Monday, November 26, 2012

Well ………… imagine that

Sometimes things just work out well.  But often that isn’t the case when you’d really like or you really need them to work out.  Often they don’t work out under adverse conditions.  Like when its very bloody cold outside.  Today was one of those days when things just worked out about as well as they possibly could have.  But first – as my neighbour Barry says – you need to know the back story.

Rewind to the winter of 2007-2008.  We were spending our first fulltime bus winter in Florida, recovering from putting a new engine in the bus and trying to figure out what we were going to do with the stuff we hadn’t thrown out or given away.  We had consolidated our possessions down to a greatly reduced amount but there was some stuff that we just couldn’t part with.  That winter the surplus was living in our old barn courtesy of the agreement we had with the purchaser of our acreage but we knew that by the next summer we had to come up with a plan.

Initially I thought maybe we would buy an enclosed trailer so I was watching Kijiji, Craigslist, Autotrader – all the usual sources.  Somehow I stumbled onto a diesel cubevan that was for sale in Saskatoon for $2,700.  RJ was attending university in Saskatoon at the time so I got him to have a look at it, beat the seller down to $2,500 and mailed him a cheque.  I knew the van was no virgin but it had a Powerstroke and I have a lot of faith in that engine.  I figured “how bad can it be if I’ve only got $2,500 in it?”  Well it turned out that how bad it could be cost me another $3,000 to get it running reliably.   But in return for that it stored our stuff, hauled it all to BC and back and towed the trucklet to BC on the first trip.  I figure that was pretty good value and by last spring I didn’t figure the old girl owed us anything.

Last spring we decided that we no longer really needed the van so I listed it on all those same free websites.  I didn’t get a whole lot of calls but it only takes one and that one came from a guy in Yorkton who wanted to use it for a furniture moving business that he is trying to start.  We settled on $2,500 but with a twist.  He gave me $1,000 in the spring and wanted me to hold the van until he could come up with the balance owing.  I didn’t figure I had much to lose – let’s be honest here – we figured the van was essentially worthless - so I held his money and we agreed he would pay the balance by Dec. 31.  As winter approached I thought it was going to be a real fustercluck whenever he came up with the money.  Most of the time when I actually gave it any thought, I thought he likely wouldn’t come up with the money and I would be back to trying to sell it again next spring.  So you can imagine my surprise when he phoned me yesterday and wanted to come pick it up today.

First off I was intensely relieved because for the amount of money involved it wouldn’t have been worthwhile driving out here to help him pick it up if I had anything else going on.  My concern however immediately turned to how to start a frozen diesel engine with summer fuel in the tank.  I wasn’t even sure it had a block heater and when I discovered a cord hanging from the front of the van I had no assurance that it would actually warm the engine.  I plugged it in anyway and thought I could hear a heater starting up but that was only part of my worry.  Since it had summer fuel in the tank my biggest worry was that we would get it running, it would suck the filters dry and then die, never to start again until the weather warmed up.  BTDT.

My old 930 Case used to be famous for that trick.  I never used it enough to keep the fuel turned over so it had whatever it had when winter struck and then I would try to use it to feed the damn sheep.  I kept it in the shop with the recirculating heater plugged in so it always started just fine.  But then I’d get out in the yard pushing snow or feeding sheep and it would start to lose power as the fuel slowly gelled up.  If I was lucky and noticed the power loss immediately I could usually limp it back to the shop and warm it up again.  But if I missed the first signs of power loss or if it gelled up quickly, there I’d be, out in the yard, freezing my fingers on frozen fuel, trying to bleed the lines and get the miserable brute running again.  There but for fuel treatment was where I was afraid we would go this morning.

So first thing after breakfast I headed into the Petrocan in Canora.  They had some kind of emergency fuel conditioner that is designed to be dumped in the tank after it has already gelled up so that is what I bought.  I figured the regular winter treatment that needs to be mixed with the fuel might not be much good if the tank and filters were already starting to gel up.  I dumped that in the tank and then tried to start the old girl.  I figured I would roll it over a few times to generate some heat in the block and then get serious about starting it.  “Get serious” in this case means give it a shot of ether because that is the way we have had to start that engine literally since we brought it home.  I don’t think it has ever started cold without ether.  After it has run and warmed up you could shut it down to buy fuel or go shopping, come back to it and it would start without ether.  But first thing in the AM, guaranteed it would need a little sniff of go-juice.  So I deliberately didn’t give it any ether this morning, thinking that a bit of cranking would be good for it to get the oil circulating and generate some heat of compression in the block.  The technical term for that is “heat soaking” and it is a common starting technique for the old 2-stroke diesels like the one we have in the frenchy-bus.  Except that this time I hit the key and almost immediately the engine started firing.

And wonder of wonders it started.  It ran rough for a few seconds until all the cylinders got used to firing and then settled into a typical cold Powerstroke clatter.  Unbelievable. 

Even though it was running I didn’t figure I was out of the woods until it had run for long enough to circulate the conditioner from the tank up into the filters so I left it idling while I texted SWMBO to tell her how happy I was.  Half an hour later I thought it had stalled because there was no smoke coming from the exhaust & I couldn’t hear the famous clatter any longer but when I stuck my head out the door it was still running, just very quietly.  The heater fan wasn’t working but I didn’t have to drive it to Yorkton so I didn’t stress about that too much.  That’s not very nice of me I know but I figure starting it at minus 20 was enough contribution on my part – the new owner needs to kick in at least a little bit.  So after all that I was kind of sad to see the old girl go down the road – she served us well.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kee Kee Kee Ker-riiist its cold out there

We used to sing “we’re off to see the wild west show” in university days.  I think it helped to be or maybe was essential to be drunk to appreciate its humour but one of the verses went something like:

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, in this corner we have the kee kee bird” to which the drunken response was “fantastic …. incredible …… what the hell’s a kee kee bird?”  And then the verse continued “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I’m glad you asked that question.  The kee kee bird flies over Antarctica singing ‘kee kee kee riiist its cold down here’”.  There are other verses with much less family-rated lyrics.

I take back all the whining about BC weather.  Constant rain at least means it isn’t freezing outside. 

Me and the idiot cat left the boat around noon on Monday, having done most of our getting ready on Sunday.  When I got close to Nanaimo it seemed like I would be in danger of missing what they thought was a 12:30 sailing out of Departure Bay (going to Horseshoe Bay) so instead I caught their 12:45 sailing out of Duke Point (going to Tsawassen).  In hindsight I could likely have made the Departure sailing because I think it was a few minutes late but Duke Point is probably 15 minutes closer to Cow Bay so 15 minutes closer with a 15 minute later departure seemed like really good insurance.  Its a longer ferry trip when you land at Tsawassen but you miss the grind out through west and north Vancouver in the car so the extra time on the water kind of balances out the shorter distance once you reach the mainland.  As it turned out I hit gridlock on River Road getting over to #1 highway but that can happen anywhere at any time in Vancouver so there was no guarantee I would have missed the parking lot experience no matter which ferry I caught. 

That night me and the cat got as far as Merritt.  The Coquihalla Pass was a little wet but really no big deal.  Tuesday was another matter altogether.  We drove in slush, on snow pack and through fog pretty well the whole day.  Not that it bothered the idiot – he split his time between the floorboards behind my seat and the rear parcel shelf.  He seems to really like it up on the parcel shelf at night but he spent some daylight time up there as well.  We slept that night in Drumheller and arrived in Saskatoon shortly after noon on Wednesday.

Marilyn had arranged a stay in a cat hotel for the furball so I dropped him off as soon as I got to the city.  He’s good company but a pain in the ass to travel with so I wasn’t sad to get him out of the car.  During the fog and slush portion on Tuesday he spent a good deal of his time complaining about something.  I’m not sure what was bothering him but I know damn well what was bothering me --- the cat was bothering me.


I had a Canadian Association of Farm Advisors (CAFA) conference to attend in Saskatoon on Thursday.  That went late in the day & I had some meetings afterwards so I didn’t leave the city until Friday morning.  Of course I had to pick up the nitwit first.  Then the two of us headed for Buchanan, arriving in the early afternoon.  Damn it was cold here when we arrived.  The bus was a frozen lump of steel and glass and wood at roughly 20 degrees below zero and it took over 6 hours of the furnace running wide open to finally get everything warmed up again.  By the time Marilyn arrived though thanks to a lot of burned diesel fuel and with assistance from Sask. Power she had a warm home to come into. 

We had a pretty lazy day today – long overdue for both of us.  She’s going to take the cat and head back to Regina tomorrow afternoon but I’ll hang around here until Tuesday before going back to Saskatoon.  She starts her housesitting gig on Friday so after that we’ll have a place we can be together at in Regina but until then she lives in a cave in a Chinaman’s basement with no guests allowed. 

By some incredible stroke of luck I am now expecting my cubevan buyer to arrive here Monday.  Its really impossible to believe that it could work out this well so I am reserving judgement until I have his cash in hand and he has the van in Yorkton.  Last spring when we made the deal he assured me it would never take until December to complete it.  We’re close but if he shows up on Monday (and if the van starts) we won’t make it to December.  I’ll be glad to be rid of it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A fabulous ship for an ocean trip

…. was the wholloping window blind.
No wind that blew dismayed the crew nor troubled the captain’s mind. 

There was absolutely no wind to worry about today but the fog was another matter altogether.

I was up pretty early this morning, got the lines off around 8:00 boat time and headed out into First Narrows.  The current was running pretty good under the bridge, maybe 2 or 3 knots so it was a slow grind out.  It was still dark when I cleared the bridge but up until then that hadn’t been a problem because there was enough light from the city.  As soon as I got past the bridge it got real dark but I could see light starting to show in the east so I just took it slow out through English Bay.  And then it happened.

The fog rolled in or maybe I ran into a fog bank, I’m not really sure.  In the space of a few minutes I went from being able to see the lights of all the tankers at anchor in English Bay to my own little fog cocoon.  My initial reaction was panic and terror.  Fortunately that didn’t last long but its pretty alarming to know that there are all those huge boats out there moving around and not be able to see past the anchor on the bow roller. 

We have used our radar a lot because we thought getting accustomed to it when we could see would prove helpful whenever the day finally arrived that we couldn’t see.  That was a very good practice because it all made sense this morning.  I could see all the signals from the big tankers at anchor to the south of me and I could see a big guy crossing my bow about a mile out.  Then he turned and came pretty well straight at me.  Of course I couldn’t actually see that – all I saw was an open lane in front of me on the screen with this large blob working slowly but steadily closer to me.  We passed less than 1/4 of a mile apart but I never even saw a hint of his lights.  I know he was there because of the way the radar echoes behaved but I absolutely never saw any visible sign of him.

I’ve got another tool that I used to good effect this morning too.  Bruce told me about an Android app that gives me access to the AIS system.  AIS is a VHF (radio) system for transmitting ship information, including GPS position and heading from ship to ship.  The commercial guys are required to have it; us recreational guys can have it at our option.  We really need to get it for this area that we like to boat in.  If we were in areas where there weren’t too many boats it wouldn’t be a big deal but in high traffic areas it is invaluable.  After I passed the big tanker in English Bay I really didn’t have anyone else to contend with until I got out of the fog but nonetheless it was great to have a backup to confirm what I thought the radar was telling me. 

Reading a radar is not like looking at a video game.  In any situation you can create or disappear signals by how you set the gain and sea clutter controls.  At some resolutions you will get a fleeting signal off gulls.  Low flying airplanes always give a signal. The problem is you can’t tell if that signal is on the water directly in front of you or 1500 feet up in the air. 

I did use the AIS app again to good effect as I was approaching Active Pass.  There’s a sharp dogleg at each end of the Pass so you can’t see what is happening in the Pass until you are in it.  With the AIS app though I could “see” ahead and I knew that one of the big BC ferries was approaching from the south side so I called her on the radio and we negotiated how we were going to meet before either of us could see the other one.  In that situation my app was very helpful to me but provided the ferry no information about my presence.  However if we had active AIS transmitting from the boat he would have been able to see me coming in the same way that I could see his approach.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is a pretty good neighbourhood

We’re enjoying one of the perqs of yacht club membership – reciprocal docks.  In return for our annual membership in Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club (SNSYC) we get access to the club facilities which mostly means a reasonably priced bar and fairly high priced restaurant.  For us it also means access to the club reciprocal dock whenever we are in Sidney – that’s not such a big advantage for the locals who already have a dock in Sidney but for us it comes in very handy when we need to go to Sidney.  That’s not what reciprocal moorage is supposed to mean though.

Reciprocal moorage privileges are extended from one yacht club to visiting members of another yacht club.  Typically that means one, sometimes two nights free moorage on the club dock.  Some clubs maintain a specific section of dock for reciprocal guests; others allow reciprocal guests to use club moorage while members are away.  Right now we’re on a reciprocal at Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in Coal Harbour.  They allow reciprocal stays in vacant member slots. 

RVYC is definitely the creme de la creme of yacht clubs out here.  Savvy members buy their newborns a membership so that they can go on the waiting list for moorage.  That way by the time those new members are in their 30’s they have a chance of coming to the top of the waiting list.  The location is about as good as you can get – right at the entrance to Stanley Park - and the facilities are awesome.  The location is also perfect for visiting downtown Vancouver.

Today we used public transit to make a tour of the city that included Gas Town, Chinatown and Lonsdale Quay.  Along the way we walked across east Hastings Street which is another local landmark for a very different reason.   I think the last time we were down in Gas Town Aunt Janet was still alive and the kids were 6 & 8 years old.  I remember we took everyone to the Old Spaghetti Factory and they were making a movie somewhere down there.  The Old Spaghetti Factory was still there today and they were making a movie – I assume a different one.  The set looked something like Checkpoint Charlie and the actors were wearing funny uniforms. 

Tomorrow Marilyn flies back to Regina but we won’t be apart for long this time.  I’ve got a couple of conferences in Saskatoon at the end of the month so I’ll be heading east early next week.  Marilyn moves into her house sitting gig on the first of December so she’ll take over waiting on the cat at that point.  This weekend I’ll start watching the weather forecasts to see how much time I need to allow to get over the mountains.  Last winter for one of those trips we gave Roger’s Pass a miss because of weather but I don’t think they’ve had enough snow in the mountains yet for that to be a possibility.  The only real risk is a storm while I’m actually trying to get over the passes and they can’t forecast that with any reliability until a couple of days before it happens.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Memory lane

We found an outfit in Toronto that will scan photographs.  There’s any number of them on the internet – I can’t remember why I picked this one, but I did.  Their deal is that they send you a flattened cardboard box which you assemble and fill with photos.  Whatever you can get in the box they will scan and return to you on a CD.  I think I paid just over $100 for the box and when I got the scans back there were 1,109 images.  So that’s about 10 cents an image – no way I can put up with the headaches of scanning for that much.  Actually I’d likely pay close to 10x in order to get good scans so its a really good deal in my opinion.

Last night I did some rough sorts on the images and I’ll post a few for your entertainment this morning. 


I have to start with the bears at the shack tents in Waskesiu.  Apparently when they opened the park one of the big attractions was that you could come to the lake and feed the bears.  How times have changed.



Gotta go with some of these just because they’re such good pictures – my uncle Harold (married to one of mother’s sisters) and my cousin Nancy – I’m guessing Harold’s 75th birthday party but I couldn’t say for certain.


My mother’s mother, Janet (Cairns) Dickey, mother, her sister Sadie Cox and her cousin Janet (Cox) Kessler.  Not sure who the brat is but it could me me I guess. 

20120927175736_00038A My grandfather’s brother, Ernie Evans.  He and grandpa came to the prairies from Brownsberg, Quebec, survived the 30’s and established the Evans lineage on the prairies.


This isn’t a particularly good photo of either of them but its about the best that came out of this batch of scans.  On the right is my grandmother, Gladys (Paxman) Evans with her good (Liberal) friend Barbara Pavelich.  I expect the photo is on the occasion of Grandma’s 85th birthday.  Barbara was the remaining Liberal vote in their polling station after Grandpa & Grandma moved to town. 


I have few regrets in my life but one great regret is that we never organized mother & father to ride a cruise boat to Alaska.  We talked about it but just never got around to doing it until they were too infirm to make the trip.  This photo is from the beach at Mazatlan the year we took the trailer down and they flew down to meet us.  I think the trip was well outside mother’s comfort zone but – bless her soul – she made it anyway.  Father had a blast.



I don’t know for certain but I think these boats are pulled up on the beach at La Manzanilla which is just north of Barra de Navidad.  Barra has been in the news lately because a couple of BC citizens were murdered there under peculiar circumstances. 


And I’ll close with a couple of photos of some very special “Shellbrook friends”.  When mom & dad moved to Shellbrook in the early 1960’s Harold and Madeleine Collins sort of adopted them and welcomed them to the community.  We spent a lot of happy times in their yard in the Yankee Valley district southwest of Shellbrook as well as fishing from Harold’s freighter canoe with its reluctant Johnson outboard.


Again its not a great photo but its the one I have.  I assume this must have been a wedding anniversary or birthday party for the Collins.  The home in the background started out as a log cabin that Harold built when he homesteaded after WW-I.  I can still smell the smoky ambience that greeted you when you walked into the old cabin which became the living room for the home when they added the portion you can see in this photo.  Harold was a short man with the result that his doorways weren’t even close to high enough for me so in addition to the smoky memories I remember ducking a lot.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What a great spot this is

We’re still anchored at the end of False Creek, in the basin where the Olympic Village was in 1986.  Marilyn arrived very late last night.  For a while I thought the bastards were going to strand her in Calgary but it turned out that the plane she was on from Regina to Calgary was the same plane that was going from Calgary to Vancouver.  For some reason they didn’t call it a continuation so she got two boarding passes and had to deplane in Calgary but there was no doubt that she was going to make the connection in Calgary once she figured out that they were going to re-use her plane for the balance of the trip. 

She arrived in Vancouver some time after midnight and then caught the skytrain into the city.  We were texting back and forth so that I knew when to leave the boat to meet the train. That all worked out well other than that it was the middle of the damn night, cold and wet. 

This is such a pretty spot its hard to believe we mostly have it to ourselves. 




There are a few derelict boats in the basin as well.  That last shot is of the VPD putting a seizure notice on one of them.  The way they control derelicts at anchor here is by means of an anchoring permit.  The permits are free – as they should be – anchoring is supposed to be free.  What they’ve done though is limit the length of stay by means of the permit.  Effectively in the winter you can be in the anchorage about 1/2 of your time for 3 weeks at a stretch and in the summer I think its more like 2 weeks out of two months.  That seems like a sensible solution to a very popular location that could easily become filled up with garbage boats.  And evidently that is exactly the problem they were faced with until they instituted the permit system.  And its a far better solution than the one they use at Nanaimo where they have polluted a good anchorage with mooring buoys that they then charge you for tying up to. 

Today was rainy – no surprises there – its Raincouver after all.  We slept in very late and then took the dinghy up to Granville just because.  Neither of us had anything in particular that we needed but we enjoy wandering through the market and we ended up buying lunch in the food court before we came back home, still in the rain.  The new dinghy/motor combo is performing reasonably well although its still a bear to start.  I bought a can of injector cleaner and dumped that in the tank and I think that has been helping.  Right now I think there’s likely an idle jet that is either completely or partially plugged but every time I run it I’m happier with the way it runs.  When I bought it there was no way I could get it to idle.  Now it still won’t idle cold but after it gets warmed up it idles not too bad.

Yesterday the Vancouver cops spotted that the numbers on my motor are 110 which could be interpreted to mean 11 HP.  Transport Canada requires registration on all vessels with 10 HP or more power so one of the cops was getting officious about that “deficiency”.  I wasn’t around but my neighbour Bruce was taking it on the chin for me.  Its all a load of crap.  The 10 HP cutoff was put in place sometime in the 70’s or 80’s and all the outboard manufacturers immediately relabelled anything they had close to 10 HP as 9.9 or 9.8 HP.  That’s exactly what happened with our “110” – the same engine got re-labelled as a 9.8 and continued in production for 10 or 15 years, with identical components to what used to be a Model 110.  More importantly the whole registration process is a crock of shit perpetrated by Transport Canada to grab revenue from unsuspecting boaters.

There’s no attempt made to monitor whether buyers of used boats ever identify themselves to Transport Canada and most (all??) of them never do.  So the new buyers get on the list at the time of purchase but even in that case I doubt that failure to pay the renewal ever results in any followup.  In theory if the boat is registered then the numbers will identify it in the event it is stolen but that too is a bunch of crap because any thief with 1/2 a brain could just scratch the numbers off.  Its a revenue grab pure and simple.  And for us its a revenue grab that we would only be required to participate in by virtue of the fact that our motor is too old to be exempt.  If it had been built 3 or 5 years later it would have been labelled as a 9.8 and therefore exempt.  So that is precisely what is about to happen.  Thanks to some striping tape and white numbers from Ukrainian Tire our engine is about to become a 9.8.  I won’t do it right under the noses of the VPD but by the next time we come here they will have forgotten about us and our dinghy motor will be all nice and legal again.  With a bit of luck it will be running better by then too.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Where to start ………………

………. a lot has happened in the space of 36 hours. 

Thursday night I was tied to the dock at Sidney North Saanich Yacht club waiting for Marilyn to arrive.  About 8:00 she phoned to say that her flight had been delayed.  I had a bad feeling about that right from the start.  There was a huge storm system moving up from the Oregon coast into western Canada.  By the time she phoned it was hitting from the Crows Nest Pass through Calgary and starting to affect Regina.  Westjet kept delaying the flight but eventually it was – inevitably – cancelled.  I hate it when they do that – lying bastards all of them.  Why can’t they just say up front “the weather is the shits – it’s really bad for us because it will fuck up our schedule for tomorrow – but we’re going to cancel the flight right now and you all should go home or to a hotel.”  Instead they drag it out for hours while all the poor passengers repeatedly phone their family and friends, eat overpriced airport crap food, get sore and tired from sitting in airport “lounges” and finally go home or to a hotel anyway.

By the time the flight got cancelled and Marilyn got her money back it was close to midnight and we were both worn out from the stress of hoping that she would get safely out of Regina and worrying about her getting out of Regina and then hung up in Calgary.  That exact thing happened to another friend of ours who ended up spending an unplanned 24 hours in Calgary thanks to the same storm.  We were worn out and incredibly disappointed because we had both been looking forward to the visit.

I decided that there was no point slinking back to Cow Bay so I checked the weather and yesterday I headed out across Georgia Strait to Vancouver.  I knew that our old friend Bruce from Plumper Cove & McNabb Creek was anchored in False Creek so I figured I’d visit him and Vancouver at the same time.  When I first called Bruce he was planning to move back up to McNabb but shortly after that he phoned back to say that his temporary employment at McNabb had fallen through and he would be staying in False Creek.  So that’s where I found him late yesterday afternoon. 


Solo anchoring was a big worry as I was coming into the anchorage but it went remarkably well.  The fact that there was no current and no wind likely had a lot to do with how easy it was.  The big Sarca hopped once and then hooked up solid, leaving me a little closer to a couple of neighbours than I had planned.  Typically it hops and drags maybe 50 or 100 feet before finally planting itself so I had allowed for that distance but yesterday I wouldn’t have needed to.  However as I was debating whether to pull up and try again, I realized that one of those neighbours was already moving.  I hollered over that I would move but it turned out he was pissed off at another boat that insists on running its noisy gas generator 24/7.  I convinced myself that the 2nd boat that I thought was too close wasn’t and stayed where I was which turned out to be a good thing because about 2 hours later its owners returned, fired it up and left the anchorage completely. 

I’ve never been this far into False Creek.  I’m anchored right in front of the Science Centre, Rogers Centre and BC Place.  Its a very pretty spot at the end of a long pleasant winding trip starting as you go under the Burrard and Granville St. bridges.  Then its past Granville Market and all the high priced waterfront condos, past the float homes in False Creek, past a host of expensive marinas and finally under the Cambie St. Bridge.  The final bridge only has roughly a 40 foot clearance so even a moderate sized sailboat can’t get in here.  When I go out in the dinghy this afternoon I’ll get some pictures, for now you’ll have to make do with the one stolen from Google Earth.

Meanwhile …………. back at the ranch ……………. Marilyn had been on the web looking for other flight options and eventually booked herself into Vancouver tonight.  Its still storming in Regina but it sounds like it is blowing itself out and most importantly, all of Westjet’s flights so far today have been on schedule.  So maybe we’ll go through a rerun of Thursday night or maybe she will arrive late tonight. 

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The owl & the pussycat

The owl and the pussycat put to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat ….

I dunno the rest of it – I’m sure Mr. Google does but I frankly don’t care that much.  This morning me and the idiot cat slipped the lines in Cow Bay about mid-morning and then wound our way through the fleet until we got to Cape Keppel, from where it was pretty clear sailing.  But up until that point ………..  OH BOY. 

According to Blurry Currie, one of our dockmates, both the gillnet fleet and the purse seiner fleet are in town.  I’m not sure what a gillnetter looks like but I’m pretty sure he’s right on the purse seiners.  Whatever the story, there’s a serious lot of fishing boats in the bay.  Its a wonder any salmon – or any other fish for that matter – survives the onslaught. 

Something miraculous happened this morning.  As I was entering Swartz Bay from the west I heard the Queen of Cumberland (BC Ferry) calling traffic to say she was approaching Swartz Bay.  I could see her off to the north and I thought our paths would be close – she was still a long way off but they travel 2 or 3 times as fast as we do.  I have never seen any of them yield to another vessel so I was keeping a close eye on her until she disappeared behind some islands to the north of the ferry terminal.  About the time I was in the middle of the bay, right in front of the terminal she reappeared coming through Gosse Channel.  I was clearly the stand on vessel both by virtue of being on her starboard quarter and because she was actually overtaking me by the time she got through the channel.  Nevertheless I fully expected her to cut my path.  The right thing to do if you are stand on is always to do just that – stand on.  If you are the stand on vessel and you start altering course or speed then it just adds confusion to the situation so I stood on but kept a close eye on the ferry.  And wonder of wonders all of a sudden I saw her bow wake drop.  In that circumstance I thought the only polite thing to do was push the throttles up so I did that and crossed her bow at a blistering 9.12 knots.  My hand was already on the throttles because I fully expected to have to do an emergency stop when she cut across in front of me.

That last picture is what some moron thinks makes an adequate float, likely for a crab trap.  Its an empty laundry detergent jug, purple so it blends in nicely with the ocean.  I’m not sure what the regs are for float colours but I know you can’t leave a trap down for weeks on end without checking it.  Judging by the marine growth on these floats they’ve been out for a long time.  They’ll do a real number if you happen to tangle a prop shaft.  One prop is bad enough but apparently what often happens is they get caught on one shaft and thrown around the other.  That way instead of just having a line wrapped the two shafts pull themselves together, get bent and bugger up your cutlass bearings, among other things.  Assholes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Big big boats


For the past couple of days these guys have been pulling in.  They’re purse seiners and apparently there is a salmon season about to open here for them.  Tonight the are rafted 5 deep off the end of the government dock behind me.  I hope the wind doesn’t get up from the west because there’s no way in hell that finger was ever designed for that much load.  These are REALLY big boats.  It won’t hurt my feelings if I manage to leave before they do because there’s liable to be some degree of confusion if they all leave at once and there’s not much clearance between my new dinghy and the boats lined up behind me.

Drilling holes in my new dinghy

What kind of a fool would drill three holes in the bottom of a perfectly good (dry) dinghy?  This one would. 

My big project since I got back to the boat has been first to buy a new dinghy and then to get it hanging securely on the davits on the back of Gray Hawk.  The first priority was to raise the davits.  I could likely have left them where they were but we would have run the risk that a big following sea could swamp the dinghy.  That would have been really messy.  My other goal with raising the dinghy was to get ready for the eventual installation of solar panels.  Today that whole plan finally came to a finish.

My new aluminum dinghy is light – that’s a good thing.  But in order to be light its built pretty light – that’s not such a good thing.  I had a very difficult time figuring out where I could attach to in order to safely lift it.  The transom is the obvious place to attach at the stern but the bow was more challenging.  Initially I thought I could just attach to the back of the bow towing eye and that is in fact what I did.  However when I did a trial lift it was obvious that lifting from the extreme ends of the boat wasn’t a good idea because my davits are not at the extreme edges of Gray Hawk. 

I couldn’t conveniently move the rear attachment point so I had to figure out some way to move the bow attachment.  I ended up drilling some holes at the bottom of the stem cap, putting a reinforcing plate on the outside and attaching a lift hook in the bottom of the inside, right where the bow turns up.  I goobered everything up with blue RTV and it appears to be water tight – time will tell.  Next weekend we’re taking the boat to the inner harbour in Victoria so that will be a good shakedown for the new dinghy mount. 

I’m still doing battle with the outboard but I think it is coming around.  Varnish is the enemy of all gas engines that sit for any length of time – its a big part of why I like diesels.  I’m hoping that is all I am dealing with on this one.  Yesterday I put injector cleaner in the tank and got it running long enough to ingest the cleaner.  Today it started easier and initially let fly a great cloud of smoke.  I think it ran better today but it still won’t idle.  I’ll give it a few more days of the cleaning treatment but if that doesn’t work that will be about the limit of my troubleshooting abilities so I’ll have to find a local small engine guru. 

And now for something completely different

This guy lives a few slips away from us.  He exercises on the dock using three sticks.  He kind of bats the third stick with a stick in each hand and does all sorts of tricks with it. 




I told him all he needs is a tame monkey with a begging cup and he’d be right at home in the Inner Harbour in Victoria.  Come to think of it, Barry lives right across the dock from him so the tame monkey thing is handled too.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Those moderate Mohammedins

They’re at it again.  Or still.  Lord knows what all else goes on that we never hear about.

Parental “love” gone awry

Its all good though – note that this behaviour is now a criminal offence.  If they’d done it as recently as last February one has to assume that it wouldn’t even have been punishable.

Lord knows what all else goes on that we never hear about.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The wet coast doesn’t look so bad now

This morning I’ve been taking a tour of the Sandy devastation courtesy of Mr. Google.  Here’s a few post-Sandy photos shamelessly stolen from the web.

beached tanker

boats piled up at East Quogue marina




So a little rain, a lot of rain, the occasional earthquake, a couple of tsunami scares – its all good compared to dealing with annual hurrycanes.  And some years they even get more than one in a year.

That last one has a Baylurker-type underwater profile by the way.  We absolutely would not sit upright like that.