Friday, August 3, 2012

Blaine to Comox Summer Vacation 2012 - Days 11 - 15

Day 11 – 7-29-12 – Sunday – Comox to Newcastle Island
We left Comox at 6 a.m., and had absolutely glassy seas all the way to Nanaimo! Our first stop was the fuel dock at Nanaimo Marina for gas and ice, and then over to Newcastle Island. We took 51.8 gallons, which added to the 30.5 used since Blaine, means we have used 82.3 gallons so far.

About 60 Ranger Tugs of all sizes (25, 27, 29 and 31) were coming into Nanaimo and I heard Jeff Messmer and Andrew Custis of Ranger Tugs, so I gave a call, and let them know we would like to come over to say hello. Jan and Stacy (Stacy flew into Comox Friday to join Jan) and Patty and I each loaded into our dinghies and motored across and tied up to Willie's Tug, owned by our friends Herb and Willie Stark of Port Isabel, Texas, who have been based in Anacortes for the past four months. It was an incredible sight to see all those tugs, representing 10s of millions of dollars!

After we returned to Newcastle Island, we had drinks and appetizers on the dock followed by flank steak and grilled peppers. Our new friend Marv Glover, was still there, and he came over to our boats and we chatted a bit, then finished a very pleasant evening with a nightcap and converation on the dock with Jan and Stacy.

NM 175.3 / 82.3 gallons = 2.1 NM / gallon (2.4 statute miles per gallon)

Day 12 – 7 -30-12 – Monday – Newcastle Island to Maple Bay

After showers and breakfast, we headed out at about 7:45 a.m. to catch slack tide through Dodd Narrows, which is just south of Nanaimo, and really the only way back south, unless you want to run outside in the Strait of Georgia. We caught Dodd Narrows just before slack, and the current was actually pushing us through. Had we waited until much after slack, we would have been fighting the current, which at its height would be an 8.3 knot current against us. A 9 knot boat would just be making headway at less than 1 knot, and slower boats would actually be going backwards! Even with our 20 knot C-Dorys, it would not be comfortable for us, even though we could power through it. Knowing something about the currents is very useful in a place like Dodd Narrows!

Patty and Baxter at "Dog Head"
at Maple Bay Marina
We were originally going to meet Garry and Vicki on Amy Marie at Cowichan Bay, but they were uncertain of fitting three boats in together, so they called for reservations at Maple Bay Marina. It took us just over two hours to reach Maple Bay Marina, and get settled into our assigned slips. This is the most expensive place we have stayed so far, and the docks are in a bit of disrepair. But the dock boy was there to catch our lines, guide us in and get us tied up, and provide the extension cords and adapters we needed to connect to shore power, so it is all good I guess.

Shortly after we arrived, the Seattle Yacht Club flotilla began to arrive in mega-yachts! They have pretty much filled up the Marina, and we felt a bit like the poor relations! But, as we say, the gin tastes just as good on a C-Dory 25 as it does on a 75 foot mega-yacht! And our fuel stops are in the hundreds of dollars while theirs are in the thousands or even 10s of thousands!

We had a nice dinner in the Maple Bay Marina Pub, and retired to our boats – the Seattle Yacht Club folks were having a grand evening, talking, laughing and singing until the wee hours. We got a good night's sleep nonetheless.

One distinctive feature of Maple Bay Marina is all kinds of old boat engines painted red and white all over the grounds - very nice touch really!

NM 201.7

Day 13 – 7-31-12 – Tuesday – Maple Bay to Tod Inlet (Butchart Gardens)

C-Change at Tod Inlet
Amy Marie at Tod Inlet 
We had a leisurely breakfast on-board and then departed Maple Bay Marina at 10 a.m. - the water was glassy, and we cruised comfortably to Tod Inlet, where we anchored up. Tod Inlet was an unexpected jewel as well – a protected anchorage with room for quite a few boats, and an undeveloped shoreline where we could land Baxter. 

Main Building at Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens 
After lunch, we all headed to the Butchart Gardens Cove dinghy dock and spent the afternoon enjoying what must be the premier formal gardens in the Northwest. This is best shown in pictures rather than trying to describe it!

Cosmos and Petunias

Water Lily 
After supper we decided to go back to Butchart Gardens for a ballet performance in their performance venue – big mistake! It started at 8 p.m. and was still going on when we decided to leave at 10 p.m. Jan fell asleep and the rest of us were wondering when the pain would was a mishmash of classical and jazz and it mostly seemed pointless. But maybe that is just me. We walked a bit more around the gardens which are lit up at night and give a different view.

NM 217.4

Day 14 – 8-1-12 – Wednesday – Butchart Gardens Cove to Matia Cove

A bit of a change in plans, as we had intended to spend the night at Sidney Spit. Garry and Vicki decided to clear customs at Roche Harbor early and then head for Sucia so they could get an early start to Blaine to retrieve, as they need to be in Oregon on Friday for their granddaughter Gracie's 4th birthday. That is a whole other story, as Gracie is one of the bravest little girls alive, having fought off flesh eating bacteria and coming through some major surgery with just an “Angel Kiss” (her barely perceptible scar).

So we had lunch at Sidney Spit and said our goodbyes to Jan and Stacy, and then headed to Roche Harbor after lunch. Jan and Stacy are headed to Victoria before they go back to Seattle. We suggested to Garry and Vicki that they might want to go to Matia Cove rather than Sucia, and so they did, and we joined them in time for drinks and dinner. They had anchored up, and we anchored a short distance in front of them and then let out enough rode to raft up. Then after dinner, we separated and pulled in our rode. This is a technique we learned from our friends Bill and El on Halcyon.

Matia Cove is truly an undiscovered jewel. It is not named on any chart, or written up in any cruising guide – I wrote the Active Captain review, and we are actually glad that it remains substantially overlooked as an anchorage.

The moon rising over Lummi Island viewed from Matia Cove tonight was simply spectacular!

NM 258.9

Day 15 – 8-2-12 – Thursday – Matia Cove to Blaine

We left Matia Cove early, and immediately hit some heavy water right outside the cove, limiting us to about six knots, and for the first time in a long time, I got seasick. I think the last time was in Mexico in 1984 on a tour boat. The water shortly improved and we ran back most of the way at 12 – 14 knots.

But about 6 miles out of Blaine, the engine alarm came on, so we shut the engine down. Checking the Honda manual, we quickly determined that it was the alternator alarm. We confirmed this when we turned the key back on and the red charging system malfunction light came on and did not go off. So we put the tie rod on between the main and the kicker so Patty could steer from the helm, and I ran the throttle and shifter at the kicker. The alternator does two things – it charges the batteries, but first and foremost, it provides the power for the spark plugs to fire. We might have gone some unknown distance using the batteries in emergency parallel mode (we have one engine and two house batteries) but did not want to take a chance on running on the batteries. So we covered the last 6 miles at 4.5 to 6 knots.

When we got back to the ramp, there were two Lummi fishing boats tied up, one on each side of the float, and the guy was working on the engine on one of them! Bad manners to say the least. Eventually they moved the second boat around to the other side so we could get in and load the boat on the trailer, but we had to stand off for what seemed like an eternity.

So now our cruise is over but we have a couple more days of vacation! We got back to Birch Bay, had lunch, unloaded the boat, flushed the engines, and pretty much just chilled. Friday we will wash the boat and take it in to West Coast Marine in Bellingham. Saturday hopefully we will relax, and then head back to Fall City on Saturday evening. We need Sunday in Fall City to decompress!

NM 273.4

1 comment:

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