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.

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