Village Girl


Logs ( 45 )

Village Girl

A trilogy in umpteen parts.

We have a new boat! Or at least a new old boat. Long story but she was looking forlorn with long kelpy weed and barnacles in Friday Harbour with a faded “For Sale” notice drooping from her rig. We noticed that she has an outboard motor well in the cockpit – perfect for a pedal drive unit…Coincidentally, the owner saw us and offered her to us for the outstanding marina fees – we borrowed wetsuits and dived and looked and she’s now ours. Woody, the owner, had owned her for 27 years and she has some robust repairs – WYSIWYG – and he told us all he knew about her faults. We sailed her to Anacortes, then to Port Townsend, back to Anacortes and she’s now sitting in the dry storage yard in Port Townsend waiting for Megan to arrive in April in her best fibreglassing overalls to fix a couple of patches and launch her for R2AK 2019. Then we’ll go and finish the thing and perhaps sail her further than Ketchikan. Wishful thinking but a nice maybe project. She’s a South Coast Seacraft 23 – perhaps better known as an Alberg 23 – if you google either of them you should get to this http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=304 An old design but seaworthy and from the days when fibreglass boats were rather better built than today. Carl Alberg designed a lot of similar boats and they are all good boats. She’s called Village Girl. She’s tiny, but bigger than Bobbles and a bit more suitable for The Project. Bobbles is in Portland and the plan is to get her to Homer to sail on Katchemak Bay and then maybe back to Portland in a few years as a sail trainer for a couple of kids we know. more as it happens

Village Girl

Wingnuts and Village Girl

https://r2ak.com/2019-teams-full-race/team-wingnuts/?fbclid=IwAR0tIqgz0zEBEuokxl2eNEYM8X2K9AQ3hvgsN1WyMtaB2nas2wsPwSSuxdc So here we go again, back to do it properly this time. Village Girl is a step up from Bobbles but getting to Ketchikan is by no means a done deed. Why Wingnuts do I hear you ask? It has a few meanings – big ears and no brains, perhaps, or perceived as odd, eccentric and extreme, both of which seem to fit the bill. It’s also a derogatory term for an extremely conservative politician, so add irony by the spadeful. We will rendezvous in Port Townsend in April to get VG sorted and this time, we will try to break anything that’s going to break in time to fix it before the start. We’ll crank up this blog as we go.

Village Girl

Howl.

Sylvie Branton, the lovely talented wonderful person who created this website died this morning in Grenada. I’m devastated but I rejoice for her life and our friendship. Love and hugs to her family and a bunch of flowers in the teleport for her. Her creativity will live on.

Village Girl

Sylvie

Village Girl

Press here to restart…

Back in Port Townsend with Village Girl on crutches in the yard. Megan has spent 2 weeks sanding, priming, antifouling and generally fixing and it’s happening. Huge to-do list and a month to get it all working. Pedal drive being put together by The Cyclist and rowing station by the Decrepit Old Rower. The mast comes out next week and we’ll be on survival gruel once we get the bill for that but it has to be done. The yard is flat out launching boats and our launch date is May 22nd officially, but I’m sure we’ll get a slot before that once we are ready. Then it really begins. Sporadic internet so more as it happens.

Village Girl

Sphinctorial musings.

VG progresses. Decrepit Old Fart seems at last to have head in gear. Started this note about a week ago but the butterfly’s wing in Paraguay must be beating so hard that the turbulence distorts The Plan, such as it is. In in a project like this, there are so many trivial details that must be dealt with as their heads appear above the muddy surface else they will give the Examiner stuff to play with later. The list changes by the hour sometimes and is never short of attitude. We are on the skinniest of tight budgets and most of what we are using is very second hand. Recycle, fudge and bodge is the go. And logistics – I’m trying to organise an affordable Iridium Go contract so’s we can post during and after the race while out of mobile range. And how do we get the outboard to Ketchikan? And meh! We lifted the mast yesterday and that’s a job all of its own…photos tomorrow perhaps. For the initiated, Cakebob has his own list and his own universe. He may get antifouled. I’m slowly getting used to what is euphemistically known as the bathroom here. That curvy bit of porcelain is not something I’d care to bathe in but there ya go. I have a dissertation in mind about the Fundamental Processes associated with said porcelain and occasional lack of same. Gravity, length of flight, the characteristics of streamlined bodies and water entry, splash avoidance, consistency and elasticity of extrusion and all things turdular. PPP, El Pinko and Eeyore are supervising the works. Eeyore doesn’t think we’ll find VGs tail.

Village Girl

Red hot spikes and other stuff

What a week! It’s been Sydney hot and we have no usable shade so dehydration is a hazard to be respected. The Examiner nearly got us both yesterday. The little boat is in great nick for her age – I wonder how you compare boat ages to human. I seem to remember that dogs get about 14 years for their four score years and ten but boats? VG has been in Australia about as long as I have – she was built in 1967 ish by East Coast Seacraft, so she’s already 52 but apart from the usual battle scars she’s better that a lot of today’s production boats. Heavier, no internal volume so very cramped for 2 people but structurally she’s got another 50 years with TLC. I’ve spent the last 3 days rebuilding the mast — a new half inch PVC tube (called a case here) for the wiring, new nav lights, coax fittings for the VHF antenna and putting it all together. Rivetting the case to the inside of the mast was interesting – careful measurement, pairs of holes drilled through the mast every 2 metres or so and then a red hot spike through the drill holes and into the plastic to make holes first for holding screws and then rivets. A very hot long day’s work with much walking from one end to the other and not a little frustration. But it happened. PTR rigging have been wonderful, lending us their tools and workshop and lots of advice and they will run the halyards next week. There will, of course, be a bill but hey! Meanwhile Megan melded 2 cast off hatch covers we found in a dumpster into one, removed the sliding hatch and built a parapet around the sliding hatch coamings and fitted a new and very different opening hatch. We think that it will work well with a little dodger. Huge job. Cross ‘em! We need to have it all sorted in the next week or so.


Village Girl

Col. regs. Rule 33

Yesterday evening we went for a walk along the inner marina wall to get over the day and I noticed a masthead light flashing across on the other side of the marina. A jerk of recognition – something I’ve never seen for real, only in practice but a genuine SOS. We were standing next to the coastguard complex and Megan phoned the duty number, to be told that they did not have the resources to check and would we? They did give us their Seattle HQ number. Yay! We hurried round the 10 minute walk, working out what to do if…someone injured? Hostage situation? Boat on fire? Stupid joke? Silly mistake? We checked in with a man in another boat on the jetty as we approached and he said he’d seen the crew leaving 2 hours earlier. We discovered that it was another R2ak boat which we both knew about but we approached with some caution to find the boat open, lights on below and apparently nobody aboard. We left them a note and our phone number and Megan got a thank you text this morning. All’s well etc. but could have been a bit tricky. We weren’t a ship at sea but reg. 33 is a basic rule for us all.

Village Girl

If you grip the twig for long enough…

the competitors get a bit thin on the ground. Today was the Port Townsend Rhody run – final event in the Spring Festival. Megan, our friends Martin and Ingrid and I all ran it. Brutal, hilly 12k or in local terms 7.3 miles. Ugly, it was and I had to walk a lot of it but hey! 3rd and a medal. There were 987 finishers. Megan beat me by nearly 12 minutes which, I think, is the beginning of the end. The economists’ supply/demand graph comes to mind and that crossover point. Supply is running down.

Village Girl

Marvin and the parking lot

We bought Village Girl in Friday Harbour last year and sailed her to Port Townsend where she sat in the old boat graveyard on-land parking spot all winter. She was moved to the work area on April 15 and Megan set to work sanding and antifouling – massive job and finished when I arrived from Oz a couple of weeks later. Since then, we have rebuilt the mast, made new hatches, rewired the electrical system, installed a DSC VHF radio linked to the GPS, built the rowing station and done the million trivial things that are essential to make her seaworthy. Megan got her amazing pedal drive system working properly but we have yet to test it. She is now building a crate to send the outboard to Ketchikan in… It’s been a huge, exhausting process but VG was relaunched a few days agocourtesy of Marvin and we went sailing a couple of days ago. It all seems to work, but really no confidence until we can get her out in some heavy weather. Lots of little things yet to do – fitting jacklines, tossing everything off that we dont need, passing the safety inspection on Friday…keep them crossed please – the Examiner is lurking. And we visited a basking sea lion…Huge thanks to PTR riggers and all the other p.eople who have helped Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_-1817043855539821457_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>





Village Girl

Apprehension by the shovelful

It’s really just a longish Sydney Hobart but with much better scenery and a very different intellectual challenge but that doesn’t really alleviate the nerves and the Examiner hasn’t had a good crack at us yet. The older I get the more nervous I get – doesn’t do to know too much! The noon start will be mayhem. We have to get off the jetty early to let the headbangers in the big fast boats out from inside us and then we can settle down to rowing and pedalling to get out of the harbour. Reasonable forecast for the first couple of days but, unlike last year, there should be wind. Right now it’s blowing 20 kts and we’re all rocking. We must now rely on all our preparations and hope for just enough luck to get us to Ketchikan. Best estimate 18 days or so. 3 elapsed Sydney Hobarts. I’ll try to post daily using our iridium Go and Berrimilla’s old faithful Toughbook but don’t fuss if you don’t hear from us. It’s a lot harder in Village Girl. We are Team Wingnuts on the tracker. Onya to any of the rusted on fans still out there.




Village Girl

Meh! The Examiner at play.

Not the best of days. Out of the harbour into a big hole in the wind with everyone disappearing into the distance and even Ziska overtook us. Awful frustration. We rowed and pedalled towards all the little wind ruffles and eventually found a puff that built into a really sparkling run up towards James Island. Then it died and backed almost 180 degrees and dropped to about 5 kts as we approached Sidney. Lots of tide with us but it seemed better to compromise at this stage of the race and wait for the next tide tomorrow rather than risk getting caught going backwards without a safe anchorage. So here we are, in a marina a bit further ahead of Bobbles’ attempt last year year but way behind where we had hoped to be. The good news is that Megan’s wonderful Heath Robinson pedal drive really works. He’s now called Heath, and is distantly related to Kevvo by some odd bits of DNA that seem to play in metal gizmos that work from the back of the boat. He complains and whinges more than Kevvo did but he is a collection of bits and pieces of scrap cobbled together so he’s entitled to the collywobbles. The next tide is not till late morning tomorrow so we will catch up on all the fixes on the list. And some interesting idiosyncrasies with our main GPS. More on this if it grows legs. Onward. This tired old fart will now fall into his bunk.

Village Girl

Warp drive would be noice…

Not the most auspicious beginning to a 700 mi!e race but hey. This is a big marina packed with squillion dollar boats, all meticulously maintained – polished till they shine – by a local company. Some look as if they get used, most don’t. There isn’t anything nearly as small or scruffy as VG but she does at least go places, when the tide let’s her. We have a long wait for said tide – but I don’t think we have much choice. 5 knots of breeze is not nearly enough for VG to punch into the ebb and the flood starts in 5 hoursish. There’s no way we could do it with Heath and the old fart engaged in human power either. We can make about about 2.5 knots for an hour or so but that won’t cut it. When the tide changes we have about 11 hours to make some distance north. I think this may become the pattern of our race. We will keep our towels handy and not panic.

Village Girl

Why? Written over 2 days

I expect you are all wondering why we seem to be wasting hours of good tide and parking for the night. It’s all about taking no risks at this point of the race. This evening the wind dropped to about 3 kts and we had a big tidal flow and nowhere easy to get to if things got pearshaped later so again we compromised. VG is way harder to move than Bobbles by Heath and old fart – henceforth Heathfart – we are now working out the limits and I think we can sustain about 2 knots for a couple of hours but that doesn’t necessarily get us out of trouble. Tomorrow looks uncool and un froody too. Tides, winds and current make for an interesting bit of calculation.The equation – do we hang about for the favourable tide in the afternoon or get out and try to Heathfart to Porlier pass and park for the outflowing tide? Lots of variables. Or do we just Heathfart towards Dodd Narrows and try to get through in the evening? VG is a lot harder to control and local advice from the owner of the boat we are tied up to says don’t even try in VG. I think I agree. And now it’s Saturday and we have a plan. The current reverses at low water in Porlier Passage at about 1430 and that’s the time to go for it. We are 6 miles away, with a slightly adverse tide so we’ll get heathfarting in an hour or so. Glassy calm outside our little cove. Watch this space and keep ‘em crossed. Carla, go find the Examiner and corrall her for 12 hours or so please.

Village Girl

A year ago.

This gig is not about instart gratification – unless you like whales breeching, dazzling sunlight on the snowy peaks along the track, wonderfully kind and interested people met along the way or that first medicinal dose of The Compound in the Campbell River pub after a hell of a difficult night in the rain getting here. Both in survival suits to stay warm. The Examiner was in the offing but behaved. Thanks Carla! Heathfarting, drifting, wimping out of crossing the Comox bar for the first time at night, kite flying, ( if you are reading this Brian, perfect little kite, thanks!) soggy cold naps in the cockpit and hallucinations. It’s been quite a project. A year ago on the way back from Nanaimo with Bobbles, I saw VG in a slip in Friday harbour with a sad for sale sign drooping in her rig but – big but – an outboard well in the cockpit. Perfect for a pedal drive, I thought and next year’s boat. And so it came to pass. Huge effort, lots of modifications, lots of frustrations, Heath cobbled together brilliantly by Megan and we’re here. Yesterday we passed the point where poor Bobbles broke her rudder just out if Nanaimo. We waved in respect. Heath is losing his balls, poor lad. To be precise, he seems to be chewing up his bearings and Megan will lay hands upon him tomorrow. We will stay here tomorrow to make some other simple fixes and leave for Seymour Narrows on Wednesday. The photo shows VG waiting for low tide in Porlier Passage on a little public dock half a mile from the passage. We timed it well but still interesting. Nice to get out into Georgia Strait. To the kind lo gcanoeists who sent us a photo from there, thanks but in my tiredness I seem to have lost it. Could you please send it again?

Village Girl

Where waters collide

Towards the end of out miserable wet night getting into Campbell River we passed a small rocky island which we’d been looking at since dawn’s grey crack. I was off my game – I’d been meaning to find out where Middlemarch Island was and that was it. A wildlife reserve, but more relevantly for us, the point where the tides change from northerly ebb to southerly. We found out the hard way, as the tracker shows. A vast coiling roiling thrashing of water where two huge currents meet and we went backwards completely out of control till I got my act together and the oars out. We ferry glided across the maelstrom until we reached the calmer north following tide on the west side. Interesting and a much more vicious big daddy of the meeting of the south flowing East Coast Current and the colder waters flowing out of Bass Strait off the SE corner of Australia. Luckily and completely by chance, we timed it right. Must have been Carla’s corralling of the Examiner. We don’t have a water thermometer on VG but in Australia there’s a 3 degree change in temperature across the very obvious line where the waters meet. It happens in a boat length. Ain’t it a wonderful world!

Village Girl

Quick update via iridium

We think we heard a strong wind warning for johnstone strait. VHF weather is intermittent at best. if we can comfirm tomorrow or by grib, we’ll hang out here in Otter cove till it blows out. We have out towels and medicinal compounds and the scenery is wonderful.

Village Girl

Gale and stuff

Seems we may be here for a couple of days. There’s a gale warning for Johnstone Strait just around the corner. To pass the time, I will copy the 2 emails I have waiting on my android tablet which will connect happily to Irtidium but won’t send the emails. Meh. The Examiner has subtle ways to harass us. —————————–

Village Girl

Where waters collide

Towards the end of our miserable wet night getting to Campbell River,we passed a small rocky island which we’d been looking at since dawn’s grey crack. I was off my game – I’d been meaning to find out where Middlemarch Island was and that was it. A wildlife reserve but more relevant for us, the point where tides change from northerly ebb to southerly. We found out the hard way as the tracker shows. A vast coiling roiling thrashing of water where two huge currents meet and we went backwards completely out of control till I got my act together and got the oars out. We ferry glided across the maelstrom until we reached the calmer north flowing tide on the west side. Interesting and a much more vicious big daddy of the meeting of the south flowing East Australian and the colder waters flowing out of Bass Strait off the SR corner of Australia. Luckily and completely by chance we timed it right. Must have been Carla’s corralling of the Examiner. We don’t have a water thermometer on VG but in Australia there’s a 3 deg change in temperature across the very obvious line where the waters meet. It happens in a boat length. Ain’t it a wonderful world! —————————————–

Village Girl

What a place to put a cruise ship terminal

As we sat fixing Heath’s balls and other stuff, we idly planned our departure for this morning. And then realised with a jerk that it wasn’t going to be so squeezy froody. We’d planned to leave at 0500 to get to Menzies Bay and anchor to wait for the high tide slack at 1400ish to go through the Narrows. That’s maximum north flowing ebb and just what we needed. Except that there’s a massive line of very inhospitable piles and walkways about 600 ft NE of the harbour exit. VG flat out in Heathfart can just about make 2.5 kts – not enough to get us aqround the thing safely as we flowed sideways at 5.5 knots in the tide. So we left in the dark at 0315ish into a 15 kt northerly winded and half blinded by the shore lights. Safe but uncomfortable. Once we were clear and into the full force of wind over tide, VG becdame impossible to control, wanting to sit sideways to the current and drift towards the shore. And lumpy. Meh! We unfurled the headsail and regained control and arrived at Race Point in a hiccup. Tacked around it and through the race – scary in the semi dark – and the wind dropped right out. Back to heathfarting for about 3 miles into the big lumber port that is Menzies Bay. We are attached to a huge yellow mooring buoy, as big as VG as the industrial world grinds and snorts around us. A lot ov very bir diesels driving a lot of machinery and the smell of peeled pinebark. I’ve had a sleep and Megan’s having one, with the GPS anchor alarm set. Here we will sit until about 1300 when we will set off for the Narrows and high tide slack at 1400ish. ———————————

Village Girl

Otter Cove

We got here yesterday evening – not easy getting into the bay heathfarting – against the wind but on the last of the ebb. The tracker may have enough detail to show out meanderings. Uncomfortable anchorage – we picked the main wind tunnel across the bay and had a difficult night swinging on the anchor line in the gusts. We moved 100 metres in a lull today for a bit more shelter. Loverly bay otherwise – surrounded by conifers and we can hear the birds singing when the wind isn’t blasting. A family of 16 Canada geese visited us this morning. I think we are stuck here for a few days – the westerly winds are just too much for little VG at the moment and there aren’t enough bolt holes to escape if we need to bail. ———————————-

Village Girl

Well, that was interesting

And frustrating. We went out to have a look, assuming the current was with us. It wasn’t, spectacularly. My mistake. The tracker will show how we went- but it doesnt show the huge upwellings and whirlpools around Rock point, where the waters meet the land in a grand and frightening maelstrom. It started about as we arrived and we had nowhere t0o go except into it. VG was tossed and twirled with a lot of force. We out out of that, but could not make serious progress into what was about a 5 knot flow southward and there’s nowhere to duck into before Knox bay if things got really pearshaped so we did the prudent thing and came back here. Again. Meh! We will try again tomorrow at 0600ish. and GRIB weather is useless here. I think the processing delay may be the problem. ———————————————–

Village Girl

The Examiner again.

Hmm. That was one of the hairier bits of sailing I can remember. 25kts wind against a 5.5kt current and short steep 5 ft wind waves breaking with a wavelength about half of VG so about 15 ft. Easy to exaggerate this stuff, so I could be wrong but we were almost out of control moving north at nearly 8 knots and rolling wildly. Wind and sea increasing and again nowhere to go if we needed to hide. I called it off after a particularly nasty roll thar nearly flooded the cockpit and we then had the reverse problem but at least under control. We crept into a private jetty owned by a fish hatchery and sailed alongside where we now sit waiting for the next tide. The equation gets complicated – we clearly can’t make headway in the prevailing conditions – we’ve tried both with and against the current – and there seems to be no break for at least a few days. And we just got passed by R2ache. We’ll watch and see how they go. And there is a deer on shore close by. ————————————————- 

Village Girl

Shades of the S2H

I remember several Sydney Hobarts over the years when we’ve been off NE Tasmania still heading south and being passed by the line honors winner going north to start toe Gold Coast race. We’ve just been passed by Angry Beaver going south. Almost double the S2H margin. More on the equation – this race is about headbangery and resilience and skill but at some point prudence and seamanship start to influence things. Do we wait here for as long as it takes to get through to Knox Bay – basically, until the wind changes, I think – or do we pull the plug and go have fun elsewhere. We will listen to tne next medium term forecast, maybe have another go on this evening’s flood (when the forecast says 30kt so iffy at best)and then decide. This isn’t much fun – and, of course, wasn’t meant to be – and we throw away weeks of effort if we do pull out, so it’s a big decision. We can hang around for a week if we decide to so that’s where we’re at. This morning’s effort was clenchmaking of the nethers in the extreme and silly to repeat. ————————————————- 

Village Girl

A bit more on this morning's excursion

We’ve been finding a bit of evidence about how violent those rolls were. Big standing waves, VG hitting them at 8ish knots and rolling about 80 degrees. We found things that had jumped off shelves with 4 inch high netting and lodged across the boat just below the shelves on the other side. We almost filled the cockpit a couple of times. Nothing I could do – 2 reefs and about a quarter headsail. VG needs a third reef and we’ll get that done when we can. We probably hit the worst point of wind and current – science is about observation, hypothesis and testing. Coming back here was also interesting – same standing waves, wind dead astern, incipient gybe all the time and making about a knot. Lowest I saw was 0,2 knots. We kept as close inshore as seemed safe – the current marginally less but violent rips in places. Fun, but also a bit scary. I was able to sail alongside the dock un der fully sheeted main with a margin of speed just in case. Bit of a bumpy but safe arrival. We’re now happily tied up to the private dock and we’ll stay here at least till this evening’s forecast. Lesson from playtime is that anything over 20 kots on the nose and against the stream is likely to be too much for VG. The owner’s representative visited us and gave us tacit permission to hang about. Apparently, they built the dock 6 months ago and we are the third boat to use it. Yay. We have a resident otter who has left us half a biggish fish and will no doubt be back to claim it. Packet soup is way too salty. Medicinal compounds soon to alleviate dehydration. ————————————————-

Village Girl

Warp speed - not

Still the wrong side of a strong wind warning, with 20 – 30 forecast for tonight. Right over our ebb tide, so we stayed put. We can see the channel boiling away half a mile out and we don’t need a repeat of this morning. Even here in our sheltered bay we’re rolling all over the place. We saw R2Ache go past and into a bay we thought about this morning. Might have been a good choice, in retrospect. It may have taken them past the funnel effect that seems to be our lot and I think they may be on their way by now. I hope so – they done good to get this far. The forecast for tomorrow is no better – we’ll go look early in the morning. Apologies for the dismal progress. At the moment, we are looking in danger of the Grim Sweeper. My estimate is at least 18 more days to Ketchikan. ————————————————-

Village Girl

on the efficacy of snubbers and other stuff

We are tied on the inside of a little floating pontoon by the grace of the owners. It seemed safe enough when we arrived yesterday but it is completely open to any waves and swell coming from the north. It’s 0200ish now and for some of the last couple of hours we have been grey knuckled trying to save the boat from bashing herself to bits on the pontoon. Dangerous and unfunny. There has been a series of big waves coming across the channel and VG and the pontoon have been violently out of phase and our puny fenders have barely coped. By a bit of inspired luck, I brought a pair of heavy mooring line snubbers from Oz and we have them woven into our bow and stern lines and I think they saved the boat tonight. So far…They are rubber cylinders that absorb the impact load when the boat and the pontoon move in opposite directions. VG weighs about 2 tons and without the snubbers would for sure have broken free and ended up on the rocks a few metres away. The snubbers and our springs. But my knuckles are still grey and the night isnt over yet. Watch this space. And you might be wondering why we don’t just anchor when things get pearshaped. VG’s anchor rode is about 200 feet of chain and rope. That means we can safely anchor in about 50 ft of water if the current isn’t too fierce. In these channels, the sides are rocky, sometimes cliffs, and they plunge sometimes almost vertically to more that 300 ft in places. We have to find sheltered shallow water to anchor and that’s why we are being very careful about not getting caught by a reversal of a 5 knot current with nowhere to go. We can only heathfart at about 2 knots and only sustain that for a couple of hours. Is, could you please confirm that these silly ramblings are actually reaching the blog?

Village Girl

The Grim Sweeper

Just a quickie. We’ve re-read the race packet and there’s now no way we can beat the Grim Sweeper to Ketchikan so we’ve officially retired to relieve the organisers of responsibility for our safety aznd we’ll go cruising back to PT. We’re sad. ————————————————- 

Village Girl

The Examiner’s revenge

Messy!

Village Girl

Commiserations

Sad to hear about Holopuni and You do Stuff and glad they are all safe. I know what it feels like. From his position when we passed him yesterday, I suspect YDS got into the same standing waves that we did the day before. I hope both boats were retrieved.

Village Girl

A gap filler

It’s all a bit of a blur. We left our uncomfortable pontoon in full heathfart middayish yesterday aiming for Browns Bay and hooning down on the current. Wind and sail. The last point to be rounded before Browns looked rather nasty on Navionics current predictions and we needed to wait for slack high water to round it. Sailed into a tiny bay and anchored within a boatlength of rocky beach, trees and singing birds. Lovely spot. We tried to time our departure to get us to the point at slack but clearly left too early and we’re in danger of being swept past the very tricky entrance. Luckily a little tugboat came up and we asked for a tow. One man crew, fully in charge of his vessel and he idled his massive engine into Browns and he lobbed us gently onto an empty jetty where we now sit. Exquisitely skilful. Thank you Mr Lundqvist! Not sure how the photos will post but there’s an otter at the end of the discharge pipe on or pontoon, Angry Beaver in the far distance heading south with lovely mountain backdrop, our yellow mooring buoy in Menzies Bay, Megan fully relaxed and our little bay and the tugboat Broughton Warrior. Also a resend from Christelle and Kristian, two friendly canoists we met just before Porlier a few days ago. Thanks, you two! There’s a webcam at Browns Bay but it just misses VG…






Village Girl

Another day, another jetty

The Examiner is about 40 points to our zero right now. We have a one hour window in daylight to get out of Browns Bay and into the Narrows – it opened at midday today and it depends on the time of low water slack tide in the Narrows. Without a motor, we must go through at the very beginning of the flood to avoid the nastiness. Today the wind pinned us against our jetty and even if we could have got off it, it was waay too strong to heathfart directly into it to get out of the harbour safely. One of the benefits of not racing is that it doesn’t matter. We will try again tomorrow. Fish and chips preceeded by a dose of The Compound in an hour or so.

Village Girl

It’s the waiting

The old proverb that a coward dies a thousand times while the brave die once has always seemed to me to be back to front. Apart from the fact that cowardice is an outdated concept, courage is about knowing it’s going to be nasty but doing it anyway. I’ve been sitting here pondering this silliness as we wait for our moment of furious activity getting out of here and thinking about everything that can go wrong. Catastrophising madly and watching every tiny change in wind direction and strength and the turmoil of waters a quarter of a mile out. It usually helps to have thought through foreseeable disasters but it doesn’t alleviate the slightly corrosive dread that comes with the anticipation of possible nastiness. Anyways, we’re all poised to heathfart wildly into whatever the Examiner chucks into the harbour entrance at about 1230. So far, it looks a bit better than yesterday and we’ve turned VG around to the other side of our jetty so she doesn’t get pinned like yesterday. Our Narrows window opens at about 1300 which is, in theory, slack water but we’ve noticed some deviation from the current predictions we are able to access. We’ll see. In the photo VGs roller furler is just visible against the buildings far left and there are a couple of tugs pulling a huge log raft towards the Narrows in the distance. Narrows entrance is half a mile to the left of the photo

Village Girl

Tugboat bookends

We were almost pinned into Browns Bay again as the wind inconveniently rose and blew directly into the entrance at 25 kts or so right on the start of our Narrows window. Luckily, Rodney the tugboat man was going out at the right time and he towed us out of the harbour. Thanks heaps – again, Rodney!. Unrolled headsail and an exhilarating sail down through the Narrows eddie’s – all very gentle at almost slack but we could feel the power. So could VG! We’d arranged for Rob the Campbell River towboat man to pick us up just north of the CR harbour entrance and so it came to pass. It was lucky we did – no way we could have heathfarted across the wind and against the current around the cruise ship piles and dolphins and into the entrance. Might just have made it under full sail but I doubt it. Rob was at full power ferry gliding us in. So here we are – it’s still blowing a hooley from the NW and would not be much fun out in the Strait of Georgia. We look like being here till Saturday and a predicted wind change. Then, we hope, to Nanaimo perhaps over 2 days and Megan will catch the ferry to Vancouver to collect our motor. One of our friends said the motor would look good when we see it and I said it would outdo the Mona Lisa in sheer beauty, so Mona Lisa the motor will be. Yay! The photo is looking north at the northern end of the Narrows a few minutes after slack water. It changes fast!

Village Girl

Comox! Old coal loading town…

We got I to Comox late on Thursday after a difficult beat down from Campbell River and around Cape Lazo. W weren’t sure whether we could cross the Comox bar but, as it turned out, the channel was well marked and relatively easy. Comox is a fishing town and fully touristy too. We are in the fishing boat harbour with industrial sized cleats and other fittings and we have our motor back! Yay. Megan left yesterday for the bus to Nanaimo, ferry to Van, bus to the airport and Alaska Air cargo Depot and collected it and arrived back with it’s big ass box this afternoon. She’d lugged its 70 pounds across Van and the ferry with an overnight in Nanaimo and the final bus and was knackered. We cured that with appropriate medical draughts and we are now waiting for a favourable wind for Nanaimo. Looks like another day here. We’ll need the motor, I think, as we will probably need to avoid a military practice zone on the way. Meantime, Comox has an appropriate dispensary for an excellent prescription from the Doctor in Dublin.

Village Girl

Buzzing feet and Mota Lisa

A 12 hour slog from Comox to Nanaimo a couple of days ago. Feet still abuzz from the vibration. Flat calm, lovely scenery down inside Denman Island and then open Strait of Georgia. We managed to time our passage over the new ferry cables in Baynes Sound – apparently the ferry runs on three of them and they are synthetic. But if not for Megan’s trek to collect Mota Lisa we’d still be in Comox. We will transit Dodd Narrows today and head for Sidney. It’s an easier world with a motor! The photo is the fishing boat harbour at Comox. Find tiny VG if you can

Village Girl

Narrow Dodds and other stuff

More Mota-ing. Without her, we’d still be in Comox but we wouldn’t have buzzy feet. 12 hours of the little darling is a bit of a trial. Here we are in Sidney – last stop before the US border and the TSA. We plan to cross and into Friday Harbour tomorrow if they will let us in. Yesterday, we got to Dodd Narrows about half an hour before slack and stuck VG’s delicate nose into the current and decided to bale. Current running at about 5 kts and with some attitude. Again about 15 min later, same result but current slowing. Both times we were spewed out at over 7 kts. Third time lucky and we crept through at about 2 kts with Mota Lisa at warp revs. Old Fart ready to leap for the oars if Mota hiccupped but all went well and grey knuckles gradually returned to normal. Then to our friendly jetty in Trincomali Channel just south of Porlier Pass for the night, where the old fart had a missunderstanding with our obliging rubber bucket. Off again at 0500 to here. Flat calm. Photos show Dodd Narrows playtime and Megan’s new friend Lila, a cuddly local fluffball, who visited us on the jetty.

Village Girl

Full circ!e

Well, sort of. We’re back in Friday Harbour, after Mota’ing across from Sidney a couple of days ago, almost exactly a year since we were last here and where we found VG looking sad and lonely and decided she’d be a friend. And so it all growed and we’re back. Sadly, perhaps, we would rather have been in Ketchikan but not to be. Last year, we celebrated July 4th at the Yacht Club but this time we plan to leave at about half ebb tomorrow and out through Cattle Pass into the Strait of Juan de Fuca if it’s not foggy…Then across to Port Townsend and we’ll try to find somewhere to park VG till next year.

Village Girl

Juan de Fuca

Was probably a Greek sailor working for the King of Spain who might have sailed into the Strait named after him – by an Englishman, based on the journal of another Englishman. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_de_Fuca And the Examiner seems to like the place too. It drains the waters of the Salish Sea into the Pacific and it has some interesting tidal and meteorological quirks. Shipping lanes everywhere and big ships doing 25 knots. We’ve crossed it twice in each direction, each time with attendant drama. The first 3 are buried in the back reaches of this blog but the last one was yesterday. 0445 departure from Friday Harbour captured in the webcam screenshot, courtesy of one of our friends – at about half what had been a huge tide tide on the ebb, glassy calm and we still had the fenders over the port side. Masthead light and what I think is the GPS screen clearly visible, Lopez Island middle distance across San Juan Channel and Blakely, Cypress and Guemes islands just poking up over Lopez and possibly Mount Vernon about 35 miles away in the far distance. Small fishing boat in the channel. Out through Cattle Pass on the last of the ebb with attendant whirlpools and sluices and off towards Smith Island. Grey, cold and drizzly, cloudbase 500 feet or so and no wind on a lumpy sea. Mota pottering at half revs, misty visibility all the way across to Whidbey Island and Port Townsend. Enter the Examiner with her leathers and test kit. Mota Lisa making about 3 kts in the lumps and rolls so very slow uncomfortable progress and as we got to Smith, the cloudbase dropped to water level and we were in fog – ok to start with and visibility a couple of miles but it really socked in as we approached Partridge Point on Whidbey. Slow progress put us in maximum ebb current in Admiralty Inlet. The tide was flowing at 4.5 knots so it became a looong ferry glide across to Point Wilson – perhaps 4.5 hours to cover 4 miles with about 40 degrees of drift. Assuming Mota Lisa was giving us 5 knots at her best revs, that’s about 22 miles through the water. As an ancient aviator, drift is easy as long as there are visual reference points – I’m not much good at it in fog. The GPS lubber line is too insensitive for me to pick the early signs of wander and we did not have the big compass set up. Silly old fart didn’t think of it. So we wandered all over the place. Fog gradually lifted so we were able to see and avoid a big container ship and a tug with a long line towing a huge barge and a couple of ferries we knew were there via the Marine Traffic app. Tangled masses of very long kelp in the current swirls. Finally into PT and up to friend’s mooring at Port Hadluck.(thanks you two:)) We shared the very last dose of the Dublin doctor’s prescribed medication. About 10 hours of fun for her in the leathers. Life, the Universe and our towels. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Village Girl

Safety – and science? – on Sunday

Two hypotheses – The Safety Roadhouse, 20 miles east of Nome, stocks proper medicinal compounds – or it doesn’t. We drove out there to test them last Sunday – can this be science? – and found the place closed so they remain untested. And passed two lost chihuahuahs out on the tundra on the way back without knowing they were there. Yep, really! One was found, and we were asked later to help look for the other one – it has now been out there in the rain for more than 24 hours. And now it’s Thursday – Still chihuahuahless but after testing hypotheses. H2 turned out to be correct – It doesn’t but it has an excellent line in Bloody Marys. The chihuahhuah hunt involved about 20 big pickup trucks, several cars and about 7500 pounds of human biomass all looking for a few ounces of tiny dog. Sadly, I think little Fancy is lost and gone for ever. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_4219440222959856200_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Village Girl

11 years ago today

We set off from Nome in Berrimilla for the Bering Strait and the Northwest Passage. We had heard that the ice was breaking up at Point Barrow and it seemed time to leave. This is what it looks like along the breakwater today. Interesting day for a sail. I doubt we’d have sailed in this stuff in 2008. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_5911423379156649913_m_6883909018885569200_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Village Girl

Ugly Bob

About 3 years ago Megan started building a Welsford Houdini dinghy in Nome. For reasons related to the level of profanity during his early gestation and construction, he became male and was named Ugly Bob. Life, the Universe and Everything intervened and he sat in a shed until a week or so ago when we drug him out and I started to apply acres of fibreglass. Yesterday, Pat and I built a mast. It is square section, made from old growth red cedar planks that were probably part of a tree when the Bering Strait was still a land bridge and Yetis abounded. Red cedar is light and flexible but soft so needs care in use. The section is designed to keep its tensile strength and it will support my weight in the middle when propped at each end. I think it will weigh less than the aluminium tube in the plan. We will rout the edges tomorrow and taper the top and Bobsyer. Maybe! It is intended to be self supporting but we will allow for runners just in case things get a bit pearshaped. Brian Shilland made the sail 3 years ago and the goal is to circumnavigate Sledge Island before I leave for Oz. Ambitious, I think but hey!



Village Girl

Other lives

Beside a remote bit of road on the way out to Cape Nome, there are two faded wooden grave markers. They are the only signs that people once lived out there. It’s bleak and windswept and, in winter, unsurvivable. Their story has died along with the people who knew them. Above them, silhouetted against the sky high on a ridge, there are five weather-beaten wooden crosses. They mark the repatriated remains of people who lived on Sledge Island and in other native villages and whose remains were collected and exhibited for the supposedly civilised curious to study and to stare at in the Smithsonian and other museums. Their descendants have brought them back and tried to give them peace. From their graves on a clear day there’s a magnificent view along the coast to Sledge Island and Cape Rodney 30 miles away. And for the geocachers, there’s a geocache up on the ridge not far away. Peace is a relative concept. Nearby, musk ox live on the tundra – shaggy survivors with dense layered furry pelts that protect them in the icy winters. They shed some of it in summer and it is collected and spun and woven into warm gloves and hats by the local people. It is called qiviut. Along the Nome waterfront, there’s a massive breakwater made from huge granite boulders blasted from Cape Nome. There are homeless people living under plastic sheets in the spaces between the rocks. In winter, when the sea is frozen, there’s a shelter and food for them overnight in town but they are out in the cold during the day. Grim existence.





Village Girl

Other lives part 2

There are 2 cruise ships in town, small by comparison with some of the beheviathans that we see in Sydney. In the photo, ‘The World’ anchored offshore on the left, ‘Roald Amundsen’ on the right, alongside in the harbour and a gaggle of passengers looking at sled dogs lower left. A supply barge out on the far horizon. Perhaps 1500 passengers all told and Nome is busy with yellow school buses ferrying them around and guided tours of the old gold mining sites and Iditarod dogs and souvenirs. There is some lovely carved walrus ivory in town, but I think the souvenirs are mostly made in China. There ya go. Not a big source of income for the town either, as most of the money stays with the cruise companies, but Alaska Airlines lays on extra flights to keep the ships full. ‘The World’ has an entry port low down near the waterline and it must be an interesting transfer to the modified lifeboat that ferrries people ashore. Through the binoculars I can see the lifeboat riding the 5ft swell alongside and it’s a bumpy ride from there to the inner harbour. The Amundsen seems to have an ice strengthened hull and is on its maiden cruise. Nome is a small town and all low level. I went for a run yesterday on a loop that took me about 4 miles north of town and looking back, ‘The World’ completely dominated the skyline, a huge squat apartment block much higher than the church steeple at Old St. Joe’s. I know people for whom cruise ships are a way of life. For others, a cruise is a lifetime dream. I’m privileged to have been able to sail here.

Village Girl

A balanced lug…

Ugly Bob progresses. We hoisted the sail yesterday just to check that the rig works as intended. He’d be pretty except for the big crease in the sail – needs more tension along the gaff, I think.However, a Consultation occurred and Medicinal Compound was prescribed and administered. Thanks to Dutch Bob for the photos. Today, the ugly one gets turned over again to finish glassing his centerboard case and to have his bottom painted. Sadly, I think a sail around Sledge Island will be an island too far this time but he’ll be just about ready to go when I leave. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>