The rough plan was to leave Salt Spring Island aboard Perfect Pitch, Commodore Wieland's beloved Coastal Craft 45, and head North at the begining of May. We left yesterday, on June 8th. The Covid-19 pandemic was not the reason for the changing plans. While the prospect of being allowed to cross the border into Alaska is currently unlikely, the upgrades and improvements to Perfect Pitch struggled with scheduling issues. Maintenance work and upgrading is now complete and our trusty ride was expertly provisioned by Sue and Diana and things were finally back on track.
Also planned was to have the Captain of Kazoo (a.k.a. the little fucker) join us with his brand new boat, an EagleCraft 40. It was always going to be a tight schedule for Captain Eric but his delays (see video below of Eric's boat getting his new engines installed) dovetailed with our delays. He took delivery of his ship last week and will hopefully rendez-vous with us shortly. Reports are that his boat is better, faster, nicer in every respect than Perfect Pitch, but Eric is usually full of shit.
Eric's EagleCraft Engine Installation
Getting away on a boat or two with friends is addictive. So addictive that it has taken three years to get over the last trip.
Our early morning send off was very emotional but very brief given the precison schedule of Cap't Wiel. The guy in the yellow and his winger were left behind to manage the Salt Spring assets in our collective absence and we were off. Our first leg was a short hop up to Nanaimo. We needed a new stern tie for our anchoring out plans. Or was it?
The Sendoff Crew
Apologies for the lack of photo records of what happend next....but time for the crew became, shall we say, distracted.
At the entrance of the very narrow Dodds Narrows (hence the name, apparently) the steering locked. Zero ability to steer. 6 knot current. Turd filled Captain pants.
After drifting and spinning in the current, Cap't Wiel was able to control the boat with his joystick and called "Gary". Gary, the upgrade and maintenance guru, might be more of a subject for discussion on our voyage than originally thought.
Soon it was agreed we would abandon Nanaimo and head to Gibsons. For those unaware, Nanaimo is on one side of the Georgia Strait and Gibsons is on the other. Further, to get to Gibsons we had to navigate our way through some tight and rock filled waters, with no steering. After a moment, it was suggested that perhaps we could use the uber sophisticated auto navigation system and have the boat steer itself. After a moment of trial, this proved to be amazing! Once the route was programed into the brand new dual Garmin navigation system (which cost more than Pep's Defender repairs - so "a lot") we were cruising smoothly. Nearing the entrance to the Gabriola Passage, the Garmin was performing beautifully but it cannot see things in the water like logs, boats and other obstacles....like prawn traps. With no ability to manually steer, if we encountered such obstacles the driver would have to power down and shift to joystick mode as soon as possible.
Rather than detail the discussion before, and the expletives after, we then found the boat in very fast tidal flows with a prawn trap wrapped on the prop. Our 35,000 lb non-steerable boat was now adrift in fast water with rocks in every direction.
After we talked the Captain out of getting in his dry suit and going under the boat to rescue the prop (we would have never, ever seen him again and then who would then pay for the fuel?) we launched the tender, were able to move the trap float to the side of the boat and the trap float was "sacrificed" using my Leatherman for the second time that day (cutting the banana bread being the first). With a probability of about 3% this actually worked and we were free! Getting the tender back on the boat in these currents was not easy either but our experienced, calm, professional crew prevailed.
The rest of the crossing of the Strait was uneventful (because your writer was napping) until we got close to Gibsons when yet another issue arose. We thought this was significant and might change the whole itinerary but it turned out to be cedar bark wrapped on the prop that "Gary" adeptly reversed off when we trialed the repairs. The steering had been fixed relatively easily.
Gibsons was very successful with several people involved as seen in the photos.
We finally were able to leave Gibsons and said goodbye to Gary and his team, for now.
We headed north on the eastern side of the Georgia Strait past Sechelt and Sakinaw Lake and Powell River. On the way, we touched base with Captain Eric. Surprisingly, or not, he and Lolo were having issues of their own and were heading back to Pender Harbour for repairs.
Apparently his brand new boat was having issues with his "black water holding tank". It was full. It was unable to pump out, not a simple problem. A constipated boat does not travel for too long. This issue will have to be reported on later. As suggested, Eric was full of it!
Yoga is not necessary when boating
We decided to stop at Lund for the night before heading to Desolation Sound for a few days. After a quick 12 hour FIRST day our adventures have begun. We were ready for our chicken marbella and beautiful salad dinner!
Lund, British Columbia