Saturday, December 4, 2010

November 19, 2010
Banfield B.C.

It’s been over a month since we headed out to sail to Hawaii but we were blown north up to Barkley Sound. It was quite a challenge to find a safe anchorage at night in a place that we had never been before. Barkley sound is one of the most beautiful places we have ever sailed to but coming in at night into the sea of rocks called the Broken Islands was very challenging. We were glad for our high-powered flashlight, radar, depth sounder and our g.p.s. showing our place on our computer charts. It was a dark cloudy night with no moon or stars to help us. It was with great relief that we dropped anchor in a nice safe harbour.

At dusk we were still about an hour from the islands and a large whale swam right toward us. We had seen it a couple of times spouting but it had been far away. The whale seemed to know well were we where and swam right to us. We steered to port to try and miss it. For a moment it seemed it was going to ram us but at the last moment it dove under our boat right in front of us flashing its giant tail and gave us a great thrill. To us it seemed to say welcome to the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

We have had a great time discovering the area and have been sailing all around here for the last several weeks. The weather has been all over the place including many storms with winds reported up to fifty knots.

Uclulet offered great walks along wild Pacific beaches, interesting shops and good anchorage through several storms. The Broken Islands are a huge marine park with safe anchorages, ancient village ruins and incredible hikes. We also have visited the Deer Group Islands and Poetts Nook.

After passing through a narrow passage through the Deer Islands called Robbers Passage we dropped anchorage for a lunch break and a walk to the beach only to find that our zodiac was missing. We immediately raised anchor and retraced our path back through Robbers Passage and luckily found our dingy floating out in the open sound, but it was floating over a dangerous reef. We took our chances and steered out over the reef watching our location on our digital charts carefully. We hooked the painter with a boat hook and motored off the reef. It was a bit frightening as we could see rocks only a few meters below.

We tied up for the night on a dock in Robbers Passage and spent a couple of days exploring this wonderful area including seeing a big buck right on the trail just two meters away who looked at us for awhile and then calmly strolled away.

We are presently in Banfield, a nice village that has a school with about 20 children. Leaf has been going to school almost every day for half a day. It is a great break for him from our isolated lifestyle. The teachers are welcoming and the children seem to enjoy meeting a new boy. There is a little public library which we have been enjoying including watching a few DVDs.

November 24, 2010

Our starter motor broke and needed replacing. The local marine shop helped us locate one and shipped it here. We were very handicapped without an engine and there has been a series of issues that has made a very challenging week. A cold snap and severe storms have made living without an engine at anchor frightening sometimes. Our dinghy’s motor was stored in the hold for our hopeful offshore passage, the dingy motor could have helped us get to a dock if we needed while our main engine was inoperable, but being so cold and icy we didn’t want to bother to put the engine back on the dinghy. So we sat at anchorage through some severe blows with not too much lee if we dragged anchor. The bay filled with white caps as the storm blew at the exact worse angle. Without an engine we could not recharge our batteries and our solar panels are not too efficient when there is no sun. So we had limited lights at night and a few other inconveniences.

So we sat for a over a week out in the bay doing little but surviving and praying things did not get worse. The first starter motor we ordered was the wrong one so we had to wait for a new one, then the parts company forgot to put the replacement on the freighter that serves this area but eventually it came and it all worked better than new. We are all grateful that our boat if fully operational again. I am very connected to the boat and when it not working well I am not at my best either.

In Banfield the locals telephone in their food orders to a supermarket in Port Alberni who deliver it to the docks where a freighter makes bi-weekly trips up the inlet to remote communities. We just made a large food order ourselves. We are still enjoying the area and we are planning to go to a craft fair on Saturday to sell some of our crafts. Yvonne and Leaf went to a community potluck a few days ago and had a great feast and everyone loved the cake Yvonne made. Leaf has been entertaining the local kids with balloon sculptures and magic tricks.

We are still open to sail to Hawaii, this area being a great jumping off point for the crossing. It is more dangerous and cold to go so late but we will go if the winds are favorable. It is more likely that we will continue winter cruising on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. This too is a bit dangerous but we have five years of winter sailing experience and we have been enjoying the adventure and the beauty of the area. We have seen very few other boats about except local fishermen. Although the area can be very rough to sail it also offers many safe anchorages and we have good weather information to guide us. We are planning to head further north to Tofino and explore the Clayquaot Sound if we don’t sail to Hawaii, which becomes more unlikely as winter approaches. We are especially looking forward to the hot springs north of Tofino on Flores Island that has a safe anchorage.