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Barkley Soundings -Chapter 1-

Freya's Adventures, with B&B

July 7, 2011 – Day 2 of Wending to the West Coast

1540h. We are anchored in Pedder Bay, on the south side of William Head (home of the so-called Club Fed prison), and otherwise surrounded by DND property. No going ashore here. Around the corner is Race Passage, where the currents can get rather raucous, and sea lions are often lounging on the rocks. We parked ourselves last night just after 2030h. Yep, a late arrival, but in time for a combined happy hour and nacho supper . Since we didn't leave until 1600h, and had to battle strong, gusty head winds (and a little current), we didn't do too badly. Besides, any earlier and we might have missed the whale that was spouting off in the distance. The day was remarkably clear on our side of the strait, with the sun highlighting snowy mountains in sharp detail (like Mt Baker seen behind Victoria in this photo). Across the way, the peaks of the Olympic mountain range appeared suspended on a fluffy white bed, a fog bank extending all along the American coast. Happily it caused us no grief, although it did nip at our heels, enveloping the Race Rocks lighthouse as we headed into Pedder Bay.

Today's forecast called for more wind, up to 40kts against us in the afternoon. We could have made it to Sooke this morning before the winds got too snotty but opted instead for a more leisurely day swinging on the hook. We are anchored near a long pier; although it is fairly unattractive, the local water fowl, with bright orange-red legs, hang out on the tires draped over the side, improving the look of the dock considerably. Otherwise, the scenery mainly consists of rocks, trees, water, and clouds racing by in the gusts of wind. We read our novels for a while in the sun, out of the wind, and then be-stirred ourselves to tackle a few chores. Yesterday's sail revealed a big rip in the bag that keeps the mainsheet contained. It lasted amazingly well, but eventually the sun takes its toll. We also discovered that the sun had decimated the plastic zipper in our stay-sail cover. Bjarne took on the mainsheet bag and I am working on the sail bag – you could say the afternoon was sew-sew.

1704h. We've retired below as the sun is no longer shining in the cockpit. Seems to me it's time to ring the happy hour bell. That should warm us up.

1955h. Nice stew, prepared by BJ, and a bit of wine make for a yummy dinner. Tomorrow morning we leave for our big leap (about 80 miles) to the Broken Islands.

Other entertainment – a funny radio show, This and That on CBC in which we heard that Molson was trademarking the Northern Lights to be the Molson Canadian Northern Lights. We we were pretty sure this was tongue in cheek. Other excitement: tonight is movie night...and popcorn.

July 8-9 – From Pedder Bay to Effingham Island (Barkley Sound)

0940h had us (meaning Bjarne) hauling up the anchor and heading out of Pedder Bay with some sunshine and a partly overcast sky to the west. It wasn't long before BJ spotted a whale which he described in the log as follows: black, low spout, with a small dorsal fin, which sounded with its flukes up about 2ft above the water. I just glimpsed it once with its dorsal fin curving up and then down.

Getting by Race Rocks was otherwise uneventful. The current was a little against us but not for long. Although we were close hauled, the wind allowed us to sail right through Race Passage on one tack. We then proceeded to tack up the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with decent, albeit against us, winds for the better part of the day. The sun frequently provided cheer and warmth in the otherwise chilly air, the waxing half moon glowed in the blue sky at times covered in clouds, and the waves and swell were small. The vagaries of the wind did result in numerous sail changes (we got a particularly good refresher in reefing and unreefing ), but all in all, the sailing was fine.

By 1830h the wind was becoming even more finicky so we began alternating between motoring and sailing as the conditions would allow. Finally, 2200h the engine came on and stayed on until we reached Effingham I. just before 0700h the next morning. The upside of having to endure the constant drone of the engine is that we can maintain a direct course for our destination, which allowed for an earlier than expected arrival. There is something to be said for a calm night as well.

The night never became pitch dark. At this time of year and latitude, the light lingers well past sunset. The moon also provided a gentle light until it settled into the waters of the strait, large and orange as it bid farewell. We then had a lovely display of stars. I think I saw one shooting star out of the corner of my eye, but otherwise the stars held to their predicted paths. Other lights included the much appreciated and well-maintained Canadian navigation aids, and a few ships that were travelling up or down the strait. The night sounds included a whistle buoy, and a whale spouting (as heard by Bjarne). The outline of the hills on our starboard side could be discerned throughout the night and by around 0400h there was a definite lightening behind the hills. Bjarne greeted the sun around 0525, while I dozed below.

There is no getting around the fact that a night passage, especially the first night, is tiring. Once we were securely anchored in Effingham Bay (in a spot north of where we were the last time we were here) I didn't want to do much of anything. However, Bjarne was inspired to make muffins for breakfast so I helped. The need to keep on top of the fresh provisions is ever present – well, until you run out of fresh provisions; we chopped the last of the strawberries, leaving out the fuzzy one, into the muffins. We then read for a bit and napped for a couple of hours, before lunch. Add in a cup of tea and I began to feel mostly back to normal, with enough energy to help inflate the dinghy and go for a tour around the bay. The latter part was not so difficult since we used the electric outboard (yet to be named although Stealth is becoming a frontrunner).

Around happy hour, just when I was thinking about ringing the bell, Antares with Jim and Carol aboard arrived from their mini-off-shore expedition. They were still settling in when BJ suggested we pop over for a quick hello. We were invited aboard to join in their celebratory drink and hear about the exciting and frightening details of Jim's close encounter with the freighter. Nyon soon arrived in the anchorage, also triumphantly back from the off-shore test.

Concerned about overstaying our welcome, we headed back to Freya with the understanding that we would all get to together that evening if the off-shore folks had enough energy. At the time, Jim and Carol were game but once the adrenaline settled down they, not surprisingly, crashed. Rick and Kyra thought were still feeling perky so we arrived on their vessel help them celebrate, and to hear the exciting details of their close encounters with whales. The visit got off to an unusual start when I accidentally sat on the chocolate-covered dessert we had brought. Kyra lent me some pants; the dessert was fortunately salvageable, but renamed as Chocolate-Pants Pie.

July 10, 2011 – Smoke on the Water

There is a limitless supply of boat chores – a lucky person gets to do them in beautiful locations. Effingham Bay is home to many Bald Eagles and we were entertained today with their soaring sorties. Several times we heard a sharp “crack” in the forest, followed shortly by the sight of an eagle beating strongly to gain altitude while clenching a stick in its claws. These weren't tiny twigs either; one stout branch was a meter long and looked as thick as a dinghy oar. Nest-building supplies, we guessed. (note: this photo does not show the stick the eagle was carrying)

Freya's head is well illuminated (in the daytime) by a glass prism embedded in the deck that concentrates sunlight and beams it in. This fixture has had a slow leak for a few months, and now was the time to fix it. We unscrewed the frame, cleaned it and the prism, and reseated it with that old friend, 3M 4200. Barb commented that a hull without any holes in it would never leak, but that that would of course be like a house without any doors or windows.

Every boat owner is also a seamstress, even if only occasionally. Today's stitches in time reattached the alligator clip to a ball cap. Why a clip on a ballcap? To keep it attached to oneself when the wind whips the cap off one's head. A second sewing project continued, but not finished, was that new bag for the mainsheet mentioned earlier.

So, what about that puff of smelly smoke wafting slowly past Freya? And how did it get there? It was the byproduct of momentary carelessness, and consisted of vaporized insulation from the wires I had used to connect our solar panel (Sparky) to one of Stealth's batteries. I was taking advantage of the sun to charge the battery, and noticed that Sparky was no longer aimed well. Whilst shifting Sparky, the alligator clips that had temporarily connected to the battery shorted to each other. This dumped a LOT of current through the wires from the battery and heated them enough that the insulation boiled off into a noxious cloud. Barb was brought on deck by the thump of me dropping Sparky onto the deck so I could swat the wires away from the battery terminals before it started a bigger fire. I decided that the next charging session would include better terminals and a fuse.

July 11, 2011 – Slowing Down

Much rum has been consumed, and pizza eaten. We spent a wonderful day in the company of fellow sailors from Nyon and Antares. Following the morning chores we zipped (silently, with Stealth) off to pick up Kyra and Rick on Nyon and then accompanied Jim and Carol (Antares) to the head of the bay on Effingham I. Leaving the dinghies secured to shore, we meandered through a forest trail past immense trees, over arching roots, and balancing on windfallen logs. Thirty minutes of trekking brought us to the southwestern rocky shore with a gorgeous view over flat waters. While we were seated on a beach blanket enjoyed our picnic lunches, a humpback whale entertained us with its periodic surfacing, blowing, and sounding. Several times it breached, which we were fortunate enough to witness and even catch on camera.

This portion of the island's attraction is a cave, reached via a 45 minute barefooted scramble over boulders, logs, and shell midden. We could have moved faster, but were distracted by the tidepools' bounty: barnacles, crabs, anemones and seastars. The cave's opening is at ocean level and best accessed at low tide. The wide mouth is curtained by overhanging verdant ferns and gradually narrows into a damp stone funnel with water dripping from the ceiling onto a driftwood-strewn floor. With a flashlight lighting the way we explored inward about 25 metres until further passage would have required squirming on hands and knees past a chokepoint.

Back at our motherships, we set about cleaning up, doing a few chores, and getting dinner ready. The solar shower bag left in the sun all afternoon had warmed up to a dirt-busting 20 C, so we boiled some additional water in a kettle and added it to the bag. While Barb grabbed the first shower I donned a bathing suit and plunged into Effingham Bay to replace Freya's propshaft zinc. With a mask/snorkel I quickly screwed on the new anode, which should protect the propeller from wasting away in the saltwater environment. Job finished, and feeling guilty at missing so many swim practices, I had a quick swim around the boat. Barb had by then finished her shower so I took my turn in the cockpit – the shower was exquisitely warm in contrast to the cool ocean.

Our guests from Nyon and Antares started arriving for dinner as we were hanging the towels out to dry. Our contribution to the potluck was pizza, while Jim & Carol brought a Greek salad and Rick & Kyra bore a clafoutis (yummy baked eggs and fruit). Seated in Freya's cockpit until the sun set, and then retreating to the warmth below, we all enjoyed a grand evening of dinner, drinks and talk.

July 12, 2011 – New Scenery

Today was a day to see new things. While eating breakfast we spotted the large police cruiser NADON motoring through the anchorage. They bypassed the Canadian boats but were overheard hailing the USA-flagged yachts; we assume they were confirming proper customs checkin and that they weren't smuggling too much alcohol into Canada.

HBird Mk IIIHummingbirds are now regularly visiting our Hbird Feeder® Mk III. It's not perfect, but seems to work; we took a yoghurt container, drilled a small hole in the side, and then fashioned a red flower from BabyBel cheese wax. Another boater, who has been visiting Barkley Sound for the past 33 years, told us that the hummingbirds migrate through here over a two week period in July.

We wanted today to go check out a new anchorage. After weighing anchor, we motored out Coaster Channel and raised our sails to head into the open Pacific. As a bonus to add to the nice breezy day, a couple of humpback whales were feeding near Verbeke Reef and we watched them for about ten minutes as we headed west. Here's a photo (taken at Effingham I) of one surfacing with mouth wide open, scooping up all the yummies swimming in hundreds of litres of seawater. Half an hour out we tacked and then headed back into the Broken Group via Loudoun Channel and then Peacock Channel. It was downwind in about 8 knots - great sail for most of the way with the Red Baron up (after debating if it was worth the work – yes, it was).

We arrived at Nettle I. in time for Happy Hour aboard Nyon, and with the company of Antares. Drinks and appies led into supper – yummy pasta. As darkness fell Kyra instigated tequila shooters. Barb skipped that activity but did have some extra rum so as to not be a complete stick in the mud. We were both trying to be moderate in our drinking and it seemed Jim and Carol were as well, so our engagement in this activity was not up to university-days standards. Despite being fairly well-behaved we still managed to enjoy ourselves – who knew? On the way back to Freya we observed some interesting phosphorescence in the water. They were little individual dots, maybe one per 10 or 20 square feet, that were lit bright green and stayed lit without the agitation that usually is needed to get the phosphorescence going.

July 13 – Soggy Times Start

July 13 – For our first night at Nettle, I don't think we were back on Freya and in bed until around midnight. There was lots of rain all through the night – didn't think to put out any rain catchers – nice cozy sound when the rain stays outside of the boat (which it did). The morning of the 13th was rainy and misty. We had a break in the afternoon, although it remained overcast, and then the mist and rain returned for the evening. Even in the rain, the West Coast is pretty.

Barb made cocoa quickies and later, brownies (the base was from the brownie mix that we had purchased from Pip for her school fundraiser and the icing was based on the Texas brownie recipe – or what I could recall of it). The latter was well-received later that night at yet another evening of socializing, drinking and eating.

BJ, in between reading his novel, gave a much-needed scrub to our cockpit and cockpit grate.

In the afternoon we toured around in the dinghy – saw maybe a baby seal (the head was small enough to be an otter, but shaped like a seal's). Took some photos of an eagle who was perched atop a tree and spreading out its wings before it took off to a tree further away. We checked out the other suggested anchorages for Nettle I. which were pretty and cozier than the one we three were in. We may park ourselves in that anchorage yet as we still have a good chunk of time to hang out here.

Dinner was a bit delayed because Jim had an exploding boat job on his hands. He managed to get his head reassembled and working and so we were all welcomed aboard Antares for a great curry dinner. Our brownies also took longer to cook than was predicted. We've never measured the temperature of this stove, but suspect the thermostat keeps it a bit cooler than it says. We were entertained, aside from our scintillating conversation, by a wide variety of music, provided by Jim and his iPod. Oh, I almost forgot the oysters. Carol had harvested a good collection of them earlier that day (there are apparently lots growing here, which we attributed to the relatively warm 16-18 degree water). Before dinner, everyone except Bjarne and I was gleefully engaged in shucking and slurping, some choosing lemon juice for accent, some tabasco sauce. We enjoyed it as a spectator sport. Bjarne did eat a small piece that was flung onto his pants.

We stayed reasonable dry as we motored back after another late night because it is quite easy to stand and steer with Stealth. Even better, we arrived home to a warm cozy boat; the furnace had been working its magic while we were out carousing. Ahhh, luxury.

July 14 – Soggy Times Continue

Back at Freya we wimpily decided to turn on the furnace for a couple of hours before bed to take the dampness out of the air. Bjarne is absorbed in his book and I have been trying to catch up on the log, but now the eyelids are getting heavy so it is time for bed.

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