The Winkel’s Trip to Desolation Sound

July29, 2013 – Edmonton to comox

we got up and began to pack, initially it seemed like we had all the time in the world to get ready for the trip.  That was because we had spent a good part of yesterday packing also.  Even so we did use all of our time getting ready. Leah had to pick up the dress for Karen’s wedding so we got to see the old house, nice to see them making it their own and changing things. They’ve ploughed the east pasture and have houses in the there.  The horses keep the grass much nicer than no horse did.

Got to the airport and checked our SEVEN (!) bags.  Security was a breeze and then waiting around until fly time. The moving sidewalk was great fun for Ethan and I, we rode it four or five times.  The big boys rode it at least three or four.

On the plane I sat with Ethan, he had his car seat which was awesome because he was strapped in.  Tried to watch tv but the headphones didn’t work for his small ears.  Ate fruit loops, skittles and cookies. Matty spilled his pop all over himself right after I stretched my legs under his seat so I got a wet foot, Leah got a little wet because the pop ran across the seats toward her.  Quick change and half a pack of wipes later everything was good.

Got a taxi and got our stuff down to the marina.  I left Leah and got the gate key. Wwe rolled our stuff to the boat and did the walk around.  After the tour i went to a chart briefing while kids went to a park to play.  Leah hooked up with a family that are in town for a annual meetup for ranger tugboats. Not my thing but there were about 60 of them in the harbor.

We didnt know when the grocery store closed so we went there next amd got food.  Ethan was at the end of his rope so it was a little challenging morale wise.  Got it done.

Took at taxi back to the boat and loaded up.  I ran up to the blackfin resturant and got two orders of fish and chips, haribut.  A real hit even with matty.  Mooky had a sandwiche.

I noticed the batteries were near zero so I started to investigate… Turned out the breaker for the dock kept popping, so we reduced power consumption a bit.    Bedtime went well and then we crashed too.


July 30, 2013 – Comox to Lund

Got up to a beautiful morning, with a slight chill in the air.  The boys were awake so we had breakfast and tea.  I took the boys on a tour of the marina and Leah stayed at the boat.  Our captain Jonathan came by and we set out to practice docking, Leah at the wheel.  He took us to a couple of logs that are attached to a buoy to work on it.  When we got there it was covered with seals even some baby ones, which would jump off when we would dock and then climb on while we circled back; everyone except the biggest seal.  He just watched us practice.

On our second go around the gear shifter stopped working so we had to go back to the dock for a repair.  They adjusted the lever cable and away we went for more docking.  With the wind it was tough to get right up to the logs and we did a few rounds.  It was time to quit when Leah started to get frustrated with the wind.  Jonathan went back to the fuel dock and jumped off we left, now on our own!

Had a great sail out of Comox, hitting six knots consistently close hauled to beam reach.  It started to get a little lumpy and James got upset about sea sickness, they had been in the vee berth playing, probably my mistake.  I think they were just tired because after we crossed the Comox reef all three kids went to sleep.  Leah and I had a great sail across until we hit Horwood Island and it was time to motors ail.  We were getting 6 knots when the engine alarm went off, cooling water temperature.

There was no cooling water in the exhaust.  Shutdown and called for help.  We were dead in the water for about an hour while they came across, the boys all woke up and we had snacks.

The mechanic and Maz came on board and changed out a thermal couple which controls the flow of water into the engine for cooling based on the coolant temperature.  Three bolts and we were on our way.  Started motoring, up to Lund and had dinner under way.

Ethan fell down the companonway, huge goose egg on his forehead… That put a damper on things but he got through it.  Got to Lund and the gear shifter stopped working properly, we would put into forward and then it wouldn’t got.  Later we would put it into reverse and it wouldn’t go, very frustating.  We changed our docking plan to a less desirable spot on the outside of the breakwater so that we wouldn’t have to raft up in one of the fingers.  If the motor had been working we would have taken that option.

Docked perfectly and tied up.  Got the dinghy out, had a fight to get it off the boat because the motor mount threads were siezed.  Broke one of the mounts trying to get it off, had to use a vise grip to do it.  Eventually we set off, forgot to fill the gas and thought we had runout, turned out we were okay.  Took forever to find the dingy dock, turns out if the rail is blue then it is formdinghies, at least in Lund it is.

Lund is pretty, there are a bunch of businesses that cater to tourists, we went to the restaurant and had ice cream.  There is a bakery which we will check out tomorrow.  On the way back to the boat we motored start to a beautiful sunset.  The boat was safe, good docking Rich and Leah, and we were happy.

Read 39 clues, except we started on book 10 (?). Not bad, and off to bed.


July 31 – Lund to Squirrel Cove via Thulin Passage

Started the day with a dinghy ride to the bakery, excellent cinnamon buns.  I had apple, Leah blackberry and the boys pecan; Matty with the sauce scraped off.  All the buns are baked right there and place smells delicious. Found out mike Buble bought half a small island nearby.  We thought the island wasn’t that imposing and that actually raised my opinion of him.

Back to the boat where we planned the day.  We took a tour of a 35 Ericsson that has been modernized except for propane by a couple.  Looked really good, they have had up to 10 sleeping on it which was amazing.  They added water and sewage tanks, extended the vee berth to make a tight double and redid the head.  The galley has a propane stove and a propane heater for the salon, which replaced the original propane.  They also tired to sell me a project boat in Florida which I don’t need.  Their boats name was Hungarian for a dance, and started with Cs.  Their names were Brian and Heather.

Launched the boat and headed up Thulin, an easy motor.  Leah and I got burnt.  It was a continuous line of boats motoring through the passage, and we got passed regularly by power boats.  One of the ones going the other way made wave that splashed on deck, frightening ajames.  On the other side hoisted sails as the wind changed from a beam reach to broad run to a straight run wing on wing into the cove.

Anchoring was a challenge, still not sure if it is set but we have 3:1 and the rode won’t even go out of the windlass.  The gypsy doesn’t pull the rode very well, something about a clutch.  Need to learn about that.

Motored to the island in Squirrel Cove and James and I swam.  There was a couple with three kids, 6, 4 and almost 1 – all boys there.  Brad and Allison they are from Vancouver, and motored up here. They have two weeks left and will be hanging out tomorrow in the cove.  The boys had a great time picking up starfish and jumping into the ankle deep water.  James and the oldest from B & A explored the island a bit too.  The boys like Squirrel Cove.

back to the boat for showers, salmon, logs and bedtime.

I hope the anchor holds… First time for everything.


Aug 1 – Squirrel Cove AM

After I completed the last entry a thunder storm came through the anchorage so I let out some more rode.  This disturbed me as the rocky shore is only a 100 ft from the stern of the boat and I was unsure if we should stretch out the rode and hit it.  Foullies on and onto the deck to sit anchor watch in the rain, though it might have been more pleasant in the rain then below as a couple of hatches leaked and Leah was on a rampage closing them and making them tight.  For my part I went out from under the dodger and pulled the bug screens out of the openings.

The storm passed through and I went to bed.  Got up early this morning to pull in bait of rode as the tide is dropping and we would have over 7:1 which may bring us too close to the rocks again.  While doing that a bene 49 pulled into the cove.  they had been in Pendrell Sound and had got blown out as they were rafted to someone else and the holding is back in there.

Down below to hang out with Ethan who was awake and hanging out in his bunk.


Aug 1 – Squirrel Cove

Got up early to check water depth, no issues.  Had a grey morning so Leah made pancakes which were awesome.  Then we went to the island in Squirrel Cove.  While walking around Matty, Ethan and I all stepped in dog poop- I hate dog poop because once I had to throw away a pair of shoes at work because the smell was so bad.  Anyway the island has been rename dog poo (s–t in my mind) island.

Brad dropped Allison off with her three boys and went back to the boat to figure out a boat problem.  James had great fun, Matty too but fell twice one scratch and Ethan was fine except we had to hold his hand the whole time as he followed the big boys around.  The rocks on dog poo island are sharp, slippery and steep.  B and A call the island dog poop island too.

Morale was plummeting to it was time to go, Ethan was ready for a nap and then we ran out of gas.  I rowed us home, outboard lesson number two.  Number one was to release the gas air vent when you are moving so the tank doesn’t air lock.  Back to the boat and snacks, lunch, Ethan down.

We pulled anchor, went okay, the windlass doesn’t pull the rope to chain interface through very well so you have to help it, very painful.  All the rope and chain must be hand flaked into the locker.  Now I understand the reason the vee berth sucks in the bene 343, no hand flaking required because the chain falls straight down out of the windlass instead of onto a sloped plate.

Motored to Squirel Cove store, but no mooring spots available so we came back to the Cove.  anchoring was a challenge because getting five to one with rope and a flakey windlass is hard.  Their was a lot of wind two which kept blowing us off course too.  Took three tries and one pep talk to make it happen but we got it.  ethans sunglass went overboard and thebig boys did not help the process by being little boys who need to get off the boat.  Also we need to get used to the idea of less than 6m of water under the boat when anchor, ten feet is enough 😉

Decided to try dinghy to the store, no luck to much waves, we all would have been soaked getting there so we turned back and found an nice little pebble beach to hang on.  James preferred dog poo island but everyone else likes pebble beach better.  Ethan fell in serval times but was good to go after stripping off his clothes.  He went home in a life jacket and a diaper and had a shower on the transom.

Spaghetti for supper and the bedtime.


Aug 2- Squirrel Cove to Refuge Cove

Pulled anchor and headed to refuge cove, which is an extremely busy spot.  Managed to raft up to brad and Allison who stayed here the previous night due to battery trouble.  Very quickly had five kids in the vee berth playing.  Went up to the store and bought some groceries.

Then we had to move because brad was leaving, so we cast off and redocked.  I took the wheel because Leah is still needing some practice in reverse- put it in no problem, three feet off the dock with zero way.  Handed a line off and we were there.  Took two tries because the wind got me the first time and my angle was to steep.  after docking I decided that we weren’t going anywhere today.  Moor age wasn’t too bad, $24.50, and we could do groceries, laundry and showers.  Best 5 bucks ever to have a long shower.

Refuge cove is beautiful, rugged and yet well maintained.  The cove was originally the only place to get provisions and news for miles so it was very busy.  You can see the remnants of buildings all around.  Interestingly all the buildings are built on stilts for some reason I don’t understand.  The cove is a coop which you must be a member of to run a business here.  The two most profitable, the fuel and grocery store are owned by the gas attendant and a partner.  They have 300,000 liters of tankage up the hill that gravity feeds back down when filling boats. There are on,y three valves on the system, one at the tanks a solenoid at the waters edge and a valve at the gas pump.  They only buy enough for each month and barge pushes it up the hill to the tanks.  Fuel price volatility can kill them if they buy too much and the price changes too much.

Met a great pair of couples Carol, the baroness, and Howard also Phil and Colleen . They have been cruising for weeks and spent five days in Pendrell sound but they have a ton of chain and experience.  They shared clams with us which were great, also prawns too.  They caught them all in e Pendrell.  The boys toured their whole boat and played with their puppy.

I went over after dinner and map talked with them.  As with most stuff speed or endurance is huge for opening up options and as they go twice as fast as us they can go any where they want if they are looking for a particular thing.


August 3 – refuge cove to Melanie cove

Got up to a silent refuge cove, which was a significant change from the refuge cove of yesterday which was a hustle and bustle.  We got ready for the day headed up to the store to buy a bit of milk and then prepared to get underway.  Phil and Colen woke up and our boys demanded a tour of the boat.  A 35 ft sailboat is double the interior volume of a 34 ft power boat because they need to keep two 454 engines on board.  That boat burns 1gal of gas for 1 mile and really can only two speeds 9 or 22 knots.  Diesel is better for efficiency but not worth the price according to Phil.

Carol and Howard also bid us adieu and we set off.  Stopped in the middle of the sound for some back up practice with the dinghy, and then off to the cove.  Navigating into the cove was easy and we were going to stern tie but there was no big open spots as we headed into the sound, then we went to far and I saw 0.9m on the depth meter.  Put it in reverse and then turned on our length-thanks Les.  After turning around we decided to anchor in the center.  That went well, Leah at the bow and I helmed it, to keep stress levels down.  On the way out I’ll lift the anchor as it needs a bit of brute force to make happen.

Had lunch and set off on a nice dinghy ride to Laura Cove and back.  Made a stop at Tamra Rock which Chris, Tam and I visited last time I was here.  Also figured out where all the gas in the dinghy motor has been going, into the dinghy via the tank air vent when i tilt the motor up.  Saw the mega yachts and hundreds of others in the anchorage.  More power than sail, which I partially understand for up here where in cruising season there is very little wind.  In Laura Cove we watched some people use the rope swing, which was cool, it must drop you from over ten feet when you let go.

Back in Melanie Cove we stopped at a small island at the end of it for a snack.  Pretty rugged and not all fun because Ethan almost fell a few times.  James and Matty loved it.  No where good to sit either, needed a lawn chair.  Back to the boat.  To get James and Matty off the boat I tied the floating stern line to the dinghy painter and set them off rowing.

Initially they each took and oar and did a great job, singing and all.  Then James stopped cooperating and Matty took over.  He is a natural- going backwards. they haven’t quite figured out the rowing in a traditional manner yet.  They rowed to the neighbors and discussed their ages, they took pictures and commented that James was sneaky for getting his younger brother to row him around.  A boy named Quinn kayaked up to them and they were fast friends.


Aug 4- Melanie cove


Today was supposed to be a chill day in the cove, turns out Burke didn’t want us to have a chill day.  Burke is Quinn’s father and likes to do hard hikes.  His wife is Casey and their boat is Dreamer Be.  This is their second cruising boat as far as I know.  The first one they lived aboard for about a year and a half cruising from La Paz through the sea of Cortez and then crossing to Hawaii and back to BC.

James got up early and rowed over the Quinn’s boat.  I had to keep adding rope to the leash to get him over there, eventually he made it with Quinn and Casey’s help.  They didn’t tie the dinghy to Dreamer Be so I could reel it back.  James and Quinn. Planned the whole day over hot chocolate which started with an exploration of the island at the end of the cove for some exploring.  James used a single kayak amd Matty went with Quinn in a double.  They spent an hour at least while Leah and I had coffee, Ethan was napping.

They came back and after  a quick discussion with Burke on radio we were packing lunch for a hike.  Not sure why I felt like we needed to keep up to Burke and Casey but we were going to try.

Initially we couldnt find the trailhead were scambling through bhikers it until the kids and Burke found it.  The path was pretty rugged but reasonable well used and about half the fallen trees and been cleared.  Ethan would jump off of every one of those trees for a while until  the ferns grew into the path at his eye level, then i carried him.  The path ended at Laura cove and took an hour.  I had a nice talk with Casey about cruising and their experiences while cruising. We talked a little about our plans and her only fear was dealing with hurricanes.

Had lunch and a swim at Laura cove.  Burke manged to crack open some oysters and ate them, not my idea of a good time.  Quinn took up that cause and was opening them until Burke cried uncle, not sure how many he ate.  We talked about boats and music and soon it was time to head back.

Three things strike me about our conversation, one was his support of catamaran ownership over a monohull, even though he crossed oceans in a mono, that he figured it would take 3 months to prep a boat for cruising and that crossing the gulf stream was not to be taken lightly. I agreed with all his catamaran points, space, privacy and ease of resale but entry fee is pretty high.  We won’t be taking three months to prep the boat and we wont take the gulf stream unless conditions are favorable.  Maybe I’ll read this in the future and laugh at my own naivety put only time will tell that story.

Then Burke and company split up with us to that a more arduous hike to Unwin lake taking James with them, much to Marty’s chargin.  The hike back proved that he is not quite ready for a hike of that magnitude.  I carried Ethan back up and down the hill.  At least he got used to sitting on my shoulders which he has never liked, saying “bunt” and laughing when I get him up there.  Soon he was resting his elbows on my head as we walked.

Back to the boat and went for a dinghy ride to prideaux haven, Matty drove which initially was erratic but became better and better.  The outboard was a bit stiff for him to turn which was a problem and he had enough after 15 minutes.  After the tour we had a swim off the boat which was a little unnerving as the water was full of jelly fish.  Creeped me out but Leah didn’t care.  Need to get a marine life book for the Carib.

Matty wouldn’t swim off the boat so I took him to the island which also was full of dog crap and waded for a few minutes.  The into the dinghy and got it to plan by sitting in the middle, I steered with a oar.  While we cruised James returned with the Dreamers.  Turns out James is a trooper after all as made it though a three hour hike without any complaints.

Pizza for dinner which took until 930 to make and 1030 to eat.    While I was making it Burke gave the anchorage a mandolin and vocal concert, which it seems he does most nights.  Another kid boat had a unvh of little gorls dancing on the fore deck dancing.  The only song i recognized was Margaretta Ville.  Kids to bed and off to sleep not long after ourselves.


Aug 5-melanie cove to Comox via strait of Georgia

I woke up early to a silent boat, crawled over Leah and quickly wrote a note to the Dreamers.  Rowed over to there boat as quietly as possible and placed the late under a can of crush for Quinn.  On the way back I touched the top of a jelly fish, but could make myself touch the bottom.  Anyway, started the grouch (engine) and gave it a little blast forward, got to the front of the boat and pulled the anchor, hand flaking the rod into the locker.  Motored out of the cove with Leah on the bow as lookout for rocks.

We motored to the sound and headed toward the strait of Georgia via bakers passage as the forecast was for Northwest winds blow 15-20 knots.  Leah started breakfast for the crew and I went down to assist.  I had a bacon and peanut butter sandwich and the boys had ceral.  Oddly they didn’t want the bacon.  Heading back up I relieved Leah for the wheel and steered throu the passage.  As we passed through I saw a cat boat coming towards us from the north, I think there is a RVYC private dock out there.

Got the sails up and started a beam reach toward mitlematch island. The depth sounder would sometime read less than 12 metes which would freak me out as there is on rock on the chart at sentry shoals.  Switched to a broad run and made about 5 knots speed over ground.  Not bad.  Continued to sail this way until we hit less than 3, fire up the grouch.  Motored from then on back to Comox

The boys did pretty good, they only fought for a while and no one was seriously injured.  James got worried about seasickness and came on deck for a while but than went below.  Leah played a game with them and Ethan fell a sleep under the table.  The half hour to hour before Ethan will go to sleep is the hardest one of the day.  Lunch underway was sandwiches and awesome, bacon and cheese.

Comox harbor has a sandbar across it and entity the harbor must be done with care to the navigational aid which are three buoys.  One must stay about 100 ft from the them to avoid getting into trouble with the bottom.  The lowest depth we saw was about 3 meters below the keel, pretty shallow when you are cruising at 6 knots.  O the way through we had another sailboat gaining on us. As he was overtaking we had the right of way, so I picked my line independent of where he was.  About half way through he dropped from beside to behind us and followed our wake.  As the depth reduced he started to drop speed, we continued on as the charts and experience from last time say we would not hit anything, but it is still scary.

Soon got to Comox fuel dock and had Maz take the boat from there to the marina.  We used about 36 lires of diesel the whole week, not sur how many of our miles were power and how many sail but I would be surprised if we. Others less than 75% of the trip.  That is because on a trial like this, morale and getting there is more important than sailing there.  I estimate we moved about 86 nautical miles this trip.

Turns out this weekend is BC days, and a carnival had been setup in the park by the marina.  Leah miscommunicated the plan and we walk through the carnival instead of stopping to get some treats.  Ward to the pier and then to a real finishing boat selling halibut for 8$ /lb.  I didn’t know this but halibut populations are threatened, putting each boat on a quota.  The boat we saw had a 59000lbs quota.  Not sure want the totally catch is for the fishery but that seemed like a lot as one fish we saw was 13 lbs.

Back to the boat on low morale.  Supper for the boys and showers on board.  I went to the black fin for more Fish and chips which I shared with the boys and Leah.  Also got chocolate ribbons which were a piece of mousse like cake with whip cream and chocolate/caramel drizzle.  awesome!  We toasted our voyage and the boys went to bed.  Leah and I both had showers and then watched a firework show from the cockpit.  Woke the boys up to watch it, which was fun.

Soon to bed.


Aug 6 – Comox to Edmonton

We all got up and cleaned and packed the boat up.  Leah made pancakes for the third time which were excellent again, even though the syrup ran out.  We were off the boat by about 930 and ready to head out.  Ethan sat at the t of the companionway for about an hour trying to get someone to let him out of the boat abut wasn’t allowed to leave.  James and Matthew were over all a big help, needing a bit of prodding to make the move out happen in time.

Before we left we got a tour of the Beneteau 393 which may be the boat we buy long term.  It is a three cabin version with the owners in the bow and the two stern cabins in the rear.  the galley is down the starboard side and the table is huge. The heads are great and the staterooms too.  Lots of headroom everywhere.

Walked to the gardens I went to last time but they were shutdown, big disappointment.  Taxi to the airport and time to take off.  If I ever travel with a young child again I will bring their car seat, the five point seat belt holds them in place and let’s them relax.  Ethan was sleeping before and during take off, and slept during landing too. Supper will likely be Harveys tonight and then a drive home.

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