Saturday, October 10, 2009

Princess Louisa

Friel Falls

Sunset in Harmony Islands

Heading down Jervis Inlet to Princess Louisa and Malibu Camp

The Monkey Fist: one of the many knots Grant learned how to tie

Malibu Camp

Hiking near Chatterbox Falls...wish there were switch-backs

At the top of our hike

Hello all from the decks of the Osprey.

The last few days have been some of the most beautiful of our trip, starting with our best day of sailing while traveling from Desolation Sound to Princess Louisa Inlet. We had almost 5 hours of 10 plus knot following winds in the exact direction that we wanted to go. This allowed us to spend the sunny afternoon sailing directly downwind with both our asymmetric spinnaker and mainsail wing-on-wing, and our boat speed never dropping below 5 knots over the ground. We finished this day in one of the most beautiful group of small Islands called the Harmony Islands. They are nestled a few miles inside of Jervis Inlet, directly below Friel Falls. These falls had the largest free-fall of water that we have ever seen, coming from a lake 4,000 feet high. See pic below.

The next morning we got up bright and early for our long haul up to Malibu (not Hawaii), Chatterbox Falls, and Princess Louisa Inlet. The best way to describe this journey is to think about the mountains while driving over Washington Pass, but you are on a boat at sea level the whole time. There are unbelievable peaks, waterfalls, and glaciers all topped off by the Young Life Camp at Malibu Rapids. While drifting off shore at Malibu gawking at the beautiful architecture and setting of the Malibu camp, the food services director invited us to tie up to the dock and tour the facilities. They could not have been more gracious of hosts, and being that there were currently no campers there we were able to take a full tour including a great history lesson of this camp as well as other Young Life camps around the Northwest. Claire was flooded with wonderful memories of being a counselor 9 years ago.

That evening we moored up at the head of the inlet directly below Chatterbox Falls. The next morning Claire insisted that we went on a 3 hour hike directly up the side of the mountains at the head of the inlet to a waterfall, abandoned cabin, and an impressive view of the inlet. This could quite possibly be the steepest hike that I have ever been on. We gained over 1500 feet of elevation without a single switchback. The view made this climb all worth while. We are currently anchored in Pender Harbour and set to begin the final stretch of our travels. We are planning on spending the next two days heading South through the Gulf Islands, with the hoped of making it back to the States by Monday for Emma's Birthday.

See you all soon,
Osprey Crew

Monday, October 5, 2009

We are still having a whale of a time...

Jerry guiding Osprey through the rapids.

Claire and Grant at the helm while sailing down Johnstone Straight.

Humpback Whale doing a barrel roll.

Humpbacks canoodling.

Osprey at dusk in the Broughton Group.

Sunrise at Forward Harbour.

Entrance to Dent Rapids.

Since Port McNeill, we have sailed to a group of islands called the Broughton Group—numerous rugged rock-face islands across the south-end of Queen Charlotte Strait from Vancouver Island. They are probably all of our favorite group of islands that we have seen thus far. As we were motoring to our second nights anchorage we were once again delighted by the presence of hump-back whales. I don’t know if they were as happy to see us as the two whales were caught in a “private moment.” I think they were mating, and if not mating then at least canoodling! There was a lot of noise, splashing, and rolling around going on. Check out our pictures for evidence!

We have been blessed to see a wide variety of wildlife around Vancouver Island. We have seen Orcas, hump-back whales, porpoises (swimming a long side our sailboat), sea-lions, seals, sea-otters, black bears, eagles, and many sea-gulls.

Since Grant and I bought our wellies, it has not rained! The last four days have been sunny with clear blue skies. We even had enough wind to sail 5-6knots with our A-symmetric sail for three hours straight yesterday (in my experience wind usually comes with foul weather!) Today we motored through 4 sets of rapids: Wellbore Channel, Green Rapids, Dent Rapids, and Yucult Rapids. We were traveling 13 knots over the ground because of these strong currents. It didn’t help that it was a full moon two nights ago.

We are now anchored in Desolation Sound at Refuge Cove. We plan on enjoying the next couple of days exploring Desolation Sound, and then will make our way south to Jervis Inlet to explore Princess Louisa (aka. Malibu, for people who have done Young Life). We are all healthy, still enjoying each other’s presence, eating many loaves of home-made bread, and reading more books than I can ever remember reading. Please keep sending us comments. We love to hear from you all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Around the Cape and comin' back south

Hey all

Just a quick note as we are leaving Port McNeil...we have made it around the scary Cape Scott, the northern-most cape of Vancouver Island--but of course not without 25 knots of wind!

We are now coming back south through the Inside Passage. When we have more internet time we will update you more with some pictures. Grant and I have now purchased ourselves some wellies (rain boots) since we are enjoying an immense amount of rain. It is our fault that we are sailing in October!

Take care and thinking of you all.

Osprey Crew

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Caretakers of Osprey

Fishing boats in Coal Harbor

Waking up to fog in Holberg Inlet

The day after the rain storm

During the rain storm-- see how the wind is pushing us off the dock!

Mammoth Oysters from Bligh Island

The team of sea-lions from Bligh Island

It has been awhile since we have last blogged. However, we have not run into too many big surprises (like storms or whales!) Well, we did run into a rain storm where there was non-stop down pour for over 24 hours—it must have rained 3 inches or so. We were anchored up in Queens Cove, near Esperanza Inlet. Our anchor was holding well in the rain storm, but as the winds gusted up to 25 knots, we decided we needed to find a more sheltered anchorage. At this point, four angel loggers motored over to our lonely boat and mentioned that there was a “log-dump” just around on the other side of the cove with a boom that we could tie up to. We had no idea what this “log-dump” would look like, but sure enough as we motored through the horrific rain and wind we came across a large wooden dock where we could tie up. This then allowed us to have a restful night sleep instead of doing anchor watches all night.

Other things we have enjoyed doing this past week: harvesting our own mammoth muscles and oysters, watching a ballet of jumping fish (there were so many they kept triggering our depth sounder alarm in the wee hours of the morning...poor dad!), sea-lions hunting in teams for the "jumping fish," eagles perched in trees spying on the fish, and lastely the many hump-back whales we have had the pleasure to watch from a distance!

Now as I write this blog, Grant and I are enjoying lovely sunny days up in Quatsino Sound in a small fishing village called Coal Harbor near the northern tip of Vancouver Is. Jerry left yesterday on a bus from Port Hardy back to Washington where he is taking care of business for a couple of days. Thus, Grant and I are taking on the roles as caretakers to Osprey for four days. We are enjoying exploring this remote logging/fishing region, meeting the friendly locals (one of which drove us into town to buy groceries and another invited us into their house to show us their son’s wood carving decorations!), and taking advantage of the naturals surroundings and baking ourselves a nice blackberry crumble from the blackberries we picked at the end of the dock!

Our plan is to leave Sunday from Coal Harbor and make our way around Cape Scott and then finally down the inside passage of Vancouver Island.

Hope everyone is doing well.
The Osprey Crew

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jerry and Claire soaking their feet in the warms springs at Ahauset.

Bread rising as it sit on the diesel motor.

Whale Tale

After spending Sunday afternoon in the Broken Group Islands we decided that it was high time that we actually clear customs into Canada…this meant that we needed to pull up anchor and make the 11 mile treck north, in thick fog, to Ucluelet. This is a small fishing port at the North West corner of Barkley Sound. We spend the night tied up to the government dock, while Claire made fresh bread. The trickiest part of bread making on a boat is finding a warm place to let the dough sit and rise. As long as we are not underway we have found that perfect place…sitting on top of the Volvo diesel motor in the engine compartment. Thislace stays very warm for a long period of time after motoring for while. Claire has now baked two loaves of bread, and each has not lasted longer than a day.

Monday provided the Osprey crew a day to make the next leg of our journey up to Tofino and beyond. We all agreed that Tofino did not provide the shelter that we wanted from the upcoming gale so we would continue up the coast about 15 miles more to Clayoquot Sound and Flores Island where there is a small village named Ahouset that was just what we were looking for. Good anchorage, not swarming with tourists, and a small general store to restock essentials like bananas, flour, and butter.

The sail started of quite nicely. The sun was out, we had between 9 and 12 knots of wind and it was coming from the east which would provide us with a chance to fly the asymmetric spinnaker. But the typical finicky Pacific Winds died just as we had the sail up and were starting to get comfortable, and we were forced to bring down the sail and motor the majority of the 40 plus miles up to Ahouset. Just under 2 hours into our trip (9:45 am) we were all peacefully enjoying the ride when out of no where the boat came to a sudden jarring stop and the water exploded from underneath us. Instantly there was a second equally forceful collision and a giant plume of water, about 10-15 feet high, burst out of the ocean from the aft port side of the boat. WE HAD HIT A WHALE!

We all quickly spring into action. Jerryde-throttled the motor, and Grant and Claire went below to make sure that no water was coming into the boat. After running the boat through its paces we concluded that no significant damage was done to the rudder, keel, or prop; no water was coming into the bilges and everything seemed to be where it should be.

The rest of the journey to Ahauset was uneventful. We pulled into Ahauset, docked at the general store and did a walk around of the boat to see if we could find any damage. The starboard aft portion of the boat had a large scratch and the port aft portion of the boat had a large splatter mark on it. Both seem to have come from the whale, but neither are very serious. After stopping by the general store and then dropping anchor we went to the warm springs at the end of the bay and soaked our feet in the 77 degree water. All of us were very tired and relieved to have made it to our anchorage all in one piece.

Currently we are resupplying and using the internet at Tahsis, a small logging town deep in Nootka Sound.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Barkley Sound

After being defeated by the low-pressure storms to San Francisco, we decided to follow the southerly winds north around the west coast of Vancouver Island for the next month. What a relief to know there will be anchorages nearby to tuck into if the weather becomes foul again! We started our new adventure on Sept 11th and sailed back 40 miles north to Barkley Sound (where we had hunkered down for retreat the other night from the storm!) from Neah Bay/ Cape Flattery. What a difference a day makes. Instead of howling winds of 35 knots in the rain, we were pleasantly surprised with cloudless blue skies with 20 knots of favorable winds from the south. We were able to sail the whole way there and have enough of an appetite to BBQ salmon for dinner in Bamfield.

Below are pictures that capture our last two days. We anchored both in Bamfield, a small isolated fishing village inside Barkley Sound and then the Broken Group Is. We have watched sea-lions hunt fish in both day-light and night. (At night with all the phosphoresants, the sea-lions lit up the water. What an incredible site!) We have navigated through the thick fog that encapsulates the islands—thank goodness for GPS, radar, and electronic charts; and we even had a sunset after the fog lifted.

We are all in good health and are enjoying being able to anchor and sleep soundly at night. Thank you for everyone’s thoughts and prayers. We plan to sail north to Tofino and head to Hot Springs Cove the next couple of days.

Barkley Sound is inhabited by countless barking sealions.

Jerry roasting fair trade Sumatra coffee aboard Osprey with his Sonofresco 1lb coffee raoster.

Leaving Bamfield in style.

Grant went for a snorkel in the freezing water to remove kelp that
wrapped itself around the rudder during the storm.
Sunset while anchored at Jarvis Island of the Broken Group Islands.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Change of Plans

We headed out of Neah Bay by noon on Tuesday Spetember 8th, knowing that there was a low-pressure system in front of us making its way for the north end of Vancouver Island, and the winds in our path were to die after midnight. The first day of sailing wouldn't be great, but managable, and we would have 3-4 great days after that of good weather to help get us down to San Francisco. We spent the majority of the day motoring south taking us 30 miles off the coast. After dinner time (thank you mom for the beef stew!) the winds picked up from the east and we were making great headway down Washington's cost, sailing at 7-8 knots with winds at 12-15 knots. Great sailing! But at around midnight this all rapidly changed. The low-pressure system that was supposed to make its way well north of us decided to head straight over us. The winds kept increasing, rain squalls developed like nothing we had ever experienced, the only visibility was sheet lightening on the horizon, and other shipping was difficult to pin-point on the radar as the rain squalls domminated the screen. At this point it was impossible to penetrate forward along our intended southerly path. At 12:30am, we had fully reefed our sails, and the winds were gusting to 25 knots. There are no boat-holes with safe protection on this part of the coast (we were now 40 miles off the coast), so captain Jerry decided to run with the storm at our back towards Neah Bay where we had started 80 miles away!! The next 14 hours many of those in pitch black darkeness and continuous rain squalls, was a roller coaster ride...literally! with waves up to 20 feet, lifting our stern and propelling us at 10 knots over ground.

By dawn, captain Jerry had been at the helm for 6 hours, having had no sleep for 2 days, and was completely exhausted. Grant regained his sea-legs sufficiently and came to his rescue and relieved him for the next hour (from 5am-6am). All the while Claire was below decks continuously charting our course. By 9am we had reached Cape Flattery, our turning point for the protection of Neah Bay, but the seas prevented this and took us a further 40 miles north onto the South coast of Vancover Is. We ducked into Barkley Sound and sought refuge from the storm in the quiet anchorage at Bamfield, a small fishing town.

It is clear that the Pacific High has disintegrated being replaced by a series of low-pressure systems across the Pacific Ocean. This prevents us from having an adequate window of favorable northerly winds to take us to San Francisco. So we are making the logical decision to follow the southerly winds northwards up the coast of Vancover Is. Our new plan is to circumnavigate, in a clock-wise direction, around Vancover Is. x 1 month. We will miss not having the sun-tans in the middle of the winter!

Pictures to Follow!

The 14 hr storm from Claire's perspective: I was woken up at 12:30am with a bang! I quickly put on my rain gear and PFD and poked my head outside to see rain squalls and howling winds. Grant quickly told me that we were turing around to head back north to Neah Bay b/c we were up against a strong low-pressure storm. My hands and legs quickly began to shake. The boat was being tossed around over the growing waves and there was thunder and lightening above us. In my mind I thought we were going to die! Images of the movie White Squall ran through my mind, as well as other fatal boat stories that I have read. I kept telling myself to breath and to stop my imagination from getting the best of me. Grant and dad told me to stay below and chart our course to make sure we were heading in the right direction...north! I was thankful to be needed, as well as be occupied every 30 minutes to plot our course. I can't tell you how many times I prayed to God that night to calm the seas. My body was tense x 14 hrs and no sleep was had as I had to make sure that my dad would stay awake at the helm. Both Grant and dad were my heros that night. Thank you God for getting us out of that storm safely!

The storm from Grant's perspective: During the storm there were only two places that I could be without feeling sick. At the helm, which was not a place a wanted to be, and laying on my back in the salon with my eyes closed. Any other place would make me start to feel sick. The storm and the seas, though horrible, were not the worst part for me. What made this night so rough was knowing that the closest safe anchorage was 70 plus miles away, and we ended up having to go 40 miles past that. The idea of having to be wet, sick, and tired for such a long period of time was no good. I was so proud of Claire for charting the whole time and very impressed with Jerry for being able to helm for such a long period of time, in the dark, with very little sleep. No sleep has ever felt so good at the nap I took after anchoring in Bamfield.

Tuesday Night from Jerry's Perspective: We are obviously disappointed that we are not heading to San Francisco, but am very releived that have come through this storm with both the boat and crew fully intact. While we were all reaching the point of near exhaustion by the end of this experience I was most appreciative of how well we all worked together in a very calm and cohesive fashion. The Osprey performed flawlessly and I was most impressed at how she handled these very rough conditions. While standing at the helm in the driving rain and pitch-black conditions feeling but not seeing the giant waves there was never a point that I felt we were in danger or couldn't handle the conditions. It was merely a question of how long could I stay awake and think clearly. Claire and Grant were absolutely wonderful and performed all of their tasks without question.