To Port Hardy and Beyond!

July 4th was a busy repair day. The mechanics arrived on schedule with 4 brand new batteries. Then the electrician arrived and replaced the old isolator with a modern charger (1/5 the size but more effective). And drum roll . . . the battery alarm and siren no longer lit up or sounded. Hip Hip Hooray!

The Captain did some investigating of the tender that led to some cleaning and tidying of the bilge. He discovered that the fuel filter was not properly mounted but we easily found the proper screws and plugs in our newly organized equipment. Problem solved. Check!

After all the repairs were complete we walked again to the grocery store for our final provisioning for our trip north.

The local native dugout canoe went by our dock complete with chanting giving us our final blessing!

We ended our day with a needed shower, a good meal and fireworks on TV. We both feel ready. In fact, we both thought about Moses being tested by God in the desert. Thankfully, our test did not last 40 days! However, because of our boat problems, repairs and delays we have learned so much more about the True Love and her many systems. We’ve cleaned and organized everything. And now we both are ready for the adventure we had planned.

So we set our alarm for 6:30 AM and collapsed in bed excited for our True Love Adventures to come.

The First Mate woke up at 6 AM, anxious and excited and woke the Captain who would have preferred the extra half hour of sleep but rallied anyway, as we began our 100+ mile, 10-hour cruise north to Port Hardy, which is at the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

I write this about an hour south of Port Hardy. We hit the weather jackpot with calm seas, no wind and clearing skies. It’s sunny now although there are several thunder clouds in the distant mountains.

About half way to Port Hardy we passed Cormorant Island, named after the paddle sloop HMS Cormorant in 1864. About 1,000 people live on the Island and it has ferry service to other nearby islands and Vancouver Island. 60% of the people on the island live on the First Nation reservations there.

Watchful eyes are important because of all the debris in the water on this part of our cruise.

We passed some more dolphins fishing and pulled out our Whales and Dolphin book because they looked a little different than our last encounter. But it turns out they were both “Pacific White-Sided Dolphins”. Maybe we will also spot some Dall’s Porpoise or Northern Right Whale Dolphins on our trip. We hope so.

It’s exciting for both of us to be someplace we have never been before. And we saw another humpie!

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks good for our 50 mile crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound. Visibility is very good today and we can easily see the mainland which is comforting. According to all the reference texts, the key is to arrive at River’s Inlet during a flood tide.

Port Hardy was a bust. I’m sure it’s a very nice place, but there was no calm place to anchor and no spots available at the marina. However, just an hour northeast of Port Hardy there are several small islands with potential places to anchor. One in particular was recommended to us by our Seattle dock neighbors Mike & Kathy of “Rain Dancer”: God’s Pocket Resort. We called them and they told us where they were and said we could join them for dinner. Now “resort” is a very grandiose descriptor and most people would not include God’s Pocket in that category. It’s a very small inlet with an old collection of modest buildings that are colorful and rustic. What it does have is a sweet little “pocket” in the rocky shore that is protected from the big winds and waves that surround it.

The extra hour made for a very long 12 hour day, but the God’s Pocket Resort proprietor (Clouse) was making the final dinner for their weekly kayak guests so we anchored, showered, dropped the tender and joined in. Clouse met us at the “dock”. He is a 30-something former financier from England who had a number of amazing scuba diving experiences at God’s Pocket including one with a humpie. The original owners were looking to sell so he bought it!

At dinner he described his new experience as buying a “boat on land” as well as 3 other boats. It definitely is a “project” and we wish him and his partner the best of luck. Dinner was a feast and we enjoyed the company of the kayak group. One family was from Cleveland and another group was from Alaska.

Well fed, but pretty tired, we collapsed once again into bed ready to overcome our new hurdle: crossing Queen Charlotte Sound, passing Cape Caution and cruising on into Fitz Hugh Sound and Beyond.

The Big Crossing

We woke early to a foggy morning, pulled up the anchor and headed out. With our new batteries and charger the radar is working perfectly. Because of the fog it was calm. But cruising in the fog is intense. All eyes on deck is the rule of the day because there is a lot of debris in the water up here and the fog makes it even harder to spot the logs. Fortunately, the fog lifted quite a bit as we got away from the islands and into Queen Charlotte Sound.

Although Queen Charlotte Sound looks like crossing the Georgia Strait, it isn’t. As soon as we were out in the open the big ocean swells from the northwest appeared. It wasn’t choppy or windy but the swells were intense and they lasted for all 4 hours. Both of us got a little queazy. This is unusual for The Captain. Ginger beer helped and going below the top deck was something to avoid whenever possible: it was just too “rolely-polely” and not in the happy “Pokey Little Puppies” way.

We passed Cape Caution at almost the exact same time as the Columbia, the big open ocean ferry boat that regularly travels from Bellingham to Alaska and back. Jim took it with his family when he was a kid. It’s almost as big as a cruise ship.

After a long 4 hours we made it to our destination, Fury Cove on Penrose Island. Fury Cove is the first protected anchorage after crossing Rivers Inlet and entering Fitz Hugh Sound. Penrose Island has lots of little islets all around it, creating a variety of fun bays for anchoring and exploring by kayak.

After anchoring, I made my best imitation of our favorite “Raman Ya” curry noodle soup and we watched some Wimbledon on the satelite before taking a well deserved nap. We felt accomplished but, truly exhausted. Being adventure buddies can be tiring!

But to put our adventure in perspective, a group of kayakers arrived at the same time as us. They are kayaking the usually very rough waters all the way from Bella Bella to Port Hardy. Our good friend Robert DeWolf has done this kayak trip and we can’t imagine doing it ourselves. Our hats are off to the Robert DeWolf and anyone else who attempts such a challenge.

Our friend Alan Middleton, when he was much younger, sailed on a relatively small boat to Hawaii. After our 4 hours of swells, the idea of days in the big ocean is mind boggling to us. So while the Captain and First Mate of the True Love are also adventurers, our adventures are quite tame compared to others. However, I’m sure we sleep better and eat better than the folks traveling by kayak!

In the afternoon we used the tender to explore the beautiful white shell beach at Fury Cove and the surrounding small islets. While most of the trees in the forests here are small, there are a few big cedar trees.

After dinner we pulled out our reference texts and charts to schedule our stops all the way up to our final destination north, Fjordland’s Culpepper Lagoon on July 12th, before we head back south towards home.

It’s morning now at Fury Cove. We are very rested, drinking coffee, and enjoying our view of the cove with eagles flying all around. After pulling up anchor we’re heading to Rock Inlet for a couple of days to enjoy our surroundings and kayak. We’ve got high fog here now, but the weather satellite says that it should be clearer at our destination, which is about 25 miles north.

Fitz Hugh Sound was relatively calm today with light winds and following seas as we headed north. Cruising this new territory is fun as we follow along on the chart and investigate different inlets and bays along the way.

Our original destination for today, Rock Inlet, was a bit of a bust. The inlet is near Namu Lake and Namu River, the former site of a large salmon cannery. Although fishing boats were in the main bay, the abandoned large cannery complex is delapitated and badly deteriorated. Nearby Rock Inlet is definitely a 10 out of 10 for protection against winds and waves, unfortunately, it’s only a 4 for ambiance.

The Captain and the First Mate concurred that this was not where we wanted to anchor today so we consulted the reference texts again and picked out a couple of choices further north near Burke Channel.

This is how we discovered Fougner Inlet. And it’s perfect. Probably only a 7 in protection, but definitely a 9 in ambiance and we were the only boat here. As we slowly approached a narrow entry to our anchorage a mother and baby seal welcomed us. The fog lifted while we went out for along kayak around all the little nooks and crannies. The calls eagles and other birds are the high notes to the peaceful sounds of the breeze and the water lapping around us.

Our first few impressions of the BC coast north of Vancouver Island are:

1. It’s massive and would truly take months to explore fully. With so many islands, islets, clusters of islands and islets, there are hundreds of deserted bays, inlets, coves and other interesting places to explore.

2. The forest is different here, the best way to describe it is messy. Trees grow in all shapes and sizes and at all angels, but there aren’t many large old trees. There are lots of silver-colored dead trees in the forest that covers everything you can see. We are not sure if the silver-colored dead trees come from past fires or if they are the usual ways older trees transition here.

3. Fewer marine mammals. We saw one humpie in the distance as we got close to Fury Cove, but other than that we have only seen seals so far, and not very many.

4. The unprotected waters in Queen Charlotte Sound are definitely narly. And when you pass a channel that opens to the unprotected waters the large rolling waves come deep into the protected areas.

Tonight I made pizza on the grill (thanks Greg & Carolyn!) and it came out perfectly thanks to the Trader Joe’s pre-made dough for the crust.

As this late summer day comes to an end, we are sitting on the True Love positioned with an unobstructed view of the sunset listening to the final calls of the eagles and seabirds.

Cruise to Shearwater:

So far we’ve checked out another anchorage nearby, Humchitt Island and we prefer Fougner.

Then we spotted one, two, three eagles flying by and followed them to their destination: a big feeding party with all kinds of water fowl. I took lots of photos. Here are just a few. James and Robert, can you spot the eagle that has a fish in each talon?

And our cruise wouldn’t be complete unless we pass Gillian and Gubby In Caper! They went by just south of the turn to Lama Passage. Today is Gillian’s birthday! Happy Birthday to you🎉🎂🍾.

Shearwater:

And we have arrived in Shearwater: The landscape really opens up around us and we can see where we are headed next. Exciting. The True Love is at the dock and we have phone and internet. Tomorrow we leave for our Rescue Bay and our final destination Culpepper Lagoon in Fjordland.

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Dolphins & Orcas Lead us to the Perfect Anchorage

Days on the True Love don’t get much better than yesterday. We headed out from Erasmus Island heading south for warmer water. The Captain wanted to go on a hunt for wildlife and the First Mate was fine with that plan as long as we had a specific end goal in mind.

Our original goal was Pendrell Sound where the waters are the warmest in Desolation Sound. Within an hour of leaving we ran into a large pod of about 50 dolphins near Fredrick Arm (just south of Dent Island) and we hung out with them for quite a while taking pictures and video.

Because of our great experience with the dolphins we were late to the Dent rapids and they were in full boil running at over 7 knots. The more youthful Captain and First Mate of the True Love would have plowed right through with no doubt that their two big 375 horsepower engines would charge through the rapids without a problem. The more wise and seasoned officers of the True Love, however, understand that we live in a quantum theory world of Schrodinger’s Cat theory where equipment can work and not work at the same time and you don’t really know which it is until you enter the rapids.

So we turned off the engines in the bay north of Dent and peacefully floated for a quiet lunch, listening the roar of the rapids. Our patience was rewarded with another interaction with the large pod of dolphins. More pictures and video!

After the rapids calmed down and the dolphins moved on we made our way through the rapids without incident. We were monitoring the chatter from the whale excursion boats and it appeared there were orcas near Toba Inlet, the correct direction for us, so we continued to head that way.

On our way we saw a lot of eagles at Jimmy John Island (near Big Bay on Stuart Island).

As we got close to the reported sighting of the orcas, a tour boat zipped by. We decided to speed up and follow the tour boat and we were rewarded with a long interaction with a big mother orca and her two babies.

The Captain even spotted a very scared seal quietly hiding in the rocks on shore just above the waterline. It was one of those happy National Geographic moments where the prey was scared, but spared.

While following the orcas south down Homfray Channel the First Mate consulted the Waggoner book to see if there was an alternative place to anchor. We were right near Forbes Bay which looked beautiful and the book had a short mention of someone successfully anchoring there. So we decided to give a try. We investigated a couple of options and decided a deeper than usual anchorage, (100 ft) at the head of the bay with a glorious view of the mountains and sunset. The water is 72 degrees and the air is perfect. Furthermore, we were the only boat here, once again alone in paradise.

James and Robert we thought a lot about you two today and can’t wait to share all the orca and dolphin fun with you on the True Love!

The skies were clear and the new moon set during the day, so we planned on getting up in the middle of the night for our first star watching of the trip. The stars were bright and the milky way was clear in the sky. We saw lots of satellites, a few small shooting stars, and a faint, pulsating object we call a UFO.

Before heading back to bed we turned on our new underwater lights. Clearly these are an unnecessary piece of equipment, so they worked beautifully and the fish and other sea creatures gathered to the light.

We thought we were going to make a full 24 hours without an equipment issue, but that was not be. As we were heading back to sleep we heard an annoying ticking sound. The First Mate had heard it before, but the Captain had not. Nondescript sounds on a boat are hard to track down. This one was clearly coming from the lower levels. But we sleuthed it out. It’s a thru-hull of some sort that has a crazy warning sign. We found it under a hatch under our storage area. But thankfully the sound can be turned off by turning off the “electronics” fuse from the fuse panel at night when we are at anchor. We have since found out that it is the sonar.

But, on a good note, the radar which disappeared again this morning after turning off the electronics last night, reappeared as soon as we turned on the generator. It appears to be related to the voltage issues as expected.

Schroedinger’s Cat!

Our morning in Forbes Bay was lovely and we enjoyed a long kayak and paddle board. The next day we headed to Pendrell Sound, but it was unusually windy. So on Tuesday we headed out to get some cell service and see if our repair part was coming in on Thursday at Campbell River.

As soon as we had cell service we got a message that we were on for Thursday for our “final” repair. Woohoo!

We had a day to spend somewhere so we headed to Okeover Inlet and tried to get a reservation at the Laughing Oyster restaurant.We’ve never had the time to go there and boy it is a must stop. Our dinner was marvelous!

Today, we are heading on to Campbell River. But first we made a stop in Lund to visit Nancy’s Bakery and fill up with goodies to sustain us for our voyage north. We are still hopeful that after our repairs tomorrow we will still have time to cross the Queen Charlotte Strait north of Vancouver Island and explore Fjordland and the Great Bear Rainforest.

Just before I finished this blog we spotted a humpie. And it surfaced right next to the True Love! The photos have a silvery, black and white look because of the overcast sky. I really like the look.

The Captain and the First Mate of The True Love

“The slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Peaceful Anniversary at Anchor; But the learning continues.

Getting permission to leave the dock was liberating. Even though the weather was iffy, our cruise north up Johnstone Strait brought a following wind and calm current. We headed to one of our favorite quiet anchorages, dropped the hook and breathed deeply.

We wish we could say there were no electric surprises heading up Johnstone Strait, but unfortunately our radar decided not to work. Put it on the list for future sleuthing.

After anchoring we played some scrabble and the Captain was incredibly lucky, again, getting almost all the good letters.

Jasmine recommended that we listen to recent EconTalk.com podcast with guest Alain Bertaud on “Cities, Planning and Order Without Design.” Bertaud is French born architect, urban planner and economist. His insights are a brilliant contribution to the fields of urban economics and urban planning. Bertaud explains clearly and coherently what we have always understood intuitively: that current building and zoning regulations limit affordable housing choices that working people need. “This is a case where the weak are oppressed by the incompetent,” he says. Bertraud explains one of the key benefits of big cities as providing “dense labor markets” that provide working people with the best opportunity to eventually find the job where they are most productive and happy. But the lack of low cost housing undermines this big city advantage by making it very difficult for working people to live there, and the lack of low cost housing is caused by building and zoning regulations that artificially limit the low-cost housing that would otherwise be built by limiting both the maximum height of buildings and the minimum size of each apartment or condo. As a result of these “modern” regulations, the population density of NYC is only half what it was in the 1940’s, and it is almost impossible for middle income families to live there. The same thing has happened in San Francisco and other large urban areas, both in the USA and abroad. Bertraud believes that affordability and mobility should be the two most important goals for urban planning, but in most cities those goals are only given lip service. Jim and I found Bertraud’s analysis very persuasive and inspiring. Here is the link to the podcast if you are interested.

After being inspired intellectually by Bertaud’s talk on EconTalk.com we transitioned to a peaceful, lovely, evening. The colder weather further inspired the chef to make ramon soup. While on the True Love we rarely have good internet or even satelite connection so we often watch DVD’s for entertainment. A dear friend gave us his collection of the Horatio Hornblower series. The sea adventures of the the protagonist and his fellow English seaman is perfect entertainment for our voyage. We watched an episode while enjoying our soup and then turned in for a wonderful night of quiet sleep at anchor.

On June 28th we woke to celebrate our 38th Anniversary. The forecast predicted a rainy day, at that’s what we got. But we didn’t let the rainy weather bother us. As the “Admiral of Atmosphere” I set the mood by playing the music collection we prepared for our wedding: a playlist of songs that began an hour before the ceremony and ended with Here Comes the Sun, while we walked out, husband and wife. Back then playlists were hard to create. We used transferred songs from albums, one by one, to a cassette tape. Now it’s easy to make playlists, and we have created a duplicate of our original wedding playlist on our iPhones.

Here is our wedding playlist, in its original order:

Question, The Moody Blues,

The Actor, The Moody Blues,

The Word, The Moody Blues,

America, Simon & Garfunkel

All I know, Simon & Garfunkel

After the Rain, Barbara Streisand

For My Lady, The Moody Blues

The Story in Your Eyes, The Moody Blues

I’ll Have to Say I Love You, Jim Croce

For Emily, Whenever I May Find You, Simon and Garfunkel

Shelter From the Storm, Bob Dylan

The Long and Winding Road, The Beatles

Longer, Dan Folgelberg

Your Song, Elton John

Wedding Song, Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul & Mary)

Here Comes The Sun, The Beatles

Kathy’s Song, Simon and Garfunkel

Added for our 20th Anniversary: What If We Went to Italy, Mary Chapin Carpenter

Added for our 30th Anniversary: Prayer for Jim and Fawn (a poem written for our wedding by Scott Crowell, put to music by Troy Shaw and beautifully sung by Troy and Carrie Shaw).

We listened and remembered while making coffee and breakfast. After a yummy omelette, and celebratory pastries, we decided to do some sleuthing on the radar. First, we found the pertinent manuals and were able to track down all the applicable wiring and fuses. Not unlike other electronics, we plugged and unplugged and performed hard restarts. We found the key fuses via the diagrams and thought we had found the culprit in a sad looking fuse, but unfortunately our handy electric meter beeped indicating it was still working. We did discover that although we have a collection of fuses, we need more and different fuses for our backups. So we will take care of that when we return to Campbell River next week.

We had no more ideas, so we quite honestly just gave up and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon ignoring the problem and concentrating on each other. The rain continued to fall, but we didn’t care. The weather feels very familiar with inconsistent conditions and temperatures typical for late June and early July in Seattle (where the common saying is “summer usually starts on the day after July 4th).

Today, we woke to clearing skies. I was in need of some fresh air and exercise so I went on a long paddle board around our bay. The Captain was worried because the water is cold (52 degrees!) in these parts so he followed me at a respectable distance on the tender. The First Mate spotted an extremely tiny new born baby seal and mom. It truly was the smallest baby seal we’ve ever seen. Being nearby made the new mama very nervous so we backed away without trying to get a photo.

While paddle boarding I was also pondering the radar issue. Even in these amazingly peaceful surroundings it’s hard to turn off the multitasking. We can’t go further north without a working radar. I thought that maybe we needed to turn on the generator to “jump start” the radar with a power boost because of all our electrical problems. When we got back to True Love, we tried it and it worked! The radar is back. We have no idea why this worked, but it worked. We will still ask Ian, the marine electrician, to look at it when we get back to Campbell River. But it feels like a big win.

For lunch today we headed by tender to the Blind Channel Resort and couldn’t believe it was so uncrowded and quiet. Truly lovely. We are really enjoying this “preseason” pre-July boating. We shared our table with fellow boaters who had also had a cruise with unexpected mechanical problems. Seems to be the summer for it. We took advantage of Blind Channel’s internet and spotted a passing humpback whale (affectionately known locally as “humpies”) from shore before heading back to the True Love.

Today, we enjoyed another quiet late afternoon. Listening to podcasts (we were able to download Saul’s show from Friday while at Blind Channel) while I continued my reorganization and tidying up of the several storage cabinets in the salon.

The Captain and the First Mate of The True Love

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered. F. Scott Fitzgerald

One Day More . . .

The Les Mis song, “One Day More” came to mind yesterday. Our repair learning continues. Markus came and installed our new alternator. The First Mate watched, took videos and believes she can install an alternator if she had to with the videos. Markus, from Altech is not only an excellent mechanic, but also an excellent teacher.

Unfortunately, after installing the new alternator the battery alarm still went off. That is bad, and a little puzzling. More on the sleuthing later. But as the alarm went off, Markus came up to the helm and pressed a small unmarked black button that we have never used before to turn off the blaring siren that accompanies the warning light. It was amazing! We didn’t even feel stupid. We just felt joyful and relieved that the siren can be turned off! Sometimes the simplest epiphanies are the best.

And we were treated to a mother and juvenile eagle right in front of us.

On to the sleuthing. The replacement, more powerful alternator did not solve the battery warning, apparently because it wasn’t even receiving the correct voltage messages from the batteries. So we spent time sleuthing, looking for the source of the electrical short circuit. Marcus called in Ian Boyd (a marine electrician) and we all concluded that it was probably one of the four “house” batteries creating the short circuit.

The First Mate had noticed previously that our batteries are unusually hot. But this is the first time someone said that’s bad and in fact potentially dangerous. While only two batteries were immediately available, it turns out we can run on just two for a short time. And they have arrived and will be installed today! Woohoo! So we will leave the dock this afternoon and cruise to some of the nearby excellent anchorages. Unfortunately we can’t go north until we get the other 2 batteries and that will take another week.

So we will tool around our favorite “North Desolation” anchorages over the next week and then come back to Campbell River for the two other batteries and another little electric upgrade (an “Automatic Charger Relay” to replace our “Isolator.”) Our 38th Anniversary is tomorrow. Hopefully, we will be anchored tonight at the Crawford Anchorage at Erasmas Island near the Blind Channel Resort.

On the fun side: after agreeing on our plan, we left the dock for a tender excursion and enjoyed a lovely afternoon and evening at the April Point Resort and its sister facility across Discovery Harbour: Painter’s Lodge.

Later today the technicians are going to remove the four bad batteries and install our two new batteries. They weigh 150 pounds each. Here’s hoping the battery warning light turns off after that. If not we at least now know how to silence it! Yeah!

So, the new batteries are installed. The alarm is still on. But, the electrician says that it’s now got to be the isolator. We’ve been released from the dock. Alls good, no worries, silence the alarm, see you in a week.

We are off.

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love

Time to learn and wait in Campbell River

After a leisurely long morning in Egmont we left for a long day of cruising to Gorge Harbour for the evening. It was an easy calm cruise except of course for the aptly named Grief Point where it’s almost always rough. No problem, though, our new stabilizers worked perfectly!

We were welcomed into Gorge Harbour by a large school of dolphins who apparently had been fishing in Gorge Harbour the last few days. Fantastic!

After anchoring and showering we headed in on the tender for a yummy dinner at the restaurant at the marina. One of the other guests snapped this photo of us.

The next morning we didn’t rush again because we only had a two hour cruise to get to Campbell River. Using the tender we first explored the less developed parts of Gorge Harbour before we lifted up the anchor and headed out where we immediately encountered a pod of orcas! Our first this trip! They must of gotten the message from the dolphins that there were lots of fish to be had in Gorge. After a short show, the orcas disappeared so we continued on to Campbell River, but we learned later that the orcas passed through the narrow “gorge” entrance and entered the harbor! That must have been amazing for all the boaters anchored there.

The day was calm at first although we could see thunderstorms over Campbell River about 15 miles away. As we got closer, however, we encountered some big rollers from the north and again the stabilizers were working beautifully.

That is when our next problem occurred.

The Captain thought he smelled something burning. I thought it was the popcorn I had just made, but he checked the port gauges (which of course were off because of the battery alarm) and we got a different alarm: the engine was overheating! He immediately turned off the port engine, which unfortunately runs the stabilizers, so they were off line. We looked at our closed circuit video of the engine room to make sure there was no smoke and there wasn’t. Then the Captain went down there to make sure nothing smelled or looked wrong, it didn’t. So we continued on to Campbell River with just our starboard engine. We’ve always said that’s why we had two engines: in case one fails. Although we prefer to run on two engines, one working engine is much better than none!

Still, the next hour of our cruise was less comfortable and more stressful than it otherwise would have been, especially because our stabilizers are powered by the (now shutdown) port engine. And strangely, despite the port engine being off, the port engine temperature didn’t decrease. This made us think it was a gauge problem. But we didn’t want to risk damaging to the engine so we continued all the way into the marina on the starboard engine alone. After mooring at a lovely space at the end of “H” dock at the Discovery Harbour Marina, we started up the port engine again and it ran fine. No problem. The temperature was perfect. So it seemed like another case of intermittent failure, our favorite.

During the same cruise we also noticed that the auto pilot screen on the lower helm went dark, but the auto pilot remote continued to work perfectly. Seriously! 😳.

After checking in, we did our laundry, grabbed some dinner, and shared repair stories with fellow boaters in Campbell River. One couple had engine failure in their only engine and so had to be towed back to Campbell River down Johnstone Strait over 7 hours in big waves. So by comparison, we felt lucky.

Monday morning bright and early, Marcus from Altech Diesel Repair (thank you Laurie for the tip!) came to the True Love, to investigate our original problem, the alternator. It was fried as we expected. The first mate watched him remove it and video taped the whole process so we could do this ourselves if we had to in the future. We also asked him about the overheating and he told us that was probably an expected “false alarm” because of the fried alternator. Phew 😅.

Over the last couple of days while waiting for our new alternator to arrive we have spent time calling tech support, reading engine and equipment manuals and really learning more about our electrical systems. We even fixed the auto pilot by unplugging the power cable in the back into another plug next to the first one. It was smart to have two plugs on the back for the one essential power cable!

We’ve learned a lot about our inverter and our large, 800 Amp Hour “house” batteries. They haven’t been holding a charge at night like they have in the past. And although they are reaching the end of their lives, they were supposed to last for another three years. We’ve spent a lot of time turning things on and measuring how many amps each requires. And we discovered our 15 year old small fridge on the fly bridge is probably drawing way too much current. It probably is what has been triggering the inverter to shut itself off at night. No problem, we will just turn the little fridge off before we turn off our generator each night. It just holds drinks and makes ice, and the outside temperature is pretty cold at night here anyway, even in summer.

After calling the inverter company, Magnum, to see if they had any thoughts about our evening shutoff problem, they suggested we equalize the batteries. There was some concern from another expert that we weren’t supposed to equalize our AGM batteries, but thanks to the internet, we discovered that was the correct approach with our “Lifeline” brand batteries. Great! After fulling charging the batteries with the shore power, the Captain pressed the appropriate button on the inverter control panel for 5 seconds on the inverter increasing the volts going into the house batteries to create a chemical reaction inside that should return the batteries to their proper balance. We’ll see if it works.

We are feeling so accomplished!

Our final project was creating a bug screen, McGyver style, for the sliding entrance to the fly bridge. This has been a goal for a while. It took us three visits to Canadian Tire (a great store with a ridiculous name that sells pretty much everything except food). We created a screen that attaches with magnet strips and should allow better air flow while keeping out the mosquitos and evil biting horse flies (half horse fly/half wasp) that are sometimes abundant during the summers here.

Tomorrow the alternator should arrive in the morning and we are really keeping our fingers crossed that we will be able to leave with the ebb tide midday and make the long cruise up to Port McNeil or Port Hardy. From there we will be perfectly positioned to head across the open ocean to our goal: Fjordland and the Great Bear Rain Forest.

Although we didn’t plan this delay, it wasn’t bad. We aren’t rushed, we learned more about our boat than we have in the past 7 years and we were able to work on and finish some important work projects we didn’t think we could accomplish. Everything happens for a reason.

Last night the sunset surrounded us with 360 degrees of lovely color. But we are now very ready to move on. Here’s hoping that the alternator arrives on time tomorrow!

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

From Now What? To Nirvana

Princess Louisa Inlet 2019

Egmont is one of our usual stops and after a long day of cruising with our new exhaust hose we headed in for our moorage. Unfortunately we arrived during one of the biggest currents of the year and they hadn’t left us a proper space on the outside of the dock, so we had to wait for the currents to calm down. That would take 4 hours. We were tired after a long cruise, but that’s how it goes sometimes. So we cruised around some nearby sites, made some phone calls and let time pass until we could come back to the dock. By the time we got back, the dock crew had cleared an appropriate space and we tied up easily. But we were exhausted and pretty much got ready for bed right away.

Egmont is usually a calm and peaceful place, but the nearby Northwest Wilderness Lodge clearly had a big and jovial outdoor wedding party, complete with every hit wedding song playing loudly, as well as lots of hooping and cheering. It sounded like a great wedding and I wish we had the energy to crash it! But alas we didn’t, so we closed the hatches and fell asleep.

Another positive change in Egmont is a new cell tower which allows us to make calls and improves the WiFi.

We awoke on Fathers Day morning and got to use the improved WiFi to video with Jasmine, David, James and Robert. James is becoming such a great reader and he read us some of his chapter book. Robert was his usual cheery and energetic self. But soon we were ready to celebrate ourselves with a walk to one of our favorite places: the little bakery in the woods. And to our surprise when we got there we were welcomed by one of the owners smiling and saying, “are you Jasmine’s parents?” Jasmine had called ahead and asked to buy our breakfast for Fathers Day. It was such a thoughtful gift and it really made our morning!

After our yummy breakfast and lovely walk back to the True Love we headed out on our way to another very special place: Princess Louisa Inlet.

We had a mixed cloud day but the views were as stunning as usual. Unfortunately along the way we ran into the second boat issue of our trip. The First Mate forgot to turn on the generator when cooking some lunch using the microwave/convection oven, which draws a lot of AC power. The two main engines have big alternators that supply AC current without using the generator but if that’s not enough the “inverter” can create even more AC current by changing (inverting) some of the DC power in our batteries to AC power. If the AC power draw is too much, the inverter is supposed to shut off the power supply, but that didn’t happen. Instead, after about 15 minutes of using the microwave without running the generator, the port engine battery alarm (a VERY load and annoying beep) started blaring. We turned the engine off which turned off the alarm. And the port engine restarted no problem, and ran, no problem, but with the port engine key turned all the way on, the annoying engine battery alarm blared again, which was unacceptable, so we turned the port engine off again.

Needless to say we were frustrated. Not another repair! Not another multi-day trip to a boatyard! We ran for a while on one engine and then the Captain realized that we could start the port engine, and then turn the key back only a quarter turn, which would turn off all of the engine gauges (tachometer, temperature, oil pressure and voltage) and all of the engine alarms, but did not turn off the engine. As a result, we had the power of both engines again and they seemed to be running perfectly. And at any time, we could turn the key all the way on, quickly check the gauges, and then turn the key back a quarter turn, all before the annoying battery alarmed blared.

Once again we arrived too early to enter Malibu (tidal) Rapids that guard the entrance to Princess Louisa so we had to spend a couple of hours cruising and exploring the surrounding area. Clearly we aren’t in the habit of scheduling our cruising for tidal currents! We will improve to make our cruises more efficient. We hoped that running the engines longer would recharge the port engine battery and make the alarm go away but it didn’t.

Our usual very special anchorage spot in Princess Louisa Inlet was open so the Captain set the shore tie and we dropped anchor in our favorite spot with two waterfalls and a stunning view of the mountains and Chatterbox Falls. We were pretty tired from our long day and worried about the engine alarm, but we decided to stick with our plan and enjoy our special place in this truly amazing part of the world. It feels like home to us in so many ways.

Over the last 4 days the worry has been replaced by a joyful serenity as we kayak, practice yoga, stretch, paddle board, meditate, read, play chess and just float in this beautiful place. We’ve seen seals, eagles, otters, and butterflies. A juvenile eagle caught a fish and ate it in the tree behind the boat and we get a photo.

Super fat starfish!

Our hope was that coming earlier would mean more snow on the mountains and bigger waterfalls. There is more snow on the mountains and a few more waterfalls, but this time of year the waterfalls seem more affected by rain than the snow melt. The moss is definitely brighter on the rocks. And we’ve had mixed weather, some very warm periods and some cooler times with afternoon thunderstorms. We went for a beautiful 2 hour kayak yesterday morning in sunshine and came back just as the raindrops began to fall for a very rainy afternoon.

Today however it’s sunny and glorious; perfect for paddle boarding and exploring on the tender where we spied the big eagles nest used by the local pair. We always see eagles here but, in over 10 years, we’ve never seen the eagles’ nest. I even captured a picture of the nest with the pair around it. James and Robert, can you find both the eagles?

During our 4 days here, the First Mate had time, as usual, to organize the provisions in the fridge and the pantry. We spent yesterday’s rainy afternoon organizing our new charts for cruising north to Fjiordland and planning a more precise schedule for our summer.

The electrical system is one of the great mysteries of boating for us. In our electrical book, which we have read and highlighted, but barely understand, it says the batteries are the least understood equipment on the boat. That rings true for us. But over the last 4 days we’ve pulled out all the applicable manuals, and tested the batteries. We’ve confirmed what we already suspected: the battery alarm light is not something that requires you to turn off the engine (like the high temperature or low oil pressure alarms), at least according to the Volvo Marine engine manual. We can safely run the engines even if the battery alarm is “on” or “silenced.” Our battery bank seems to be ok. The batteries may be draining a little faster than usual, but that is to be expected with the age of our batteries (which are scheduled to be replaced next year). We are concerned that the inverter didn’t prevent us from pulling too much AC power from the DC batteries when the convection oven was running without the generator being on, but we are not sure what to do about it.

The Captain figured out today that the port engine warning lights don’t all light up (temp, oil, battery) like the starboard engine warning lights when we turn the engine on without starting it. Instead, only the temp warning light comes on. However, the port engine starts right up and runs fine, either with the battery alarm blaring or without any alarms (or gauges) as long as we turn the port engine key half way off after starting the engine.

So with our limited knowledge and skill we have a few theories.

1. The warning sensor on the port engine is broken or loose. This would be the simplest and easiest solution.

2. The alternator is dead. Again in the electronics book it says you should always have a spare. I’m not sure what good this would do us, because I can’t imagine us changing it. But it does speak to the factor that they do fail.

3. The batteries despite appearing ok when we tested them need to be replaced.

4. We are too ignorant to have a clue.

So our next mission is clear: we are going to visit another boat yard or repair shop. This time, we are determined to cruise north, not south, so we are going to look for some help in Campbell River. Tomorrow we will leave early at high water slack tide so we can ride the ebb current out of the Fjord. When we get close to Egmont (about 40 miles away) we should have phone service again so we can make some calls and make a repair reservation for Monday at a Campbell River boat yard.

The good news is we really aren’t stressed about it! The magic of Princess Louisa Inlet has worked and we are calm and relaxed. The First Mate took one of her best photos ever of this beautiful place! It begins this post. Our boat is organized and we have a great plan for reaching our goal of Fjordland on the northern BC coast. Of course we will need to fix the engine light/battery/alternator/who knows what problem, and we will, but we aren’t going to let this new little problem distract us from the beauty that surrounds us.

Overcoming the unexpected is part of life in general and certainly part of our boating adventure!

Update: We are in Egmont. After making all our calls, it appears the alternator was fried by the use of the microwave without the generator and we have found someone to replace it on Monday. Another learning experience. All is well.

Lovingly,

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love

Yoga on the True Love

On the Sea Again!

Our visit to Sidney was a success. The guys at Philbrook’s Boatyard at Van Isle Marina were amazing. Thank you Ben for the tip!

Of course, as in all boat repairs, it was a bigger deal than they thought. Just the prep work for putting plastic up to protect the engine and all the electronics was a work of art, including taping in a zipper to get in and out of the “work area” of our little engine room.

It turns out the fiberglass pipe coming out of the heat exchanger of our port engine was severely deteriorated and had to be cut way back. Using a heart surgery analogy, it wasn’t a simple stent, but a full bypass. They had to rebuild it, before putting in the metal sleeves on each side to attach to the new super strong silicon tube that can withstand over 300 degrees of heat (way more than we need). The metal sleeves allow the tube to be clamped down without worrying about crushing and damaging the underlying fiberglass pipe. We are pretty sure this repair will outlive the engine itself. On our way back we will probably have them do the same thing to the starboard engine fiberglass exhaust pipe, just to be safe.

Our two days at port unfortunately gave us time to catch up on some work, we hadn’t completed before we left. But that’s ok. So we engaged our work brains.

The Van Isle Marina is a family owned business. We met the 3rd generation granddaughter of the founder (same as Jasmine) who is now overseeing the business. It was great to meet her and work with another successful, multi-generational family business. The marina is very well run, clean and we used the free bicycles to bike into town.

Sidney itself is a perfect little sea town with lots of good restaurants, grocery stores and a stunning view of the water and Mt. Baker. It’s a fun place to visit and easy to get to from Anacortes by the special Anacortes-Sidney ferry. Jasmine, David, James and Lucas took that ferry last year to meet us at Sidney. From there its easy to get to Victoria and beautiful Butchart Gardens.

Our first day into town by bike we parked the bikes at one of the many bike racks and walked around. The First Mate was drawn to the Victoria Distillery on the waterfront, where they make a truly lovely gin. We are not big gin drinkers, but I loved their gin. It’s a fantastic purple color from the herbs and makes a yummy gin and tonic. I think that will be my new summer cocktail when I feel like a little extra relaxation after we anchor. The bar/showroom is beautifully set-up too.

FYI, while I’m writing this, the Captain informed me that we crossed over the 49th parallel while cruising north up the Strait of Georgia. This is the big strait that separates Vancouver Island from the BC mainland and the waves and wind here can be brutal. Today, however, the strait is almost calm. That’s two consecutive calm crossings of the Strait of Georgia! The sun is on my shoulders as I compose this and I’m feeling very blessed and lucky.

More about Sidney. Thursdays in the summer the town closes down 3 long blocks of their main street (Beacon Avenue) for an evening street fair. So yesterday after monitoring the repairs and doing work and calls, we headed into town. The fair was a cornucopia of food and art! We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, bought some local goods and then headed to the top-rated sports bar to watch the 6th game of the NBA finals.

Needless to say, the Canadians were excited about the Toronto Raptors. But there were some Golden State fans in the bar too. What a game! Clay Thompson was a true beast coming back to shoot his free throws after tearing his ACL. Despite all the adversity Golden State almost won. Although our team lost, we congratulate our Canadian friends on their the first ever NBA Championship. It was a true pleasure watching those stunning athletes do what they do.

Yesterday, we still were unsure if the repair would be complete in time for us to leave before the weekend. If not, we wouldn’t be able to leave until Monday. We didn’t know for sure until the super strong tubing arrived by UPS at around 3. I took the bike into town again to buy some final perishables for the next week. With the repairs complete we left Sidney around 6:30PM and headed back to Montague to watch the sunset, say our prayers and light the Sabbath candles.

Tonight, we’ll dock at the Back Eddy Resort in Egmont, the last possible stop before heading down a 40-mile long fjord to the entrance of Princess Louisa Inlet. We plan to enjoy dinner at the pub and then walk to the “bakery in the woods” tomorrow morning before riding the big flood tide into PLI.

It’s still early in the season so we expect more and larger waterfalls to cascade down the many cliff faces of PLI in spectacular fullness. However, we are not sure how warm the water will be this early. This is one of our favorite places for its beauty and isolation, enhanced by a complete lack of cell phone or internet service. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility, peace and quiet of nature, with the only sounds coming from the various waterfalls that are all around us.

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing Father’s out there! We also want to ask all of you to send healing prayers to our dear friend Alan Middleton. Jim has known Alan since kindergarten and he’s been very ill and in the hospital for almost month with acute pancreatitis and other complications.

We will check back in with everyone after we exit PLI. Have a fabulous week everyone!

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love ❤️