Thursday, July 24, 2003

Nanaimo - The day trip from hell

The title of this chapter was supposed to be Pender Harbor, but that doesn't seem likely to happen. The title should be more like, "Why the fuck would anyone own a boat?"
The day started innocently enough. We got up at 4am to start Crossing the Georgia straights before the wind kicked up and also to hit Portier pass just after slack. The water at 4am was still as glass as we pulled up anchor.

An hour later, their was still no wind as we headed east through Portier pass into the Georgia Straights. Then things got interesting. Even though we were only a half hour past slack, the entrance waves kicked up to 4-5 feet. It was just like running a rapid on the grand canyon, except that we had a 13 ton sailboat instead of a raft. Just as we rounded the corner a big tug towing an apartment building bucket of woodchips started entering the channel towards us. The barge was swinging all over the place. I had the charts in one hand, the wheel in another as I tried to figure out which way the barge was going to go. I ended sneaking just pass him and a big pile rocks. A damn fine way to start the day. As an added bonus, the wind had already kicked up and was blowing right on our nose. The current was running north against the wind, so the waves stacked up nice and steep, just the right size to crash over the deck. Our speed was only about 4 kts. At this rate we would be crashing through this crap for 8 hours. This did not actually seem like a lot of fun, so we decided to duck back into the Gulf Islands and try to cross further North so that we could actually sail instead of motor into the waves. So we headed west back into the Gulf Islands looking for a tiny little pass to sneak our boat through. This pass was really a bitch to find, so I slowed the motor down to cruise up on it slowly. After I spotted the pass I increased the throttle and I heard a really discouraging thunk from the transmission and then a complete loss of power. "Oh Shit," I thought. I had visions of a dead transmission, Lost Prop. God knows what. THe first order of business was to get some sail up so that we could get away from the reefs that ringed the pass. This took a couple of minutes while we drifted rapidly to shore. Finally I got the jib unfurled and started tacking out of the channel. After we were well clear of the channel we heaved the boat to and I started looking around for the problem. By this time I had cut the power to the engine, so I headed down to the engine compartment for some investigation. I checked the tranny oil and the engine oil for levels, water, etc. Nuthin' wrong there. So we started the motor up and I had Kathy put her back in gear while I looked at the prop shaft. All looked okay there. All the while it is still blowing like stink and the waves are a nice 5-6 ft high. Next, I hung off the stern of the boat and looked down at the prop to make sure that it was there. Still there. We put her in gear, the prop turned. At that point I realized that the transmission had probably just jumped out of gear and that everything was probably just fine. So we went ahead and put her in gear and applied more throttle ... ye hah everything is happy and working! We managed to kill a good hour, but at least the boat seemed okay. After that we headed back into the pass, into the relative safety of the gulf islands. Here the wind was only blowing about 8 kits (vs 20+ in the Georgia Straights).
We then had a leisurely sail to Dodd narrows and managed to make it right at slack. From there is was only about another hour to Newcastle harbor, just outside of Nanamio. Of course the adventure didn't start there. As we started dropping the anchor, the chain jammed in the chain locker. I had to go below a couple of times and unbind it. It seems that pounding the bow into the waves, turned all of my Anchor rode into a giant tangled wad. Fun! Meanwhile, as I was clearing the chain, a power boat drops her anchor right off my stern. So we can't anchor here anyway. Assholes! Finally we pick a spot on the outside of the anchorage in about 40 feet of water. I then go to hit the kill switch ... the motor doesn't stop! So I ended up pulling the engine cover off and put a large plastic lid over the air intake. Jeez what a day.

Newcastlle Bay - A Innocent Looking Anchorage

Now one of the reasons that we picked this anchorage was because there is a really cool pub, The Dinghy Dock Pub, that will pick you up from you boat if you ask them. Now that sounded to good to pass up, so after an hour of watching the anchor and making sure that everything was secure from our trip, we headed over to the Pub for dinner andseveralrum and cokes

Update - 5/12/2010
As I was porting these old logs over I realized that I never finished this post. In a nutshell, that night the wind piped up hard and we ended up dragging. So we had to dork around and reset the anchor after being completely blottoed. Of course this was made even more difficult because of all of the boats in the harbor. We ended up anchoring near the pub and actually had great holding, but where too freaked out to sleep. Looking back, we did all kinds of things wrong that day, one of them being anchoring in this harbor. It is even more crowded today. Avoid it during windy conditions.

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