Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spring Fling 2015

Last month we had another wonderful Spring Fling at Deer Harbor, WA.  Over 30 American Tugs in attendance.  Thanks to Rex & Susan for hosting a fun weekend.
















Thanks for a really good event!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

Cortes Island to Ladysmith    88-miles

The last couple days of the trip is the run home from the Desolation Sound area.  The choice is which way to go; down the Vancouver Island side or along the mainland side.  Normally there are some great stops along the way.  The east side has the Copelands, Lund, walking the beaches of Savory Island, the Harmony Islands, Pender, etc..  The west side has Comox, Hornby, Lasqueti and Newcastle Island, etc.. Everyone has their favorite spots and they are all worth more time.  We, of course, are going to blow past all of them and keep moving south.

The weather report looks nice with a 5-10 knot north westerly breeze and flat sea state.  We will be on the ebb tide until about 1pm then a big flood will come, remember that we are now south of Cortes and the ebb flows southerly.  The flood tide will oppose the likely growing afternoon northerly wind and stand the seas up a bit more than the smooth morning seas.  The ebb is favorable to our trip south and then as we get towards Nanaimo we will be bucking the current, when we are trying to enter the Gulf Islands it will be near max-flood at Dodd Narrows, Gabriola or Porlier Pass.  The large flood means that all of the passes & narrows into the Gulf's will be flowing between 5-7 knots against us which will be prohibitive.

Whiskey Golf is closed on this day, this should always be checked as the test area WG will need to be navigated around should the Canadian Forces be active.  Listen to the VHF weather and listen for this detail.

6:40 AM: Checked the engine and genset, added 1-quart of oil to the main, it has been running great.

7 AM: Fired up the engine and departed Cortes Bay.

Looking west into Desolation Sound
7:15 AM: Gerry and I talked about which way to go, choosing between the east and west sides as we head south to the Gulf Islands.  We chose to go along the east shore mostly because we were considering a stop at Lund to hit the bakery and since WG was closed we could beeline across the Straits of Georgia.  Mileage either way is basically the same.

Lund

8:15 AM: We passed Lund, but had forgotten about visiting the bakery.

9:45 AM:  Passed Powell River

2 PM:  Crossing over from south end of Texada towards Nanaimo, wind has built to 15-knots and the seas are stacking 1-2 feet with the new flood tide, still very nice.

Dodd Narrows - watch out for very strong currents - we waited for calmer water

4:10 PM:  Arrived at Dodd Narrows, max flood at 4:14pm running 6.9-knots northerly (against us).  This is not something to mess with.

4:30 PM:  Anchor down in False Narrows, 30-feet of water.  Nap time.

Dodd Narrows - better conditions transiting

6:45 PM: We head through Dodd on the dying flood.  Smooth passage.

8:13 PM:  Tied up at Dunsmuir Island near Ladysmith.

A really nice one-day passage from the Desolation area to the Gulf Islands.


Ladysmith  to La Conner    69.5-miles

I am wrapping up this series on our delivery of La Rose to La Conner.   You know how to work your way home from the Gulf Islands and I don't want this to get boring.

Sunrise over the Gulf Islands

In short we got up early, checked the boat over and fired up the engine.  Then left as early as possible so that we could clear customs in Anacortes before 2:30 PM when the Border Protection Agents close the shop in mid-afternoon and clear the Ferry from Sydney.   We then made our way down the Swinomish to La Conner and my dock along Trawler Row.  We tied up at 3:30 in the afternoon.

My crew - Scott & Gerry

Our entire delivery from Ketchikan to La Conner was a joy.  The boat performed very well, we ate good food and told a lot of jokes.  A fun week!

The trip was 664.7 miles.  We added 91-hours to the Lehman 135.  7-1/2 days on the water very well spent.

Thanks for reading,

Steve

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

Port Harvey to Cortes Bay    78-miles

An interesting day on the water.  We passed through five rapids in one day, while piloting a motor sailor.

4:50 AM:  Up and at it.  We have to make it 53-miles and through two rapids before reaching Dent & Yaculta.   We need to make an early start.  It is not yet light out.  We will be catching the flood for 1.5-hours, then bucking the ebb until we get to Dent at slack water, then riding the new flood down to Cortes Island.

4:55 AM:  Checked engine and genset.  Fired up the furnace.  Fired up the engine.  No need for the genset today as we are heading out.

5 AM:  Depart Port Harvey.  It is early and we have enough light to see.  Full moon.  Water is flat calm.

Rainbow over Johnstone Straits

8 AM:  Now bucking the tide, we find good current relief by cruising in the 20-fathom line off the north side of Hardwicke Island and make 8.35-knots.

8:25 AM:  Entered Wellborne Channel.

Whirlpool Rapids running 5.2-knots

8:44 AM:  Fun begins!  Whirlpool Rapids is running max ebb at 8:39 AM, we knew this would be poorly timed.  We make it thru at 2.75-knots SOG.  We never raised the engine RPM or took any chances here, it is a narrow channel but has always been kind to me.

Deer along Cordero Channel

9:30 AM:  Again we are making great time working up the shoreline along the south side of Cordero Channel, staying out of the current in 20-fathoms.  Up to 8.7-knots SOG, which is great for an 8-knot boat.

10:15 AM:  Moved thru Greene Point Rapids against the ebb at 4-knots SOG.

Dent

12:10 PM:  Entered Dent Rapids.  Slack is supposed to be 12:42 PM.  We saw little current.  I have tremendous respect for Dent and try to always base my timing on this point.

12:25 PM:  Passed thru Gillard Rapids, between Gillard and Jimmy Judd Islands across from Big Bay.

12:38 PM:  Passed thru Yaculta Rapids.  Slack is 12:47 PM.  Again we saw little current.

3:55 PM:  Arrived Cortes Bay, on the southern edge of Cortes Island.

Cortes Bay - SYC Outstation
 Five rapids in one day with an 8-knot boat.  We have moved from Ketchikan to Desolation Sound in 6-days.  Again this is a delivery and not a cruise, but it has been really fun.  Good boat and good friends.

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

Fury Cove to Port Harvey via Port McNeil     101-Miles

Gorgeous weather this morning.  A full moon over the ocean, from Fury Cove we can see the water is flat.  Perfect for rounding Cape Caution and beginning the next phase of this trip,

4:55 AM:  Fired up the furnace, checked and fired up the genset.

5 AM:  Checked and fired up the main engine

5:05 AM:  Rigged the vessel for silent running.  OK; I like submarine movies, we rigged the boat for rounding Cape Caution which means we put stuff away, cleared the chart table of phones, extra chargers, books and other potential flying objects.

Rigged for silent running - notice the flat seas!

5:10 AM:  Anchor up, anchor light off, running & steaming light on, exited Fury Cove.  Winds calm, seas flat, 1-foot swell.

8 AM:  Rounded Cape Caution.  2-foot NW swell, no wind, perfect angle for heading down Queen Charlotte Strait.

Cape Caution - great weather for a rounding

12:50 PM:  We spotted whales 1/2-mile to port, off the NW end of Malcolm Island.

2 PM:  Port McNeil fuel dock.  Put on 191-gallons of diesel.  Said hello to Steve & Jessica Jackman, they have done a great job of making Port McNeil a fun destination when up in the Broughton area. Check out their party platform, new barbecue and expanded guest moorage.

3:30 PM: Departed Port McNeil, destination is Port Harvey.  Should be able to ride the flood current down Johnstone Straits.

La Rose at Port Harvey - Support the locals so they are there when you need them

7:45 PM:  Arrived Port Harvey.  We are the only guests tonight.  George is getting the place ready for the season, the Red Shoe will be opening in a few weeks.  Great to talk with him.

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

Rescue Bay to Fury Cove    83-Miles

Today was a grey day, low clouds and sporatic rainfall.  A good day to lay down miles.

6:30 AM:  Engine checked and fired up.  Furnace on.  Weather report is pretty benign.

6:45 AM:  Anchor raised and we motored out of Rescue Bay. Headed South in Mathieson Channel, which is normally gorgeous.  Today with the low clouds we are only able to enjoy that the water is calm.


Reid Passage - A narrow but easy shortcut

8:55 AM:  Entered Reid Passage.  It is a fun but tight shortcut between Mathieson and Seaforth Channels.  Last time through here I pulled out chart 3710, the fine detail chart for this area, this time around we did not have it aboard.  The electronic charts worked fine, but I would have preferred the extra reference.  Offering full disclosure; it is probably the only time I would have pulled a paper chart for the entire trip.

Reid Passage - Chart 3710 looks much better

11:05 AM: Passing Bella Bella the cell phone lights up with messages.  This is the first coverage since Prince Rupert.  Worked for about 5-miles.

12:40 PM:  Turned south onto Fitz Hugh Sound.

4 PM:  Raining hard, 15 knot southerly, small chop.  We had planned to anchor in Pruth Bay and walk out to the sand beaches on the west side of Calvert Island.  As the rain is pretty strong we decided to keep moving south and head for Fury Cove at the south end of Penrose,  this will allow for fast departure in the morning around Cape Caution.  Weather report for tomorrow looks ideal.

Fury Cove on Penrose Island - white shell beach

5:45 PM:  Anchor down in Fury Cove. This is a lovely spot, protected from the Pacifics swell but with a low white shell beach that you can look over from your anchored boat and see the ocean to the west.

Some days on a delivery are not very exciting.  I would have loved to turned north to Ocean Falls, East to Codville Lagoon or Fougner Bay, or stopped and hung at Pruth for several days. All of these are favorite spots and worthy of more time.

Stay tuned: Tomorrow we round Cape Caution and head towards Port McNeil.

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

Lowe Inlet to Rescue Bay (via Kynoch Falls)    104-Miles

After missing the tides the previous we were ready for good day on the water.

The Princess Royal Channel is the next long channel along the Inside Passage and a positive current along its length would be beneficial.  The tidal convergence is near Swanson Bay, and high tide there was going to be around 1:45pm.  Our starting point at Lowe Inlet had a high tide around 1:15AM and a low at 7:15AM, some 55-miles to the north.  Our plan was to leave Lowe Inlet at first light and ride the remaining ebb to Wright Sound and then enter Princess Royal Channel on the flood with a current boost. 

Let's see how the day unfolded:

5:40 AM:  Checked the engine & genset.  Fired up the genset & furnace.  Gerry made coffee.

5:50 AM:  Switched fuel tanks and fired up the main. 

6 AM:  Pulled the anchor and departed Lowe Inlet.

8 AM:  Exited Grenville after hitting up to 9.8-knots SOG!

Scott taking a turn at the helm

9:45 AM: Passed the BC Ferry "Northern Adventure" in Wright Sound and spotted our first whale in McKay Reach.

10:05 AM: Entered Princess Royal Channel

1 PM:  Passed Swanson Bay ahead of slack water, we had boat speeds up to 9.5-knots (SOG), now only 7-knots (SOG) as we began to buck the the remaining flood that was filling from the south end.

2 PM: Entered Hiekish Narrows, decided that we made such good time we would deter via Sheep Passage to the Fiordlands and see Kynoch Falls.

Kynoch Falls in the Fiordlands

5 PM: Kynoch Falls are gorgeous!  This is an area that I would like to take more time and explore further on the next trip.

7:10 PM:  Anchored in Rescue Bay & shut off the engine.  A great day on the water.




Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery Home

Prince Rupert to Lowe Inlet   57-Miles

The Inside Passage along the  British Columbia Coast is largely made up of fjords, a flooded coastal mountain range that created the many islands, inlets and passages.  The "main route" or "highway" between Fitz Hugh Sound and Prince Rupert are the Grenville & Princess Royal Channels.  There are other passages and routes, but the majority of yachts, fishing boats, cruise ships and ferries transiting the passage stay on this shortest and sheltered route.

Two ships or one?  A lighthouse south of Prince Rupert

We are working our way south at a pretty rapid pace, with limited time for this delivery.  We too are travelling the main channels and I wanted to take a little space to talk about the way the tides and currents affect these waters.  Channels are different than inlets in that they are open at both ends, as a result they fill and drain with tidal flow from/to both ends. It can be a great benefit if you plan your transit with this in mind.

Our first long channel is the Grenville.  The North end is 25-miles below Prince Rupert, the other end is 45-miles to the south.  The tidal convergance/divergance is near Evening Point, this is the point that a flood tides fills to, or an ebb drains from.  

My quick calculaton for the day:  Departing Prince Rupert, our days destination is Lowe Inlet, which is 10-miles south of the convergence.  The convergence is 48-miles away, or about 6-hours at 8-knots (our hull speed).  High tide is 1:26PM and is 13.5-foot rise so the current will be significant. With a couple of knot boost we will need to leave around 9:00AM to catch the current and arrive at the convergence at 1:30PM (4.5-hours).  Once we get to Evening Point the tide should change and we, in theory, should be able to ride the ebb towards Lowe Inlet for the final 10-miles (For a total of 5.5+ hours)

Let's see what we really did:

8 AM:  Checked the engine and fired up the Ford Lehman, noticed the charge voltage was too low. Shut down the engine.  Inspected the alternator and its belt.  I pulled the external regulator and alternator off the engine.  We walked to the local Prince Rupert NAPA auto parts store and hoped we could test the gear, unfortuneatly they got rid of their alternator testing machine a few years ago...  Bought a new regulator, they did not stock our alternator.  The local motor rewind shop is closed on weekends so that was not an option.  We then went out to breakfast as we had already missed our tide!   Re-installed the alternator, put in the new regulator and...

Steve pulling the alternator

12:10 PM:  Fired up the engine and the alternator worked.

12:20 PM:  Departed Prince Rupert.

3:50 PM:  Entered Grenville Channel, bucking the current we made the 25-miles in 3.5-hours.

Grenville Channel - it is really gorgeous!

6:40 PM:  Passed Evening Point (6.3-hours)

8:10 PM:  Anchored in Lowe Inlet after bucking a couple knots current for much of the trip  (7.8-hours total, Ouch!  Missing the tide cost us roughly 2.5-hours)

Verney Falls

Lowe Inlet and and and its upper moorage Nettle Basin is gorgeous.  Verney Falls puts on a great show at low tides.  We anchored in 45-feet of water and had a great nights sleep.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

 Ketchikan to Prince Rupert    85-miles

Bar Harbor Marina in Ketchikan - A calm day for rounding Dixon Entrance

Today is our first day on the move as we head out of Ketchikan towards La Conner.

4:30AM  It is light out early up here!  I woke up twenty minutes before my alarm clock rang.  Wind and weather conditions are calm.  Should be a good day for crossing Dixon Entrance.  Our days destination is Prince Rupert, British Columbia.  This is one of the two open water legs where the route is exposed to the Pacific Ocean.  Today's conditions look very favorable.

4:50AM  Checked the engine and systems, fired up the Ford Lehman 135hp engine.

5:10AM  We have La Rose untied and unplugged.  We leave the slip at Bar Harbor Marina.

5:20AM  Engine quits.  Damn!  A quick check showed high vacuum on the Racor fuel filter, we switched the lever on the twin Racor filters and she fired right back up.  I changed out the old filter and put in a fresh 10-micron; she ran great for the balance of the day.  Dual Racors are great!

Moxie - American Tug 485-04 at Dixon Entrance

Brown Eyes - American Tug 485-03 at Dixon Entrance

12:05PM  Spoke with the American Tug 485 hull #3 as Brown Eyes was rounding Dixon heading north towards Ketchikan today.  We were about 1-mile further offshore.  Saw American Tug 485 hull #4 Moxie and also Lily, the American Tug 365 hull #12 which I have for sale.

Lily - American Tug 365-12 at Dixon Entrance
1:12PM  We passed over the US & Canadian Border.  We actually did this a couple of times as we "tacked" in the 2-3 foot waves, which was more comfortable than taking the waves directly on the beam.  Normally I would steady the boat with its sails, but this is a delivery and not a cruise.



3:30PM  Entered Venn Passage, the back door into Prince Rupert



5:15PM  Tied up at the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club.  Friendly Yacht Club.

A good day on the water, 85 miles and rounded one of the obstacles along this path.  Tomorrow we enter the Fjords and a 50-mile day towards Lowe Inlet, near the Evening Point Convergence.



Be sure to download one of my Inside Passage Distance Tables.  A helpful route planning and timing guide for optimizing the currents.  Get one here.

Thanks for following along!   Steve

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ketchikan to La Conner 2015: A delivery home

Ketchikan to La Conner    650-miles   May 1st thru ?


La Rose - a 1980 Nauticat 44 motor sailor

Last month I gave my friend Gerry a call and said the usual "We have another 'once in a lifetime' adventure, you in?"  Gerry replied "sure, what are we doing?"  "Bringing a boat home from Ketchikan".  He replied "sounds like fun, when are we leaving?"  Gerry is always up for another life experience, and it is always great to have him along.

The Inside Passage should be respected in the off-season.  The weather becomes more dependable beginning in May, and the Trawlerfest Anacortes boat show begins on May 14th, those two items dictated my schedule.  I booked my Alaska Airlines ticket for April 28th hoping to get a two-day head start...

On Tuesday morning, the 28th, the Alaska flight attendant said "those heading for Ketchikan may want to leave the plane, we will not be landing in Ketchikan this morning due to the high winds".  The previous night I checked NOAA weather and saw a gale warning.   That morning the Airport was closed due to the storm and recorded a 104-knot wind gust.  So much for trying for a two-day head start!  A quick check of my Accuweather Marine Weather app showed that storm had been upgraded to "hurricane force winds", I had never seen that on NOAA previously.  We flew in that evening, found the boat and went to sleep; the adventure had begun.

The Safeway Store near Bar Harbor Marina - boxes for boaters!  Gerry & Scott.

The next morning we inventoried the boat, a nice 1980 Nauticat 44 named La Rose which I had sold several years earlier.  We would be helping the owner by bringing her home after 5-years in Ketchikan.  Our third crew member is Scott from Santa Rosa, you may remember him from last summers delivery aboard an American Tug from San Francisco to LA.

Ketchikan is a compact town, spread out below a hillside along the shores of Tongass Narrows, most everything is within walking distance of Bar Harbor marina which is centrally located.  Nearby is a Safeway store, several good breakfast diners and the famous Tongass Trading Company marine store, my personal  favorite in this town.  The Safeway has a pallet of folded boxes near the checkstands so that patrons can pack their groceries for trips aboard fishing boats, seaplanes, yachts and landing craft to where people live and work in the surrounding community, this is Alaska.

Tongass Trading's Marine store near the marina.  Best crab & prawn trap selection anywhere.

Xtratuf boot selection; dress like a local!
The weather following Tuesday's windstorm has been mostly windy and rainy, with 25-35 knots on the water and 6-8 foot waves at Dixon Entrance.   We used this extra time to check all the mechanical systems aboard La Rose, clean the decks, get provisions, and wait.   Friday is looking promising, May 1st!, right on schedule.  The NOAA weather prediction is now for a SE Wind 15-knots and 3-foot seas at Dixon Entrance.  That is what I was hoping for on the crossing over to Prince Rupert.  We will be leaving at first light tomorrow morning.  Stay tuned!

You can check the US NOAA marine forecasts here:  http://www.arh.noaa.gov/wmofcst.php?wmo=FZAK51PAJK&type=marine

The Canadian forecast is here:  http://weather.gc.ca/marine/forecast_e.html?mapID=01&siteID=03300

I like to watch both the US NOAA and Canadian weather.