant in town was closed, so I went up the street and ordered a mushroom cheeseburger at a take-out.  After a long wait, I received my burger, with fries. It turned out to be the strangest burger I can recall ever eating.  Strange, but not entirely bad.  I ate it and threw the fries in the trash.

Sunday July 3rd, 2016

Cassiopeia spent the day at anchor in Alert Bay resting up and planning. 

I really don't know where the day went. I did spend hours fiddling with the steering and finally managed to fix what some boat mechanic had screwed up -- probably in minutes.  It was a rainy day. I slept a lot.

After being there overnight and using battery power for heat and light, we decided to charge the  batteries by running the engine.  When I tried advancing the throttle in neutral, I found a small part in the throttle lever was missing.

How that happened, I have to wonder.  It worked last time I was aboard.

 At any rate, I jury-rigged a workaround and by the time I decided to give that restaurant a second try, I saw that it was almost 2000 hours and they were closing again. Next time. Maybe.

Monday July 4th, 2016

The rain continued overnight, but by morning, the sky cleared and at 1000 we raised anchor, bound for Port McNeill.  The bottom where we were anchored in Alert Bay proved to have been very weedy and It took fifteen minutes to clear the weeds from the anchor chain by alternately raising and lowering it until they floated away and the chain and anchor came up clean.

After a short motor/sail, we arrived in Port McNeill before noon, found a space at the dock and went uptown to provision and get a few supplies.  I tinkered and remounted the outboard crane.  It is an essential item for lifting the outboard safely and easily when the dinghy must be put on deck for offshore or for towing the dinghy on rough passages.  The dinghy tows much better without the outboard on it.

Tuesday July 5th, 2016

Sometime after 1100, Cassiopeia left Port Neville for Port Hardy.  Even after ten years away, or more, the route was familiar. 

We had sailed that route upwind in Aqua Verde, an open cockpit thirty-nine foot sailboat with tiller steering, on a cold, windy, rainy day last time.

Today, we mostly motored over calm seas in a warm enclosure.  As we are having extreme tides lately, we encountered logs and sea weed floating all along the route.

We arrived at the Quarterdeck Marina at 1600 and refueled, and we bought and filled a jerry can for insurance since we have a long leg with possibly no fuel stops coming up and winds are predicted to be opposing us.  Then we tied up for the night. 

The boat took 7.75 litres after the 23-mile, four-hour journey suggesting fuel consumption of 2 litres per hour and 1/3 litre per nautical mile on this short, slow leg, running at 1800 RPM which is a very efficient speed.   Filling the tank until it spits at the vent is not a very accurate measure, especially for small fills, but even though this is a very rough estimate, it gives an idea what to expect.

Overall, Cassiopeia used 135 litres from Sidney to Port McNeill, then 7.75 to Port Hardy.  In Sidney, the engine hours were 2059 and now they show at 2102 for a total of 43 hours running on 143 litres or an average consumption of 3.3 litres per hour.   Engine speed on average during that time was 2250 RPM. On occasion we ran up to as high as red line at 3,000 and at others, 1,800 or less.

I was again in the mood for a restaurant meal and ordered  a Rueben.  It turned out to be the best Reuben I can recall eating.  I don't recall many meals, but I do recall my best burger.  It was at Harbour House in Ganges, and I recall my best Caesar salad.  It was at The Beacon Landing Restaurant in Sidney.

We are one day behind due to the off-day in Alert Bay, but have flexibility, and have only one firm date to make. 

It is said the deadliest thing to have on a sailboat is a schedule.

So far Cassiopeia has covered 290 miles of the 600-mile trip

This has been Day 10 out of 26 scheduled for the trip from Sidney to Sidney,
with a possible crossing to Vancouver and back to Sidney at  the end, making 28.

Wednesday July 6th, 2016

Today is bright and sunny.  We'll be leaving the dock for Bull Harbour sometime this morning and bucking the tide as we go.  The wind is predicted to be against us, too, but there is no hurry.  The trip is only 23 miles or about four or five hours. We are one day behind at present and will catch up sometime down the road.  The only firm date we have is Tofino on the 16th, ten days from now.

We left Port Hardy at 1145 and sailed out of the bay into Queen Charlotte Strait. 

After an hour of sailing, then drifting west the wind died completely, so we spent a lazy afternoon motoring out the Strait on autopilot.  The weather turned from sunny and warm to cold and rainy and the cockpit enclosure was much appreciated.

Many do not fully appreciate the flexibility of a good cockpit enclosure. It can provide protection for wind and rain and warmth on cold days, plus be a pleasant place to eat and watch sunsets when being the open would be unpleasant.

Even on overcast days, the sun warms the space inside, like a greenhouse.

While fully closed up provides the best protection from weather, individual lee side curtains can be rolled up to allow cooling and better vision while leaving the windward curtains closed or hanging free.  In hot weather, panels can be rolled up or removed and stored.

I cannot understand charter clients who want the curtains removed as they are one of the best features of the boat.  Even in summer, evenings and mornings can be very cool, and sometimes the need arises to return to base in nasty weather.  In the enclosure even street clothes are adequate on days when full foulies would be required in an open cockpit.

With an enclosure even winter weather can be quite pleasant, and unless all aboard love cold wind and rain, an enclosure can prevent mutiny and ensure that family and friends depart the boat wanting to return.

We reached Bull Harbour at around 1900, found a spot and anchored well out of any weather. Along the way, we stopped for a siesta in a small bay at Balaclava Island and the rest of the time watched the scenery pass or read up on crossing the Nahwitti Bar as we motored along.  We had to be alert, though, as there was an amazing amount of seaweed and driftwood along our path.

Now, anchored in Bull Harbour, we are ready for tomorrow.  The dinghy is lashed on deck. 

It is a nuisance there, interfering with the jib sheets and encumbering the route to the anchor well, but the cruising guidebooks all seemed quite worried about the sea conditions on the bar and other side where the surf meets the outgoing water, and off the coast, the seas can be rough, so the bow is the best place for it. 

That means launching and retrieving the dinghy for each shore excursion when anchored, but with the outboard lift, the job is simply a small nuisance rather than a strenuous and slightly dangerous job.

I have not been over the bar for a decade, but recall it was no big deal at that time, almost a non-event except that we were greeted by dolphins that followed us a ways cavorting and racing the boat.  I'm sure the skipper did all the worrying and timing for us that time, just as I am worrying and planning now.

Maybe there were smaller tides at that last time, though. We went through mid-day.  I don't recall, but today tides are at their very maximum range and the more favourable turn comes at 3 AM.  Sunrise is at 5:45, and we are overcast here with a new moon to boot, so the chances of seeing well enough to get through the debris-strewn channel to the bar around the turn are slim.  We have an alternative plan, dodging behind the reefs, but for either strategy, timing close to the turn is better,  and the ideal turn would give us a three-knot boost for a few hours as well.  The next turn, at 10 AM, would give us a late start and an adverse current all the way to Cape Scott.

We'll see how early we wake up, how much light there is, what the forecast and buoy reports say, and what the sea conditions outside the bar look to be.  A strong west wind and big swells outside would make us think twice, but that is not in the forecast.

Thursday July 7th, 2016

I slept lightly and woke up at three, but it was dark and raining, so I slept until about five and got up. 

Cassiopeia was underway at 0634 and we motored out around Norman Island through logs and debris, only to encounter patches of thick fog at the channel.

We turned on the radar, but a big bogey ahead in the middle of the bay where we could see nothing through the fog and the amazing amount of debris in the water made us think twice about proceeding.  With low visibility, the certainty of hitting a log sooner or later was too high, and the strain of watching through the fog would be exhausting.  We returned to the anchorage.

The only time pressure was meeting Doug, if in fact he was actually going to be at Winter Harbour at the time expected.  He was very uncertain.  Otherwise, we have no need to be anywhere until Tofino.  The one problem is that we are totally out of communication with the world until Winter Harbour, so there is no way to say if we held up.

I lay down and slept until nine, then saw that the fog had lifted, so we motored back out at 0948 and across to the reefs.  Between the reefs and shore is said to be a quiet channel and it was.  By the time Cassiopeia arrived there, the currents were slackening and the ride out was smooth, with a knot or two of current pushing us along.  As we crossed the Strait, we saw a sailboat going straight out over the middle of the bar and maybe all our worry was for nought. At any rate, the exit from Queen Charlotte Strait was a non-event, although there was a a fog bank over our route for a few miles and we turned on the radar and fog horn for safety. 

Out in the Sound, another whale surfaced briefly beside us and the sea was covered with small birds spaced out evenly over the surface.  A sea otter was lounging on his back, but dove as we approached.

At the moment, 1125, the current is slightly against us as we approach Cape Scott, but the seas are calm with gentle rollers.  It feels good to get back on the ocean and away from land for a change, but Scott Channel is next and we will encounter the flood current there as we are nowhere near slack.   We are making 5.7 knots over the sea bottom and 6.7 over the water, and at current rate of progress, Winter Harbour is a distinct possibility for the night, but Sea Otter Cove is close and we will decide when the time comes whether we prefer solitude of that isolated inlet or the company of strangers and the Internet at the Winter Harbour docks.

So far, there is no hint of the gale force winds in the dire forecasts heard on the weather channel this morning.  At the moment, the gauges show a mere two knots of apparent wind from behind and if not for the faithful, quiet power of Cassiopeia's Volvo D2-55 diesel, we would be making little, if any headway.  I'm starting to see gulls, though, so maybe some stormy weather is coming, or maybe they just hang around the Cape?

The day continued to be cloudy with fog patches and occasional rain.  Approaching the Cape, the swells became confused and turned from rollers into chop superimposed on rollers.  We almost ran into a sleeping whale, but he dove just as we turned to avoid him.  He looked like a big smooth grey rock, surrounded by birds.

After rounding the Cape another whale surfaced nearby and was gone.  The seas turned rough and the wind reached the promised twenty-five knots briefly.  Of course it was right on the nose so we motored on, then raised some sail, but found that unpleasant and went back to motoring.  Winter Harbour looks more and more like a possibility, but why rush past all this beauty.  We are going by far to quickly as it is.  Each mile of coast deserves a week at least.

Calculations show Sea Otter Bay will be on the beam mid-afternoon and another three hours would take us to the entrance to Winter Harbour, with an additional hour to get in and tie up but the seas are rough and the wind is against us, so why hurry?

Having come 37 nautical miles in good time, we turned in and entered the Cove, at 15:43, circled like a dog lying down and anchored, then let out 110 feet of chain in six metres of water, set the anchor alarm, had a snack, and lay down to catch up on lost sleep from last night. This cove is fairly open to the southeast and that is the predicted wind direction.

Around five PM, I woke up and shortly after things began to rock.  At first we just rocked a little, then the boat began to horse around the anchor. One minute the anchor buoy was almost at the starboard beam, the next, it was on the port. We tightened up the lines and the enclosure and glanced at the wind indicator.  The reading topped 20 knots, here in the somewhat protected cove. If we had encountered these winds early in the day when at the bar and before rounding Cape Scott, as feared, we would have done things differently. 

As for continuing to Winter Harbour, that would have been a rough ride, but probably bearable.  Nonetheless, staying here was the prudent decision since we would have been halfway there when the gale hit.  We encountered gusts over twenty-five knots while sailing earlier, and this boat can handle quite a bit more, especially motoring -- as long as the seas don't get too choppy or start breaking, but why take chances unnecessarily?

Friday July 8th, 2016

By 1000, things had calmed down in Sea Otter Cove and we got underway for Winter Harbour. By then it was low tide, with 0.5 metres over chart datum and careful navigation was in order to avoid the shallows.  At one point, the depth sounder read zero under the keel, but we did not touch.

The wind indicator read up to twenty-seven knots on the nose as we motored out of Sea Otter Cove, into the swells in San Joseph Bay and out a safe half-mile and more off the rocks of Cape Palmerston and Topknot Point. 

Seas were rough and confused, rising to two or three metres at some points along the 27-mile route and the wind continued on the nose, so we motored until we were a mile from Kains Island.  At that point, the wind dropped and shifted in our favour, the seas calmed, the rain stopped and the sun came out. 

We raised sail, but the winds continued to shift, began gusting again by the time we reached the Island, heavy rain began.  We again hurriedly doused the sails, cleared the Island, and turned into Quatsino Sound and then Forward Inlet.  The wind dropped and we ran downwind a ways, but then the wind dropped further and we motored the remaining distance to the Government docks and tied up.

Winter Harbour is popular with fisher-folks and the docks and bays are full of trailered boats. I went ashore and found nothing much of interest and returned to the boat for supper and to read up to plan the coming days. After reading books, it seems we should have chosen to tie up at The Outpost., which has more facilities.

Somewhere on the way in, my phone connected and I see that Doug will not be joining me here.  That is too bad.  Another hand to take turns at the helm would make the trip easier and double the distance comfortably covered in a day. Even on autopilot, a constant careful watch is necessary because, even off the coast a mile, we encounter the occasional log. 

I am finding that five or six hours of travel is enough for me single-handed.   That amounts to a maximum of thirty-six sea miles a day travelling in a beeline at full engine speed.  Sailing is faster, but seldom takes us in a direct line in the desired direction. 

We now have one week and roughly 165 sea miles before we are to be in Tofino to meet Bob, who will be on board from Tofino to Victoria, and we are currently one day behind schedule.  That uses up the free day at Tofino which was inserted in the plan for just such an eventuality.  Simple arithmetic says we have to make 25 miles a day in the direction of Tofino and, for reference, the shortest distance without stops is 135 miles.  That does not leave much time for exploring.  I'd love to spend a week here in Quatsino Sound alone.

From here on further images and charts will be coming...

Saturday July 9th, 2016

Rain was heavy overnight and the morning is mostly clear with a few fog patches visible across the bay.  The weather forecasts have changed completely and we now have to plan the rounding of the Brooks Peninsula to coincide with predicted favourable conditions.  That will determine whether to linger or go for it.

We have no phone or Internet here (coverage is shown at right) and we'd like to get a phone connection somewhere before going south, since the next few days will be totally out of contact. So, a trip a bit further into the Sound may be in order.  We can get Internet here, but having phone would allow us to receive any texts waiting and check messages. Skype can be used to check voicemail and make calls, but not receive texts.

We decided to check out the Outpost and stopped for fuel and a look around.  We took on 43 litres of diesel at $1.42/litre, a much higher price than at the previous stops.  The engine hours read 2123. Last reading was 2102, and in between we did some hard motoring and used the Espar cabin heater.  That fill calculates to 43 litres in 21 hours -- about two litres per hour -- and that seems hardly possible. Perhaps We did not completely fill the tank.  The breather did spit a bit as it does when the tank is full, but the nozzle at the dock here is bigger than normal and perhaps it blocked the escaping air sufficiently to create a false signal.

Although we are tempted to linger in this inlet and venture further in, conditions look good for clearing the Brooks Peninsula and we are one day behind, so we are headed south to make up the miles. We're told we may encounter good cell signals near the lighthouse.  If so, that will be the last contact for a few days. We'll chance it.

The sea was glassy with rollers as we left the inlet and came to the lighthouse and sure enough, we had a strong Telus signal long enough to send and receive messages and make a few calls.  As we turned and proceeded towards Cape Cook the signal was gone. 

What little breeze we found out there was was on the nose, so we motored and were pleased to see we were making seven knots much of the time, both on the water and over the ground.

Why the same RPMs give five knots and sometimes seven is a mystery.  Maybe the miles have cleaned marine growth off the hull or propeller? Maybe the water is different -- colder, denser?  Maybe sometimes it is less turbulent? Maybe the air resistance changes enough with direction to make that difference?  I have not been able to find a consistent explanation.

As we approached Cape Cook on the north-western tip of the Peninsula , we encountered rain as we passed through what seemed like a stationary rain cloud, then encountered confused but comfortable enough seas off the Cape. 

We saw clouds ahead and blue sky behind as we motored past Clerke Point at the south-western end of the Peninsula and out into the open water of Checleset Bay.  The sun came out and we almost found enough wind to sail, but the side to side rolling made sailing impossible and what progress we made under sail was to slow to be practical. 

We had planned on just clearing the Peninsula and anchoring somewhere near the south side, but saw a clear shot at making Union Island and catching up the lost day, so kept on, arriving at Walters Cove around six.

After circling the cove several times and seeing nothing to stop for or any place to tie up (anchoring is s discouraged), we left the cove and were pondering where to anchor when a local hailed us and suggested tying to the government dock, so we did and hiked the shore trail to Java The Hutt and back.  On the walk, we encountered a couple who were on another sailboat and they came aboard for an hour or so to chat.  By then we realised that this dock does not float and there is no real way to tie a floating boat to a fixed dock when a two-metre tide is expected to come and go overnight.  We left and anchored in an outer bay.

Sunday July 10th, 2016

Morning dawned bright and sunny and we motored out into the ocean, bound for who knows where, but some place closer to Hot Springs Cove.  We are back on schedule.

After drifting a while, deciding, we headed south, thinking to go to Nootka Sound and find a place to explore and spend the night, but along the way, reading the guidebooks, we realised that the landmass in Nootka Sound is an island and that in fact Espeanza Inlet joins Nootka Sound and provides an inland alternate route.  That route is forty miles as opposed to the twenty by ocean, but it also takes us past Zeballos and Tahsis, two places that I remember well from when I ran a mail order business.  These isolated communities on the West Coast were well served by mail and the inhabitants found mail order an ideal way to buy supplies.

The ocean was rolly and the only wind we saw was the wind created by the swaying mast.  As the mast tip rocked from side to side, sweeping arcs in the sky, the indicator spun and falsely reported five knots of wind. 

We motored through the rocks of the barrier islands to the north entrance to Esperanza Inlet, and as soon as we turned in, we found enough wind to make seven knots downwind on genoa alone.  That wind petered out halfway down, then resumed and took us around the bend into Hecate Channel.  By Esperanza settlement, we were again motoring and did so right to Westview Marina at Tahsis.  As we arrived at the marina at Tahsis, the wind began gusting strongly again and made docking very difficult.

We tied up, had a beer, then I walked into town for a few basic supplies and back, managing to get well scratched in a bramble patch while taking a shortcut.

Later I had a beer with two fellows who arrived several hours later  a Beneteau I had seen in Walter's Cove.  They had left a few hours after Cassiopeia and reported strong wind all the way.

Monday July 11th, 2016

The captains of the other two other sailboats we met at Westview thought it a good day to go to Hot Springs Cove and the forecast was not too bad.  The wind was southeast and they were headed southeast, but the seas and the predicted winds were not too threatening, so they were going. They figured the coming days were not looking as good.  I didn't much care one way or the other, but enjoy company so decided to make the jump.

As we motored out through the fjord, a distress call was heard on channel sixteen.  Apparently two people were out fishing on a small boat and the one who knew how to run it and navigate had fallen overboard and drifted away from the boat. The next several hours were filled with scratchy radio chatter between Vancouver Coast Guard and the person remaining on the boat, starting with how to determine the boat's position.  Various rescue boats joined the conversation and a nearby boater who was drafted -- reluctantly -- to assist.

Once the fisherman figured out how to read the plotter position, It became clear the boat was at N49.31 and W127.27, far out into the ocean off Nootka Island.  It also became clear that rescue craft would be a while arriving.  After several ours, the Coast Guard announced a recovery had been accomplished.  Although it was not stated, our assumption was that the person had not survived the cold water.

Meantime, our conditions worsened as sailed for the point.  While the fjords had been calm and the currents co-operative, as Cassiopeia exited Nootka Sound, the wind on the nose and the swells increased and a slight current ran against us. 

We motored, then sailed close-hauled and heeling under 1/3 sail at five to seven knots out to the tip of Estevan Point.  As we reached the Point, the winds increased to almost thirty knots.  The seas built to two metres and became confused. 

We happened to round the Point right around 1330, the time a new forecast is issued daily.  That forecast was much less optimistic than the one from 0400 that had encouraged out departure.  This one promised high winds and rough seas.

We tacked and soon found we were not making much way as the current was running north around the tip, closing the angle to sixty degrees or less from an ideal ninety and dropping any headway (VMG) to less than half the boat speed compared to the seventy percent achievable with a better angle.  It was clear that under sail we would be a long time making the last fifteen miles, but that, motoring, the time to arrival at Hot Springs Cove would be a bit over two hours.  Sailing at six knots, the time would be double -- at least.

If this were a fun sail, with eager crew, matters might be different, but bashing into two-metre confused waves, heeled over off a hostile lee shore becomes tiresome quickly. Besides, I have done far too much of that.  I started the engine and furled the genoa, then began the main.  Ooops! the furling line came off the drum on the mast and the main came full out and flagged while I wandered up onto the foredeck with handle in hand to crank it in.  That was dead simple.  We increased throttle to cruising and headed direct for the Cove.

The rest was quite boring.  We bashed over and through the mixed swell and chop. occasionally, slamming and sometimes taking water over  the bow.  Finding the right speed to minimize slamming took a bit of experimenting, but it turned out that full throttle was best for timing the swells and gave the least grief.  Cassiopeia is very sea-worthy and never causes the least worry.  The enclosure is reasonably dry and protects from wind and spray, so all there is to do is sit there, check the plotter regularly and look ahead.

We arrived in the Cove, rafted with Rinpoche a while to visit, then drifted away a distance to anchor.

Tuesday July 12th, 2016

This morning, we are anchored in Hot Springs Cove and back on schedule.  We are also in a more relaxed portion of the trip and into the section where the plan is make small hops and explore more. Today is dull and rainy and Cassiopeia will likely, not go anywhere.  I'll catch up on some tidying and business.

What I had not noticed until now and no one mentioned to me is that I omitted the 14th in the previous published schedule and as a result, the dates and days do not correspond after the 13th.  Moreover, I find I have the 'lost' day as a spare.  I'm correcting the error here and in the main page.

Here is the old plan:

After corresponding with Bob, who is planning to board at Tofino, the agenda from the 15th onward is flexible. There may be another person as well. From Tofino to Sidney, the actual agenda will be decided by those participating or wishing to do so at the time and the weather.  For that matter, I could be in Tofino five or six hours after deciding to leave here.

Here is the revised and extended plan.

Sun 10
Walters Cove to Tahsis
Mon 11
Tahsis to Hot Springs Cove
Tues 12
Hot Springs Cove

Rest Day

Wed 13
Hot Springs Cove
to Ahousat
(20m)
Flex
Thurs 14
Ahousat to
Tofino
(10m)
Flex

Fri 15
Tofino

Rest Day

Sat 16
Cruising and exploring between Tofino and Victoria
Sun 17
Cruising and exploring between Tofino and Victoria
Mon 18
Cruising and exploring between Tofino and Victoria
Tues 19
Cruising and exploring between Tofino and Victoria
Wed 20
Cruising and exploring between Tofino and Victoria
Thurs 21
Returning to Victoria
Fri 22
Returning to Sidney
Sat 23

Cassiopeia must be back in Sidney

We will be close to locations where we can pick up or drop off people to connect with public transit or floatplane service.  The only constraint is that Cassiopeia must be in Sidney by the night of the 22nd. 

I eliminated the trip to Vancouver and back at the end, seeing as there is no demand for it and we can therefore spend more time in the west sounds if we wish.

I heard from the office that we have another sailor with us from Tofino for a few days, Franck.

Walter and Reiner dinghied over to the Hot Springs early and were raising anchor mid-morning, headed for another cove.  I have decided to stay the day and get things done.  Why go fast when you can go slow?

When the main came out yesterday, the mainsheet was pulled through the clutch and out of the boom.  I was sure I had tied a stopper knot on that rope, but it must have shaken out.  At any rate, the line is now out of the boom and has to be threaded back in before the main is available again.  The problem is that the boom is sixteen feet long and the rope has to be pushed or pulled through horizontally.  Not possible.  I have to find a way of fishing it through. After scratching my head, I recalled the mousing wire I bought for securing clevises and behold, it is eighteen feet long.  I played with that for an hour and decided it is simply too soft to push through without kinking.  Still McGyvering...

The weather cleared. I decided that I might have some luck across the bay at a fishermans' dock there and motored over.  No one was around except two women waiting for the floatplane. I asked if anyone would mind if I looked for a piece of wire and they said go ahead.  I did, and the closest thing I found was a roll of barbed wire.  The barbs would prevent it moving through the pulleys and tube, but that was all I found, so I took a piece and spent the next hour or two removing the barbs while listening to CBC on my phone, connected to the Bluetooth stereo on board. It is Stampede time in Calgary and Calgary had some extremely heavy downpours, snarling traffic all over the city.  The radio crew were eating all the new junk food available at the concessions and talking about it.

A boat came in and was about to drop anchor right in front of me, right where they would back down on me as soon as the wind shifted a bit.  I pointed to my anchor marker, seventy-five feet in front of me and quite close to them and they were surprised.  They moved farther out.

I finally removed enough barbs and straightened the wire enough to pass it through the boom, attached the outhaul and pulled it through, then tied a stopper knot.  That part took only five minutes.

That was the day aboard Cassiopeia...

Tomorrow, twenty miles to Ahousat -- or somewhere.  The next night Tofino. The next day there will be three on board by nightfall.

Wednesday July 13th, 2016

The morning is bright and sunny here in Hot Springs Cove.  It is now 0815 and the float planes are arriving.  The hot springs will be over-full with tourists soon and then the tour boats will come. The batteries are down to 50% from two nights of use and it is time to either motor a while or find a dock to recharge them.  Time to move on.

The two fridges use a fair bit of battery and the anchor light and phone, tablet and computer chargers add to the load as does the Espar furnace when it runs. Idling the engine to charge is option, but could be annoying to the neighbours in this quiet cove.  Besides, it is time to move on.

The engine alternator puts out 120 Amps, nominal, and the house battery capacity was 400 Ampere-hours when new, so theoretically two hours should restore the 50% used, but that is theory.  In practice, the charge tapers off as the batteries fill and it takes hours to top up that last 15%, and charging from 110V dock power overnight is the best way to do it. Alternately a long passage on engine power or a series of half-hour idle sessions spaced out over the day work best.  Both also ensure a supply of hot water.

Where to go?  By the most direct route, Tofino is twenty sea miles and as few as four hours away.  between here and there are many possibilities.

Our schedule says Ahousat, and that is a pleasant trip and a good stopover, but there are many many more possibilities, enough to spend weeks between here and Tofino. After weeks of cruising, though, it is time to take it slow and easy. 

Ahousat it is then, but which way? The inner route, or the outer route?  We went the inner route last time.  Forecast is for light wind this morning, then stronger winds from the NW this afternoon.  Sailing would be very straightforward on the outside, but the inner route is more challenging and interesting, and should have local breezes. 

This is an adventure, after all, so the inner route it will be.

Cassiopeia left the cove around ten and turned into the channel.   There was a breeze, but too weak to sail and we motored down to Hayden Passage and continued on to Millar Channel.  Halfway up, there was enough wind to sail.  It was on the nose, but we were able to make 90 degree tacks and sailed up to the channel leading to Ahousat.  We tacked up that narrow channel just for the fun of it.  The wind was shifty and gusty and the sensible thing to do would be motor, but we made it just about to the docks, then put down fenders and landed at the ramp.

The dock is quite exposed and there is nothing to do there, plus there is no phone coverage -- and there was wind -- so we moved on.  Marktosis sounds more like a disease than a place, but it is a settlement just up the channel from Ahousat and we went up to take a look. 

Marktosis turns out to be a pretty busy place with boats and planes coming and going.  The planes landing and taking off play chicken with the boats.  As I motored slowly and carefully up a narrow, shallowing channel, a plane came almost straight at me. Airplanes have the right of way, but in my case, I had about ten feet to play with giving me right of way, but there is no way to convey that fact and I found myself being forced into the shallows.  Quick action saved the day, but the rocks were close.  Good thing this boat can spin on a dime if you know how.  We had no room at all.

From there, we returned to Millar Channel and tacked on towards Tofino.  We had no intention of arriving at Tofino tonight, but to generally go whichever way the winds favoured. 

I had no real idea exactly where I was since, single-handing, there is little opportunity to follow charts beyond the ones on the plotter, and the plotter does not display wide areas in much detail.  For small areas, the plotter cannot be beat, but for an overview, they are poor.

I have charts and do look at them, but there is the need to jump from one chart to another as the boat moves.  Charts are also awkward in the cockpit, so basically, with charts, the way to go is plan ahead, make notes and then follow the notes and changes of plan mean going back to the charts.  I have charting software on my computer, but they are Garmin charts and it turns out that although I have the charts and paid for them, the charts for this particular area did not get installed and getting them working has proven in the past to be a torturous process and may require disks I don't have here.

I also have Navionics on my phone and tablet and they are good in small areas, but poor for route planning.

The wind took us towards Tofino.  Out in the open, the wind built to fifteen knots, gusting to twenty, at about thirty five degrees to my course.  We upwind sailed on Genoa alone for a while, with good balance, making five and a half knots but added some main after a while for a little extra push and soon was going six and a half.  

We decided to duck down Calmus Passage, and figured we'd better reduce sail early for the potentially tricky entry around buoys and reefs.  Better before we need to than after. 

The job was fairly violent as it was, tying the genoa sheets in knots at one point.  The dinghy on the bow is a real nuisance. By the time we finished and were ready to bear off, we were down to 1/3 genoa and no main -- and still going five and half knots.

The turn was uneventful and the trip down the Passage started off fast, but the wind died, even though out behind us in the bay it was still roaring from the looks of things.  Soon we were wing on wing, and then, after turning into Maurus Channel, on the engine. 

The water around there is a lot shallower than it looks and the currents can be strong.  While we were distracted tidying up the cockpit after the run downwind, we set the autopilot to run along the channel which is bounded on the starboard by a large, shallow bank.  We happened to glance at the plotter and saw 1.5 metres depth below the keel and saw immediately that we were drifting slightly off course over the edge of that huge sandbar.

Setting an autopilot on a bearing is not the same a setting a track.  'Auto' will keep the boat proceeding on the same bearing at any moment, but not necessarily on a track.  The boat can be pulled sideways by current. 

When using the 'Track' function, the autopilot attempts to stay on the original rumb line, computing cross-track error and will return to the track fairly quickly or announce an error if pulled off course by wind, wave, or current

The former can allow the boat to travel a different path than intended.  The latter will stay exactly on the intended course or try hard to do so.

Immediately, we slowed to a crawl and turned away from the bank, watching carefully.  No sense running hard aground at speed.  We knew we were on a rising tide, which is good, but also that depths vary on bars and they also can change due to silting and currents.  We made it out to the channel again with the lowest reading being 0.7 metres below the keel, and proceeded down the channel until, voila, at Schindler Point, Tofino came into sight.

Although Tofino was in sight, we had not planned an anchorage or arranged a dock.  We are. after all, a day early arriving, and arriving somewhat by chance. 

Moreover, seeing Tofino does not mean that getting there is easy.  There are numerous bars and rocks and the entire entry is shallow.

Seeing as the tide was up and rising, we decided to cut the red buoy off the Point and, although we had plenty of water concluded that is not a good way to stay relaxed.  We then ran on the genoa down Heynen Channel and turned onto a reach at the green buoy and sailed in to Deadman Pass. 

That little segment is not for the faint-hearted as it is shallow, narrow, and subject to current, but the wind was strong and at a good point of sail and the engine was ready to take over in a heartbeat.

After navigating the Pass without incident, but with no time to take eyes off the depths to look at the famous eagle's nest, we cruised by the Tofino docks and decided on the anchorage across the bay east of Arnet Island where two sailboats were already anchored. 

Although the bay is generally shallow, the anchorage was 12 metres in the area available.  We anchored for the night, putting out all the chain.  The anchor dragged at first, but finally took a solid bite.  The wind was gusting in the anchorage, but not seriously enough to be a concern.  We set the anchor alarm, closed up the enclosure and called it a day.

Thursday July 14th, 2016

The night passed quietly after the wind died.  Cassiopeia circled the anchor in the changing tide and at one point triggered the anchor alarm, but was still in line with the other boats, so we reset it and went back to sleep.  We have 150 feet of chain out, so can make a big circle.

At 0800, the bay was obscured by fog.  By 0900, the sun was out and the cockpit, protected by the enclosure was toasty warm.

We are here at Tofino a day early, but that is a good thing.  At some points along the way it seemed we might be held up by weather.  Today, the 14th, is the day that was omitted by error from the original plan.  No matter, we have lots to do, including paying bills seeing as we have good cellular Internet, and at some point, a dinghy ride to town across the way is in order to scope things out for possible dock space later.

Mid-morning, we launched the dinghy, mounted the outboard, and went over to Fourth Street Marina and asked about space.  The Harbourmaster said Cassiopeia could have space at the end of the dock and the price was a dollar a foot.  Considering what we have to do and the convenience, we took the space and went back to haul anchor and motor across.  By then the wind was howling and being at a dock looked prudent.  The space assigned was on the downwind side.

By the time we got to the dock, a fish boat had sneaked in and we had to take an alternate spot, which turned out to be against the posts and protruding off the end of the windward side.  We were blown off the dock on the first try, but managed to make a good landing on  the second try.  Arranging fenders was a job, and there will likely be some tar on them tomorrow.  The power is twenty amp and we had to borrow an adaptor, but the manager was very helpful.

I walked up to town and bought some basic groceries.

Personally, I don't eat much of what the stores offer, but I do need vegetables, beans, fruit and basic staples.  I'm always amazed at the galaxy of packaged goods that take up most of the average store.  Nobody needs these things.  Demand has been created by advertising and the health of western nations suffers.

Prices here are high, in some cases double what I pay elsewhere, but for $1, the store drove me to the marina.

There is a gale warning for tonight with winds up to forty knots.  Now, at 1800, the wind gusted over twenty knots in the few moments I looked.  The depth gauge reads 1.2. 

We have 2.3 metres of tide at the moment and expect 1.1 at 0500 tomorrow, a range of 1.2 metres, so if we don't touch, we will come very close, right here at the dock.  This marina is known to be shallow.

Friday July 15th, 2016

If we touched bottom at low tide, there was no sensation.  The bottom is likely soft mud and the keel would just sink in a little before the boat rose again with the tide a short time after the low. 

The day is starting off cloudy and cool.  Cassiopeia is tied up on C Dock at Fourth Street Marina in Tofino, waiting for two crew arriving this afternoon and evening. There is much to do this morning to get ready for the next phase of this adventure.

A reader wrote:

"This is very likely the same guy you heard about on the boat radio a few days ago after he'd had fallen out of his boat (and was in the water for hours before any rescue could get to him). Well...he made it, he's alive!!!

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/rescue-of-vancouver-island-fishing-guide-absolute-miracle-1.3679492

It most certainly is the same story and and it certainly is a miracle.  The story was also on the Vancouver Island CBC news this morning. 

It's nice to hear a good news story.  In recent years, news departments and program departments seem to be increasingly focused on bad news, and the CBC features many programs which dwell on various horrors and injustices, even freak and distant and foreign ones.  I'm sure that all this negativity has to have an effect on public mood, and not a positive one. Just sayin'.

And then there is the endless US election speculation.  Is this the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation?  Or did the body snatchers arrive a while back?

You'd have to have been out there to appreciate the rough conditions, but fortunately, visibility was good.  Obtaining the location in the first place was key, and the software predicting drift was also critical to success.  By the time the rescue boats arrived, the victim was far away from the original spot.  Amazingly, he was alive.

The day passed doing laundry and miscellaneous chores. Cassiopeia moved to a better spot, over on A dock and an hour was spent cleaning tar off the fenders and marks off the boat from being moored against the posts.

Both Bob and Franck were delayed, but arrived at the boat and we had a chat, then called it a day.

Saturday July 16th, 2016

After much discussion, we decided that, rather than provision in Tofino and putter around the area, we'd go directly to Uculet, provision there and spend time in Barkley Sound the next day.

The crossing was routine, with virtually no wind and moderate seas.  Once we left Tofino and were clear of the rocks off the point, we stayed a few miles off the coast and motored the whole distance. Swells ran up to two metres at some points but were mostly smooth except for a few places off points and shoals.   Skies were overcast until after we tied up in the marina, at which point, the sun came out and the breeze picked up.

The marina we chose is quite crowded.  Boats are rafted together along the docks and we were assigned a spot alongside Wolf Willow, a boat of similar size.

Once Cassiopeia was tied securely to the boat beside us, we walked uptown to the co-op store for groceries, stopping at a liquor store along the way. The co-op has a delivery van and for $7, they drove us and our supplies back to the dock.

Although rafting can be an uncomfortable mooring arrangement that requires us to walk across another boat to reach ours, potentially invading our neighbours' privacy, in our case it worked out well.  The neighbours proved to be very pleasant and shared a lot of local knowledge that will be helpful for our time in Barkley Sound tomorrow.

We walked to the restaurant beside the docks for supper, then returned to the boat and visited a while before bed.

Sunday July 17th, 2016

This morning is overcast with little prospect of wind.  We are a bit late getting going, having slept in and then taken the time for Franck to make an omelette.

Our destination tonight is Bamfield, about twenty sea miles across the sound, so we have about three hours minimum of actual travel if we motor and about five hours to play around if our goal is to be settled for the day by 1800 hours.  Being settled by six allows three or four hours until dark.

We motored out of Uculelet with Bob at the helm.  The plan was to anchor for lunch at Effingham Island in the Broken Group, then continue to Bamfield.

We arrived as planned and anchored, had lunch of salmon and broccoli, then mounted the outboard on the dinghy for exploring.  Franck and Bob headed off to look around and I stayed on board to rest up and deal with a few items.

They returned about 1530 and we resumed our trip, under sail this time, with Bob at the helm again.  Franck handled the sails.

Bob charted the course for Bamfield and we arrived there in good time.  We were undecided whether to find a marina or anchor. 

Our information about Bamfield was quite sketchy and possibly out of date, and we had no Internet.  This one reason I like to arrive hours before dark and while there is still time to explore and the energy and will to do so.

Even with good information, places never look or feel the way we expect from reading or word of mouth, so my policy is to take a half-hour or hour, cruise around the shore, examine docks and facilities, and stop to ask anyone handy for recommendations.

We passed a dock or two, then came to the general store and tied up there to go in and ask.  An ancient, moldy sign on the dock said that the store charged fifty cents a foot for overnight. We went up and chatted, bought some supplies and moved on.  We could stay there, but not until after eight and we'd have to leave by five in the morning.  They did not offer power or water either.

Bob had found info about a marina farther up the inlet that appealed to him and as we proceeded slowly along the shore it became obvious that there were quite a few more facilities of various sorts.

At that point I spotted Rinpoche anchored near the government dock in East Bamfield motored over, and cam alongside.  We rafted up for a few hours to visit, then drifted back a few hundred feet and dropped anchor.

Monday July 18th, 2016

The morning was grey and cool, but there was no fog.  We motored out of the inlet, then out of  Barkley Sound and turned south towards Port Renfrew.  Seas were quite smooth for the most part, but we found ourselves in thick fog that only dissipated as we reached Port Renfrew.   We turned on the radar and the fog horn and proceeded. We had enough visibility to see small boats and logs should we encounter any, but peering out into the fog is tiring, and of course we missed the scenery.

When we arrived at the bay entrance, we were a mile and half offshore, and although we were in the clear, a cloud still lay over the land and bay.  Equipped as we are with live charts, radar overlay and a fog horn/listener, I'd have gone in regardless, but the wind came up and Frank wanted to sail a bit so the guys did a few tacks of the bay and I had a nap.

Then the fog cleared and we started in.  Rinpoche appeared on the far side under full sail.  We had seen them leave Bamfield after us and they raised sail before the fog settled in, so perhaps they sailed the entire way, but I doubt it.

We sailed together a while and they chose anchorage in the middle of the far end of the bay.  As is my policy, we cruised around.  We were looking for the pub and Franck wanted to buy fish for supper. 

We had considered a marina for the night, and called several times on VHF.  We had no cell coverage or Internet.  Initially, none of the marinas answered calls on VHF, but as we circled near the public dock and were calling the dockmaster, the new marina, Pacific Entrance Marina called us and offered us a berth, but with no power and for ten dollars more than the public dock.  We were already at the public dock and could see fishing boats unloading catch, and the pub was 200 yards away.  Our choice was obvious.  We tied to the public dock. 

Bob paid the mooring -- forty dollars cash, and Frank went looking for fish, returning soon with a nice salmon in a bag with ice.  We then went up to the pub, which turned out to be a very nice place with an outdoor deck set against a wall of tall, lush cedars on  the west and the cove on on the north and east.  We had a few beers and Franck went back to cook supper.

Supper was excellent.  We sat and talked a while, then I went to bed around dark.  The guys were up late and I slept soundly, only awakening briefly once when I heard sounds of walking on  the coachroof above me.

Tuesday July 19th, 2016

After emptying the Jerry can into the diesel tank and preparing for the next leg of the journey, we untied from the Port Renfrew government dock and motored out of the bay. Sooke was our destination.

By now everyone was better acquainted with the boat and with one another, seas were calm and we stayed close to the shore to enjoy the scenery.  At Magdalena Point, we were so impressed with the shoreline that we motored close and dropped anchor.  The water was clear and we could see the sand bottom down seven metres.  Frank rowed in with the dinghy, was gone a half-hour and returned with mussels he found on the rocks.  We resumed our course for Sooke and arrived there mid-afternoon, motored in and started our customary exploration. 

We had the option of anchoring or tying to a dock.  If not overpriced and with full facilities, a dock is a superior choice, allowing the batteries to fully charge and providing access to land without the bother of using the dinghy. 

A dock usually also offers washrooms and showers on shore which many people prefer. We also needed fuel and water before too long.  There was no emergency, but a wise boater keeps the tanks a third full at minimum.

The government dock had some empty space, so we landed and asked around, then walked Cassiopeia further down the dock and tied up.  Apparently we are about as close to the town as anywhere there and we had fresh water and power at hand, plus we had six hours until dark.

No sooner were we tied up, it seems, than Franck had come up with some crab from a returning fisherman whose lines he caught.  We had a beer, puttered around awhile, then Franck laid out the spinnaker on the dock.  We straightened it out and dried it, examined the lines, and agreed that we could not properly use it until the lines are either spliced or replaced and that would be at some other time.

Come supper time, we started walking uptown and came on the best restaurant right away, according to the locals nearby, anyhow.  We went in and asked for a table outside but the larger one they had was in use and the other too small.  Looking around inside, we were not inclined to be confined in a warm, noisy place after being in our pleasant cockpit enjoying the ideal weather.  Besides Frank had seafood on board and was willing to cook, so we went back the boat sat in the cockpit and ate as good a meal as many I have had in restaurants.

It does not get much better than this. A good boat, good people, friendly dock, beautiful country, warm weather, good food and drink...

Wednesday July 20th, 2016

I was up at four, had breakfast and coffee, checked the weather, tides and the course, then went back to bed.

We have about a four hour trip to Victoria and would like to arrive at two.  Currents at Race Rocks, an hour and a half away from here, can be strong, and there is an ebb tide until noon, so leaving early would not get us to the Passage -- or Victoria -- much sooner than timing our departure to get us to the Passage at slack.   Ten-thirty looks ideal and gives us time to enjoy the morning before untying. Going earlier would be unnecessarily slow and unpleasant.

This is the last day aboard Cassiopeia for Bob and Franck.  They get off in Victoria.  It will be another day or two before Cassiopeia crosses her wake at Sidney to complete the island circumnavigation.

We spent some time figuring the best place to drop the guys in Victoria and also get fuel, either along the way or in the vicinity since Cassiopeia is down near a quarter tank.  A nearby marina proved to be too shallow, so eventually, we decided on the fuel dock at Fishermans' Wharf in Victoria.

We cast off a little before ten-thirty, motored out, and found a glassy sea.  The current, however was with us.  Apparently there is a back eddy along shore and we made good time right up to Beechey Head where the current changed from pushing us forward to opposing us as expected by the time of day.

Nonetheless, about then the wind picked up and we sailed across Becher Bay mouth and tacked out at Bedford Islands.  The current slacked, the wind dropped and we motored through Race Passage and on towards Victoria.  With Victoria in sight, the wind again picked up and we sailed, then drifted a while before starting the engine and motoring the last short leg to the fuel dock.

Franck and Bob disembarked at the fuel dock as I filled the tank.  We said our farewells, I paid the fuel bill, and Cassiopeia returned to the Strait, with only one aboard now and Cadboro Bay as destination.

At the fuel dock in Victoria, the hour meter said 2175 . The last reading, back in Winter Harbour was was 2123.  Cassiopeia took 159.9 litres in Victoria and we must add the twenty litres in the Jerry can added since the last hour reading. 

159.9 + 20 = 180 litres and 2175 - 2123 = 52 hours
180 / 52 = 3.5 litres per hour
Most of the motoring on this leg was at 2200 to 2500 RPM.

Cassiopeia rounded the breakwater lighthouse, turned east and was not far offshore as we passed my old home away from home, the Surf Motel on Dallas near Ogden Point where I used to spend a few weeks each March before I bought this boat. Now I sail in March.

We raised  sail and discovered that the currents were running three knots in our favour towards Trial Island, carrying Cassiopeia along at up to eight knots.  As we approached the Island, the wind died and we motored through the turbulence between the Island and the shore, soon finding ourselves drifting along off Cadboro Bay.

We had planned to anchor there, but it was only three.  Six hours of daylight remained and the current was running strong in our favour, so we continued through the passage and turned toward Sidney Island and home.

The current continued strong and there was a good wind at first, but the breeze soon died and we motored for the last hour and into the bay at the Sidney Spit where we chose a deep spot and anchored, knowing the tide will be down to 0.5 metres at noon tomorrow.

People were dinghying to shore and hiking around.  I looked for swimmers and saw none. If I had seen any, I would have gone in for a dip myself.

I made a stew, then went to bed at sundown.

Thursday July 21st, 2016

I slept until 0930, then got up and had breakfast and did some writing and figured out the fuel usage over the entire circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.

Engine hours
Starting engine hours: 2059 - Tank full
Ending engine hours: 2175 - Tank full
Total engine hours 116

Fuel Consumption
Port McNeill: 135 litres
Port Hardy: 7.75 litres
Winter Harbour: 43 litres
Port Renfrew (Jerry can): 20 litres
Victoria: 160 litres
Total: 365 litres

Average consumption over the entire trip: 3.15 litres per hour

Estimated Sea Miles under power at 5.5 Knots/hour: 638

Intuitively, there seems to be something wrong with the estimated mileage since I had estimated the entire trip at 600 roughly nautical miles, and we did a fair amount of sailing.  Of course, there were diversions in and out of bays and inlets, and maybe the actual distance was much greater.  Maybe the average speed under engine was less than 5.5.  I had gone more slowly at times when alone and in no hurry.  I have a track of the entire trip recorded and maybe will check that at some point when I have time on my hands, but the day is hot and when I dip my toe in, the water feels okay for swimming. 

No one is actually swimming on the beach, but kids are puddling at the edge not far from me and I'm, going in.  Later today I'll travel to Fulford to have dinner with a friend, then return to Sidney tomorrow.

I had a quick dip, found the water to be on  the cool side, rinsed off with the swim deck shower, then dinghied ashore for  a short walk along the beach.  Sometime after two, we raised anchor and motored slowly towards Fulford Harbour, finally crossing our wake and completing the circumnavigation somewhere near dock Island, two days less than four weeks after starting out.

Many people do the trip in a shorter time, and some take longer.  Personally, I found the time a bit short, but that was because most of the trip was single-handing and that limited my comfortable distances.  Standing long watches used energy that might have been conserved for exploring at the end of a day if navigation and helming had been shared, and I typically stopped an hour or more each day for lunch and a mid-day rest.

So, a dream has been fulfilled.  Would I do it again? Yes.  Would I change things much?  No. Am I sorry I wound up doing much of it alone?  Good question.   I enjoy company, but I also enjoy solitude.  Having crew along makes some things easier and less tiring, but also makes other things harder and more exhausting.  Having crew adds a helpful redundancy and backup in case of emergency, and the companionship can be stellar, but each additional person aboard increases risk that someone may become ill or uncomfortable, prove distracting, cause conflict or make unexpected errors.

The economics are better with more people to share the costs, but there is some ideal number to have aboard.  Is it three, four, or five -- or even six?  Good question.  For some sorts of cruises boats carry more than just a few along and people sleep wherever they can find space.

Three worked well for us on this cruise, in a three cabin boat.  Couples can share a cabin, but strangers don't always find the idea appealing and having people sleeping in the dining nook reduces the flexibility for all.  The cockpit is a possibility -- I sleep there sometimes; the enclosure is warm and protected -- but would only suit the outdoor sorts who don't expect luxury.

I was fortunate in the people who chose to come aboard.  We got along well and had a good time.

Going forward, it might be smart to have a form to determine preferences to match crew.  Some people expect a marina each night, restaurant meals, and a long, hot shower every day, while others find these to be the very things they wish to escape on an adventure

On the way to Fulford, moving at just above an idle and moving at four knots on autopilot, I sat on the foredeck and pulled out the spinnaker lines that were cut back up at Port Hardy and spliced them.  The splices are not a thing of beauty, but they should be functional. 

I may re-do them sometime, but we'll see how they do tomorrow.  The problem is that this rope is soft and also a braid, not a weave, so conventional splicing does not work; it took me three splices to become good at it, so on close examination the first splices contain visible errors.  However, the splices are strong and as long as they slide well in the sock and through the pulley and horn, they should serve.

I tied up at the Fulford public dock, had supper with Bruce at the Rock Salt restaurant and called it a day.

Friday July 22nd, 2016

With a very low tide at Sidney today, I was in no hurry to get back until there was enough water to reach my slip without touching bottom on the way in.  The winds were variable leaving Fulford and gusty as I crossed to Schwartz Bay. With time to kill, I sailed and motored into Swartz Bay and looked around, then proceeded into Canoe Cove. 

Canoe Cove is a popular spot, with a large marina and shore facilities.  I had often visited it by road, but never by boat.  Surrounded by rocks and currents, it always seemed risky for a deep-draft sailboat like Cassiopeia, even though it harbours many sailboats and I see them coming and going.  Today, I was feeling bold and decided to learn the harbour.

The entry from Schwartz Bay was pretty straightforward, following the plotter and watching the shore, and I ventured all the way down the very narrow passage between docks and boathouses to the fuel dock, spun in the restricted space, tied up and topped up the tank.

By then it was low tide, 0.5 metres above datum and the shallowest time to leave, but also near slack.  I decided on Page Passage.  That might not have been the best choice, and I could have planned it better, but that went off without a hitch.

My policy is to try to keep at least a metre of extra depth under the keel and preferably more. I worry with anything less than two metres to spare.  What was notable here, today, was that the plotter became erratic right when I needed it most and as a result, I ventured over two spots which, although safe, came closer to the keel than I normally like.  Lesson learned.

From there, I sailed to the Sidney Spit to wait out the low tide at the marina docks and anchored in the deepest spot I could find.  The Spit area is shallow and I saw zero metres under the keel at times as I motored in, but did not seem to touch.  The bottom is sand and mud here, so there is no worry of harm on a light touch when moving slowly or stopped anyhow.  I was not worried about getting stuck since the tide was out and due to rise shortly.  This was is a good time and place to experiment.

In past years, I was very reluctant to venture to the Spit due to the shallow charted depths.  Only as my experience and confidence increased have I had the confidence to do go there, even if I saw other sailboats anchored in the shallows. Cassiopeia draws a foot more than most and two feet more than many others. 

As experience increased, I ventured closer to lee shores and into shallower depths but keep in mind that instructors teach extreme caution and very conservative methods for a good reason.  Confidence is a good thing, but it is easy to get over-confident, and I can see I have come close a few times. 

It is not what you don't know that gets you so much is what you don't know that you don't know.

Again, I found the plotter to be jumpy and deceiving (see chart left).  Maybe this is just one of those days the satellites are not in the optimal positions or some propagation factors were affecting the fixes.  These things happen. I also wonder, now that I am thinking about it, if stashing the fenders above the GPS affect the signal reception.   There is so much to know and much of it is not obvious.

At any rate, what the plotter said and what the eTrex GPS recorded (above) are not the same.  Also note that the charts indicate a depth that is shallower than my draft, even though I did not touch when there was a scant half-meter of water above the datum.

I sat anchored a few hours.  There was a fair breeze and boats came and went.  I sat a while watching wives try to catch mooring balls while their husbands (I assume) tried to motor up to them.   It was a gong show.  One boat named Persistence spent fifteen minutes trying.  Me, I had just dropped the anchored.  Done deal.

There are easy ways to hook a ball, but everyone tries the hard way.

Easy way one: take a long dock line, cleat one end and loop the middle it out over the ball, pull the ball closer, and tie the other end to a cleat.  With the ball held in place, do the normal ties and release one end to retrieve the original line.

Easy way two: Tie a long line to a bow cleat and carry it to the stern swim platform.  Back up to the ball and tie on, then return to the bow and pull in the line.

Easy way three: Get a mooring ball roping device that goes on a boat hook and threads a thin messenger line through the bale with one tap so a strong line can be pulled through.

At three, I returned to Port Sidney Marina, tied up and the saga ends.

Saturday July 23rd, 2016

Today, I packed and tidied the boat in preparation for leaving.

Once the sun was up, I raised the spinnaker and verified the splices run through the sock and the block without any problems, then stowed it away.

Just before noon, I caught a cab to YYJ and checked a bag for my flight home.

We lifted off at 1305.


This is the end of the log for 2016, but I expect to add pictures and more narrative when time permits -- and maybe begin planning for next year.

My goal in writing this log has been to share the experience and to also share lessons learned or lessons already learned, but reinforced by circumstance.  Of necessity, many details of the journey remain unreported. Rest assured, it was a most memorable trip and one I plan to do again, only allowing more time to stop along the way. 

These logs will be corrected an enhanced with pictures as time allows in coming days.

T