Adventures on the Blue

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It's a cold NYE in Victoria, so looks like it's time to tally how I did for the year. I got my first boat on January 5, 2008. Since then, I've been on the water a total of 63 times in the kayak and an additional 6 days spent sailing. 69 days on the water total. I managed to paddle 602km from the Wailua River in Hawaii to Lake Pend Oreille to Clayoquot sound. My most active kayaking month was May. I managed to enjoy three camping trips by kayak. All were with friends from West Coast Paddler. Very few cancellations from weather, but the worst kayak season this year for me was December - with August making a close second. Kayaking and walking to work, along with cutting back on junk food (empty calories), has helped me lose just over 40 pounds this year.



So here's my new years goals:


  • Paddle 1000km

  • Explore upisland

  • Lose 10 more pounds

  • Try to do 5 camps




Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments


I've been having some great evenings with my friends and family in town. Christmas came today and deposited two things: food and gifts. My family must have gone on an incredible goose chase to find these things. I ended up getting mostly all stuff to make life more fun on the water: a copy of the current atlas for the area, a trick inflatable PFD and a deck light for being on the water after dark. Today was one of the most chill experiences of the year and it's left me with a huge grin for ear to ear.



Warm wishes to everyone for a great 2009. Can't wait for some of those nice weather patterns to roll on through soon. :)



Thursday, December 25, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments
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Sorry to those out there looking for some updates to the blog, I've been cooped up waiting for the weather to let me back on the road again. Continuing from last week's little story, I took a stroll down to the sea and snapped some photos of the chaos in Oak Bay right now. 1 dismasted boat, 2 sailboats aground and one boat dragging anchor into the reefs. There are bunches of photos of the victims below.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Here's my normally bathtubby west coast playground exposed to 30knot gales :/ My poor kayak stayed firmly attached to the van today.. can't say I didn't try to get out.. I was watching someone in a small tender trying to enter their sailboat that was out on mooring. It didn't end well, they ended up jumping back into the dinghy after totally failing to board and got a huge wave over the beam of their dinghy. That killed their little outboard for some reason, so they put on the oars and headed back to the marina dock.



Saturday, December 13, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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A great window opened up to go an circumnavigate Trial Island came up yesterday, so I set my alarm, got up and headed down to the water. Neap tides and low wind made it pretty much perfect. I got to the put in at Oak Bay and put in at scum beach (god it's scummy). I followed a couple of boats out of the marina and got a nice little push down the coast down to Gonzales Point.



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The water was beautiful, it was grey out and the clouds were lined with streaks of orange just hanging there above the Olympic range. There were all manner of birds on the water today, most of them hunting out fish and just sleeping in a big huddle. The golf course was just as busy as ever. I paddled quietly around Gonzales point and stayed close to shore until I got around to McNeil bay.



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A number of kayakers had launched from McNeil and were headed out to trial, so I followed them. The water was nice and flat this time round. There was a slight current around the island, but nothing much stopping me from rounding the south tip. I grabbed a discarded coke bottle out of the water and headed into the kelp beds around the south edge.



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I had to pull up the rudder and just ride over top the thick kelp beds. It was starting to rain a little now, but the water was nice and flat. I pulled up my hood and just put my paddle on my front deck and watched the rain hit the water for a few minutes. So relaxing. I decided to just head back to oak bay but not before I got a shot of the sideways cardinal buoy in enterprise channel. When I got up near it, a lone cormorant stepped out of the black triangles and hung out front. I was able to get almost a full frame of him and the buoy.



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Approaching Gonzales point, I ran into the kayakers again and they were taking a breather at the point. I passed by them and got caught in a fairly fast eddy. I paddled hard to the other side of it and realized the ebb had started. I headed up north to Mary Todd Island. The going was pretty slow in the reefs and the currents were coming from all kinds of directions. I saw a fairly large Bald Eagle eating the last of a fish he'd caught.



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The rain started coming down pretty hard, so ended the trip. I headed into the marina and got the boat safely back to scum beach. I put the yak on the car and headed into the marina for a much needed coffee. It was colder than I thought.


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Sunday, December 7, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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I met up with Aaron again to take out a cal 20 and try and get out sailing. We left oak bay marina to find that we were in a bit of a situation. There were large swells near trial island from the incoming gales and the route through Baynes was directly upwind which would mean a bit of beating in a pretty tight space. We couldn't get the boat to listen to us as we tried to head up wind, then we realized that the current was dragging us south in quick order. We motored back and went for coffee rather than trying to motor out and around ten mile point. A quick day, but always good to figure out the limits of your patience.


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I thoroughly enjoyed reading about and looking at all of the photos of a few travellers who came to Canada and fought their 19' inflatable catmaran up the rivers of the west coast. Have a read! The photos are to absolutely die for - I'm scheduling that route by kayak soon ;)

The experience

"In salmons´ land against current"



about the boat

The Ducky 19 Inflatable Catamaran



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After the Pool Session on Saturday, we laid some quick plans for the next day. The current was going to behave itself around 11am, so we'd meet at Telegraph Cove and see how far up the coast we could get. I met only paula the next day and she had carted her Eliza from Cadboro bay to Telegraph cove and was ready to get on the water.



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The wind was very light but gave us a pretty good headwind on the way out. The water was a little choppy, but since we were hed into it, it felt like nothing really. This area was mostly new to me, I'd paddled out this way in a strong ebb once before and didn't get very far. The beneficial flood current wasn't helping much against the wind today.



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We got out to a little reef just off of the hospital and saw a few birds huddling on in the lee trying to stay warm. Northeast winds tend to come straight down this patch, though there's not all that much fetch. There are a number of houses out here that make me sick with envy. One mansion of note sprawled down to the high water line and comprised of many rooms. Must be fun in a big storm.



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Paula and I paddled out just a little past Glencoe Cove and decided to turn around and get a little push from the wind. Paddling full out got me a peak speed of 11.7km/h on the GPS! That's the fastest I've gone in a kayak so far. The boat loved the speed too.



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We stuck close to shore on the way back and had a brief encounter with the reefs that line the rocky shores. Navigating through that while surfing on small waves felt great and we both had fun just gliding around the big rocks sticking out of the water. The wind increased a little on our way back and the water was getting a tad choppier. We hauled out after a nice short run and went for coffee. Way to go Paula for actually putting the kayak cart to good use.


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Sunday, November 23, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments
Fresh from kayaking and sailing, I hopped down to the pool for a little more kayaking. I brought my wetsuit this time and had a try at some of the more tricky balancing feats. I worked on getting from the Bow to the stern without flipping the boat. I tore my wetsuit on one of the deck fittings but I got from the bow to the stern and then flipped the boat over and paddled it upside down. I spent some time with the rest of the group practicing rescues as usual and even conned some of my friends into trying an eskimo rescue. Pretty fun time and it was great seeing some WCPers there too.
Saturday, November 22, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Fresh from my morning trip with Paula, I ran over to Aaron's place and got down to oak bay marina To get out and sail again. I sort of knew what to expect from the winds a bit earlier. We got down to the dock and who should wander by but Katy and her doggie. We all walked down to the boats and Aaron and I set up the cal for a 10 knot wind. We barely had to use the motor at all this time it was just cast off and we were out of the marina. The currents arrested my attention at the marina entrance. The current was tearing around the breakwater in a pretty swift ebb.



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We got out a little from shore and put the sails up. No motoring necessary today!. We chose a tack and found ourselves actually sailing by the lee. The wind was scooting us along at a nice clip and once we seetled into a rhythm the boat started to go where we pointed it. So just to see what the combined wind and current could give us, we got to 5knots sailing down toward trial. THe boat made and all new sound when we started getting up there.



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We tacked and did a 360 toward the chain islands, because we didn't want to get too far south in the current. Fighting the current nearly halved our speed and we started creeping ever so slightly closer to the Chain islands. The wind was south westerly and we wanted to head into it to see how close to the wind we could get. Beating down it, it looks like we were able to get about 50 degrees to it. We tired to go a little further up mayor channel, but it was no use, the current was coming through at just under 4 knots and the boat was having none of it.



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The rest of the cruise was more or less basking in the sunset. The winds were calming down and had veered a bit more westerly. We were at peak current and had stopped making way toward the marina.. a sailing treadmill. So we just took down the sails and motored in just as the sun was setting for the night. Arron showed me how to unhank and stow a Jib in its bag. a lot easier when you see someone do it. We shook out our reef and headed out for coffee.


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Paula and I agreed on a short little paddle around Caddy bay at the last minute this morning, so I loaded up the van and headed down to gyro park. There was a nice little breeze coming through the bay and all of the little dinghys were lining the shore with their sails flogging loudly. We pushed off right before them and got well to the side of the bay to stay out of everyone's way. The water was the color of lead and the storm that had come through the day before had left all kinds of swell behind it.



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Paula and I had a discussion about whether or not the days of print are limited and discussed the finer points of user generated media versus the establishment while cutting through the chop and swell. We gabbed all the way around cattle point and down willows beach until we saw a sailboat in a very un-sailboat friendly place. I couldn't tell if the boat was recently shipwrecked or just junk allowed to float onto the rocks (or both). Still had sails on it! I snapped a few photos for posterity.



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We were getting a bit close to the rocky shoreline, so we headed up through the moorings near oak bay marina and had a look at some of them. About half way through our gawking, the all slowly changed direction with the wind. It's a weird feeling seeing a bunch of large boats all rotating around their moorings. A few people were aboard their boats cleaning the decks and checking everything out including us. We lazily headed back to Cadboro bay and catching the last of the flood around cattle point. When we got back to shore, all of the little sailing dinghys were doing some training near the beach and a few larger craft were on their way out of the bay.


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Aaron and I decided to meet this morning and go for a little cruise with a boat from the Oak Bay Sailing school, a cal 20 named red current. These boats really feel like dinghys, but overall it was like sailing its bigger brother just bit more nimble in turns and a bit wilder in container ship wake. Today was glassy water and light winds in most of Oak bay, so we motorsailed most of the time and sailed off the motor when the wind was enough to push us over the currents.



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I got to the marina at about 10 and met Aaron for a quick coffee. Aaron had just been handed the keys, so we walked down to the boat and rigged her up as well as we could to deal with the light winds. I watched as Aaron hanked on the jib and I helped set up the sheets. It was a pretty quick process and we were on the water in moments. Aaron knew the marina, so he did the honors of leaving the dock. We got out past the turkey head breakwater and found we were the only sailing vessel out on the water. That's always a good sign, right?



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Aaron pulled out the chart and we made a course for Baynes channel to see if the east winds would be there. The buoyage is fairly clear in Baynes and plumper, and we stayed out of most of the rocky places. The water got glassier as we passed Cadboro bay and we were totally on motor, the mainsail flapped listlessly from side to side. Cadboro point was our first glimpse of wind patterns on the water. Once the wind freshened a bit we turned off the motor and had a little light wind practice. The variable directions made it kind of hard to consistently keep our sails full, but we were still at the edge of Baynes, so as the little wind patch passed, we just got dragged toward Strongtide island.



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I tuned into the weather and heard a report for 4 knot winds at Trial island. That was about the best we were going to get, so we turned tail and headed toward Trial island. We passed through mayor channel and out to Trial island. We got a little distracted by some other sailboats heading out toward the traffic lane. We followed them a little ways to see if they knew any secrets, but they seemed lost, so as we became becalmed again, we decided to maybe try Juan de Fuca.



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Right near Staines point, we began to get the predicted 4 knot wind and we were immediately back to sailing. We kept to the outside of Brodie rock and played with points of sail in order to get to Gonzales point and line up for our eventual docking. The wind and little bits of chop made for a couple of happy... us. We tacked as we got near Gonzales point and got another great little boost of power. The boat sailed nicely back to the Lee Rock Buoy, where we took down the sails and headed back.



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For some reason, one of the boats we passed on our way out turned around and came back in as we came in. We were also followed in by a bright yellow boat called "Tigger," and I snapped a quick photo of his boat on the glassy water as we came in. We docked nice and easy and made the boat fast. It was a pretty successful day despite the challenge of sailing in light air.


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Saturday, November 15, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments


So I've watched This is the Sea 4 with my friends over at Kayak Yak and I generally enjoyed it. The second disc of expeditions was definitely the highlight for me. Some jaw dropping visuals and a great capture of the emotion and interaction between friends over a long and daring adventure. I was turned on to a quick behind the scenes interview of Justine and Barry by Simon Willis' update that it's his most watched podcast so far. Listen in to his podcast Here and feel free to buy This is the Sea 4 here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Cadboro bay is my hood. I've been out there so many time this year and I just keep crawling back for more. Today I met Paula at the beach and marveled at the nice calm day that was laid out for us. No noisy halyards slapping the masts in the sailing association and no big trees moving. The wind was dead calm and the waves were gently lapping on the shoreline. Yesterday's swells were gone.



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It was a chill day of paddling, and Paula and I were mostly just chatting about the man made rules around whales, whalewatchers and our postulations about their perception of the surrounding world. We crossed to the chains easily with only two tiny little eddy lines from Baynes. The chains had taken on their winter colors: dead broom plants, greyer rocks and big kelp beds all around. We were watched by really young seals who would duck down under us on our approach and glide right in behind us to keep a nice safe watching distance.



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Our conversation was a little broken as we got near plumper passage. We started to drift with the flood tide and we changed course to head toward Jemmy Jones island. We were just floored by the scenery: the entire world was suddenly lit up by morning sun and all the colors of uplands with the bright spinnakers of yacht club boats gave me shivers. We thought we'd give 10 mile point a little looksee, so we started over to the light at cadboro point.



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We could see some of the breaking waves at the edge of Baynes and found that the tide prediction was dead on. The rocks at cadboro point were being surrounded by a strange rainbow in the fog bank that rolled through just to the north of us. The area near the light was calmm as could be with asmall little current heading up through the rocks. We saw a couple of interesting birds out here in addition to the cormorants, seagulls and oystercatchers. These birds were about duck sized with pointed bills, brown heads, a spiky hairdo and orange legs - I think they may be mergansers.



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We turned around at cadboro point and headed back down the shore waving to some of the boats on the way in. The nice little break from big southeast blows was just a treat and made it a great day to be out in the kayak.


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Sunday, November 9, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Today was our 3rd lesson in our competent crewing course with VIMA. The November weather is here, and the big old Southeasterlies were fairly active in the strait. I had gone down to Ogden point to scope out the waves and wind at about 8am, and it was incredible. The waves were battering the beach and the breakwater and the wind was howling through the deep sea terminal. Half of me was looking forward to it.



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We had breakfast and the wind just chilled out over about an hour and a half. By the time we got to the dock, the weather was downright pleasant - the last of the rain blew through as we boarded the Rose. We checked out the weather and tides and decided we'd go stick our nose out and play around at the harbour entrance. So We set to rigging the boat up for a big blow as forecast. We put two reefs in the main, and got a chance to rig a new jib on the furler. We learned how to properly flake and fold up a jib and it's kind of easy once you see it done.



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Once the boat was rigged up for the wind, we cast off and motored out into... flat water. We've been blessed with great weather every time we've gone sailing! As we left the inner harbour, the distant squalls over the olympics slid out to the east leaving behind some beautiful beams of sunlight on the mountains. Today was made of two colors, grey and yellow. We passed a small fishing vessel in the harbour which demarcated the point between the flat water and the massive swells left over from the last storm.



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So the swell... yeah.. it turns out 3-4 foot seas make me a bit seasick after a couple of hours. We motored over to Brotchie ledge and raised sail. The wind was a little stronger out here, but we got some good practice putting up the sails while the deck was moving around in the swells. Once we were back in the cockpit, we each got a chance to turn the boat through a few points of sail and our skipper sat back and just gave us guidance - I'm totally getting a hang of maneuvering under sail.



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Which brings us to the next challenge, recovering an overboard crew member under sail. Katy showed us the technique for it and then had us each do it. It's kind of neat, just zooming into the GPS track, you can actually see we all managed to do a nice speedy recovery of our little bobbing flag under sail! This is the kind of stuff that makes taking a proper course worth its weight in gold. Not only is it clear that you can recover someone under sail with a bit more practice, but it's also a good idea of how to spin the boat around for general maneuvering. Practice concluded once we were all good and seasick. :D



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We motored back home through the swells and into the protection of the inner harbor. We pulled into dock nice and smooth and then faced our final exam for certification. Katy took us up to a nice little cafe on the marina and we got to sit down and write our exam with a plate of chicken fingers and coffee. The test was pretty easy with multiple choice questions directly from the bold items in the book. If you have a photographic memory, you'll pass no problem. We all passed without problems and got a our log books. I'm pretty psyched about sailing overall Now comes the long considered decision on whether to pounce on a boat or not.


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Saturday, November 8, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments
It was a fair day today, but I didn't manage to make it out to the water in time for sundown. I drove out to crystal pool and was allowed to party with every one. :) I practiced self rescues the whole night and got in and out of the boat pretty easily. Nothing to see here, just a fun lil pool session, even picked up the secret to the cowboy re entry on my giant beamy boat.
Sunday, November 2, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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Today was probably the only time I've actually been a bit afraid of what the wind had in store for quite a while. The onshore wind was 15 knots but there was nothing too nutty looking out in the strait. I got down to the beach and launched with the wind just whistling at my back. We were in for a fun time on the water. The plan was to go to Chatham, but that plan was rapidly disappearing.



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The one great thing about nice winds, the yacht club scrambles every available boat to go out and play. We made our way out of caddy bay and I started getting a bit worried about the conditions. The wind was making huge black streaks on the water and when we got out to flower I could already feel the swell coming off Haro strait. Most of this summer, I've been spared any wind warnings at all, so today was my first strong wind warning for a while.



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I looked over Baynes and it seemed more or less fine, but I couldn't convince anyone to cross it. Instead we headed toward the vortex of whitewater off Ten mile point. The wind gusts were just hurtling through and on the other side of the rocks was just steep whitewater with a whole bunch of fetch allowing for some pretty noisy surf crashing on the rocks. I kept trying to survey my partners to make sure no one attempted that stuff. John and I paddled a bit close to the rocks and the wind just told us to go away.



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And we did. We headed back out to Jemmy Jones to prepare for crossing to oak bay. And then I kind of lost everyone.. they crossed back to flower and I came after them a bit later. Just as I crossed over, about 10-15 sailboats decided to come through the channel we were paddling in. I got over to slightly shallower water and snapped a bunch of photos as the flotilla passed by. We rafted up for a few minutes to watch all the boats go out and around ten mile into the stronger winds.



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Paula was off and heading over to the rocks near cattle point, so I just kept pace with her for a while, but John and Louise had fallen behind. There was no fetch over Cadboro bay, but the current was opposing the wind in the middle of the channel kicking up some strange chop. It was pretty fun actually, and as much as I wanted to try for oak bay, I surmised my partners had had enough.



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John and Louise caught up and we all stuck together along the rocks on the shore. The wind had picked up into some even stronger gusts, I was getting blown back out to sea on more than one occasion. made it kind of hard to take photos. We eventually paddled back and pulled out after a short but windy little run.




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Sunday, October 26, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments

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So it's a week later and we're on lesson 2 of our 3 day crewing course. The weather cleared up again today, making for some great conditions for learning some of the finer points of docking, points of sail and basic navigation. We repeated our breakfast at Kitty's and met Katy at the entrance to the marina. I sort of took my time locking up the van and when I looked up my friends were half way down to meet her.



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Katy had been out on a few challenging days in the week including an almost day long sail from Oak Bay to West Bay thanks to fierce headwinds on Friday. We all hopped aboard a much more familiar Rose of York and set down to do our tide, weather and current predictions. The old current atlas came out so everyone could have a peek at the wild patterns of current around the Juan de Fuca and Haro straits. We logged it all - man how this feels just like getting ready for a day of kayaking. If you missed them before, I did a few tide and current table templates a while back that I still like to fill in for unfamiliar trips more than about 10km.



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We got the boat setup and then the skipper showed us some of the finer points of reefing a main sail. The airs were nice and light and we were head to them, so we decided to raise sail in the slip and give reefing a try. The reefed nicely and we got some key ideas of what lines need to be eased and hardened. We shook out the reef and then put away the main sail. We started the motor and Kevin took the helm while Jordan and I cast off. It was time to do some docking exercises.



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So this was the part I absolutely dreaded. We each got about 3-4 solid tries at it in a nice wide slip. Kevin was first to go and did great, I held the stern line and basically just watched the technique. Jordan took the helm and I hopped up to do the bow line. Jordan also got it nice and quick. Just to make it a little more fun, we all got to test 3 point turns, too. So it was my turn and much to my chagrin, both the wind and the currents under the dock had been slowly increasing.



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But I found out there's nothing to worry about if you just keep in mind where you're aiming the pointy bit up front. A good cue for me was the rear cleat on the dock. Aiming for that and keeping just enough speed for steerage meant everything would be alright. After those little exercises, I had a good feel for the tiller save the little accidental, "no, not that way, stupid brain," moment. I stayed on the helm and motored us out into the wind and waves.



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We stopped just outside the V21 buoy and raised the sails. The wind was nice and brisk this morning and the boat absolutely loved it. I called a (sta-)port tack and we steered to course and started trimming in the sails. We cruised for a ways and then did a few quick tacks for each of us, just to get the muscle memory down. by the end of that we were swinging around the cockpit much faster that the previous week. We were on a close reach for a bit and were getting some good speed from the boat, but as we pressed forward, we were being a bit over-driven. The boat heeled over nicely and we started to see why the crew sit on the edge of the sailboats from time to time.



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So The skipper decided to demonstrate heaving to to get us totally stopped in order to trim the mainsail. It's a much quicker procedure than I thought it would be. We went into the heave to. We got super close hauled and the boat started to turn a bit, then we tacked without adjusting the headsail and the boom swung across. We eased the heck out of the main sheet and with some nice merciless tiller work and we were stopped. Our skipper lashed the tiller and Kevin and I hopped up behind the boom to lower the mainsail. we lowered the sail, put the reef in and hauled it back up. Man talk about work! Raising a mainsail while full of wind took all my body weight and Kevin locking the tail to the cleat every time. We got it all back up, adjusted our downhaul and boomvang and we realized... we're still stopped.



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We got out of it by just by bringing the main sail back to close hauled and moving the tiller slowly back to the centerline. The boat crept around slowly and we trimmed the sails just right. Suddenly, POW - the power came back into the sails and we were off again. We were still heeling a bit so we went through the rather quick task of furling back a bit of our headsail and we got the boat on a nice even keel in a beam reach. The power was great and we just sat on the course for a while. We had a look at the chart and found we were hurtling into a traffic lane. No sooner did we recognize that, two large container ships appeared from the mist heading toward trial island. We altered course and headed back along the path we came to keep out of their way.



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We had a quick break while the boat was being nicely behaved and one little reality was hitting us, the wind was subsiding. We set a course for clover point and had a little go on a broad reach. We cruised there for a while and the speed was just getting lower and lower. Jordan unfurled the headsail and we got hove to again to go shake out the reef for the rest of our downwind journey. From this point on, the skipper let us try and come up with a nice path home. It totally hit home exactly how the sails could help steer the boat and what we'd have to do to go where we wanted. I sighted the Brotchie ledge light and suggested we keep to starboard of it. We adjusted the sails for the helm's new course and sat back and saw the magic in action. The winds were getting lighter on our run. It's a tough job keeping the run going, so Katy showed us a neat idea called a preventer, a rope tied from the trailing edge of the boom to the forward cleat that prevents and accidental jibe if the wind veers or backs or the helm falls asleep.



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As we got around Brotchie ledge, we decided to remove the preventer and get into a close reach to get closer to Mcauley point. The boat behaved just as expected and we kept a nice even course toward Esquimalt harbour. We were being followed by another sailboat on the same tack and he was windward. We had to tack, so we just waited for enough sea-room for us to execute the tack. We sailed only a little way after the tack and lowered the sails. I motored us back to the marina and managed to get us back to the slip in one piece. I am much happier about motoring and docking now and sailing's starting to feel strangely familiar. We got the boat all cleaned up and found ourselves totally giddy about the great day on the water and the unusual October weather.


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Saturday, October 25, 2008 Leave a Comment 0 comments
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