Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just beside ourselves with excitement

Saturday is the big day.  Weather permitting of course, Saturday marks the start of our Alaska adventure.  We’ll go first to False Creek in Vancouver to spend some time with Grace and Al but we won’t be coming back to Cowichan Bay until we’ve got some Alaskan time in our logbook.

Today we left $701 plus some miscellaneous cents at Costco.  That was about 1/2 meat with the balance being staples to provision for the trip.  On the way to Costco we picked up a batch of port from Valley Vines & Wines and put on a couple of batches of Merlot to be ready for our return to the prairies.  Last winter Marilyn tried making some wine at a wine shop in Regina.  It turned out to be absolutely awful rotgut.  Pat & Peter at Mill Bay, on the other hand, have never let us down.  Their chocolate orange port recipe which we picked up this morning is absolutely to die for.  And the Stag Leap merlot that has become our standby is pretty damn good too.  They age it for 6 months in an oak barrel before we pick it up so it takes about 7 months to make but its worth the wait.

Now we’re busy trying to stuff everything into the nooks and crannies onboard.  We normally use the v-berth as a store room so preparing for guests means we have to find some other place for the various sewing machines (3, count ‘em, three damn sewing machines we carry now), wine, port, guitar, etc, etc, etc that normally take up space in the v-berth. 

Yesterday I finally got done all my pre-departure maintenance and upgrade projects.  The final big upgrade was to put a surge tank in the seawater pressure system.  We use seawater for our anchor wash.  The “system” that came with the boat was an absolute joke involving a 110 volt motor and pump that had to be cobbled into the water lines every time you wanted to use it.  It flat out didn’t work but my initial upgrade wasn’t a whole lot better.  I put in an RV pressure pump but it wasn’t happy about not having a surge tank.  When we were washing the anchor down it would pump very slightly faster than the lines could handle so it was constantly cycling off and on. 

We need to get our mail forwarded from Regina but we’re waiting for a final couple of items to arrive in Regina.  I bought a Garmin GPS antenna that matches the one that currently drives the new chartplotter.  I thought having two identical antennas would give a level of redundancy but more importantly, once I got the Garmin antenna running I realized how erratic the little GPS puck that we had been using really was.  The Garmin antenna is coming from Florida.  I’ve been tracking it every day and it looks like it will arrive in Regina tomorrow. 

This morning the cheque that I wrote to Covich Williamsa in Seattle close to two weeks ago finally cleared our account at home.  They had a cash discount for the fuel which they initially told us would apply to debit card payments.  When I went in to pay they were really eager to take my cheque.  I was reluctant but they were almost insistent.  After we left the dock I phoned our Credit Union manager and asked him what he thought would happen.  We used to be able to write cheques in the US but I seemed to remember a letter from the Credit Union telling us not to do that any more.  Sure enough, Kevin didn’t think the cheque would clear but he said it would be fun to see what happened.  Easy for him to say!  Apparently they will still clear but it sure took long enough. I think I probably won’t try that again.

As always, all our plans are weather dependant. 



Both the GRIB files and BuoyWeather show a great big low in the Gulf of Alaska by Saturday.  BuoyWeather shows a second, larger low chasing the first one in while the GRIBs show the second low further south by Saturday.  Either way, I think Saturday is likely to be our last chance to get across the Strait for a few days.  Its windy today – I’m glad we’re tied to the dock right now, but there’s a lot of wind in front of both of those lows as they come in.  You can see the really closely spaced pressure lines to the east of the closest low – that’s where the strong winds are.  Saturday is still 3 days out but the forecasts for 3 days are not bad.  They’re better for 2 days which is why I’ll be looking hard again tomorrow and again on Friday but I’ve got enough information now to say that we don’t want to plan to wait until Sunday.  I’d prefer to leave Friday but we can’t get all our packing done by then and the currents are no good for a Friday departure.

The second big constraint on a Strait crossing is the currents in the passes on the west side of Georgia Strait.  The timing for slack really sucks for us right now.  There’s a slack early in the morning and then the other one of course is 6 hours later.  I’m not sure we can make the early slack because we’d have to leave while its still too dark to travel.  Every day that we can wait pushes those times back roughly half an hour so that’s a reason to wait until Saturday.  If we wait for the second slack then we don’t get across the Strait until close to dark plus the wind is more likely to get up in the afternoon which can make a Strait crossing really miserable.  Sunday would be even better for the currents in the passes but, as the images above show, much more risky for weather.

1 comment:

Reluctant Cowboy said...

I am so happy that the journey is about to begin for you two and guests.

Hope you have a smooth safe trip with lots of pictures :)