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July 2008 Log: Arrival in Vancouver

(Click here to go back to Part 1 which covers July 3 to July 18)

Saturday July 19, 2008 – Day 15

Carllie: 1136 hours, 1,388 miles to go – officially past the half way point hurray! The fog cleared as the sun came out today and provided much-needed heat for today’s outdoor showers. I started rationing water about a week ago as this first half of our trip was taking far longer than we had anticipated. Even though Garett calculated that we were using about 1/4 gal. less than our 2 gal./day allotment and we had still had enough for 20 more days, I figure it’s better to have too much water than too little (I really don’t want to have to go without washing for the last few days of our crossing), and with those extremely light winds we had no idea when we would pass the North Pacific high and begin to get steady winds, so I started using salt water for all hand and sponge-washing and showers, using only a little fresh water to rinse off.

So! Back to today’s MAGNIFICENT showers…I waited until that reliable ol’ sun–which comes through even on the gloomiest of days–had actually burned off the fog and provided a little warmth against the cooling breeze in 60 degree F air temperature, before I stripped off and scurried onto the sunny side of the aft deck for my shower with LOTS of heated salt water (no limited to that! what a luxury!) followed by half a litre-bottle of fresh water. Wow! Did that feel great! Salt water is very invigorating–I had discovered this through my daily swims in Mexico and Hawaii—even when used in smaller quantities to bathe or shower. After toweling off and a teeny bit of air drying, I felt terrific! Maybe the cool air combines with the hot water to create the effect of hot-cold-hot-cold showers we have at home. After a somewhat unsettling night on studious “fog watch” it was very refreshing and much needed. We had tuna sushi for lunch today, as I made so much last night. Yum yum all over again. Grilled tuna for dinner. Fog watch started during the first watch, Garett’s, from 8 to 11 p.m. By the time I stumbled out of bed for my watch, visibility had been reduced to half a mile. This was my first experience in fog since we sailed down the Oregon and northern California coasts in August two years ago, and I was pretty nervous with it at first as you really do feel like you have blinders on and must rely on your radar and be very diligent in checking it. Unlike the nights in those halcyon sunny days and clear nights when we had little or no wind and perfect visibility for miles and I sometimes dozed through the 20-minute watch alarm, tonight I was on high alert and studiously put on my boots and foulies every 20 minutes to go out into the cold cockpit to check the radar for traffic. At midnight, only an hour after I came on watch, I returned to the cockpit and took the radar off standby mode. Was I surprised to see a big radar blip only a few miles aft of us! (“Bogie incoming at 5 o’clock!”) I knew it was a freighter by the size of the return, and immediately hailed him on VHF Ch-16: “This is the sailing vessel Light Wave hailing the freighter 4-5 miles aft of us. Please respond.” I repeated that message once more before an indistinct voice came on mumbling something possibly English but certainly incoherent. “Say again,” I said. He mumbles again. It’s definitely not their captain nor regular radio operator. I try to start the motor to take evasive action, but the battery is drained. I throw open the hatch and yell for Garett telling him there’s a freighter coming up on us 3 miles astern and I can’t start the motor. While Garett puts on his boots and jacket, I go back to the radio and give the freighter our Lat/Long position. This numbskull on the freighter then says, “Sorry, I made a mistake,” and I think, “What??” Maybe he had been hoping to talk to a friend on another freighter way out here in the middle of the Pacific? Anyway, I can’t get another peep out of him, and I don’t know if the helmsman on the freighter is aware of our position or not. By now Garett has hauled out our quick-start jumper battery for the engine. I had already removed the cover over the engine so he could attach the terminals, but first while I am bearing off 30 degrees on the Autopilot Garett tries to make contact with the freighter. Two minutes later, the lights of this huge freighter loom out of the mist–bow light and high stern light identifying it as a very big ship if the size alone didn’t convince us—he’s about 300 yards off our port side (Garett says 1/4 mile but I don’t think so) and I’m panicking.“Start the engine! Start the engine!” I squeal. Garett phlegmatically and quietly says, “It’s okay, he’s passing us.”(The fact that we can in fact see his green starboard light and not his red port light, shows he is not coming towards us but is indeed passing us), but is I am not convinced and the hair on the back of my neck is standing up. However, sure enough that big freighter does rumble past a good ways off… After that I continued my very diligent monitoring of the radar every 20 minutes. It was not what you call a “peaceful” watch! I made a quicky noodle soup to calm my nerves, ate crackers and even made a hot chocolate! What a piggy. By morning, even though I had had another 3 hours of fitful sleep during Garett’s second watch, I was so strung out that I really needed that shower!

My sketch of the freighter passing us 300 yards off on a foggy, foggy night. Yikes!

A foggy morning.

Garett doing burpees in our cockpit.

Garett baked a coconut loaf from my Quick Breads recipe book. It was okay but nothing to write home about…sorry sweetie!

Sketch of my considerably more delectable real bread, “Irish Freckle Bread” (see NAME? menu).

Irish Freckle Bread turned out really good, and it’s so easy to make.

Sunday July 20, 2008 – Day 16

Carllie: 0943 hours, 1291 miles to Victoria, Gentle sea, slow long swell, 5-8 kts SW wind: This trip home across the vast wide Pacific has been far more like the idyllic crossings we envisioned before our rough passage from Mexico to Hawaii. From the 3rd to the 13th day out of Hawaii, we had calm seas and very little wind (3-5kts of wind) 10 days of the 11. Even now, with more wind (7-12 kts), a big long swell and foggy conditions, sailing is peaceful. During the calmer times we had clear night skies and moonlight, but even now we can see the moon shining through the fog, and last night we saw what Garett calls a “Moonbow”!

Obviously it’s not possible to set up a tripod and photograph a “moonbow”, so here’s my attempt at a sketch of one. A moonbow is an unexpected touch of beauty on a dark night at sea.

For lunch we enjoyed cold char-grilled tuna leftover from yesterday, fabulous with a bit of mayonnaise for a dip. It’s such a treat to eat that fresh tuna from mid-ocean as it is so sweet raw, and delicious grilled. Garett: I predict arrival time in Victoria of 4 p.m. on Wednesday July 30th which would make it a 25-day passage.

Brrr! Still a bit chilly, but I am enjoying soaking up the sun’s rays today.

All the lines Garett had set up for added protection and grab lines gave me extra laundry lines as well. It’s tough to get things really dry in the middle of a vast body of salt water, however.

El Capitan reading one of my books.

Grey skies aft…

…and in front of us.

Monday July 21, 2008 – Day 17

Carllie: 1615 hours, 1130 miles to go! Today was really a sleepy day for me. Could be because I didn’t rest at all during my two watches as we were really racing along last night at between 6 and 7.5 knots with huge waves chasing us, and I do sleep just a wee bit better in the daytime in these conditions, stretched out on the cuddy couch. I have vague memories of disturbing dreams dealing with a lot of water…

Yesterday we opened a special care package from our friend Kasandra Dasken at home, of games to play and Patrick McManus stories to read aloud and kill ourselves laughing over. Garret tried to teach me how to play Sudoku, but I went into my “cross-eyed, brain bunged-up” mode very quickly and after an hour begged off to play the much more enjoyable Mexican Train Dominoes. I know this game (Sudoku) of mathematical deductive reasoning would be good for my brain and mental processes, so I tried again by myself this morning on my second watch and didn’t let myself get frustrated with it this time, but still the trick and magic of this game eludes me. It’s more fun for me to challenge myself to write an accurate and colorful description of some experience, or to draw one of my simple little drawings than to struggle with figuring out where each number from 1 to 9 fits in each row and each box of Sudoku. But thanks, Kasandra. Garett enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll catch on eventually. Last night (early hours of this morning) during my watch I also tackled Lesson 15 of Pimsleur’s Spanish III. Unfortunately, we hadn’t copied Lesson 14 onto our MP3 player, so Lesson 15 (actually my 65th Spanish lesson) was “mas deficile” (very difficult). I had to look up unfamiliar words in our Spanish dictionary. It is always so mentally stimulating to complete a Spanish (or other language) lesson, and it has been great to have the time to be able to do these language lessons once a day as you make much faster progress that way. I study/learn languages because it makes my brain feel good. I will have to do a Google search “learn a new language to maintain a healthy brain ” or something like that. Surely I can learn Spanish and even a few phrases in Japanese and Cantonese, then I can wrap my mind around Sudoku? The swells have now moderated and wind lessened, and we are sailing at a little more comfortable 5 knots. It has been a cool damp day with air temperature of 59 degrees F. and 87% humidity. Fog seems to be lying in wait, but there is a high overcast. We had a pancake breakfast late today, so skipped lunch and at 4:45 we will have another dinner of grilled tuna-mayo-onion salad, potato-carrot-sprouted garbanzo beans-egg salad and tomato-onion-sprouted beans marinade along with Garett’s “La especialidad de la casa” (the specialty of the house), cured tuna (like lox), cream cheese & onions on crackers. (Way too much to eat, but it was good entertainment value!) Finished our relaxing day with another 5 rounds of Mexican Train Dominoes. It’s nice to have this TIME to spend together. In land life, we have an hour together in the morning, then about 4-5 hours at night when we are both tired. It’s been a blessing having all of this time to enjoy life together. After all, we did choose each other as life partners! Before retiring to the “sleeping hull” I practiced my ukulele again for about an hour. I love having music an active, growing part of my life, rather than just passively listening to the music created by others. My private karaoke singing when I wail away with every CD I put on–from the soundtrack to “You’ve got Mail” to the dulcet country tones of the Dixie Chicks–only takes me so far in musical satisfaction.

Garett laughed so hard over the Patrick McManus short stories Kasandra had sent us he looked like he was in pain. It was funnier to watch Garett than pay attention to the story.

Our fabulous dinner, too much of it, earlier described. We have the time to be creative cooks at sea or in a peaceful anchorage.

The sun sets on another day.

Looking for that green flash again, but there was too much cloud tonight.

Tuesday July 22, 2008 – Day 18

Carllie: 0609 hours, 1075 miles to go :o), Carllie’s watch: It is a foggy morning, visibility about 1/4 mile, checking radar every 20 minutes as we found freighter blips on our radar twice last night. As we get nearer to the continent we will undoubtedly see more and more freighter traffic, traveling to and from Alaska, Japan, Russia, North America, and even South America. So we will have to keep our eyes open and radar ready. Even if it’s not foggy our Furuno radar has a range of 16 miles, beyond sight of our horizon on deck, giving us lots of advance warning if anything approaches.

We are now heading almost exactly due north, sailing wing-on-wing downwind, because the wind has backed to the south from SWS. Eventually, when Garett gets up, we will reset our sails for a broad reach, starboard tack, which should put us back on our GPS track of 060 degrees (east-northeast) for home. It is good to make northing, however, as we are expecting a “low trough” in a few days, generating northwest winds of 15-20 knots, and we will have to head due east when that arrives.

“Dinner in a Bowl” – Dinner tonight was borne of my experience with our new Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker over two years of offshore sailing. It’s served in one bowl each, and made in one pressure cooker. And it’s delicious and nutritious. See my Rice Lentil Pilaf recipe in Cooking on Board (link to come).

Garett setting up whisker pole again for another downwind wing-on-wing sail.

Trying to coax a dominoes tile out of a side port on our computer. Oops! Luckily, he succeeded.

And here’s the naughty culprit!

Wednesday July 23, 2008 – Day 19

Carllie: 0625 hours, 952 miles to go! Fog, light rain, cold! (Hard to tell we’re nearing home!): I am getting pretty efficient about putting on my boots and storm jacket every 20 minutes to go outside into the wet, cold, foggy morning–or night–to check the radar for “bogies.” Inevitably when Garett calls me for my last watch at 0500hrs, I am in the deepest sleep I have had, and all I want to do is go back to sleep. This, of course, is not possible right away, but once I settle into my watch as soon as I have done each 20-minute radar check, all I want to do is slip out of my boots and jacket and snuggle up on the our Polartec-covered couch with my Polartec-covered pillows and Polartec blanket. It really is amazing how soundly I can sleep in the next 15 minutes until that 20-minute alarm beeps again. Before we “found the wind” and the fog descended on us, I had actually been known to sleep right through the alarm after a few seconds of its unfriendly nagging, even though I always put the wrist watch producing this racket right beside my head–ergo pretty darn close to my ears. As they say, “You only hear what you want to hear.”

Stopping this journal entry to do my radar check, I spied a mass of rain heading our way from the SE. This is likely the second part of a weather system that Garett predicted a few days ago (after analyzing our Weather Fax downloads). We got the “warm front” (if you want to call it that) last night again during my watch, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., with 10-15 kt winds from the southeast. I put our rain-catcher hose into the port for the water tank before I came back inside as that rain shower showed on radar as being only 4 miles away. Sure enough, it is now raining and our water tank is being fed lovely fresh rainwater. In our calm days at sea (evidently now over), during several nights while resting in the sleeping hull, I heard the happy chittering of birds flying over. Each time these birds flew close over Light Wave, and I heard them talking away to us. It was quite entertaining and I smiled and chuckled at them while snuggled into my cozy berth listening to their chittering. Couldn’t catch a photo of these small birds that fly so fast, skimming the wave-tops much like swallows skim treetops and lake waters at home, but I did sketch this drawing of those birds, and of the big “gooney bird” that followed us for several days (we are not absolutely sure it’s a gooney bird, but it sounds convincing.

Our chittering “wave skimmers” in the background and the big “goony bird” that followed us for hundreds of miles, in the foreground.

As 5 a.m. approached, before I started this watch, as usual I was sound, sound asleep and, as will soon be ascertained, dreaming vivid dreams. Suddenly, I heard the hatch being thrown open and Garett yelled, “Carllie, it’s 15 after!” then slammed the hatch closed. Fifteen after! Boy, I slept in, past his first call. Poor Garett. I fling back the covers, throw on my warm sweater and boots and charge up the stairs. Where’s Garett? Not outside as he usually is, waiting for me to take over. I open the cuddy door, and there he is drowsily peering up from his prone position on the couch. I cheerily call out, “Sorry I’m late!!” “Wazzat?” he says. “You have another hour to sleep!” I tell him he just threw open the hatch and told me it was 15 after five. “No I didn’t,” he says. “Are you shurrrr?” I demand (this is my constant response to Garett’s declarations of truth). “It wasn’t me,” he says. “Another hour.” I figure I must have had a very vivid dream, and scurry back to my warm bed, laughing at myself as much as a half-asleep crewman can laugh.

Garett making quesadillas. Yummy!

Thursday July 24, 2008 – Day 20

Carllie: 0635 hours, 835 mile to go! Sea slate grey, sky light grey; 12-15 kt NWS wind and bigger seas, 4-6’ NW swell: Since I have come on watch at 0500 hrs, the winds, now from the NW, have increased steadily to 12-15 kts now, along with the seas. Have to keep slowly heading off to the east to make sailing smoother and more in control. In this kind of sea state, whenever LW’s speed hovers around and surpasses 7 kts, we have to do something to slow her down a tad.

As some of these swells pushing us along are now 6 feet high, and we are doing some pretty good surfing down the waves, I am wondering if Garett–who unlike me sleeps with his head forward up into the bow–is feeling the blood rushing to his head and it’s maybe waking him up. Usually, when the seas and winds get a bit hairy he is wide awake by the time I call him to relieve me or to help shorten sail–even though he crams a set of our handy-dandy memory foam earplugs into his ears and can hardly hear a thing, as do I when I go down to sleep. Garett is so attuned to LW’s motion that he knows instantly if things are getting iffy and his captain’s instincts wake him up–like a mother to the cry of a child. It’s really quite amazing how the sound of the wind and waves is diminished inside the cuddy cabin with the door shut… Thinking about these last 19 days at sea, I realize how wonderful it has been to be free of all the demands and distractions of even being at anchor in some lovely bay, let alone living in a city amid the huge population of an anxious people. We have so far (knock on wood!) been pretty lucky with our weather. Many days I have not taken any form of drug to prevent seasickness, a real sign of how good the weather and resulting sea conditions have been. (And also a happy sign that I am at last achieving some degree of mastery of the dread mal de mer.) Consequent to all of this good fortune, we have had time–time to enjoy each other’s company; time to ponder life and try to understand the big picture; time to work on our personal projects like writing, writing improvement exercises, ukulele, Spanish, Cantonese; time to contemplate the life that lies before us and how we will manage “re-entry” into that world while retaining the perspective and peace we have gained in our two years of exploring. Garett: On my 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. watch the wind started to build. We had reduced sail at dinner time to just the drifter as with we doused the poled our screecher at 4 p.m. when we hit 9 knots. By 9 p.m. we were going again 7 to 8 knots and it was time to take the drifter down and put up the jib. To take the drifter down you have to go to the bow of the boat and we make it a rule that even though I am tied to the boat through my safety harness I don’t go forward unless Carllie is there, so I waited until the change of watch at 11 p.m. When Carllie came up we reviewed the procedure and how we do it because in the past we have managed to run over the drifter and get it dragging under the boat as a parachute, which happened once 18 months ago approaching San Francisco. Even with our best intentions to use the wind to pin the sail to the rigging by slowly turning the boat into a beam reach to prevent running over it, we still managed in the dark to drop some of the sail into the water. It was an exciting 10 minutes as I slowly pulled it back over the bow beam on a dark and windy night.

Making our “one pot dinner” in our fabulous Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker–that I will be sure to use at home.

You can see how the fog has closed in.

Friday July 25, 2008 – Day 21

Carllie: 0710 hours, big seas, wind NW 12-18, rough! Water 56 F Air 53 F. Brrr! I was going to write about how Light Wave “swallows things” like pens, flashlights, books, and then spits them up later when she finds them unappetizing (like the pen that was missing when I wrote the first part of this journal entry, and then reappeared for the last part.) But it is so rough and windy right now I am not inspired to humor. We are still 2 degrees south of where we need to be to get home, and the wind is from the northwest, so it’s hard to make the northing we need to make. I am concerned. We really do not want to end up in Tilamook, Oregon stead of British Columbia, as there is no way we could sail up the Oregon coast at this time of year.

When Garett went off watch and I came on at 0500 hrs, the seas were really big, 9-10’ swells following us, and the wind strong. However, Garett had full sail up (I don’t even think he had reefed the main), and we were flying just ahead of the seas. He assured me that we were fine, as we were sailing at a controllable speed just over 5 kts. Well, Murphy’s Law kicked in and within half an hour of Garett’s going down to sleep, the wind picked up and we were careening pell-mell down the waves. When we began spurting over 7 knots, I lowered the main. The wind continued to veer more and more to the north, and the seas got rougher as the big swells continued to build. Eventually, I knew we needed to hoist the main again so that we could maintain our northern course. We were at 46.12 degrees Lat., and I knew we had to make 48 degrees to get home. The wind was now 15-20 knots north-northwest so the main would have to be reefed before we raised it, and as I did not yet know how to reef the main, I waited for Garett to get up at 8 a.m. By 0745 hours the seas were rough and I knew we also needed the main to sail a little fast er than the big swells and waves that were bashing us around a bit, so I called Garett up to help. With a reefed main the motion was a bit better, but we really could not head up (toward the wind, north) at all as the waves and swells were too big. Garett knew from our weather faxes that the wind would be backing to the southwest tomorrow and assured me that we would be fine sailing downwind (almost due east) for the day. So al in all we had a pretty turbulent weather day. But just as we were setting the reefed main in the morning and my spirits were flagging with all of this rough weather (I had been babied and grown soft with the favorable weather thus far), a friendly pod of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins paid us a visit to cheer us on! While Garett raised the main (and instructed me on how to reef it so I can act independently next time), I called out to them, “Hi there!” and we cheered while watching them ride our bow waves. They bulleted towards Light Wave singly or by two’s, from aft, the beam sides or forward, streaking just under the surface of the water with their distinctive white patches on black making them visible and easy to track. They break the surface with a swishing sound, you hear a quick “poof!” as they breathe, and they curve instantly back under the water in about a second. They stayed with us for about 45 minutes, watching us when they raced past the cockpit just as we watched them. We continued to call out to them and to think joyous, thankful thoughts to them. Soon, we became absorbed in our morning routines and they were gone when we next looked. It seems to me that if they are in the vicinity when you need a little morale boost, why they will just come on over for a little playtime, reminding us to have fun with the ocean.

A sketch of a Pacific White-Sided Dolphin playing in our bow waves.

A pretty day dawns.

Morning is always welcome, after a long rough night at sea–even if it is still rough!

Saturday July 26, 2008 – Day 22

Carllie: 0106 hours, 613 miles to go, grey skies and sea but sun is peaking through the clouds!, wind now from W-S-W, big rolling seas, but not rough. Water 57 F and air 55 F. How cold can it get?? Even though I have been looking forward with great joy to seeing all of our friends again when we get home, I am finding they are starting to crowd me! My dreams are full of colourful and highly unlikely sit-coms peopled with my huge cast of friends. I am starting to feel a tad resentful… Stop crowding me! (hah hah, just kidding…in reality I can hardly wait to be with our friends again) For two years Garett and I have roamed this part of the world in our tough little catamaran. We have plucked bouquets of new friends all along the way, and it was only occasionally in those first five months that I was so homesick I longed to go home and pack up the pursuit of this dream and adventure. However, as Garett had predicted, the ideal place for me at this time in my life was out on the water in nature, far from the pressures of city living. Last year I loved being with so many friends when we did some volunteer work in the summertime, but this year methinks I may have to create a little more “quiet time” in order to mix and mingle happily.

Today, the seas are slate grey, but those big swells have abated to 3-4 feet west-southwest. As Garett predicted (maybe he will have another life as a meteorologist?), the wind has backed to the west, and will continue slowly to back to the south. We are heading almost due north now on a beam-to-broad reach (from heading due east yesterday), which makes me happy as we had actually fallen slightly south yesterday even though we made good miles going east. Today I will bake some bread. So we will have fresh baked bread for the rest of the trip. Five more sleeps! Five and a half more days until we reach land! I plan to put out all of the fishing lines when Garett gets up…maybe we’ll catch a salmon!

Water, water everywhere…

Sunday July 27, 2008 – Day 23

Carllie: 0712 hours, 507 miles to go, very light SE breeze: Waking up in the morning has always been a challenge for me. At home I solve my morning sleepiness by having a hot shower, finishing it with cold-hot-cold. On Light Wave at sea, every morning Garett calls me at 5 a.m. for my final watch. Can you believe it? 5 a.m.! Always I am so sound asleep at that time that it takes me a few minutes to even muster the will to roll myself out of the berth I’ve snuggled into. Eventually, I stumble out into the bright light (sunrise was at 4:30 am today), squinting and shivering and wishing nothing more than to snuggle back down on the cuddy couch and stick my thumb in my mouth. However, bit by bit my cells begin to wake up as I force myself to slip into my boots, pull on my jacket and toque and go outside into the cockpit every 20 minutes to actually watch for other vessels. I scan the horizon 360 degrees, and every other time I turn on the radar to do a broader sweep. A safe sailor is a careful sailor. Initially, after each outdoor excursion I collapse onto the cuddy couch and snuggle in for 15 minutes of shut-eye. Bit-by-bit, as my mind wakes up to do the watch, my body wakes up. It’s an interesting way to start the day!

Garett: The weather faxes show a fairly deep (for this time of year) 998 millibar low to come by us this evening. The winds started at 10 knots this morning but have slowly built through the day. By 6 p.m. we were sailing with a reefed main and jib. After dinner we were down to just the jib and still making 5 to 6 knots.

2000 hours: I am all bundled up in more storm suit and am sitting in the cockpit in the dark (no moon and cloud cover – very dark) with my ear plugs in to dull the noise while Carllie goes to sleep for her off-watch. I have the drogue all ready for deployment later tonight as the weather faxes off the SSB are predicting 25 knots of wind.

2200 hours: The wind continues to build as we hit 7.2 knots–almost time to put out the drogue–but we fall back to 6 knots. A few minutes later we are up to 7.5 but quickly drop down to 6.5. I say to myself, “Next time it goes above 7 knots I am going to put out the drogue.” Two minutes later we surge to 8.5 knots and the boat is jerking and straining? It is time for the drogue. In 10 minutes I have it ready to deploy after making sure the lines won’t tangle with anything as it plays out. I let it go. Thirty seconds later the speed settles to 5 to 6 knots and the jerky motion is gone. I really can’t believe the difference. It is now 2300 hours and I wake up Carllie. She too felt that the boat had seemed out of control but is now much better with the drogue.

Back to Carllie: 2315 hours, my first watch this night: The boat creaks and shudders, a halyard bangs and rattles in the mast, and the drogue lines groan on each side of the cuddy cabin, taking the load of the drogue that is single-handedly putting the brakes on. Light Wave would otherwise hurtle down steep waves out of control and in danger. (“Whoa, Light Wave! Whoa!) Garett just said that the drogue is worth a million bucks. He only deployed it about an hour ago, when LW’s speed suddenly accelerated to 8.5 knots–way too much. Downstairs in our sleeping hull I couldn’t sleep and felt the violent motion. Then shortly afterwards, everything seemed to calm down. [This was when Garett deployed the drogue.] I could still hear the waves rushing by, but the motion was steady, not jerky. As I was lying there worrying, I decided to come up early to relieve Garett. It’s always much better to be outside in the cockpit watching and feeling the water, the wind, the sails and the boat as down in the hulls all sound and motion is amplified and things always seem much worse than they are.

This little weather system reminds me of what we coped with almost all the way west across the Pacific from Mexico to Hawaii back in March in those “La Nina” reinforced trade winds. It’s a challenge to our courage and mental toughness. We will manage. And the sun will come out! :o)

Grilling some tuna before the gale comes up.

Garett is ready for the gale that starts tonight.

Monday July 28, 2008 – Day 24

Carllie: 0620 hours, 411 miles to Victoria! Huge, slate-grey seas, drogue deployed: The south-southwest wind continued to howl through the long, black night. We think it is 25 to 30 knots (We spoke to a sailboat the next day who was then about 50 miles behind us and they had recorded 28 to 32 knots through the night on their windmeter.) The phosphorescence in the huge foaming curling waves that surrounded us provided the only vestige of light. Again, the solitary confinement created by the dark night amplified our senses. Our seriously effective earplugs shut out the scary sound of the racing waves and much of Light Wave’s protests to being manhandled so, but our eyes continued to register the size of the waves and the rapidly accelerating number on the GPS knotmeter. It was a long, dark and stormy night–and let us hope it was the last we will experience like it for a long, long while!

I woke Garett up an hour before my watch was over last night as my heart was racing along with the boat. We still had our jib up, and I wasn’t sure whether or not to lower it to reduce our speed by 2 knots. The “monster” waves were crawling up our backside and I thought it might be a good idea to continue to let Light Wave simply race before them so that she wouldn’t get caught and be pummeled by them. Light Wave surged up to 6.5 or even 7.5 knots, and the drogue would haul her back to 5.4 or 4.4. It was amazing and reassuring to see first the knot meter race up to over 6 knots and to feel that borderline out-of-control speed of our “sturdy little lightweight cat” being slowly but inexorably dragged back to a controlled speed of 5.2 to 4.4 knots, time after time. When Garett came up and took in the conditions and how fast we were racing, he agreed that we should take down our last sail, the jib, and run bare poles (as much as a catamaran can, considering its width and even cabin height, compared to a monohull, presents a much bigger surface for the wind to push than simply bare poles!). “We can always raise the jib again if we need to go faster,” Garett said. But as soon as the jib was down LW’s speed decreased to a more sedate pace of 5.4 to 3.4 knots (being continually held in check by the drogue), and the jerky motions were almost gone. Whew! Now we felt much more in control. What a relief! Nevertheless, the wind resulting from the big low that was passing through us continued to build through the night, along with the size of the waves. Four times a big wave caught us and broke into our cockpit, but luckily we were inside so we didn’t get doused. The first time we were looking out and saw the wave crash into the cockpit, then push the arm of our Raymarine Autopilot off the pin, and suddenly we were without auto steering. Lucky thing we were watching! We both ran out and Garett quickly pushed the “Standby” button on the Autopilot controls, then grabbed our tiller arm and the Autopilot. While kneeling down to replace the Autopilot arm back on the pin that is welded to a sturdy stainless steel arm connected to our tiller, he was doused by another “playful” wave. I watched anxiously and pressed the “Autopilot On” button at Garett’s command. Once again, our hired extra crew, Helga, was on duty steering the boat safely with the help of our other hired crewman, the Paratech Delta Drogue.

We took this photo through the window of our cuddy cabin door. It is mean nasty at dawn as we tow the drogue behind us off a bridle. It is almost miraculous how the motion and speed is controlled. Every catamaran should have one ready to deploy.

Doing some work during the storm. Life goes on.

Lucky we have a warm and dry boat, lots of Polartec jackets and blankets and even a good catalytic heater!

Big wave that has passed by us and now in front of Light Wave. The fact that you can actually see how big this wave is shows you that it is really big as waves don’t photograph well. They aren’t “photogenic.”

Big 15 foot wave looming behind us. You can see the drogue line going into the face of the wave. The drogue is 175 feet back.

Another big wave… Here you see our two bridle lines that lead out to the main drogue line.

Even in the late afternoon we still had 12 foot waves come by. We only had four that broke into the cockpit and it was only the top 2 feet of so of the waves that made it over the cockpit which is 2 feet above the water.

Tuesday July 29, 2008 – Day 25

Carllie: 1900 hours, 249 miles from Victoria!!! After 24 hours of big wind and huge seas, we reveled in sunny skies most of the day today, while the winds moderated to 10-15 knots west all day today. The only thing that lingered was HUGE seas from the west–still about 12 feet high but fortunately quite spaced out. Because we had taken in our friendly drogue crewman–who not only slows the boat in big wind and seas, literally putting on on the brakes, but when used with a bridle controls the motion of the boat, keeping it going straight down the waves and preventing broaching–we have been rolling around a bit more. Thus our other crewman, the Autopilot, is having to work harder to keep us on course.

We started the day with long outdoor hot showers–of salt and fresh water–and after a day and two nights holed up in our cuddy cabin (it was too rough and noisy to sleep below), it was a rare treat to stand outside in the warming rays of the sun even though the outside temperature was 55 degrees F. with an added wind chill factor. Garett even did two sets of 20 burpees in the cockpit before his shower. These are exercises where from a standing position you drop down to a crouch position, push your legs out behind you and do a push-up, then jump up, then ; down and do another. I tried doing them, but the deck coming up to meet my face as I dropped down to do the push-up was too much for me. I call these exercises “barfees” not “burpees.” Solo dos mas dormidos toda via (only two more sleeps to go!) until we get to Victoria. We are looking forward to a long walk and eating Chinese food in Victoria, and at last having no more motion!

Although th waves are still big the sun is shining and glistening on the water, and we are filled with optimism and anticipation.

Drying all the towels, jackets and socks that had gotten wet over two days.

I had hung up Garett’s expensive yellow storm jacket outside to dry out, and strung a line through the arm to keep it from blowing away. Here I was trying to figure out from which end to pull the long line that I had it tied to… pulling first one end, then the other…

Finally, I collapsed in hysterics…

Wednesday July 30, 2008 – Day 26

Carllie: 0027 Hours, 223 miles from Victoria: Does life really exist outside of this ocean-going pod? We will have been 25 days at sea as of 12 o’clock noon today, and starting our 26th day, and the feeling of this vessel constantly moving through this world of water seems like all I know. What is “sold ground” anyway? If a 15-foot wall of water coming up on your stern to sometimes lift the hulls and slide under Light Wave and other times smack the aft deck and cuddy wall like a recalcitrant child is not solid, what is?

We have settled so much into life aboard our “sailing vessel” (vs. “sailboat” which implies a stationary object that sometimes sails or motors) that we will likely miss this perfectly coordinated and cooperative life when we are back living on land, each of us involved in our daily efforts to “earn freedom chips” and to further our personal goals. We will have to work consciously to maintain this ease and harmony–within ourselves, with each other, and with the Universe.

A gift from the sea–we catch our last tuna of the trip. What a treat! Sushi! Sushi!

Garett is repairing our drogue line here. Very capable sailor, he is.

Sure enough! Another batch of sushi coming up!

Sushi plate for the night. Yum yum. Tuna freshly caught in the middle of the ocean is the best for sushi! Our taste buds our now “educated” and we may not enjoy restaurant tuna sushi or sashimi any more.

Thursday July 31, 2008 – Day 27 – Arrival Day!

Carllie: 1344 hours, 8 miles from Ucluelet (being unable to make Victoria): Life is motion. To be at one with the Universe on the ocean, one must accept its constant motion. Some people who practice meditation to harmonize their minds and energies with the power of the Universe would think that to do so requires a still, physically quiet place. However, inner peace can be achieved even on a tossing sea because the ocean is a simple, straightforward and perfect reflection of the laws of intelligence of the Universe.

Garett: I briefly spotted the mountains of Vancouver Island at 5:40 a.m. this morning above the low clouds in the soft light of dawn. I let Carllie sleep to 6 a.m. as we now have changed course from 078 to 056 so we can go to Bamfield (only 48 miles away) instead of Victoria (129 miles). The forecast is for the winds to build to gale force by evening and so we are motor-sailing at about 4 knots in 5 knots of southeast wind on a close reach just managing to keep on track to Bamfield. Carllie wakes me at 11 a.m. and shows me on the GPS that though we are still heading 056 there seems to be alot of current flowing north and so are actual track is 030 which means we can’t get to Bamfield. We decide to now head for Caroline Channel and Ucluelet which is 8 miles closer. 1300 hours: The wind is now 15 to 18 knots and building from the southeast and we are making 6 knots on a very close reach into the driving rain. It looks like we may make it. We are now only 4 miles out and it still looks like just another average day fitting right in with the past two weeks of foggy weather. It is hard to believe that there was land up ahead but both the GPS and the radar confirmed it ahead. Ever so slowly the clumps of land that form the Broken Islands of Barkley Sound began to appear out of the mist. At first they seemed out of place in our world of steely grey to bright aquamarine blue water of the last 26 days. It didn’t really feel like a landfall but more like an arrival in some mystical (or “mistical”?) place. Was this perhaps Middle Earth? Would we be greeted by Hobbits? I eventually could make out the entrance buoy to Caroline Channel and 15 minutes later, after a following the dogleg down the channel, we were at last out of the ocean swells and anchored in the perfectly flat, protected Spring Cove. When I heard the chirping cry of a Bald Eagle I knew it wasn’t an imaginary place but our home waters of British Columbia. We had really made it back home. Carllie: 2330 hours, anchored in Spring Cove, about a mile south of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island: We anchored at 1540 hours, after 26 days and 9 hours of sailing. What a relief! The wind came up around 12 o’clock noon today from the east-southeast and built to 15-25 knots. We had motored through the night and soon were sailing on a pretty fast, very close reach, approaching the coast. There were lots of freighters coming and going out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so we kept our radar on even though we had 6 miles of visibility. It was great to see land again–especially the land that we call home, with its green, green shores, birds aplenty, mountains and cold, invigorating rain and wind. A bald eagle called soon after we dropped our anchor, and that was a welcome sound–so pretty and so evocative of the wild. Spring Cove is a pretty little cove and really provides good all-weather protection, but for us protection from the southeast gale blowing out there is perfect, not to mention the bliss of stillness and not having to be aware of our sails and the constant wind and motion. In truth, we are glad that because of that gale we couldn’t make it up the Strait of Juan De Fuca to Victoria (the capitol city of B.C. where we would have anchored at the government dock and check in with Canada Customs), as originally planned, as it would have been too much “urban shock” to tie up to the dock in the middle of downtown Victoria with throngs of people passing by and the racket of traffic. We feel a great sense of accomplishment. Garett is very happy and keen to tell everyone our stories. It’s nice to be home!

My heart was full as I sketched this little drawing.

Garett’s early morning (not enough light) picture of our first B.C. log. Looks kind of like a whale, don’t you think???

Seagulls fill the air as another of several freighters rumbles past in the distance. Seagulls! We are no longer alone on the vast, trackless ocean.

Delighted to be home, making a final omelette at sea…

But it was still wet, foggy and–brrr!–cold when we reached land. Not quite like landing in Hilo back in March!

All smiles, Garett has again captained us across the vast Pacific Ocean, this time to conclude our sailing adventure.

The beautiful shores of British Columbia, beautiful even on a cold foggy day, were a delight to behold… It’s been so long…

Passing the green bellbuoy as we enter Caroline Channel, heading for Spring Cove just before Ucluelet.

Carllie gets the anchor ready to deploy, the first time in 26 days. This is always my job…

View from Spring Cove on a wet cold evening, but cozily tucked up in the anchorage and enjoying a hot dinner and our heater…

Anchored in Spring Cove in front of a house with very good wireless internet that allowed us to call friends to tell them we are home.

Carllie braved the rain and wind to go outside to secure the jib, which could have started flapping around in the wind…

Garett sets a record for the number of tiles he had to pick up. Hah hah hah! (See this Sylvie & David???)

Friday August 1, 2008

Garett: The gale force winds and rain blew all night and into the morning so we couldn’t get an early start and only pulled up anchor at 11 a.m. so we definitely would not be going to Victoria today as planned. We decided on Bamfield 15 miles away where we could clear Customs.

We motored into the leftover southeast swell and arrived at 4 p.m. I hurried up the ramp to make sure they weren’t closed but found out that the Canada Customs office has been closed for 5 years and that we would have to go to Victoria. All was not lost as they have a great store with vegetables and fruits which we have been craving for the last 10 days.

Carllie: Grappler Inlet: This is such a pretty inlet, just east of Bamfield Inlet. It is protected on all sides and is totally quiet at night once all the sportfishermen have returned home. Pretty little homes and a few more palatial cedar open-beam designs line the shore, blending with the tall conifers surrounding them and providing dock access for the fishermen who own them.

This inlet, Spring Cove and Bamfield Inlet are all perfect anchorages. There was not one such fully protected anchorage in all the places we visited on the U.S. coast, in Mexico and in Hawaii. We had become so accustomed to open anchorages, that it seems almost abnormally calm in these lovely havens. It is so silent right now even though lights are are on in many houses so lots of people are at home, and it is so still that it almost feels like we are on land.

Views from Spring Cove in the early morning before we left.

Traveling back out Caroline Channel the fog lay in a thick layer among the trees.

First time Light Wave has been tied up at a dock since last December in La Paz!

The general store in Bamfield is a cheery, firendly place, well supplied with lots of lovely fresh vegetables and fruit.

Colorful flowers filled flower boxes along the boardwalk on the north side of Banfield Inlet. Don’t miss Light Wave hamming it up in the background!

Grappler Inlet, right next to Bamfield Inlet is much quieter and very pretty.

A still night descended on us, and we drank in the calm and beauty of the place.

Saturday August 2, 2008

Garett: We were up at 6 a.m. and spent the day motoring mainly against the tide toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The northwest winds that we had hoped to sail fast with failed to materialize, and eventually we accepted that we would not reach Sooke let alone Victoria, so we tucked into Port San Juan and anchored with a few other boats off the little coastal settlement of Port Renfrew for the night. We needed a rest in our journey south.

Port Renfrew.

Oh well! If you can’t fight ’em you may as well join ’em. Let’s have some popcorn!

Anchored for the night in Port Renfrew.

Late evening amid several boats at Port Renfrew.

Sunday August 3, 2008

Garett: We left in the pre-dawn darkness. Soon we were enveloped again by fog and droned away on with our motor. At noon today the water temperature dipped to 48 F and the air followed along to 48.5 F, the coldest temperatures on our crossing. I have just been cold for too long. All this talk about Global Warming…well it can’t happen too fast for me. I do know that sometime in the next 24 hours we will turn into the Gulf Islands and we will get warm again. We think this is some kind of final test.

Finally at 6 p.m. the fog cleared just as we were off Victoria. The sun was out and the Gulf Islands appeared as we rounded Discovery Island and anchored off the bluffs of Finnerty Cove near Cordova Bay. It is great to be home.

Carllie: Oh, to be home! The familiar sights and sounds of Canada are met as welcome friends by our souls. We rounded the corner south then east of Victoria and saw Mount Baker in the distance, a very familiar sight for Vancouverites even though it’s in the States.

The sea birds that abound on these shores are indeed a welcome sight. We may be short of fish in Canada, but we are certainly not short of birds. In ever little anchorage we have stayed in on the west coast of Vancouver Island we have seen and heard Bald Eagles. Of course, we see different types of seagulls everywhere here, and many other species of water fowl like sandpipers, oyster catchers and so on, but we never saw them in Hawaii, although we did hear many beautiful inland tropical birds, and saw a few. As soon as we rounded the corner from Victoria, the ocean swell stopped. As we have lived with varying degrees of ocean swell since we left Mexico on March 4th, 2008, well really since we left the Strait of Juan de Fuca to head south to Mexico back in August 2006, and the ocean sans swell seems very unusual and extremely cushy. It is nice to be in home waters again, but we are glad we decided not to stop in Victoria to check in with Customs as we would have been smack dab in the middle of a city, with a lot of people and traffic noise. Instead, we will clear Customs at Port Sidney Marina tomorrow. The way we have eased back into “civilization”–Spring Cove, Bamfield, Grappler Inlet, Port Renfrew, and tonight Finnerty Cove off a quiet district on the east side of Victoria, then tomorrow Sidney to check into Customs–is a much better way. We still feel peaceful and quiet undisturbed by the thoughts and feelings associated with the land. It is interesting to be among Canadians again. They do indeed speak in a more clipped, British Way than Americans and Hawaiians, and they are much more reserved and very polite (not that our American and Hawaiian friends aren’t)’. I am happy to be home!

The cold continues 48F water and air.

Cabin is cold for Carllie the typist. (Don’t I just look like a real “Little Old Lady” in this pic? hah hah hah better to laugh than cry about it I guess!)

Fog surrounds us on the final leg to Victoria.

Heavy fog near Sooke.

Victoria emerges from the fog, as we sail by.

Our beautiful screecher continues to pull us along.

Approaching Finnerty Cove just before sunset.

Monday August 4, 2008

Garett: It is warm again! We motored the 10 miles to the fancy Port Sidney Marina for Customs. After completing all the formalities over the dock-side phone we went for a long walk around town, our first in 30 days. It felt great to be moving freely again.

We were off at 2 p.m. for Montague Harbor at Galiano Island. As we neared the main anchorage we saw over 100 boats moored and anchored, so we decided to not go in but instead decided to head for the north side of the spit, a bit more open but a little less crowded. Just as we were about to change direction we spotted Magic, an stunningly beautiful classic wooden schooner, with our friends Vicky and Craig Johnsen whom we had last seen on the day before we left La Paz ( they shipped their boat home on a Dockwise freighter to Nanaimo a few weeks after we left). We could see them waving as they had recognized our yellow cat from far away. We anchored closeby and then scooted over in the dinghy for a happy reunion. They had been very encouraging to us when in Mexico as they are very experienced offshore sailors. We exchanged stories for a couple of hours. It was great to see them again, and we hope we will cross “wakes” again in the future.

A beautiful sunrise from Finnerty Cove near Cordova Bay near Victoria.

Still drying laundry, but it’s now nice and warm in the Gulf Islands.

Tied up at the dock at the beautiful Port Sidney Marina.

The Snowbirds welcomed us back to Canada. We’ll have to write to Prime Minister Harper to thank him for sending them out… almost beats the fireworks the Hawaiians had for us the night before we left Hawaii!

Someone was having a pretty exciting barbecue at anchor outside Montague Harbour!

I just had to snap a picture of these beautiful Canada Geese as they sailed regally by…another greeting we thought.

A still night in the Gulf Islands. Home at last.

And a sliver of a moon says hello…

Tuesday August 5, 2008

Garett: We stayed motionless at Montague for the day and finally made it to shore for our first run for almost four weeks (our last run was the day before we left Hanalei Bay). We were a little winded but it felt good to be moving again..

More pictures from our beautiful anchorage outside Montague Harbour at Galiano Island.

This is a “before” picture as I began giving Garett his classic “Sean Connery in Hunt for Red October” cut. I’m getting pretty good at cutting his hair, and will probably keep doing it. Why not?

Brrr! First swim in Canadian waters in over two years…and the water is only 55 degrees! I tell you, it was just a quick dip and dunk, no swimming!

Peace settles over the islands.

Wednesday August 6, 2008

Garett: We covered the 15 miles through Porlier Pass to Dionisio by 3 p.m. Tonight we saw the city lights of Vancouver. Tomorrow we cross the Strait of Georgia and we will be home among our old friends.

Carllie: We motored from Montague to Dionisio Point, a beautiful little spot on the northeast tip of the same island, Galiano, and enjoyed our day there. Garett actually donned his wetsuit, hood and flippers and went spearfishing. And he caught a fish! A beautiful black reef fish with neon-blue stripes. Hope you can see them in the picture. This is one of the most picturesque spots in the Gulf Islands, and this anchorage is a friendly one for catamarans as it is a little rolly for monohulls..

Getting ready to take the plunge. This suit is only 3mm and so is not warm enough for B.C. waters. Need a drysuit…

My first BC speared fish.

Our last sunset…

Thursday, August 7, 2008 We had a relaxing morning, as we did not have to leave Dionisio until about 10:30 a.m. to time our arrival at the river for flood tide so we would not have to motor against the strong ebb, so we enjoyed a lovely walk around the little peninsula that forms the eastern boundary of the little anchorage, and took some great shots of Light Wave in this picturesque setting.

Light Wave’s final night. She had sone well.

The crossing home was fun and full of anticipation. We sailed most of the way, and about a mile from the mouth of the Fraser River we were met by another Welcome Wagon pod of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. The different pods must have all been given a heads-up by head office to watch out for a yellow cat, and be sure to welcome us home! They played in our bow waves for about 15 minutes and we told them how much we loved them, how beautiful they are (really there are no dolphins as beautiful as these), and how glad we were that they could welcome us home. What a rare treat. Really, don’t you think now after reading this whole update that dolphins, perhaps the whole cetaceon family, are somewhat telepathic?

Garett: What a two-year adventure it has been. It seems in some ways as just one long day. The memories are so clear, not the usual fuzziness of city living. We really felt like we are alive. So many wonderful people, amazing places, and the soothing rhythms of nature. Where do we go from here?

Carllie: I am full-up with beautiful memories. What is life, after all, but a whole package of memories that we can gaze back on and draw from? There is room for more memories, though, and we are already beginning to make them here at home in this beautiful part of the Planet Earth. We hope you have enjoyed our pictures and stories, that in some way we have taken you with us on our wonderful voyage of discovery. And we hope you will continue to read our reflections as we post them. Much love to you, our dear friends.

Home at last.

bothYour sailing buddies, Carllie and Garett

(Click here to go back to Part 1 which covers July 3 to July 18)

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About Author

Garett Hennigan

Garett Hennigan is a mechanical engineer who in partnership with his wife Carllie built a 28 foot catamaran, Light Wave, in 1999. He has sailed extensively through Mexico, Hawaii and now back in the Pacific northwest with over 20,000 sailing miles and over 5000 hours of boatbuilding experience.

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