Sunday, March 22, 2015

Very bad day

Marilyn woke me up at midnight complaining of chest and back pains.  She didn't think it was serious enough to do anything about but she kept getting worse as the night went on and by morning there was no doubt that she needed to go to emerg. So that's what we did. 


As emergency rooms go this wasn't the worst I've been in.  Not that I have such an extensive experience but I have been through a few of them over the years.  Mind you, on a couple of those occasions I was suffering from severe concussion and actually have no recollection of most of my time there let alone details about the experience. 

This time it was my job to just be there while they attended to Marilyn and they did a pretty good job of it, eventually arriving at the conclusion that she has a swollen pancreas.  They need to call it "Pancreatitis" just so they can use a $54 word and show off their years of medical training but its a swollen pancreas nonetheless.  And as near as I can tell from Dr. Google, when it comes on suddenly like this attack did, the prognosis is likely to be good.  She'll need to spend a couple of nights in the hospital while they poke and prod her and draw blood mainly so that they can pad the bill they send to Sask Mediscare but also so they can watch to see if its just going to go away on its own or if they need to actually do something to make it go away.

So for the first night in a very long time we'll be sleeping apart and it feels very lonely on the boat. 

Other than our big adventure this morning there's not much happening in The Bay.  I've been pulling my crab traps every other day and harvesting a decent crop of crabs which promptly go through my processing line and into the freezer in preparation for transport back to the prairies.  Prawns are closed in our favourite spot until the 1st of April but we're planning to be anchored in the bay on the morning of the 1st.  With any luck we'll catch a few gallons of prawns, freeze them and take them home as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Oh dear, not again

Its been a long winter of computer problems.  Shortly after we got back on the boat I lost all network connectivity on my prime laptop.  I think I can do a non-destructive re-install of Windows so I wasn't overly worried about that.  That of course has to wait until we get back to Buchanan.  Both Marilyn and I use the same model of Dell and we carry several identical backup laptops so I just pulled one out of storage and fired it up.  That's when the "issues" started appearing.




Initially I think it was storage in damp conditions.  Of the three backups we had onboard, none would do a clean boot and none were really useable when they did finally boot.  They would beep wildly during the boot and once they finally loaded some or all of the keys were non-functioning.  The keyboard on my prime laptop was still useable so I was able to sort of work through that initial problem and I got a backup laptop running with a partial restore of my data.  I've got something like 140 GB of data (lots of photos) in my main backup so I didn't even think about a complete restore.  That worked really well until about a week ago when something else happened.

This time its a corrupt user profile and I don't know whether that was caused by some kind of malware or whether it "just happened".  It seems really unlikely that I got struck by two random events in such a short period of time but I can't find anything malicious on either machine and I've looked really hard.  The user profile problem is apparently a known problem with Windows 7 and again, the only possible solution is a non-destructive re-install of the operating system.  That of course also has to wait until we get back to Buchanan because we don't carry all our original media with us.

I've managed to get the machine with the corrupt user profile sort of functioning.  It still has network access but anything that requires a temporary user directory won't work.  So I can't send email (but I can receive just fine), can't use Windows Livewriter to make this post (but I can do it online), I've lost my desktop and I get to respond repeatedly to prompts that should have their answers stored in my user profile.

We got up Monday morning in Vancouver to glorious sunshine and calm waters.  We hadn't planned to cross back to the Island until later this week but Monday seemed too good a day to pass up so we got underway before noon, got a good lift from the ebbing tide and were back on the dock in Cowichan Bay for a late supper.   We'll enjoy a few days of socializing on the dock before we go to a yacht club outing at Otter Bay in early April.  We're starting to count the days until we can return to Buchanan.  I've been checking the webcams in the mountain passes and most of them are already free of snow.  Our schedule could still be deranged by a day or two by a spring blizzard but our current plan is to leave here around April 7th. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Artificial reefs and NIMBY types

The Artificial Reef Society of BC has spent several years getting the old HMCS Annapolis ready to sink to form a reef.  They’ve already done that 7 or 8 times mostly with big boats but once with a jet airplane.  The whole story is here

Our old buddy Bruce, the bluenose sailboat builder that I have written about before, somehow landed the security gig to keep an eye on the Annapolis until the liars figure out where the society will be allowed to sink her – or even if they’ll be allowed to sink her anywhere.  We wanted to see what he was guarding so we pulled up beside him a few days ago and had a good visit.  Nobody is allowed onboard but we were able to take some pictures and the website does a good job of documenting the society’s big project. 

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The striking feature of the Annapolis is all the rounded edges.  That’s because she was built at the height of the cold war.  The theory was that rounded corners meant that they could wash all the fallout off her if that became necessary.  Evidently she also had some kind of a water sprinkler system that could put up a shield to protect the boat from fallout.  Bruce knew some of the crew when he and the Annapolis were in Halifax.  He said they hated the rounded decks because there was nothing to stop them from sliding overboard which evidently did happen on occasion.  There is a bit of a cable railing but otherwise nothing along the gunwale to keep someone from sliding straight into the ocean.

This morning we untied from Bruce’s boat and headed for Vancouver.  Its pretty crowded in False Creek but we found a spot, got the anchor stuck and settled in for an as yet undetermined length of time. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Left coast radio

CBC is about the only source of over the air news left in this country.  That’s not saying much but it is what it is.  There’s a few local players in each province but for the most part CBC is it if you don’t want constant “music”.  When we have wifi we can stream other sources but sometimes we have nothing available and mostly CBC is the only signal that is strong enough to be usable.  This morning CBC Vancouver has been positively salivating at the prospect of trashing the Conservatives under the guise of reporting on the Mike Duffy trial.  Despite the fact that the trial won’t start for over a month, its leading the news out here.

Last year, on our way to Alaska, we saw some tree branches that appeared to be deliberately anchored in channels.  Eventually we learned that this is an Indian method of harvesting herring eggs.  Evidently the herring lay their eggs on the tree branches which the Indians then come along and harvest.  We tasted those eggs at a dock party at Baranof and were – to say the least – underwhelmed.  I’ve said that pancakes are usually just an excuse to consume syrup – herring eggs are worse.  I dunno what they put on them for sauce but there’s no discernable flavour to the eggs and the texture is like cream of wheat that hasn’t been cooked quite enough. 

The reason I raise the topic of herring eggs is that Left Coast CBC is up in arms this morning about a “federal” decision to open the herring fishery this spring.  Apparently the Indian chiefs went to court to try to prevent a commercial opening and lost.  According to CBC that’s a clear indication that the judge didn’t know what he was doing because the tribal knowledge is vastly superior to those self serving government scientists.  “Self-serving” is how I’d describe chiefs who want to continue to scoop up herring eggs while pretending that the herring fishery is endangered.  Of course their proposal was that the native fishery continue unabated (and largely unregulated as well).

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We’re in Pender Harbour for a few nights, enjoying the unseasonably warm and SUNNY weather.  Its hard to believe we’re in BC.  It gets really cold overnight but the afternoons are in the low teens and the sun has been shining at least every other day.  With all that blue sky its hard to believe those pictures were taken in BC but – as long as it lasts – we’re loving it.  Particularly when we check the Buchanan weather.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A really nice spot

We untied in gusting gales this morning.  The wind blew hard all day yesterday and most of the night.  By this morning it wasn’t constant but it was still plenty nasty when it gusted.  We had been in Big Bay for as long as we wanted to be there and the forecast was good for later in the morning so we left anyway, despite the nasty conditions.

It all worked out well but there were moments.  Somewhere just south of Yaculta Rapids I heard a thump and looked out the starboard window just in time to see something large in the water that we had evidently just hit.  I thought to myself “Self, that’s weird – I sure as hell should have seen something that big in the water.” About the same moment I realized that what I was looking at was the kayak that normally lives in a J-bracket alongside the flybridge.  We carry one on each side but at that moment the starboard side kayak was rapidly falling behind us in the tossing waves.

We got it back aboard without too much incident although there was one bad moment when we thought the tarp that was around the kayak had ended up fouled in the prop shafts.  That turned out to not be the case.  The kayaks were tied in the brackets but evidently the wind was strong enough to pry the starboard one loose.  Like I said – it was a nasty wind.

As the morning went on, true to the forecast, the conditions rapidly improved. 

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That last photo is looking west from Lund Harbour, which is where we finished up around 2:00.  We’ve never stayed here before but its a pretty cute little marina.  Our plan was to spend the night on a dock so we could take on water but, after we paid, we discovered that they are under a boil water advisory.  So much for the big water plan.

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Its still an above average spot to spend the night and we’ll pick up some water tomorrow in Pender Harbour.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sittin’ on the dock of Big Bay

….. with apologies to Otis Redding.

We’ve been docked at Big Bay for close to a week now.  Its been too wonderful to leave. 

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That’s our view portside

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And that’s the view in front of us

With scenery like that, what’s not to like?

Clearly there’s not much happens here this time of year.  The mail plane comes occasionally.  The store, such as it is, and Post Office are open 3 days a week and they seem happy to have company when they’re open.  We had some glorious sunshine early in the week but it turned back normal yesterday and its been pissing all day today.  The seals come on the low tides and lie up on the rocks to dry off.  They seem unaware that they aren’t really drying much in the rain.

We’ll probably move on over the weekend.  Gorge Harbour is our next destination and Pender Harbour after that.  But right now its just hard to leave such a pretty spot.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Riding that restless tide

On Saturday we dawdled around Port Neville until noon.  I had a client phone call that didn’t happen until well after noon and by the time I was done that we thought we had missed the tide turn.  The current was already running in pretty hard past the dock at Port Neville as the bay started to refill so we scurried around getting untied and away from the dock.  As it turned out, once we got out in Johnstone Strait, the tide tables were correct.  The actual turn didn’t happen until sometime around 2:00 – I’m still not sure why (or how) Port Neville starts to fill 2 hours before the turn but clearly it does. 

That’s just one of the many mysteries around the tides.  There’s whole books published annually to help decypher when the tides are going to happen.  I didn’t bother buying one of them this year because they’re all based on computer generated harmonics and those files are freely available online.  There’s a pretty good set built right into our charting software so that’s what I rely on most of the time.  As I’ve written before, my big concern now is getting the maximum advantage from the currents and dealing with the perilous bits by observation once we get to them.

We had a brief generator incident early Saturday morning but it turned out to be relatively benign.  The mighty Onan has a self protection circuit that runs through two high temperature sensors – one on the engine cooling loop and the other on the exhaust water injection mixer.  The latter sensor gave me some trouble last year and I “fixed” it by soldering an electrical tab back onto the sensor post.  That fix let go on Saturday but fortunately in the interim I had picked up several of those temperature sensors so I just chucked the defective one and replaced it with a new one. 

We ran slow for a while waiting for the tide to turn and when it did we spent most of the day dodging floating lumber.  The high tides have floated an incredible amount of crap loose off the shoreline.  Sometimes it looks like a solid wall of floating junk in the water.  Somewhere in the middle of all that we also had an Orca encounter.  We spent about half an hour drifting while we watched a pod of Orcas feeding around us.  Then we powered up again and blasted by Blind Channel Resort somewhere north of 11 knots. 

By that time it was getting pretty late so we had to decide whether to overnight at Shoal Bay or push on to Big Bay.  If we went to Big Bay we were still going to be about 2 hours ahead of slack at Dent but we elected to do that anyway.  The current timing combined with relatively short days makes trip planning particularly tricky right now.  If we had waited we probably would have had to run against Dent in the morning or run it in the dark yesterday so we picked the least worst alternative and ran it while we still had a bit of light.  And it wasn’t that big a deal.

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We’re all alone on the dock with that view out our front window.  Meanwhile back home its multi-degrees below bloody zero.

I’m increasingly convinced that Bruce is right about timid left coast boaters and wimpy-ass tidal rapids.  What we went through at Dent would have been a little more perilous if we’d had company but they’re pretty wide passes so there certainly was room for more than one boat.  As it was we had the whole waterway to ourselves so when we got bossed around it didn’t much matter.  I did power up at one point just to keep control of things.  Its counterintuitive when you’re getting tossed around and already running 5 knots faster than “normal” to push the throttles ahead but that’s exactly what you need to do.  Without the prop thrust pushing against the rudders they aren’t going to do anything useful so you just have to put some power on and run a little faster.  At that point the extra power doesn’t make any significant difference in your speed anyway.  And it wasn’t like I pushed them to the pin – we maybe ran at 1600 RPM instead of our normal 12 or 1300 – redline is 2300 so we weren’t anywhere near that. 

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There’s a pretty high end resort to the south of us.  Somebody has been woodpeckering away at the rock face with a jackhammer on an excavator but other than that its pretty quiet.

When we got to the dock at Big Bay there was still a pretty contrary current running.  We wanted to port tie because we normally starboard tie which means that the starboard side gets cleaned occasionally and the port side mostly looks like hell.  We were port tied at Port Neville and I used that time to get most of the grunge cleaned up but I’d like to finish the job.  The current wanted to jam us up against the pier to starboard but we prevailed and eventually my deckhand got ashore and tied the port side springline.  Once that happens its just a matter of time – somedays it takes a few minutes to move the boat to the exact spot we want it but with it tethered it eventually has to respond.

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This kid has about the best job in the world.  He showed up this afternoon with the mail, had a little nap on the dock and then was off to pick up some lumberjacks at a nearby camp.