To Vancouver and back

First off, sorry if this is rambly. I am writing this Sunday evening after returning (even though it posts the next day)

So on Thursday morning, I picked up Emma and we set off on the way to Vancouver.

The first day was pretty uneventful, although there was virtually no wind so we motored almost the entire way :(. It was nice and sunny though and calm!

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The EXTREME CONDITIONS got a bit too much for me at one point and I had to have a nap

 

 

 

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We arrived at Montigue harbour and found that all the mooring balls were taken, which was a shame as I’ve never used one and was looking forward to it. So we anchored… or tried to.

Dropped the anchor, overshot the anchor, failed to set the anchor and dicked around for 15 minutes until finally we managed to set it. All in front of around 80 boats, ugh. At least there was no shouting! And the sunset was nice.

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We woke up the next day to heavy rain. WHAT IS THIS WET STUFF FROM THE SKY?

In seriousness the area DESPERATELY needed rain. Just a shame it happened while we were on the way to Vancouver! Picked up the anchor like pros and off we went.

We charged through Active Pass with 3 knots of current in our favour and got spat into the Georgia Strait.

LOOK HOW MUCH FUN WE ARE HAVING!

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After motoring for a while the wind picked up and shifted and we blazed along on a broad reach with a ton of speed….

…. almost too much speed, as the wind shifted to a close reach, and the boat started heeling. Which is fine, but then the heel carried on until the rail was underwater and at that point we decided it may be prudent to reef! It was the first time reefing in ‘real’ conditions and it actually went surprisingly well.

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Eventually we arrived at the lions gate bridge, the entrance to Vancouver harbour proper.

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After calling the marina and located our slip, docking was easy.

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The next day, Emma left to go to meet her family on an island somewhere for a few weeks and I got cleaned up for a wedding. I wear a suit roughly once every three years, so it took some getting used to! It was a fun wedding and I caught up with a lot of people I haven’t seen for years!

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The next day it was time to go home.

This was by far the longest trip solo I would have done (and only the second one in total) so I was pretty nervous. I was gonna see how I was doing at active pass (the rough halfway point) and either find somewhere to anchor for the night or try to do the whole thing.

It was raining again, a lot, when I cast off at 8. Undocking went fine as there was a ton of room and the prop walk was in my favour, and I motored out of Burrard Inlet and into the strait.

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The Georgia strait was fairly calm, with almost no wind. It was just very very VERY wet, and I got thoroughly soaked.

Single-handing is hard as well, everything takes longer and with no autopilot I had to lock the wheel and hope the boat didn’t start swinging.

Reached Active Pass in good time

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Once out of Active Pass, two amazing things happened that persuaded me to carry on the whole way.

– The weather cleared up

– I saw a pod of humpbacks! (Or greys – thought I think they are humpbacks as it’s the wrong time of year for grey whales). It’s the first non-orca pod I’ve seen from the boat and as always it was pretty amazing.

The rest of the run down the haro strait was very easy – calm, sunny and very little traffic. I even had time to make a pizza while underway!

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Things took a different turn once ‘around the corner’ of the island and into the juan de fuca.

At this point I had been going ten hours and was extremely fatigued. I also feel I was losing concentration as I was nearly home and in waters I had been around a bunch of times.

Anyway, once in the Juan de Fuca, things got VERY lumpy. Confused seas with lots of sharp chop, and I took water over the deck a few times. Not really a problem though. The wind also picked up to 15 knots, kinda on the nose but once past clover point I was able to pinch round enough that I could put the sails up for the first sailing of the day.

Approaching clover point, I only skirted it by 100 feet, and while trying to change the song on my phone, accidentally drifted towards it. I attempted to correct, but turned the wrong way and ended up turning more into shore. I just swung the wheel over and did a 360 and carried on fine, but it should have been a warning.

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Things were going fine until I noticed I wasn’t gonna be able to clear some rocks on the current tack – so I pointed the boat into the wind and furled the main. Of course the boat drifted in a circle, and powering away I noticed breakers near me. Checking the chart I saw that I had avoided hitting a bunch of rocks by MAYBE 150 feet – or 5 boat lengths.

I had a bit of a cold sweat on about that one, as I didn’t even see them and could have blithely sailed right into them. John Vigor has a ‘black box theory’ here that I really like about how every boat/sailor has a black box. As you do seamanship things, like checked the rigging, checking the weather, putting on safety gear, you slowly collect ‘points’. When you fuck up, you spend them. Once you run out (and you have no control how to spend them), something horrible happens. I’ve pretty convinced that after that incident, I cashed out the majority of my saved points.

Lessons learnt from that

– If fatigued, rest. Single-handing is VERY hard, especially 13 hours of sailing. I am still really inexperienced.

– DON’T fuck around with stuff like the sails or other stuff that takes you on deck ANYWHERE NEAR any obstacles.

– And don’t sail close to land without checking the chart a ton. I had no need to be so close to shore.

– Lazy jacks would be VERY VERY handy for singlehanding. One of my next projects for sure.

Anyway, after that close shave, I made it into my home slip ok. I messed up the docking a bit, due to the current and being tired but nothing too bad. I am so tired!

Matt

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