Thursday, August 25, 2016

Respite in Anacortes

We took a two week break from cruising in Anacortes, WA. We had a great time there with two other Ranger Tug owners, Ron & Libby from Tug O' My Heart and Steve and Laurie from Sea Life Too. We know Laurie and Steve from Sanibel, Florida and we know them from there and by happenstance we crossed paths in Anacortes. It was a great two weeks of hiking, seeing sights and crabbing. We now are heading south and going as far as Olympia, WA and then returning to Roche Harbor for a Rendezvous with 139 Ranger Tugs in attendance.

Stay tuned.

Entrance way and exit to downtown Anacortes

Mount Baker

An interesting sea wall in Anacortes

Mike & Jess, Steve & Laurie, Ron & Libby
The Anacortes Jive Six
Moonlight in Anacortes

Laurie took this picture of the reflection of our stern in the water.
"Reflections of Illusions"
Sounds like a good title for a book.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Princess Louisa Inlet and Chatterbox Falls

The trip to Princess Louisa Inlet is considered one of the holy grails of cruising. We started early morning at 6:00AM from Backeddy Marina to make the 37 nautical mile trip to Malibu Rapids. There are many areas in this section of cruising that have large dangerous rapids and timing is everything. You have a small window of opportunity to pass the rapid areas at slack tide. Slack tide is the time between high and low when there is the least amount of current. Either side of that window and you are literally taking your life into your hands. Timing calculations are important and figuring when slack will be involves using a tide station that could be a significant distance from where you will be. It is suggested that Point Atkinson, which is near Vancouver be used and then add 36 minutes to the stated slack after high tide and that should work. Now the trick is to pace your speed to get there just at the right moment. GPS has made those calculations somewhat easy. I set my destination waypoint at the center of the rapids. I initially figured a speed of 6.5 knots running up 37 nautical miles. My GPS will then tell me my anticipated arrival time based on my current speed. As you progress winds and current change and this requires either slowing down or speeding up so that you maintain your required arrival time. We left figuring the worst case scenario and kept having to throttle back because mother nature was helping us way too much. We even stopped and anchored for a half hour since we were going so fast. We arrived at the entrance point and as one can suspect we were not the only boat waiting for slack. And remember boats want to go in and boats want to go out. It is a pretty orderly operation. You can see the Rapids from the outside and everyone is looking down the small narrow channel to see how it looks. No one wants to be the first in and usually the biggest boat takes the plunge and then reports back. After that the chatter begins (maybe that is why it is called Chatterbox Falls) and everyone announces their place in line and waits for a clear spot to enter. Only one boat at a time can go through since it is so narrow. Usually groups of three or four, one at a time, will take turns entering the rapids or exiting from the falls side. “Security, security, security, 27-foot Ranger Tug entering Malibu Rapids. Any vessel opposing please respond immediately”. No response, good to go. Usually a few other boats behind you will report accordingly and announce who they are behind. When there is a break in the announcing by incoming, anyone on the other side will jump in and announce their exiting. We all have about a 20-minute window on either side of slack to make the passage. It works well and we all enter and exit in one piece. As we get closer to the falls the canyon walls get higher and steeper, raising vertically at points to 3,000 feet. Waterfalls run down in several places and on this day clouds hung low is places creating a Jurassic Park feeling as we progressed. We finally made it to the falls. It was now time to find a spot to anchor. There is a dock, but it is usually full before you get there. The people anchored out from the night before grab a spot as soon as those who were there leave to exit.
We coincidentally met up with a couple of other Ranger Tug folks that we met previously so three of us rafted up for the night while the other group miraculously found a spot at the dock. After rafting up it was time to go to shore and hike the numerous paths and see the falls up close. Pretty magnificent. The trip was well worth it. After the hiking Jeff brought over a bucket of clams he had dug up from his secret spot the day before. Before you knew it we had an impromptu repeat of the Feeding of Multitudes from the Bible. Ken and Sandy made spaghetti and clam sauce. I cooked some clams in a tin foil bag I made and used garlic, butter, wine, onions and basil and steamed them on the grill, Ron and Libby made garlic bread and Jess made a salad. We all sat down on Sandy and Ken’s 29 foot Ranger and brought our food, appetizers and wine and indulged in a feast.  It was a great evening and we wished it wouldn’t end, but for us and Ron and Libby it was early to bed early to rise. The rapids went slack at 6:05 AM so it was a 5:30 AM departure to make it through.

Below are a few pictures of our journey to the falls. 

We are not in Kansas anymore Toto.

Yes, a bit ominous looking.

I think I saw a dinosaur 

The Falls are not as big as they are in early spring. I read that in the spring you should not anchor in front since boulders do come down at times.

Some markings of water running down earlier in the season.

I expected Gollum from Lord of the Rings to pop out at any time!

So after they put up the sign no one else died? 

Gullum are you home?

Typical forest foliage.

More forest foliage

Baby Chatterbox maybe?

Forest gnomes!

Ron, Jess and Libby going back to the boat. Not our boat behind them. Ron has a bad sense of direction. Explains why he always follows us. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Desolation Sound

It is said that Desolation Sound is one of the best cruising grounds in the world. Each destination for cruising in the world has its unique reason for being great and Desolation Sound definitely has some unique spots. For that matter the Pacific Northwest has many unique spots. I am not going to get too wordy here, the pictures tell the story. 

This is the Family dog Clipper at Widernest Marina. He is half Wolf

Definitely not the East Coast. 

This is a fresh water lake we hiked up to. No showers on the boat tonight! A nice dip in the lake.

Jess making it to the falls at Toba Inlet. The owners of wildernest use this for hydro-power and all the water for the marina.

When cruising you always make friends along the way. We met Ron & Libby in Gorge and they decided to travel with us on the rest of our adventure. So far we are all still smiling.

The Toba falls

Every view is interesting up here

Here we are in Laura Cove stern tied. Stern tying is common in these parts. The water runs deep quickly from shore so you need to get close. Stern tying prevents swinging so more boats can anchor closer together. The ladies are enjoying a break after a short cruise.

Sunset view at Toba Inlet. One of our favorite stops.

Anchored and stern tied for a stop at castle falls. Unfortunately we did not get a shot of our boats in front of the falls. It got late and the wind kicked up and we had to skedaddle to a safe anchorage

Jess scaling down a rock embankment to enter Castle lake for a swim.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


After leaving Ladysmith we cruised to Thetis Island, Wallis Island and settled in at Chemainus for two days. We thought Ladysmith was nice and it looks like Chemainus just beat them out. The marina, although in a busy spot, is right in town. Chemainus is a deep water port and there is a lumber mill in town, so large ships arrive to have lumber loaded for transport overseas. This is a financial boom for a small town of 8,000 people. There is also a ferry that will shuttle people to and from Chemainus to Thetis Island. Ferry transport from island to island is quite common out here. The town was smart enough to realize that dependency on the mill was not healthy for town finances. Especially since another mill had closed down years ago. At that point, they decided that tourism was a good means of alternative support. Someone had the idea to get artists to paint murals on the side of buildings and make a marked walking path to each mural. The murals depict the history of the town. They also encouraged small businesses and eateries and no food franchises. Subway came in under the wire and is the only franchise store in town.
When you wake up in the early morning all is quiet and you can smell the aroma of fresh cut cedar and pine wafting from the mill. As early morning arrives things get busy at the wharf. The ferry to the islands starts up. You can hear the mill operation in the distance and a huge freighter is in port being loaded with hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber. They loaded that ship for three days 12 hours a day!
The shops are the typical shops one sees at tourist areas, but the restaurants and bakeries offer many choices. There is a big Asian influence out here so your choice of Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese is abundant. There is also your typical Italian, German and more. We came upon a restaurant run and owned by an African couple. Odika is the name of the restaurant. We gave it a try and were pleasantly surprised. Jess had the lamb shank with almond sauce accompanied with plantain mash, kale and carrots. I had the local salmon also served with kale, carrots and topped with a ginger sauce.
The town also has a live theater and offers two shows 5 days a week. Unfortunately, they were sold out and we could not get to a show.
We leave Chemainus today and return to Ladysmith to meet up with a group of tugs to make our crossing of the Georgia Straits to Gorge Harbor. This will be our entrance way to Desolation Sound.

Below are some pictures:

Clam Bay on Thetis Island

ILLUSIONS in port. We are on the left.

As you can see a bit of Asian influence here.

Entrance to Watermill Park. Great for kids and we also got to see a concert.
They have one every Tuesday night during the summer

Walking down Willow Street

We did take a buggy ride through the town. The driver stopped at each mural
and explained what they depicted.

A typical building mural. Each mural is also maintained by a local artist.

Lumber being loaded by derrick. Three days of Loading! You would think all the trees in Canada would be gone by now.

One of the more famous murals in town. It depicts the strong "indigenous people"
heritage in the area.

Large tide swings up here! You want to plan leaving the dock at high tide.

Saturday, July 16, 2016


After Montague Harbour we motored our way to Ladysmith. Ladysmith is an old mining and lumber town with a population of 8,500 people. What a great place! The marina was the best so far, $1.35 per foot the first night and $1.00 per foot thereafter, even if you leave and come back. Showers are free and impeccably clean facility, but donations are accepted. It is a short walk, well maybe a little longer than short, uphill to the town. The hills remind me somewhat of San Francisco. All the shops are great and you can’t miss the Old Town Bakery. Cinnamon buns the size of bricks! Okay we agree to buy two, split one and save the other for tomorrow. Yeah right! We ate both. So much for our responsible eating. The 49th parallel grocery has plenty to offer. After shopping they will drive you back to the marina. Our one-night stay turned into three. How could we leave a town so quickly that has a bus driver who knows the names of all the passengers and even the names of their dogs. When we asked him to explain the schedule his reply was, “Oh, I can’t even understand it”, where do you want to go, I’ll just drop you off.

We had another surprise by being able to attend the Maritime Society Dinner held every two weeks. We had tried to get tickets earlier, but they were sold out. Later in the day the marina desk clerk asked Jess if we were spontaneous. Jess of course said yes! They had a cancellation and we were in. We also happened to sit with the director of the society and before you know it, it was announced that we have guests who are attending that have come the furthest than any other, Mike & Jess Rizzo. Our picture was taken and we are supposed to be in the next newsletter. 

A bit of an uphill walk from the marina. The good part is that you pre-burn calories from the cinnamon buns and it is a downhill walk on the way back.

The Trans Canadian Highway passes through town. 

Side Ties at the dock. Easy in and easy out.

Today we eat Carbs! Oh yeah, Fresh bread too! 

Victoria to Montague Harbour

As you cruise north the scenery gets better and we start to realize that our efforts to get here are starting to pay off. The Gulf Islands are another section of cruising grounds that have a lot to offer. There are abundant anchorages and marinas. Unlike the east coast, the going rate for a marina is between $1.00 to $1.50 per foot. However, everything is ala carte. You pay for showers, usually 1 Looney for 3 minutes and sometimes you even pay for throwing out garbage. The Gulf Islands have just come off a severe water drought and even at best times water is always conserved. No boat washing and filling up tanks is restricted to 40 gallons per day. We only use about 5 gallons so we are golden. Some of the stops we have made since leaving Victoria are: Poet’s Cove, Salt Spring Island, Montague Bay at Galiano Island, Ladysmith and today Thetis island.
Poet’s Cove is known for its resort. It is a bit pricy because of the “resort” name, but the marina is pretty standard. As marina guests we can use the pool and other facilities. A nice swim in a heated pool felt good.

Poets Cove Marina

 The next day we headed out to Salt Spring Island and stayed at a marina there with the same name. It was a great little town with a farmer’s market, a big hardware store and a great grocery. We stocked up on supplies and I purchased my fishing and shellfish license for Canada. So far I have invested $258.00 for my quest of Dungeness crab and have not gotten the trap wet. It was time to purchase some chicken backs and get the crabbing show on the road.
Becky and Dun departed us from Salt Spring Island for their return trip home, so today was the day to set my trap and then pick it up on the way out the next morning. My anticipation of success was doubtful, but I followed every pointer I read and asked about. Go in at least 35 feet of water, stand still, drop pot slowly. Let it hit bottom, pick it up and down a few time so you hopefully have it sitting flat on bottom, mark where you are on the GPS. I also put my name on the buoy so if someone stole it they knew who they stole it from and when I went to retrieve it I was sure it was mine.
Next day we left at slack tide for our short trip to the trap. Great, we found the buoy! I had Jess grab it and then I put the boat in neural and went out back to start pulling up the trap. Eureka, crabs!! They had to be the right size and they had to be males. I caught Dungeness and Red Rock. Try measuring live crabs that claws are not held shut with rubber bands. I resorted to pulling them out with tongs and then holding them from behind as I attempted to measure with the caliper. Good, two keepers. I now have two crabs worth $129.00 each. I am now obligated to continue my quest until I am under $20.00 per crab, the going retail rate. Perhaps if I catch a salmon or two I will get into the black sooner. To be continued.
Getting things ready for the kill.

Montague Bay was great! Part of Montague Bay is a Provincial Park. We picked up a mooring ball at the cost of $14.00 per night. We happened upon a couple of other Ranger Tugs and had an impromptu gathering. After wine, cheese and some good laughs on board “Irish Mist”, we took our dingies in to the dock and waited for the infamous Pub Bus driven by Tommy Transit. The bus came in on two wheels, stopped short and the doors opened to wild Tommy, blaring music and a big welcome to the Hummingbird Pub Bus. Somehow, when you travel on a boat you become very trusting of people. If we were in New York, you would have thought that this guy just escaped from Bellevue Mental Hospital unit and stole a bus. As we entered the bus we were each handed a percussion type instrument to play and sing along as we made our way to the pub. The Mamas and Papas “Creeque Ally” gets cued up and the fun and music begins. After a 15-minute ride of music and bedlam, we arrive at the Hummingbird Pub. Expect to wait 50 minutes for your order to arrive, but more drinks are passed around and the time goes quickly. I had what is called a Caesar. Not a salad, but a form of Bloody Mary made with clamato juice. Very good! I was tempted to get another, but with a double shot and what I had on the boat I figured I was good for the night. The halibut fish and chips were spectacular. Our trip back to the harbor was just a hectic, if not more, than the trip there. Tommy had a tape of screeching tires that he promptly put in as we were leaving the driveway. Wheels screech and Tommy grabbing the wheel and throwing himself about was quite a sight. What the hell have we gotten ourselves into? We arrived at our drop off point safe and sound and all waved goodbye to Tommy agreeing that this was definitely a unique evening. We all got to our dingies and made our way back to our respective boats somewhat safely.
The next morning, we prepped the boat for departure. We got into our dingy and motored to each tug to say our goodbyes. We find that these chance meetings and unplanned adventures produce great memories.

Our view in Montague Harbour

No Caption Required

Tommy Transit at the wheel and percussion

The Impromptu Tug Rendezvous Members
Allan, Jess, Me, Linda, Jay, Patti, Mark and Jodi