West Coast of Vancouver Island – Part 2

West Coast of Vancouver Island – Part 2

West Coast of Vancouver Island – Part 2

As I write this we are cruising east in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and it is totally flat, glassy water without any wind, waves, or anything.  Unbelievable.  With many hours of cruising left to go, it seems like a great time to draft the next chapter of this story.  (EDIT – I wrote the first portion in the Strait…and finished up at home but regardless here’s the story!)

When we last left off, we were in Ucluelet at the northern entrance to Barkley Sound.

Thursday, September 6 – Ucluelet to Tofino, Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia:  26.5 nautical miles

We left Ucluelet early in the morning and headed out to the Pacific.  The seas were pretty calm but as we were headed into the waves it was slightly bumpy, but not a big deal.  Zoe just isn’t as much of a fan of head seas!  As we were nearing Tofino we could see a large stack coming up out of the waves ahead…checking on AIS we saw that it was indeed Abby and Scott on Epoch, their Nordhavn 47 and around them, the Slowboat flotilla, heading south on their circumnavigation of Vancouver Island!  Fun!  We took some photos of Laura and Kevin on Airship, Sam on Safe Harbor and Vincent and Linda on Doll Face and of course had a good chat on the VHF.  The flotilla boats were some of the first cruising boats we had seen in days.

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Scott and Abby on N47 Epoch
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Beautiful coastline

We cruised around the point into Clayoquot Sound in the sunshine scanning the shores for the Middle Beach Lodge where we had stayed 17 years prior.  Gorgeous all around.  We had heard from others (including the Slowboat crew) that it is hard to find moorage in Tofino, especially as a larger vessel.  We had tried calling the marinas over the prior days to be told that no, there wasn’t any space for a 60 foot power boat because there was a big fishing tournament about to start, and/or generally that if we were 28 feet they could welcome us.  Anchoring in Tofino is a challenge because of the currents that run past the town at up to 4 knots.  Plus there are water taxis and tour boats zipping around at all times.  These small fast moving boats don’t seem to have any sense of speed other than full throttle.  They run their boats like precision race car drivers. Quite the talent really.

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Just a few miles west of Tofino

So we weren’t hopeful for a slip in Tofino and had been looking at where we could anchor farther away and perhaps hop back with the dinghy.  Or maybe where else we might go and come back to Tofino on the way home.   Add to this that the weather forecast predicted that a storm was coming with 30+ knot winds.  Good times. One more call to the Tofino Harbour Authority and we struck gold!  Yes, they could take us at the 4th Street Dock if we wanted to raft to a 54 foot powercat.  No problem.  We can do that.

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Squishing the powercat

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After tying off to the powercat, and then tying lines to the dock around him, oh and adding our fenders to his boat against the dock to ensure he was not potentially going to be squished, we headed out to explore Tofino.  Seventeen years ago we ate the best halibut and chips I have ever had in Tofino.  We searched but I think the little spot is gone.  Lots of other cool places and spaces however!

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Fish cleaning area on the dock

Zoe accompanied us for some of the exploring but she was a little sleepy after the morning ocean jaunt and had a nap for a portion of the afternoon.  After a lovely dinner out we returned to the boat to a happy doggo.

Friday, September 7 – Tofino

Friday morning brought the first wave of the storm with an all-day serious downpour and some wind.  We decided to stay put for the day.  One of the reasons that we wanted to stop in Tofino (other than the great town) was that we had ordered a few things from Fisheries Supply in Seattle to be delivered to Tofino.  A new American flag (as the other was lost somewhere around Victoria) and a new pump for the blackwater system.  Alas, the package was stuck in Customs.  So we spent the super rainy day doing a few boat projects including changing the duck bill valves on the blackwater tank pump.  Good times.

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Gortex is your friend!

We also wandered out of the boat into the rain in our rain gear to see what was happening around town.  A new totem pole was being raised and the community was getting ready for a community-wide dinner where all could come together to celebrate the new totem pole.  Very cool.

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Just after raising the Totem

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The bad weather didn’t seem to stop the tourism however.  Boatload after boatload of tourists dressed in Mustang survival suits and now, long yellow rain jackets kept descending upon the marina, loading into fast open RIB boats and going out to search for whales and bears.  I’m not sure how they could see them exactly.  One gentleman we met said that it was likely that they were “whale listening” as there was little chance they could see a whale unless it was right on top of them!  I decided these people looked like “ketchup and mustard people” and for some reason found their gear and collective march to be pretty hilarious.  As we saw them all day, my hilarity just never ended!

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Alison’s ketchup and mustard people

Saturday, September 8 – Tofino to West Whitepine Cove, Clayoquot Sound: 17 nautical miles

On Saturday morning we decided to head out in a dry spell.  We knew that the winds were coming next so we scoured our guidebooks for safe, yet pretty harbors.  We landed on West Whitepine Cove, a gorgeous bay with a rushing creek running into it and lovely scenery.  On the way we cruised through an area of Clayoquot Sound with a tremendous number of sea otter colonies.  They are so funny and adorable. They float around on their backs looking up at us like, hey, what are you guys doing?  Wanna swim?

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Red Rover heading to West Whitepine Cove

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We anchored in the cove, all alone once more.  A dinghy excursion was in order to check out our new anchorage!  And of course, that’s when it began to pour once more.  It rained and rained and rained and rained some more.  And then it rained again.

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Alison with the anti-bear equipment

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It was another “embrace the rain” type of day

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Rain may have been an understatement…

 

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While enjoying a little red wine with the rain we noticed a pair of porpoises that were hanging out in our cove, diving and playing near the boat.  After watching them for a bit two more showed up!  It was like we had our own porpoise playland.

Oh and not to be forgotten, it was Zoe’s 9th birthday!  Happy Birthday Zoe!  We cooked up some chicken thighs for our birthday girl and gave her lots of loves.

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Hey Humans!  Why is there kibble in my birthday dinner??

Sunday, September 9 – West Whitepine Cove to Bacchante Bay, Clayoquot Sound:  31 nautical miles with a detour

The wind came up on Saturday afternoon but didn’t really begin to blow until the early hours of the morning on Sunday. Of course.  Even in our very protected anchorage the wind speeds reached 30 knots.  We swung around, drank coffee and watched the storm feeling great about our purchase of a Rocna anchor last year.

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Just as abruptly as the storm began, it stopped.  The rain stopped, the wind stopped and some blue sky opened up.  Wahoo!  We quickly packed up, pulled the anchor and headed back out, thinking we would transit Hayden Passage at slack tide and move north to position ourselves for a visit to Hot Springs Cove the following day, ocean conditions permitting.

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Hayden Passage was simple and easy.  We transited toward the ocean a bit, and found lumpy conditions.  After exploring a few coves we decided to visit Bacchante Bay, a gorgeous destination with steep mountains, a grassy meadow and beautiful scenery.  We were once again all alone in this pristine, wild anchorage.

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Our anchorage at Bacchante Bay
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Dog and her ball

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One of the images in this series is going to be in the 2019 Nordhavn calendar!
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This was a small island before the entrance to the bay that we took the dingy to explore
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Queen of the mountain!

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I have the stick!
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The streams were running fast with all the recent rain
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Hey!  There’s a boat on my nose!

Monday, September 10 – Bacchante Bay to Quait Bay (with a detour to, but not reaching Hot Springs Cove), Clayoquot Sound:  44 nautical miles

In the morning we continued to explore the bay a bit more and enjoyed coffee and breakfast with a stunning view.  We then decided to head out of the bay, gain a bit of cell service and check Environment Canada for ocean conditions with an intent to go to Hot Springs Cove.  The website said 1-3 meters with lessening winds and calming seas in the afternoon.  Well… not really.  We approached the ocean and noted that the swells were not as large in the more protected waters.  As we headed into the swells to go out and make the turn into Hot Springs Cove the wave heights grew.  Waves were crashing and water was spurting into the sky on either side of the channel, and the waves were up to 15 feet, and although well spaced, we were down in the wave troughs looking up at walls of water.  Not so good.  The entrance to Hot Springs Cove it just didn’t seem safe, sane or perhaps possible to move our slow boat in there.  So back we went.  And once again, I have not made it to the hot springs in Alaska or BC.  Hmm.

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For those who know Zoe, you understand that this was not a look of enjoyment!  She was glad we turned back to flat water….

We decided to move back toward Tofino and ventured back through Hayden Passage.  We checked out Matilda Inlet and the small First Nation village of Ahousat and then cruised onto Quait Bay.

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Warrior man?

 

Our guidebook noted that the floating lodge in the bay was closed but that a caretaker was stationed there.  Of course, the guidebook was published after last summer so some things do change.  We anchored not far off of the floating lodge and a rushing creek behind it.  After taking Zoe for a well-earned “shore leave” and a floating afternoon cocktail we decided to go see what the lodge was all about.  There were numerous fishing boats tied to the docks and it appeared to have a variety of people walking around on the upper deck.

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Hey humans, that’s a big floating building over there.  Let’s check it out!
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The longhouse in the foreground, the floating lodge in the background.
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Alison has already used this fireplace in a real estate consulting report – tax deductible trip?

A man (who we later learned was Chris) in a chef jacket shouted down at us to come on in and join the party.  Well why not?  After taking Zoe for a quick walk Kevin took the doggo back to the boat and I wandered up the stairs, dressed in full rain gear, headed to a party with a bunch of people I had never met.  And it was a blast.

The party ended up being a mix of people having a tuna tournament in Tofino, out for an evening of fun and the staff of the Tofino Resort & Marina.  There were deck jumpers – enjoying a nighttime plunge into the icy waters below, beer, wine, food and a lot of fun and laughter.

We learned that the floating lodge had a variety of land-based buildings as well, including a long house a spa, and more.  We were encouraged to come back in the morning and explore the surrounding grounds and of course have breakfast!

Tuesday, September 11 – Quait Bay

With an invite to explore we got up in the morning and headed to shore.  Chris reappeared and asked us to come up for breakfast.  Well ok!

The floating lodge was once called Pinkerton Lodge and then became Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.  It will have a soft opening this fall and a grand opening next spring as The Tofino Wilderness Resort.  We would love to go back next year and see how this really, really cool place comes back to life.

The resort was originally built by the Sunkist company.  And it appears that no expense was spared. The floating lodge was a floating restaurant in Victoria for the World’s Fair.  It was then moved to Quait Bay (with an exciting high tide float through the very narrow entrance to the bay) and remodeled into a hotel.  The long house and adjacent spa building were developed along with a spectacular boardwalk that winds through the forest, along a raging creek up to a series of beautiful lakes.  Several cottages sit along the lake shore.  The creek is also the source of power for the resort as an extensive hydro power system was created.  It is a self-sufficient place with no roads leading to the resort.  Future guests will access the resort via a quick 20 minute boat ride from Tofino.

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Dining area in the Lodge
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Dock on the lake above the lodge

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The dam and pipe that powered the water generator – and a little wayfinding signage.

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The spa, hot tub and 22 foot deep natural pool in the foreground

Apparently the resort was really only ever open for a few years.  It has been sitting dormant for years and Chris and team are working hard to put the place back together.

Chris made us an awesome breakfast of French toast and sausages and we enjoyed the resort’s WiFi for awhile.  We explored the boardwalk and the lakes and enjoyed it all!

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Now if only every day was gorgeous like this

After wandering around the shore we decided to go check out Freedom Cove in the dinghy.  This famous cove is home to Catherine and Wayne who have built a completely sustainable floating island that they live on.  Their gardens and outbuildings have been extensively covered in the media.  One of the many videos about the cove – watch here!  We chatted with Wayne from the dinghy but as we had Zoe with us, we created a bit of havoc with their three chihuahuas who were taking their job of homeland security quite seriously.  Visitors are welcome at Freedom Cove and the owners take the time to tour people through their unusual property – no dogs though!  We were told that it would be polite to provide a $20 bill as a gracious thank you for the tour – something to keep in mind if you head to Freedom Cove.

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A pink and teal delight

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After an afternoon of dinghy wandering we headed back to the boat to lounge about and then take another hike up to the lakes.  A beautiful afternoon, even though it rained a bit!

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Wednesday, September 12 – Quait Bay, Clayoquot Sound to Effingham Bay, Barkley Sound:  43 nautical miles

On Wednesday morning we got up bright and early and took Zoe to shore for a quick doggie break prior to departing back to Barkley Sound.  As we motored toward the Pacific, fog rolled in and out around us, and we noted some remarkedly shallow areas under the keel!  The ocean swells began and wala!  We were back in the Pacific.

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Red Rover at dawn
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Heading towards Tofino area

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Entering the fog out on the Pacific
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Easy rolling morning

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Our cruise south was truly uneventful with very little wind and long rollers that simply gave us a bit of speed as we cruised down them.  Easy ocean.  When we arrived at Barkley Sound we cruised past Ucluelet and headed down to Coaster Channel, a mid-point entrance into the Broken Island Group.  I was less delighted about the idea of coming into a channel with waves breaking on rocks on either side of it, but Kevin assured me that it would have far more elbow room than it looked.  After a few swift turns by some rocks, with the swells propelling us forward, we were back into the calm waters of the Broken Island Group.

We headed to Effingham Bay and surprisingly, there were other cruising boats there!  WHAT!?!  Other people were actually on the West Coast of Vancouver Island?  We anchored mid-bay and took the dinghy down for some exploring.

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Fetching the stick!  One of Zoe’s favorite beach activities
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Nurse log

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As the fog rolled in, we decided to hang out in the boat and entertain Zoe, who had been a most patient doggo during the ocean portion of the trip.  Kevin held an evening show for Zoe with her toys as the primary players.  She enjoyed it immensely and decided to chase said toys all over the boat.  Good times!

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It’s a doggo play day!
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Oh hey humans…

Thursday, September 13 – Effingham Bay, Barkley Sound

On Thursday morning, we anticipated the arrival of the Slowboat crew who were joining us for the evening in Effingham Bay.  I did a conference call (a little work had to happen) and Kevin messed around with boat projects.

When the Slowboat crew arrived we all said hello and some of us set out for more dinghy exploration, visiting these outer islands and the gorgeous landscapes that challenging weather creates.  We even ran the dinghy through a sea cave as the swells entered and exited the cave.  So very cool!

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The Slowboat Flotilla joins Red Rover in Effingham Bay

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Exploring the sea caves by dinghy

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In the evening, we had the Slowboat crew over to Red Rover for dinner.  And they brought dinner!  The very best kind of guests!  Kevin and the gentlemen played with his new underwater drone, learning that it was going to take some practice.  They were getting the hang of it by the time dinner came around.  We all celebrated Sam’s birthday and gave him lots of peer pressure to buy a Nordhavn.  😊  Always fun!

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Leaving Barkley Sound – just beautiful

If you are reading this asking, “what’s the Slowboat crew?” we can fill in the blanks.  Slowboat is a flotilla run by Sam Landsman, Laura Domela and Kevin Morris.  These awesome people lead small groups of slow boats (and now and then a faster one) on several trips each summer including an epic Alaska trip and a few circumnavigations of Vancouver Island.  This was their second trip around the island this summer.  We met the Slowboat crew for the first time last summer in Petersburg, Alaska and have enjoyed get-togethers with them ever since.  If you’d like some expert knowledge, the Slowboat flotilla could be a great fit for a first trip north.  www.slowboat.com 

Fellow Nordhavn owners Scott and Abby were along on Epoch, their N47, and Vincent and Linda Cummings who have a N60 on order were also on the trip.  Always fun to see the Nordie family.

Friday, September 14 – Effingham Bay to Port Renfrew, British Columbia:  46 nautical miles

On Friday morning before the crack of dawn we headed out to sea once more, cruising with the Slowboat flotilla back into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Conditions truly could not have been more easy – it was a smooth ride and fun to have friends to chat on VHF / messenger with as we went.

The Slowboat crew was heading to Port Renfrew.  Originally we had thought we’d bypass this stop and head to either Sooke or Victoria.  In the end, we decided it would be fun to stop – and why not?  So we headed to Port Renfrew, a really cool little marina.

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Port Renfrew

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Apparently the marina had been rebuilt after a monster winter storm came through and took down the breakwater, damaging the docks.  We were told by the marina staff that within a few hours of the storm passing, work began.  The cost?  Several million dollars.  Impressive.  The small marina is lovely.  It has a restaurant that is currently serviced by a food truck on the upland area.  The marina is being reworked by the same people who own the Mill Bay marina and restaurant where I have spent many years being Crew Mom watching Kirsten row at the Brentwood College Marina.  So it was a welcome sight!

Kevin and Zoe and I had lunch at the restaurant and enjoyed some beers with Abby and Scott before heading out for a good long walk.  We promised Zoe afterall.  We wandered into the Beach Camp area and then turned around and walked to the “town” or Port Renfrew which is centered on a very cool pub.  The pub sits alongside a wharf that includes a small hotel, fishing excursions, commercial fishing infrastructure and more.  Super cool.  I’d stay there in a minute.

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Beer thirty

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Alison wants to stay at this little hotel on the pier someday
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Humans!  Do as I wish!

After our walk we went back to the restaurant (sans Zoe who went to nap on Red Rover) and met up with the Slow Boat flotilla for dinner.  We then retired to Epoch (N47) for tasty beverages.  A good time was had by all!

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A fisherman had left a few fish heads out on the dock for the seagulls…  Zoe found them fascinating.

Saturday, September 15-  Port Renfrew to Port Angeles to Home (Shilshole Bay Marina, Seattle):  127 nautical miles

Saturday dawned bright and early once again.  We headed out of the marina slightly later than the Slowboat crew as we had a dog to walk!  But we caught up.  The Slowboat crew was headed to Victoria for what else?  A victory celebration!  Their circumnavigation was complete.

The Red Rover crew was headed back to the US.  We enjoyed completely and totally flat conditions on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is almost unheard of.  And of course, some fog with a bajillion small fishing boats darting about without any visibility.  Eventually the fog broke and Port Angeles was ahead.  We checked in at customs, surrendered our limes and lemons (where do they put all of this stuff?  I’m betting they have an awesome bar at Customs & Border Patrol) and headed back out, thinking we’d spend the night in Port Townsend.

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The sky blended in with the sea

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Making our way home under the watchful eye of the lighthouse
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One lonely sweet potato, all the US Custom officers left us after clearing back in at Port Angeles.

Well, as we neared Port Townsend we read that the following day was expected to bring 3-4 foot seas in Admiralty Inlet and the Puget Sound.  Not a big deal really, but likely a good bash all of the way home.  So… instead, we decided to just go for it.  We made some dinner, drank some Redbull and waved at Port Townsend out of the port side windows.

We don’t normally cruise in the Sound in the dark due to crab traps and logs.  But crabbing season was over, there was a nice bright moon and after we passed the south end of Whidbey Island, nice conditions.  Windy but easy seas.

Seattle Traffic, who controls commercial shipping traffic in the VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) seemed a bit concerned about our nighttime presence as they kept calling us.  We were cruising just on the outside of the shipping lanes, attracted their attention.  “Red Rover!  What are your intentions?”  We chatted multiple times and listened as they informed the Alaska bound cruise ships and tug boats of our presence (I think they can see us on AIS). The other captains were told to watch out for a southbound yacht, Red Rover, and that the RR captain had been told to be monitoring closely.  Kinda fun.

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A cruise ship heading north as we headed south

We pulled back into Shilshole at 10:30 pm, 16 hours after we left Port Renfrew.  A long day, but it afforded us a nice Sunday at home.

What a fantastic trip!

ABT-TRAC Captains Course

ABT-TRAC Captains Course

At Nordhavn’s 40th Anniversary Gala this past spring, we spoke to Ernie Romeo with ABT-TRAC (the company that supplies the hydraulic systems for Nordhavn and many other quality boatbuilders) about the captains course (link to their site) that the company offers.  We’d heard about it before and it was on the to do list, but when we learned it is held at their company headquarters that are located minutes away from our favorite wine region, we signed up immediately!  (BTW – Sonoma County!)

So this past week, we packed our bags and took the two hour Horizon Airlines flight from Seattle to Santa Rosa.  The airline (Alaska Airlines) allows each passenger flying in to Santa Rosa to bring home a case of wine on your return flight – bonus round!  Of course, during the trip down, the flight attendant delivered a note to us from Jeff and Shannon of N47 Igloo.  We hadn’t seen them board the plane!  Once landed, Alison made it to the rental car desk with just minutes to spare before heading to our place in Windsor, which ended up being 5 mins from the airport.

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The note from Jeff and Shannon.

The next morning, we drove 20 mins south ABT’s Rohnert Park facility.  Eric Folkestad, the Product Development Manager for ABT, was our class instructor.  After Eric welcomed us to the class, he shared a few stories about last year’s massive fires that ravaged the area, taking lives and homes.  Four of their employees lost their homes with one of them waking up to a 1:30 am robocall warning and seeing their garage on fire.  The community is still working thru their rebuilding process.  (so sign up for the next class and buy some wine to support everyone!)

The class was made up of about 16 people, a mix of industry people and boat owners.  Two of the three industry people we knew – Lugger Bob Senter from Northern Lights and Devin Zwick (from PAE).  Except for John, an Outer Reef owner, the rest of the attendees were Nordhavn owners!  Alison and I were one of four couples that were there.  Of the Nordhavns represented in the group, three are still in the build process.

Much of the first day was touring around the facilities.  Most of the different “divisions” had their separate buildings or areas.  We first met Steve Ring, the parts guru (good person to know!).  Throughout the day included seeing machining areas, assembly, paint/finishing, shipping, electronics as well as where they lay up the fins themselves.  ABT TRAC makes almost every part of their systems.  This includes bolts so they meet their exacting tolerances!  The attention to detail, in the engineering, fabrication and support really comes thru when you walk thru everything.  Then you continue on with the class and learn even more!

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Just cool stuff…
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One of the many pieces of machining equipment
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From this…
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to these!
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Cast parts ready to be finish milled.
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Lugger Bob!

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Cast thruster parts ready to be finished…

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Stabilizer being assembled.
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The fiberglass shop…

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Shelves and shelves of parts.
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Eric walking thru a table for of parts being assembled for a new build yacht.
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An electric hydraulic pump in the foreground and reservoirs with coolers in the background.
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These systems require many parts!

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Control box in process.
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Endless bins of connectors and lengths of cables all to build their control boxes and other electronic parts.
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The electronics shop.  They make all their own assemblies.
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The original bow thruster on the far wall…
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Some boat builders request a system built ready to be dropped in…
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The original test tank for stabilizers…  it was filled in water and then ran until they broke!  Now computer programs can show where stress shows up…
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The Finish Shop.
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Thruster tube for Nordhavn’s new N80-01
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A completed fin with wing.

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Fin side being laid up…

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Crates ready to be shipped!
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Stabilizer shafts.  A “250” series stabilizer has a 2.5″ shaft.  The 300 series is a 3″ shaft and so on…
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This is the metal part that is built in to each fin.  The side facing the camera is the boat side and slides up on to the shaft.

I must say, Eric was wonderful at presenting the information.  Very engaging and it was easy to follow along.  Even Alison, self proclaimed non-mechanical person, stayed focused and learned right along side myself and everyone else.  She even enjoyed tearing apart a hydraulic component and reassembling it!

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One of the parts we took apart, “fixed” and reassembled.

The second day was mostly in the classroom but that included a hands on element of “fixing” a couple of issues on their classroom wall of hydraulics.  Speaking of which, they have a full working system of stabilizers, thrusters, windlass, etc up on a wall.  It is easy to look at a full system and see how it works.  Amazing.

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The wall of hydraulics

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Bill Baker with N62 Roxia getting his hands dirty… or staying clean!

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Jeff with N40 Irene
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Needless to say, it is much easier to work on the stabilizers at this table vs where they are usually located!

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As Red Rover currently only has hydraulic stabilizers, we thought we’d be focused just on those (very critical) items and what it might take to add backup hydraulic pressure if the slim chance we lost the main engine (hydraulic PTO pump on the main engine).  By the end, we learned enough to be confident that we could add a hydraulic windlass and chain wash down ourselves!  Stay tuned for that!

Needless to say, if you have a boat with ABT-TRAC equipment in it (or one being built with that equipment), we would rate it as a must go.  They don’t limit how many times you come – so attending early in your build process to better understand the system and options is great and then back after you have time using it would be a perfect scenario!  At least two owners with boats in the build process were reaching out to their salesperson to request changes…

After two days of class, we felt we earned a couple days of wine tasting at our favorite wineries…  being 80 degrees and sunny wasn’t terrible either!

 

West Coast of Vancouver Island, Part 1 – Seattle to Ucluelet, British Columbia

West Coast of Vancouver Island, Part 1 – Seattle to Ucluelet, British Columbia

It has been awhile since we wrote a cruising post, because, well, it has been awhile since we’ve been truly cruising.  Our daughter Kirsten was home from college this summer, which was lovely.  As Kirsten was working (and so were we) we did weekend trips to local favorite anchorages plus two trips to the San Juan Islands – one for an extended Memorial Day weekend and one for the week of the 4th of July.  It’s always fantastic to be in the San Juans, but we know the routes and harbors like the backs of our hands and we’ve been itching for a bit of adventure.

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Kirsten in a madrone tree on a hike on Stuart Island, San Juan Islands
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Zoe paying homage to the great dog spirit, Blake Island, Puget Sound
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Zoe hiking (with her people, not pictured) English Camp, Garrison Bay, San Juan Island
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Blake Island anchorage – an hour away from home that feels like it is much farther
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Kayaking at Garrison Bay, San Juan Island

Fast forward to late-August.  Alison drove across the country with Kirsten in 3 days, got her back settled at the University of Tennessee for her senior year, flew to Dallas for work and then back to Seattle.  In the meantime, Kevin ran around doing prep work for our fall trip.  With everyone back in Seattle and a few work projects completed, we were ready to head out!

Wednesday, August 29 – Seattle to Roche Harbor: 65 nautical miles

Critters:  2 pods of Humpback whales, assorted curious seals

We left Seattle bright and early at 7 am, catching a big outgoing tide to make our day speed up a bit.  The water was flat and it was an easy ride until we hit the Strait of Juan de Fuca where of course, things stirred up a bit.  No matter, we found that the messy water was fairly limited to one area and continued on north, up through Cattle Pass and onto Roche Harbor.  We happily wandered the familiar grounds with Zoe, Alison bought another throw blanket at Dominique’s (because of course…), ate a good dinner on the deck at the Madrona Bar & Grill, watched the colors ceremony and went to bed early.

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See ya Seattle!
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Colors at Roche Harbor, always special

Thursday, August 30 – Roche Harbor, WA to Genoa Bay, BC with a pit stop in Sidney, BC: 20 nautical miles

Critters:  Seals, birds, nothing out of the ordinary

On Thursday morning after visiting with some of Alison’s former clients on the dock, we waited for a very special package to arrive via Kenmore Air.  Apparently however, the beautiful sunshine at Roche wasn’t anywhere else in the San Juans and all of the seaplanes bound for other destinations were landing at Roche.  Except the one with our package.  We waited probably an hour or so and finally a box emerged from a plane along with happy travelers.  Kevin’s underwater drone had arrived!  More on that later.

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At last, Kenmore Air brings the special delivery…
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This should be interesting.

With the new and highly coveted drone on board we pushed off the dock and headed to Sidney to clear customs and restore our refrigerator’s stock of vegetables which had been eliminated (aka forcibly eaten) prior to crossing the border.  Sitting at the customs dock in Sydney, a familiar face called out, “Hey, they’ll let anyone into this country!”  Oh hey Leo!  Leo Bannon and Mamie Donaldson, from Denver, Colorado own Paradise Found, a Nordhavn 60 and we’ve gotten to know each other over the past couple of years. Every time we get together there is a ton of fun and laughter.  Leo kindly offered us his car for provisioning (how nice is that??) and off we went to buy out the local grocery and liquor stores.  After chatting with Leo and yet another Nordhavn owner, Ian of Lelani, a Nordhavn 56 Motorsailer, and providing gifts of bourbon, we were off again!  As a side note, it is amazing how many Nordhavns are at Van Isle Marina in Sidney.  And we were on the smaller side of the resident Nordies as well.  Like a family gathering for sure.

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Fun sign at the Van Isle Marina
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Uh Kevin, the BC Ferry is on our tail

We motored along North toward Genoa Bay.  Now the savvy person might ask, why were we headed up the inside of Vancouver Island when this is supposed to be a story about, and a trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island?  A birthday detour was required.  Our friend Digby was celebrating his birthday at one of his favorite spots, the Genoa Bay Café, and his wife Pam suggested we might stop by.  Why not!  We’re on vacation with no particular plan or schedule.

We met Digby and Pam and their family on their Kadey Krogen 48, Rubenesque at anchor in Genoa Bay.  I love that name for that boat.  It is just perfect.  An evening of good fun, good friends and good cheer progressed with cocktails, dinner with a hilarious server and Pam’s fresh and hot rhubarb pie (and more wine) back on Red Rover.

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Digby and Pam on the bow of Rubenesque

Friday, August 31 – Genoa Bay, BC to Victoria, BC:  36 nautical miles

Critters: More seals…and more birds that seem to swim more than they fly

On Friday morning we walked Zoe around the charming Genoa Bay Marina (next time we go we are definitely having breakfast at what seems to be a super social “cabana” on the dock), drank some coffee in the sun with Digby and Pam and headed back south.

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I spy a Red Rover at Genoa Bay
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Long docks of Genoa Bay
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Happy birthday Dig!

As we passed Sidney we saw Leo and Mamie and friends and had to stop for a quick chat on the water.  Ian also let us know via VHF radio that he didn’t get to have any of the gifted bourbon.  Seems Leo was thirsty.

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Leo having a mid-channel chat with the RR crew

Our goal was to make it to Sooke for the night, getting past Victoria and making progress out the Strait of Juan de Fuca so the next day would be slightly shorter.  Of course, we turned toward Victoria, the wind came up and the waves grew steep and blocky.  Fine for our boat, but not really fun.  Zoe was definitely not a fan.  And, without a schedule to adhere to (the worst enemy of a boater), we decided to head into Victoria and not slog through the waves for the next few hours.  We were delighted to be given moorage right in the inner harbor on the Friday night of Labor (or Labour in Canada) Day weekend, and spent the evening wandering this beautiful city with a much happier black dog.  Somehow however we didn’t notice that our US flag was lost at sea in the wind on Friday, or someone took it off of our boat.  Sad.  And hard to replace in Canada.

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Zoe loves a good pose
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A queen at the Empress
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View from the boat after sunset
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Red Rover in Victoria

Saturday, September 1 – Victoria to Bamfield (Barkley Sound):  95 nautical miles

Critters:  Now we’re getting somewhere – a momma and a juvenile orca whale, 20+ humpback whales, 1 bear, a whole mess of sea lions.

We woke up before the sun and at sunrise, began our trek out the length of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, into the Pacific Ocean and north up the coast of Vancouver Island to Barkley Sound.  The Strait, which can be a thrashing mess of waves and wind, was calm and flat – absolutely beautiful.  Fog rolled in and out, whales arched in graceful dives and we cruised along toward the mighty Pacific.  Rolling swells announced we were getting closer and suddenly we were at the end of the Strait, cruising into the swells.  The timing of the swells was decent so it was not uncomfortable, but we do realize why many people circumnavigate the island and come down the west side to take advantage of the following seas.  No matter, we went all the way up the island and back last year on the way to Alaska. We just didn’t stop.  Not so this time.

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The very flat Strait of Juan de Fuca
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Obviously we were so delighted about the conditions that we couldn’t stop photographing the water.
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Fishing boat in the fog.
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Scooting on the edge of the fog.
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Alison’s turn at the helm
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Humpbacks!
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A lovely pilothouse view
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Lighthouses along the way were stunning

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Rocks coming into Barkley Sound
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WHALE!

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We rolled into Barkley Sound in the evening.  I say roll as we surfed some big rollers on in, past the many outlying rocks of Cape Beale.  After hours in the open ocean it always freaks me out a bit to be around 1) other boats and 2) rocks.  Lots of rocks.  Add ocean swells for bonus points.  All was fine however and we pulled into the narrow and linear harbor of Bamfield, where absolutely everyone it seemed, stopped what they were doing and stared at us.  And took photos. We had arrived in the midst of a huge salmon derby and small fishing boats were buzzing about like bees in a hive.  And this big white and gray boat just wandered into the middle of it.

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Entering Bamfield
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The government dock in West Bamfield
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Directions. 🙂
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Dog walking in West Bamfield

Bamfield is tiny and it was busy.  Really busy.  We motored through town to the end of the bay and anchored just past Rance Island after passing through a narrow (with a rock in the middle of course) passage that made me hold my breath.  Kevin, of course didn’t even bat an eyelash.

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Red Rover off of the fishing lodge

Some friendly folks at a fishing lodge on the shore stared (again) but then waved and were friendly and welcoming.  We took Zoe, who had been on the boat now for over 12 hours, to shore and walked around a bit on the dirt roads behind the government dock.

It had been a long day so we decided to leave exploring for the morning, went back to the boat, whooped up some supper and went to bed.

Sunday, September 2 – Bamfield to Tzartus Island (Barkley Sound):  8 nautical miles

Critters: 2 humpback whales and sea lions dining on salmon (and shaking them violently prior to eating them)

On Sunday morning we set off on the dinghy to explore.  Bamfield is a cool little town that is only accessible via boat, seaplane or a 60+ mile dirt logging road from Port Alberni.  And it is a town with two sides – East and West Bamfield.  No roads connect the two portions of town.  If you don’t have a boat, and you don’t want to pay the water taxi driver, you just don’t go.  But it seems that absolutely everyone has a boat.

West Bamfield is not connected to the dirt logging road either.  It can only be accessed via boat.  And it is charming.  The waterfront is connected with a wood boardwalk.  We felt like we were back in the small towns in Alaska that we loved so much.  The boardwalk has homes and docks along it, and it seems that the local residents have a good sense of humor.  Everyone we met was friendly and welcoming.  There is a tiny general store where we bought a few drinks to enjoy in the sun, and a café that was open (but isn’t open that often) serving tacos, burgers and hot dogs.  Oh, the tacos and burgers – salmon.  All salmon all the time.  We’re not salmon eaters….so we had lunch on the boat. We also visited a neat little gallery on the hill above the boardwalk and left with a handcrafted fish platter.

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Such a poser, this dog
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One of the “window boxes” on the boardwalk
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These people are funny.
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Boardwalking
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A seaplane and a fishing boat. Needed items in Bamfield.
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The “window boxes” expressed the character of the person tending them.
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Eclectic minded tender
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The boardwalk passes through the magic mushroom forest.
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Elvis, in Bamfield?
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Boardwalk drinks
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Wandering back the boardwalk.

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By the art gallery

East Bamfield is connected to the outside world and is less charming but still friendly.  We checked out the marine store, the grocery store and chatted with people as we went.

In the afternoon when the tide came up a bit we inched through that skinny passage once more and headed out to nearby Tzartus Island for the night.  The ever-so-helpful guide books told us that a popular shortcut between the island was Robbers Passage.  If I had read a little closer in the Douglass’ guide, I would have seen that they recommend that only smaller craft use this pass.  Ah well.  A few quick and deft turns by Kevin and we were through.  Whew.

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Sea caves on Tzartus Island

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We anchored for the night in Tzartus Cove, just beyond Marble Cove on Tzartus Island.  As the evening wore on the cove did experience swells and we did rock a bit, but it was gentle and not bothersome.  The sound of waves crashing on the rocks on either side of the cove was a bit alarming (only to me as usual) but we were safe and comfortable.  At night the sky was clear and I have never seen quite so many stars.  Gorgeous.

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View from the boat.
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She’s a calendar girl

Monday, September 3 – Tzartus Island to Joe’s Bay (Barkley Sound):  9 nautical miles

Critters:  6 humpback whales including a breaching whale, seals and a 2 point buck

On Monday morning we had just come back from a Zoe swimming expedition at the beach and were standing on the swim deck looking out when a humpback whale breached (yes breached!) right by us.  So cool!  Zoe didn’t care for the giant crashing noise and scampered into the boat to her perceived safe place.  We watched the whales feeding just beyond the boat and enjoyed a peaceful morning at anchor.

It is important to note here that we had not seen a single other cruising boat since we passed two sailboats in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Not one.  Lots of small fishing boats but no one else cruising.  We know that the west coast of Vancouver Island isn’t heavily trafficked due to the open ocean component, but honestly we expected to see someone!

In the early afternoon we headed over to the Broken Group, the islands at the center of Barkley Sound.  These islands are a part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and they are stunning.  Just beautiful.  It was a gorgeous sunny day as we cruised into the still waters of these islands.  Groups of camping kayakers abounded (at least someone else was out here!).  We anchored in Joe’s Bay and took the dinghy exploring around the islands.  So very pretty and protected – quiet water, silence other than birds chirping and seals snorting.  Again, we had quite the show of stars when night fell.  And an anchorage all to ourselves with which to enjoy the show.

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Bow sun worshipping
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Ready for GQ.
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Beach in the Joe’s Bay anchorage
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And no one else around…

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Gorgeous beach – exploring the Broken Group
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Sun setting from the anchorage
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Red Rover, all alone

Kevin sent the drone up for a birds-eye view.  Check out the video here.

Oh!  And this was our daughter Kirsten’s 21st birthday so we were excited to have enough bars of cell service to give her a call and sing her happy birthday.  She loves that.  Right.  😊

Tuesday, September 4 – Joe’s Bay to Bazett Island and Lucky Creek (Barkley Sound): 8 nautical miles

Critters:  an eagle (oddly they are not around), two bears, more seals

In the morning we took a little kayak ride around the islands closest to us, and Zoe of course had to come!  She’s getting used to the kayak but seems to like the changing view.

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Zoe is becoming a pro!

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Floathouse – fishing cabin
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More people with a sense of humor.

Around lunch we left Joe’s Bay and cruised back deeper into Barkley Sound to the mouth of Pipestem Inlet, which is surrounded by the mainland of Vancouver Island.  We had been told that we must see Lucky Creek, which we could access from our new anchorage.  There are basically three anchorages at the mouth of the inlet and after examining each one for features and benefits we chose the southeast cove behind Bazett Island.

Upon anchoring we discovered that we were in bear country!  Well we knew that in general, but bears were now present. A large RIB tour boat from Ucluelet came through the anchorage and after wondering what they were doing we saw the bear wandering the shore.  Cool!

We took a spin in the dinghy up Pipestem Inlet and enjoyed its steep mountains and rock faces.  At the head of the inlet Zoe started growling for no reason and staring at the shore.  We couldn’t see the bear but we’re guessing that was what she was sensing/smelling.

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Around Pipestem Inlet.

About 1.5 hours prior to high tide we took the dinghy, some rose in YETI mugs and wandered on up Lucky Creek.  The creek zig zags through the rainforest and ends at a basin with a waterfall.  At first the waterfall seemed well, underwhelming.  But after we tied the dinghy to the rock face and climbed up above the falls we saw a series of beautiful pools cascading from one to the other.  And as per usual for this trip, we were the only ones there.  Zoe and I did a little swimming.  Kevin watched with a funny grin on his face.

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The falls at the head of Lucky Creek

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Only Zoe tried this pool, and she didn’t use the rope swing
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Pools atop the waterfall

We decided it would be fun to strap the GoPro camera to the dinghy rail and film the experience.  Oh plus some Zoe swimming footage.  She’s a pro at the doggy paddle. The result (with some sped-up video included) is this quick piece.

Another night of stunning stars sent us to bed in a silent, still anchorage.

Wednesday, September 5 – Bazett Island to Ucluelet, BC: 14 nautical miles

Critters:  six bears including one swimming across the bay, seals

Wednesday morning brought yet another gorgeous sunny day.  Kevin woke up early and began shouting from the pilothouse.  BEARS!  We took Zoe to a different little island for her morning walk, only to see a bear swimming toward that island 30 minutes later.  After another kayak ride with Zoe, we packed up to head to Ucluelet where we would spend the night in the marina before heading back out to sea the next day for the trip north to Tofino.

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Swimming bear!
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And shaking onshore.
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Morning swim
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Deep doggy thoughts. With a stick.

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Morning coffee on an island.
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Another kayak ride for ZoZo.

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Kevin (a different Kevin), the Harbormaster at Ucluelet’s Small Craft Harbour was super friendly as he greeted us and helped us get settled on a long dock.  He was the first of many friendly people we met. We had not been to Ucluelet since we camped there with our pickup truck 17 years prior on a lumpy shore in our tent.  It seemed that both Ucluelet and the Jeffries had upgraded a bit since our last visit.  The scenery was still gorgeous, but the town had grown and changed.  There is a cool hippy vibe, a lot of interesting artwork, a bunch of expat 20-somethings, kayaks and fishing boats.  It’s a laid back easy going town on the edge of the world. We ate a super lunch at Ravenlady an oyster and seafood food truck sitting amongst sculptures just up the hill from the marina  YUM.  We wandered around town, did some more grocery shopping (more vegetables you know) and chatted up our fishing neighbors on the dock.  In the evening we left Zoe securely in her home/boat and went to the Floathouse Patio & Grill, a floating restaurant in the marina.  A lovely evening all around!

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The first stop sign I’ve ever seen in a marina
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Red Rover in Ucluelet Harbor
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Food truck bliss – that’s the Raven Lady in front.
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Lunch!
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A boat in the trees, next to a house, why not?
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Cool gate

 

NAPS 2018 Follow Up

NAPS 2018 Follow Up

NAPS 2018 was, well, a bunch of fun! At least once we left the dock… Although NAPS officially didn’t start until Friday afternoon, Alison and I had planned to head up Thursday after she was home from the office. I had left the office early to go provision for the Saturday evening dinner of ribs/chicken and wine (courtesy of Dan Streech at PAE).

Between broken trash compactor that ended getting stuck in the down position and Alison having an extra long day, we decided to hang at the home dock and head up Friday morning.

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The plastic trunnion nut broke at the bottom of the compacting cycle. With it full of garbage, it needed to be pulled before we left for the weekend. Two hours later, I had it pulled from the cabinetry and disassembled enough to find this issue, remove the garbage and put it back in place. I have since sourced the nut (made with aluminum) and it is now operational again.

We were up early, walked the dog, made some coffee and off the dock! Port Ludlow, here we come! Just out of Shilshole Bay Marina, our home port, we turned and saw Tom and Linda Hamilton in N5730 Set Free coming out of the locks. Fun! Someone to travel with.

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N57 Set Free – but who is driving the boat?

About an hour later, the “racing Nordhavns” overtook N4717 Epoch with Scott Allen and Abby Nicholson onboard. We had some fun on the radio learning that Epoch is pronounced “Epic”. Now you tell me!

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N47 Epoch

Once we caught up with Scott and Abby, the three boats juggled positions as we all were taking photos of each other. It was like a slow dance… or maybe more of a circus? There was a recent salmon season opening so the three Nordhavns encountered many fishing boats on the way. It mush have been quite a scene with the three boats coming at them “driving kinda funny”.

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After we arrived in Port Ludlow, we settled in and enjoyed the arrival of the rest of the fleet.

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The scheduled 5 o’clock appetizers and happy hour arrived right on time. The marina provided a couple of tables for our plates of food and napkins. What a great start to the weekend! Not really surprising, the socializing went on until after sundown!

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Great food! Plus Zoe looking for some treats…
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NAPS had the entire end of the dock to ourselves. A great location for happy hour!
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So fun seeing Nordhavns everywhere. Even more fun to have all the owners around to talk with!

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Captain Shawn striking his movie star like pose…
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Happy hour moved to several different vessels, including Red Rover’s pilothouse. Wait, those bottles look almost empty!

Saturday brought another beautiful sunny day to Port Ludlow. This great weather allowed for the naming of two Nordhavns! Shawn and Elizabeth Krenke’s N43 and Tom and Linda’s N57 officially recieved their new names, Freedom and Set Free.

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Looking sharp!
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Shawn assisted Tom with a little buff after the Meridian lettering came off the transom of Set Free.
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Tom, giving final approval…
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Perfect!

What time was it? Need to prep some ribs! They need to bake for a good three hours… Somehow, 50 pounds of ribs followed Red Rover to Port Ludlow and they needed to be prepared for some ovens. Fortunately we had plenty of volunteers offering up the use of ovens. We spread them around four boats… wow, the entire dock smelled like ribs!

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Secret ingredients!
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50 lbs of pork ribs, ready for the oven!

Once those ribs were safely tucked away and cooking, there was time for some adventures….

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One thing I wanted to do was to document the boats that joined us for the weekend. We had other owners join us by land as well, including a couple that flew in from Hawaii! Eric Clarke, N4023 Enfin, came and actually stayed in Red Rover’s captain’s cabin for the weekend. Larry and Mary Mason, N5737 No Plans, flew in from Hawaii. Dick and Peggy Koller, N55-20, had Isla Z anchored around the corner at their friends home, so joined us for dinner Saturday evening.

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Brit and Jan Etzold on N4740 Escape Velocity
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Don and Jill Bernard on N4314 Seaborne
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Mike and Lou Ann Forshee on N46 Silent Runner
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Scott Allen and Abby Nicholson on N4717 Epoch
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Kevin and Alison Jeffries on N5505 Red Rover. Who was in charge of the shorepower cord?
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Tom and Linda Hamilton on N5730 Set Free
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Dennis and Julie Fox on their recently aquired 60′ Willard Julie K. Dennis and Julie are serial Nordhavn owners (owned 5).
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Keith and Kathy Hallman on N4753 Sea Cairn
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Shawn and Elizabeth on N43 Freedom

Ok, back to the good stuff. Food! Three plus hours later, the ribs were ready to be pulled and cooled before heading up to the Port Ludlow event tent for dinner. I realize I am focusing on the ribs, but we did have 15 pounds of marinated chicken thighs that were ready to go as well. We didn’t want anyone to go hungry!

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Shawn was a huge help, first delivering ribs to boats and later gathering them back up.
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Ribs, cooling…. Oh, there’s the 15lbs of chicken thighs back by the cooktop…

We hauled the meat, sides, drinks and such up to the event tent. The marina also provided two large BBQs for us to use.

I should make a point here that literally every single person asked what they could do to help, before the weekend started as well as all throughout the event. As it was a pretty casual encounter, not much was needed. The oven space was a great help and I did have Shawn and Scott help with the dinner setup and BBQing of the meat. As dinner was wrapping up, Shawn and I took a few minutes to fly our drones around the harbor. When we turned around, the entire space was cleaned up! Thank you everyone!

Also, thank you Don Kolhmann for coming by with the box of Nordhavn caps and good cheer! We all know that everyone is short a Nordhavn hat…

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Everyone brought sides and desserts to accompany the ribs and chicken. Um, we had leftovers…

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All weekend allowed owners to tour the other boats. It’s great to go on the other models but the huge value is seeing the tips and tricks that the others are doing on their boats. I found Scott and Abby’s anchor hold down very cool and effective. It is now on my to do list!

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We had some friends stop by, currently Krogen 48 owners but moving in to being Nordhavn Dreamers and maybe even owners sometime (soon Digby and Pam!)? We all started our goodbyes. And until next time…

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Pam and Digby!
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Sea Cairn heading out.
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Goodbye Elizabeth!

Alison and I motored home on the flybridge of Red Rover. What a great weekend. It was wonderful to see the owners that we’ve met and cruised with before and so much fun to actually see the faces and shake hands of those owners we’ve only emailed with, had discussions with on the NOG or knew via social media. After getting back to the home port and giving the boat a quick rinse, it was time for some easy dinner up top.

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Thanks to everyone that joined us. Maybe we should do it again?!?