Sunday, February 20, 2011

We made it

We were up in the dark this morning pulling the anchor.  I wanted to make sure we got a really early start so that we would be certain to make it to Malibu Rapids by the time the tide turned just before 4:00 boat time.  The windlass works just fine going up – going down is a whole ‘nuther matter but that’s a story for another day.

It took us about a half an hour to lift and secure the anchor in the dark, mostly because it was the first time we had ever done it.  Its really pretty simple but we took our time and made sure that we did it right.  Then we crept out of the bay to Agamemnon Channel and started working our way north in the early morning twilight. 

It just keeps getting prettier the further into the inlet you get.  We briefly had cell coverage as we passed Egmont but after that nothing for the next three hours as we worked our way up the various reaches to Malibu Rapids.  As we approached Malibu Resort from the south I was watching through the binoculars and I must confess I didn’t think the rapids looked like much.  It was only when we got within about a mile that I could even see a disturbance on the water but when we got right up close I could see what the fuss was about. 

Malibu Rapids -3

If you look closely in the photo you can see the line of white water marking the overfall to the right of the totem pole.  It was running pretty hard when we arrived at about 2 hours before the slack time so we anchored right where that picture was taken.  This time I dropped the anchor with a lot less fuss than the day before.  Its still not pretty but I think the windlass is loosening up and there may be hope for it.  We were alarmingly close to the little island that you can see on the left side of the photo – maybe 30 feet offshore – so I watched the GPS pretty close to be sure we were actually holding.  Its very difficult to anchor in this area because the bottom drops off so fast from the shore.  In this case we dropped the anchor in about 60 feet of water but by the time we stopped swinging back on the chain we were in less than 30 feet and you can see from the picture how close we were to the rocks. 

The problem is that in order to get the anchor to hold you need to drop more chain or “scope” but if you drop that much scope on a sharp incline then when you swing toward the shore the scope may be long enough to let you drag bottom.  If you don’t drop enough scope then your anchor won’t hold so either way you lose.  Ideally you would take the depth of the water, add the height above the water to the windlass (so a total of about 68 feet in the above situation) and then multiply that number by 5 to get the scope you should let out.  In this case that would have meant letting out 340 feet of chain but we weren’t that far off the rocks to begin with so that much scope was out of the question.  I compromised with about 200 feet of chain and we lived to tell about it so that must have been the right amount.

On the trip up the inlet we fought the outgoing tidal current the whole way, as I expected.  It took me about an hour to figure out how to manage that but after that we made good time despite the current.  The obvious solution to the current is to push the throttles ahead but I’m a cheap SOB so that is never my first choice.  What I figured out is that, like all currents, the tidal current takes the outside of the curves.  So its no different than reading a river current.  On a river you will often deliberately take the outside of a curve in order to stay in the deep water.  In this case the water is deep 30 feet offshore so I did the opposite, sticking tight to the inside of the corners.  That made a huge difference – a knot or a knot and a half at times.  As a consequence we were able to run at low throttle settings all the way up and still arrive two hours ahead of the slack water.  In fact once I was certain the anchor was holding I went below and had an hour long nap while we waited for the current change.  Meanwhile Marilyn was trying to lose a hook on the rocks.  She didn’t succeed in losing a hook but she also didn’t catch dinner.

One of the greatest pleasures of travelling in the bus has been the people we have met over the years.  We’ve met some flakes but we’ve also met some really nice people and some genuine characters.  People like Mark and Donna, Clifford, Mel and Billie, Tom and Doreen to name just a few who we now consider good friends.  So we were delighted to see another boat tied up at the dock at Princess Louisa when we finally got to the end of the inlet.  It was some kind of offshore-capable sailboat, about 35 feet long.  The couple onboard were relatively young to be retired, younger than us, but he was smart enough to join the Canadian Airforce and obviously took an early retirement in order to travel on their sailboat.  They are now getting ready to travel offshore to San Francisco and then to Mexico so we don’t expect to see them again in the near future but we may run into them in our Mexico travels next winter.

No comments: