Our cruising begins this year a little earlier than normal and given our non-existent La Niña spring we expected some rain. And that’s exactly what we got, with lots of cold, mixed weather as we headed North into Canada, to the islands and rugged coast of British Columbia.
We left Elliot Bay Marina early Thursday, June 16th. With the True Love in “tip top” shape after a few spring test cruise issues, we confidently rode the big spring ebb tide north all the way to San Juan Island, anchoring just outside of Roche Harbor. After a long day, a successful anchor and a shower we encountered our first “Stoic Challenge”: our shower faucet failed and wouldn’t completely shut off. So less than a day into our voyage we were no longer in “tip top”shape.
Because boats have one big water system, even one small leak means the main water pump needs to be shut off when not absolutely necessary because the pump will burn itself out if it runs constantly. So the next day we ventured into Roche for a delicious breakfast and walk to the Philbrooks Marine Repair there. Philbrooks main facility is in Sydney in Canada but their satellite facility in Roche is also staffed with incredibly engaged and helpful people. Doug the manager scrounged through his extra washers to give us a new “O” ring to our old faucet cartridge. Ever hopeful, we headed back to the TL to test the “fix” to find . . . it did not work. So we called the Ace Hardware in Friday Harbor (the “big city” on San Juan Island) and they thought they might have a replacement cartridge that would work. So we tendered back to the Roche Marina, took a cab to Friday Harbour but did not find the proper cartridge there, either. Returning to the True Love we lifted anchor for the short cruise to Bedwell Harbour to clear Canadian Customs. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to just call in to customs from our boat, as we had done for years using our special “Nexus” cards. Instead, perhaps as some kind of weird remnant of old covid rules, we had to tie up to the dock at Bedwell and call in from there using our cell phone or a landline at the dock. We were on hold for 45 minutes, but then got through to an agent and were cleared to continue into Canada.
Originally, we planned to go to our usual “first stop” anchorage at Montague Harbour. But the first mate was feeling a bit tired after a long couple of weeks of work on an exciting new project (that’s the “Big News” at the end of this blog) and by the final cruise preparations and our first long day cruising and the shower faucet repair challenge. So we pivoted and headed to the little town of Ganges on Salt Spring Island.
The Captain was a bit wary of going to Ganges because many, many years ago we had stayed at the Salt Spring Marina there and it was a bit sketchy because they assigned us to a slip that was very close to a reef which we then grazed with our propellers while exiting, which was not a big deal except that the cavitation it caused in the propellers is expensive to repair. However, the Marina assured us that it was under new ownership and that the docks had been completely redone to prevent that from happening again. So we gave it a try and had a blast.
Ganges is known for its wonderful farmer’s market on Saturdays and it didn’t disappoint.
We were able to procure wonderful produce, artisan bread, pastries and other goodies.
But our amazing treasure was a handmade ukulele created by an unassuming but remarkable man and luthier, Terry Warbey. This Uke is made out of three different types of wood and it sounds like a harp. Learning to play the ukulele was my Covid project. I found a wonderful online instructor, Cynthia Lin, and played almost everyday. Luckily, the Captain loves to hear me play. In Hawaii, I would get up early and do my lessons. This year I joined hundreds of ukulele players online from around world for the “100 Days of Ukulele” challenge. My goal was to play everyday and post a video of a song when I felt up to it. I learned not to to be afraid of playing in front of other people and was enchanted by the fellowship and joy shared by musicians around the world. The range of talent covers the spectrum from true beginner to virtuoso. But everyone was so supportive! It truly exemplifies what is possible with the internet and facebook. With my expanded knowledge of instruments and music, I knew how special this ukulele was. And the Captain bought it for me to celebrate our 41st Wedding Anniversary! But, that isn’t the “Big News” either.
Back to the leaky faucet. On Ganges we met a young couple sitting next to us at dinner and we asked them where we might find parts for our repair. They recommend two places. The first was the hardware store. And unfortunately their faucet cartridges were also not the correct size. So we ventured out again to Windsor Plywoood which we were told also has plumbing supplies and there we met a Plumbing Oracle. He looked at our old cartridge and pointed out that it was missing a little washer at the end. He suggested that this little missing washer, by itself, could cause the slow leak that we were experiencing. We were overjoyed! Unfortunately, Windsor Plywood didn’t have any of the little washers, but the Plumbing Oracle said that we could probably use the little washer at the end of any other faucet cartridges if we couldn’t buy the little washer at the hardware store. So, we walked back to the hardware store in town and while they also did not have any of the little washers, we did purchase a faucet cartridge we knew wouldn’t fit so that we could move the little washer there to our broken cartridge. Back at the dock, before we had a chance to do the repair, we met and befriended an amazing couple who have just spent the last 2 years of covid working remotely from a powerboat they bought in Florida and then cruised through the Panama Canal and back up to Seattle. While their story is amazing (and we would love to share it in a future blog if its OK with them), it turns out that they had some extra supplies for their voyage including a little washer that looked about the right size. And it was about the right size. Just not the right size. So I took an imprint of the size we needed from the end of our cartridge and placed it on the slightly oversized washer. Then I carefully took a box cutter knife and carefully trimmed around the edge of the slightly-too-big little washer until it fit snuggly into place in our old cartridge. We then put the old cartridge back in our shower faucet and, drumroll please, the leak was gone! We gratefully sent positive waves of thanks to the Plumbing Oracle and celebrated with lots of high fives and great joy.
The next day, Sunday, we left Ganges and headed north for Nanaimo, passing through the currents of Dodd Narrows at slack tide. At Nanaimo we docked, did our final provisioning for our upcoming long stay in Princess Louisa Inlet and had a truly yummy dinner at our favorite greek restaurant, Astera Taverna. Jasmine knew we would be eating there for Fathers Day and had called ahead to buy our dinner and that made it extra special. Thank you Jasmine and David!
Monday morning we left Nanaimo on Vancouver Island just after sunrise to cruise north with the flood tide across the Strait of Georgia to Pender Harbour on the coast of the BC mainland to rendezvous with our dear friends Jayne and Warren Spector. Neither has retired yet so they have complicated schedules but this year everything came together so that they could fly by seaplane to Pender Harbour on Monday and then return to Seattle on Friday by seaplane from inside Princess Louisa Inlet. As we crossed the Strait of Georgia the auto pilot remote control that we use from the upper helm stopped working, but that is a little problem as boat problems go since its similar to the cruise control on a car, and the main auto pilot on the lower helm still worked. The remote control auto pilot is 8 years old so it’s not surprising that it stopped working but its just a little annoying when crossing a big body of water like the Strait of Georgia. But that’s boating!
Other than the problem with our remote auto pilot it was a super easy crossing of the Strait of George with light winds and calm seas so we arrived easily in time to pick up Jayne and Warren, even though their flight arrived 30 minutes early. It wasn’t sunny but they had decent weather for their flight up and the sun soon came out for the short cruise to Egmont, which is the last little marina before the 30 mile trip to Princess Louisa Inlet. At Egmont, we washed the salt off the boat and then shared a remarkable gourmet meal at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge, which is a short walk from the Back Eddy Resort. Now that covid is over, we can go back there and we highly recommend it. We’ve been to Egmont every year since 2009 (except for the covid years) and we’ve never seen Orcas there. But we did this year, during our gourmet dinner. Everyone having dinner there was oohing and ahhing as four orcas swam past, about 300 yards away. What a magical treat!
The next day (Tuesday) the weather wasn’t great (drizzle, changing to a steady rain that lasted all day) but we headed into PLI with the morning flood tide and hoped the next day’s weather would be better. There was a lot of debris in the water so all of us kept our eyes on the water to watch for logs and dead heads. It’s difficult to see when it’s grey and raining. But the crew was up to the challenge. Other than the debris, the cruise into PLI was easy with no waves and light wind. Unfortunately, Jayne and Warren didn’t get to see the spectacular mountains that line the inlet until they flew out on Friday, but they could see the lower part of the 20+ waterfalls of Princess Louisa at “full flow” because of all the rain. The weather forecast also called for improving weather so we were hopeful for the rest of their visit.
Because PLI is so deep, using a shore tie is required when anchoring to keep the boat from drifting off into the deep water. Shore tying was a bit of a challenge in the rain, which definitely increased to a downpour during the time the Captain and Warren took the tender to shore with the long rope that had to put around a tree. Once anchored and tied we took a breath and watched all the amazing waterfalls. When it rains like this PLI is filled with so many waterfalls. This time of year, with all the heavy snows the Pacific Northwest has had, the big waterfalls are already bigger. But in the rain, they are bigger still and there are so many more.
We spent our first day in PLI watching the clouds, the rain, and the waterfalls while playing bridge. I think Jayne and Warren were a bit worried about the weather for the rest of the trip, but we expected clearing the next day and we got it. Over the next few days we did all the PLI things: taking in the magical beauty, kayaking, paddle boarding, exploring inside and about a mile outside PLI by tender, walking to Chatterbox Falls, walking the forest trail near MacDonald Island, taking a tour of the remarkable Malibu Young Life Camp and enjoying great food and great company. On Friday about noon Jayne and Warren were picked up by the Seaplane for a spectacular clear and sunny low-altitude flight back to Seattle. For the next 5 days Jim and I will enjoy our PLI retreat together. The weather is spectacular again today (Saturday). Hopefully, we will get a lot more sunny days before we head out of PLI and then continue north to Powell River, Dent Island, the Octopus Islands, and the Blind Channel Resort. At that point, we plan to turn around and begin our cruise south back to Seattle.
We need to be back in Seattle in mid-July because of the Big News! I’ve finally started production on my “Curve of Time” inspired project with a multi-episode family adventure podcast. Collaborating with Saul’s company and the amazing Madeline Reddington we honed the scripts originally written by Richard Lasser into a sweet & funny family adventure. It’s inspired by Wylie Blanchet’s collection of short stories from the 1920’s and 1930’s that she published in her book, “The Curve of Time”. My vision was to create a new story about a modern family that was so inspired by these short stories that they decide to buy an old boat, fix it up and then take their boat up to some of the areas described in the Curve of Time; areas where Jim and I have cruised and loved during these past 12 years. They get into lots of the same adventures we have in the past. The podcast is geared to kids 6-12, but the whole family will enjoy it. The family in the story homeschools and the mother and three kids are a musical string quartet. We were lucky enough to get a truly amazing musician and composer to do those parts. We have a fine cast of actors, the “theme” music is composed by a remarkable local composer and beautifully edited and produced. I hope you listen to it, share it and like it on the podcast page when that goes live. To be among the first to listen, use this link to the podcast web site: CurvePodcast.com. The first two episodes will be up very soon. Please go to the web site and sign up and you will get a notice when the first episodes are published. The followers of the True Love Adventures blog are the first to get this invitation! I’m hoping you will prime the enthusiasm for the advertising and outreach campaign that will follow later this summer when we have at least 4 episodes completed and uploaded. In mid-July, when we return to Seattle, we will record and edit the last 5 episodes of season 1. We hope it will become a popular podcast that will generate enough interest for more seasons and perhaps someday a multi-part video series or movie! THANK YOU for being our first listeners!
The Captain and The First Mate of the True Love.