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.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bon Voyage...kind of?!?!?

First off...THANK YOU to everyone that was able to make it out to our Bon Voyage party in Anacortes. It really means a lot to us that so many people made the effort to come out on a Holiday Weekend. We were even able to find a window when the skies were dry and the wind was manageable. A small crew of Jerry, Claire, Jacqueline, Emma, Sam, and Grant sailed Osprey out to Shaw Island, while Carol, Janice, Martin, Caleb, Dan, Sarah, and Matthew took the ferry out. We spent a lovely evening enjoying the last meal with all of our family. Martin educated everyone on the importance of eating cupcakes in one bite, Claire and I stretched our legs for one last run before spending a couple of weeks on the boat, and last minute preparations were made on the boat including a fuel top off at Friday Harbor. Now for the "kind of part...."

We can plan and plan as much as we want, but sometime God has other ideas. Humbling...

The plan was to leave Shaw early on Monday, Sept 7th, and head for Neah Bay, the western edge of WA state. However, related to the foul and wet weather we have decided to wait and leave Shaw at 10:30pm tomorrow, Monday the 7th. We will sail for ~20 hours to Neah Bay, getting our first overnighter under our belt. We plan to do 2 hrs on and 4 hrs off overnight at the helm. Thank goodness we brought a coffee roaster (thank you Robert) along with us so we can roast fresh coffee every night!

Till next time!

Grant, Claire, and Jerry