Week 4 – Blaine to Pender Harbour

We may have a hitchhiker on board!  He used to live in the basement at The Blue Goose Inn, but he may be hiding in the bilge and coming out to wreak havoc whenever the mood suits!  Yep, it’s Murphy, our trouble making friend, and it’s hard to decide whether we’ve been lucky or unlucky from his visits these past three weeks!

Out with the old...

Out with the old…

and in with the new!

and in with the new!

Whatever the reason, our latest adventure in boat living started while we were peacefully anchored in Montague Harbour.  When you live on a boat, you are attuned to all the “normal” noises; halyards slapping, pumps cycling, dinghy squeaking, and waves lapping against the hull.  Picture us in the cockpit peacefully enjoying an afternoon beverage and listening to the world float by, when suddenly the bilge pump and the water pump both start to run constantly.  We looked at each other and hopped up to investigate.   We finally tracked the flow of water to a spray of water spurting out from base of the hot water heater.  Rut ro!!

Since we were already scheduled to head to Blaine to pick up our sails, we decided to head over a day early so that we could solve the hot water heater issue in the good ol’ USA.  On Monday morning I started hunting down a new water heater while Marty worked on getting the old one out of its hidey hole.  Amazingly enough, it was a relatively easy job to get the old one out!  It seems like lots of stuff on boats is installed before the deck of the boat is added, so it’s nearly impossible to get a large item OFF the boat!  Not so this time…phew!  Boats are kind of like big jigsaw puzzles in that to get to the place you want to work usually requires opening up about 4 other places first!

Where do they all go?

Where do they all go?

The pieces fit!

The pieces fit!

So, long story short, it took about 2 hours to pull the old tank, a day to receive the new one via UPS from Seattle, and 2 days to find a 3/4″ to 1/2″ pipe threaded reducer!  Even with a frustrating search for the right parts, by Thursday afternoon the hot water was heating and Marty was putting the salon back together.

Full moon going down

Full moon going down

We pulled out of Blaine Marina Friday morning early, to catch the outgoing tide, with the full moon shining over the bay, and the sun coming up behind us, bathing Mt. Baker in a nice pink glow.  An awesome sendoff from the US of A!

Sunrise over Boundary Bay

Sunrise over Boundary Bay

Boundary Bay is a huge bay and it seems to funnel the South winds up the strait.  We had a nice 8-10 knot breeze so up went the sails and we quickly crossed the 10 miles to make the turn North around Point Roberts and head up the Strait of Georgia.  If you’ve never heard of Pt. Roberts, it’s kind of interesting.  When the border between the United States and Canada was established as the 49th parallel it cut straight through the southern tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula. This created a chunk of U.S. territory that can’t be reached by land from the U.S.  It is one of only four locations in the contiguous United States not directly connected to the lower 48.  Add that to your trivia file!

Big boat traffic!

Big boat traffic!

With the wind off our stern, we sailed up the strait past the (busy!) Canadian ferry terminal at Tsawwassen, avoiding freighters and ferries.  The tide had now turned against us though, and the wind was diminishing, so when the SOG (speed over ground) dropped to 3-4 knots, it was time to start up ol’ iron genny.  We had a long day ahead of us as we were heading for Pender Harbour so we wanted to either sail or motor at 6 knots or better.

Fraser River outflow

Fraser River outflow

Working our way out of the Vancouver Harbour area seemed to take forever.  This is where the Fraser River enters the Salish Sea.  “Its headwaters are at Mt. Robson in Jasper. The drainage of the Fraser River watershed is larger than the area of Great Britain! The Fraser River usually flows at a rate of 5,195 cubic yards per second. At that rate it can fill three swimming pools every second! Every year the Fraser River picks up 37.4 billion pounds of sediment (clay, silt, sand, gravel). This weighs about the same as 1.5 million killer whales.”  As we passed this outflow the water was the color of a cafe o’lait; a nice healthy mud color..ha!  It went on for miles, and then in the distance we could see a distinct line where the water was blue again – amazing!

A passing barge heading into the waves

A passing barge heading into the waves

The sea was getting really bumpy by this time, so it was a long rough slog up the strait.  We had chosen our day to travel it well though, as the wind was on our stern and the waves were going with us.  The current against us was only about 1-2 knots, and changed in the afternoon just in time to push us the last 30 miles.  We pulled into Pender Harbour at 6pm, after 12.5 hours and 95.85 nautical miles…phew!  We anchored in Garden Bay, took a hot shower, jumped in the dinghy and headed for the Garden Bay Pub for dinner and a beverage.  Ahhhhh!!

Saturday arrived with lots of wind and rain so we were on anchor watch during the morning, but then around noon the wind and rain disappeared and the sun came out!  Off we went in the dinghy to gather a few fresh provisions and to watch a fun festival involving the building of wooden boats.  Teams were all given the same tools and supplies and in four hours they had to build a seaworthy two-hulled craft.  They then had to row or paddle it around a small course, and the winner made out with some great prizes!  The boats were really extravagant, but only about a third of them actually made it around the course – lots of swimmers in cold water!  A fun afternoon though!

So, have we been lucky or unlucky; generator glitches, wet water heaters, thrust-less throttles?  We’re going with lucky!  Even though we have been having a few glitches while we’re getting along, we ARE getting along and we’re getting things fixed easily.  Much better to solve these issues while tied to a dock that has UPS delivery than to try to figure it out while anchored off an iceberg in Alaska!  So, thank you Murphy and thanks to our lucky stars….life is good and we’re having a blast!  (And hopefully Murphy will take a break for awhile!)

Next stop – a visit with the Princess!  🙂

One thought on “Week 4 – Blaine to Pender Harbour

  1. What fun! Sue, I love to read your stories! I just finished reading the book Desperate Voyage by John Caldwell. I can tell you both are much better sailors and I wish you a very safe and fun trip. I’m afraid I would have to give up before I sailed (but then again I haven’t every taken a trip on a sail boat) Best of luck – look forward to reading more about your adventures!

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