Senti-mental Objects

Day 8 at sea:
We have continued to anthropomorphize objects. Today I packed Rosie the slow-cooker away and sent Saputo the milk container to a watery grave while Sid, our self-steering, continues to act slightly drunk in the light winds.

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After about a week of beam- and broad-reaching on the starboard tack we decided we need to head further south to catch stronger air. After gybing to a due South course we are seeing steady swells from the NE, a sign of the trade winds.
The downside of sailing too far west into the North Pacific High is calm seas, a steady boat, and warm sunny weather. We aren’t bored, per se, but I did polish a clock for 3 hours.

Somewhat less exciting is seeing bits of floating plastic rubbish every few minutes ? lengths of rope, chunks of expanded polystyrene (styrofoam), bits of crates? all probably from fishing vessels (we are 600 miles away from Monterey Bay or San Francisco). The rope creates its own floating ecosystem of growth and fish, but I know the plastics will break down in the sun and slowly spiral into the Pacific gyre, “the great garbage patch the size of Texas.”

Marchena has been cooking up incredible meals and somehow managing to stay on top of whatever is ripening first – cantaloupe and avacado have been in season, and watermelon is coming up. We’re roughly at the halfway mark for getting to Hawaii and more than halfway through our fresh fruit and veggies. We have only used 1/5th of cooking fuel and less than 1/4 fresh water so it might be time to take a bath!

This is what polishing a clock looks like.

This is what polishing a clock looks like.

Sea Life

Besides the pod of orcas we’ve had many wildlife visits. The first two becalmed nights produced an incredible bioluminescent light show as we bobbed around in the foggy darkness. During my first watch I heard loud snorting just a little distance away. When I called out, it splashed and submerged, and the ghostly form of a seal could be seen swimming under the boat, illuminated by bioluminescence. Amazing. That curious seal kept me company for hours as it continued to explore.

This entire trip there have been millions of little floating jellyfish with sails and a blue bottom; I know they regularly wash up on Vancouver Island’s west coast and this bloom must be 1000+ kilometers in length. The jellies cover the boat when swells wash over the deck so we’re lucky they don’t sting! I’ve heard one doomsday scenario of ocean ecosystem collapse where only jellyfish survive – I wonder what their nutritional content is?

The most common seabird has been a tiny grey bird with a big nose, small beak, and little webbed feet, and they dart around the swells in small groups. The birds began landing on Piggy in a storm when the lights were left on during sail changes. Their beaks are too small to bite and when they refused to fly away we considered Squab a la Mode, but the cute little birds happily hopped around until they ended up back in the water.

Now, since passing the San Francisco latitude and being farther offshore, the number of jellyfish has tapered off and we’re left with dried maroon remains on the decks (it smells like fish decay at low tide). The seabirds are fewer and larger now, and we haven’t seen signs of other marine megafauna besides a Maersk container ship.

We were disappointed a salmon didn’t decide to hop on board. Maybe in the tropics a flying fish will swing by?

Here are some birds that flew all around us for hours.

Sooke to California

We crossed the Oregon-California border (42 degrees N) last night and have been in steady winds and seas for the last 24 hours.

To bring you up to speed, we left Sooke at 5am and had a calm but foggy route to Port Renfrew, where we stopped to fuel up, graze on some salmonberries and blackberries, and chat with the attendants and salmon fishermen, our last conversations before a few weeks of just us 3 for company. We motored to about halfway across the Juan de Fuca, brought the engine and dinghy on board, and hoisted sails for the first time in two years… and the wind promptly died, leaving us in the middle of the foggy shipping channel for the night.

We made some progress the next morning and had a special treat with a pod of orcas swimming around us before the wind died again, leaving us stuck in roughly the same place at the separation buoy for commercial ship traffic. We were passed by the Crowley and it blared its foghorn at us; Josh, Monika, and Addy: this is the same tanker that towed the broken trimaran to Alaska before the owner returned to Saltspring.

Since then, conditions have improved with noon ’til noon distances of 120, 150, and now 200 miles, with an expected cruising average of 150 nm per day. Less than 2000 miles to Hawaii!

Interim

July 23, 0500: 46-53’N 127-07’W
Course 160 True, 7 knots
Rain, triple reefed main, no jibs

We’re in a baptism/trial by fire – last night went from three full sails and making 8 knots, then within an hour the wind stopped, reversed, and probably came to 30-40 knots. Of course with rain and swells across the beam.

Also: seasickness sucks. It’s a bit of a challenge to write emails with the queasiness… Keep watching the “current position link” on the right of the blog for latest updates.

Oak Bay to Sooke

25 miles

After fueling up, bringing Marchena on board and finally saying goodbye to a few friends (and especially Marian), we stowed our final provisions and got some sleep before an early start at 4:00am Friday. The Strait was calm and clear so we quietly slipped away. A breeze picked up as the sun rose, and the seas were ‘confused’ as we approached the wicked tidal currents at Race Rocks. Unfortunately our weather window coincided with the peak flooding tide so we only made 2-3 knots headway.

A light fog developed as we motored close to Sooke and we decided to stay the night to wait out the inclement weather – 30 to 40 knot westerlies with heavy fog in the afternoon!

After anchoring in the calmer Sooke Harbour we found two beverages stowed against the bottom of the mast, and in the seas around Race Rocks the movement of the mast must have squeezed the bottle caps enough to open without spilling. “Waste not, want not,” even at 10am! After that perk we spent the day straightening out a few last details, exploring a bit of Sooke, and bundling up in the increasingly dreary weather.

A neighbouring boat dragged its anchor during some crazy wind gusts so we became the bearer of bad news by alerting the owners. It ended up on a mud shoal without damage and luckily they returned and moved the boat before the tide dropped (We set a second anchor for Piggy so we can sleep at ease through the gusts).

Now we are stuck waiting for a weather window allowing us to raise sails and reach international waters…

Oak Bay

We completed our transit through the Gulf Islands and arrived in Victoria on July 16. Some porpoises swam by us! Our first exciting wildlife.

There was a lot of boat activity near Sidney and we stopped at beautiful Sidney Spit national park for a lunch break. After that, the number of boats dropped off as we headed south – the wind grew cold with visible fog on the Juan de Fuca Strait. We are not so excited to brave that so we ducked into Oak Bay for a night or two. We can restock in Victoria, exchange a crew member and our dog, and decide on our next destination depending on the forecast.

It’s looking like we will head to Sooke early Friday morning. Otherwise all is well, enjoy the pictures!

 

Ladysmith to Montague

18.5 miles

We had a harried morning rush bringing the final loads to the boat, packing everything into the nooks and crannies, and filling the water tanks while watching Piggy’s boot stripe waterline dip into the water. We have a LOT of stuff! Around noon we were ready to leave, meaning we cast off by 2:30pm from Ladysmith Maritime Society. The harbour gave us a kind farewell with horns blaring and even friends motoring alongside to wish us well.

While motoring to Galiano Island we enjoyed the familiarity of the Gulf Islands, Piggy’s stomping grounds and “backyard” for the past three decades. We anchored in Montague harbour with time to spare for a sundowner. It’s a full harbour, and go figure, there is another Wharram catamaran moored here.

In other news….
One of the “in” jokes between my sister, dad and I during work on the boat has been calling someone a “dumbkopf” if they make a silly mistake such as stepping in wet paint while painting. Well, today we learned Tom is responsible for the first dumbkopf of the trip (and by extension, all of us are at fault) — we forgot our GPS!

Marchena, if you’re reading this, please bring the GPS when we meet in Victoria!

Less than 24 hours….

The last few weeks months have become a blur filled with construction, painting, researching, packing and puchasing, mixed with curious onlookers and well-wishers walking past Piggy every day. I’m pretty certain we’ll actually leave when we plan! It looks like Tuesday, July 15 will be our departure from Ladysmith.

I don’t have too much media of the boat work, because most of it is just surfaces being painted or repaired, we will have en-route pictures to share, and the more exciting action will happen after we leave!┬áHere are a few snaps from the last few months.

We even removed the mast to fix a rotten top:

 

Stay tuned for more updates while offshore!