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Monday, February 28, 2011

2010 Vancouver Island Circumnavigation (part 3)

This part is pretty complete.  I wish we had spent more time in Tofino and the Broken Group but both of us were ready to go home at this point.  We jumped at the weather window!
Count Enrico

June 14, 2010: Tuesday  Tofino, BC

Breakfast and dinner out, buying stuff for the girls, waiting out the wind

We arrived in Tofino @ 07:00 to clear skies and a building wind from God’s Pocket after a motor of about an hour.  Fuel for the big boat and dink were the first order of business.  Next we got a slip at the public wharf after mucking through the mud with the keel 4-5 times. The public wharf at low tide is shallow just off of it if you draw 7' or more.   It is just mud but the current outside the marina runs around 3k and when we were there (one night)  the wind was rarely less than 30k out of the north.  You are protected nicely so all is good.

Off to breakfast at Schooner’s Restaurant, adjacent to Schooner Motel downtown Tofino.  Absolutely fabulous food but spendy at $43 after tip and all for the two of us.  Next was laundry, showers and messing about provisioning at the Co-op which was a very nice store with everything you could want.
Aview of the public wharf and the wharfinger's office in red.
You can see Jah Mon's mast as the only sailboat.

We went out shopping for treats for the left behind girls in our lives and did the best we could being non shoppers.  Threadbare Tee Shirts is probably worth a look on the web for their very clever designs of limited runs.   Lisa, the tee shirt shop owner, mentioned that August in Tofino is called Foggust due to the fog that is there, thick most days in August.

Dinner later at the Shelter and we splurged on burgers and fries which were REALLY good and totally filling.  We had been eating very healthy and decided to be bad on our intake for the night.  All part of the adventure.

We got home to the boat around 21:00 and remembered we had the Port’s 20 amp adapter for our shorepower cord and they had our $60 deposit so we were able to call Vince the manager wharfinger and he was at the head of the dock in an instant.  We think he lives on a boat in the marina.  He is a very nice fellow that will bend your ear for quite a while with all kinds of information about the local area.

Early to bed anticipating the departure at 05:00 the next morning to try and take advantage of a break in the 30-40k wind predictions. 

June 15, 2010:  35 nm Tofino to Joe’s Bay, Broken Group, Barclay Sound

Coming out of Tofino is rock strewn and going in by Ucluelet is also rock strewn.  It was just another day out in the
Pacific for us.  We entered into the shelter of rocks ASAP as the wind was building and the swell was up to 12'.
When we started out at 5:00 AM all was flat and glassy.
Early up, sun all day with no wind, whales, fabulous anchorage

The alarms went off at 04:30 and the boat was moving out of Tofino at 04:50 using the ebbing tide to make 8.5k over the bottom in mill pond water.  We dodged floating logs, and many rocks to get about 4 miles offshore into the Pacific Ocean as we moved down island towards Ucluelet and Barclay Sound.  The wind was not blowing but there was a lumpy ocean waiting for us with swells from the SW starting at 1 meter and finishing around 3+ meters at our exit into Barclay Sound.

We saw 3-4 humpback whale sightings from ½ mile to 2 miles with their spouts blowing quite high making them easy to see.  There were whale watchers zooming to close on the spouts in the fast Ribs with the passengers in survival suits taking in a fast boat ride and nature for a price.

Joe's Bay in the Broken Group, Barclay Sound.  Two ways in
for the big boat.
The anchor went down at 11:00 in Joe’s Bay, a very protected spot in the middle of several islands.  There was one other yacht, a very pretty Grand Banks 42 out of Vancouver, BC.  The GB was Cabaret I with three older dudes (could have been our age?) aboard doing a circumnavigation too.  They had gone past us just north of Tofino as their boat cruises at 9.5k and we shoot for 7k.

They had been out 3.5 weeks at this point and had been at Ucluelet last night and had come south in the heavy wind of the previous day out of Tofino.  They had been pretty knocked about by the 30-35k winds and 4 meter swells.  We sat at the dock and enjoyed the sun and fun of the big city while they battled the elements.
After the wind died down in Joe's Bay.
Building 'Thusters' in the Broken Group.  Note the lack of coat!
After naps, we assembled the dink and zoomed around some of the Broken Group walking on the white sand beaches and building thrusters on the rocks.  The weather was incredible compared to the weather we heard in Seattle at 55F, we had full sun and 60 with a 7k wind from the north that was a bit cold if only in a tee shirt.  The cabin warmed up to 71F with the door off!  It was real nice out of the wind in the cockpit.

This is a very nice spot but maybe we have seen too much shoreline as we are not real interested in exploring much but maybe come back another time.  We are into this about 6 weeks now and are ready to go back to land for a bit.  However, this place is REAL nice.
Joe's Bay in red with the dink exploration in green.  We should have spent more time here as it was VERY nice.
Fooling around with L'il Mon in the Broken Group.
The Broken Group is a Marine Park that is very protected by a series of rocks off the mouth of Barclay Sound.  We have seen over 20 kayaks so far today, one group had 9!  They are brought in by power boats, and dropped off for camping in the park out of Bamfield or Ucluelet.

We are going back to an old favorite for dinner, Dungeness crab with a Waldorf salad and fresh multigrain baguette baked for us last night at the Co-op.

Tomorrow and the next are looking pretty good for back to back transit days.  We need two good days forecast to make this next 94 nm run with a stop at our fishing hole in Port Renfrew (at the entrance to the Straits) about half way through the long transit (45 nm) and then to Sooke (another 39 nm) on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

June 16, 2010:  Wednesday, 47.4 nm Broken Group to Port San Juan (Port Renfrew)

Out to the Pacific for the last time on this trip

The run to Port San Juan or Port Renfew, which ever you want to call it.  It is a rocky anchorage but safe enough.  Then
the run on the next dayto Victoria which was to be a run to Sooke but the current kept us out there with a 2-3k nudge and
Victoria was a VERY nice place to spend a couple of nights.

The launch program we had for leaving the Broken Group was superb.  06:30 wake up, moving at 07:50 after breakfast and coffee (it seemed civilized and the thing to do).  The sun was out in all it’s brightness with no wind or wave for the first 4 miles.  It was a wonderful world to watch slide by.  We noted about 9 sport fish boats as we exited into the confused swell off Cape Brale

After we fetched 2-3 miles offshore into the Pacific we found 8-12’ swell with a small SE windchop on our nose but the sun followed us SE and we made it on schedule (16:00 hours) to anchor up at Port Renfrew in Port San Juan.   There are NO other options between Barclay Sound and Sooke but since we come to this exact bay to fish out of on charter every year it is like home to us.  We rowed ashore and visited Trailhead Resort where we are coming back to in August for fishing.  It is fun seeing friends again off the boat.

The anchorage, just off the public wharf , is a bit rock and roll with waves coming straight down a large fetch of water but that is fine as long as we get out of the big stuff that can happen in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Dinner tonight is something special for us.  Rib eye steak with Crab Louie Salad is our menu with a bit of heated multigrain baguette au butter.  We might have a rocky anchorage but we will eat well tonight.  N squared struck pretty hard!

As we were watching Guardian there was a thumping on the boat around 22:30!  We went out and found Peter, his son Mike and Cale in a little open aluminum boat so we invited them aboard for a bit of a party.  They had been in Victoria for the day getting supplies and the Connie Francis (a 30’ fish charter boat) ready for the season with rebuilt Honda 225 hp outboards. 

We had fun, getting some tips from Peter on breathing techniques and from Mike who we hope is our guide in August.  While these guys are on the water every day for 4 months they had never been in a furniture sailboat like Jah Mon and were pretty amazed at the luxury.  Peter was telling us how he raced around Vancouver Island in 16 hours and 29 minutes in a 28’ diesel powered cigarette boat.  He didn’t get to see much of the scenery!  We had fun and sent them on their way home around 23:30.

June 17, 2010:  Thursday  53.4 nm Port Renfrew to Victoria, BC on the Straits of Juan de Fuca

The Pacific goes astern, change of plans and pro water (finally)

Jah Mon had rolled pretty much all night in spite of NO wind all night long (again, it seems to be a given for this trip).  We had not gotten sleep like we would have liked but that didn’t dissuade us from going ashore with caramelized apples and walnut pancake batter and walk up to Trailhead Resort for breakfast with our August hosts.

Following wind near Sooke with pro tide water kept us jammin' to Victoria.

Refreshed as well as we could, the anchor came up at 09:45 and we motored out into NO wind on the Straits and continued motoring the 32 miles to Sooke in very smooth water with low swell gently pushing us from behind.  The sun came out by 11:00 and stayed with us all day.  We had averaged 5.4k up to Sooke with the tide against us most of the day.

As we approached Sooke we noted the tide had turned and we were getting a 2k push instead of the 2k antiwater we had been getting all day.  Also the wind came up to 15k or so from our stern allowing us to deploy the headsail for some motorsailing at speed.  The charts were consulted and Sooke didn’t look that inviting with all the channel markers and shallows and limited anchoring so we pushed on to Victoria, a dock and some tourist stuff to draw us in.

Race Passage tidal flow was running in our direction and we hit 11.5k through that section and really got our adrenaline flowing.  It was mostly 9k on the GPS up to Victoria with all kinds of big boat traffic going on around us.  Oil tankers (2) with escort tugs, lumber hauler, submarine with two tenders on each side, Dockwise ship waiting for a pilot, a huge cruise ship picking up a pilot to Victoria etc…

This is one of 4 cruiseships we dodged coming into Victoria.
This one was coming off the pier with no horns.  It doesn't look
that close here but it felt real close.
As we approached the mouth of Victoria Harbour another huge cruise ship started departing right into our path!  We steered to port to try and avoid getting in his way and only just had a bit of room to slip by his bow by 100’ or so.  He was HUGE!  Just as we got by him we were pulled over with blue lights flashing on the harbour patrol but that was just to tell us where we should be traveling because of the high traffic in this harbor.  There were 4 large seaplanes taking off and one landing in the 15 minutes of transiting to the inner harbour, plus water taxis and other boats moving about.  A very different experience to the uninhabited outside of Vancouver Island.

We backed into a slip in front of the Empress Hotel and collapsed with beers and pistachios in the sun and watched the crowd flow by.  Dinner was a leftover situation as we had to eat that crab again!  Crab louie with some BBQ chicken drumsticks was too much food.  CF had to go out walking for a shower and then for an ice cream to get it settled for bed.  Sleep was more like a dead zone and very welcomed.
This boat shot at us with his cannon!  I want one....

June 18, 2010:  Friday  Victoria to ???  TBD

Ahead of schedule and no place to go

We have no idea where we are going but most likely up to the Gulf Islands to play some disc golf for a couple of days before going back to Friday Harbor to clean up the boat and then head to Anacortes.

So far we have about 940 nm on the GPS with 88 pure sailing miles.  Hopefully we can get that back to 10% with some slow passages in the Gulf Islands.  We will bring the sun back to the USA as we get there.

Here are a couple of photos of the Hot Springs board walk. 
This is the sign CF made for the boardwalk at Hot Springs Cove.  It should last a while as the board was new.  4 hours of carving with a 1” chisel and a 2 lb ballpein  (sp?) hammer.
The moss from the cedar was inserted to give it a head start in the sign.  Here is Count Ferrari checking his handy work.

This was made by Peter Hovey of Trailhead Resort in Port Renfrew a few years ago.  Natural moss is growing just fine.  I used a bit of moss from a local cedar to jump start Jah Mon's sign.  We shall see how it weathers when we get back to the Hot Springs!

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