Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vancouver to Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island, Sailing

Laura, Gilbert and I anchored the SV GIRI, my 39.9 foot cutter rigged 13 ton steel sailboat off Jericho Beach last night. In the morning the starter gave up the ghost. I called Jim (James Geisbrecht of Jim's Marine Electrical - and he was kind enough to confirm my diagnosis by listening to the sick engine sounds over the cellular. I took the diseased engine part out with the help of wrenches and screwdrivers. Gilbert, the dog, licked the sweat off my forehead. I had a back up part remaining from my last offshore cruise.

Jim was really terrific to make a house call. I was reminded of my housecall days first as a family physician and later as a psychiatrist. I picked him up in my dinghy at Jericho Beach. It was a beautiful sunny day with blue skies and light winds. The little sailboats were out in force with lots of folk paddling standing up on their surfboards and others swimming near the beach.

Gilbert barked ferociously when Jim appeared then recognising him brought him a ball convinced that I, having tired of throwing his ball, had graciously gone and brought him a fresh recruit. Jim had the new starter installed and rewired in minutes while I held the lights. (Modern engine compartments sometime in the distant future will come with lighting pre installed.) Having never installed a diesel starter I didn't know that the teeth didn't need to allign as this occurred when the starter engaged. I'd marked the wires I'd taken off so would have been able to rewire it okay myself. Without Jim this time it still would have been a challenge. In surgery we always said, "see one, do one, teach one." Now I'd seen one so soon I will be teaching starter installation.

Returning Jim to dry land I brought the Achilles dinghy with Yamaha 4hp back to tie on a long line behind the boat. Cranking over the new starter again the engine ran fine. I engaged the electric winch to pull in the anchor, then with care I avoided running over any of the children out in their training sailing boats that looked like babies in bathtubs with diapers aloft on a pole.

Low tide and lots of the sand banks were bare right out to the markers. Lots of folk and dogs playing on them. It was going to be a very hot day and everyone who could was down on the beaches of Vancouver.

I was glad my Wagner Autopilot was working good enough that I was able to plot in a course off Pt Atkinson for Porlier Pass. It's approximately 20 miles from Vancouver but the water running through the channel can make it very treacherous or impossible to go through except very near the 'turn'. The 2012 Canadian Tide and Current Tables gave me that as 5:30 pm, factoring in daylight saving. We weighed anchor at noon and pulling the dinghy at an easy 2500 rpm I was getting 4.5 to 5 knots. What great serendipity!

Laura loved the channel crossing. There was so little wind I didn't put the sails up but relied on the 'iron jenny'. Blue sky and sunshine, gentle breeze and calm blue seas all around. Great scenery of snow capped mountains in the distance. A whole lot of blue really. A large freighter came quite close and we had a really fine time just short of Porlier moseying along having arrived a bit early for the 'Turn'. On the way I'd made toast with cream cheese and honey open faced sandwiches. Gilbert and Laura had lain in the sun on deck. I'd read in the cockpit mostly wandering around the boat occasionally to do the captain thing of checking stuff. What stuff never matters. I found a line that needed fixing and fixed it. Otherwise I enjoyed a western. Laura was reading fashion magazines. Gilbert was gnawing on chews or begging with a toy in his mouth to have one of us throw it for him.

Porlier Pass was exciting but not as exciting as it's been on some occasions when I've missed the Turn and being experienced and stupid have 'shot the rapids'. Having been a white water canoeist ,doing this is like that ,but far more dangerous and not recommended. Frothing white water and great whirlpools that threaten at any moment to swallow the 40 foot 13 ton boat whole. This time the ripples on the surface and the stresses on the helm just spoke of what was waiting below for the unwary or intrepid. The lighthouses here are extremely pictuesque. Only a couple of boats were fishing in these salmon rich waters.

Trinicomalli Channel was lovely as always. A long stretch of protected water with islands on either side. One of the most beautiful of cruising channels I've enjoyed. Many's the time I've gone up or down it the whole way wing on wing as the winds can be so perfect here. Today though it was good for boating and while Laura had a shower below I began to read "The Legend of the Painted Horse" by Harry Combs, possibly one of the greatest of western writers, the author of 'Brules'. It's a joy to start a new book by a favoured author.

Before long we were coming into Ganges with the sun setting over the town. Much fewer crab pots made the passage into the anchorage area a whole lot easier than some years. Hot dogs with cheese made for an easy dinner then we were in bed enjoying the gentle motion at anchor, looking up through the hatch at the stars above. Gilbert, always the chaperone, when good night kisses are going around ,had stuffed his squirming little body between us so he could alternatively lick each of our faces. Eventually we all slept to wake this morning in absolute paradise.

I've had coffee and Laura is ready so we'll take the dinghy in town and spend the day at the Salt Spring Island AA Lamb Roast Round Up. What a great trip over thanks to Jim's help and God's Grace. Now for a day of sunshine and inspirational speakers. Spirituality is a marvellous place of soul. I love to gather with others and celebrate gratitude and focus on the positives rather than the negatives of life. Together we share our experience, strength and hope. Al Anon Family Groups is the organization of friends and family that comes everywhere as well. Now I've come to this 'Round Up' by Motorcycle, Car, and Sailboat and now Sailboat again. The organizers always make it a great time. A wonderful August weekend and destination. It's Gilbert's third year. Each year we wonder about enrolling him in a "BA" group for his ball compulsion but so far he insists that it's just a social thing. When the dog police stop him he insists he's only has 2 balls. Outsiders don't know how many he has hidden and buried.

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