Saturday, April 28, 2012

Michael’s RV Park / Hail in St. Louis

Those were the bookends for my week.  On Monday I had a quick visit with Michael Hargis at their new RV park in Dixon, Missouri.  He’s resurrecting a badly neglected park with a history of hosting bluegrass festivals.  Their intent is to turn it into a destination music festival location.  If it was anybody other than Michael I’d be more than skeptical.  But this is the guy who bought a seated MCI bus and turned it into an RV in 90 days so I’m not inclined to bet against him when he says he will have this park ready for a festival a month from now.

When I stopped in Michael was supervising the restoration of the restaurant, burying new water, sewer and power lines for dozens of new RV hookups, setting up a portable building for his office and store and cleaning out years of accumulated junk in the house they will eventually be living in.  So I didn’t stick around too long.  Partly because I didn’t want to hold him up but mainly because I was afraid he’d put me to work if I stood around too long.
The other big change coming to the park is booze.  It sounds like getting a liquor license for the restaurant is a simple formality.  That’s probably related to the fact that the area looks to have been particularly hard hit by the recession.  Anybody willing to spend money developing property is likely looked on pretty favourably right now.
The park isn’t really on the way to or close to anywhere but it is on a paved highway.  Maybe some year we’ll manage a visit in the bus on the way to Florida.
After my visit with Michael I headed east across the Mississippi River into Illinois and then south to Dixon Springs Ag Center which is sort of an outstation for the University of Illinois.  They had purchased some Growsafe equipment and needed my magic to get it running.  The equipment barely arrived ahead of me – as usual – but other than that it was a pretty straightforward installation.  My accommodations were another matter.
There isn’t a town anywhere near the Ag Center but the researcher in charge had told me to stay in Vienna, Illinois.  I actually missed Vienna on the first pass which should give you an idea of the size of the place.  Since I had already gone past it I check the room situation in Metropolis – they had 8 or 10 hotels whose names I recognized.  The first one I checked was a Super 8 – she wanted over $800 for 5 nights – in a Super 8.  “Huh?  That’s like over $160 per night?”  “Well the quilt show is on.”  She didn’t actually say “how could you be so effing stupid not to know …….” but she might as well have.  I tried one other place that looked to be lower caliber than a Super 8 and they only wanted $100 per night so I passed on that too.  In hindsight I probably should have taken it. 
I ended up staying at something called Liberty Inn of Vienna.  It was the only game in town and they knew it.  It was filthy.  Evidently it had a flood at some point and nobody bothered cleaning the carpets post-flood so you could see the extent of the flood’s advance along the hallways and into my room – I assume the others were the same.  The water may have come from upstairs because the ceiling showed water stains as well.  There were rips in the carpet in my room.  The sheets didn’t fit the bed.  The shower didn’t work.  The soap was only vaguely soap-like.  Did I mention it was filthy?  I only tried eating breakfast once – stale crumbled corn flakes, stale bread, margarine that wouldn’t melt on the toast and without a word of a lie, the jelly had dried out inside the little jelly packages to the point where it was like cutting cheese when I tried to put it on my toast. 
They only cleaned my room twice out of the four nights that I ended up staying there and when I complained they more or less told me to go pound sand.  I’m posting their name – Liberty Inn of Vienna and their phone number – 618 658 6300 in the hope that some other traveller will get sent here by Google and thereby stay anywhere but in this hell hole posing as a hotel.  Sleeping in the ditch would be more comfortable and clean.  Sleeping in your car would be light years ahead of this dump.
On Friday I had my fill so I moved up the road to Marion which was a considerable drive from the Ag Center but worth it for the comfort.  And the staff at Marion seemed to actually understand the concept of customers and customer service.  It was a Super 8.  I’m hoping that by mentioning a lot of hotel names like Super 8 and the Quality Inn that I am staying in tonight that Google will figure out that this post has something to do with hotels.
The hail part came late this afternoon after I had sat in traffic for three hours on the trip up to St. Louis from Marion.  I was just getting out of the last of the traffic jams, still on the Missouri side of the border but down to exit 3 or 4 when I noticed some particularly ugly looking clouds to the northwest.  Tornados aren’t impossible around here and I really don’t ever want to see one  of them.  All of a sudden there was a gawdawful crash against the windshield and then it started to rain a bit and then some more bangs and crashes on the windshield and the roof.  I’ve never seen hail like this.  It was coming in almost horizontal.  You could see the chunks coming at you from a distance which was alarming.  And they weren’t all that big – walnut size or smaller but they were beating the everloving shit out of my little Toyota Camry.
When I finally got to the Budget car rental place I don’t think the moron checking me in would have noticed if I hadn’t pointed out the hail bruises.  They seemed pretty obvious to me and it had hailed at the lot so he should have been looking for them but I’m sure he would never have clued in if I hadn’t said something.  Fortunately I took the overpriced Budget car rental “insurance” so it was pretty straightforward.  Not sure what might have happened otherwise.  I guess I could have tried keeping my mouth shut, hard as it may be for some of you to believe that would have been possible.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I did a stupid thing

Today I changed the lift pump on the port Lehman because it was slowly pissing fuel into the pan under the engine.  As I mentioned in my last post, the red stuff in the pan has been bugging me for some time.  My white rag tied around the hose confirmed that there was fuel coming from the lift pump.  I couldn’t tell exactly where on the pump but it wasn’t a fitting so the pump needed to be changed and of course I had a spare.  As it turns out, I think it was one of George’s famous “I saved the old one just in case” kind of spares but I didn’t know that going into the project.

After I got the spare mounted and everything tightened back up I ran the engine for a while and determined that the leak was diminished but not completely banished.  Further investigation revealed that there is a goofy nylon nut arrangement on the bottom of the fuel filters that is also weeping a bit of fuel and as I hinted above, the pump I just replaced is likely one that George removed and saved but didn’t rebuild.  Whatever the situation I have a new one on order from Florida and two rebuild kits coming from Great Britain.  We’ll be well stocked once all that arrives.  In the meantime the leak is greatly reduced and I’ll keep some boat diapers tied around the two locations to sop up whatever does manage to escape.  None of this is the stupid thing I did.

While I was trying to stop the weeping fuel leak at the bottom of the fuel filters I shut off the fuel at the tanks.  Anybody wanna guess where this is headed?  I’d had it shut off when I changed the pump but that time I remembered to turn it back on. 

I ended up taking the nylon nut right off the filter housing so I could see what it was which meant that I had to shut the fuel off at the tanks.  I’d already figured out that shutting the fuel off at the port tank didn’t cut it – I’ve got a crossover that needs to be shut off too.  I messed around with the nut for a while trying to figure out how I could boogie up a cure for the completely stripped threads and finally decided that I couldn’t.  Fortunately I called American Diesel before they closed their doors for the week – they’re way over in Virginia.  We’ve got 5 of those nuts in the mail now – I like to have real spares.  I ended up putting the old nut back on and tying it up as well as I could with several nylon zip ties.  I think I actually got it stopped leaking, hard as that is to believe.  There’s not a whole lot of pressure against it but it could be 8 or 10 psi.  It just occurred to me that if it gets worse I can likely wrap some of my rescue tape around it for a temporary fix.  I may even go back and do that tonight.

Once I got everything cleaned up and put back together I started up the engine and came upstairs to take a break.  It started easily and ran fine …………. for about 10 minutes.  I was just about to shut it down and go back down below when it shut itself down.  Not good.  Seriously not good.  It almost immediately occurred to me what I had done but I’ve been around enough diesels that were ran out of fuel to know that it can either be really easy to get them going again or a real bitch.  Generally if you know the procedure its not that bad but sometimes its bad despite (or even because of) the procedure.  The first time I was around a fuel shutdown was at the University feedlot, in the silage pit which is open to the north onto the South Saskatchewan River and it was December.  It was somewhere south of 30 below and there was a wicked wind blowing up the pit off the river.  We had a medium size Massey with a Perkins diesel and we just barely got it going again before it froze up completely. 

Today I didn’t have to worry about freezing up but the process wasn’t dead simple either.  Of course I didn’t bother consulting a manual – how hard could it be?  Mechanical diesels – as I am fond of pontificating – are at their heart fundamentally simple machines.  If they turn over and have fuel they will run barring some catastrophic internal disaster which I had no reason to suspect.  As I pointed out much later to Marilyn, ours was rolling over and it clearly wasn’t running, therefore it was not getting fuel.  The question was why.  And to answer that question I am ashamed to admit I finally had to resort to reading the manual.  Father taught me that when all else fails you can read the manual so today I did.  It turns out that those two cap screws on the side of the fuel injection pump that I have looked at and wondered about their purpose, are in fact the bleed screws for the pump.  If you loosen them, pump the primer pump until they run fuel and tighten them back up the engine will start.  If you don’t do that it really doesn’t matter how many fittings you loosen – it won’t start.  I know this because I loosened pretty well every other fitting before I consulted the manual.

On balance though it could have been much worse.  Don and Darlene are scheduled to arrive here next week after I get back from Illinois.  If I had somehow managed to run us out of fuel with them onboard I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had decided to travel by bus instead.  Put me onboard a strange boat that backs away from the dock and then dies and I think I’d say “its been fun but we’ll be at the Holiday Inn for the rest of the visit.  Hope it all works out for you.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ran out of daylight

Our general rule is to boat only during daylight hours and for relatively brief periods at that.  Sometimes we break that rule.  Yesterday we left the top end of Howe Sound after dinner and headed south looking for cell coverage so that Marilyn could call a client.  By the time she got her call out of the way it was getting late in the afternoon but that was no problem because our plan was to tie up at Plumper Cove where we could watch the wind on the Strait for a favourable crossing window.  However, as we were approaching Gibsons/Plumper Sound I could see that the Strait looked remarkably calm.  Particularly calm in fact given that the forecast for yesterday was gale warnings.  So we made an on-the-fly adjustment to our plan and kept heading out across the Gibson Bar, jogged left and aimed for Gabriola Pass.

We got bumped a bit on the crossing but nothing serious.  We hadn’t done a particularly good job of securing the boat because we were just planning a short and sheltered trip but nothing moved around so it really was a pretty good crossing.  Nevertheless the stabilizers got a bit of exercise, Georgie stuck his head under a pillow for most of the trip and my Hughes modem leaped out of its cupboard. 

My initial plan was to hang out in Silva Bay which is just outside Gabriola Pass on the Georgia Strait side of the pass.  As we got closer to the west side of the Strait I checked the current arrows on OpenCPN and decided that we could just as easily slip through Gabriola Pass on the ebb tide which is what we ended up doing.  “Sailing Directions” says that Gabriola Pass “is narrow, intricate and has numerous dangers in its east approach.  This combined with the velocity of the tidal streams does not recommend it for general navigation.  It should only be navigated at slack water, by those familiar with local conditions.”  That appears to be pure bunk.  We’ve been through it several times now and last night we took it close to full bore on the ebb.  There were a couple of back eddies right in the middle but they were clearly visible and easy to navigate.  Its hard to measure exactly but I’d say it was flowing a maximum of 3 knots and that only for a few hundred yards in a couple of locations.

Once through the pass we should have holed up again in Pirate’s Cove but I was on a roll.  To be fair the holding in Pirate’s Cove is marginal so if we had gone in there I’d have wanted to do a shore tie again which takes extra time.  Whatever the reason, we carried on south down Trincomali Channel toward Montague Harbour on the south end of Galiano Island.  We arrived in the harbour about an hour after sunset.  Entering the harbour in twilight wasn’t too bad; fortunately there wasn’t a minefield of crab floats to negotiate.  Once inside the harbour though we had to turn back to the west end of the bay and that area was in heavy shadow so it was a bit dicey even finding the dock and then navigating through all the mooring balls to get to it.  That’s where we are now but we’ll move to the anchor shortly because they charged us $22 to tie up here. 


In a particularly entertaining bit of gubbermint-gooberese, the sign here says that the nightly rate is $2/meter and boats over 36 feet are prohibited.  Since we’re “big” we paid the rate for 36 feet which apparently must convert to 11 meters.  They actually pay some little dork to come around and collect that.  Maybe that one will make it to Flaherty’s list of job cuts.

We were both thoroughly wrung out last night but it feels really good to have the Strait behind us.  We were feeling trapped on the other side.  Its always bad to have an agenda onboard and there we were on the wrong side of the Strait and me on an agenda.  Now it doesn’t really matter what the weather does to us.  Everything is so well sheltered on this side that we could get home even if there were storm warnings out.  It wouldn’t be fun in that situation but we could safely get home if we had to.

UUGGHHH – its raining – again.  I was down in the engine room for a couple of hours – when I came back up it was trying to rain.  We’ve got company coming, arriving the day after I get back from Illinois so I want everything dinged up right and looking smart for when I get home.  The project for this afternoon was changing the diapers on the engines.

Our engines sit over two nice shiny stainless drip pans.  I like to line the drip pans with – I don’t know what else to call them – boat diapers – 2 foot squares of absorbent material designed for boat bilges.  In theory they should only need changing if we have a problem but the reality is that with 30+ year old engines there’s always some leaks.  Not as bad leaks as we’d have if we had Detroits but leaks nevertheless.  (What’s it mean if your Detroit Diesel stops leaking? Its out of oil.  The frenchy bus contains a genuine Detroit and the Exploder, for all its faults, will certainly never rust.)  But I digress.

The starboard engine is pretty good – there’s a very minor coolant leak – likely when the pump seal is dry from sitting but it goes away and never amounts to anything.  The port engine on the other hand has a more serious leak and I just can’t figure out where its coming from.  I’m pretty sure it’s a fuel leak but I sure can’t see the origin.  I’ve got three different critical fluids that are all red – the transmission oil, the engine coolant and the fuel.  Whatever is leaking is red and clearly some kind of oil so that rules out coolant and the transmission never needs fluid so that points to fuel but I can’t see where it is coming from.  I’ve got a bit of white rag tied around one vertical line now that may be the culprit but the leak is so slow that it will take days of running before I have any clear indication.  Its not a huge issue, more of an annoyance.  I can’t remember the last time I changed diapers, sometime last summer I suppose and there was likely less than 2 cups of “stuff” in the tray so I should probably just live with it but it bugs me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back to Bruce

We’re back in the bay at McNabb Creek, side tied across the rickety logging float from Bruce’s work-in-progress.  This is turning into one of our favorite spots.  We like Plumper Cove just fine but it gets bumpy whenever the wind blows in Georgia Strait and it gets busy on the weekends.  This little corner of the world seems to be well sheltered and even today when there are wind warnings out for everywhere, including Howe Sound, you sure wouldn’t know it judging from the glassy water around us.

Its hard to convey just how close to the rocks our bow is by the time we get tied up here.  When we came in there was about a 20 foot aluminum river boat tied up at the end of the dock so we had to slide in between them and the shoreline.  The rocks drop off really fast here but it still felt like I was about to run up on the beach.  First the shoreline disappeared completely behind the Defever prow.  So I asked my shore advisors (there were several on the dock) whether I was far enough ahead.  “About another 8 feet to clear his engines!”  I knew I had room but it still was really hard to put the engines in forward.  It felt like for sure I’d feel a “crunch” at any moment but we slid into place with at least a couple of feet to spare.  Once the frenchmen in the aluminum boat left we adjusted the spring lines to move a little further from the shore.  We might have been OK at low tide but we wouldn’t have had much to spare.

The advantage of being so close to shore is that we can set the dish up on land and run the coax to the boat.  That meant I could monitor the Canuck’s big choke last night and taunt the resident Cow Bay Canucks super-fan.  About a week ago I told him it was really going to suck to be him when the Canucks got blown out in the first round but I didn’t really think that was going to happen – I just wanted to bother him.  They’ve gone down so fast its really not even fun tormenting him about it any more.

When we left Plumper Cove it was partly to escape the bumpy water, partly so we could fish our way up Howe Sound and partly to visit Bruce.  Once we got underway we decided it would be prudent to check the fishing regs and it turns out we can’t really fish for anything anywhere in Howe Sound.  The regs are very complicated to decypher and there are a few species that we could keep but for simplicity its probably easiest to just consider Howe Sound closed.  We have had a good visit with Bruce so it wasn’t a wasted trip.  He’s pretty well invisible to society – no phone, no email, no address – so unless you find him you can’t visit him and planning an encounter is flat out of the question.

Today we’ll likely move back to Plumper Cove because we need to be ready for a quick decision on crossing back over Georgia Strait.  I’ve got flights booked to St. Louis next Sunday which is still a long way off but not when the Strait is between us and the airport.  There’s wind warnings out for everywhere and for as far into the future as they predict so that’s annoying.  Even though we know that the forecast will inevitably change and the reality may not match the forecast its hard not to worry about how we will make it back across in the time we have available.  If we’re sitting in Plumper Cove we can be across into Silva Bay in under four hours from the time we make the decision to go so we’ll sit there and watch for a break.  And SWMBO will probably take a precautionary Gravol when we do head out.

Thursday, April 12, 2012



The 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster is a good time to remember that all those who go down to the sea in ships don’t necessarily return on the same ship.  And of course some never return.  These photos are a sober reminder of that grim fact.


Today we’re once again tied up in Plumber Cove, across from Gibson’s Landing at the entrance to Howe Sound.  Whenever we stay here Marilyn hikes the island and several times she has referred to “the wreck” on the other side of the island.  Not being a big fan of hiking I had never seen it.  I figure that if God intended us to walk he would never have allowed us to invent internal combustion.  My grandfather was famous for taking the pickup from the house to the barn, a journey approaching 200 yards, and I thoroughly admired his wisdom.  But I digress.

Today I followed along on the start of the hike in order to survey the famous wreck.  It appears to have been about a 28 foot sailboat, probably homebuilt judging by the deck finish and general lack of fairness in the hull.  Its obviously been in its current resting place for some time now which is puzzling given that it is inside a marine park.  I would have thought that the various government weenies associated with the park would have expended all their puny energies to remove it from the beach, no expense being too great for the taxpayers to bear.  I wanted to have a look at it because I thought there might be some salvage opportunities but the wood appears to be fir or spruce – definitely no teak and the cleats are too small for our purposes, not to mention that one of them is broken.  There is a decent looking Sampson post on the foredeck which I may investigate further at low tide.

We upped anchor at 8:00 this morning and were in Gabriola Passage before 9:00.  The current was going to run up to 5 knots against us if we got too late so we made sure we were early enough to catch the end of the flood.  Then we had a very uneventful crossing to Gibsons.  All we saw for traffic was 3 ferries and, hard as it is to believe, none of them forced us to alter course.  The BC ferry drivers (I refuse to call them “Captains”) are about the worst mannered jackasses on the water out here.  They seem to be uniformly unaware of the Colregs and routinely cut vessels off by assuming rights that they have no legitimate claim to.  We’ve actually had one pass us by coming up from behind close on our port side and then cutting directly across our bow.  That could possibly be justified if there were any legitimate draft concerns – there is a Colreg which refers to draft constraints - but in the particular circumstance I am referring to the only possible motivation for the action was ignorance or jackassery.


We also have to be really careful right now because we have had so many high tides lately.  That tends to wash all the crap off the beaches and there is some really big stuff floating around out there.  Most of it is like the photo above, barely awash in the water but if you look closely you will see that what you are looking at is the end of a log the size of a power pole.  Often one of these floaters will have a couple of seagulls taking a rest, riding along on their own personal canoe.  But for the most part there’s no warning and even the slightest chop makes them almost invisible until you are right on top of them.  Apparently single screw vessels will tend to push them aside but twin screws (like ours) will suck them in with resultant extreme damage to the running gear.  I really don’t want to ever see what that looks like so we try to maintain a close watch.  Every so often though there’s one appears right in front of us that neither of us has noticed until the last second.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here be treasure

Tonight we’re anchored in Pirate’s Cove and while we haven’t found any doubloons we have found some beautiful serenity.  And a family of raccoons. 

Pirate Cove-009

The entrance to the cove is pretty scary – I have a lot of respect for whoever first navigated it.  We did it way too close to low tide and low tide today was a really low tide.  We’re having extreme tides right now which accounts for all the debris that is floating around wherever we go.  The driftwood gets knocked loose from the beaches on extreme high tides and in some places today it was an almost solid barrier.  It gets congregated along the lines where the tide is changing and sometimes it is hard to find a path through it. 

We left Cow Bay just after noon and made a leisurely passage up here so that we can easily make the slack tide in Gabriola Pass.  Slack is around 8:30 and we’re about 5 or 6 hours from the Bay so we didn’t want to try to make that from a morning start.  If we miss that slack then the next one is at 3:30 which doesn’t leave us enough time to get across Georgia Strait. 

Just after we got out of Sansum Narrows Marilyn’ screeched “whale”.  I looked out the door where she was sitting in time to see a large black back maybe 3 feet away from the boat.  Then it disappeared behind us, I stopped the engines and we never saw it again.  She actually saw the white and black and had a good enough look to know which way he was headed (he was meeting us) but neither of us got a great look at him.  So no matter how fleeting a glimpse, that’s our first whale sighting in the bag.  We were beginning to think it would never happen.  We drifted in the channel for maybe 15 minutes – long enough for me to drink a cup of tea – but never saw anything more.  We did see the snout of what may have been an elephant seal but he was too far away and never surfaced again once I got the glasses on him and we saw a few dolphins later on.

Once again we had trouble getting the anchor to stick but I don’t think it was the anchor’s fault.  This place appears to be a rocky inlet into the island.  There’s no evidence of sand on either shore so I think we were just dragging the anchor across the rock hoping that it would snag on a crack.  Eventually it sort of held and we quit pulling but I never pulled anywhere near as hard as I would have liked to so we immediately ran a shore tie.  That’s what the guidebooks recommend for this anchorage anyway and to facilitate that there are steel rings embedded in the rock all around the anchorage. 

We went for a quick putter around the bay tonight.  Marilyn will no doubt go for a much longer trip tomorrow.  She likes to hang over the edge of the dinghy looking at underwater wildlife.  Me not so much.  As we were coming back to the boat I could see some movement along the shoreline deep in the bay so we drifted in quietly and watched a raccoon family washing their supper in the bay.  It looked like they were digging up little clams and having them for supper.  Evidently they hadn’t read the red tide warnings that are conspicuously posted all around the bay.

Monday, April 9, 2012


If I had back all the hours I’ve spent working on generators over the last 5 years I could live to be 107.  I thought I had enough parts to build a generator from scratch but it turned out I was missing a few bits.  Actually I knew I was missing the block but I thought I had pretty well everything else.

Saturday night we were swinging peacefully at anchor in Otter Bay, waiting for Marilyn’s potato scallop to cook so we could take it to the yacht club potluck.  Fortunately the scallop potatoes were cooked by the time the genset packed it in.  Once again it was one of the pulleys that drive the two water pumps on top of the engine that had worked itself loose.  I replaced both of them just over a year ago now – I’m not sure why they are failing.  They’re not the best pulleys – your basic el-cheapo pot metal variety available at Ukrainian Tire or NAPA.  I definitely need to look for some better hubs but I suspect that will be difficult for an A-width belt.  This time I drilled and tapped the hub for two extra setscrews.  And I’ve already added “check the effing pulleys” to my weekly checklist.  I’ve also got two spare pulleys in my parts store now – of course they couldn’t be the same pulley on each pump.  They’re the same OD but one has a 1/2 inch bore and the other a 5/8 bore.

On the plus side while I was fixing the pulley I noticed that I had a fuel leak so I fixed that too.  When I changed the filters in Howe Sound a month or so ago I noticed that the replacement secondary filter was a larger diameter than the one I took off.  The seal surface was the same dimension but the can itself was about an inch bigger diameter than the old one.  I didn’t think much of it at the time but it was evidently enough bigger to rub up against an oil line while the engine is running and vibrating.  It had managed to wear a small hole in the filter which was leaking diesel into the engine tray.  I caught it before it got bad but it wouldn’t have fixed itself. 

As today wore on and the forecast deteriorated we decided that rather than rush away this afternoon we will wait another night and watch the forecast before we leave.  We want to get across Georgia Strait and even if we cross from Gabriola Pass that’s a minimum 4 hour crossing.  I think we’ll be OK crossing Wednesday but we’ll make that call tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The seal nursery

I think we’re anchored in the middle of a seal nursery.  Its hard to come up with another explanation. 

We’ve been semi-involved with Malcolm’s haulout, finishing up last night with dinner at Malcolm’s place.  We felt like imposters because neither of us did much to help with the real work of the haulout.  Most of our time yesterday was consumed with driving up to Comox & back.  But we got an invite to supper anyway.

The trip to Comox was so we could visit Dick and Olive who we met years ago in Alamos.  When we met him Dick frequently referred to how old he was and how he needed to travel to Mexico every chance he got because he couldn’t have many years left.  Now we’re 15+ years later and he’s still singing the same tune.  It’s a little more believable now but he still doesn’t look ready for the grim reaper.  He told us that his doctor told him he had bowel cancer but likely it wasn’t worth operating on because he was so old.  “Cut it out” was Dick’s response and he looks to be pretty well recovered from that ordeal.  Both of them are our inspiration for aging creatively and actively.  They’re about to leave for 3 weeks in Hawaii so we had to go now or miss them.

This morning we hung out at the dock, had lunch and then got away mid-afternoon.  We’ve got a favorite prawning grounds which is where we are tonight.  We dropped the traps at the mouth of the bay in about 180 feet of water and then went up to the head of the bay to anchor.  That turned into an ordeal which makes it twice in a row now that we’ve had trouble getting the Sarca to bite.  The first time we ended up pulling it back up and trying the whole exercise over again.  Based on the mud on one fluke it looked like it had laid over on its side and dragged along the bottom which it isn’t supposed to be able to do because it has a rollbar specifically to prevent that from happening. 

While we were fighting with the anchor Marilyn commented on the seal barking she could hear.  Once we finally got the anchor set and could look around we first noticed a group of about 5 or 6 seals that appear to be floating together on their backs.  They may even be having a little nooky – I’m not acquainted with exactly how seals do that.  We watched them for a while and then realized that much deeper in the bay, probably in 10 feet or less of water, there’s a whole herd of seals hanging out.  Marilyn is convinced that there’s babies in the herd – I’m not so sure but there’s definitely a crowd hanging out here. 

Tonight I made some absolutely incredible lentil soup.  We happened to have a ham bone and I wanted to make green lentil soup with the bone.  It turned out we didn’t have any green lentils so I made it with red splits.  And the end result is like the best habitant split pea soup I have ever tasted.  All I did was put the ham bone, a lot of red splits, half a diced onion and some water in the crock pot for the afternoon.  At one point I added a few glugs of merlot that we happened to have left over and I seasoned it with a lot of fresh ground pepper, nothing else.  It couldn’t be much simpler and it couldn’t be any better.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We’ve been busy

Sorry – I haven’t posted for a while.  We’ve been busy.

We got tossed around pretty good at Prevost Harbour.  So badly tossed that when I got up the next morning the dish was missing.  It had dived overboard off the dock in the wind.  Fortunately it was tethered to the dock and also attached to the coax so we didn’t lose it entirely.  I’m sure it didn’t do it any good but I got it set up again and it still worked.

On Friday we crossed back into Canada, arriving at the Canada Customs dock in Sidney around noon.  Checking into Canada has always consisted of phoning customs and them giving us a clearance number.  Unlike the Americans, the Canadians have yet to come to the dock, let alone the boat.  This time was no different although they did ding me for GST on the haulout charges.  That took an inordinate amount of time to process because the dipshit I was dealing with couldn’t make our postal code work in her computer.  I’m not sure what she was doing and it doesn’t really matter – she was stupid and she wasn’t getting the job done.  After about a half an hour she got it figured out, collected her $264 and issued my clearance number.  Then we moved over to the yacht club reciprocal dock.  In the following photo you can see us tied up on the reciprocal dock and a major wreck on the other side of the breakwater.


The boat in the foreground is about a 26 foot day sailer.  Behind it is somebody’s float home.  Evidently the sailboat broke loose a few days ago and dashed itself to bits on the rocks.  I thought it had likely happened in the big storm the day after we got to Port Angeles but apparently it was a more recent occurrence. 


It looks to me like it was probably a pretty nice little boat a couple of weeks ago.  The rigging looks in really good condition and the parts of the hull that haven’t been bashed to bits on the rocks look good but overall it’s a sick mess.  Nobody seemed to know what the story was on the float home.

We stayed a couple of nights on the reciprocal dock so that we could help out with the volunteer spring cleaning day at the club.  We would have stopped to catch some prawns on the way home but SWMBO couldn’t persuade DFO’s website to accept her credit card so she couldn’t get licensed to fish on Sunday.  In lieu of fishing Marilyn drove the boat out of the yacht club dock and most of the way home.  I think I could get to like sitting on the couch, watching out the window as we travel.

Today one of our dock neighbours hauled his Grand Banks woody.  He was really nervous about getting it into the ways and had asked me to come along with him so we did that this afternoon. 

Malcolm’s boat was seriously in need of bottom cleaning.  It was literally covered with 1/2” to 2” mussels over the entire bottom and all the running gear. 

Seeing the growth on Malcolm’s boat made me appreciate how good of condition Gray Hawk was in.  She was cleaner when we pulled her than Malcolm’s hull was after three people scraped all afternoon and then pressure washed the entire hull.  There were a few small barnacles (less than 3/8”) on our shafts and props but nothing on the hull itself and nothing even close to the growth I saw today.