Saturday, June 25, 2011

Expediton to Kits Beach on board SV GIRI

It's been a year since the GIRI left the dock.  Tom Kennedy and several others had tore out the cabin to access the hull. Plates were welded in where the ultrasound showed thickness of steel wanting. The mast, broken in the crossing from Hawaii to Vancouver the year previous, was repaired, with a new welded shoe. Then the bottom was epoxied and painted with all manner of costly things having been completed while the boat was weeks out of water in Mosquito Creek.  Tom was a mensch. He's off right now rebuilding a cloth plane wing that was broken on his friends plane when a careless hangar operator dropped the door on it.  Before that he was redesigning a propeller to fit a chevy car engine torgue.  Tom literally likes to get things moving.
I got the GIRI out a few times after that with a couple of winter sails to assess what further needed to be done.  The exhaust system on the Yanmar motor gave up the ghost. It was a jury rig from the jury rig before so I figured James Geisbrecht needed to make a definitive improvement to the system. I'd done a jury rig at 3 am with a tsunami warning bobbing about in English Bay working frantically so I could catch the tide change to get through First Narrows back to dock.  Deck painting, sail repairs, and sundry other things got done that year.  James installed a new Newport Dickinson stove with diesel filter when the old one which had lasted over a decade finally died.  Too sooted up and the interior overheated once too many times. It could be revived but a new one was better.  Prettier too.
The big project was the cleaning and a woman with the organization ""It's a Wonderful Wife" that does detailing of homes took on the gargantuan job of cleaning every nook and cranny. Tom had taken out the cabin so Barry, the welder,  from Mosquito Creek could do his job without setting the boat on fire.  All this industrial work and the exhaust system breaking so the boat was filled with smoke had left a lot of grime.  It was restored to pristine and healthy condition. Kirk stayed on the boat over the winter while I moved out to my new RV in Burnaby.   I'd had the new propane water heater installed but water supply was iffy on the dock in winter so with a full time job I wasn't keen on dealing with hauling water if the pipes froze.  Kirk tolerated the interruptions for work to be done and loved being on the water.  He's a hopeless romantic that way.
James replaced all the windows and finally got the new hatches with new windows done and I moved back on the boat again.  It's home.  But it's a moving home and a frighteningly expensive home if it doesn't actually move.  So an expedition was planned.
Joseph Blackburn, diver, (former US Navy) did the hull cleaning removing a year of growth and barnacles.  Gilbert was highly skeptical of this denizen from the deep barking warning when he broke surface, not understanding how his friend Joseph who himself has dogs, could transform into this underwater bubble blowing creature.  Angel the cat was queen of her domain. She sailed with me solo to Hawaii and has lived on the boat most of her life. It's a delight seeing how at home she is.  I'm sure when she's around there's not a mouse or rat anywhere to be found. She's explored every nook and cranny of her domain.
Laura arrived with her bags looking very summerish. We had sunshine.  A break of it. The boat was ready.  I'd bought groceries earlier. Laura stowed below while I cleaned up the deck for sea.  An expedition was planned!  Finally I started the diesel engine.  Smoke and water came out the exhaust.  James' work didn't explode.  I untied us from the dock and the GIRI was in motion.  We barely made it under First Narrows because the tide was turning against us.  It was sunset over Vancouver.  The lights were beautiful.
Compared to the last very chilly winter sailing to Saltspring when Laura and I transitted Coal Harbour this was a balmy summer evening.
We came out in English Bay  with dusk.  I actually had to remember to put on the navigation lights when a little boat passed by and I saw he had his on.  The new mast light Tom installed was a beauty of a torch. The autopilot is still making great S turns and being annoying but better than hand steering which I really don't like. Might as well be riding a Harley if one has to hand steer.  Boating is for sitting back and drinking coffee and looking at the stirling surroundings.  Vancouver all lit up was a joy to see. I've been doing this for a quarter century and I still take pleasure in seeing Vancouver lit up at night.  It's a truly beautiful and incomparable city. The snow capped mountains over North Vancouver watch over the bay.
We only drove the boat the hour to Kits Beach where I anchored in 25 feet.  I was thankful the winch worked and the chain wasn't tangled. Everything went well. All systems worked.  Except when I tried to start the new Dickinsen stove.  The diesel wouldn't fill the pan.  No fuel.  I got out the wrenches and went through the system. Sure enough there was air in the pump.  I can't say I knew this but I did the drill and found the problem much to our pleasure.  It was warm enough not to have the diesel stove on but with it, it was like a cabin with a little wood fire. The slight chill went and the whole interior came alive.  Now with the morning rain falling new skylight hatches, it's a delight to have the little flame blazing.
A great sleep at anchor.  The cat and dog crowded Laura and I on the bed but it's hard to do more than shove them off knowing they'll sneak back on when they hear me snoring.  When I finally got out of bed to have a morning coffee they were quite pleased having themselves concluded that I was the problem.  They stayed in bed with Laura while I had coffee on deck enjoying being on my boat and the beautiful view.
This is a great expedition.  Kits Beach.  There's some boats with sails up doing a race thing over  by the Royal Vancouver Yacht club.  The sun is trying to break through.  Asking myself, do I want to run around on deck messing with sails or have another coffee and read a book in the warmth and comfort of my cabin, I conclude I'd rather go below.  Laura is sleeping in.  I like the motion of bouncing about at sea.  Everything I could want is here in this little mobile home.  If the sun comes up I might go up and lie on deck.  Today sun tanning would definitely be preferable to yacht racing.
The 'expedition' to Kits Beach is success. All systems work. Next weekend maybe I 'll get the sails up and cross the Strait to Nanaimo.  I've never seen the pleasure in sailing with a lot of other boats and crew around circles in a little marked out space in the bay.  It's like running around a gym or doing laps in a little  pool.  I've got an inkling I could head out right now for the Marquesas and be there next month.  Sailing over to Nanaimo this summer will be fun mostly because the return sail is usually so much fun with 25 knots of steady winds bringing the boat home on a Sunday.  Crossing Georia Strait isn't like crossing the Pacific Ocean but it's still often hours of joyful sailing.  I suspect the guys who sail in little circles would argue their case. They like messing with sails. I loved trade wind sailing which is like gliding forever. You only have to set the sails and days go by before you have to make an adjustment and rarely do you have to change tack.  A whole lot of glorious time for lounging, reading books and drinking coffee looking at the wonders of the sea around.  God's marine world is truly glorious.  For now I'm enjoying having my home in motion.  Maybe next week I'll get out a fishing rod too. Loved the salmon I caught out here last year. Still can remember the taste of it barbecued right off the hook. Life is so good at times like this. God is good. God is great.  Thank you Lord of all Creation.
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