Mar and Gar's Adventures

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Long Update

Wow, I just realized how long since I did an update. It is partially because I am getting lazy and partially not much wifi so I put it off.

I am trying to remember the order of our trip after Port Hardy. We went to Blunden for 3 nights. It was really windy in the harbor. We were anchored safely but there were white caps inside the little bay. It was pretty crazy. We got a few crab but no fish. After Blunden we had to go back to Port McNeill which I wrote about already. After there we headed over to the Broughton Archipelago and spent a couple nights at Claydon Bay. It was really quiet there. Very few boats. We had pretty successful prawning but not much good crabbing. The morning we were leaving to head to Sullivan Bay marina friends from Des Moines – Frank and Trish on the Double Eagle pulled in. They were starting their trek back toward Des Moines after making it to Port Hardy for some fishing.

We spent 3 nights at Sullivan Bay. It is really a nice marina up here and not considering the larger marinas on Vancouver Island is one of the two busiest and most successful in the Broughtons. It is a well run, clever and fun place to stay with several really nice float homes in addition to the marina. We met some really nice boaters there and ran into some friends we had not seen in many years. They do 3 dinners a week and we were lucky to get in to their prime rib night. It rained all one day so I did laundry that day. One of the really nice float houses there used to be owned by a Des Moines club member. I found out it had been sold and I met the new owners who are from Van Isle, BC, near Sydney.

After our one day of rain, we have had lots of sun again but this time of year also brings fog. After we left Sullivan Bay we decided to go into Greenway Sound and try some prawning. The marina at Greenway has been closed for years and now all of the old docks and buildings are completely gone. We were the only boat there and it took awhile to find a decent place to anchor because it is either too deep or too exposed to potential wind. We found a small good spot and spent 2 nights there. The prawns were huge! Like scampi size! But very few. In 2 days we got all of 20 so have crossed this off our list.

Leaving Greenway we tried some fishing in the fog at the entrance to Fife Sound near Booker Lagoon. As the fog slowly disappeared we were close to a rock with about 20 or so very loud and smelly Stellar sea lions. We were salmon fishing but caught a nice ling cod instead. Oh, well. And then a humpback whale surfaced near us and did a bunch of spectacular tail action over and over. It was really cool! We fished until the current was safe enough to take the narrow channel into Booker Lagoon. Just before we headed in we caught a nice coho.. yay!

We spent 2 nights in Booker anchored nicely. Gar would go out fishing in the dinghy in the fog and wind and I would stay on the big boat and relax. I had told him no more prawns, so we didn’t try there. He did catch another really nice coho.

We don’t need to be down into Desolation Sound until about the 10th so decided to try a new place as we slowly head toward Desolation. We have spent the last two nights at a small First Nation dock on Harbledown Island called New Vancouver. The proper village name is Tsadzis’nukame and is the most recent ancestral home of the Da’naxda’wx people. We took a private tour given by 26 year old Ellie. Her grandfather, who passed away 15 months ago, had been the chief. She gave us a wonderful sense of the village, their people and especially her very smart and clever grandfather. It was a thriving village from the 1890s into the 1950s but in the ’60s the government shut down the school and so many moved away and finally all left. In 1992 Chief Bill Glendale (Ellie’s grandfather) began the repatriation of the village starting from scratch. They have a replica of another previous chief’s original big house which was built all by hand in the old traditional ways. As of 3 weeks ago the village is running 100% on solar power. Before Chief Bill passed he had done research, received all permits and his vision of this project was approved. It is the first of its kind here and if successful may be expanded to other areas. This is a small village with only about 40 summer residents and 12 year round but the solar power runs their homes, power on their docks, and so far they have been really happy with it. No more noisy and smelly diesel generators running. They have a good septic system and a really good water system for their village too. As a Chief with only a 4th grade education he was a man with a vision and the ability to make things happen. If you have an opportunity to come here you won’t be disappointed. The docks are nice. Power is limited but adequate. The people are friendly and the tour is well worth it.

Yesterday a dinghy came over with a couple from a boat anchored close by that wanted to check the place out. They are from Bellevue and had seen us at Sullivan Bay. Anyway, I was doing dishes so missed the part of the conversation when the guy told Garry they had been members of our Yacht Club in the 1970s when they had a sailboat. Did Garry get their names?.. No!!!! They have a Nordic Tug now and gave us some hints on fishing in Blackfish Sound, which is about 5 miles from here. Anyway, we took the dinghy out there yesterday and while fishing and no catching we were watching 4 orcas, 1 humpback whale, many many kayakers and even many more small boats like us fishing and also like us, not catching.

So you are caught up. Garry is going out fishing this morning and then we are leaving mid day for a new location.

Oh, a technology update. The new gps for our navigation quit. I redownloaded the drivers and rebooted computer and got it back. That has happened twice now so it might be our computer giving up the ghost. Also, our radar only wants to work for about 2 hours and then it has a power failure. So……all is good but I have back up plans and everything. It is more of an annoyance than a serious problem as we are in very familiar territory.


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Plug and Play

Why is it called Plug and Play when that rarely happens? On the 23rd while anchored in Blunden Harbor our gps to our Nobeltec navigation program quit working. Luckily we know a Nobeltec expert ( that is you, Simon) and with one bar cell service we were able to text back and forth and test lots of different things. The end result was that the actual gps antenna had probably died. Well, crap-a-doodle. We also have another brand fishfinder/plotter than can be used for navigating but it has very poor detail. I then remembered I had an app on my iPad called SeaNav. I was able to purchase and download Canadian charts and decided it was better than nothing. There is always paper charts and radar but you get amazingly spoiled by technology and feel so much safer when in tricky areas.

Anyway, we had to go back to Pt. McNeill for different/additional antibiotics for me unexpectedly so checked around and up in Pt. Hardy at Stryker Marine they had a Nobeltec plug and play gps that just plugs in a USB port and you follow the installation wizard and all is good. NOT!

But first we have to figure out how to get the device. A taxi ride to Pt. Hardy was going to be about $55 each way. There is bus service and we were leaning toward that but then wonderful Emma at the Pt. McNeill Harbor marina- where we were staying- said she lived in Pt. Hardy and she would pick it up for us and we could get it the next morning at the marina office. Woo hoo!!

So the next morning I got the package and opened it. Our first problem is that you have to download drivers to your computer for it to work. Well, the computer on the boat is a dumb computer. No wifi or internet capability. We use it just for navigation. Back to asking Simon. He says no problem. Go buy a cheapy $20 thumb drive (aka do-hickey) and find a place that will download the drivers, save it to the thumb drive then put it on our dumb computer. Of course I have lots of thumb drives at home but now I have a really cute one with the Canadian flag on it.

We lucked out again with the marina staff. Michael knows all bunches of techie stuff so he was quickly able to do what we needed. Off to the boat I go. Except when we plugged it in it gave an error message and would not download the drivers. Back to Simon. He suggested contacting Nobeltec which made the device. They no longer do support for their navigation program but they do offer support for their gps and he thought they could help me with the problem.

Again, we lucked out. I got a nice young man named Lucas. He had me try several things and it still would not work. Then I mentioned that we were running Windows XP. Oops! This won’t work on XP. Wrong drivers. We bought a newer version …if it had been an old version sitting on the shelf and not sold for quite awhile it would have the correct drivers. He put me on hold and found someone who did some digging and was able to find the drivers needed for Windows XP. They emailed me a link. Now I am back to the office and Michael. I sign into my email and he downloads the drivers to my thumb drive and back to the boat I go. By the way, it is a loooong walk to the boat and it is extremely low tide so the ramp is really steep. I am getting my exercise.

I am able to successfully download the drivers. Now what? The plug and play instructions sounded so simple but it did not make sense. Another call to Simon. The problem was that the device was using different terminology for the actual install. This is because Nobeltec now is going to something called TimeZero so what they said to click on didn’t quite match. Simon became my personal wizard. He had me do 3 steps and boom! We had gps! The chart now showed us in Pt. McNeill instead of Blunden!!! YAY!

So our plug and play took 3 hours but it was worth it! Once again, our heros are Emma, Michael and especially Simon! !


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Port Hardy

July 20th… tonight will be our third night in Port Hardy. We are leaving in the morning for Blunden probably. The winds are predicted to start picking up tomorrow and I don’t want to be out in the Queen Charlotte Straits if it is too windy. It is only about 14 miles to Blunden but it can be an easy 14 miles or pure torture.

We have had a great time in Port Hardy. We were very lucky to get a reservation at the marina. There had been a cancellation, otherwise we never would have come here. We travelled most of the way in fog on Tuesday and just inside the bay we decided to fish some while the sun burned off the fog.
Within a couple minutes Garry had caught about a 8 to 10 pound coho (silver). He caught 2 other small ones that we let go and then headed in to the marina.

Just after we tied up we saw a boat across the dock from us with a Des Moines Yacht Club burgee but I didn’t recognize the boat or boat name. Turns out it belongs to club member Jim Davis. He is out for a few months. He is taking a few friends at a time up fishing further north near Shearwater. They had just got back and were getting ready to get their very successful catch up to the local packing and processing place. We had a fun time getting to know Jim and his friends Gary and Eric that night. They were going to pick up their fish in the morning and drive home to Des Moines ….about a 12 hour trip including ferries. Jim left his boat here and will be back in a week or so with a couple more friends and do it all over again. Eventually, his last group of friends will go around Vancouver Island with him and fish the west side as he brings the boat back to Des Moines.

Our friends, Gord and Marilyn, have sold their home here and are having a home built north of Nanaimo. Gord stopped by for an hour Tuesday to chat and then yesterday they both came down for a nice visit. They are going through what we did last fall….. pack, pack, sell, sell, donate, donate, junk, junk. They were also lucky like us that the new owners wanted to keep a lot of the furnishings. They are downsizing since they also bought a place in Mesa Arizona last year and will spend 6 months a year there. We were really glad to share some celebratory champagne with them.

There is little room at Port Hardy for large boats. The marina we are at can hold about six to eight. Most of the slips are for smaller fishing boats and guide boats. There is a government dock right by here and there are a couple large boats there but most are commercial fishing boats. Of the seven large boats here at these two places, four (including us) are Westbay Sonships. We are the smallest. The others are all 6 feet longer. One is a boat we see here almost every year.

Will catch up with you down the way.


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Peaceful Friendly Sointula

We are at the Sointula marina on Malcolm Island. It was a short hop of about 4 miles yesterday. I know I wrote about Sointula before but I will do brief recap. In the early 1900s a group of Finns from Vancouver came here to get away from oppression working in the coal mines. The name Sointula means “place of harmony”. The goal was to create a society where property was communal. Everyone shared. Everyone participated. They formed a foundry, a brickyard, sawmill, and blacksmith shop. They believed in “Sound body, sound mind”. They had regular exercise sessions, gymnastic programs, music instruction, concerts, drama productions. Unfortunately there were leadership issues and eventually assets were sold back to the bank and the land returned to the government of British Columbia. Many purchased their own land and fishing and hand logging became the industries. In 1909 the Sointula Cooperative Store Association was formed as is the oldest running co-op in British Columbia. It is a great store that is a grocery store and a variety store, and a great place to meet locals and learn the local gossip and news. There is a ferry to Pt. McNeill and we met boaters in Pt. McNeill who take ferry to Sointula for the day.
I love walking up the long dock to shore and hearing roosters crowing and sheep baaaahh-ing. At the marina you can hope on pink bikes and head the 2 km to town and beyond. If you get off the ferry you can check out and use the green bikes. Yesterday Garry and I biked into town and discovered the Co-op is closed on Sundays and Mondays, but we really don’t need anything. The Upper Crust Bakery was open and we bought a couple pastries to fuel us for some more biking. It was so beautiful and peaceful. The bikes are one speed, pedal brakes and big wide handles. It was a blast. Many residents and businesses take older bikes and turn them into works of art, many with their baskets turned into flower pots. People wave as the drive past you. I stopped to ask a lady working in her garden about a particular plant and we the nicest visit. I saw her again today when we biked back to the bakery to get a couple more things.  

I took pictures yesterday but they are on my phone so will post those separately rather than try to move them to the iPad. If the wifi was strong enough they would sync over but it is a bit too slow.

Tomorrow we are heading to Port Hardy for a couple days. Our friends, Gord and Marilyn, have sold their beautiful home there and will be gone by the 28th so we want a last visit with them in Pt. Hardy. I know we will see them elsewhere but this is something we were hoping we could do. I called and was able to get reservations in the marina there which is not always possible and they wind predictions sound like it should be a nice couple hours up there tomorrow.


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Update from Port McNeill

Well, there is lots to catch up on. It is Saturday the 15th and we are in Port McNeill. This was not the itinerary we were planning on. Port McNeill was to come later, but I came down with a medical issue and needed a doctor and that was the closest place with a medical clinic. We got here Thursday and we’re fortunate to get moorage. The clinic worked me in late in the afternoon and now I am very good antibiotics and doing much better. The clinic was very small but very professional and friendly. Cost me $100 because we were from the States. We are staying until tomorrow just to make sure that I continue on the right track.

That brings me to expand on things like medical issues. It is important to know where there might be help and how to get there. In a real emergency you call the Canadian Coast Guard and they send a boat. There are always water taxis if you are in an area where you can get one. We knew on Monday that I might need a doctor so Port McNeill was in the back of our minds. The wind and water gods were in our favor in the Johnstone Straits so that it a much easier trip on Thursday.

So what went on during those days in between? When we left Denham Bay was cruised up(down?) Cordero Channel on our way to Loughborough Inlet. We passed the old Cordero Lodge. The placed had been severely vandalized last winter the the new owner passed away soon after that. We were pleased to see that most things had been stabilized. We didn’t see anyone there but it looked like it was not abandoned.

We spent two nights in Loughborough Inlet. We got some really nice prawns. They were not super plentiful because the commercial prawners had recently been there but the ones we got were huge. A couple nice meals, for sure.

After that we spent a night anchored in Forward Harbor. We tried for crab but got nothing but a couple females. Thursday morning Garry was getting ready to go pull the trap when he said, oh oh, we have a problem. He had loosely tied the boat line and went in to get the key to the motor and the dinghy came loose and drifted away. He was going to pull anchor and go after it but I hadn’t had enough coffee yet to be awake so I said I would swim and go get it. You might ask why Garry didn’t but he has that ear condition and if one drop of water got in his ear he would be the one needing a doctor. Anyway, in I go and boy, was that water cold!! But I made it…. with the key…. and managed to climb in from the back and rescue the dinghy!!

We continue to meet some really nice people along this trip. Sometimes we finally meet people on a boat that we have heard on the VHF radio for years. That happened here when we tied up next to Reel Action. Really nice people out of Vancouver. Sounds like we may keep running into them over the next several weeks.

So you are caught up for now.. more later.


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Denham Bay

Thursday night was a really fun night over at the logging camp at Quatam River in Ramsay Arm. There were the 3 blasting/road guys- Gator (Kyle), Bob, Bill, water taxi Frank, and cook Anthony. We had a nice dinner of jerk chicken, salad and other good stuff. Lots of logging and blasting stories were swapped. It was an early night because they all get up at 4:30.  
Here is some advertising… Franks’s wife has a home business called Morning Mist Soaps. Check it out at http://www.morningmist.com. Anthony has a business called Dirty Jerk for his jerk spices. I think he is in business with his brother. Check him out at http://www.dirtyjerk.ca.

Friday morning we left Ramsay Arm and headed to Denham Bay. Our boat started vibrating badly about 30 minutes into the trip. We had no idea what was going on. We hadn’t hit anything. Garry put the engines in hard reverse a couple times and that helped some. We found an ok speed and decided to figure it out at Denham Bay.  

Peter has added additional dock space at Denham Bay and it looks really nice. Their grounds are so pretty and peaceful. They were expecting a few boats and some of those people were staying in the cabins. It was a really fun group of people. One of the boats has a name that would for us. Neverhome. Boy, that is the truth.

Peter and Sarah know pretty much everything going on around here and who everyone is so we are slowly getting it all straight in our minds. She needed to go to Big Bay to pick up groceries so I went along for the ride and she took me past some places that I had only seen from a distance. It is really a fascinating area. There is everything from squatters on islands to mega-millionaires vacation homes and resorts. On one hand you see older small aluminum boats and on the other hand yachts well over 100 feet frequently. Somehow it all seems to work. Sarah showed me a large John Deere colored barge behind Dent Island and told me it was their alternative power plant for Dent Island Resort. There is a large paddle wheel that spins with the strong currents and magically generates power. It is a much cleaner way to generate electricity than burning diesel fuel in a generator.  

Saturday Peter dove down with a mask and snorkel to try to see if he could see anything wrong with our right prop. He saw lots of what looked like prawn line all wrapped around it and it would need a diver to go down and cut it off. The water temp was only 50 degrees and just to cold to be in the water too long. A diver could get it done in no time. After a few phone calls Peter found that there were divers at the Dent Island power barge doing repairs and were willing to come over. It was really fascinating. They arrived all geared up. The diver had one of those deep sea outfits and a camera. We got to go I their dive boat and watch him on the monitor and listen as he talked to the guys in the boat. It took him about 2 minutes to cut all the line away and then he did a thorough check of everything else under our boat. It cost $400 Canadian but with the current exchange rate it was closer to $300 U.S. It was worth every penny and really interesting to watch. A huge thank you to the 4 guys from Fraser Burrard Diving Ltd!!

Also on Saturday night Sarah decided they would fire up there outdoor pizza oven. She used to be the pastry chef at Dent Island Lodge so she knows her pastries and dough. She made a bunch of individual pizza thin crusts then everyone staying here, cabins and boats, brought their own toppings. Peter baked them for us. It was really fun and really good. A shout out to my friend Robin Miller back in Des Moines. I texted her for a pizza sauce recipe and she sent me her mom’s recipe. I actually had all the ingredients-even the red wine it called for. The sauce was awesome and more than Garry and I needed so I shared it. Every itty bitty drop was gone.

Oh, I almost forgot this. Saturday afternoon a friend of Peter’s showed up in a little runabout for a chat. Turns out he is one the the two caretakers of that ferry for sale in Ramsay Arm. They rotate two weeks on, two off. A guy named Ron is there now and not a real people person. But Jim said if he is there in August when we got back come over and we can have a tour of the ferry. The heli-logging company shut down permanently and sold off all their stuff except the ferry. So far no one is too interested in it. 

We are going to leave here tomorrow morning. That will be Monday, the 10th, and keep working our way north. We will be out of cell or wifi range for a few days.  


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Ramsay Arm

This trip is turning out to be a magical mystery tour as we keep meandering north. When we left Atwood Bay we took a short detour up Toba Inlet to see one of the gorgeous waterfalls. Since there is still quite a bit of snow the waterfalls are really something this year.

We passed Toba Wildernest marina and it had a few good sized boats moored. Toba Wildernest boasts wifi, good docks and a nice hike to a waterfall.  

We made the turn into Ramsay Arm. It is an arm of water approximately 7 miles long. We anchor way in the back and Garry had been rehearsing in his mind how we would set the anchor and get our stern line to shore and the old ramp we tie it to without any loud “conversation” between Captain and First Mate. We saw a small boat over at the old logging camp on the right shore but then to our amazement on the left shore (about half way down the arm) we saw what appeared to be an old ferry tied to shore. We found out later it had been the base camp for some heli-logging that had finished about a month ago. The old ferry is for sale, but does not run. I guess it is not too easy to tow, either! The generator is running, lights are on and the supposition is that there is a watchman on board.  

But I digress. We were pleased to see no other boats anchored and as we looked over to “our” spot we thought we saw a dock at the bottom of the old ramp. We didn’t see any no trespassing signs but clearly there had been recent activity of some kind. There was a Danger Blasting Area sign, equipment, and other signs of recent activity. Well, we decided to tie up to the dock. Of course… why not? But that always makes me nervous. Garry decided to go out fishing and after awhile I saw a boat heading our way fast. Gar said keep him posted in case he needed to come back. Gulp! A water taxi pulled in and I met Frank. He said they are blasting and putting roads in for future logging. It didn’t seem like it was a problem to be on the dock… so far… but then down the hill came a truck with a couple blasting guys. I wonder what their real title is. Anyway, all was super good and friendly and we were welcome to stay. Right now they work from 6:00 a.m. To 5:30 p.m. Frank takes them back and forth from the old logging camp that is on the right side of Ramsay. Frank and his wife used to spend a lot of time on their 42′ Ponderosa anchored here in Ramsay. And he used to log it back in the 1980’s. He and his wife had it written in their wills 2 years ago that this is where their ashes are to be spread. I guess Garry will have good company since he wants 1/3 of his ashes here too.

Over the last couple of days we have met some super nice guys. They work 2 weeks on, then one off. They are very willing to explain everything about what they are doing and telling us about other areas they have worked. This morning as they were unloading more explosives I asked if we could take the dinghy over to their camp and look around. “Sure.. take the truck. The keys are in it. Introduce yourselves to Anthony, our camp cook from Jamaica. He makes an awesome jerk chicken. Use our wifi.. the password will be there. Oh, why don’t you come for dinner tonight?”

So, we went fishing for awhile and then went and used the truck, met Anthony and he said he knew had been invited to dinner. So I did a quick check of emails, posted a couple pictures on Facebook and we headed back to our boat. We will head over there for dinner when Frank comes to pick them up at 5:30 tonight. 

 We just keep shaking our heads over our trip so far. We have had fabulous weather, great places to stay and have met really nice people. We are heading out in the morning (Friday, the 7th) and if there is a spot for us at Denham Bay go there. If no room we will probably stay on Bay Bay at the community dock. I did warn the blasting guys here that we will be back in mid August and to save our dock space.

Oh, on a seafood/critter update. We spotted one black bear here, caught some nice bottom fish, enough prawns to keep us happy, have steamers and oysters for tomorrow…life is good!