Ship's Blog: Oyster Heaven

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(Note: I wrote this post on the day the events occurred, but posted this after the trip, so the dates may be a bit messed up. This post is from the fifth day of the trip, Monday.)

Click here to see where we were and our approximate course.

We woke up in our little cove to a whole new world. The sun had come out, and tide had gone down exposing a beach covered with oysters. I mean absolutely covered. You couldn't take a step without stepping all over the oysters. We took the dinghy into the beach and proceeded to feast on oysters. It was kind of caveman and a bit obscene really, using hammers and screwdrivers to smash and pry the oysters open to eat. Delish. (We felt pretty good about eating the oysters since the area has several large oyster farms.)

Dan eating oysters on the beach. Oysters (and little mussels) covering the beach

I also checked out the little lake behind the cove we were in. At high tide (when we came in) it looked like you could sail from our cove into this other cove, but at low tide, the back cove was cut off as the beach was exposed. It's good to know how to read a chart and tide book. Anyway, it was lovely.

Papa by Cassel Falls Mike jumping into Cassel Lake

After our little feast and dinghy ride (always fun), we picked up our anchor and motored off. We headed over to West Redonda Island and up the Teakerne Arm, a long fjord into the island. (Side note, we had a minor miracle of seamanship, finding a black fender that we had lost the day before.) Again, we were the only ones there all the way up to the end of the fjord to Cassel Falls, a water fall that goes from Cassel  Lake into the salt water of Teakerne Arm. Apparently, the flow wasn't very high, but it was still lovely. Dan dropped a pole into the water, so we pulled on his wetsuit and dove for it. Meanwhile, Mike and I hiked up to the lake and went for a (brief) swim. Once we got back to the boat, I decided I should swim in the salt water too, so I dove off of Papa's stern into the icy, icy water. Damn, it was cold.

My dive into Teakearne Arm.  Seattle Yacht Club outstation at Cortes Bay

As we left the falls, the rain picked up again, getting pretty bad, so we headed to Cortes Island and the Seattle Yacht Club outstation in Cortes Bay. It was nice to have shore power again (so we could finish Master and Commander), wifi access, and a real bathroom/shower. We were the only ones at the entire outstation; I understand that during the busy part of the season, all 1500 feet of dock space are full.

Ship's Blog: Rainy Day at Anchor

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(Note: I wrote this post on the day the events occurred, but posted this after the trip, so the dates may be a bit messed up. This post is from the fourth day of the trip, Sunday.)

Click here to see where we were and our approximate course.

A cloudy day in Desolation Sound Well, it rained on me as I slept on deck. Actually, I was up already because Cap't Dan's cellphone was beeping as the battery ran low. After I killed the phone, I turned over to go back to sleep, but it started to rain, so I had to retreat back into Papa.

By the time we woke up again the morning, it was totally dumping. We all slept in, keeping warm in the cold boat (we left the diesel heater off to conserve power and to keep the boat quiet). I stayed in the sleeping bag for a while, reading and sipping coffee; it was a very civilized and pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning.

After lunch, we decided to go exploring a bit and find a new anchorage. We motored around for a while going from cove to cove. Dan put up a bimini cover over the cockpit to keep us a little more dry as the rain and wind picked up. We also hooked up the radar to help us see in the mist and fog (it's bloody hard to read a radar display; fortunately this was the same model we used to have on our boat.) We finally settled motored up Pendrell Sound in East Redonda Island. We were all alone in the sound; we didn't see another boat at all. We found a little cove, just big enough for Papa to anchor and swing around it; it was protected by an hooked peninsula and island. We dropped our bow anchor and stern tied to a tree on shore.

Mike and Dan showing how to drink beer on a boat.It kept raining pretty hard, so we decided to have movie night, watching Master and Commander - The Far Side of the World on Dan's computer, pumping the audio through the boat stereo. Unfortunately, the laptop ran out of power because the inverter (the thing that converts the 12 volt DC boat power into 110 volt AC power the computer needs) was broken (which we just discovered that evening). As a result, we only saw the first half of the movie (disappointing to me because I hadn't seen it before.)

Mike and I had a good geekfest (we got to play with a multimeter) diagnosing the inverter (but to no avail). The lack of the laptop means that we won't have a chartplotter - a GPS that draws on a computerized chart. We'll have the navigate the old fashioned way - a GPS and paper charts. Oh the horror. Mike and I considered a mutiny and thought about demanding a refund, but cooler heads prevailed.

Fortunately, we had plenty of beer. You can see Mike (left) and Dan (right) modelling all the good ways to hold a beer on a boat.

Ship's Blog: Flying Under Sail

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(Note: I wrote this post on the day the events occurred, but posted this after the trip, so the dates may be a bit messed up. This post is from the third day of the trip, Saturday.)

Click here to get an idea of where we were and an approximate view of our course.

Tony kissing the crab before returning it to the sea. I thought yesterday was the best day ever on a boat. Today might have been even better. We slept in a bit today and woke up this morning in Blubber Bay to a beautifully sunny day with a nice breeze from the southeast. I checked our crab traps and found a nice little Dungeness crab in there. We had another great breakfast (with bacon cooked on the grill, oven style -- wonderful on a boat too.)

After we cleaned up, we left our anchorage under sail and started flying as soon as we left the bay. In 20kts of wind, we were booking along at six and seven knots. It felt great to sail finally after motoring for the past two days. Once we turned north, we set our spinnaker and flew under the kite for three hours - easily my longest spinnaker  run ever. The highlight was cutting through the Thulin Passage in Copeland Island Provincial Marine Park under spinnaker. It's a very narrow passage, maybe a few hundred yards wide; the wind was exactly on our stern so we were able to run it under spinnaker -- very exciting and somewhat rare. We continued our run outside the passage until we turned the corner at Sarah Point into Desolation Sound, Mike flying the spinnaker through Thulin Passagewhere the wind died down.

As we motored up Desolation Sound, I sat in the bow pulpit (my favorite place) and just soaked in the amazing scenery. The sun was still super warm and was lighting up the big mountains and islands perfectly. It's really fjord-like back here. We pulled into the very lovely Prideaux Haven, a small set of protected coves described as the "quintessential Desolation Sound anchorage" in the guidebook. There were already a few boats in the two main coves, so we picked Melanie Cove, the one with four sailboats (it's funny that even here, the sailboats and stinkpots keep apart). The water was glassy and full (I mean full of zillions) of jellyfish (so no swimming here). We anchored easily and went for a dinghy ride to the island. Once we pulled up on the island, we hiked around for an hour and then pulled up a few oysters. Michael had his first raw oyster, standing in the water where it was harvest and bashed open by Cap't Dan. He loved it.

Papa in Prideaux Haven We came back to Papa and prepared yet another feast - salad, ribeye steaks grilled three ways (soy sauce marinade, jerk marinade, and plain with a rosemary/garlic herb butter), corn on the cob, and red potatoes tossed with the same rosemary/garlic butter. We washed it down with a nice Ravenswood cab.

It's quiet here like no quiet you could ever get in town and the visibility is stunning. We sat in the dark looking at the stars, even seeing satellites shoot past. Unfortunately, the clouds were rolling in, so we did see as much as last night.

Tomorrow, we're supposed to get a real blow, so who knows what it will be like. I'm sleeping on deck tonight to get a real sense of the outdoors. Hopefully it won't rain on me.

Ship's Blog: An Amazing Day

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(Note: I wrote this post on the day the events occurred, but posted this after the trip, so the dates are a bit messed up. This post is from the second day of the trip, Friday.)

Click here to get an approximate view of where we were today and our course.

Today may have been the best day I've ever had in a boat -- and we didn't really even sail! After a late start due to grocery shopping, chart shopping, waiting for the liquor store to open, and getting more fuel, we took off from Nanaimo this morning around 10:00am. The weather was overcast with a 10kt wind right on our nose from the northeast. We had to take a slightly longer route to skirt Whiskey Golf, a Canadian weapons testing range (36ft fiberglass sailboats lose 100% of the time against torpedoes moving at 50kts). The Canadians had a big amphibious assault carrier out on the range turning circles; not sure why.

Driving the boat from the hammock As we motor sailed north (again, more motoring than sailing) and enjoyed the great breakfast Michael cooked, the weather opened up and the seas became flatter. It really became a very pleasant day. I learned how to input the GPS waypoints and have the autopilot drive from point to point which made my job even easier. I just hung out on deck watching the islands go by, taking a few photos, and reading my book. The photo here shows me sitting in the hammock with the autopilot remote. The data on the display shows that the cross-track error is zero: we're on course. Hard work...

Later in the afternoon, we finally killed the two crabs that Cap't Dan caught a few days ago. I steamed them over beer, garlic, and basil and made some garlic/basil butter for dipping along with some garlic bread. We ate our lunch on deck and washed it all down with some cold beer. The crabs were amazingly great and tasted even better in the sunshine and breeze.

Cap't Dan taking a picture of the grey whale just forward of the boat. As we reached the north end of Texada Island, we heard a wooshing sound and saw a grey whale on the surface. We killed our engine and sailed along the path of the whale, watching it blow and dive for a while. Then the whale approached the boat a few times. At one point, it crossed less then twenty yards in front of the boat, and then rolled under Papa with one tail fluke coming out of the water. We could see a spiral line of bubbles disappear into the deep. The whale continued to play with us, going under the boat a few times (we could see our depth sounder go from 400+ f eet deep to 20 feet instantly and then drop back to 400+.

After a while, we resumed our course when, ahead in the distance, we could see a lot of splashing. Michael and I then realized it was a line of Dall's porpoises coming at us, jumping along the surface of the water. These amazingly fast animals jetted by us (under the boat). We turned and followed them and then came back and swam under the boat and jumped along side us for a while (click here for video, 543K .wmv). It was truly amazing. Finally, they took off in search of a more fun and food. The three of us each had our cameras out (I had two) and were shooting, yelling, and laughing the whole time, maybe 45 minutes.

Papa getting ready to leave Blubber BayBecause of our time with the whale and porpoises, we realized we weren't going to make our destination by dark, so we decided to stay in Blubber Bay, which was close by. This is a little bay on the north end of Texada Island. It would be cute except for the limestone quarry right at the water's edge and the ferry that runs between the bay and the mainland, presumably to take the workers to and from the factory. Fortunately, it quieted down after sundown.

We circled the bay a few times to check out our anchoring conditions. Neither Michael nor I had ever set an anchor for real, so this was great chance. We put out a bow and stern anchor (with Michael having to row the stern anchor out) and then set about making dinner - a nice meal of grilled halibut, corn on the cob, buttered red potatoes, and hot chocolate chip cookies. While we enjoyed our dessert, we relived the day through all of the photos and videos we shot. There were definitely some great shots.

Even with the ferry dock and factory here, it's amazingly quiet and dark. We can see the Milky Way and zillions of stars (including a shooting star). It's really lovely and peaceful.

Time to go to bed. Tomorrow: Desolation Sound.

Ships Blog - Arrived on Papa

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I'm on Papa with Captain Dan and my shipmate Michael here in Bellingham. Michael and I planned to take the train up here, but there was something wrong with the train so we wound up taking a bus - less cool than watching the sunset from the coastline train.

Anyway, so far these guys seem cool. Michael is a user experience designer at Adobe, so we're all geeked out already.

We're settled in for the night and are planning to ride the early morning current out to Nainaimo.

Should be fun!

Going Sailing

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Papa, the Bavaria 36 I'll be sailing on.

I've decided to go on a sailing trip, leaving tomorrow. I'll be sailing on a boat named Papa, a Bavaria 36, from Bellingham, WA, up toward Desolation Sound (between Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland) and back to Vancouver, BC. We'll be gone a week, plus Michelle and the kids will meet me in Vancouver for a few days afterwards.

It was definitely a spur-of-the-moment thing. I had been thinking about taking some time off since I haven't really taken a vacation all summer. I was noodling around the Windworks Sailing Club site and came across the link to Papa. Captain Dan runs the boat as a charter sometimes and was planning on a trip from Seattle to points north. I liked the vibe of the site and wanted to get some more boat time this summer (I had precious little), so I gave him a call. I liked him on the phone, so I decided to do it.

There will be one other guy on the boat with us; hopefully, everyone is cool, otherwise thirty-six feet will not be very big. I'm not normally one to do things like this at the drop of a hat, so I'm kind of proud of myself for taking this chance. We'll see how it goes.

Dan talked about supplementing our diet with crabs, salmon, oysters, clams, and shrimp, so the foodie in me is excited. I'll also be taking some sailing classes on-board to get my next level of certification, which will be nice too.

Special thanks goes to my loving and understanding wife, Michelle, who is taking the boys solo again so I can play.

I'll try to update the blog as I go. We'll see if I can get connected.

Anthony's Homeport Race

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Boats at the start of the Anthony's Homeport Race

Last Friday evening, I got to shoot the Seattle Yacht Club/Anthony's Homeport sailboat race here in Kirkland, like I did two years ago. This time, I didn't have any committee boat responsibilies; I just had to shoot. Along with my colleage Cyra, who is another avid shooter, we got to run around the course in a chase boat taking photos and video of the boats. Sunava, another friend from work, helped on the committee boat. Hard to beat that.

After the race, we watched a little drama unfold at the dock as a huge Argosy tour boat tried to dock at the shallow end of the public dock. I guess they finally got it in, but it wasn't at all obvious that they were going to make it (check out the photo after the link.)

Once all that was done, the committee boat and chase boat folks enjoyed a nice dinner at Anthony's. I have to admit, I kind of poo poo them since they're a chain restaurant, but the food was pretty darn good. I should give them a chance more often.

It was another lovely evening on the water. Click here to see some of the better shots.

My Americas Cup day in Auckland

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My colleague Grandhi and I had a great first day (Sunday) in Auckland (click for map). It was sunny and breezy, apparently uncharacteristically nice for this time of year.

We first walked around the clean and compact downtown area including the Viaduct Basin in the Americas Cup Village. The Emirates Team New Zealand Americas Cup team headquarters is here now; their big black building overlooks the basin. Lots of incredible boats here, although I didn't see any Americas Cup boats.

We then had lunch at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. This is a lovely building with a friendly staff. We watched a bunch of sail fleets race by as we ate in the members bar. I added to my burgee collection while we were there. RNZYS hosted the last Americas Cup and is the sponsoring yacht club for the Team New Zealand boats.

Tony sailing on an Americas Cup boat
The highlight of my day was a two hour sail with SailNZ aboard an Americas Cup boat. The boat was formerly JPN 41, the Nippon Challenge boat that raced in San Diego in 1995. (SailNZ also has NZ40, the New Zealand boat from San Diego.) We had 15-16 knots of wind with calm seas, so we were flying, holding around 8.5 knots per hour throughout the ride. Everyone got a chance to grind and drive. It was Grandhi's first time sailing; I think he loved it. I certainly did.

The SailNZ AC yachts

A nice dinner at Sails Restaurant overlooking Westhaven Harbor capped off a great sail themed day.

Auckland from the water

San Juan 24 Nationals

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San Juan 24's at the startLast weekend, I raced in the San Juan 24 Nationals out at Shilshole here in Seattle. I was on my friend Adrienne's boat T-Bone (appropriately named as we'll see later.)

This was my first time aboard a San Juan 24, and it's been a while since I've raced, but it all came back to me over the three days of racing. We had very different conditions on each day. Friday was light-moderate with a very short shower. Saturday was big -- 15-20 kts winds with an opposing tide generating steep chop on top of driving rain at times (very fun though). Sunday was sunny, warm, and still with our only race getting shortened (the other race was cancelled.)

We did, in fact, get t-boned on the second day during a tight mark rounding. It all happened very fast with us sandwiched between two boats when one the outside boat decided to tack in front of us. We had to crash tack immediately to avoid a bad collision, but in doing so, we tacked right into the inside boat. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the damage was minimal.

It was incredibly fun, and the Corinthian Yacht Club guys put on a nice race. We didn't do especially well, placing 13th out of 14 boats, but we learned a lot and had a great time.

I'm all boat-y now and eager to get another boat (we've owned a few boats previously, but are now between boats.) I think a J/30 might be nice...

Beautiful night on the water

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I had the good fortune of working on the Seattle Yacht Club committee boat last Friday for the Anthony's Homeport/SYC sail race. (For those of you who don't race boats, the "committee boat" is the boat where the judges are. The committee sets up the course, handles the start, records the finish, etc.)

In addition to helping with the starting gun and taking down the finish times, I managed to get a few photos. The evening was absolutely stunning with a lovely sunset. The boats were simply beautiful in the evening light. I've posted the best ones here on my site. A larger number are available on my store on Event Pictures.

See the best photos.
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Enjoy!