Monday, February 23, 2015

Riding that restless tide

On Saturday we dawdled around Port Neville until noon.  I had a client phone call that didn’t happen until well after noon and by the time I was done that we thought we had missed the tide turn.  The current was already running in pretty hard past the dock at Port Neville as the bay started to refill so we scurried around getting untied and away from the dock.  As it turned out, once we got out in Johnstone Strait, the tide tables were correct.  The actual turn didn’t happen until sometime around 2:00 – I’m still not sure why (or how) Port Neville starts to fill 2 hours before the turn but clearly it does. 

That’s just one of the many mysteries around the tides.  There’s whole books published annually to help decypher when the tides are going to happen.  I didn’t bother buying one of them this year because they’re all based on computer generated harmonics and those files are freely available online.  There’s a pretty good set built right into our charting software so that’s what I rely on most of the time.  As I’ve written before, my big concern now is getting the maximum advantage from the currents and dealing with the perilous bits by observation once we get to them.

We had a brief generator incident early Saturday morning but it turned out to be relatively benign.  The mighty Onan has a self protection circuit that runs through two high temperature sensors – one on the engine cooling loop and the other on the exhaust water injection mixer.  The latter sensor gave me some trouble last year and I “fixed” it by soldering an electrical tab back onto the sensor post.  That fix let go on Saturday but fortunately in the interim I had picked up several of those temperature sensors so I just chucked the defective one and replaced it with a new one. 

We ran slow for a while waiting for the tide to turn and when it did we spent most of the day dodging floating lumber.  The high tides have floated an incredible amount of crap loose off the shoreline.  Sometimes it looks like a solid wall of floating junk in the water.  Somewhere in the middle of all that we also had an Orca encounter.  We spent about half an hour drifting while we watched a pod of Orcas feeding around us.  Then we powered up again and blasted by Blind Channel Resort somewhere north of 11 knots. 

By that time it was getting pretty late so we had to decide whether to overnight at Shoal Bay or push on to Big Bay.  If we went to Big Bay we were still going to be about 2 hours ahead of slack at Dent but we elected to do that anyway.  The current timing combined with relatively short days makes trip planning particularly tricky right now.  If we had waited we probably would have had to run against Dent in the morning or run it in the dark yesterday so we picked the least worst alternative and ran it while we still had a bit of light.  And it wasn’t that big a deal.


We’re all alone on the dock with that view out our front window.  Meanwhile back home its multi-degrees below bloody zero.

I’m increasingly convinced that Bruce is right about timid left coast boaters and wimpy-ass tidal rapids.  What we went through at Dent would have been a little more perilous if we’d had company but they’re pretty wide passes so there certainly was room for more than one boat.  As it was we had the whole waterway to ourselves so when we got bossed around it didn’t much matter.  I did power up at one point just to keep control of things.  Its counterintuitive when you’re getting tossed around and already running 5 knots faster than “normal” to push the throttles ahead but that’s exactly what you need to do.  Without the prop thrust pushing against the rudders they aren’t going to do anything useful so you just have to put some power on and run a little faster.  At that point the extra power doesn’t make any significant difference in your speed anyway.  And it wasn’t like I pushed them to the pin – we maybe ran at 1600 RPM instead of our normal 12 or 1300 – redline is 2300 so we weren’t anywhere near that. 


There’s a pretty high end resort to the south of us.  Somebody has been woodpeckering away at the rock face with a jackhammer on an excavator but other than that its pretty quiet.

When we got to the dock at Big Bay there was still a pretty contrary current running.  We wanted to port tie because we normally starboard tie which means that the starboard side gets cleaned occasionally and the port side mostly looks like hell.  We were port tied at Port Neville and I used that time to get most of the grunge cleaned up but I’d like to finish the job.  The current wanted to jam us up against the pier to starboard but we prevailed and eventually my deckhand got ashore and tied the port side springline.  Once that happens its just a matter of time – somedays it takes a few minutes to move the boat to the exact spot we want it but with it tethered it eventually has to respond.


This kid has about the best job in the world.  He showed up this afternoon with the mail, had a little nap on the dock and then was off to pick up some lumberjacks at a nearby camp.

No comments: