KatieKat 2005 Cruise Chapter Three

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GoBackTo 2005 Cruise Chapter Two
12 May - 7 June 2005Roche Harbor to Vancouver
25 May, 2005Waterlogged Kayaker
25 May - 7 June 2005... to Port Hardy (updated 29 June)
7 June 2005email Comments (updated 9 August)
GoFwdTo 2005 Cruise Chapter Four

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12 May - 7 June, 2005 -- Roche Harbor to Vancouver

A lot of recent miles are under the keels and I'll try to elaborate in the near future. The chart below shows the places visited since we crossed over the border to Canada in mid-May. Kathy unexpectedly had to leave to help her parents out, so I singlehanded KatieKat from Vancouver to Port Hardy. The huge protected forward windows on KatieKat are wonderful at keeping a lookout for logs (which, in turn, preclude working on the computer while underway and updating this website)! :-)

[Map of Vancouver Island showing KatieKat's track] Not sitting still ... Port Hardy is only about 20 miles northwest of Port McNeill.

[Main dock walkway Sidney Marina]On May 12, from Roche Harbor we sailed across Haro Strait into Sidney (yes, that's Sidney with an "i" and not Sydney) where we cleared customs. The main walkway at Port Sidney Marina is extremely wide, has fancy lighting fixtures, and the workers were just finishing the drip watering systems for the flower baskets they'll be hanging off the pilings. A very attractive facility.

[KatieKat in Victoria, airplane in background]On May 15, we sailed down Haro Strait into Victoria, where we tied up right next to the main seaplane terminal. Happily, they only fly during daylight hours, and it's always interesting watching them maneuver the planes from the dock, especially in a strong breeze. The noise didn't bother us, but the exhaust fumes were awful! In the background is the Parliament House and a stern-wheeler touristy cruise ship (looks like the one I saw being built on the Petaluma River about ten years ago).

[Adagio in Drydock]We visited with our friends Steve and Dorothy Darden who had their boat Adagio in drydock having the starboard drive leg worked on after they whapped a log around Campbell River. Some serious expediting of replacement parts got their boat back into the water before the Canadian Victoria Day holiday weekend.

We first encountered Adagio and the Dardens in New Caledonia, when we each made our maiden offshore passage to New Caledonia (we from Australia, they from New Zealand). Our paths have been crossing ever since, with perhaps the nicest time together being the months in Hobart on the same dock. The Adagio website is loaded with information about their beautiful M&M catamaran and their travels.

[KatieKat in Victoria in front of the Empress Hotel]Our water pump had been operating erratically ever since we re-started our cruise, and I finally rolled up my sleeves and went looking for the reason the pump was losing its prime. After dismantling the input water strainer, the problem was immediately apparent: the input pipe to the strainer had simply sheared (maybe during the winter freeze?). Inasmuch as I hadn't touched this strainer since I bought the boat (bad boy, as this should be a regular maintenance item), a brand-new replacement solved the problem. Piece of cake.

[KatieKat in Victoria in front of the Empress Hotel]Spotted this gem in the Victoria Marine Museum: shows that power catamarans have been around for over a century! Next to it is the model of "Tilicum", and the real thing is also on display in the museum. "Tilicum" is a small boat which was circumnavigated by Voss almost a hundred years ago (I haven't finished reading his book yet).

[KatieKat in Victoria in front of the Empress Hotel]No picture of Victoria would be complete without KatieKat in front of the world-famous Empress Hotel.

Over the Victoria Day holiday weekend (May 21-23) we joined in the British Columbia Multihull Society sail-in at Port Browning. Good cameraderie, some interesting boats, and a fun race (the first one ever entered with KatieKat) whereby we earned a respectable second-place trophy (despite the boat being seriously overloaded). KatieKat put in a nice showing!

[Multihulls before race start] [trimaran racing in background]

Pre-race maneuverings in the left photo, while in the right one Kathy shows how intently she's racing as the trimaran slowly crawls past us (we beat it to the finish!). The unusually good breeze made for some good racing.

[Iroquois catamaran sailing alongside]After the BCMS event we sailed up the Gulf Islands in the company of newly-acquired Polish friends Jan Pietrzak and family (we first made contact last year) and their Iroquois MKIIB (they had seven family and friends onboard!). Gorgeous weather!

[Turbulent waters] [SeaCycle crashing through waves]

The various passes in this part of the world can make sailing interesting. Here, we're going through Porlier Pass into the Straits of Georgia, and you can see some of the rip currents we encountered. Happily, the SeaCycle just bobs along behind the mother ship unperturbed by the waves.

[Tugboat with tow]A very typical hazard in this part of the world - here, we're crossing the Straits of Georgia. A couple of days ago a fishing boat ran into a towline and was lost (but the skipper was rescued).

[Vancouver anchorage]Late on May 23 we sailed into Vancouver and anchored in False Creek, right in the middle of downtown Vancouver!

[Granville Island docks] [KatieKat at Granville Island docks]

The next day we went over to the Granville Island Market for some serious provisioning. Their courtesy dock allowed us to easily load up, watched by hundreds of spectators.

[Granville Island ramp] [Granville Island ramp]

We had 15-foot tides that day, and the dock ramp represented a serious challenge (especially with a load of groceries!). It's interesting watching the tourists make their way up/down to the water taxis... I fully expected one to go rolling down the incline!

While we were in Vancouver we learned of some serious health issues with Kathy's mother, so Kathy decided to fly to her parents and help out for a little while. Inasmuch as I had modified KatieKat to be easily singlehanded, I had no trouble continuing on without Kathy and, hey, I've needed to lose weight!.

[Cat behind wet windows] [Mika sticking her tongue out] [Cat on bunk under cover]

Left Vancouver on May 25 and hit some nice wind-against-tide in Georgia Strait. Mika the cat didn't especially care for the bumpiness and having her picture-window splashed (see second photo for her reaction), and eventually retired down below with her pet critter.

[Streaked forward window]The results of the cat's late-night on-deck foray on the wet saltwater-covered window - took some meticulous cleaning to restore the polycarbonate to its pristine condition.

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25 May 2005 -- Waterlogged Kayaker

It was too far to go up to Secret Cove in the remainder of that day, so I took a detour to Plumper Cove, a regional park with a nice quiet anchorage. Along the way there, while still in the choppy waters of Georgia Strait approaching Gibsons, I noticed a kayaker just sitting there and occasionally paddling - rather unusual, but I assumed he was watching a flock of birds on the water nearby. A brief scan with the binoculars, however, showed something in front of him on the bow of his kayak, and his paddle movements were definitely erratic. I quickly lowered the sails and motored over, only to find a second kayak alongside, half-filled with water, with someone in the water between the two kayaks. They quickly confirmed they were in trouble so I brought the SeaCycle (towed behind KatieKat) alongside them and the person in the water was able to scramble onto it. After he tied the disabled kayak (he had flipped and lost his paddle) to the back of the SeaCycle, I brought him aboard and we motored over to Gibsons - the kayak flipped again as we were approaching Gibsons, but we were able to continue the tow and I safely deposited the drenched soul and his kayak onto the dock. Never a dull moment, but what bothered me is the number of small powerboats that had gone whizzing by these guys without stopping.

[Kayaker boarding SeaCycle] [Kayaker onboard KatieKat, towed kayak in background]

The SeaCycle proved to be a great rescue platform! Had to work reasonably quickly as we were being blown down onto the island and, besides, the bloke was shivering!

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25 May - 7 June 2005 (Updated 29 June 2005) -- Plumper Cove to Port Hardy

From Plumper Cove I continued on up to Secret Cove where I visited again with long-time friend Bertie Hull, and from there sailed over to Comox to meet an Internet Multihulls List email acquaintance, Roy Mills. He fed me a great salmon dinner (thanks to his wife!), and late that night I motored over the shallows over to the Comox anchorage - only to discover the following morning that I had almost run into a string of huge steel mooring buoys! The old adage of never entering a strange harbor at night continues to hold true!!

[Dawn showing catamaran] [Large metal mooring buoys]

The left photo is a dawn shot of the anchorage, showing Roy Mills' pretty catamaran Gilbert & Sullivan. The right photo shows the steel mooring drums I narrowly missed in the night (despite radar!).

I forgot to mention that on the way to Comox I was down below and motoring along on the starboard engine when all of a sudden the engine revv'd up and the boat slowed down. Hmmm...

[Propeller entangled with seaweed]Ran into a clump of weeds that I hadn't seen before going down below. The sudden stop sheared the internal rubber bushing of the propeller, making it all but unusable. Luckily, it still worked at idle so I could maneuver into the dock. No worries, I carry a spare propeller which I installed forthwithly and all is well.

I subsequently bought a new propeller in Port Hardy as a backup, as there was no time to have the bad one sent out to be re-bushed. Hey, I can't complain about the engines! When we first bought our Seawind, a charter Seawind French owner told us he was replacing propellers every couple of months (gawd, what was he doing?!). This is the first time in five years that we spun a bushing!

On May 28 I left Comox and had a beautiful sail across the northern Straits of Georgia, eventually altering my destination (to match my point of sail) to be Cortes Bay on Cortes Island (where they have a WiFi connection) :-)

[Tree-lined road] [Inland lagoon scene] [Cortes Island store signs]

I needed to stretch my legs and thus took a very long walk over to a grocery store on the other side of the island. Beautiful surroundings, and the right photo shows where some of the flower children of the 60's ended up.

[Seagull engine next to large Yamaha]Most of the professional fishing boats up here have backup "get-home" motors (I was amazed at the number of "distress" calls further south of boats with conked-out engines). What struck my funnybone was this boat with a nice old English Seagull engine as its backup - if well maintained, this unique and cranky old engine works, but if not... (I've owned a few, loved them dearly, but would not categorize them as trusted emergency get-home motors).

From Cortes Bay I headed northeast to Squirrel Cove, intending to go through some of the inside rapids at slack tide ... only to discover that my computer tide chart is inadequate. Since you simply DON'T go through these rapids at the wrong time (currents exceeding boatspeed, whirlpools sucking down entire boats, stuff like that...), I retraced my steps and sailed over to Campbell River (memorable for me, because I was dismasted here on my trimaran 16 years ago).

In Campbell River I picked up the tide tables and then roared off northwards through infamous Seymour Narrows, where many a ship was lost until they blew up Ripple Rock (in the middle of the channel) in 1958 in the world's largest non-nuclear explosion. Currents can still be extremely strong, but I now had a favorable tide and was swept up to Johnstone Strait. Anchored that night on wonderfully protected Helmcken Island in Billygoat Bay - to give you an idea of the weather variability around here, another cruiser who was sailing just behind me decided to continue on for another five miles and he got hammered by some hallacious conditions while I rested snugly and peacefully in my anchorage.

[Anchor entangled with seaweed]My Bruce anchor is wonderful and held very well here in Billygoat Bay (after setting the anchor, I always test it at full throttle in reverse - good for at least 45 knots of windspeed), but I've sometimes had a problem with it penetrating weedy bottoms. This clump of seaweed came up with the anchor (as though the anchor and chain weren't heavy enough already)!

[Seal lying on log]The perpetual worry when sailing in this part of the world is the high probability of whapping into a log - could ruin your whole day (or three weeks, as Adagio found out). I've taken lots of photos of logs I've missed, but this one was unique with a seal sunning itself on it - gives you some idea of the size of the logs around here.

[View looking forward showing on tv screen]KatieKat has wonderful all-round visibility in the bridgedeck saloon, but as soon as you go down below into either hull you can't see forward! Since I have a TV/monitor in each hull, I rigged up the camera... now if only I could get the cat to spot the logs instead of sleeping all day!

[Cluttered main saloon table]I'm down to two computers, as I inadvertently fried my primary PowerBook a few months ago. The little iBook's display has become seriously dim, so out came the Apple LCD display from down below - rather overwhelms the main saloon table. Trouble is, that had been my lookahead tv screen on the galley side.

[KatieKat in Port McNeill]Tied up at the marina in Port McNeill. Note the huge log-handling equipment in the background.

[Deadhead by KatieKat] [Deadhead by KatieKat]

Thought you'd be interested in seeing what a deadhead is: at the dock in Port McNeill I felt this thumping against the hull... and this is what I found. This small one I tied off and the harbormaster hauled it away. What's significant is that this thing is vertical in the water, it's tip barely shows, and, bobbing up and down, can be a battering ram - somewhat lethal to boat bottoms!

[Adagio in front of KatieKat]While I was in Port McNeill, Adagio (freshly repaired) caught up to me again (they first caught up when I was in Cortes Bay). Here, they're tied up right in front of KatieKat - note the fixed "eyebrows" above the forward windows. They're functional as shading, make a great handhold, and have withstood the cross-Pacific passage.

From Port McNeill it was a brief 20-mile hop up to Port Hardy, where I bought another propeller (as a spare) and awaited Kathy's return.

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7 June 2005 -- email Comments

A digression - emails. I often receive emails from strangers who have found this website and send in a comment or ask a question, and I always respond to my emails. The trouble is that so many computers or ISPs have automatic spam filters, and I unfortunately find that a significant number of my email responses get bounced. If you have sent me an email and haven't heard back from me, please send me another one and be sure to enable my address (and also do let me know that you received my response). While on the topic of emails, I would also appreciate it if you ask first before sending me huge files; inasmuch as we're out of contact sometimes weeks at a time, my inbox can easily fill up and thus reject subsequent emails. Thanks for that.

Update, late June. The preceding was somewhat prophetic, as that very week my California ISP had a server crash and lost all my emails between 7 June and 15 June! If you had sent me an email and have not heard back from me, please re-send. Thank you. I've had the same email address for almost 15 years, and this is the first time I've had such an experience!

Update, 9 August 2005. - MORE EMAIL WOES AND CELLPHONE GROUSING (ignore this writeup, as I'm venting!). On the way down the coast from Sitka, I had very briefly connected in Craig, Alaska, where I found to my dismay that most of the emails I had sent out from Sitka (very many), using a hotel's Internet cafe WiFi, had inexplicably bounced and I didn't have time to re-send them from Craig before that Internet cafe closed. All the way down from Alaska I was unable to get connected until Port Hardy (Prince Rupert had no room for us and had passcoded their WiFi and by the time I realized this I couldn't get off the boat to talk with them). Unlike Australia or New Zealand, I have not been able to even get my acoustic modem to work with a payphone! I sure miss our simple and inexpensive Australian prepaid cellphone-computer connectivity! To my Australian friends, you may grouse about Telstra, but their coverage along the entire Australian East Coast and offshore is magnificent! In Canada and Alaska, my prepaid Verizon US cellphone doesn't even work for voice communications most of the time, even in town! In five years of cruising, I would say that our personal connectivity on this continent is inferior to what we had become accustomed to. I am simply unwilling to pay the high price for a satellite system or the exorbitant add-on computer linkup costs available only with a few-year contract for what I consider incredibly unreliable cellphone connectivity (I'm talking about in-town and not out in the boonies). I did use the SSB with SailMail a few times, but in the canyons of British Columbia and Alaska, connecting was extremely iffy. (Sigh - end of grousing - thank you for letting me vent.)

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